Weekly Blog No 135 – Overview of 2018

 
Overview of 2018

Wow what a year, it’s been. I started the new year recovering from post op with an open scar. I had high hopes that I brought myself more time but that wasn’t to be the case. The cancer was very determined to grow and cause me ongoing symptoms. I took the stance then, that I was going to attempt to do things before I couldn’t do them anymore. Here’s an overview of 2018.  

January – Birthday Celebrations

In January I turned 49 and 4 quarters, it was an amazing birthday. I was lucky to be showered with flowers, gifts and cards and so overwhelmed by people’s kindness. The love shown to me was outstanding and still to this day, it blows my mind.

February – Scan-a-thon

February was the month that my scans started again and have remained  continuous throughout the year. It was also the month that my new bathroom was taking shape to the point I was able to use the facilities. I was no longer feeling I was showering in a telephone box unable to stretch out my arms. 

 
March – Sailing the Seas
 
March was my delayed birthday trip from Mr Zebrakat. A week on a Mediterranean cruise. It was lovely to have a week away  to relax. It was pretty much house arrest on the ship due to symptoms and of course I forgot some of my medication.  Never in my life, will I ever forgot to take all my medication again. Lesson learned for life. 
 
 
April – Welcome Hamish
 
As many of you know, we got another 4 paws to join the family. Hamish is a ginger tom cat aka Frank the Tank. He’s is still only just over 10 months old and he’s huge. He’s a great addition to the family. 
 
 
May  – Royal Wedding/Oxford
 
May was an exciting time in the U.K, as everyone was so hyped up for the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan, the Duke & Duchess of Sussex. I remember the day very well as I had to travel to London for another scan. The roads were so clear as everyone seemed to be glued to the television watching the build up to the wedding. Meghan looked stunning and they looked so in love.  
 
We visited Oxford during the Royal Wedding. Oxford nicknamed it the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’. A city known for a prestigious university made up of 38 colleges. Honey coloured buildings of stunning architecture. A beautiful city and well worth another visit sometime. 
 
 
June – London is Calling
 
We went to London as Mr Zebrakat was attending an award ceremony to receive is fellowship membership. The ceremony was in a beautiful building and the event was exquisite. I’m so proud of Mr Zebrakat in everything he does and achieves. 
We took a quick ride on the DLR to Greenwich. Another hidden gem of prettiness and such a glorious day too. 
 
July – Renovations
 
The renovations have continued and the house is starting to take shape. The loft space, study area and store on the 2nd floor is ready for painting. The 1st floor, bathroom is complete minus a touch up of paint.  The master bedroom and walk in wardrobe is complete but we have to find our extra clothes, shoes and bags from storage. The linen cupboard shelving is nearly complete.  
 
 
Aug – Off to Weegie Land/Glasgow
 
We flew to Glasgow for a couple of days it was important for me to go with Mr Zebrakat to see places that where emphasis in his family tree. It was good for him to show me were he lived, went to school etc. We have previously been to Glasgow but it usually involves visiting people not this time. This trip was about him and for me to take things at my pace due to my difficulties. We had such a lovely time as it was 10 yrs since our last visit. 
 
 
 
Sept – Ibiza Sunshine
 
I don’t have a bucket list and I don’t want one either. I don’t feel the need to put pressure on myself to do things before I go. All I do know, is even though its hard for me to do things now, I need to push myself now before I can’t do it at all. 
 
I’ve had a lot of appointments etc and we decided to get some rest in the sun. Who doesn’t need some sunshine in paradise. I’ve never been to Ibiza and it was only a couple of hours flight so perfect for a mini vacation. 
 
I didn’t forget my medication this time and enjoy my days sitting at the poolside absorbing some vitamin d. I was all ready to begin scans the following week.  
 
October – Additional Storage 
 
I wanted to design some more storage and a bookcase in the area under the stairs. Who doesn’t have enough of storage for specific items. I have a lot of books and thought this area would be good for my paperbacks. I want to keep specific books by favourite authors but I’m also good at giving books to friends & family. I need to paint the bookcase etc but we haven’t chosen a colour scheme for the hall as yet. 
 
