Sunday, 31 January 2010

Gathering 2010 - part 1

My mum came over to take care of the boys for the weekend while Jason and I went to the Gathering 2010 at Prestatyn. I booked our tickets this time last year when I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and at the time I really didn't know what the future had in store for me. All I knew was that I was going to go to the Gathering 2010 weekend and I was going to be fit and well to do so.

We arrived at Pontins at about 4pm having only driven for 40 minutes in Cooper! The chalet was basic but comfortable, we had everything that we needed; shower, loo, tv, microwave, cooker and fridge.

There was a pub on site called "The Queen Vic" so we had our tea there. A carvery was on offer and we chose the lamb. The doors were opened at 7pm by Mike Peters and the above video is of Mike officially opening the Gathering. He is an amazing man, he continues to inspire me and keep up with the fight. He has fought cancer himself twice and through his charity "The Love Hope Strength Foundation" he is making a huge difference.

More about the Gathering 2010 to follow..........

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Hercepting #6

So today was my 6th dose of herceptin and I am a third way through my treatment! I am still getting palpatations and heartburn and bless the heart of the nurse caring for me today (Gwen) even though I have a doctors appointment lined up for next week, she called the duty doctor over and arranged for a prescription of ant acids to tide me over.

We used my compromised arm again which is a relief because it doesn't hurt as much but Gwen is such a star at getting a line in, I had no worries with her.

Two new ladies and their husbands were shown into the unit and one had a teary moment. I felt so sorry for them because this time last year, I was in their shoes, not ever having seen anyone fight cancer, never been into a treatment unit, seeing people hooked up to killing machines, it is over whelming. At that point, I decided that I want to use my survivorship to help others and with that in mind I am going to be joining Immerman Angels. I will post seperately about this charity but if I can help someone then my life will be good.

Harry went to his friends house for tea today... I was so nervous because Harry never gets invited to play dates. However, the parents of the child are so kind and gentle, I didn't have many reservations. When he was returned home at 6pm with reports of good behaviour, I sighed a HUGE sigh of relief.

So all is good today! The Gathering 2010 is looming.......

Monday, 25 January 2010

I Love Reading

Image courtesy of Amazon UK
I have just finished this book "Dead Until Dark" one in a series of vampire books about a human girl called Sookie Stackhouse. The television series based on these books is called True Blood.
I really enjoyed the series and didn't realise that there were books! Once I did, I bought them.
I am a slow reader but that doesn't really matter does it? If I have a good book I like to read and savour them.
Before cancer I didn't sit down long enough to read a book so this new habit I have adopted is fantastic and not one I am going to give up!

Saturday, 23 January 2010


My little guineapig, Jilly, died yesterday.
I think that it must have been a heart attack because there were no signs that her passing was coming. She was an older guineapig and I think the really cold temperatures have been hard on her even though she lives with other guineapigs in the shed.
She had a good life.
She was part of a group of 6 guineapigs and they live in a large enclosure with huts and tunnels and wood logs to sit on and chew.
Most guineapigs live in cages but at least she was free.
She was a lovely guineapig. She looked like a brillo pad. My toddler neighbour thought she looked like a hedgehog. She was a Rex guineapig and had wiry hair.
I will miss her.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Hospitals! Hospitals! Hospitals!

Well, today was supposed to be my annual mammogram. As I walked into Wrexham Maelor Hosptal I pondered the fact..... This time last year I was given a mammogram but it was different then, I KNEW I had a lump, this time I had no lumps or at least I was hoping I didn't. This was going to be a bit scarey really because it means waiting for the results.... Us cancer patients know all too well how nerve racking that is!

Now, I know I am technically "cancer free", the fact that I have had surgery, 12 rounds of chemo, radiotherapy, tamoxifen and herceptin makes it unlikely that the cancer has returned but there is always that niggling doubt.....

I got to the waiting room, pulled out my book and began to read. The waiting room was full of a selection of people of all ages. I could identify the ones in my boots because of the chemo cut - such a standard hair style! There were others with long hair and I envied them!

My name was called.......... but alas.......... the machine had broken down!

My next appointment will be on 3rd February - lets hope that there are no technical hitches on that day! More waiting........

I have a chat to the Shooting Star receptionists, such a lovely bunch of ladies, they always comment on my hair and how well I look. I waved goodbye, told them I would see them next week (herceptin time again!)

I am fed up of hospitals, doctors, dentists..........................

