Blog No 166 – Overview of 2020

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Happy New Everyone

Family & Friends

Thank you to friends and family for your continuous support. I have a huge amount of respect for people that consistently care and support Mr Zebrakat and I. Honestly from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for everything. Especially all the people who sent cards, flowers, plants, mags, chocs & sweets, biscuits and messages.

The year started with a trip to County Cork, Ireland to celebrate Aunt P, 80th birthday with family. It was was such a heartwarming celebration. Aunt P knows how to provide a party, we had it all, fabulous food, good company and magnificent entertainment. She’s a very courageous lady, she had literally just finished treatment for breast cancer and we were hopping on a plane. Thank you Aunt P for a wonderful time.

To my relatives in Ireland it was wonderful catching up with you all. We will be back when it’s safe to fly again.

Covid 19 played havoc with special birthdays, weddings and new baby’s this year. I’m sure these celebrations were as special as they could be.

Hamish & Lottie

Hamish has been part of the family now for 2 years. Lottie & Hamish are very much in a routine with toilet breaks, feeding and sleeping. Your more than likely to find Lottie at my side and Hamish sleeping on my bed blanket. I’m sure my neighbours must laugh at Lottie and Hamish when they are running into the house together from the garden. It’s quiet comical watching them following each other like sheep. They are known to kiss and lick each other first thing in the morning.

Hamish still looks like a lion and is slightly larger in stature to Lottie. Lottie can hold her own too, if Hamish tries to grab her. Pets are obviously very therapeutic.

Home

Copyright 2019 Zebrakat

We are still tweaking our current residence. It’s certainly changing in appearance and no longer represents a typical terraced house floor plan. We started in the roof space and now we are on the ground floor, working from the front of the property to the rear. I’m waiting for a replacement front door, which has been delayed due to covid 19. It’s been on the order since October.

I wanted to show you a cupboard that I’d designed earlier in the year and finally put into its place. I needed the unit to fit on a plinth in my guest bedroom. It’s made out of scaffolding boards. Anyone who knows me will appreciate I love a little timber in my decor.

The cupboard consists of doors, drawers and shelves. Behind the doors is some hanging space and some additional shelving. Its perfect for guests and now considered a new heirloom.

Health

I’ve already discussed my health in previous blogs. I’m glad treatment is over for now, I’m hoping my body gives me a little respite from medical appointments and health issues. I’m planning to continue as I do, live life and be happy.

Travel

Travel this year has been a bit of a washout, however I’ve still managed a few places. I was able to fly to Ireland earlier in the year, which was amazing. I’ve also visited Bath & York, both historical cities. Bath & York are full of beautiful architecture, fabulous restaurants and quaint shops. I would recommend both cities a visit, magnificent gems of the U.K.

Mr Zebrakat

Mr Zebrakat is working from home and on site as he works in the construction industry. It is nice having him around. On a positive note, covid had Mr Z at home when I was going through treatment. He unquestionably is happy he’s working and is one of the lucky ones still working.

Mr Z is undoubtedly been my tower of strength going through treatment and family hospitalisations etc. Thank you Mr Z for always being there as always as usual, what would I do without you.

Hobbies

Reading, I did about 66 books last year, so beat my previous years record. Watch out for my next blog for my annual list of books.

Covid has allowed me to frame up & hang some travel pictures etc. I’v also been filling up photo albums with old photos. I still have numerous to do but I’m getting there. I’ll then move on to filling up scrapbooks with memories and mementos.

Hopefully 2021 will no longer be a year of doom and gloom. We all need to be vaccinated and getting on with our lives. Love to you all 🤣

Blog No 165 – PRRT & Covid 19

What a year, with covid-19, I don’t think anyone is ever going to forget 2020 in a hurry. Did you achieve something positive through lockdown? I did, I hung up some pictures, sorted out my photo albums and filled them with lovely memories. If we hadn’t gone into lockdown those empty photo albums would still be there, looking empty.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones this year, as my cancer treatment continued in London throughout lockdown etc. The hospital had experienced numerous cases of covid-19 patients and precautions were put into place for the safety of staff and patients. I was required to have a covid-19 test locally prior to travelling to London. A negative result was vital in order for treatment to continue. I would like to thank all those individuals who were involved with my treatment at the Royal Free Hospital, London. Thank you so much.

