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 It’s certainly changing in appearance and no longer represents a typical terraced house floor plan.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 156 – Travel Visualisation Board

I don’t know if anyone has read the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. The author is huge believer in visualisation boards. Basically having a board with pictures of your dreams, therefore your dreams go out to the universe and they become reality.

When I was looking for artwork for my hall, I decided to do travel visualisation boards with words and not pictures. There is an extended list of places/locations that I want to visit or revisit with Mr Zebrakat. I did 2 visualisation boards of destinations, nevertheless dreams can come true.

Visualisation Board

There is a few destinations that I may have visited with/without Mr Zebrakat. For this reason, I’ve added them to the board for a revisit, for instance New York. We visited December 2005 and we were fortunate enough to see the dropping of the ball on NYE. It was a beautiful place to visit at Christmas time and all the festive decorations were stunning. I remember the weather being freezing cold, which I had never experienced cold like it before. Mr Zebrakat has never been to Dublin, I have done it many times. I really want go with him, to be a tourist and for him to experience my irish culture. Canada, we lived there for god sake but we never got to the west coast. Both of us want to visit Vancouver and I’m sure we will slot back into Canadian life there.

The list was inspired by us both but I want to continue travelling after my cancer treatment/covid-19

Let’s see how well I do within the next 12 months. I will write a blog this time next year and let you all know. X

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.

Weekly Blog No 122 – Malta

As we were sailing into port, I was in awe of the beautiful country before me.

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Entering the port you could see the fortress city of Valletta, the lovely stone walls

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I could definitely see why so many people including Queen Elizabeth 11 formally known as Princess Elizabeth/Duchess of Edinburgh was in love with the country.

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Prince Philip/Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta whilst in the Royal Navy. Princess Elisabeth was living on the island as a naval officer’s wife between 1949 – 1951.

Their home on the island was Villa Guardamangia a townhouse. My understanding is this building is in disrepair and the government are obtaining the villa because of its historical heritage. It’s the only residence outside the UK that the Queen has lived in. It would be an amazing visitors site.

After the Great Siege in 1565, the knights set out building Valletta the capital of Malta. Valletta was founded by and named after the Grand Master of Order of St John Jean de la Valette.  Valletta was to be not only a fortress city, but the cultural home to some of the finest works of 16th – 18th century Europe. Jean de la Vallette was buried in the city some three years later.

Mr Zebrakat & I did an open bus tour of the city and got a brief overview of the history. It would have been nice to have at least a couple of days in Malta to visit the places of interest. Malta is definitely worth a visit and here is some of the photos that I had taken.

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Weekly Blog No 121 – Mediterranean Cruise

@msccruises

@msccruises

Mr Zebrakat & I have just been on a mediterranean cruise. It was my birthday gift from Mr Zebrakat and we celebrated on the cruise 5 years since my cancer diagnosis.

If you are a sun worshipper, I wouldn’t recommend the month of March to do a mediterranean cruise. Although we were able to wear short sleeves, it was quiet windy and did rain a couple of days.

Mr Zebrakat chose MSC Cruises after we had watched an episode of Jane MacDonalds cruise Channel 5 programme. The cruise was an eight day cruise embarking & disembarking in Barcelona, Spain, however you could have embarked/disembarked at any of the ports. This is the first cruise we have been on were all the passengers have not all embarked and disembarked at the same location. The cruise involved 4 countries in 8 days and 5 ports.

This was the itinerary:

Day 1 – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona the capital of Catalonia, the best port in Europe to discover the wonders of this vibrant region of Spain. Barcelona is one of the largest cities of the mediterranean coast. Establish the history of Gaudi and Picasso. Immerse yourself in the medieval and gothic architecture.

Day 2 – Marseille, France

Marseille the typical vielle ville (old town) of the French Riviera. Enjoy the old port, Palau’s du Pharo or Notre Dame de la Garde.

