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Monday, 28 April 2014

Rosemere Walk in the Dark

The four of us, Leonie, Louise, Rose and I set off to the hospital.  I had been excited all day for the walk, and half way to the hospital I suddenly realised that in my excitement I had forgotten my Chemo medication, after a quick trip home I was fully medicated.  We arrived at Preston Hospital for the Rosemere Walk in the Dark and met up with our fellow walkers, as we were waiting for the bus to leave, the heavens opened and we were soaked.  I was hoping that the rain wouldn't continue all night, and during the bus ride to Chorley, the clouds passed and the evening once again became pleasant.

 At Chorley there were hundreds of people, some dressed as various characters, others in high-vis, more with glo-stix and other garish colours.  We gathered together for the briefing and then set off en-masse.  The first bit was a free for all, but I had promised Leonie that I would walk with her for the route.  Initially I walked with Rose Bee, a six year old girl who was attempting to scooter the 11 miles.  She was so full of energy and although I kept a steady pace, she asked about half a mile into the challenge how much further there was to go!

From the start our group became separated, some of the younger, fitter walkers (Lisa Mcloughlin) were heading out at speed, others hot on their heels (Ray & Dawn Motts, David O'Keeffe).  Some kept a steady pace (Linda Mullen, Ian Jones, Wes Davies and Vanessa Davison).  Our group, Leonie, Rose and Louise Bee, John Farnden, Janet and Lisa Thomas, Rob Smith, Karyn Lee, Stuart Beaveridge, Luke Gibbon, and I stayed near the back, out of trouble.  After a while, Leonie and I decided to catch up to the other guys, so we jogged about half a mile.  Once we caught them up we walked for a while and then decided to drop back to check up on everyone.  It was good to add a bit a pace for a while.

Once everyone had caught up, our group became smaller.  Karyn had gotten some serious blisters on both feet and was beginning to struggle.  Luckily Luke and Stuart walked with her and kept her upbeat!  We continued onwards and the night skies were filled with the glow from the hundreds of glo-stix that were adorned about our bodies.  At about half way, our group stopped for a drink at a pit stop.  By the time we were finished and ready to go, Karyn's team was arriving, but rather than rest up, Karyn, Stuart and Luke all continued on and you could see the determination on their faces.  It's these actions that continued throughout the night, which made me proud.

In Bamber Bridge, the route took us downhill to the Ribble.  As the hill was in our favour, both myself and Rose had a downhill race, Rose on her scooter and me running.   Rose was having fun, and that's the important part of these events.  We crossed the river and knew it wasn't far to go from here, although we had to climb up London Road Hill with tiring legs.  Rose found this difficult, so between Rob Smith and me, we took it in turns to give Rose a piggy back up the hill, but this was the only time that Rose was supported throughout the entire 11 mile distance (quite an achievement for a 6 year old).

With less than a mile to go we met Karyn, Luke and Stuart again.  From Karyn's face you could tell that she was in pain, but her grit and determination was strong, and she was going to complete the challenge.  On one of the final corners of the route, my cousin, Helen and her daughter Jade were waiting to cheer us on.  They had been stood outside waiting for well over an hour; just to give us a wave and a cheer.  It was good to see a familiar face.

At last we had reached our destination, and it was welcome; it had taken a little over 4 hours.  We collected our certificates and had a well earned sit down.  A short while later Karyn, Stuart and Luke arrived and I presented Karyn with her certificate before putting her slippers on for her, she had done fantastically well.  Some of our group had a bacon barm while others grabbed a hot drink before making our way to our beds.

The overall event had shown me that with a little encouragement, people can achieve something they thought wasn't possible or what they thought was beyond them.  From the young to the old, from healthy to unwell, everyone is capable of achieving something great.  The amount of support, generosity and determination shone through on the night and everyone added to the event.  I spoke to a fair few people during the night and I feel lucky to have met some really nice people, all with a story to tell.

As I write this we have collected close to £2500 and we are waiting on a few more donations, that is a fantastic outcome.  I feel so proud of everyone,  and of all the people who took part, they all said that they would do it again.  Bloody awesome!  Well done EVERYONE!


Lazy Days

After a pretty poor nights sleep, I got up with Sid as Leonie had taken Oscar to school and was glad I booked the day off work.  After the previous days Chemo I noticed some bruising on the backs of my hands and thought that the treatment is finally catching up with with me as it is taking longer to recover from Chemo and my body wasn't "taking it in its stride" so to speak.  It was a lazy morning and we stayed in our PJs until I finally got Sid dressed at about 11.  Leonie's parents were coming over to look after Sid so I could get some much needed sleep/rest.  After lunch I took myself upstairs and let the in laws take care of the kids while I tried to sleep, I managed a couple of hours before being woken as the district nurse had arrived.

Due to my low blood counts on the previous two Chemos it was arranged for me to have a boost to my bone marrow to help with my immune system.  It was a quick injection but the nurse needed to administer it.  After she left I decided to try for another nap as I was wiped out and weary.  When I got up a little later I got dressed and got us all ready for Amelia's 11th birthday party.  I remember her being born. Leonie and I were in Reading at the time, so we rushed back to see our first niece, it doesn't seem like it was 11 years ago!