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

My Special Rock Garden

I collect stones from the beach when I visit. I don't choose a stone for its shape, I just let the stone draw me to it. I decided to decorate my front door step with the stones and painted them with uplifting words and sentences.

I then decided that I would paint the names of my friends who are fighting or have fought cancer. The idea is that as I cross over the threshold of my house each day (a few times a day) I see my friends names and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.

If you cannot see your name on a stone and you would like me to put your name on one then please let me know by leaving a comment. Barry Fraser, there is a stone with your name on it, it is small and white and I don't think it was captured in the shot.

I find painting the stones very theraputic. I don't know what colours I will use or what I will paint until I feel the stone in my hand.

Several friends have commented on my stones and how pretty they make the door step look and I have explained to them the reason for my particular rock garden.

If I come home feeling sad or angry, I just glance down at my stones as I turn the key in my door and I am reminded that I am surrounded by love, family, friends, hope, faith and strength.
PS: you see the Race for Life badge on my blog? I am doing the 2010 Race for Life in May for Cancer Research. I would appreciate sponsorship and this can be done online by following the link. Please help me to realise my vision of the future where all cancers are treatable.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Race for Life 2010

I took part in the 2008 Race for Lifeand at the time I had no experience with cancer. I didn't really know anyone who had had the disease and at 41 I didn't think I would get it.

I ran for all those who have fought cancer or who are fighting cancer, in particular Mike Peters of The Alarm. He is a two time cancer survivor having fought two types of leukemia in the last 10 or 15 years. I wanted to raise awareness for his charity the Love Hope Strength Foundation so having gotten in touch with Shannon Foley, I received a badge which I placed on my race card along with Mike Peters name and I managed to raise some money for Cancer Research.

A year ago I found a lump in my breast quite by accident. It wasn't a small lump either so I don't know how I missed that. On 4th February 2009 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer which was hormone and HER2 receptive, in other words - aggressive!

On 13th February my tumour was removed via a lumpectomy and I had a sentinal node biopsy. After many prayers I discovered that the tumour had been removed with a good clear margin and the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes so no further surgery was necessary. The operation itself was painful as I suffered a large haematoma which took months and months to clear and has stretched the scar so its not as neat as it should be but who am I to complain, they got the cancer out didn't they?!

On 20th March I started my regime of chemotherapy: 4 lots of Epi-Reubison every 3 weeks then 8 lots of CMF week 1, week 2 with a two week break. My veins managed to supply my body with the poisen right up until the end when they collapsed. Then followed radiotherapy. On 2nd October 2009 the most radical part of my treatment was over.

I have herceptin via IV every 3 weeks and regular heart scans, the herceptin carries a risk of heart damage, oh, yes, and I am on tamoxifen for the next 5 years.

Right now my energy is back, I am able to discipline the kids, walk the dogs and run! Wow! How I missed running so much!

So.... this year I have JUST entered the 2010 Race for Life in May! This time I am not only doing it for Mike Peters, I am doing it for ME among a number of my new bloggin/facebook friends!

My sponsorship link is on my blog please, please, please will you sponsor me!

I have benefited from new break throughs in cancer treatment...... the sentinal node biopsies have only been around in the past few years - this has meant that I have my mobility and I am at a lesser risk of developing a painful condition called lympodemia. HERCEPTIN - the wonder drug which targets the HER2 cancer cells..... the new breed of cancer treatment I hope!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A Good Weekend

I was just looking through some of my video clips and I found this one of Harry which made me giggle! He is running and running but its the look on his face that makes me smile!

We have had a good weekend so far with few melt downs. Jasons mum came yesterday and we had a nice chat, she took the boys out around the village. They went to Christ Church, Rossett where Harry went into the pulpit and recited the Lords Prayer. They then said a little prayer of thanks for my good health - thats nice. I don't know if you have seen a picture of my crosses but the boys got me one each last year on one of their Nana expeditions. I have framed them and they are above my bed. They are hand carved and proceeds went to help others.

We had our pizza night but I made the mistake of changing the "make" of pizza which didn't go down well with Harry. I tried to tell him it was the same as usual but there's no fooling him!

Today the boys have been horse riding. Joe rode Cracker and Harry rode Red Robin. They had a good lesson, the sun was shining and it was a lovely day to ride. We stopped off at Farm & Pet to buy some rabbit food and now we are home, doing our own things!

Life after cancer. I think you open up your mind once you have faced your own mortality, you free your spirit and see only the good life has to offer. I am blessed with good friends who keep me flying high!