 
November – Petting Farm 
 
My niece had a sleepover so we took her to a local petting farm. I don’t know who was more excited me or her lol. I did love stroking and feeding the animals. Seeing my niece getting excited and Mr Zebrakat teaching her how to stroke animals. These are precious moments and it’s times like this, you do wonder how many more precious moments I will  have. 
 
 
December – Cardiff Christmas Market 
 
Mr Zebrakat and I took a trip to Cardiff before my spine appointment. There was a Christmas market on and we met up with friends who live in Wales. What a beautiful place Cardiff is, and the people are very friendly. We did an open bus tour, which is an excellent way to see key points of interest in the city. I would definitely return to this lovely place and beyond. 
 
 

 

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Weekly Blog No 127 – My Life Continues

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Kat who dreamed of travelling the world but she was stuck down with a disease called cancer. How her life changed……

No one can prepare you for life with cancer, it’s an ongoing assault course. I don’t want pity but everyday its a challenge. It’s wasted energy, which I would have preferred to use in my career. Cancer was not my chosen career, however it is a full time job of manoeuvring through symptoms, medication, side effects, appointments and procedures.

My last blog, I did mention there may be more tests between appointments. Subsequently there was, I even had some scans last Sunday, ready for my Oncologist next week. Hopefully he will have a treatment plan, which may involve a clinical trial with PRRT. As soon as I’ve been to the appointment, I will update you within a couple of days.

I’ve also been to see my Neurologist, who would still like to stick a needle in my head. I’ve chosen the less invasive action of increasing my medication for migraines. Sometimes the medication is not so effective that the only solution is a drink of Coke or Pepsi. Don’t ask me why it works but it does.

Let’s move on to more happier events in life. Mr Zebrakat has been awarded a Fellow in the construction industry. There was an award ceremony in London and I couldn’t be more prouder of him. He deserves the acknowledgement for his contribution to the construction industry

Whilst in London, we went to the London Docklands Museum. I will do a separate blog for that visit.

Although going out is a challenge, Mr Zebrakat & I have adapted to my needs. Only now, did I had realise what precautions we actually take to make travel more accessible for me. It’s become the norm for us but there is a degree of planning & organisation. You learn to adapt very quickly and I’m sure it’s the same for any illness.

The story continues……….

Weekly Blog No 63 – Overview of 2015 

 

This year has involved a lot of change in one way or another, some of it has been good and some of it not so good.

Births 

Two bundles of joy came into the world this year, a baby girl and a baby boy. Children bring such happiness to everyone and with Facebook nowadays you can see their continual development.

Bereavement

Death was on the agenda this year, losing loved ones is never easy. It’s one of those situations that is faced by everyone in life and can’t be avoided. Nothing prepares you for not having access to those people when they are gone, you continue life as if they are always going to be there. Memories is all you have and they can never be taken away.

Returning to the UK from Canada

Although it is wonderful to be home and close to friends & family, there are elements that I miss. I didn’t think I would miss snow but in a bizarre way I do and wonderful blue skies. I knew I would miss my friends, yet I didn’t realise how much. Thankfully nearly everyone has stayed in touch so too my Canadian friends a huge thank you.

On a funny note, I didn’t eat a whole load of chicken wings or hamburgers in Canada, strangely I still can’t face them. I’ve been back 6 months and the thought of them makes me feel nauseated.

Emotions

Not a person to get stressed and many people can vouch for me, I feel that I have packed years of being stress free into 6 months here. An international move or selling a house is less bothersome and that’s saying something. I just have to learn how to avoid tense situations, however it can be impossible sometimes when other people are involved.

Health

I’m thankful to be writing another overview, my 2nd since diagnosis. I do believe it’s down to a positive attitude and medical intervention. I am not 100% and can see a decline in my health in the last 12 months. Yes there has been some physical changes in appearance but people say I look no different. I have to agree with them to a certain degree and that’s the beauty of Carcinoid Cancer aka the good looking cancer.

