Weekly Blog No 139 – My Birthday

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

I’m falling behind again in my blogs due to symptoms. However I’ve made another birthday, how amazing is that. I have currently reached 5 birthdays since diagnosis, what an achievement.

Last year my birthday was post op, Mr Zebrakat decided to make my birthday this year a little bit more special. He had organised a weekend in London. Although it’s quiet difficult for me, I was up for the challenge. Who doesn’t like a change of environment and to feel normal again.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel in South Kensington adjacent to the museums. The hotel treated us like VIP guests. They also left me a bottle of claret, a gift box of spa products and a nicely handwritten card from the Hotel Manager. The hotel decor was stunning, the cleanliness was immaculate and the customer service was impeccable.

We went to V & A Museum, there is no way you could view all the exhibits in a day. The venue has 145 galleries, therefore an incredible amount of exhibits. From architecture, furniture to sculpture. Well worth a visit and a walk through history.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

On my birthday we went to see a West End show called “Thriller”. A spectacular show of Michael Jackson hits. The resemblance of MJ was unbelievable. The hits just kept coming and coming. The dancing phenomenal throughout the show.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

We also visited the Imperial War Museum, Lambert, an insight of war history. The museum exhibits WWI, WW2, The Cold War and the Holocaust and much more. I’m not sure if the Holocaust exhibit is a permanent exhibition but its anniversary is on my birthday, which I will never forget.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat
Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat
Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

One lesson that I had learned from Canada was we don’t explore our own country enough. In my past life, any opportunity for a break away from work. I would jump on a aeroplane and leave the country for sunshine & culture. Clearly forgetting that there is so much to see in the U.K. Canadians are fantastic at exploring their own country. I’m starting to realise now the U.K. has a lot to offer but it’s not always cheap. You need to shop around and grab online deals when you see them. It’s unbelievable that a city break in Europe is sometimes cheaper than a weekend in the U.K.

On our final day, we went to Harrods for breakfast. What a wonderful experience that was, the service was errorless. The food was of the highest quality, served on china. The tea set was silverware. The ambience of the room was art deco with background music of the rat pack. A divine experience on how the other half live.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all my family & friends for cards, gifts, balloons and flowers.

To my awesome husband, for making memories, treating me like a queen and always putting me first in life. You are one of kind and I won’t let you forget that.

Love to you all.

Advertisements

Weekly Blog No 131 – Cancer Friendships

Copyright ZebraKat 2018

When you start researching the disease, you start to develop friendships with people who have been diagnosed with Carcinoid Cancer around the same time as you. They’re also learning the implications of living with rare disease, therefore you start to gather knowledge from each other. Even though you can live miles apart, there is a special bond that is hard to describe. You share information and support each other through thick and thin. You’ve formed a friendship like a pen pal or should I say a cyber pal. The friendship can progress to private messages, cards or even telephone calls. Through illness we unite and friendship blossoms.

Nothing prepares you for when they die. You feel the heartache that their family and friends are going through. Nevertheless you feel a sense of loss, a friend who has travelled your journey with you. Furthermore there is a niggling thought in your head at each passing. Is your time on this earth coming to an end soon. I don’t think that there, isn’t one person on this journey who doesn’t have the same thoughts.

This year, I have witnessed a lot of friends who have departed to hopefully a symptom free resting place. I have many friends who continue to travel my journey with me. I would like to personally thank you for your continuous support. There has been many friends that I haven’t been able to thank personally, because it was too late.

Make sure you thank your cyber pals, let them all know you are grateful for their support and guidance. To all my cancer friends that have passed, you will be forever in my thoughts. ❤️

Weekly Blog No 129 – Mary Berry’s Fruit Scones

Photo Credit Mary Berry

The other day I attempted to make fruit scones to have with jam and clotted cream. I chose Mary Berry’s recipe and added some photo’s of the different stages.

I also used mixed fruit instead of sultanas and used 100ml of milk and 50ml of cream. Thank you to P for the tip of using cream for a softer scone.