Day 3 – Genoa, Italy

This Mediterranean port will amaze you with elegant architecture from the 17th & 18th centuries. Take in the magnificent Cathedral of SAN Lorenzo consecrated by Pope Gelasius 11 in 1118 and completed in the 14th Century.

Day 4 – Civitavecchia, Italy

The port of Civitavecchi is one of the largest in Italy. Amongst the most important monuments to visit is the Fort Michelangelo, built by Bramante in the 16th century, the ancient walls of the old port and the fountain in travertine marble by Vanvitelli. There is a host of bars and restaurants for a taste of seafood cuisine.

Day 5 – Palermo, Italy

The perfect chance to visit the regional capital of Sicily. The port of Palermo displays of Norman art and architecture, Baroque churches and medieval streets.

Day 6 – Valletta, Malta

The fortress city and the capital city of Malta. The city has historical and artistic heritage and over 300 monuments. Beautiful architecture with colourful balconies to houses.

Day 7 – At Sea

Day 8 – Barcelona, Spain

Mr Zebrakat and I only went off the cruise ship in Valletta, which I will blog about next week.

A total of 1798 nautical miles was achieved on the MSC Meravilglia ship. 19 floors, approx 4400 passengers and 1500 crew. 19 passenger lifts, a shopping promenade, thermal spa, water park and the list is endless.

Here is a few photos of the ship.

Weekly Blog No 120 – Latest Update – 5 Year

I recently informed you that I had a scan at the local hospital and I felt the Radiologist was basically blindfolded when writing my report. As suspected he or she was, my Oncologist reviewed the scans and informed me that I still have disease/tumours in the peritoneal, mesenteric and the liver. I know scans can be hard to review sometimes but even I knew I wasn’t out the woods. I must admit, I was hopeful that my previous op had eliminated all the disease from the peritoneal and the mensenteric . Never mind, the dandelions endeavour to take hold of my body but I shall keep attempting to eliminate them if the opportunity arises. I think this ‘Kat’ has nearly exhausted her nine lives.

On the 11th March 2013, I was rushed into hospital in tremendous pain with no suspicion of what was going on. Early that morning I was operated on, and later informed that I had bowel obstruction surgery. The surgeon sat on my bed informing me I possibly had cancer and I would have to wait for the pathology report. That day changed my life, nothing seems more important than family and friends at that moment. How was I going to break the news to everyone. One of the biggest things I’ve had to do in life and it started with Mr Zebrakat. This was the day that I decided to continue to be positive and whilst speaking to the universe, please give me 5 more years at least to achieve some things in life.

Well it was 5 years on 11th March 2018 and I was Genoa, Italy 🇮🇹. Let me explain, last week I went on a Mediterranean cruise, which was a birthday gift from Mr Zebrakat. It was initially booked to go on the day before my birthday so that we could celebrate on the ship, nevertheless my body had other ideas and he postponed the trip until March.

It made me nervous in many ways, even though I was feeling better. I still had issues that were still being addressed via medication. You can take all the precautions in the world but no one day is the same. I could be swinging from the ropes one minute and be considerably unwell within the next 5 mins. I’m sure anyone who has be fine one minute and sick the next will understand the rapid change in health. It’s not ideal but I have learned to live with it and to just take day by day. Mr Zebrakat of course makes everything more bearable and is never agitated or inconvenienced by my health issues. I’ve never known someone to be so chilled and who naturally goes with the flow. I guess Mr Zebrakat has adapted too and is grateful I’m still here. The story could be so so different as many of my cancer friends who were diagnosed the same time as me are no longer here. RIP all of you. 🙏

