Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Me and Sophia Melancholia Premiere

John Hurt
I and Sophia had a fabulous evening out in central London. It was so warm out there was no way I was going to waste it. We headed for a small premiere event in Mayfair first ‘Melancholia’ starring Kirsten Dunst. We were not there long when Simon Pegg arrived with John Hurt and Kirsten Dunst. We managed to collect all three autographs which Sophia was over the moon about. She had a lovely chat with John Hurt telling him how she had waited ages at the ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ premiere and he did not sign her book. John Hurt said well this time you have it and he petted her on the head. My daughters’ collection of autographs is now worth a tidy sum of money, but to me it has given us a hobby with lots of fun memories which she did not have before.

After the premiere we headed for a Chinese bar on New Oxford St a few doors down from Tottenham Court tube station. We chatted about school and the autographs she has added to her collection. Sophia loves chatting to these strange people who sign her book. She does not know who they are or really what they do, but I explain to Sophia and show her pictures on the internet so she knows. After eating our Chinese meal I get Sophia an ice cream from MacDonald’s to have on the tube back.  

Monday, 26 September 2011

Life and a Very Bitter Individual

The other day my husband informed me I had punched him on the nose when he tried to pull the duvet which was wrapped around me. I hope this does not become a regular occurrance because I could be done for battery. I cannot remember punching him or the dream in question. I laughed out load when he told me, he even managed to laugh himself.
This Wednesday gone I met the director Steve Balderson in person for the movie I’m in, sweet man like a cuddly giant with a very soft American accent. I’m also still going to premieres collecting autographs sad I know, but someone has to do it. Underneath it all I should be happy at what I have achieved, but there is still something missing.
All my husband is doing is pacifying me or pushing me along. He informed me his sister was coming round and could I do a batch of Doubles. There was no but baby can you or kiss on the cheek. Just Sarah can you do a batch of doubles in a quiet deep tone.

When his sister arrived it was the usual bantering between brother and sister. That I encourage, but then once she had eaten and spoke on the phone the conversation took a turn for the worst. She sat with her back straight opened up her zip front top and said look double DD’s. Humour or no humour I glared at her with total disgust. My husband had sprawled out on the sofa watching TV and said a long drawn out what? I instantly replied your sister is attempting to be a bitch once again and sadly falling short of the mark. But hey we all can’t be like her with her double DD’s can we. Steve’s eyes went to the back of his head with zero response. He knew his sister was wrong and this time he should of asked questions rather than it slip by.

She went into talking about how she needs a man to be satisfied. I turned off and ignored because her words have no interest to me. Then as she yapped on all I kept thinking was you are a sad individual. Sad to think you have to stoop so low. And sad because the scar that runs across your face cannot be hidden. So why be so damned nasty?
At the end of the day the same judgement she insinuated about men not liking implants. She faces every day in a mirror staring right back at her. A scar she received when small runs deep across her nose down onto her lip and this cannot be hidden. Black skin scars so badly and when she got this scar there was not the plastic surgeons there are now. Maybe this is why she is such a bitter person and obsessed with image and what people think. I feel like turning the tables somehow saying well hey look at my face, but then I would be no different to her. The facts that her father had said quite a bit about her upbringing actually made me pity her. An individual whose sole purpose is to cause distress to another is a very bitter person. At least I can sit back and say I have never and never will stoop to those depths. Whether it is me being over sensitive to the conversation.

Monday, 19 September 2011

My Laughter Button!!!!

When things start to get you down it could be the tedious appointments or just the nagging aches and pains. The one thing I rely on is sadistic humour or sarcasm. It makes people realise hey if I can still smile and do what I do without interruption, then so can you.

Like when my husband the other day turned to me and said, he was bruised between his legs ( Sorry, visual turn off, TMI) from riding a bike. My reply was what do you expect you’re forty one and you haven’t ridden a bike for years and how do you think a woman feels after having sex. Where do you think the term saddle walk came from or saddle bag fanny. (Yes it is from riding a horse, but I’m enjoying every moment of this.) You could always buy a bike and jump back on the saddle and wear it  back in. My husband gives me a glare and I say try having a hot bath then. That is what they normally advise women to do after giving birth. Then I return to doing the household chores whilst getting the odd glimpse of him struggling with the pain, which brings a devilish smile on my face.

