tiltingheads

Cancer and other stuff

Dear Friends…

Peacefully and surrounded by those that love her, Francesca died today. As with everything Fran did in her life, it was planned and coordinated and entirely on her own terms.

The sadness we feel should only be for those of us left behind, that we are without her smile, her spark and her strength. She’d hate us feeling sorrow for her. Readers of this blog will know that Fran wasn’t a tragic victim. Cancer didn’t ‘beat’ Fran. She didn’t lose her ‘sad battle’. She set her shoulders and lived a life despite it. She packed her years full of adventure and love and made every day count.

What being ill gave Fran was a sense of immediacy. She stripped away everything that wasn’t true or important from her day to day and concentrated on what was authentic to her. “One plea to everyone” she said, “live an honest life. Denial only gets you so far. I made choices so that I could find Andy and luckily I did find him, but only because I was honest about how I felt.”

Fran sent an email to some of her best friends earlier this month. “Live on, be fabulous and gorgeous and never ever let anyone tell you you can’t do anything you want to do, ever. It is all there for you and I will be watching from afar, willing you on”.

Please leave any memories or messages for Andy and Fran’s family below, or email Bethm@lansons.com for a postal address and to register for memorial details. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the incredible Marie Curie hospice in Hampstead, who made her last days exactly what she wanted. You can also donate online here: www.justgiving.com/francescamarvell

Love to all,
Beth

Limbo

So here I am back at the hospice after I dragged myself through three sessions of radiotherapy to my neck (you may say ‘only’ three but when you tot up how much stuff I’ve had done to me over the last four years – yep it’s four years since my original diagnosis, maybe you can understand why every hour, every minute spent in a hospital is torture now). Anyway we went away to a posh spa last weekend, it wasn’t particularly relaxing and I barely slept. By the time I got home, I felt pretty awful and by Monday night was back here. Which is good, it’s a great place to be when you need to be.

I always thought I had this cancer thing nailed, right up until very recently. I knew and still do know what is going to happen to me, and I still am ‘ok’ with that. What I didn’t foresee is how difficult I would find it letting go of life. In the back of my head, I’m still planning festivals, still thinking about work, not thinking ‘when I get better I’m going to…’ because I know I’m not getting better. I have to remind myself, on virtually a daily basis, that I am riddled with cancer and it is physically painful and exhausting much of the time. Yes, today is ok but tomorrow or the next day or the next day might not be. And yet I cannot seem to get over this ridiculous guilt I have whereby I think I should be DOING something. Planning something. What I should be doing is taking to my bed and resting, really making the most of this time with family and friends, not torturing myself over the life I once had. I know how stupid this sounds and believe me it’s really hard to live knowing that others would have given anything to have had the time I’m having and besides it will be over too soon anyway. But I can’t help feeling utter frustration at the fact it often feels like we are all sitting around watching each other, wondering what we should be doing. We “shouldn’t” be doing anything except it’s not human nature to sit around and not do anything. Not in my world anyway.

Anyway I guess no-one has a handbook for any of this stuff and I’m certainly not wishing my life away – God no – just maybe wondering what it is I could and should be doing now. I don’t work without a plan!

On Your Toys

If your name is Liz, Lisa or Ali then you’ll recognise the title of this blog instantly. In 2007, the four of us tripped off to France for a long weekend of skiing. Lisa and I had snowboarding lessons, the instructor couldn’t say “toes” and kept telling us to stay on our “toys”. Presumably he meant stay flexible and ready to change direction at any time, which is a lot like what it feels like at the moment.

First up, an update on what’s happening medically: one of things I’ve been complaining about for ages is pain in my neck and skull. The same pain that had two cortisone injections into my neck which, if it were muscular pain, would have sorted. It wasn’t getting any better, I couldn’t get comfy at night so finally they send me for an MRI on my neck on a Friday. Monday afternoon I have 4 missed calls from the hospital and a message to call/bleep them urgently. Turns out the radiographer has spotted a ‘blob’ of cancer on one of the bones in my neck. There are 6-7 bones that make up the neck bit of your spine, they number C1-C7 and sort of hold your head to your body. Or something. The one you really don’t want affected is C1, at the base of your skull. Which one did they find cancer in? C1. I can almost laugh now but believe me I was not laughing when they said we’re worried your neck is unstable and if you’re not immobilised (head in a collar, flat on your back, don’t move) there could be some bad shit going down. Me: “like, paralysis?” Them: “no, death. Instantly”. Off I go to be hospitalised for what turns out to be 20 hours when it later turns out I don’t even need to be there. There was a specialist team meeting that morning where some super dick in skull base surgery reviewed and said actually it’s not as bad as it looks; no it’s not good but no she doesn’t need to be strapped down, radiotherapy may really help with this, send her home. And this guy is the most experienced surgeon in C1 injuries (which are complex as they can involve your spinal chord if not managed) so I would still be in that hospital bed if he didn’t think it was safe to come home.

Having spent the entire time in hospital in BITS, I mean bits, I’m discharged feeling totally emotionally broken. My mum is here, having to watch her youngest daughter in pieces, having been so relatively calm up to this point and I get home where all three of us are completely stunned at what has just happened. The next morning, my liver was screaming at me and I could barely stand in the shower. We called the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, they said come in. After emotionally collapsing on all the doctors I have come to know so well there, they said why not stay for a rest? They just knew, they could see I had had such a shock and was in a real state. I ‘checked in’ for 4 nights and during that time, they patched me up again till I was strong enough to come home. They looked after Andy and my mum and dad, they welcomed the many friends who came to visit and it was so peaceful and calm up there.

As it turned out, the surgery that was mentioned is not necessary (or probably not even appropriate for someone whose disease is as advanced as mine, I think more surgery would finish me off) and I am having radiotherapy to my skull/spine instead to try and manage the pain and stop it growing any more. It’s just a holding tactic but one I have no choice over at the moment. I started today, and have two more so not long. I am on standby at the hospice in case I decide I need to go in again if things get bad, it’s totally my call and that is exactly what they’re about. Letting you make your own decisions for as long as possible, and they will work round you. They say radiotherapy is v good for bone pain so I’m hoping that’s the case.