Unbeknown by Mr Zebrakat, when postponing the trip he didn’t realise that it was my butt dart week. It’s always hell going into it and hell coming out of it. As we had left very early on the Friday morning and my injection wasn’t due until the Monday, the earliest I could have had the injection was Saturday. Oh hell, what am I going to do was my thoughts. I did speak to my dear cousin, who’s a very experienced ER (Emergency Care) Nurse and who occasionally works on cruise liners. She gave me some invaluable advice. This is what I took from our discussion. 1. Make sure you take plenty of morphine with you. 2. If the butt dart was given by the medical team on the ship, it sounded like a lot of red tape. Therefore the responsibility fell on Mr Zebrakat shoulders with my guidance and no precious training of injecting intramuscular. I was a little anxious and of course he was too but he didn’t show it. Superstar ⭐️

I have to say my current nurse is lovely but I can feel the pain and have some blood on occasions from the injection. She has made my easier in many ways, crossing the line to get me assistance, therefore I’m reluctant to let her go.

Mr Zebrakat was so gentle, which is hard to believe when the diameter of the needle is like a nail, maybe a slight exaggeration. There was no pain and no blood and just a sheer relief from both of us. I think now that he’s ok with it, we will have greater freedom and not necessary be committed to being available for my butt dart appointment. Oh Mr Zebrakat, I forgot to tell you, the next one is due Easter Monday when the medical practice is closed.

Now this is the part I’m kicking myself about, I do consider myself to be very well organised. In fact I’m proud of my organisation skills and it’s a quality that Mr Zebrakat will always comment on. Well remember the good advice my dear cousin gave about morphine. Well I failed miserably by forgetting my morphine. This is a lesson for anyone taking medication, you must double and triple check everything. Mr Zebrakat said he never ask me, because he knew I was always so organised. Ha ha not this time and I paid for it too.

When my last morphine was dispensed by the chemist it wasn’t dispensed in original box. Yes it had the appropriate label on the white box but the contents were made up of left over packets. I know that is fine but when dealing with customs etc who have inquisitive minds it could look a little bit suspect. Therefore my plan was to take my morphine in an original box and the contents to be full strips of medication. Makes sense right, but I forgot to do it and brought no morphine. My cousin is most probably saying now, what did I tell you, I know lol. Well I went into withdrawal and tried to manage the pain with off the shelf pain meds throughout the trip. Being the tough cookie I am, I’ve got by but it did prove a couple of things to me. I can stop morphine when needed, clearly not the appropriate way. I’ve done it many times before including my recent visit to hospital, nevertheless I’m always put back on it for pain control etc. Holy smokes!!! when pain is not managed it is hell and withdrawal is diabolical. Lesson to everyone, double check your medication before leaving for a trip.

We knew that this trip, we would treat it like an all inclusive floating hotel. Not necessary get off the ship due to symptoms but enjoy what the ship has to offer and relax. We did theatre shows, fine dined, drank cocktails, enjoyed spa treatments & used thermal spa, watched movies, read books and went to the casino to have a go on slot machines. (We walked out the casino up in money). I will blog about the cruise next week.

I would like to send out a huge thank you London Luton Airport for assisting me with my illness. I managed to go through priority queues through security and the airline. A service they offer passengers who don’t require a wheelchair assistance but have an illness. I did feel a little guilty because I look ok but my symptoms are not. I actually did get a few stares from passengers and I’m suspect people just assumed I was a staff member as I walked passed them. When I got to the cruise ship, I had paid for priority boarding to avoid queues. You know and I know, queues at airports and cruise line boarding is always long and time consuming therefore priority boarding was a great start to my holiday. I do feel a sense of achievement for getting to the cruise and for being on the cruise.

Written whilst sailing across the Mediterranean Sea until next time. Love to you all.X

Challenge No 68 – Flying Trauma

Flying what a challenge this can be for people with an illness. I have taken a few flights over the years and I can believe how I have got through some of my travel adventures.