My mother had a tough year after being diagnosed with a secondary cancer. Her cancer treatment continued locally throughout lockdown/covid 19 with a few hospital stays. We both had finished our treatments within 2 days of each other. She is doing much better now but she’s not still 100% as yet. She’s a tough cookie. X

PRRT treatment – everyone has a different experience but we all have similar symptoms. The treatment procedure is not that bad, the only symptom you may experience during treatment, is nausea. The medical team will give you anti nausea meds prior to treatment. They can also control the flow of treatment so you don’t experience nausea. The more treatments I had, the worse post treatment symptoms got for me. What’s funny is, I can’t face pasta since the last treatment. The thought of pasta in any form still makes me gag. I’m not sure I will ever tolerate spaghetti bolognese again.

I’m so relieved that we have finished treatment for now. We are 9 weeks post treatment and my bloods are still not to normal levels. They won’t exactly be perfect due to the cancer, nevertheless they still need some improvement. My Oncologist is keeping an eye on them for me, I’m in good hands. My hair has thinned a lot since treatment but it will grow back I’m sure. During my treatment my hearing was affected and it’s certainly not a known side effect. Yet it can’t be dismissed either. I’m also experiencing dizziness but we don’t know, if there’s a connection to the hearing or if it something else that is going on. I’m starting to get terrible migraines again so I’m monitoring that for the Neurologist. That’s the problem with an illness, it can lead to other problems.

My daily quality of life, I would consider has definitely improved. At the end of the day there is no cure for my cancer, therefore I wanted a quality life whilst I was living, that’s not too much to ask

The latest results following results following my recent CT & MRI scans was that I am stable. Stable means no new growth of cancer in other areas. This is a little questionable for me, because I only found out that I have tumours on my lungs whilst going through treatment. In my eyes that new growth but in their eyes it’s tumours over a certain dimension. I’ve obtained all of my records as I don’t like being kept in the dark. This latest scan gave me the dimensions of the new tumours in the lungs so I can monitor the growth. Even though I’m consider as stable surely the lungs is a new site of cancer, I have cancer in the peritoneal, pelvic area and liver and a couple of other questionable areas. My Oncologist is going to send me for cancer (Ga68) scan in April. This may give me a true reflection of what is really going on, although my scans don’t always reveal everything. I personally don’t think it will be long before I have another op on my bowel. You heard here first lol.

My ultimate goal with treatment was to improve my daily quality of life and I do feel we achieved this. I’m so grateful for my new found freedom in lockdown lol. Thank you to my friends & family who have always supported me through my treatment.

Just one more thing, I was giving support to another patient going through the same treatment. I will call her SC, she was a wonderful lady and I had found another loyal friend experiencing this same cancer. I have a few more cancer friends and ladies, you know who you all are. X SC was suffering from a lot of pain and I personally don’t feel she was getting the support she needed. Clearly there was more going on, therefore I was devastated to learn from her husband that she had passed away. I do believe that I’m still here because I do my diligence and I’m very persistent. I would say to any patient of any illness, go with your gut, and fight for you health. Rest in peace SC you will certainly be missed by me. X

Blog No 157 – Happy 10th Birthday Lottie ❤️

I can’t believe we’ve had Lottie for 10 years. I can still remember the day we got her. If you didn’t know already, she’s my little Canadian. We drove towards the USA border in whiteout conditions. The snow that day was very heavy and visibility was poor. We met the sellers in a Tim Hortons (Coffee Shop) car park and exchanged money for our wee bundle of fluff.

She was a tiny little thing and the rut of the litter. I didn’t care as her advertisement photos were just adorable. She got the name of Lottie from me as I loved the name. She was the cutest thing ever, her legs were so small the actual stairs were bigger than her. She was toilet trained to go to a pee mat, which was a blessing when she arrived.

She’s never been any trouble, ok she does get excited when people come in. I think that’s normal for most dogs and she yaps again when people stand up to leave. I think that little habit came from when she was a puppy. People would love to pick her up as soon as they came in and again when they left because she was so cute.

She’s been by side everyday and still to till this day she is all over me. Mr Zebrakat will spoil her with treats, yet she favours me. She is wise too, I know when the cancer is being naughty again as Lottie will sit on the spot. She loves snuggles and when I sleep, she will sleep too. Here’s some facts about Lottie

  • She still only weights about 4lbs
  • Her favourite drink is water
  • She loves a walk
  • She has no interest in toys
  • She loves cheese and ice cream
  • She paws you for belly rubs
  • She loves snow and the sun
  • She hates rain
  • She’s doesn’t have a go at the postman
  • She’s smaller than Hamish the cat

She’s been my most loyal pet to date. I would be lost without her. Happy Birthday Lottie!!! Thank you for 10 years of snuggles and happiness. ❤️

Blog No 153 – PRRT During Covid -19

Hello Everyone

Sorry, it’s been some time since I last blogged. Life took over, covid -19 took over and PRRT symptoms took over. I don’t think anyone is going to forget 2020 in a hurry. I can’t wait to see what the history books say.