So that’s that. Back to normal, yeah? Well, not quite. All this has done is reinforce how ‘on my toys’ I need to be and so does everyone around me. I went through the worst period of my life then came through it within the space of a week, THAT’S how quickly things are moving for Andy and I at the moment. And yet it’s the hardest thing in the world to not slip back into ‘right, as you were, what are we doing today?’ As we should obviously, and we are grateful to have this time where, bar an awful blip, things ARE ok. But when you ask us how we are, we can only really answer for the next two hours because who the flip knows when something equally awful happens again. And I can’t even say ‘yeah I think I’ll be alright for the next few days’ because I might wake up tomorrow feeling inexplicably awful in the morning. It happens and it’s really bloody frustrating, I hate it.

The single most awful thing that has dawned on me is that I, and we, have little of our own say over anything we want to do any more and for me at least, that’s crippling. I was a 33 yr old newlywed, with a great job I loved and worked hard at, I cycled to work, I played netball, I did volunteer work, I went to more gigs than I ever should have. I had an active life and now I do none of those things. Andy is here all the time now which is wonderful but I am jealous of him when he cycles to the pool in the morning, whereas it takes me hours and a concoction of drugs to get going out of my pyjamas. We are do-ers, planners, we live in the woods and build chairs for each other, we flit off to Gretna on a whim to get married. We are not sit-around-ers and that’s what it feels like we have become and it’s not nice. Of course, OF COURSE, having the chance to be together, to talk deeply, to laugh, to cuddle is beautiful, really it is, but there are times when both of us are angry at what cancer has physically and practically taken away from us, from me. It reminds us we are not like other couples. BUT when I think about it, that’s what makes us so brilliant. That we are both on our toys after just two short years and 8 months of marriage under our belt, still feeling the same way we always did though I am not the sprightly, energetic young woman (physically anyway) I once was. Even in the face of what seems like utter calamity sometimes we are still strong. To my husband x

Hello!

Well it’s been quite a week and a bit but I thought it only fair to say ‘hello, I’m still here, and we’re still doing ok.’ And maybe even share some of my thoughts during this, the most bizarre of times.

First up, how am I physically? Well it’s fair to say I have a new-found respect for people who work in pain management. And I have also learnt, as if I didn’t already know, that cancer is bloody wiley. It’s not quite as easy as pop a few pills and bing! no more pain. It’s really quite difficult to get the balance right – much pain medication makes you sick, or the dose isn’t quite right, or it works for a bit then some other random pain will pop up that needs dealing with, or you get your pain nailed but the cost is you can barely speak with exhaustion as a result. And I am not prepared to let go completely and risk my faculties going before they’re ready to go on their own by pumping myself full to the brim of heavy duty drugs that mean I miss out on this last bit of clarity when so much is becoming clearer to me, on a daily basis. So much of this I would never want to miss out on, in many ways it’s the most incredible part. Being able to say goodbye with love, without heartbreak or panic. Being able to fully reflect on your life and the wonder and delight when you realise that, at the very end, when it really mattered, you did everything right. I DID IT RIGHT! ME! Who, for so many years, thought she would never get it right or be happy, because life was inherently shit and I had so much to be miserable about, and the world owed me a living, grumble grumble grumble.

It is the weirdest feeling to know you are dying, to feel it, to visibly see it (there are lumps popping up in a few places and I am now ‘medically anorexic’ due to the weight I have shed, although a well-timed dose of steroids is helping immensely with bringing my appetite back) and be OK with it and not be completely freaked out. I have been trying to think of a way to describe it without sounding all ‘far out … it’s a beautiful thing maaaaaan’ but it’s quite hard. Obviously I am not loving it, but weirdly I feel calmer than I have done in my whole life. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the reason I am able to have this last part of my life with nothing but peace and love (maaaaaaaan) is because I accepted what was going to happen to me a long time ago. I was never the type to run away, I never pretended it wasn’t happening though I really, desperately wanted to, I never genuinely believed that some miracle would occur and magically take it all away. I obediently did all the drugs I was supposed to, I endured the hell of chemo over and over and over and I kept going because I was told this drug or that drug might make a difference. And over the 2.5 years I had secondaries, some drugs DID have an impact but it was never for very long. But I was always realistic and many times, that was mistaken by people for being ‘negative’. Which hurt, a lot. So many times I felt like I was constantly having to explain myself, so many times I was dealing with other people’s inability to deal with what was happening. I get that, unless you are faced with your own mortality, why would you think about your own death? I never did before I got cancer. And I didn’t even think about it when I got primary breast cancer. It never occurred to me I could die first time round, not for a second. I just had some chemo and thought that would be it, because in the majority of cases, that IS it. Survival rates in breast cancer are good, more people never develop the disease a second time than do, and even fewer actually die of it (I think). I was more bothered about losing my hair (and I stand by that and say losing your hair is the shittest thing ever. A mastectomy was pretty small fry for me, I had a decent reconstruction and no-one need ever know the difference. Hair is different. It’s like walking round with a badge, declaring you have cancer and inviting the world to tilt their heads at you. Awful).

All the time, all I ever seemed to hear from some people was the standard ‘think positive…keep fighting’ and I was and I did, but not in the way people wanted me to apparently. What do people even mean when they say that anyway? Do they think it’s possible to positively think your way out of anything? When they say, ‘keep fighting’, fighting against what? And how? How can I ‘fight’ cancer on a physical level? If I could have thought and wished it away, I would have done 100 times over and so would many who have gone before me but it doesn’t work like that generally. My way of thinking positive was just to continue to live my life even more than before, to stay working, to retain who I was as opposed to just the cancer patient, to get on with things, to go out and find my man and marry hime when all the odds were stacked against me. Not once did I roll over and crumble and give up on my life. Yes, so much of it was hard. There are so many ways in which your life changes but I decided I could either sit and feel sorry for myself, or I could just try and get to a place of open-minded acceptance. And when things seemed desperate and hopeless, during the times I thought “I can’t do this, it’s too hard”, when I was angry at the world and everyone in it.. I dunno, I just somehow kept plodding along. All the time with an understanding that yes, one day, this would be the thing that killed me but as long as it wasn’t happening that day, I was alright. Trying to explain that to other people, trying to get them to understand that actually, I wasn’t prepared to spend my life being so scared of death that I would keep blindly running from it. That was tough, some people physically recoiled from me when I tried to speak about it so largely, I stopped speaking about it. But I carried on thinking about it and exploring it which led to lots of bigger questions about life and stuff and helped me make changes to my life that have ultimately led me to become the person I am today. The person who is face to face with her death but doesn’t hate it, we’re not squaring up to each other like in a duel, it’s not a stand-off and it’s not painful. It’s a realisation that we are all human, our lives are just tiny parts of what is a massively big world and I am so incredibly lucky to have had the time to sort some stuff out in my head, really understand what it’s all about, be at peace with it and to have done the things I have done over the last couple of years. I have absolutely no regrets. There is nothing I wish I would have done or said. Andy and have this time now to talk about EVERYTHING, even the stuff we thought we never would discuss and I leave him with no regrets either which is the main thing. I can’t stand the thought of leaving unanswered questions for the people I love. What ifs? There will be no what ifs, no stones unturned. I leave everything exactly as I wish it to be and my family and friends can see that, for possibly the first time in my life, I am really, honestly, genuinely peaceful. And glad to have had the life I have had, mistakes and all. Which hopefully makes the grieving process easier for them too.