Even with the assistance of medication, I still have trouble getting from A to B in a car. Now you have to use your imagination, when I explain to you how travel on a flight is for me is a challenge.  I’m at the starting point at home, therefore I have to transfer to an airport. this can be done by car, bus or train. If I had wings that would be lovely but I’m not that good. Unfortunately you dont have toilet facilities/washroom in a car and the likeihood of being stuck in traffic is very possible on the UK motorways/highways. You’ve already considered the time to avoid traffic and the distance to the airport when booking a flight. Holy smokes what happens if I did get stuck in traffic and no access to toilet facilities/washroom. What do you do? (I’ve yet to master that obstabcle).

Ive already considered if travelling in a car where I should park in close proximity of the terminal definelty don’t need another fearful commute from a park & ride transfer.

I arrive at the airport and I feel immediate relief that I made it, nevertheless straightway I have to rush to the toilet facilities/washroom. I develop a huge sigh,  I will be ok now I have the security of the toilet facilities/washroom but i still have to queue at check in. Jumping from one foot to the other like a 5yr old and repeating the following mantra in your head ” please get me through this queue. Whoop whoop I have finally made it, oh no i haven’t not just yet.

The next hurdle is like a rider in the Grand National Race, I  have to go through security and I can see there is queues of people. I have 3  choices, do you ask for assistance, utilise the  prepaid express line or show them I have a medical card.  I have tried express line by paying extra, I’m sure it  helped a little. I’ve also showed my medical card and it’s no use at an airport with non english speaking staff. Therefore along comes another mantra or me speaking to the universal “I will make this,  I will make this”. At this point, I give myself a pat on the back for wearing slip on shoes, no belt and no underwire in my underwear. Outcomes a screech, yes I got through the xray machine and no additional searches. Shear relief comes over me,  I’ve made it through and at this point I thank the universe.

Time for a little distraction, a look around the shops before boarding my flight or maybe some refreshments. In my case it’s time to sit and enjoy a flight detox for me.

I finally board my flight and warn the cabin staff that I may need assistance to get into the toilet facilities/washroom immediately. To be fair most of them have been really good and show some compassion but there has been one, who has said to me’ what do you want me to do. Its time for a little education, which doesn’t involve oxygen masks or life jackets. I’m very grateful for the cabin crew who have let me use the toilet facility/washroom prior to getting to the runway when needed.

On the flight there’s an eureka moment when the seat belt sign goes off. The feeling of a little bit of calmness knowing that you can get to the toilet facilities/washroom. I do plan my seating and I do.ensure that I sit near the toilet facilities on flights. I start to behave like a greyhound chasing a hare. The wc is my hare and I’m fixated watching the hare ready to give chase should I need too. There is way to many greyhounds chasing the hare on a flight and not enough of hares.

A flight is meant to be a relaxing & enjoyable experience but for someone with an illness like mine there’s a degree of constant panic, more so for me as my symptoms are not fully managed as yet. However much I like being in the sky, my body is craving land. When writing this blog, I was thinking why do i put myself through this torment. Do  never travel again and just stay in the UK. Do I just go on cruises out of the UK in order to get my fix.

Travelling is a big part of me, not so much since my cancer diagnosis. However there is always going to be obstacles whether it be symptoms, fear, lack of travel insurance or just being defeated. My illness has taken a big part of life already including some organs. I cant let it take everything that I
have strived for. Notwithstanding the enjoyment Mr Zebrakat and I have during our travels. I have to continue to endure the problems that come with travel until I can’t take it any longer.

Back down to earth again, as I’m about to land I’m starting with the mantras in my head again. I’m strapped to my seat so no more greyhound racing for me. I have approximately 20 minutes were I can’t move. This is when I start do a little riverdance and Michael Flatley would be so proud of my moves. The wheels finally hit the runaway and I am smiling with enthusiasm because I’ve made it. Whoop whoop.

Anyone who experiences medical issues knows exactly what I’m talking about and the difficulties we endure in making a trip. Congratulations to everyone who makes a flight/trip under these circumstances. Freedom is not available to everyone but if you can, take time planning to make  your trip as enjoyable as possible. Hopefully I have given you some tips in the precautions that I take and if you have any other tips please share them to assist other people.

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?