Ingredients

• 75g (2 1⁄2 oz) butter, chilled and cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing

• 350g (12oz) self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

• 1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder

• 30g (1oz) caster sugar

• 75g (2 1⁄2oz) sultanas

• About 150ml (5fl oz) milk

• 2 large eggs, beaten

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C/425°F/Gas 7). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

Put the flour and baking powder into a large chilled mixing bowl.

Add the cubes of butter, keeping all the ingredients as cold as possible.

Rub in lightly and quickly with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Add the sugar and sultanas. Pour 100ml (31⁄2fl oz) of the milk and all but 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg into the flour mixture.

Mix together with a round-bladed knife to a soft, but not too sticky dough, adding a bit more milk if needed to mop up any dry bits of mixture in the bottom of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, lightly knead just a few times only until gathered together, then gently roll and pat out to form a rectangle about 2cm (3⁄4in) deep.

Cut out as many rounds as possible from the first rolling with a 6cm (21⁄2in) cutter (a plain cutter is easier to use than a fluted one) and lay them on the baking sheet, spaced slightly apart.

Gather the trimmings, then roll and cut out again. Repeat until you have 10 scones.

Brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until risen and golden.

Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Cooks in 10mins.

Approximately 10 Servings.

Weekly Blog No 128 – Cancer Update

Cancer Update written Thursday 21st June 2018

Today I was prepared to discuss either chemo or PRRT as a treatment plan. Subsequently we did discuss them both and here is the outcome. The chemo, he felt was not suitable for me due to the side effects on my body. I think I had actually come to the conclusion already and had mentioned it to a few friends. The PRRT treatment, he is not going to proceed with this treatment at this time.

Even though the CT scan didn’t show up the Pet scan findings, the MRI did. There is multi tumours on the liver and disease in various places of my pelvic region. On my last appointment, the Consultant took various bloods and informed me today that he was concerned with the results. My liver function bloods have been rising since my last op. My GP highlighted the issue back in January, however everyone thought the cause was my recent op. Yet the results continue to rise making the results questionable. There is some other bloods that are troubling him too, for instance my thyroid. As I wasn’t under an ENT Consultant for my thyroid, he phoned someone in-house to seek advice and it was decided to increase my dosage of thyroid meds. There’s a lot of ambiguous results and he is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Today he’s taken another 7/8 tubes of blood. If he is not satisfied with the results, he is going to organise a liver biopsy to see what is going on. I nearly fell of my chair because I had one in Canada prior to my liver resection op. I was very awake watching him do the procedure. The pain after the procedure was so horrendous that the doctors had to give me some powerful drugs. The Consultant did inform me that the team in London are very good so not to worry.

Follow up, he has organised another scan for 4 months instead of the usual 6 months. He wants to monitor me more closely. I should be ecstatic with the news of no treatment at this moment in time but i have a mixed bag of emotions. I’m happy that there is no treatment but sad at the same time, as no further treatment means no improvement in quality of life.

There’s no light at the end of tunnel but I’m still chasing the light.

Love to you all ❤️

Weekly Blog No 124 – A Hard Week/Death


This week has been a hard week on so many levels. For a while, I have been experiencing problems since my last surgery in Nov. I suspect I have a partial bowel obstruction. I knew at some point I would get another bowel obstruction from either scar tissue or dandelions (tumours) but just not this soon. My recent bloods have recently shown high and low level readings, therefore my bloods etc were retested on Friday.

When speaking to my GP/FP about the situation he said “the surgeon wouldn’t operate again”. It’s not the first time I’ve heard such words and I’ve defined the odds. Nevertheless I think my surgeon would as he appreciates complicated cases and also the challenge. In reality the GP/FP and his thought process is right because I’m sure my abdomen looks like a plate of spaghetti with a few dandelions(tumours) thrown in for a pop of colour.