Let me start, by telling you I’ve had PRRT #3 last month and I will be having #4 is in October. My PRRT goal was to improve my daily symptoms and if it slowed down my progression that would be a bonus. I have been typical patient in respect of symptoms, hair thinning, pain, flushing and fatigue. It’s also true that your symptoms do indeed get worse as treatment goes up.

I was initially an in patient over 3 days but due covid -19 the hospital started to do the treatment as a day case. Personally, my preference is getting the treatment in a day but I don’t like the travelling home situation. On a good day it can take up 90 mins, nevertheless if traffic is bad it can take longer.

Once the treatment takes hold, I did endure tumour pain. As the tumours get inflamed, you know the treatment is on track. It can aggravate your carcinoid symptoms too, which intensifies your flushing or bowels. Lucky me, I was exposed to both. The next treatment had been delayed due to me sustaining bone pain. Therefore, we are allowing 12 weeks instead of 8 weeks I was doing, between treatments.

Covid -19, has been challenging for everyone and more so for many people. I personally think people has become complacent, ignoring the rules etc. I don’t understand people’s ignorance but I guess that will always happen through any situation. I would like to say thank you to all workers, key workers and the medical profession for working through a particularly hard situation.

During treatment and covid -19, my mother was diagnosed with a secondary cancer. She’s being tough, however she has suffered additional side effects and her chemo has been cancelled on a couple of occasions . She is fighting through the obstacles like a trooper. Mother & daughter going through treatment at the same time, just blows my mind. It certainly would make a great book.

I’m going to embark on my blogs again so please watch this space. Love to you all.



Blog No 151 – Being Vegan

I became vegan at the end of October to see if my daily symptoms would improve. Im happy to report, there is definitely some improvement. Mr Zebrakat became vegan at the same time and had noticed, he’s never hungry now, his sleep has improved and he feels fitter whilst playing football/soccer.

As I said previously, I actually became vegan to improve my daily symptoms. Years ago, I was informed that I have an egg white & cows milk intolerance. Therefore I had always drank my coffee & tea black. If I was to have milk in cereal etc, I would have rice or soya milk. Subsequently, I wasn’t good at avoiding milk or eggs in products. I didn’t always read the labels to dodge the products that I was sensitive too.

Being vegan eliminates animal based foods, like milk, eggs, meat, fish and honey to name a few. I’m used to buying alternative milk products although I had never tried alternative cheese or cream. Essentially vegan makes it easier for me disregard those products, whereas being vegetarian I would still be eating products with ingredients including cows milk, cheese or eggs.

I have been reading social media, books and magazines to gain more knowledge about veganism. I’ve certainly learned some incredible facts, however I’m not going to quote them just in case they are totally incorrect.

Tell me …….Why does everyone have an opinion about someone being vegan. It does make me laugh the questions I’ve been asked by non vegans and vegans. Your either nuts or not vegan enough. I believe being vegan is making a small contribution to animals and the environment. Any contribution is surely better than no contribution at all.

Did you know there is accidentally vegan products too. These are products that are created without intentionally being vegan. (Free of animal products)

Here is a few products that are accidentally vegan.

  • Walkers Prawn Cocktail Crisps
  • Jelly Tots
  • Fox’s Party Rings
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chinese Chow Mein Pot Noddle
  • Bistro Gravy Granules (Original)

Hopefully I will continue to feel the benefits of being vegan. Roll on PRRT treatment (cancer treatment) this month.

Blog No 149 – Cancer Update

Just before Christmas I went to London for more scans etc. Although my symptoms had been a mixed bag since stopping treatment, I was carrying on regardless. Subsequently I also tried to improve my daily quality of life. I went vegan at the end of October and Mr Zebrakat came along for the ride with no expectations. Believe me or not, we are both enjoying the change of diet. We are both benefiting from the change in one way or another, yet nothing can stop the pain but medication (Morphine). Fatigue and nausea etc can knock you for six too but that’s cancer for you.

On the 27th Dec, my Oncologist called me at home to inform me that my latest scans revealed more growth. Well that’s a surprise NOT. 😂 My Oncologist intends to commence PRRT in mid Feb. I’ve been chasing this treatment for over a year and now it’s finally happening.

How do I feel, well it validates my symptoms and concerns with my body. The specialised treatment has had some amazing results with Net patients. Remember this treatment is not a cure but can possibly extend your quality of life. This is my final trump card, hopefully it’s the best hand I have.

Addendum

I had a colonoscopy yesterday only for the Doctor to take 8 biopsies. I could see that I had additional growth in the colon. It was only 2 yrs since my last operation on the bowel.