On a practical level, because I was prepared to accept it a while ago, I’ve got an incredible palliative care team around me that I have known for a long time now. They know me, they know what’s important to me, they know the kind of person I am and I have absolute faith that when the end comes and I have no control they will know what to do because we have discussed it. Plenty of times when I was well and it was all just a mad theory and not very really at all. Andy knows who to call, when, what the protocol is, what will happen and we have absolutely covered our backs as much as we can. I have possibly the best palliative care doctor leading my care now, who has become very close to me, and I cannot imagine how horrific it would be to try and start that process with a whole new team now. It’s March soon and you will see daffodil badges everywhere for Marie Curie’s appeal. Please please do buy one and support them, I cannot tell you how much easier they have made this whole thing for both me and Andy.

This is probably the worst written, most poorly constructed blog I’ve ever written – sorry – but I suppose what I want to say is, I didn’t run and because I didn’t run I’m not afraid, and because I’m not afraid, I can sit here now in peace and that is all I ever wanted.

Another blog? That was quick

OK people, I’m going to keep this as brief and as factual as I can for the moment – again the blog comes into its own when having to keep people informed when there are big developments. Hopefully you are sitting down? Good.

Yesterday I got my scan results which revealed that the cancer has spread far and wide, fast. It’s now moved to my spine, ribs, adrenal gland (no, me neither) and liver and probably more places. The fact they are not telling exactly how much (just ‘a lot’) or where exactly (just ‘in a lot of places’) speaks volumes – it’s unspoken that it’s not good and I have been told my time is now limited. I don’t know what timescales we’re talking although I suspect, based on how bad I’ve been feeling for quite some time and how quickly it’s come on, that I will be lucky if I get another couple of months, at best. I’ll be starting on a drug which protects your bones from the cancer, helps them stay strong so the risks of fractures and breaks is lessened. Thankfully this can be given at the hospice in Hampstead where I’ve been going for a long time, and where I feel safest. I don’t think there is much point in being in the hospital any more and I don’t really want to sit in ‘the chair’ surrounded by people who are having chemo which is aimed at making them better when I have no such hope any more.

Clearly we are both stunned. And yes, devastated. BUT I always knew this day would come and I’ve been lucky to have been as well as I have during all this time. As in my previous post, I did so much for so long and that was great. And in a way, I’m almost relieved. I have been feeling so bad for quite a while and I kept trying to explain it away as something else and hang on to the thought it was just a blip and I’d start to feel better, very soon. At least now I know I wasn’t actually being a baby about the pain, or imagining it. There was something very wrong the whole time.

There’s a lot to do and think about now but I just want to assure everyone I’m as ok as I can be. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare and I’m so, so grateful that I had the opportunity to do a lot of ‘sorting’ well in advance of this day and there is nothing I have to rush out and do because it’s already done and was done a long time ago. Now I just get to enjoy the time I have left with my family and friends. And we get to laugh and remember all the amazing times we had, and start saying our goodbyes, making sure nothing is left unsaid. I’m glad for that, so glad. Few people get that chance and the people I leave behind can hopefully draw some comfort in the fact they always knew how I felt about them and that I died a happy woman because of the man who captured my heart from our very first date.

I know this is probably hideous news for a lot of you reading this but the last thing I need is sadness all around me, there’s time enough for that when I’m gone. In the meantime I intend to buy outrageously expensive new boots, cuddle the kittens till they can’t breathe, laugh laugh laugh as hard as I can and bury my face in my husband’s armpit at any given opportunity (he’s so tall and I can’t lift my head at the moment as my neck is mega sore. And actually it’s the very core of him I want to breathe in, every second of every day I have left).

I am not afraid of dying. Not any more. Me and death will be just fine because everybody dies, it’s what happens. I haven’t gone yet, I’m still here. With a sense of humour and a personality and a very clear sense of who I am which I never had pre-cancer. And that’s a gift in itself.

At last a gap appears

Well that blog hiatus didn’t last long did it? Think of this as an interim update – I’d forgotten how useful this blog is as a way of just keeping people up to speed and the amount of texts, calls and emails I’ve had asking how I am and what’s happening reminds me why I started writing it in the first place. There are only so many times I can keep repeating ‘not much to say at the moment but I’ll let you know when there is’. I don’t mean that to sound ungrateful, it’s hugely touching that so many people seem to care but I really need to not talk about it all the time. So it’s only fair to everyone, me included, to provide a quick update.

As you can see, I’m still here. Three cheers for that! Medically, it’s a bit complicated and I really can’t be bothered going into the specifics because it’s quite unfamiliar to me but it’s all being worked on. I’m in quite a lot of pain much of the time; not all the time, some days better than others, and hopefully moving in the right direction. My energy levels aren’t great – I’ve never been one for middle-of-the-day snoozes but they’re increasingly necessary. The fact is I have things growing inside me that leech off a lot of my energy and there’s only so much to go round unfortunately. I’ve been prescribed a whole range of different pain medications, much of which has made me sick, so it’s a case of trial and error and I’m confident they’ll find the one that’s right for me soon. I’ve got scan results due this week, then a brain scan will happen next month. So on a medical front I have nothing to report really but probably soon.

I think the above makes it all sound quite bleak and it has been quite bleak at times to be honest but I remain hopeful that this is all temporary and I will start to feel better soon. I’ve got a new palliative care doctor who is brilliant and has assured me that I’m most definitely not going mad, and that the reason I still don’t feel on top form head-wise is because whole brain radiotherapy is actually pretty invasive and it takes a minimum of three months to recover from the immediate effects, and can be up to 9-12 months before you’re fully over it. I think I’ll be over it quicker than that but it’s a relief to know I’m still in recovery phase and can stop worrying about the fact I still don’t feel better, I still don’t feel better, ohGodohGodmybrain’sknackeredforeverisn’tit? No. It just needs time to heal, and it will heal I’m sure. I often forget I had brain surgery two weeks before so no wonder my poor noggin has taken such a battering.