You all know my last op in November was not very pleasant for me and I am in double digits were op’s are concerned. I’m still super sensitive were any medical treatment is given to me, which involves a degree of pain. This week, I had hip injections to eliminate pain and boy did it hurt. I came out of the medical facility saying to Mr Zebrakat “why do I put myself through this”. The answer to my own question is, I have no choice. If I want to sleep at night, it has to be preformed. I’m also waiting for my surgeon/team to return my call, regarding a course of appropriate action to be taken. Let’s see what develops over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I have my PET scan the beginning of May.

Since the last op, my abdomin feels slightly distorted and even the open wounds have healed larger than a normal scar line. At this moment, I don’t necessary like what I see, nevertheless they are survival scars and no one is going to see them. After all, it doesn’t really effect me as they are just scars at the end of the day. Furthermore the scars are not on show for all to see, therefore I do embrace them as survival.

On a positive note, I have lost a lot of weight since my last op (that could be considered as good or bad thing). Now to me its a blessing in disguise unless told otherwise as I’m going back to my original shape. Obviously when the undetected cancer was growing, my body was just inflating from hormones secreted from the dandelions. Even back in the day my physical trainer from the army would see me twice a week to torture me. He could never understand why I wasn’t losing weight from the exercise regime I was carrying out. It was always an unresolved puzzle and I consequently learned to live with the matter of contention. Regardless of feeling ill at times, people nowadays can’t believe how good I look. They are seeing a slimmer me and I’m seeing a sick person. The biggest thing they notice is the weight loss, in spite of me living with ongoing daily symptoms. Nowadays my clothes can be purchased off the rack without even having tried them on. It is an excellent feeling whether you are sick or not.

This week, I was informed of two friends passing away from cancer. Both suffered from different cancers, yet they were both so brave in their own right. It’s been rough week emotionaly for me and their families. One of my friends, even though we had different cancers we had similar symptoms in some respects. It was like I was opening up the suppressed emotions of death. Don’t get me wrong I am realistic, I knew one day that I would die of the disease, still I was living in the moment. I think these emotions were brought forward due to my friends passing from the disease and me dealing with more symptoms with no possible outcome but death in time.

No one wants to be faced with death. I’ve heard the phase used before, we could all die tomorrow crossing the road etc etc still bottom line is that its unexpected, with cancer you’re dying slowing and not all of a sudden. Yes we all know we are going to die one day, however we don’t know when or how, it’s the unknown. Please don’t be alarmed I don’t think I’m there yet, in spite of medical aid, I know deep down I’ve exhausted that. Therefore organs have to start failing to work efficiently. I could use another one of my nine lives and live for years, who knows. Under the circumstances it would be normal to think this way. I’m sure I will again and again, nevertheless it’s gave me a kick in the butt to get my paperwork in order. I did have anything in order in Canada but I haven’t completed everything in the U.K.

Cancer and death thoughts are always going to dovetail with one and another. Even patients who are cured with cancer will have had these thoughts somewhere throughout their journey. People who haven’t had cancer and who know of someone who’s had cancer will immediately think death. Bottom line the thoughts are unavoidable.

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

Weekly Blog No 119 – Cancer Update

Cancer Update

Yesterday I went to London, to see my Net Consultant(Oncologist). My Consultant was being a host for two Consultants from another country. Therefore even though he asked my permission, which I agreed, the meeting didn’t go as I initially predicted. In principal, I did envision the responses to some of my questions. It was a very weird meeting in some respects as my Consultant was going in one direction but I wanted him to take another direction. My quizzical mind needed answers to my enigma.

He did advise me that they had debunked my body of tumours but I’m not tumour free. My liver is giving me a run for my money at the moment, which I believe to be tumour pain. The reason I can say this is, as a result of liver pain before I had a liver resection op, which involved removing tumours.

I had a recent local CT scan, which was totally useless as the Radiologist appeared to be blindfolded when viewing the scan to report. Therefore I’m going back to London for Ga68 Pet Scan for a better prospective. I had a series of bloods, some new meds and I will be back to see him again at the end of April. I shall look forward to seeing the results but as we all know, not all my tumours have shown up on any of the previous scans.

In the meantime, life goes on and I will continue to be proactive. I do believe the latest surgery has bought me time and I’m so grateful for that. ❤️