I hope it’s not deterioration but just a case of my symptoms not controlled in a better way. I wish that I could live a life like other patients, who are able to work or travel. I do accept co-codamol (opiate) as a pain relief although I do find it unacceptable as a solution for GI issues in order to give me freedom. I don’t want to be addicted to narcotics just to get to a medical appointment, visit family or to a supermarket. Despite the fact I don’t agree with the treatment, I’m grateful for the freedom. Some days I feel so ill, therefore I am determined to change that and invest in people who are going to take care of me. Unfortunately I have a miss mash of care at the moment, which raises stress levels hence watch this space.

My husband J 

Can’t praise the man enough, there is one thing you wish for when you have an illness is undivided love & support. I have the love & support, therefore I just need the science. If I could manufacture him and give him to all people who are need of love & support I would.

As many of you know already, J worked as a construction professional leading major projects on an international airport in Canada . J is no longer working on an airport but is currently working on various projects big and small advising Architects, Engineers and Builders. This was also my professional role and even though I’m happy to hear about his working day it’s gut wrenching. I still agonise for work as strange as this may seem to some people. I do wonder if J misses the buzz of airport life like I miss employment.

Family & Friends

Since returning home I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent time with family and friends. It’s like I had never left in the first place. Just in the 6 months, I’ve laughed so much as banter is big in the UK. Memories are being made and let them continue.

Cooking 

My cooking skills are going from strength to strength and I feel that is down to having the time and  fabulous supply of wonderful ingredients in the UK.  My kitchen appliance of the year is my slow cooker, it’s my one pot stop lifesaver.

Books 

I love books and thanks to competitive shopping in the UK, books are cheap. I’ve already read a stash of books but I’m currently reading two at the minute, one on my phone and the other is a hardback book.

Music

I love listening to the endless radio stations in the UK, in Canada I would only listen to one. I’m in CD heaven again and now I look like a CD hoarder, the choice here is amazing. I’ve fulfilling my pastimes again since being back.

Overall Summary

I’m grateful to be here another year and to be able to enjoy both the good times and bad times. I shall look forward to 2016 with as much enthusiasm as 2015. Thank you to all the people who support me and Happy New Year.

 

 

 

Weekly Blog No 61 – Christmas Decorations

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This year it has become apparent that putting up your Christmas decorations in the UK is getting earlier and earlier. It seems the annual ritual is more in line with the town or city switch on of Christmas lights, which is towards the end of November. Years ago people would put up their decorations approximately 2 weeks before Christmas, oh no not nowadays. Are you that person?

I haven’t put up a tree or decorations as yet, for number of reasons.

  • I don’t have a tree, it was sold prior to me moving back to the UK. It was a tree fitted with lights so the electrical fitting is not suitable for the UK.
  • My Christmas decorations are hidden in a mountain of boxes, known has cupboard jungle. Gone are the days your Christmas decorations either in the loft/basement.
  • Do I put decorations up in my rental accommodation or wait until next year when we have our own house.

Here’s my Christmas tree from last year, sitting in my front lobby/hall.

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Decorating for Christmas early wouldn’t work for me because I’m one of those people who can’t live with clutter. I consider personally 4 weeks to be more than adequate for Christmas decorations as 8 weeks plus is far to long. Following the New Year I am already considering stripping the mantle piece of Christmas things.

Christmas decorations through the decades

Its time to take a trip down memory lane with and Christmas decorations used over last few decades in the UK. I can only assume that other countries had the same trends or similar decorations.

Lets start with paper chain garlands, they were very popular when I was a child. I do remember making them at school with sticky back paper. I’m sure there is a few of us that remember them too.

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Balloons were used in the corners of rooms or at other key points. Gone are the days of blowing up balloons or even using balloons for decorating at Christmas. From paper chains to paper garlands, they were steamed from one wall to another and looped on the way. Balloons were used to hide the drawing pins holding up the garlands when pinned to ceilings or walls.

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If you didn’t used balloons, you may of had paper bells etc (lets call them dangles) in various colours.

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Christmas decorations were starting to develop into other materials, foil.

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Christmas tree decorations

Christmas tree decorations has also changed through the decades. Years ago as a child I remember getting the Christmas baubles out of cardboard sectioned boxes wrapped in tissue paper not like plastic cases that are purchased today.