I’ve been working very hard to somehow plough a way forward from where I was over Christmas and the New Year because I knew I definitely couldn’t stay in that misery for long. All I could see was a massive black mess in front of me with no idea where to even start to try and sort it out and after much soul-searching and with the help of my counsellor, I’ve realised that I am still terrified. But whereas before I couldn’t properly identify what I was frightened of, now I am a little clearer. Am I scared of dying? No. I’m scared of what happens between now and then but worrying about that isn’t particularly helpful or a very good use of my increasingly precious time and I have approached that like I would a work project: identifying who needs to be involved, when, what everyone’s role is, is everyone briefed on what they need to do. Yes? Then park that, it’s done. Medicine, oncology, palliative care – not my job, I have a team of experts who will look after me if/when problems present themselves. I cannot sit here worrying ‘well what if THIS happens, what if THAT happens?’ I’ve had long conversations with all the relevant people, they all know my concerns and I feel confident they will do right by me.

My biggest, most crippling fear relates to lack of control. I have been incredibly lucky in the 2.5 years that I’ve had secondaries in that I’ve never been troubled by obvious symptoms of cancer. I’ve felt well, I’ve continued working, I’ve played netball and cycled, I’ve had holidays, been to gigs and festivals, been to the woods and made chairs from tree trunks, and of course I met and married the love of my life. I’ve been able to dictate how this fits into my life, and I’ve largely been pretty good at it. I’ve never played the ‘cancer patient’ (although the C card has come in handy occasionally – we got the money back on the honeymoon by the way), I’ve been adamant I am NOT cancer and can we all stop head-tilting and carry on as normal please? I haven’t dragged people to hospital appts or chemo sessions with me, I’ve been determined that cancer and all the tedious, boring admin that comes with it (and there is a lot, my God there’s a lot) is going to affect as few people as possible. And for so long, that worked and it was great. But it’s becoming a little different now because for the first time, I don’t feel very well. Not REALLY AWFUL, I THINK I’M GOING TO DIE SOON bad. Just tired, barely an appetite, and old. I feel old. I look at my bike in the conservatory and it makes me sad to wonder if I’ll ever go flying down Spring Hill on it again. I can’t fill my diary with things any more because I really can’t predict one day to the next how I’m going to feel and that is SO frustrating. What, I can’t even run my own diary now? For so long, cancer was a thing I had and it was horrible but it didn’t have too much of an impact on what I was able to do.

The other thing I’ve been reflecting a lot more on is the impact this is all having on those close to me. Over the years, people have asked if they can help, what can they do? And I’ve breezily said, no honestly I’m fine but thanks for asking. Because I never, ever wanted to be the one who needed help and I didn’t need it then anyway. But now I’m having to be really honest with myself and admit that’s sometimes not the case any more. The problem (which I’m working on) is that I just feel embarrassed. And guilty and almost ashamed, like if I admit I need help, I’m giving in to this disease and I’ve failed. I am a 33 year old woman, with a job, a home, a husband and two kittens. I also have a career and ambition and hobbies and interests and ideas about how I’d like to grow as a person. And a lot of the time it feels like I am being held back by my (hopefully temporary) physical limitations and it makes me feel sick, sick to my stomach. And furious. And screaming in frustration

The breakthrough I’ve had recently though is turning it all on its head and imagining this was all happening to one of my friends. Would I see them as anything less than they really are because they had cancer? Would I see ‘cancer’ before I saw them, their personality, their spirit, the reasons we are friends in the first place? Would I forget all the amazing times we’ve had before cancer so rudely interrupted all our lives? Would I think it a hassle to go with them to hospital sometimes? Would I think, because they needed a bit of extra help occasionally, that they’re beyond help now really and they’re just the cancer patient *head tilt*? No, I wouldn’t. And more importantly, I would be absolutely horrified and devastated they could even think that, and very, very sad they felt they couldn’t come to me when they needed to. So how have I thought that shutting my friends out when they’re so desperate to do something, ANYTHING, to help is acceptable? Watching a much-loved friend go through this must be horrific and I’ve been a fool to not allow people to help. For their sake as much as mine. So, reluctantly, that has to change. I don’t need a steady stream of visitors with tilted heads bringing flowers like I’m about to croak it any second, I don’t need presents, and I definitely don’t need sympathy thanks. I just need… well I don’t know yet, I haven’t figured it out yet but I know I’ve brought a lot of the darkness on myself by misguidedly trying to protect the people I love from the realities of what living with advanced cancer brings. And I won’t be able to do that forever, will I?

So. To summarise. Yes things are still up in the air, no I don’t know what’s going to happen yet but I’m trying to be a bit more realistic even though I don’t want to. I’m keeping an open mind, hoping I can pack some weight back on, that the doctors can make things stop hurting and after that, well who knows? I know I have been a horrible, spitty, scratchy nightmare in recent months (exactly like the bloody kittens at the moment) and I’m sorry for that. Really sorry. It’s not me, I hope people close to me know that.

The title of this blog is the from a song written by one of my favourite bands, Field Music (I think I may have mentioned – repeatedly – that Dave from the band [who has now become a bit of a pal, along with wife Laura] sang at our wedding, and no I’m still not over that). “At last a gap appears, a space in which to move” and it kind of feels like that now. Those horrible dark clouds are still there a lot of the time but a gap has appeared and there is a little more room to move. Even just a bit and that’s all I needed really, the tiniest bit. With scan results due, I know I could be in for a tough time again fairly soon but I now know I’m not having to do it on my own. Not all of it anyway.

Signing off (for a while)

This will be my last post for a while – as friends will already know, I’ve decided that the blog has become too large a space to share how I feel at the moment and I need to take some things offline and process them in private. With family and close friends, with professionals who are well versed in this kind of, emotional freefalling I’d suppose you’d call it.

