Blog No 167 – 2020 Reading List

My goal for 2020 was to read more than 46 books. If I could beat my previous target of 46 books or more, I was going to be happy. I achieved 66 books in total, therefore I superseded my target and averaged 1 book a week.

Here is my reading list: –

  1. Girls in Tin Hats – Annie Murray
  2. Villa of Secrets – Patricia Wilson
  3. Hold on Hope – Jean Fullerton
  4. Perhaps Tomorrow – Jean Fullerton
  5. Sisters of Gold – Annie Murray
  6. A Glimpse of Happiness – Jean Fullerton
  7. I Owe You One – Sophie Kinsella
  8. The Teashop Girls – Elaine Everest
  9. No Cure for Love – Jean Fullerton
  10. The Secret Midwife – Katy Weitz
  11. The Volunteer – Jack Fairweather
  12. Permanent Records – Edward Snowden
  13. The House Across The Street – Lesley Pearse
  14. Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas – Adam Kaye
  15. The Whitechapel Girl – Gilda O’Neil
  16. Christmas With The Teashop Girls – Elaine Everest
  17. Finding Freedom – Carolyn Durand, Omid Scobie
  18. Royal – Danielle Steel
  19. The Orphan Twins – Lesley Eames
  20. The Rag & Bone Girl – Maggie Ford
  21. Going Hime to Liverpool – Kate Eastham
  22. The Country Bride – Dilly Court
  23. Liverpool Daughter – Katie Flynn
  24. A Springtime Affair – Katie Fforde
  25. The Light in Hidden Places – Sharon Cameron
  26. Goodnight Sweetheart – Pam Weaver
  27. Memories are Made of This – June Francis
  28. Pack Up Your Troubles – Anne Bennet
  29. How to Make it Happen – Maria Hatzistefanis
  30. Official Secrets – Marcia Mitchell & Thomas Mitchell
  31. A Daughter Ruin – Kitty Neale
  32. A Village Scandal – Dilly Court
  33. Many a Tear Has to Fall – June Francis
  34. Mothering Sunday – Rosie Goodwin
  35. It’s Now or Never – June Francis
  36. Walking Back to Happiness – June Francis
  37. The Spitfire Sisters – Margaret Dickinson
  38. Love Letters in the Sand – June Francis
  39. Shadows of the Past – June Francis
  40. Her Father Name – Beezy March
  41. How to be British – Tim Benson
  42. The Jones Family Food Roster – Alison Jones
  43. The Man Who Didn’t Call – Rosie Walsh
  44. An Ophran Christmas – Katie Flynn
  45. Diagnosis – Lisa Sanders
  46. The Orphan Thief – Glynis Peters
  47. Mind Over Clutter – Nicola Lewis
  48. The Prison Doctor – Dr Amanda Brown
  49. An Orphans War – Molly Green
  50. A Strong Hand to Hold – Anne Bennett
  51. Time To Say Goodbye – Rosie Goodwin
  52. The Organised Writer – Anthony Johnston
  53. The Christmas Wedding – Dilly Court
  54. Rag and Bone Christmas – Dilly Court
  55. For Better or Worse – June Francis
  56. The Winters Promise – Rosie Goodwin
  57. The Orphans of Halfpenny St – Cathy Sharp
  58. A Daughter Duty – Maggie Hope
  59. Do The Birds Still Sing in Hell – Horace Greasley
  60. Dilly’s Sacrifice – Rosie Goodwin
  61. Dilly’s Lass – Rosie Goodwin
  62. Dilly’s Hope – Rosie Goodwin
  63. The Mill Girl – Rosie Goodwin
  64. Will You Take Me Home – Julie Tottman
  65. The Convent – Maria Hargreaves
  66. Home Front Girls – Rosie Goodwin

Here’s a reading Q&A

What is your favourite time of the day to read.

I tend to read when I go to bed. I can read everything from 10 pages to 100 in a night.

How many hours do you read a day.

I can read anything from 15mins to 2/3 hrs. It all depends how tired I am.

What is my favourite genre.

Historical fiction is my favourite, however I’m trying other genres.

Which author did you first get obsessed with.

I would say it was Lyn Andrews then Katie Flynn

Who are you currently obsessed with.

I would say Dilly Court and June Francis. To be fair my obsession is growing with many authors.

Can you read multiple books at one time.

Yes I can, nevertheless I think two is enough for me.

Which book/books was your favourite this year.

I did love “Rag n Bone Christmas” by Dilly Court. I also enjoyed “Will You Take Me Home” by Julie Tottman. This was a true story, which involved a Yorkie dog, therefore I brought the book for my goddaughter too as she’s a reader.

Who was your favourite author this year.

I would say June Francis because her characters in her books follow through her books, which I loved.

Which new authors did you try this year

I would say June Francis and Jean Fullerton were the most popular as I had read a few of their books.

Which book touched you this year.

It has to “The Convent” by Maria Hargreaves. The true story was about the horrific cruelty to children by a nun in a care home in Oldham, U.K.

How many books do you intend to read in 2021.

I’m not sure I’ll reach that target again but let’s see what happens.

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 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)

image

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

image

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

Blend both mixes together until smooth and thick .

image

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 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 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 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 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 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 145 – Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday we celebrated our wedding anniversary. Another year has passed, yet it only seems 5 minutes ago we got married. It was such a perfect day we celebrated with family and friends.

We’ve done so much in our married life, I hope there is room for more adventures to come. Mr Zebrakat told me last night, wouldn’t it have been good, if I had taken you back to our honeymoon destinations. He said he was going to hand me flight tickets to Miami and then on to the Bahamas. I would have been shocked but it wouldn’t be the first time he had surprised me with a trip. I just remember the heat in Miami this time of the year was unbelievable temperatures. How I would kill right now for a blue sea, an ocean breeze and sand in my flip flops.

Instead my sister in law invigorated me with coffee aroma and sweet bakes. Basically speciality coffees, plain scones with butter and jam preserve. The last couple of days especially Tuesday, I was so ill, I feel like I’m starting to get a bowel blockage again as I have the typical symptoms. Them dam pesky tumours won’t leave me alone, they are always wanting a nibble of my fine dining.

Mr Zebrakat gave me a beautiful bouquet in our wedding theme colours and took me to a local Italian restaurant. We both started with drinks as neither of us wanted a starter. Our main course choice was the same.

Beef Involtini Stuffed with Parma Ham, Pine Nuts & Basil in a Rich Tomato Sauce with Linguine & Garlic Buttered Green Beans

And for dessert, the top plate is Rhubarb and Custard Semifreddo with Poached Rhubarb and Pistachio Cream

The bottom plate dessert is Elderflower Infused Panna Cotta with Raspberries & White Chocolate Crumble and Peach Syrup.

The meal was excellent. A very quaint restaurant in the town and even though it was a Wednesday night the restaurant was fully booked and they had to turn people away.

Mr Zebrakat thank you, thank you for absolutely everything you do for me. You are an amazing individual with the kindest heart and I couldn’t wish for a more dedicated husband. Happy Anniversary ❤️ Now leave me alone to continue dreaming about blue seas……..

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.