No doubt he will be returning to his work place today with load moans and groans to get the attention he requires being a man and all. But sorry he will get zero comfort from his wife because I am still walking his daughter to school and back with my sciatic nerve trapped. Yes it is my choice to walk, but his is self inflicted by acting out his return to youthful vigour, and I did encourage the stupid fool just so I could have a giggle at his expense. I already know what my next move will be, frozen peas with a wicked glint of satisfaction. He did not fall for that move though shame, shame.

The things that I find humorous currently are at my husbands’ expense, come to think of it at any mans expense. Yet with this journey I must have some fun, it’s just gone a little darker than usual, even sadistic at times, but don’t judge me he deserves it.

How much humour, sarcasm/ positivity can I create on my blog before people realise that my humour isn’t so straight forward. Besides no-one can be happy twenty four plus, but I do have a laughter release button. My husband.....  


Between 18 and 22, a woman is like Africa - half discovered, half wild, fertile and naturally beautiful!
Between 23 and 30, a woman is like Europe -well-developed and open to trade, especially for something of real value.
Between 31 and 35, a woman is like Spain - very hot, relaxed, and convinced of her own beauty.
Between 36 and 40, a woman is like Greece & gently aging, but still a warm and desirable place to visit.
Between 41 and 50, a woman is like Great Britain, with a glorious and all-conquering past.
Between 51 and 60, a woman is like Israel - has been through war, doesn't make the same mistakes twice, and takes care of business.
Between 61 and 70, a woman is like Canada - cool, self-preserving, but open to meeting new people.
After 70, she becomes Tibet - wildly beautiful, with a mysterious past and the wisdom of the ages.... an adventurous spirit and a thirst for spiritual knowledge.


Between 1 and 80, a man is like Iran - ruled by a couple of nuts


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Your Being Pro-active not Nagging!

My appointment at the hospital went well, but my GP made an error. Really I should have been sent for a MRI because it is not a hip problem. On arriving at the hospital I bumped into the radiologist nurse who has done my mammograms and was on her break. We wondered through the hospital to the x ray department chatting about my treatment. I mentioned the last registrar I saw was going to discharge me from the hospital and treatment. She was in shock and wanted to know his name. The nurse has seen me enough times to realise that I am not one to over react or be discharged. I told her I corrected him straight away, but I noted he had not really taken the time to even read my notes. If he had he would know I could not be discharged from clinic less than two years into treatment. I said that I would have run for the go free card if I knew I could monitor the situation myself, but even I am not that foolish.

The radiologist nurse with her bright smile said next time go up to the clinic and request to see Miss S even have it written on my notes so every appointment from now on my appointments are with her. I did not realise I could do this because she is the top consultant of oncology department and others in a more serious situation may need that time slot. The nurse assured me that Miss S would love to see me anyway because I tell her what is wrong rather than worry about details. It makes her job a lot easier just like how I kept on top of my right breast. Although I felt like people were seeing me as being over active. In the department the talk was totally different on my part she explained. They want to catch any cancer question marks as soon as possible. So by me telling them about changes to them is not being a nuisance it is actually being seen as being pro active towards my treatment and any possible further diagnoses.

Then the conversation moved onto why I was here now. I went into detail about my left leg and even she said it could be the sciatic nerve. It is such a common complaint seen in the hospital. She had her hands on her hips with disappointed eyes when I mentioned I’d been trying to solve it myself rather than be in hospital yet again. Then she explained that really I should have come straight away to have it checked. I agreed with a cheeky smile, but I feel I’m spending too much time in hospitals of late with minor grumbles. She straight away snapped and said Sarah what you have gone through is not minor and taking into account how quick it was caught was a miracle. To her being pro active over my health is seen as looking out for one’s own health interests never mind what others think.

We leave each other outside the ultra sound department and I am greeted with a message on the board. Apparently I am supposed to use the phone and call an extension number to inform the department I am here. There is no secretary the department is silent. The message says use the phone on the wall and there is no phone only the one on the reception desk. I walk over to a door that says staff only and knock on it. My favourite radiologist nurse pops her head out with what’s up Sarah? I pointed to the phone on the desk asking if that is supposed to be the wall phone she smiled. Yes she replied and she laughed at the message written. Don’t you think it should say desk rather than wall? I ask. She said ignore just tap in the extension number and someone should answer. Then she said cut backs don’t help means we can’t afford a secretary and with a smile she goes back into the staff room.