It’s probably no surprise to many of you that Christmas and New Year completely floored us. Driving all over the country visiting friends and family, the pressure to “be happy everyone, it’s Christmas!” and I was having problems with my cough, ribs and back and generally didn’t feel well. NYE, even worse. NYE is a time for reflecting on the previous year and wondering what the next twelve months will bring. Well when you have an indication of what may well be a very definite possibility this year, it’s hard not to see the new year in with tears and heavy hearts, not for me but for the people who love me. But then again, I don’t know that do I? Anything could happen. I’m just in limbo at the moment – no treatment plan ahead – may not even be needed for a while anyway but to feel the cancer inside me, ravaging my lungs and making me cough, cough, cough, CONSTANTLY. Maybe you can imagine what that feels like and understand why I’ve hit a very big emotional wall. What do I do? What do I do?

Today I went to see my team at Marie Curie who, purely by the fact they’re qualified in every single bizarre aspect of what living with a terminal illness does to you, are the only ones I can trust with this stuff. Today, I could barely speak or begin to try and verbalise how very, very dark and complex everything feels at the moment. I just sat and sobbed, like I’d not allowed myself to in recent weeks for fear of never stopping. I can’t currently unpick it or rationalise it, so how am I meant to developing ‘coping mechanisms’ which I think I have been able to in the past? I used to have bad days and I always knew they were going to pass. Now, I have a wobble, immediately start thinking it’s something physical -“it’s my brain isn’t it? Radiotherapy hasn’t worked, they’ve been sitting there growing for the last 8 weeks and now I’m going to have a massive stroke or something!” – and realise I have lost the ability to reign myself back in and get back on track. Then start panicking on the tube, have to pop a little blue tablet (some kind of calmyoudown drug) and get off at the next station. That’s not me! How did this become me? It can’t be, and I certainly don’t want it to be. I may have limited time left so of course I want to maximise every perfect day, every perfect moment.

Here is my admission, the honest one. I cannot cope at the moment, with very much, but luckily I have recognised this for myself and am planning to surround myself with people who will know how to help me. And this means I leave this blog for a while and get well again in my head. The blog was only ever supposed to be honest but there is too much stuff I have to figure out for myself before I can cope with any level of honesty with all of you. I’m turning into someone I don’t want to be – someone poisonous and angry and frightened of the world – and I have to nip that right in the bud. If my ‘soul’ isn’t happy and at some kind of peace, then what hope have I got for my body? Which is doing relatively ok, given the circumstances.

So, I bid you farewell for a while. I hope not forever. I hope to be able to return in a few months and tell you all how I cracked the fear that is seeping into my bones every day. I know it’s possible, I know there are still sparks of peace and joy in me somewhere but I need some time with people who know me to see if we can find them again. Goldenballs has, as is always his way, surprised me beyond belief. He’s not a talker, never has been, but occasionally a look or a gesture or a very simple act will have a thousand words behind it, and I just know. Whatever else 2012 brought us – one too many brain tumours mainly – it also brought us our marriage which looking back now, I’m not sure how either of us ever managed without. In my little pit of darkness, he is still a very bright light. And I’m sure in his own pit of darkness, I am his too.

Writing this blog has brought me much comfort and I hope it will soon do so again. Thank you all for reading and I hope you understand. Please don’t fear I have turned into a manic depressive, I can still laugh, work, iron GB’s shirts, feed the kittens. You’ll still find me arsing around on Twitter (of course) so I’m not totally disappearing but it’s mainly talk of Coronation St than cancer. I haven’t lost the plot so you don’t have to avoid me in the street. Well you can if you want. I’m just a bit sad sometimes and I’m going to learn to be un-sad. That’s all.

See you when the sun is out again, metaphorically and physically x

Knowledge

A month or so ago, Goldenballs and I booked what was going to be the trip of a lifetime, our ‘real’ honeymoon if the truth be told, paid for our very generous wedding guests who donated to our holiday fund – three weeks in the Philippines in January. Three whole weeks of exploring some of the thousands of tiny, beautiful islands, sunning ourselves, sleeping, snogging, lazing around in the evening listening to the sea, GB off diving (one of his favourite things to do). You get it, it was supposed to be on a par with Thailand last year (which was also mega). We figured we deserved it, treatment-wise it had just been constant and we were both so relieved and exhausted to drag ourselves through radiotherapy that we desperately need something to look forward to. However…

The trip is now off (and I am currently having to think of some way of getting our money back on the flights, which are non-refundable). It started when I realised I couldn’t get travel insurance. From anywhere, even the specialist cancer insurers (at this point, can I politely request people don’t send me any suggestions; as much as I appreciate they are well-meaning, the trip is well and truly off now, I’m over it, plus every insurer you try puts you through the same series of painful questions – all necessary, I understand that – about prognoses and stuff, and it is so depressing having to go over and over it with someone you don’t know). Once we’d got over the initial “oh ffs, this is so shit!” thing, I then started to listen a bit closer to something in me that I’d been ignoring in the desperate desire to have this amazing holiday, wahey! And that was that, right now, as much as I’m doing OK (I think), I’m just not feeling quite strong enough yet to go that far, knowing that IF anything happened to me, I would be nowhere near home, and with no way of getting back without insurance. I thought I could ignore that niggling feeling – seize the day! Go for it! etc – but I couldn’t and I can’t. Then I thought, right let’s weigh up all the realistic things that could happen here: firstly, the radiotherapy could well have done its job and burnt the things in my brain to buggery, never to be seen again. If that’s the case, then maybe I don’t need insurance and can go anyway. BUT if it hasn’t worked, and the tumours they know are?/were? growing pretty quickly is there a chance, even the tiniest chance, I could go and something terrible ends up happening when something pops in my brain and I end up in a Filipino hospital? Can you imagine? With no insurance?? At this point, I have to be clear: I am not ‘thinking myself into it’, I haven’t ‘just got to think positive’ or ‘keep fighting’ (absolute pet hate phrase, never use it on me please). I’ve got to make decisions based on what I know and weigh up what risks I’m prepared to take, comfortably. We could well have gone and everything would have been fine, but I’m pretty sure I would have spent most of the time out there shitting myself and what kind of dream trip is that? The only way I would have gone is if I’ve had had a brain scan first, just to see what’s going in there. And if it showed the radiotherapy hasn’t worked, not only is the holiday screwed anyway, I’m left with some information that I never really wanted in the first place!

After much mulling it over, I’ve decided that I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. Not at the moment, and if the price of that is what will have undoubtedly been a fantastic holiday, then that’s just the way it is. The brain team don’t want to see me again until March and that being the case, why on earth would I want to put myself through the trauma of more scans and more waiting for results so soon after the worst few months of my life (yes, they really have been that bad)?? It’s not even like I get to have the next few months completely hospital-free – I’m seeing Alison again on Wednesday and, whilst I’m hoping for another appt like last month (“nope, no chemo yet. See you next month”) she may well start getting on my case about more treatment or making me have tests and scans I don’t want. I just don’t know.