At the party the family was there and it was good to relax and enjoy the company, as always the kids looked after themselves and ran about playing.  After the party we came back and got the boys to bed before having an early night ourselves in preparation for the late night that we were planning tomorrow.

On Saturday, again it was a lazy day, I watched a movie with the boys and we stayed in our PJ's again.  In the afternoon our friend Lousie came over with Rose as they were walking with us later that night.  Louise was fantastic and as soon as she walked in she went to the kitchen to start cooking our tea.  We had a good spag bol before taking the boys to my mums for the evening, then it was all systems go for the Rosemere Walk in the Dark!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Chemo Session 3 (Take 2)

I am ready for this Chemo session and want to get it over with, not because its tough, but so we can move on to the next phase of the treatment and there are no more delays.  The surgery scares me a little and I just want it out of the way.  After the last time I had Chemo four weeks ago, the first week was more difficult than the first time and it is starting to take its toll.

John came over to look after Sid and take Oscar to school, while we went to pick my mum up.  We got to the hospital early so managed to pick up a copy of the paper; my column should be in today and after a quick flick through the paper found my article on page 16, you can catch up with the paper story from the following link:

We arrived on the day ward within Rosemere and I was told by Damon that I would be in a side room, after a few requests I was moved to a chair in the main room, which both me and Leonie prefer.  Damon checked my bloods again to make sure, and told me that the Chemo would go ahead.  I made myself comfortable and settled down while they attempted twice to put the canula in my left hand, but both times it bent under the skin and bruised, so they swapped to my right hand and got it in, but this limited me more as I'm useless with my left hand, which became quickly apparent when I tried to send a text but it took me a long time to type it left handed!

The first couple of infusions were done quickly, and I didn't even know they had been done as I was messing about getting comfortable.  Laura Stephenson from the foundation came up to visit me to arrange the bus numbers for the Walk in the Dark on Saturday, it eneded up with another bus being ordered, as there are loads of people signed up already.  Once the first Chemo had been done and I was on a hydration drip I unplugged my machine and went to visit Emma Grandison on the other side of the ward.

While I was here Leonie went for a walk to the shop to buy some bits for lunch.  Emma showed me her article in Thats Life magazine, and I showed her my LEP article; the nurses joked that they were treating a couple of celebrities!  While I sat with Emma I met another guy called Carl and his wife, they will be there on Saturday for the walk too but Carl won't be walking.  His wife brought some chips and I was allowed to finish them off, no wonder I'm putting on weight!  After about an hour Emma had finished her 3 hour session so we went back to my chair.  We had our lunch of crackers, cream cheese and salmon, a lot of people were jealous, even the nurses.  While we were eating Claire Searle came up to check on me and talk through the treatment plan and catch any symptoms.  I was told off for not looking after myself, I should be moisturising and I had a small nose bleed which I should have called her about!  My wrist was slapped and I promised to tell her if it happened again.  I had also had a bit of tinnitus in my ears and tingling fingers too over the last couple of weeks, both of which she recorded and asked me to monitor; permanent tinnitus can't be reversed but the tingling in my fingers should pass.

After lunch we opened up the jelly babies (provided by Anne) as I was having the Cisplatin drug which makes you taste the awful metallicness.  I was getting tired so had a little nap just before breaking the chair a little bit because I was messing about again, here was a bang, the chair dropped and nurses came running, but I got it fixed again.  After my nap, we played a bit or cards, I won ALL the games of rummy, but only because I have cancer!

This Chemo session was coming to an end and my mum turned up to pick us up and take us home.  This will be the last session until August/Spetmeber (depending on recovery from the surgery) and the nurses wished me luck for the next steps.  Damon came over and gave me my drugs to take home, he explained that due to having low bloods and the fact that I had had my Erubicin drug reduced to no avail to decrease my recovery, I needed to have a further injection after 24 hours.  He had arranged for the district nurse to visit tomorrow to give me the injection.  I was given more anti sickness as well, as I needed these quite a bit after my last session, and I had already started to feel sick.

After saying good bye to the nurses we left the unit and got back home, ready for the boys to be dropped off.  We put them to bed and had a chat with the in laws before getting something to eat ourselves and having a Wonder Women evening.  I knew I wouldn't be able to get to sleep but went to bed and finally got about three hours of sleep over the course of the night.  And as usual I woke up with a bright red face!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Short Working Week

I was only to be due in for Tuesday and Wednesday as Chemo is planned for Thursday.  I was waiting for my mum to jump start my car on Tuesday morning and she arrived and we attached the leads.  Everything was flashing on the dash and the engine wouldn't turn over at all.  I'm not mechanically minded at all and didn't have a clue what to do.  I rang my  insurance but thought it wasn't worth a claim, so I called the local garage who were too busy to pick it up this week.  Thankfully my mum is a lifesaver and offered her car to me for the week.  I got to work late morning but frustrated and unhappy.  Things just aren't going our way at the moment.  I thought on Friday 3 C's were bad enough, Coeliac, Cancer and Chicken Pox, now I had a fourth, the Car.

