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 It’s certainly changing in appearance and no longer represents a typical terraced house floor plan.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 164 – Churchill War Rooms, London

I made the trip to London for more scans back in Dec 19. Whilst we were there, we took a visit to Churchill’s War Rooms in Westminster, just around the corner from the Houses of Parliament. London is oozing so much history and the architecture is incredible.

There is a fee into this museum but it’s certainly worth a visit. The museum is open from 9 – 6pm daily. Check opening times before you travel just in case there’s lockdown restrictions.

Chiefs of Staff Meeting Room

The heads of army, airforce and navy would meet in this room to discuss the war efforts.

Winston Churchill

This was Winston Churchill radio address from the Cabinet War Rooms to the people of France on the 21st October 1940.

Switchboard Operator

Every call taken by a Switchboard Operator was deemed as urgent at the Cabinet War Rooms.

Ismay’s Quarters

Room 61 was Hastings Ismay’s. He was the Chief of Staff to Churchill. He was the link between Churchill and the heads of the three armed forces. A senior officer would have the luxury of carpet in their room.

Access Point

The Camp Commandant was responsible for the day to day maintenance of the Cabinet War Rooms. The key rack with all its keys and labels.

The Map Room

The beating heart of the Cabinet War Rooms. The room was used for gathering intelligence to fight the war. During a shift there would be 5 officers. A duty officer, 3 officers from the armed forces and official from the Ministry of Home Security.

Map Room Supplies

A box of map pins sorted by colour ready to use.

Mrs Churchill’s Room

A little more of a luxury room with a dressing table and comfy armchair.

I would recommend a visit to the museum especially if your at the Houses of Parliament.

Blog No 161 – Museum of London Docklands

This visit was a couple of years ago before a medical appointment. We went to the Museum of London Docklands.

The museum occupies three of the five bays of No 1 Warehouse, West India Quay. A Grade 1 Listed Building, built with stock brick with Portland stone architectural features. The northern elevations of the warehouse are in a cheaper plum brick. Five storeys and attic with a semi basement below quay level. Triple span hipped slate roof.

Here’s some of the Museum exhibits. I’ve provided photo’s and a little info.

No 1 Warehouse

Carts would of be used to move cheese, casks, boxes and bales of tobacco.

Trade Expansion 1600 1800

The stone fragment dated 1619 craved with the coat of arms of the East India Company.

London, Sugar and Slavery

Anti-apprenticeship banner dated 1813 produced by campaigners opposing to the imposition of compulsory apprenticeship on those liberated from slavery.

City and River

Painted wherry seat back dated 1824 middle right hand side. This is awarded to the winner of the 6th Queenhithe Waterman’s race and includes a painted view of Southwarks Bridge.

Sailortown

A pub in one of the streets and alley in the vicinity of the docks and river Thames.

Warehouse of the World

Wine labelling bench dated 1900 – 1939 on the right hand side. The Port of London Authority offered merchants a range of services including wine and sport bottling and labelling.

Docklands at War

Casing of an unexploded German bomb that fell on Millwall dated 1939 – 1945. In 1941 the basement of Bullivant Wharf, Millwall, was in use as an air raid shelter.

Sainsbury’s Study Centre

Sainsbury is one of the nation’s oldest food retailer’s. Sainsbury’s started in London in 1869 thats over a 150 yrs old. That’s enormous achievement and succeed through recessions and pandemics.

The museum offers free admission, however you can make a donation. I would thoroughly recommend this museum, it’s truly amazing.

Blog No 158 – Chocolate Toothpaste Tart

Completed 1 Tart

Another UK school dinner favorite, although I’m not a huge fan. I’m sure chocolate lovers will love this recipe, as no baking is required, especially if you purchase a ready made pastry case. I assume the name chocolate toothpaste comes from the consistently of the filling representing toothpaste.

Makes 1 Tart

Ingredients

  • 70g margarine
  • 150g sugar
  • 20g instant hot chocolate powder
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 230g dried milk powder
  • 1 ready made pastry case
  • 150ml warm water

Method 

Cream together 70g margarine and 150g sugar until smooth. (I used caster sugar as the granules are smaller)

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Add 20g hot chocolate powder and 20g cocoa powder to the margarine/sugar mixture and cream together.

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Mix 230g dried milk powder and 150ml warm water together in a separate bowl until smooth.

Blend both mixes together until smooth and thick .

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Pour into a ready pastry case and put in the refrigerator until set.

I apologise for the messy edges to the pastry case, I wasn’t having the best of days.  Enjoy

(Written in UK English)

Blog No 155 – Soda Bread

I did an Ancestry DNA test a couple of years ago and I was 100% Munster Ireland. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never made soda bread until recently, yet I’ve eaten it all my life.

My grandma was a fantastic baker and she would make a currant soda bread too. I have fond memories of her baking. She would get out the homemade blackcurrant jam, irish butter and a freshly made soda bread.

All my aunts are fabulous bakers, yet my mum is not a baker. She’s an excellent cook but she’s more than likely to bring out a nice cake from the cupboard to have with your cup of tea.

The photo above was my first soda bread. Therefore I would like to share the recipe I used. Serves 4 – 6 people

Ingredients

  • 450g / 1 lb Plain flour
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 400ml/14 fl oz Buttermilk

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220’c/425’f/Gas Mark 7.
  • Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the buttermilk. Mix well together using your hands. The dough should be very soft but not too wet. If necessary, add the remaining buttermilk.
  • Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly. Shape into a 20 cm/ 8 inch round tin.
  • Place the bread on a greased baking tray, cut a cross in the top and bake in the preheated oven for 20 -30 minutes. When done it should sound hollow if tapped on the base. Eat whole warm, soda bread is always best eaten on the day it is made.

Please share your recipe with me? Is your ingredients different?

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 152 – Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy

I started this blog prior to commencing my first Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) treatment.

Since my diagnosis I’ve changed in so many ways. I have learned from my disappointments and grasp the opportunities when they arise. The opportunities, allow me to be normal and not as patient like I do everyday.

I personally can see now that I look sick and I can’t say that I’m a lover of it but I’m accepting of the situation. In spite of that I’m normal with no visible illness. There’s no dramatic weight loss or evidence of me wearing a headscarf to cover hair loss.

Last weekend, we travelled to Bath to distract us both from the upcoming treatment. We were both grasping the opportunity of normality in a beautiful part of the UK. It rained buckets but we had a wonderful time before heading to London

The PRRT treatment will hopefully allow me to be more managed and not a case of the cancer managing me.

The proposed short term side effects are

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Mild Hair Loss

The leas common side effects

  • Bone, Liver and Kidney Toxicity

I am experiencing some short term symptoms and it’s not easy. Who in their right mind says yes to radiation via an IV. The answer is any person who wants to extend their life and that’s me. My life is not over and I have more goals to achieve.

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.