What I’ve realised the longer I’ve lived with advanced cancer is that you have to be increasingly aware of the information that is available to you. And crucially, how useful it is for you to know certain things; it’s something I have to consider so much more than I ever did. As little as a year ago, I was itching to find out whether the latest chemo I’d been on had worked, or whether we needed to change. Because there was a plan of action ahead at least. I could use that information to move forward. I found a diary the other day that I started writing when I was first diagnosed in 2009 and man, I sought out everything I could find about treatments, options, side effects, fertility, everything. I knew more about my type of cancer through my own research than had ever been explained to me by any of the doctors. I worked out the link between triple negative cancer and the BRCA1 gene mutation in young women (below 30, I was 29 at the time). Even when I took this to my first oncologist and she dismissed me as “having trouble coming to terms with the end of your treatment dear, it’s not uncommon” and sent me away like some whining hypochondriac, I knew she was wrong and I begged my surgeon to send me for the test instead. The test that, had it been done sooner, and my BRCA status picked up earlier, may have meant that all this could have been avoided (accepting the horrible unpredictability of cancer obviously).

Things are different now, certain things are helpful for me to know. Others aren’t. On pretty much a daily basis, I’m reminded of my predicament with all sorts of ‘knowledge’ shoved in my face, whether I like it or not – driving licence gone never to return, hair gone never to return (replaced by a swishy weave but it’s not the same. Do you know how much I long to wash my own hair, to have someone blowdry it for me?), netball trainers hung up forever after almost 20 years and recently, a new, very brutal and cruel reminder in the form of a pregnancy test that was thankfully negative. I can say thankfully, and mean and believe that logically – getting pregnant now, or ever, would be a total disaster. I know this. And medically unlikely anyway. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t weep in the toilet at the fact I will NEVER get to do a test and be excited about it. Standing with my husband in our kitchen going ‘is it time yet? You look, no YOU look…’ Like other newly married couples in their 30s are doing right now, the thing I would have so desperately wanted if our situation were different, knowing how very loved any child of ours would have been. But I’ve made my peace with that, and luckily the toilet tears didn’t last long :)

There are other things I’m very interested in knowing though, and I’m making more time to go and find out about – alternative therapies, supplements and healing mainly. Things I had previously dismissed a bit, as I thought modern medicine would just sort it all for me. Anything that keeps me out of THE CHAIR is worth investing in, anything that’s not going to make me feel terrible and may even help me create my own miracle, bring it on. I’m back at The Haven on a very regular basis, I’m seeing a healer (I know, me right?!), I’m sleeping as much as I can, working in between and I’m loving my husband and kittens to death. As for the Philippines, who needs sun-drenched beaches when you have the wilds of Scotland which is where we’re off to instead. To drink whisky, wrap up very warm and enjoy some time on our own, just the two of us. And that’s all I need to know at the moment. Cheers!

Sunbed

I’ve wanted to write a blog a few times over the last few weeks and in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t as I’m pretty sure I would be reading it back now in horror, not recognising the person who wrote it. The fact is the past few weeks have been completely surreal, it feels like so much has happened – I’ve experienced every emotion under the sun it seems and there have been many, many times where I couldn’t even speak. A rare thing indeed as those who know me will testify. I have no real plan for where this is going so I’ll just write and let’s see what happens, shall we?

So. Radiotherapy is awful. Really. (NB to anyone who may be reading and facing the same thing, it’s do-able. It must be as I’m sitting here now and I’d refer you back to Ellie’s blog of 12 November last year for verification of this. I just had a bad time of it but I put that down to the fact I’d only had pretty horrible brain surgery a week or so before). I’ve only just realised that my radiotherapy is almost a year to the day of Ellie’s. I don’t know what this means, perhaps it just reminds me of how much of a connection we had and how important she was to me – how it really felt like only she could ever, ever know what this was like, though I didn’t know her for very long.

I went in every day, to the same department I had radiotherapy to my breast back in 2009. On my first day, they took me into a room to explain exactly what was going to be happening every day for two weeks and it was only after a few minutes of deja vu that I realised it was the exact same room they took me and my friend Lisa into in 2010 when they told us my cancer had spread to my lungs. So a great start to the week. First blast on Monday, by Wednesday I’m sobbing on the registrar saying I can’t do it, please can I delay it or at least be sedated in some way every time I have to be clamped to the table in that sodding mask? The NHS has delivered for me on numerous occasions over the last three years but I have never known kindness like I was shown by all the radiotherapy staff at UCH (if by some weird coincidence anyone knows anyone there, please do forward this onto them). Every day, they’d see me come shuffling and quivering down the corridor, pale and clammy with fear (it’s the mask! It’s horrible) and every day, they would put a walkie talkie by my ear and talk to me constantly, explaining what the machine is doing now, counting down the seconds, then rushing in and freeing me with massive smiles and “well done! You’re very brave and you’ve only got 8/7/6/5/etc to go now!” I mean, THAT is the true spirit of the NHS: people who care. People who understand this is frightening and go above and beyond their duty to make it as easy for you as possible. By the time I left my final session on the Friday, I was almost sad to leave and had a little cry on the way home, largely as I was so thankful I had had them there that whole two weeks.

During that two weeks, I was sick. A lot. With no real warning or pattern (although tended to be in the mornings). My appetite went, I could only stomach the blandest of foods – plain noodles, mash, buckets of Lucozade. I was so scared of throwing up, I developed this weird food phobia where I just couldn’t face anything. Energy-wise, how I managed to get to the hospital every day is beyond me. Every day involved sitting in my pyjamas watching films until the time came to get dressed and get on the tube. Thankfully the kittens arrived just as I started so I had loads of time for cuddles and playing with them, they’ve been my salvation so far. What you have to remember is that really, this is all new for me. I’ve been knocked around on chemo but it’s been temporary and I’ve bounced back relatively quickly. For two solid weeks, I was virtually housebound, exhausted and tired and wondering ‘Is this it? Is this what cancer is going to feel like now?’ For the last few years, I’ve largely felt ok from the disease itself and my God, after the last two weeks I now know how fortunate I’ve been in that respect. I’m not in any pain, I can get around, I can keep my life going to a substantial degree. Having your head cut open for the second time in a year, then fried shortly after – all I can say is even my limits have been tested and there have been split seconds where I’ve really thought ‘this IS it, I’m going to die’. Yet here I am, writing a blog.