I couldn't really focus and I had a headache.  I went home but good news had arrived, Mick Mortimer, Leonie's friends partner had offered to have a look at the car on Wednesday.  This was a relief as I thought I would have to get the car picked up, taken to a garage and get it sorted.  There was some good news at work on both Tuesday and Wednesday,  when I arrived both mornings I had gifts on my desk, firstly as it was easter over the weekend, I had a cream egg and box of malteasers (the boys could have the malteasers as I can't eat them) and also another gift.  Rachael Armstrong had bought me a cap since I had lost mine in March.  It's a really good fit too, especially compared to the ones I had tried on recently when I tried to replace it.

On Wednesday morning I had to give blood again to check my levels for Chemo.  I went on the way to work and got in early.  I had seen the blood nurse before and she is a jovial character, although quite rough.  She asked if she had seen me before, I told her it was a couple of weeks ago and she said that she didn't remember my face, but did remember my vein!

I got into work and it was today that I heard about Stephen Sutton.  He is a teenager who had been diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer at 15.  His story is a inspirational one and had hit the news as he had raised over £1 million pounds after his last post. He is in the late stages and is weak, but he has fought hard over the past four years and become an ambassador for Teenage Cancer Trust.  It is now obvious that cancer has become so much of all of our lifestyles; everyone is aware of cancer and cancer has touched them in some way, either knowing someone, having a close relation suffer, or go through the battle themselves.  But most cancers are treatable and manageable if caught earlier enough.  And now it is more relevant than ever, as I assumed cancer is for old people, but it can affect ANYONE, no matter of their age!  And until there is a cure, the focus must be on early diagnosis so it can be treated.   Stephen is raising awareness and funds for early diagnosis of cancer, and support for young people to come to terms with cancer when diagnosed.  He has smashed £1 million, but more importantly he has raised awareness, I urge people to get things checked out, I was lucky it was found by accident,  through diagnosis for coeliacs, but if you have a probelm - see a GP.

While at work Leonie called to say that Mick had sorted the car temporarily,  but it needed a new battery.  He had offered to get one and fit it for us, which is just a absolute godsend!  He would come back Thursday to get it sorted.  I got as much work completed and sorted as possible and left ready for Chemo Number Three.  Hopefully as I haven't had a call I should be having Chemo tomorrow,  and this will start the countdown to surgery.

Easter Weekend

The weekend was all planned with Leonie going away to Cardiff on a hen weekend, as her friend Beeca is to be married in May, and I was due to have the boys over the weekend with help from Leonie's sister Amanda.  I was hoping to get some of the BBQ built too.  When we woke up though, it all quickly changed as we found that Sidney had Chicken Pox.

Leonie was quite upset as she was determined to stay and look after Sidney.  On the otherhand I insisted that she goes, but first I decided to make sure I was ok to be around Sidney with a weakened immune system.  First I called my mum to make sure I had had chicken pox, I was almost certain I had, but couldn't be sure.  As it turns out my mum couldn't be sure either and although she had my three siblings medical cards, she couldnt find mine, so we agreed that I had had chicken pox at the same time as my twin, Janette.

Next up I rang the oncology helpline and I described the current situation, they advised me to stay away from Sid, and that they would call a specialist and call me back.  After a short period they called and I was to ring and get a pescription for Aciclovir from my GP.  Unfortunately due to the fact it was a bank holiday I had to call the emergency helpline and request the medication.  After a few more calls it was agreed that I had to drive to Chorley to get my pescription and then pick it up from a open pharmacy.  By 11am I felt like I had been up for hours and had finally got my pescription sorted and picked up.  Leonie was due to leave for Cardiff at 1pm so I dropped her off while my in laws looked after the boys.

As I was out in the car I thought it was a good idea to pick up Lee, who was going to give me a hand for the day building the Barbie.  We nipped to get some more sand and cement and got back to start.  It was a nice afternoon and it was good to be outside, plenty of Vitamin D.  Amanda, and Leonie's mum helped out with the boys while me and Lee cracked on.  It seemed to go so fast as Laura turned up around tea time to pick him up, he said he would be back tomorrow and I didn't doubt him, he is just as determined as me and want to see it finished.

We had a slow cooked chicken curry for tea that Leonie had put on before she left for Cardiff, a really good idea and she sure looks after me!  I left my house to sleep at my mums as Sid has a tendancy to climb into our bed and I didn't want to put myself at risk, Amanda was here to help and it was appreciated.  I got to my mums and had a chat before going up to my old room.  It brings back loads of memorys as it was my bedroom from birth to when I left home, and some of my stuff is still in the drawers, like my cub uniform and magazines, pottery work from school and old diaries (which should NEVER be read).  I looked through some of my stuff and thought back over some of the things I had done, proud moments and not so proud moments.

In the morning my mum brought me a coffee to wake me up after a blissful sleep. I got myself up and had some breakfast before going home.  We bathed the boys and painted Sid in calamine lotion before Lee came over, our aim to finish the BBQ.  It wasn't quite as nice today but it was still a good day and we completed what we set out to do, having Lee around is such a help for this type of stuff, another major appreciation for his help.  In the evening we had a really good gammon for tea, and then the same as Good Friday, I went to my mums and had a sleep over in my old room.