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Christmas baubles have generally remained round shaped but have been decorated differently over the years. Here are some photos of different styles over the decades.

Christmas art
I think most of us made our parents a Santa or Christmas related picture using tissue paper and glue. This picture will bring back a few memories of your school days at Christmas time.

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I’m sure this weeks blog will bring back a few memories for us all, in one way another. Its good to see that we have maintained some basic Christmas traditions in form of a Christmas tree. I think its the older generation that tend to recycle their Christmas decorations from year after year. I feel the younger generation change theirs more frequently following current trends. I wonder how many of us have Christmas decorations more that 10 years old.

Are you a recycler, trendsetter or a bit of both?

Weekly Blog No 36 – Hoarder or Not

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My basement has been a long and tideous task, for months I’ve been working through boxes shipped over from the UK. It was a mountain of complete chaos, the floor was covered with paper, ceramics and boxes etc. I have worked for hours in the bottomless pit trying to organise, what seems like 30 plus years of personal possessions.

I don’t consider myself a hoarder, however here is the definition of a hoarder in the Oxford Dictionary;

A person who hoards things:

Is that me, maybe another definition for clarity. The Urban Dictionary explains a little further;

(Adj) A word that describes anyone that feels the need to find, collect, keep, pack ANY and EVERYTHING becasue they do not know how to throw things away.

I don’t feel the need to find, however I do have a couple of collections, my vinyl singles and LP’s. Keep, I may fit this category because when emptying the boxes, I found in my memory boxes that I have letters received from friends when I was 10 yrs old. I have 3 large tubs of memories from travel memorabilia, invites, cinema tickets, work ID’s, cards and letters. Pack any and everything maybe from one place to another but I don’t have a problem of letting go.

In the last few weeks I have parted ways with alot of things, items of furniture and home accessories. Therefore I don’t have to pack and keep everything approach, however I do have to find ways of storing/organising things better. I have boxes of papers that I have kept, yes I can scan them but is a scan copy considered legal if I ever needed to produce the original paperwork. This would reduce my paper loading in my basement so if anyone knows the answer, that would be great. Photos, I have a few boxes and again not very organised, now I can hear a few of you saying why don’t you store them on my computer. What happens if I lose my computer? Yes I could save additional copies on a memory stick but Isn’t it nicer to look at the hardcopies on a comfortable sofa than searching through your hard drive. Clothes, we all have a little bundle that we live in hope to fit into again, why do we torture ourselves, has anyone ever fitted back into clothes they use to wear and if you did were they still in fashion, maybe not on both accounts.

I’m sure we are all a victim of the above in one way or another, nevertheless I would say it’s very invigorating to let things go for someone else to enjoy.

Do you hoard things? Or have items that you can’t let go? Do you have tips in storing items?

Weekly Blog No 27 – Welcome 2015

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This year is all about self development and to achieve some new personal skills.

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Firstly, I want to accomplish some new cooking skills. I have purchased the tools, a kitchenaid food processor and food mixer. My goal is to use as many unprocessed ingredients as possible and develop some healthy dishes for me and my husband. I’m not trying to change my way of eating as a result of the cancer as I have previously spent thousands on natural therapies and treatments prior to my diagnosis. My opinion at the minute is not a good one in that respect, I have invested in my body yet I have an incurable cancer so I’m struggling how it was beneficial to me. I do believe eating sensibly is beneficial for your body but not as a cancer cure. Perhaps my line of thought may change over the coming year.

Secondly, I would like to explore music, i don’t know whether to learn a new musical instrument as I can play a few or continue lessons in music theory. I loved music theory at school and wish that my school had offered the subject as CSE/GSC(High School) qualification. The fiddle seems appealing or perhaps I will do both. Time to investigate where to learn the fiddle.

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Thirdly, I want to paint or craft in one way or another. Ideally it would be nice to earn some money from my existing skills.

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Fourthly, I would to continue my writing skills as I do enjoy to writing. I have been writing for nearly a year and the feedback has been wonderful. Thank you to my readers, I shall continue to write with enthusiasm.

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Fifthly, I would like to travel, nowadays this would be a huge achievement. I can’t help but hope that my cancer treatment will improve my quality of life thus allowing me to travel to see family & friends and to make new memories.