On that note...................... wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Images are courtesy of My 8 year old son is autistic, (aspergers) and he has trouble dealing with the world and its complicated ways. Sometimes this leads to anger and frustration and because he doesn't look as though he has a disability people are very condemning but they just don't understand.
I purchased these two books from Amazon UK to try and help Harry with his anger issues. There is no support available to us from the authorities despite the increased awareness of autism so we are very much on our own. I am very impressed with the Red Beast book and I think the only way I can explain it to you is to quote parts of the foreword:
"Any parent of a child with special needs will tell you that it is the uncontrollable outbursts of rage which are the most difficult to contend with"
"Some children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder ASD are prone to regular outbursts of rage, since simply living through a normal day is often fraught with anxiety and frustration. Children with Aspergers Syndrome seem to be the most affected because they are more self aware"
The book disassosiates the feeling of anger from the child themselves and instead calls it the Beast. In doing so it takes away the feelings of guilt and resulting low self-esteem.
This book is going to prove invaluable to me!

I wasn't too impressed with "When Sophie Gets Really Really Angry..." We could all identify Harry as Sophie but I didn't like the idea that when Sophie gets angry she runs away into the countryside. Children with autism mimic things such as stories or films etc, they also take things literally so this book could prove to be quite dangerous. I am quite sure that this book has its place but not for a child with autism.

It is very exhausting living with a child or children with special needs because you have to teach them everything, things which are normally learnt automatically. That coupled with the fact that they usually have communication dishorders makes it a very stressful environment.

I could write a book about my life with my boys. I am not saying it is all bad because it most certainly is not in fact the disability brings joy with it as well as strife!! You learn to become tolerant of their ways and life is spent "walking on egg shells" because the wrong word, the wrong look - can lead to a complete melt down. I have learnt an indirect approach works better with my children, a few half truths and ignoring alot. However, it is emotionally draining.

Mind you, I might find it hard parenting children with special needs but whenever I start to feel hard done to, I put myself in their shoes, I try to see the world through their eyes and to be quite honest with you I am in awe of them. They have adopted clever strategies in order to manage their situation but no matter what, the world is a scarey place when you are not sure what comes next. No wonder Harry wants to stay home all the time!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Friday Shoot Out - BIRDS

I thought I was going to really struggle with this weeks assignment - BIRDS but I am quite pleased with the pictures I got. We went up the mountain to our friends house yesterday and I was hoping to get some pictures of pheasants but they were deep undercover because of the cold.
My friend has got these geese and they are always milling around the yard looking for food, at one point they even ventured into the utility and tried to steal the dog food! They can be quite nasty and are considered by some to be better guard dogs than dogs themselves!

The brown ones are the nastiest so my friends said so I kept well away from them!

They make quite a noise, gaggling along in their little "goose" line.

I did get a picture of pheasants but they weren't live. Some may not like this but this is countryside living. The birds roam wild and free and live a lovely life until they are shot. Not killed in an abetoir en masse. These pheasants are being "hung" to improve the flavour of the meat.

I collect teddy bears and this one is a limited edition Steiff called "Romance". I bought this bear because of the little robin he is holding. I always connect Robins with my late brother Peter so I just had to have this bear for my collection and as you will have guessed, the bears name is Peter.

This is a close of shot of the Robin singing his song to Peter.

The MINI badge has wings so it could be a bird of sorts.
A great assignment, really got me thinking!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

War Horse

Image courtesy of Amazon UK
I have just finished reading the book called War Horse by Michael Morpugo. It is a childrens book but I found it to be a captivating read.
I bought it for my eldest son as he enjoyed "Born to Run" by the same author which was bought for him as a Christmas gift from his nana. I enjoyed the book as well so being a lover of horses, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one.
The story is told through the eyes of a horse called Joey. A bitter sweet tale of suffering, love, loss and friendship during the first world war.
I knew that horses were used during the first world war but hadn't realised to what extent and how valuable they were.
This is a book that will be treasured along with Black Beauty, Son of Black Beauty, Greyfriars Bobby, Copper and My Dog Skip to name but a few.
I am grateful for not getting up late this morning, for being able to read because books bring such joy and knowledge, for having a warm home during this hard and cold winter, for my animals who bring me comfort and companionship and for my family whom I love dearly.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Running in the Snow

I have just about had enough of waiting for the thaw. The thought of running on a treadmill at the gym struck dread in my heart! Today, I tested the ice and it was soggy so I decided to go for my usual run outside. Instead of pounding the lanes which would be quite dangerous, I opted for a run through Darland woods then across the golf course. I tested out my new thermal running tights which were fab, I must say, well worth the money!