I am alone with my daughter at this appointment like all the rest really. My husband has gone on a one day bike ride in Wale’s. Something tells me he will be complaining in the morning about every ache and the fact he has not ridden a bike in years, but will I be sympathising to self infliction, nope.

I and my daughter are taken to a seating area in another part of the x ray department. I had brought some snacks to keep her occupied whilst we waited.  It did not take long before I’m laid on the bed and the gel is on my hip. The ultra sound man was brilliant he was a northerner. He talked to me whilst he took images of my hip and asked a few questions. He was surprised about my cancer journey, but also queried why I was having an ultra sound. To him it sounded like I had sciatica problem and really only a MRI of the back would pick that up. I shrugged my shoulders and said well my GP thought yet another x ray was not called for. He disagreed but still checked bother my hips as a comparison which he said was clear of any lesions or swelling. He said he was going to advise my GP to refer me for a MRI and physiotherapy. I asked if there was any way I could sort the issue myself and he said not really. I replied that’s it I’m in the knackers yard there is no going back now. He smiled at my stance on the whole situation. He tried to explain that the MRI was important to rule out any lesions. I calmly cut through what he was saying and said once upon a time you would have said lesion and I would not know what you were trying to say, just like calcification. Then I smiled and winked, but you know what it ain’t, it is just old age and a stubborn bloody nerve this time.  So I hear what you are telling me, I will visit my GP and request an MRI just to be thorough. Meantime I need to find a nice gent who can give me a hot massage and manipulate my joints a little me thinks and smiled.  Hey I got to be positive on this one...  and I left the room. Right Sophia lets go shopping and see what we can find and she smiles. Can I have a ice cream? because I was good

Friday, 16 September 2011

Beggars cannot be choosers can they?

I have realised an annoying fact of having the curse of cancer lurking, or if I word it another way being in the so called cancer survivor box. Every ailment or pain people begin to believe you are actually trying to say you have cancer again. People just want to say shut up, move on, but some dare not just in case they are wrong. And being left with the guilt of being wrong is the worst feeling trust me. You are put in a position do you talk openly about it or stay quiet. If I had not gone through breast cancer I would be entitled to have a grumble, so why can’t I now?
On a previous post I mention my hip because the psychological effect cancer can have on the person in question not out of pity or fear of return. You need to switch off, you want to switch off, but you cannot. And the truth is you do not want to become too complacent over something that could actually be more than minor. This I have been made aware of because I have been told if you think you have a problem go to your GP, but I did not walk into that GP office saying, hey I think I have cancer again? Even if there is a shadow lurking. In fact like normal we went through the list of possible and he said ok ultra sound then we can of a base to work from i.e. pain management.
When I had my cervical cancer scare I never actually made a big deal. The yearly smear test I never once said, ‘Oh Fuck it might be back’ it did not even enter my mind. I ask myself why? Why at the tender age of twenty six did I not panic? The only concern I had was that I might not have a natural birth because of the scarring to the cervix. The doctor had sat me down and explained that it can prevent a natural birth, but my reply was hey I did not have it with the first and she maybe my one and only child. The years went by and my cervical cancer scare became a distant memory. I honestly believed I would never have another child. Life went on and the only time I mention my little operation is when the paperwork wanted past history. Just like when I had the mole removed off my back. It was only when the plastic surgeon queried why I had the scar and I had to think before answering. So I did not spend my time thinking hey I have skin cancer either. I had moved on...
So why am I panicking about breast cancer? What is so different about cervical cancer, skin cancer, and now breast cancer? MEDIA that’s what! When Jade Goody passed away from cervical cancer the media was there to talk about her every move. It brought the reality of a female cancer to the media attention. This in turn made young women realise the importance of that cervical smear. Until then it was never taken serious and young girls were missing a very important test. The fact a young women in the media eye had cervical cancer switched a profit light on with the media. Then once the media scrum died with Jade Goody on her journey with cervical cancer it left a gap. Why? Because without Jade Goody plastered across the papers there was no profit to be made.  
Women are still dying from this cancer along with other cancers yet it is not as pinked as breast cancer. Why? Breast cancer affects men also, so why not have pink with blue poker dots? It is just an observation, ridiculous but true, but why not?
Breasts sell with the female form, but no-one wants to see the reality of having breast cancer and when you feel shit whether it be a man or woman. No-one wants that image in the media because it is depressing and not appealing, but at the same time we are not celebs. We want a smiley face just like my modelling photo’s with a positive note. Even Jade Goody faced the wrath of people who felt it was not right to see her in her last moments of life. That it should be private not plastered across papers or on television, but it made money and viewing figures.
My cancers X3 were very real to me and all have left their scars, but the media and its influence on how we see these cancers, and how we should inform about cancer are creating confusion and with me some anger. I want cancer as a whole taken seriously. No type of cancer should have less importance than another. They all can shorten your life expectancy... That is the truth not a negative, it’s a fact.
When an individual questions or even discusses their journey in a negative light it is seen as being selfish. Anyone can read my blog and be left with more questions than answers, or believe I do not want to move forward in some way. My hip is a classical symptom of the negative smoke screen.  I am hoping it is nothing but Sciatica like a person described to me today, but even sciatica needs a trigger. Yet until the scan is done I cannot say anything, I am in limbo, but if I did not have breast cancer it would be sciatica wouldn’t it? Why would I even contemplate it being anything to do with cancer? And why would the media without the focus on breasts want to purely concentrate on breast cancer rather than any other cancer?
Confusing to you, well it is for me because I bloody cannot fathom out how I bloody damaged my sciatica nerve, or how the hell I got breast cancer or any other cancer. In fact I would sooner be sipping martinis on a beach without even mentioning cancer, but beggars cannot be bloody choosers can they?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Therapy and its Benefits