Blog No 148 – Overview of 2019

Happy New Year Everyone.

January

Harrods

As I was recovering from surgery last year on a special birthday. My husband took me to London this year to be a tourist for a couple of days.

Thriller Live at Lyric Theatre

We experienced some amazing food, indulged in breakfast at Harrods, saw the Thriller Show and visited a couple of museums. We have spent so much time in London on medical visits and never participate in tourist delights.

February

Hamish Being Cheeky

Hamish is a year old this month. Its hard to believe my ginger tom has been with us nearly a year. He’s so content with us and Lottie. He loves to hide behind walls or furniture to jump out on Lottie and then the big paw comes out. There is other times when they are kissing each other. The photo above, I found him in my hand basin, he’s never done that before. The photo below is the love they feel for each other.

Hamish & Lottie Kissing

March

RIP Auntie M

I lost an Aunt this month who was going to be 90 later in the year. She was an amazing woman, who had an interesting life. She was born In Ireland but spent most of her life in the U.K. She was 1 of 8 siblings and had 5 children in her family.

It was her time to leave us and to be reunited with her closest sister Auntie N. I’m sure they had a lot to discuss over a nice cup tea and a slice of cake. RIP Auntie M.

April

Main Bedroom Art & Lighting

The house renovations are starting to take shape. We provided a beautiful sized bathroom. Created a walk in wardrobe for our clothes etc. Additional storage for books etc in the hall.

Mr Zebrakat’s Section of Wardrobe.

The photo is only a small section of the wardrobe, it’s actually 4m long. I designed the wardrobe and Mr Zebrakat & my brother built it.

Plastered Walls

We are currently snagging the loft room(Office), 2 bedrooms and the bathroom on the first floor before making big changes on the ground floor. We have achieve a lot already, ripping the house up to its bear bones. Let 2020 make the ground floor spectacular.

Bookcase Built Under The Stairs

May

Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire

This was a fantastic month because I met fellow cancer friends K & H and their husbands. We decided to meet centrally due to my problems, therefore we met in Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire.

Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire

It was an exceptional weekend with excellent food and good company. We intend to do something again this year but H and I are currently having PRRT treatment. I will blog and update over the next couple of days.

June

Trevi Fountains

Ciao a tutti

We were in Rome this month for the first time in our lives. OMG everyone should go. You have everything in this city, weather, food, architecture and history.

Street Scene

We were going to surprise our American friends who are like family. They are two very amazing people with big hearts. We gelled with each other as soon as we met. The surprise was priceless and a memory we will remember for ever.

Spectacular Views

July

Test Results

This was the month of hospital appointments and visits. Pain was revealing itself in various locations of body. My spine was even getting in on the act but I will blog about that separately.

August

Kino Lounge

We went into Kettering, Northants one day and found this amazing restaurant that serves great food. The building interior is so amazing with the perfect ambience. It’s very laid back and has a mixed demographic.

September

Lottie become 9 years old, it’s hard to believe to be honest. She’s more clingy than ever. I also feel she knows when tumours are having the time of their life inside my body. She tends to sit on the exact spot. She’s such an intelligent dog and I can’t fault her. She’s honestly helped me through my illness.

October

Fruit & Vegetables

As I’ve been struggling with symptoms, I’ve decided to go vegan. I do have an allergy to cows milk anyway so 70% of the time I been having alternative dairy products anyway. Mr Zebrakat & I both started together then someone said to watch Game Changers on Netflix. Although I had made the decision to become vegan prior to the programme. The programme definitely opens up your mind.

However being vegan definitely makes me avoid cows milk in products. I feel we have both benefited from the change of diet. Not only does it have an impact on our health, we feel we are contributing to animals and the environment.

There is so many supermarkets doing vegan or plant based food to substitute meat/fish products. Restaurants nowadays are providing vegan menus with fabulous choices. I personally don’t miss meat etc and feel that I’m making a small contribution to animals and the environment including my health.

November

Jess & Ryan

This month we went to a stunning wedding in Cheshire. J the bride is the daughter of my best friend. I have known J since she was a small child and she’s grown into a beautiful woman & caring mother. We never expected to go to her wedding and we feel completely honoured to be invited. It was a stunning day and a wedding never to be forgot. J married the handsome R, her soulmate and I’m sure they will be happy forever. Congratulations to you both ❤️

December

Is about to start, yeahhhh

Following a recent scan and some tests results, My Net Consultant telephones me and informs me that I’m about to embark on PRRT treatment in February 2020. I will blog about this separately.

Blog No 147 – Cancer Update

Cancer Update.