It was lovely listening to the crunch of the snow underfoot, quite theraputic. I soon warmed up and removed my woolly hat. The snow came down gently and the landscape was so pretty. Not many animals around and the lake had totally frozen over!

I managed to run a mile which is nothing compared to what I was doing pre-cancer but hey, this body has done me proud........ it has been cut open, poisened and burned within an inch of its life, the sorry state of my veins are an example of that! Despite this, my body has continued to function, I am alive and I am getting fitter by the day. Pretty soon, I am hoping to be up to at least 5 miles a run which will total 20 miles per week! Watch this space!

The affects of the herceptin kicked in this afternoon and I felt a little nausious and had a dicky tummy but its over now for another 3 weeks!

Jason and I took the dogs out for a walk and I collected my friends dog along the way. I manage to set her alarm off in doing so because I punched in the wrong code and in my panic just didn't know what to do. Luckily she was able to answer the phone and put me right! Molly (my friends dog) was the only one to take a walk on the frozen lake.... phew! my heart was in my mouth!

My diet is going well so far! I am focused and determined to reach my goal, I have 2 stone to lose and I know I am fighting cancer drugs but I will do it because I never admit defeat! Again I say to you..... watch this space!

Now, what is on my grateful list today??????

1. I am grateful for a fab husband who, when we got up late today jumped into action and got the kids to school!

2. I am grateful for my health and faculties, I was able to run today and appreciate nature in its glory

3. I am grateful for my positive attitude which has got me through the hell that was 2009

4. I am grateful for my determined spirit because I will achieve my goals

5. I am grateful for my friends, without whom I just wouldn't be where I am today!

Tomorrow....... off to the Orthodontist at Chester City Hospital and he will want to know why I haven't been wearing my retainers and why I haven't got my teeth "prettied" up yet. Do I tell him or do I let him lecture me then tell him or do I let him lecture me and say nothing? I will let you know what happens tomorrow!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Being Grateful

Image is courtsey of google search engine

I read a magazine article recently which suggests that by writing down 5 things you are grateful each day for when you wake up, makes you a happier and more content person.

I am always ready to try anything which might have a positive outcome so I did that this morning and I will share them with you today;
1. I am grateful for not drinking wine last night, I feel so much better this morning as a result.
2. I am grateful because Harry is getting better, he was so poorly yesterday with a high temperature and I found it really distressing.
3. I am grateful for being alive, that my lumpectomy was a success. Scars? Doesn't matter because I am alive to see Joseff and Harry growing up.
4. I am grateful for having such a sensible son in Joseff. He is so good, takes everything in his stride. I wish I could split my time more evenly. Harry takes so much of my attention.
5. I am grateful to be able to "SEE" because without my sight I would miss so much.

I won't give you a daily report on my 5 things I am grateful for each day because they will probably end up being mostly the same!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Blessing of Children

I had a real "bee in my bonnet" today about getting the house tidy so after I had been to the supermarket for a few provisions, I set about my task. It was inspired really by my dog Wilbur who had thrown up all over my sofa! Luckily, it is a leather sofa so I was able to clean it and treat it with leather cream and it looks all shiny and new! The cushions didn't fair so well, I put them in the washing machine, 2 of them were fine but the other is all out of shape, however, the rabbits can have that one to snuggle up to in the cold.
So I have scrubbed and cleaned all day long.
Harry is quite tired today and he is like me in that when we get tired we just need to rest. He told me that he had been sleeping on his bedroom floor and he still felt really tired. I gave him some food thinking that he may have had an energy dip but he then requested that I have a warm bath with him.
"What a nuisance" I thought to myself, just when I was getting the house sorted out. I then pulled myself up and gave myself a good talking too! Housework will always be there even when I am dead and gone but my little boy won't. Very soon, he will be too old to have baths with me, what was I thinking of, putting housework before my boy?
As we relaxed in the bath, Harry at one end, me at the other, we chatted about things quietly. It then dawned on me that had it not been for Harry wanting me to spend time with him relaxing, I would have carried on working until I was exhausted myself. Probably naggy and not much use to anyone! He made me take time out to relax and that is the BLESSING OF CHILDREN!
I am now off upstairs to lie on my bed with him and watch a DVD. It will probably be something boring but I don't think Mr H minds if I read and watch at the same time.
I once cross stitched a poem, I must find it because it gave us parents a very important message.... children don't keep forever. Some of the passage goes like this " hush now cobwebs, dust go to sleep, I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep..."