My biggest fear was that the treatment was going take something of ‘me’ away. Having been reassured that, clinically, that wouldn’t be the case, I went into it a bit blasé and not anticipating in the slightest that the combination of actually having to emotionally process what’s happened since we got back from honeymoon (it all happens so fast, to think about logically at the time is impossible) and the physical effect of having part of your brain destroyed on a daily basis (albeit as gently as possible and always with the view that your good bits of brain regenerate themselves, which they do) would be hardgoing. So the shock of feeling so physically bad and bewildered and confused and frightened all at once, let’s just say I ended the treatment a hissing, spitting, clawing ball of rage and poison. As Andy will testify. Bad wife, really bad wife!

Anyway, barring a tiny blip last week where I had what I now know was a mini-seizure on the way home from the tube (nothing too major, got a bit lost on the way home, took meds and was fine), all I can say is that today I feel OK. I’m still really tired, a lot of the time, which is going to take some getting used to but I hope will improve fairly soon. My hair fell out completely – for the third time, lovely! – the day after I finished and my forehead is a little on the pink side. Three separate people in work yesterday said I looked brown and had I had a sunbed? Which is actually good, I’d rather come in looking like I’ve been in the sun than pale and sickly-looking. The Weave is back on, carefully and gently but I’m just so glad to look and feel a bit more normal.

Where has all this left me in terms of THE DECISION? I know what my gut, and my heart is saying but that’s just what it’s saying now, having had a bucketload of poking, prodding, drilling, puking, crying. The good thing is I don’t even have to make any decisions yet, who could have anywhere near enough lucidity after having had what I’ve had to be able to make that kind of decision?! I saw Alison last week and without prompt she said ‘you need to get better’, listened to my chest and in spite of all the coughing (pretty constant), decided that my breathing was actually fine and there was no need for chemo at this stage anyway. So I see her again later this month and we’ll take it from there.

I can’t lie and say that during the past few weeks I haven’t really started thinking, in real terms – time? place? pain? things that need sorting before I go? The cats! Who is going to have the cats?! – about what my death will be like. At times, it’s felt like I’ve come to a fork in the road and the people who have been with me on this “journey” (ick, sorry, hate that cancer cliche bollocks), have suddenly had to stop at this junction and can only stand and watch as I have to take one of the routes on my own. I’ve walked a few steps up it, and it is not nice. At all. But I know, at the very end of the route, there is something that resembles peace and tranquility. I know that when my life comes to an end, I won’t be kicking and screaming. I know I’ll be ready as my body will have told me it’s had enough so I just leave my body here. Whether there’s something in/about you that goes onto other things, I have no idea but I’m not afraid of that. People have gone before me and they could be waiting up there – “Finally! You’re here! See, wasn’t so bad was it? Right, here’s the bar…” If they’re not and there’s nothing, well then it doesn’t matter does it? I’ll be dead so I can’t be disappointed. The thing I have struggled with, so much, is the absolute panic I feel at leaving people behind but I am slowly coming to terms with the fact I can’t change that people will be sad but what I can do is reassure myself that life DOES go on when someone you love goes. It hurts, and perhaps life is never quite the same again but in time, people move on and they cope without you. I have to believe that, otherwise I will never be able to go to my death in peace and that is all I truly want.

Having said all this, I’m now – right now – not on that scary, lonely path. I am at home. I am with my kittens. My house is warm, I have made a nice dinner for my husband who I have cuddled and kissed and laughed with tonight. I feel well, I feel happy, I am coming back to life very surely. I have been back to work a bit this week, I have plans next month for my birthday. Tomorrow I do my first shift with the Hackney Pirates. I am filling myself with the best, most nutritional food I can, swallowing so many supplements I rattle, filling my weeks with alternative therapy after alternative therapy – any day I’m not in hospital being fiddled with is a good day and anything I can do for myself to avoid having to go back there I’m totally game for trying. Today is a good day, yesterday was a good day, I hope tomorrow is too. I am under no illusion about what a precarious position I am in. No-one has any idea whether this treatment has worked and to be honest, I’d rather not know today. Today I don’t WANT to have to live with the reality, I want to just live. And live and live and live and live until I can’t live any more. This whole thing could go tits up in a very short space of time,of course, but it might not be for a long time yet. All I care about is today, and maintaining my sanity and dignity as best as I can which means surrounding myself with people and things that are going to nourish me in those ways. Today is all I have and I’m glad I’ve got to 9.46pm, having had a good day. I really can’t ask for much more at this stage. Oh and some drunk man said he liked my boots today which I thought was nice.

Zap zap zap

Ooh it’s Saturday night, it must be time for a blog. I don’t know why but I seem to associate Saturdays with writing at the moment. Perhaps because Andy has been out gigging the last two Saturdays, maybe it’s easier to write when he’s not here. The last few weeks have been bizarre and I think sometimes people forget that it’s just as hard, if not harder, for him as he can do nothing but stand back and watch as all this chaos unfolds around us. Anyway. Right, so the staples came out this week, the wound is healing quickly and neatly and I’ve made a really good recovery this week. I saw Naomi and Mr Kitchen on Monday and the plan is to start 10 sessions of radiotherapy to the whole brain on Monday. It’s quick, painless and I’ve been reassured that they won’t be zapping me to the point of making me a dribbling wreck. Side-effects I hope will be minimal and short-lived and, according to the brainy people, there’s every chance this will sort it for good and I never have another problem in my head again. Turns out they found three, not two, but anyway it doesn’t really matter how many, just that they are not currently in a worrying area. If they can be zapped – pow pow! – to smithereens, excellent. If they stay the same size and no more have popped up, also a good result. So onwards, starting Monday for two weeks. I’m happy to have a plan, I’m hoping for and expecting a good result and, while I don’t particularly want to do it, there is no choice on this one so I’m manning up and preparing to get on with it. Let’s hope I’m not sitting here next Saturday going “urrrrrgggggghhhhhh, it’s horrible, I feel really sick.” I keep thinking back to Ellie, I think we became friends around the time she was having hers and I can’t say I ever remember her saying it was overly difficult and Tom’s view is that it was definitely one of the best things she did. So, while Ellie may not be here and God knows she’s still missed, every day, she still has such an influence on how I cope with all this. Ellie knuckled down and got on with having her brain fried, all with that gorgeous smile, thoughtful nature and wicked sense of fun, so I will do it too.