Easter sunday morning I watched the F1 in bed at my mums as I felt tired after the two days of "labouring" and then got back to mine late morning.  We all spent a day together with my boys, Amanda and Thomas and Jacqueline and John.  John walked over as training for next week (The Walk in the Dark).  We watched Star Wars Empire Strikes Back.  I really needed some sleep so I went upstairs and led down watching Everton v Man Utd, I managed to stay awake for the first goal (Baines scored a penalty) before falling asleep.  John woke me for a Roast Chicken dinner and I found out that Everton had beaten Man Utd 2-0 to keep the pressure on Arsenal.  Tea was awesome, and then Leonie arrived back from Cardiff.   I stayed for a while and caught up with Leonie but I needed my bed so trotted off to become a lodger at my mums again.  A late night for me, and an early start to get back as Leonie was working.  So far it had been a tiring and sleepy weekend.

I got back to mine after another good nights sleep at my mums (thanks for letting me stay, mum and dad) and Leonie left for work, Amanda and Thomas took her to work and then drove onto meet Paul in Stoke. I was at home with the boys and Margaret Spink and Rob Cross were due to pop over in the morning to drop off the BBQ base and grill, lets hope it fits.  Margaret and Rob had been senior management at XHRS last year and very kindly offered to give me the BBQ, so I was very happy to accept.  They stayed a while and we chatted, they were interested as to how I was coping and told me of their new ventures post XHRS, it was good to catch up.  When they left for egg rolling I ran through the house and checked the size, it fitted perfectly!

In the afternoon we popped over to my sisters house to catch up over a brew.  It was another glorious day so we sat out and chatted while the kids played in the garden.  Shelia had been doing her own garden over the easter break and it was lookin good.  We got home for the boys tea and decided that we would have a takeaway since the boys were in bed.  We ordered it up and I decided I would drive to pick it up as I was being lazy (its a five minute walk).  I got in the car and it wouldn't start.  I hadn't driven it since Friday but it seemed the battery had died.  I called my ever helpful mum and she agreed to come round in the morning to give me a jump start.  Not a good way to finish a productive weekend, but the best thing, was having my wife back home.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Cancelled Chemo

As Chemo was cancelled, and everyone was on holiday, we all had a lie in and then a lazy morning.  Once we had gotten up and dressed the laziness continued and eventually we left to have some lunch out, just the four of us.  On the way I stopped to get the paper as the article I wrote over a week ago was to be featured in the LEP.  We went to have a pub lunch at the Anderton Arms in Fulwood.   I like it here, as I know which meals I can eat; which meals are gluten free.  After a nice lunch in a busy pub I left Leonie and the boys as it was a short walk from the pub to the in laws.  I went to visit Emma at Rosemere as she was having Chemo today.

I went up to the day ward in Rosemere and they wondered why I was there.  When I explained that I was visiting Emma, they told me that she was taking a nap and asked if I could come back in a while.  I went down to the charity office to see the fundraising team and I had a few questions for them.  When I went in I met Laura and Rita.  We had a good chat and we always have a bit of a laugh.  Everyone is very excited for the Walk in the Dark and they were telling me about the final preparations for the event. 

Shortly afterwards I went back upstairs to the ward to check if Emma had woken.  She was just waking up as I arrived so I stayed for a while.  I met Emma's mum and we had a long chat putting the world to rights and generally catching up and getting to know each other.  Emma was glad to have Erin home, and her husband was looking after her today while she was I hospital.  I saw Jo as well and she was getting ready to go on holiday to South America.  While I was talking to Emma, she mentioned how helpful she had found Macmillans, and suggested I go and see them about some financial help.

After visiting Emma, I made my way down and thought that I would try and catch a Macmillan rep.  I went into the office and the lady was really helpful and I found her easy to have a conversation with.  She was interested in my story and was happy to help with any information/advice she could offer and pointed me in the right directions where possible help could be found.  Overall I had spent about 2 hours at the hospital chatting to different people.  As I left I got a text from Leonie wondering where I was!

I picked Leonie up and we went shopping for a few bits for the walk next week (glow sticks) and a few bits for the garde;, fence paint and grass seed.  After what started as a lazy day had turned into quite a busy day going from one place to another.  We picked up the boys from the in laws and went home and had some tea, before Laura visited for the evening.  For a relaxing day off, it was quite active.  It was good to catch up with people and at the end of the day I was looking forward to my bed, and this was just the start of the Easter break!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easy Week

The beginning of the week was just normal, in a strange way I look forward to the Chemo and this week, because of the Easter holidays it was due on Thursday, instead of the normal Friday.  The boys were off school and Leonie was off work.  I decided to work, mainly so I can save my holidays depending on how well I recover from the surgery, so I went into work.  On Monday, all the other team leaders were off and Karyn was off too, so I was sort of left in charge.  Everyone works well and there were no hiccups.  Although I had lost a team memeber on Friday (Rob), Mike returned to work after a holiday and its good to have him back,  also Amy began work again after a few weeks sick, but she has been moved to a new project, so I asked her to update a few things before she moves offices and we lose her completely.