Friday, 8 January 2010

Friday Shoot Out - FENCES

I am so sorry, I have had an eventful week this week and as a result, haven't been able to get shooting. However, I have rummaged through my archive!

Above is a picture taken on the mountain in Llanarmon. You can just about make out the fence and the old gate.
Taken in the summer in Erddig Estate. The fence is made of iron and much nicer than the wire ones we see so frequently these days.

The geese at the Equestrian Centre where the boys ride. Fences will be made out of anything you can find, in this case an old gate held together with baling twine.

My favourite place, Erddig Hall. This doorway leads into the formal gardens from the working courtyard.

A very nice gate and fence from Erddig Hall. This is the old entrance to the Hall.

Poppy, Pickles and Wilbur in Darland Woods just 5 minutes walk from my house. You can see the reflection of the fencing on the woodland floor.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


2009 was such an eventful year for me, although not in the way I would have liked so 6? 7? days into 2010 its all quite calm....

The children were kept off school yesterday because of the snow and they had a brilliant time outside playing! My neighbour, Fran and I made a snowman with the kids and that was good fun although when the light went later that day the older kids came along and took great delight in destroying it, that was sad!

The older kids are a source of frustration for all residents of our small cul-de-sac. They play football and the balls hit our cars and our houses... in the end, Jason had to go out with his warrant card and tell them officially that it was against the law to play ball games on a public highway, they just wouldn't listen to me! The parents never supervise the children, never have done, they seem to think its alright that they cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to other peoples property. When my boys are outside playing, I plant myself in the window so that I can keep an eye on what is going on.

The same boys taunt the younger children, in fact, they run off with their bikes and earlier on in the year it was because of such an act that Harry (who takes great care of his bike) had his bike driven over! It's funny how quickly the older children disappeared, leaving Harry hiding in the shed having destroyed my pot plants in frustration, crying and shivering with distress.

Yesterday, the same boys taunted Harry again and the result was that he threw one of his new gloves into a tree and the other down the drain. I was then left to deal with the mess at home. By mess, I mean Harry's mood.

I had enough by 5.30pm, I had reached my melt down point because Harry is always challenging but he is growing up and so is challenging in a new way. I have to re-group and decide how I am going to deal with this, its not easy! Luckily my husband took care of the children and I took myself off to bed with my book just to chill.... I didn't read much, too emotionally exhausted but at least I did shake off my bad mood.

It is so hard dealing with children who have Speech, Language and Communication Disorders. Such small words really but they have a much deeper meaning, significance. It impacts on every aspect of life and learning... Going to the shop is never easy, going to the pantomine, anywhere outside the home...... I am sick and tired of parents at school putting a label on Harry as a "bad boy" because they haven't got a clue on what he has to deal with, or me for that matter!

I am so sorry, I didn't want this to turn into a whinging post but I have hit a rock in my life with this one. Its good in a way though because it shows that I am getting back to my old self after cancer but frustrating never the less.

I also feel that it is my duty to highlight the issues of this dishorder and that of autism. So many people look at my beautiful boy and just do not realise what he has to live with.

Promise me that if you see a child swearing, lashing out, lieing on the supermarket floor, fiddling with buttons or belts..... you won't condemn that child or his parents. You will smile at the parent, you will smile at the child and you will say a prayer for them.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year and a New Me!

....... well not quite!

I have started back on my Weight Watchers diet today and I am waiting for my ASDA Home Delivery to bring me all of my healthy food choices. I scrolled through the weight watchers recipe page and selected a whole range of recipes, made my shopping list and did it online! By doing things this way I am hoping to cut my grocery budget, cut down on food waste and try some new foods. I will probably post some of the recipes online and let you know whether or not they were a success.

Jason is at work and the children are off school until Tuesday so my window of opportunity for exercise is limited! I was given a Wii Fit for my birthday but I am a bit of a mentally driven exercisor, I need to be away from my home environment and I need to be totally focused on what I am doing. When in the gym I am not one of those people looking for a social, I am totally "in the zone" - its the only thing that works for me.

So having a few weeks of eating rubbish I am ready for this new start, I am looking forward to achieving my targets set for this year.