So I’ve been a bit quiet for a while, here’s why. I was having a hell of a time dealing with symptoms from my cancer treatment (butt dart). Back in end of April we decided to stop the cancer treatment to see if my symptoms would improve. Overall they have to be honest giving me a better daily quality of life. Nevertheless it’s not perfect, as my pain is now emphasised more. On top of that I’m dealing with spine pain and nerve pain. I have good and bad days. Not withstanding the above, there is more bad than good days. Thank god Mr Zebrakat, married me in sickness and health. 😅

Last Monday, I seen my Oncologist who informed me that although I’m stable. I have cancer in my stomach & pelvic areas, liver and peritoneal. Also my spine is lighting up on the scanner but my Spine Consultant already suggested he felt this was the case prior to any cancer scan.

The way forward is continue to stay off the cancer treatment. It was a decision that I tortured myself over before the appointments. A case of what ifs. More blood and urine tests and rescan end Feb beginning of March. In the meantime, I have my other Consultant appointments to attend. Since writing this update, I’ve received a sneaky scan to be done next month.

Life goes on, I’m not on social media as much, I’m trying to do bits around the house, still reading, resting more because of symptoms and I need to get back to my blog. X

Love to you all. ❤️

Blog No 144 – Rome, Italy 🇮🇹

At the end of May, Mr Zebrakat and I went to Rome for 4 days to surprise our dear friends. Unknown to them, we had been in cahoots with their children to surprise them when they had arrived in Rome from Florence. They had travelled from the USA to explore some of Italy before boarding a Mediterranean cruise. We’ve never been to Rome and knew that if we took this trip we could kill two birds with one stone.

Our Hotel

Cakes served on the morning buffet

Street scene outside our hotel

After getting the necessary paperwork to confirm I was fit to fly. I had the tedious task of obtaining travel insurance. I have to be honest it’s hard work and frustrating. Firstly explaining your cancer, as there is too many assumptions made. Secondly being refused by companies that specialise in cancer travel insurance. Thirdly the rip off price that you get penalised for.

We haven’t seen our friends for 11 years. Shocking, I know. Our last meet up was Las Vegas in 2008, which I have to say was an exceptional trip. Time can just pass you by sometimes.

Our friends J & S had organised trips prior to arriving in Italy. Therefore we were happy to slot into their schedule, as it gave me time to rest between our meet ups.

Trevi Fountain

Spanish Steps

We waited for their arrival in their hotel foyer. When they did finally arrive, we were both trying not to look too conspicuous in the corner. J was checking in and S took a seat. I approached S first and I will never forget as long as I live the surprised look in her face. Then came the hugs, the words to the effect of “OMG, I can’t believe it ” and then tears of joy. J turned around and thought it was a coincidence that we were both in the same hotel until we explained we came to surprise them. U.K 1 – USA 0. It was a fantastic feeling to surprise such a beautiful couple and in a magnificent city. Rome is a very charming european city and has a very unspoilt feeling about it. The city steeps in history and there is plenty to see.

Our hotel was around the corner from the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. We did an open bus tour for about 3hrs, we went around twice as there was so much to see. Did Mr Zebrakat and I see everything, no we didn’t so we may have to go back again someday.

Thank you J & S for a wonderful, emotional and rejuvenating time.

Weekly Blog No 141 – Giving Back

Last month, I had a meeting with a gentleman who’s trying to drive awareness of cancer in the construction industry. His father had passed away from cancer and he wanted to give back by starting a new charity.

I had made contact with him to see if I could participate as my mother, as well as other family members and myself have all experienced cancer. I know first hand the devastation cancer has on a family and all that goes with it.

I’m hoping that this charity will be able to advise people affected by cancer, where to obtain the additional support, whether its financial, emotional or physical.

One of the biggest impacts of cancer is the financial burden, no-one is ready for the financial loss that you find yourself in. A loss of income is hard, unless you have a critical insurance policy. Not everyone considers such a policy because of the additional monthly costs, whether you’re employed or self employed, it is something that people should consider.

There are organisations that offer additional support and provide you with the tools to access further guidance or assistance, which you maybe wouldn’t be aware of. For instance, if you are a cancer patient, you’re entitled to free prescriptions. These are little nuggets of information that you may not be aware of, however it’s one less stressful item to worry about. Free prescriptions actually save me a minimum of £1700 a year, which doesn’t include my cancer treatment costs.

Hopefully this charity will endeavour to reach out to both trade people and professionals affected by cancer, provide some onsite medical screening within work time that can be followed up by a GP or Consultant. Promote cancer awareness, especially skin cancer. There is so much this charity could do, therefore I hope that I, can make a difference to someone’s life.