Tuesday was good too, plenty to keep us all occupied, this week I had been working full days and I feel great and really looking forward to the Chemo, its the last session before surgery and I can get this half of the treatment out of the way, I had a spring in my step, and the weather being sunny really makes a difference, probably due to the increase in missing vitamin D!  In the evening, my mum came over so that Leonie and me could go food shopping, we hadn't been in ages so desperatly needed to go and it would be much easier without the boys.

The day before Chemo, I need to give a blood sample, so on Wednesday I went to hospital on the way to work to provide my sample.  The blood clinic is near the front of the hospital and when I arrived I took my ticket, there was about 10 before me from looking at the electronic sign by the door.  I took a seat and was soon talking to an older gentleman.  We waited patiently and were commenting on the flow of people going through the hospital, I told the old man its a great place to people watch and he agreed.  I was waiting about 45 minutes, but eventually got in and had my bloods done, then I rushed to work.

During the afternoon I had a call from oncology telling me that my Chemo had been postponed due to low bloods, again!  The Chemo would be next Thursday instead.  I felt a little deflated as this would have been the last session and now it was delayed, but both Leonie and Karyn said the same thing, its how my body copes with the Chemo and is probably why I'm doing so well the rest of the time.  I had been in contact with Emma and we were both due in on Thursday, so I let her know I had been delayed but agreed to go and visit her anyway.  The nurses, both oncology and trials, told me to stop with my medication straight away, I suppose I have a week of no tablets which would be good.

In the evening I went to pick up Zoe and she came over for the evening and we laughed so much, and had a little drink.  She was planning some fundraisimg activites at work to raise some more money for Rosemere.  People have been fantastic in their support!  I had arranged to have Thursday off as holiday to spend some time with my family, as Leonie is due on a hen party in Cardiff this weekend, and her sister, Amanda, is coming up to help with the boys, its gonna be a fun packed Easter break.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Eventful Weekend

Leonie was working on Saturday so I was up early with the boys and we watched a bit of TV as we had our breakfast.  My sister, Janette, and her family were visiting from Wiltshire for the weekend and they were due to come over about mid morning.  They arrived and I took Pete, Janette's husband, to collect some flags (for the BBQ).  I had hoped to get them laid as well, but the weather was cold, and to be honest I didn't feel like laying the flags, but at least I have what I need ready to start building.  

After getting the flags I nipped out to get some lunch for everyone.  Janette had been looking after all the kids; Oscar and Sidney, and her two children, Arthur and Alice.  In the afternoon we let the kids play, while we had a catch up, Pete needed to do some shopping so went to town.  The kids were running all over the house and playing with all the toys.  In the late afternoon they  left to have tea at my mums.

Ema and Dan were coming for the evening and to stay over.  My sister and Pete also joined us for a indian takeaway and a couple of games of pictionary.  Although it's not rock n roll, we all had fun.  Janette and Pete went back to my mums, but the drinking continued.  It's really good to have Ema and Dan come so often, they have both been really supportive.  If only they lived closer to us!

When we were up on Sunday morning, a little worse for wear, we started watching the London Marathon, hopefully we would see our friend Stacy.  Although marathons take a long time, I find that watching the London Marathon is exciting, especially when Mo Farah is debuting at the marathon distance.  Unfortunately Mo didn't win and we didn't see Stacy, but it was still good to watch, and I'm really proud of Stacy for doing it!

In the afternoon after Ema and Dan left, John (father-in-law) came over.  We had planned to do a practice walk, ready for the Walk in the Dark on the 26th April.  We were going to walk from my house to his house, approximately 6 miles.  It was a nice day, the sun was out and it was warm, but a little breezy.  John had been training for a couple of weeks on the treadmill, but now it was time to pound the pavements.  We had an enjoyable walk across Preston, taking in some of the sights, the river Ribble, St Walbergs church, Deepdale football ground and Moor Park.  We completed the walk (5.5 miles) in one and a half hours and John was really chuffed, and it gave him the confidence he needed to believe he can do the 10 miles in 2 weeks time.

The evening we spent chilling out and relaxing, ready for my three day week until the next Chemo session on Thursday and then Easter weekend and a bank holiday.

Working Week

Wednesday through to Friday was just a usual week at work.  We are currently recruiting for new team members and so I was interviewing on Thursday and Friday.  On Wednesday our friends came over again for the evening.  Laura, Zoe and Ed and as per usual, we enjoyed the get together with a drink or two.  I like these evenings as we can chat with our mates, but the TV doesn't get switched on at all - a TV free night.

 Thursday was just another day in the office, and in the evening it was pleasant enough for Lisa and I to go for a run together.  We planned a longer run than the previous couple of weeks, but as we were out running decided to do just a 5k, my knee was a little sore (probably due to lack of running) and Lisa was due to go out.  Again it's good to get out and have a run, especially when it's a nice evening to run; little wind, warm but not hot and definitely not raining.  Lisa lives about 2 minutes away, just enough to sprint back to mine and feel out of breath to finish off the run.  This short sprint (probably about 300m - although I really should measure it) is the way I finish most of my runs and I enjoy the sprint finish!!

 The last working day of the week went by without incident.  As it was Rob's last day before leaving the team to join the tech side, we finished early around four and three of us, Rob, Matt and myself, went out for a drink to the local pub near work.  We sat in the sun for a while until it got too cold then we went inside.  Unfortunately the whole team wasn't there but it was a good idea to go out for a drink after work - I could get used to this!!