Hopefully in December, I will be able to inform my readers of my achievements. Do you have any personal goals his year?

Weekly Blog No 26 – Overview of 2014

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As 2014 is coming to an end, I thought I would give you a snapshot of my life in the last 12 months

January

Just 2 weeks into our new home I was still unpacking the boxes from our British & Canadian homes. I hadn’t seen some of the stuff since it was packed back in January 2009. Still to this day I’m unpacking boxes and saying to myself I forgot I had that or that won’t work in our new home.

It took 9 months from purchasing to entering our new home. We moved walls, extended areas, chose finishes from wall finishes to light fittings.  We had commenced the process of purchasing of our home when I was rushed into hospital (March 2013) for an emergency op. We hadn’t signed the contract with the builder yet when I got my cancer diagnosis. I’m sure some people at the time must have thought we were mad to buy a new home when we were going into the unknown of cancer. We have all been exposed to cancer and the outcome is not usually good, why would you make such a big investment. At the time we did explain to people that life does go on and to this day we don’t regret making our decision to continue as we have already enjoyed 12 months in our new home.

Towards the end of the month, I was looking forward to my liver resection operation so nil by mouth on my birthday was absolute joy. Lol. This was the first time I can honestly say I was scared, I don’t know if it was fear of the unknown or it was the fact I had 2 very experienced surgeons operating on me. I had previously had 2 major op’s in the last 9 months. (A bowel resection and spine fusion) so being a patient again was getting exhausting, nevertheless you are always grateful for the care and the thought that this is extending your life.

I was very fortunate to have daily visits from a close friend who worked at the hospital. She would visit everyday armed with pictures of Jason Statham – Actor and words of wisdom. It was better than medicine, she would always come with a smile and still to this day she is constant in my life. My care team would look forward to my evolving noticeboard, which had me and few other people giggling with laughter.

One nurse that cared for me sticks out in my mind. She came into my room and said to me ” how can I make your day better”. I shall never forget those words as long as I live

February

Post op recovery was slow, nevertheless I was getting there. My husband was taking good care of me as always, ensuring I was resting and eating. Friends and family were a huge support, however I was finding it hard to sit still and recover. I had far too much time on my hands so I was already planning and relocating furniture around our new home in my head. It can be dangerous for my husband when I have too much time to think because it involves him doing a task lol.

March

My recovery seems to be very slow or I am very impatient. I was starting to have concerns that I was not 100% right but it was still early days and doctors thought it was post op recovery, in the meantime scans were being organised.

At this point I was ready to drive again after not driving for 12 months due to health restrictions. My husband &  I decided to buy an SUV known as the black beast. I wanted to achieve independence again and attend my continuous medical appointments. Freedom is huge, most of my life I have driven a car and was considered as one of my work tools, therefore it was very fulfilling to drive again. The black beast has been a blessing in disguise, a cliche I know. Today I consider the black beast as one of my therapeutic tools. A car is something we all take for granted, I really appreciate mine and the inventor of motor vehicles, a complete genius.

This month I tried meditation for the first time in my life, I would recommend this activity to anyone who is looking for some form of relaxation.

April

In April, I loss my Uncle to cancer. I was so overwhelmed by grief for him and his immediate family. He was a very special man and had impacted my life hugely. I’ve experienced loss before but this was the hardest to date. I still think about him often and I am constantly reminded of him by the little things in life. He will be proud that I’m still maintaining a positive attitude and attempting new cooking challenges. Uncle T, my new cooking ingredient is coconut flour, let’s see what develops and feel free to giggle at my attempts. I will not be conquered by the coconut lol.

I went to the Rocky Mountains this month even though I was still experiencing some discomfort. It was lovely to see the mountains, get some fresh air and see a sprinkle of snow. Since being diagnosed everything has more meaning, for example familiar smells bring back memories, which I would of probably ignored before. Whilst in the mountains I got a familiar smell that brought back memories of Ireland. Madness I know otherwise I have psychic nose

May

In May, my husband and I started to plan the basement layout for future development. The plan is to have a furnace room, store room, bathroom, 4th bedroom/craft room and recreation room. In the interim my husband started to plan the boundary fencing to the rear garden, whilst I started to draft a garden landscape design.