Where Ellie and I differed was that she never got to the point I am at now. She was never told by the oncologist she loved, trusted and respected that there was really only one option left, not even a great one, and given the choice about what she wanted to do (not that I am aware of anyway, she didn’t share it with me if she was). I wonder if, had she been given the statistics about the drug I’ve been offered, she would be thinking about turning it down. The drug she was on when she died was one I had been on previously, the only one that had ever really made a big difference for any length of time. In fact, it was well over a year ago that I was on that drug and in all the months that have passed and all the drugs I’ve tried in that time (three), I have not had anything except bad news – nothing has worked. I had just assumed with Ellie, that that drug would have helped her as it did me and obviously she did too otherwise she wouldn’t have put herself through yet more chemo, not unless she really believed it could make a difference.

As I’ve been steadily getting better this week, I’ve done a fair amount of wandering round Walthamstow, drinking lots of tea, people-watching in cafes. Remembering that, whilst the focus has been so intensely and frighteningly on my brain this last couple of weeks, there is still a decision to be made. That decision may have been delayed due to recent events but it’s not going away – do I have this chemo, ANY chemo even? This week I’ve really had time to think about life, what it means, death, what that means (every time I say or write ‘life’, I get that Des’ree song in my head; incidentally if you’re on Twitter, follow @desree_life – highly funny). I haven’t come to any conclusions yet but I do know that I am considering questions I never thought I’d have to at my age, or ever really, who does? What does my life mean to me, what’s important? How much do you let hope run roughshod over reality? How can you turn fear into something positive or at least dull the pain of it down a bit? How can you explain things to people who aren’t ready to hear what you might have to say, refuse point blank to entertain it because they are so utterly devastated by the prospect of what’s to come? How do you, as the person who is going to be mourned one day, carry that knowledge and the absolute agony that comes with it? Without a doubt, the hardest thing about trying to come to terms with what could be your own relatively imminent death (I’m not saying definitely, pipe down ‘think positive’ brigade at the back) is knowing that the people you love most in the world, the people you would protect to your death if you could, the people you want to be happy and to never know a moment of pain are probably going to be pretty upset for a while, to say the least? How can you ever come to terms with that? The only answer I have at that moment is: you don’t, it’s bloody horrible. I’m not sure you ever can.

Most of my life I’ve been afraid of something and it’s crippled me occasionally and led me to some poor decisions that have brought bad consequences. For quite some time now I’ve been sure that the only way out of fear (of anything – cancer, money worries, spiders) is to face it and that’s not to say I’ve cracked it, my God, far from it. Last week I was, as you’ll know if you read my last blog post, in a pit of absolute despair and for a short while I thought “I’m not going to come back from this, I feel so broken and miserable and frightened.” And then by Sunday night, something just clicked and I then realised I had no other option than to try and claw my way out of that pit. Of course I’m scared of having my brain fried but my general rule is that if I’m scared of something that is inevitable, even if it’s an awful prospect, well then I’m doubly screwed aren’t I? It’s going to happen anyway, I’m just making it worse for myself by adding a whole lot of stress if I then try and leg it. I have a good chance of a good result with this treatment, it’s a no-brainer. But when it comes to having more chemo, I have to ask myself for a brutally honest answer as to the reasons why I would be doing it. Would it be as a way of running away from the inevitable, to try and delay it as it’s too horrible to contemplate? Is my definition of how worthwhile my life is based on its duration? And if not, then how do I measure it? Put starkly, when do you decide you’ve had enough – not that you can’t do any more, but that you won’t because something else is too important. But what if you never come to the ‘right’ conclusion until it’s too late?

It’s also very, very difficult to discuss this with people – as a society, we are still so afraid of death. No-one wants to talk about it, it’s like they’re afraid they’ll catch it. Well bad news for you friends, you’ve already got it. You were born with it. Same as me, I’m just more aware of my death as I’ve had notice about it, plenty of notice too. This week, a friend – @iswhiz -who also has secondaries wrote a great blog piece about the complexities of having to constantly explain, very gently for fear of upsetting people, that yes you may look well and yes you may live for a long time with the right treatment, but that ultimately no you’re not going to be ok and that yes, you will die of this one day (probably. Unless the famous bus comes first). I understand, I really do, that this is not something a lot of people feel comfortable with, and I am absolutely respectful of that. But what I am becoming increasingly pissed off with is when all people can say is “weeeeeeeeeeell, you never know do you” and then the famous, classic cancer line: “YOU’VE JUST GOT TO STAY POSITIVE, HAVEN’T YOU?” The thing is, if I don’t die of cancer, I’ll die of something else one day, and so will you, so what, are we all supposed to go round blindly telling each other to “be positive” every time it looks like one of us might snuff it? Really? Bloody hell, how miserable. No thanks. I don’t want death to be that powerful that I spend all my time and energy and avoiding it. Not that I welcome the prospect of it, I don’t right now, although I certainly wouldn’t want to live forever. Or into my 80s or 90s
particularly, I couldn’t afford it if my current spending is anything to go by. I’m still young and doing pretty well, all things considered; I’ve just got married; I like my job; I have great friends and have recently found new interests, formulated some new ideas and views. I feel like I’m growing in lots of ways, so of course in an ideal world I wouldn’t choose to be where I am. If there was a potential miracle cure on the table, even one that came with a tiny 1 per cent chance of effectiveness, then I would do it. In a heartbeat. But there isn’t, not that I’m aware of. Secondary breast cancer cannot be cured. It can be managed for years and years and I would have been more than happy with years and years. But if I go on this last drug, it will give me months, at best. What price for those extra months, after 8 different types of chemo, two lots of brain surgery and a brain-zapping? My body is getting tired now, even by my elephant standards. I want good months. Great months. Not months of feeling shit. I crave peace, and I have to think very carefully about what will bring me the most peace.

It sounds like I have made a decision – I haven’t. I’ve thought lots and lots, that’s all for now. This is not a decision to be made lightly! There is a point you have to get to called acceptance and I’m not sure I’m quite there yet. In the meantime, I’ve got me some head frying to do and I’m also picking up two little furry bundles of fluff this week, kittens called Moomin and Fleur who will be the newest additions to the Marvell household, so no decisions needed just yet. I’ll be too busy cleaning up kitten poo probably.

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