 This last week I have felt much better and stronger, sometimes I forget that I am actually having Chemo and take medication daily.  It's easy to forget as I feel great, much healthier than before.  The first week after Chemo is difficult, it does get easier and although I do feel tired I also feel like I could take on the world, it's strange to feel tired but also full of energy at the same time.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Happy People

Today I only worked half a day, and it was busy.  Due to sickness and holidays we are currently short staffed and one of the team had a break-in so had to leave.  This left a very skeleton team to cover and I was due to leave half day to have a oncology appointment.  Luckily just as I was leaving Rob called to say he was on his way back to work, but unfortunately his bike had been stolen.

I left work and went home to collect my things and have some lunch.  I wasn't home long before leaving again to pick up Leonie from work and going to the appointment.  It was chaos at the hospital as it was visiting time and all the car parks were full.  We waited about 15 minutes just to get in the car park, before luckily driving straight into a space.  I wanted to see the guys at the Rosemere Charity office, but we didn't have much time so just dropped off a few more entry forms.

In the appointment was Dr Mitchell, Claire and Janette, the trials nurse and upper GI nurse.  We had a general chat about the symptoms I was having. They were all very happy that I had put on weight, my official weigh is 59.3KG.I mentioned that I was still working and going running,  and Dr Mitchell was impressed with how well I was doing.  It was good to have an open chat about what was happening.

The conversation then moved onto the plans for surgery and we worked out that I would be having another CT scan around mid May and the surgery towards the end of June.  They told me that it would all be officially booked in once I had my final Chemo session.  So it would depend on when I had the Chemo, which in turn depended on my bloods which would be taken next Wednesday before my next Chemo session.

All this talk of the surgery and next steps makes it all the more real.  We chatted about the recovery and they would expect a couple of days in intensive care, followed by a couple of days in high dependancy,  I would then spend a week on a normal ward.  They would expect me to leave hospital after about two weeks.  I asked them about running afterwards, they told me that I should be able to start running about 6 months after having major surgery.

They were very happy with my current progress through the Chemo treatment, and this made me happy too, although I am still a little worried about the surgery, but less so now after some comforting words from the team.  After our appointment, both me and Leonie went to leave, but they took Leonie aside amd asked if I really was as well as I described, she told them that I was coping well!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

"The son becomes the father, the father becomes the son"

Sunday was to be another day of watching sport, another F1 and Everton vs Arsenal in a 6 pointer.  I was asked by my mum to help my dad change a ceiling light in the kitchen at their house.  As a dutiful son I went round, however instead of being my dads helper the roles were reversed.  My dad an electrician for his career helped as I changed the fitting in the kitchen, ok it isnt the best job but I did it.  My dad struggled mainly due to failing eyesight and the fact he refuses to wear glasses but he was stumped on some things electrical, which is down too his memory problems.  It started about 8 years ago and he suffers from dementia and over time you can see it becoming worse, however he is still in good spirits and currently I think both my mum and dad are managing.

The whole episode reminded me of the Marlon Brando quote from Superman; "The son becomes the father, the father becomes the son".  It made me think how alike we actually are and I can see myself becoming my dad; and as northerners, we both like our flat caps too!

After helping out at my mums, I dropped Stacy at the station before settling down for a lazy day watching sport.  Everton, currently riding high in the EPL, were to play Arsenal at Goodison.  If we won, we would close the gap and put us in a good position to play in the Champions League next season.  Everton won convincingly 3-0, which made my day.  Then onto F1, and another good result with Brit Lewis Hamilton driving to victory, unfortunately Jenson recorded a DNF.

In the evening we watched Gravity,  and I thought it was a good film, although, if I get the chance to (Richard Branson), I don't think I will be going up after watching that!

Monday was usual, back to work.  Nothing out of the ordinary, just another day in the office, until I got a message from Karyn (she had a day off).  I was in trouble for not telling her about how tired I had been feeling, although she now knew after reading the blog.  This weekend, however, had been much better. I had caught up on some sleep and relaxed.  Although I had been running, it was neither far or fast, and I came clean about that too!  But I suppose tomorrow I will be answering some questions!   I prefer being at work though, just to be around people.  I would rather be here than sat at home alone, and I am fit enough to work,  so why take time off when I don't need too.

Tuesday I have an appointment with Dr Mitchell and hopefully we can try and work out the rest of the treatment plan and get some dates for the surgery.

Sunday, 6 April 2014


Leonie was working on Saturday and I had a day with the boys, another Daddy day.  The morning was relaxed, we didn't get dressed until 10.  We played with lego building cars and rockets, but the boys like making silly people with the wrong bodys and/or legs and making up stories with these new characters.  Oscar has such a vivid imagination and can happily play in his world for hours.  Sid likes Captain America, everything has to be the Captain, before that it was Iron Man and before that it was Superman, whereas Oz has always been a Batman fan.  Today Sid was dressed as Captain America and his new made up lego man was essentially Captain America with Batmans cape.  Over the last couple of weeks Sid has matured a lot, in his speech, vocubulary, awareness and interaction, it really is amazing watching people grow - right in front of your eyes!