My cancer symptoms continue to be persistent, however nothing showed up on recent scans. I knew this was not just post op recovery, there has to be something said about the saying “we know our bodies best”. It was time to go back to my family doctor who is very compassionate, and when he saw me, he sent me straight to hospital. To cut the story short,  I had another emergency op and the pathology report confirmed additional cancer spread. The moral of this story is, go with your gut when you know there is something wrong.

I was operated at my local hospital and was lucky to have another close friend working in the facility. She would bring me a cup of tea in a china cup everyday rather than a plastic cup to help my recovery. I have amazing friends in my life and without them my life would be so hard.

June

My husband was organising fencing with our lovely neighbours. I was still recovering from my recent op and enjoying further rest until i had to rush back to UK. My mum was rushed into hospital even though it was not the ideal circumstances to rush home for, it was great to spend time with my family. My brothers took good care of me, however saying that they ripped me to bits as brothers will do. I’m still to this day laughing at things they had said to me. They only said things they knew that I could take, trust me it would kill some sensitive soul but I have a hard skin. I’m sure they had fun too and we all created some memories.

My mum is much better but needs to learn the art of rest and to look after herself.

July

My husband & I decided to start on the garden landscaping design first rather than the basement so that we could entertain and relax in the sunshine for the remaining summer months.

July was also the month that I learned my cancer was progressing rapidly, I was given a lifespan of 1 – 3 years. Everyone reacts differently to this type of news therefore it not surprising to most people that I said life goes on and a bucket list is not for me. I still feel a bucket list is not appropriate for me and I will continue life to the full within the limitations of my health.

August

The garden was taking shape and I was able to enjoy the sunshine . Lottie would sit on the sun lounger with me basking in the heat. She is a sun worshipper for sure  It was an exhausting month for me with tests and scans, which appears to be my new life

September

No medical visits until mid September, yeah. I was able to enjoy a couple of weeks off with my husband, who took some pre booked vacation leave. We just relaxed and enjoyed our time together.

October

We decided to go to Banff for Thanksgiving to get into the spirt of the holiday. The hotel was amazing and we had a great time, however when we were about to collect the car, I took a turn for the worse and travelling home was not an option. It was the first time I had seen the fear in my husbands eyes, I will never forget that image. Being the man he is, he went into reactive mode, do I take her to hospital or organise another nights accommodation. I didn’t need a hospital just the comforts of hotel room for some rest. It was clear to both of us that my symptoms were not improving but getting worse and this needed to be addressed with the oncologist.

I have made it known on numerous occasions that I appreciate my husband so much, nevertheless he lives my life. What I mean is, he not only accommodates my illness he lives my illness too. J I love you and will always love you as Uncle T would say we are soul mates  ❤️

November 

A visit to the oncologist to discuss our concerns and discuss the latest results. More tests, scans and procedures were ordered before the next appointment in December.

This month I was starting to receive more food parcels than the Salvation Army. I can’t thank my family and friends around the globe who have enchanced my taste buds with the flavours of home.  The only problem now is I can’t drink Canadian tea, it’s like dishwater compared to Irish tea. Dishwater is no longer appealing to my taste buds. I’ve clearly been spoiled by the black stuff called strong tea.

December

My oncology appointment proved my suspicions of more cancer on the liver and wherever else it is lurking , the little pesky devils. My oncologist has increased my cancer injection to 2 every 28 days, oh my 1 butt dart was enough without 2 butt darts. I’m glad that the dart has been increased because it may improve my symptoms, which will improve my quality of life I hope.

Christmas we stayed at home but did visit a few friends over the Christmas period and New Year we will be certainly celebrating with friends.

Final comments

J and I have achieved more than we had anticipated this year under the circumstances. I am now in my 20th month since diagnosis and to be honest I didn’t think I would see this far with an incurable cancer. I don’t know if it is determination or pure luck. In 2015, I intend to continue to fight cancer, attend a family wedding, and give time to personal activities.  😄

(Written in UK English)