After lunch we were going to go shopping, but before we could leave, Stacy arrived.   It was good to have another pair of hands for shopping and we needed it!  Both the boys, after a nice chilled morning, decided to go into meltdown in the shops; at the checkouts there was an audible gasp from quite a few people!  We got the shopping done as quickly as possible before leaving to get home, and once home, the boys went back to normal, playing nicely.  I had arranged for my mum to come over and look after the boys for an hour so Stacy and I could go running.  It's her final week of prep before her marathon debut at London next weekend.   My first marathon was London, it's an awesome race, and although I haven't run abroad (apart from Wales and Scotland!!), no other race comes close for atmosphere.  I have run London twice, and would do again at the drop of a hat, but it is a premium price for a premium race!

I took her a slightly different route to the ones we have been running recently, mainly because it was daylight.  We went down to the river Ribble and through Avenham Park before coming back into Penwortham.  It was humid but nice to run in.  The sun peaked through on the odd occasion but it also rained lightly too.  It was good to get out and reminded me how and why I miss it.  I love the fact I can go out and have some time to think, and look around.  I prefer running south towards Hutton and Longton, but it is safer to run north to Preston, and most of my runs tend to be safe, although sometimes I do treat myself.  We waxed lyrical about running the entire run, explaining our favourite routes and training sessions.   We told each other why we love running and gave a few training tips; I offered a few last minute reminders for next week.

We got back the same time as Leonie and had done just over an hour training.   I felt invigorated and if I was allowed, I would of just continued running, simply because I could.  We got back in and my mum left, we showered and got the boys their tea before Laura arrived for the evening.  Once the boys were in bed we made some of our home made pizzas while Stacy made garlic bread, all GF of course.

The pizzas were delicious and our tea was followed by a few drinks and a night of non-stop laughter.  At some points I thought that I was going to burst or split open I was laughing so much.  It was a hilarious evening, I probably drank too much and went to bed too late, but after the week I had had, this had been the perfect tonic, a good run, made me feel great, not just physically, but mentally too, and then a good evening, spent with good friends.

Weary Week

The rest of the week went by, the tiredness remained and the sick feeling stayed too.  Over the last couple of days I have had a tingling sensation come and go in my finger tips, sometimes it just hurts a little when I touch something lightly, but it's manageable.

On Wednesday I got some really good feedback from Tuesday's meeting about data protection.  I continued with some work, and eat loads, currently I am eating breakfast followed by 3-4 hot meals with snacks on top each day.  My lowest weight recently was 7 and a half stone in October,  I'm now tipping the scales at 9 and a half stone; the heaviest I have ever been.  When I had my operation in early February the dietician gave me a goal weight of 57KG, I weighed myself the other day and I have surpassed this target hitting 60KG.  My work trousers are getting tight and I can tell, as can everyone else.  Lots of people are saying that I am looking healthier than ever, Leonie even said that previously I had looked grey and gaunt, but now I look fuller and tanned!  Not all bad!

Anne (Dave's mum) sent some jelly babies for me and they helped with the metallic taste in my mouth.  They didn't last long though, neither did the GF chocolate cake from the weekend!  In the evening we started to watch wonder women, it's so bad, it's good! During the day I got a phone call from Rosemere asking for me to be case study, so we did a phone interview and hopefully they will print it, she was asking me mainly about the Walk in the Dark, I'm hoping I can do the walk, but it shouldn't be a problem, I can do 10 miles run in my sleep, so a 10 mile walk should be easy.

Thursday was much the same, just plodding on as usual, just a little slower and more tired.  My bedtime is getting ealier each night and I can tell it's getting more difficult.  I feel weary for most of the first week after chemo, and this time it's been harder, but they did say that the second Chemo would be the worst.  I have been able to cope with it so far and I am more worried about the surgery and the recovery from that.  I want to run again, and I plan to go for a run this weekend when our friend Stacy visits.  She ran her first mile 2 years ago and was chuffed with her achievement then, but next weekend she runs her first marathon, when she lines up next to Mo Farah to run the London Marathon, I'm really quite jealous of her!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Coping with the Side Affects

Tuesday I felt better, but still not great.  I decided to go to work though as I didn't want another day alone with my thoughts for company.  I arrived at work about 9.30 and was informed I was due in a meeting at 10am.  I was sitting in for someone who was ill and who had originally booked the meeting. The was about data protection and although I'm not hot on the subject managed to nail the meeting.  Over the weekend my appetite had dimished but today I was ravenous; after two lunches I was prepared for the rest of the day.  It was a hard day physically and more anti-sickness tablets, but I felt more motivated than Monday and I am glad I went to work.  I worked almost the entire day and felt better for it, although it was tiring.

During the day I sent in my next column to the Lancashire Evening Post and also spoke to them, to check that they would spell my name right.  I managed to get a lot done at work; working on some small projects, I made some progress, but not as much as I had liked too, but I keep reminding myself that I shouldn't be at work anyway, the main reason I go is so I'm not on my own at home.  Part of me is dreading the time after surgery as I will probably be on my own for a lot of the time, and I'm not the best company for myself, I like to be around people.  I will have to get used to that.  I am ok when I am out running or riding, but usuaully I am motivated and active so can focus on the run and work through it, but being on my own inside with no activity for long periods is unknown territory and I'm not sure how I will cope.  I picked up Oscar and Sid on my way home and in the evening our friends Laura and Zoe came over.

Having friends over takes your mind off things and we had a good laugh.  Zoe said she would come and keep me compnay while I'm at home after surgery and we planned some boxsets we could watch.  I remember when I was younger that I was intrigued by space and it's vastness and openness.  I even wrote to NASA and tried to write a book about the subject as an 8 year old; NASA were very good and replied to my request sending me a big pack of pamplets and books!  I didn't know this shared interest I had with Zoe,  but she also likes space (the final frontier) and has loads of boxsets about space, so this will be my summer viewing.

It was a good evening and having our friends over really does help, and I don't think they realise how much normality it brings.  During the day I had felt pretty bad and these odd side affects weren't getting easier, but they weren't getting worse.  I am bright red in the face and Luke at work jokes that he can't tell if I'm mad or embarrassed, he tries to embarrass me as much as possible.  I seem to be getting more sleep than the last couple of night's but the tiredness remains almost constant.

And Then It Hits You

It was the start of another week and I woke up on day three of the second cycle of my Chemo treatment.  I didn't feel good, in fact I felt weary and tired.  The Chemo, and its probably the steroids rather than Chemo, stop you sleeping, and I had been getting about three hours each night.  I woke up thinking that this lack of sleep had finally caught up with me.

I text my boss to tell her that I would be late in, and Karyn text back to say that I shouldn't go in at all, something that I hadn't contemplated, my first thought is always what time can I get into work.  It's not that I think my job is the best in the world, but it's more the idea that I can't and shouldn't disappoint or leave the guys on their own.  I know that they can sort all the stuff out that needs to be done and can probably do it without intervention from me a lot better, but I feel like I can't let go, or not go into work.

The boys were dropped off at the various places and I ran myself a bath.  I am glad that I had Monday off work, but at the same time I felt really low and this gave me time to think about things too much. I spent a long time in the bath, just lying there. I thought about a lot of things, but the one thing that took up most of my thoughts was the impending surgery.  After speaking to Claire on Friday about the plans for surgery, it had brought it to the forefront of my mind.  Would I be able to run like I used to, how soon could I walk after surgery, what would my eating be like afterwards?  These are the things that scare me.  For me, I am an active person, before I found out about the cancer I ran and cycled,  I was able to push my body to achieve feats that I thought I wasn't capable of and if I can't do this, it would upset me.  So having these thoughts initially upset me, but on reflection just make me more determined.

In the afternoon, I decided to take some action.  I went to town to find a hat, a first small step.  My hair is still coming out and getting thinner, but at the moment I can get away with it. I went to a few shops with no luck, it seems I have a head the size of a small child, no hats fit me, another blow.  I came home a little disgruntled and decided to sleep, I needed it.

The boys were home and Leonie joined us after work.  As usual we got the boys fed and in bed, and relaxed in the evening.  This so far had been the worst day of the treatment.  It's the first time that I felt weak and unmotivated.  I felt sick and had taken my dose of anti-sickness tablets.  The bad metallic tatse was ever present and whatever I ate didn't shift it.  I really wanted to get rid of the taste as I was sure this was making me feel sick more than anything.  Hopefully Tuesday would bring the change I was hoping for.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Mothers Day

After sleeping very little throughout the night, I turned on my tablet to watch the F1, only to find out it was to be live an hour later.  I got out of bed and made Leonie a coffee and made sure the boys came in to give her the presents, DVDs of the three Lynda Carter Wonder Women TV series from the 1970s; classic.  After presents and cuddles I watched the F1 and it was a good race for me and my Fantasy F1 team.

Leonie's parents were due for lunch and we were having slow cooked ham and roast trimmings, one of my favourites; although it was mothers day, it seems as though I was being treated by Leonie!  Shortly after lunch I watched my team Everton beat Fulham, keeping Aresnal honest in fourth place and closing the gap!

It was an awesome lunch and its good to see family.  After the football, we left to go to my sister's to see my mum.  We arrived and were given drinks and sat out in the garden enjoying the sun,  it soon became a little chilly so we moved inside.  My sister, Shelia, hadn't been seen much as she was organising the afternoon tea.  We enjoyed sandwiches and cakes, all gluten free.  The cakes were tasty, coffee sponge, orange cheescake, chocolate cake and lemon drizzle cake, I tried them all, and they were all good.  Daves mum had also made a chocolate gluten free cake and as it was going spare, it was offered to me to take home.

The day was just what the doctor ordered, lots a family and plenty of laughs.  The afternoon at my sisters was entertaining and the converstions were funny.  The only thing that put a bad taste in the mouth was the literal bad taste I had in my mouth.  The cisplatin Chemo drug that I am given gives you a very metallic taste in your mouth which cannot be gotten rid of, whatever you try, and the taste is overpowering.

I ate loads of different flavours and nothing shifted this taste.  This is a lot worse than last time.   We got the boys home and away to bed, then we had another early night as my sleeping hadn't improved and I was getting really tired.