I remember the day of my diagnosis too well the first person I saw was a Macmillan nurse. I did not instantly connect to this woman, but she was there if I needed her. There were numerous calls she checking on me and I chasing my results from biopsies. Yet I remained trapped with the silent tears I cried whilst everyone else slept soundly at home. These tears I know were slowly swallowing me up inside. I was a robot, very automated and underneath it all I was very isolated from my family. The fact my husband instantly shot me down when I wanted to talk added to my confused state of mind.

Then out of all that darkness was one piece of advice which was a saving grace. Why don’t you visit The Maggie Centre. Although I’m very relaxed about talking I was not sure I would be able to relax in this type of atmosphere. Maggie’s and its home from home set up is a place where you can do exactly that i.e RELAX. It is a retreat, a place where you can chat or simply sit silently and listen. They offer advice on benefits and finding a route where the stress is eased financially as well a range of therapies. It is all PVT and without the burden of cost attached.

My first visit I found myself chatting with the organiser of the centre. Who advised me to try the massage to help me relax? I was nervous and not really sure if I would return after our little chat, but I did. At first I did not want to take up their time especially when someone else needed it more. So I only went to the centre when I had an appointment with my Plastic Surgeon Mr H.

Then one of the other visitors to the centre told me about a therapy that would appeal to me. Art Therapy... It concentrates on relaxation and you could choose whatever you want to do. You do not have to be Van Gogh to join. This was my type of therapy with no restrictions. You just turn up and find a seat whether it be in the group or sat on your own.

Now I have made this my diary must for every Friday morning when my young daughter is at school. Even when I get a phone call from a friend to go for a coffee I instantly say no. My friend did find it amusing when I said I was going to art therapy classes. But I am not going to shy away from something that relaxes me.

Therapy is not all talk; it is about finding a comfort zone where you feel relaxed with the stess minimised. The Maggie Cancer Caring Centres cater for those who are lost in treatment and appointments that seem never ending. They act like a hand coming out of a fog that is so dense to start with it over whelms you. It is about you making sense of the situation and finding a smile or even laughter amongst friends. It also welcomes family members and friends who act as carers. It is a crying shame that only seven of these centres are complete and running in the UK. I think it is about time the goverment recognises the importance of these centres and the important service they provide to cancer patients. To me more should be done to create more centres like the one I visit.

Check my links page for more information on other services provided for cancer patients.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Hidden Reflection of Cancer

We adapt, we paint a pretty picture of good health. That somehow the conveyer belt is an easy transition, but it isn’t. To me I see myself as a false representation of breast cancer, and the survivorship convoy of people. Why do I say this?
The other day an individual approached me and asked how I was. I said I was fine, but underneath really I am not fine because of the pain in my hip. The pain is now reaching down my left leg into my shin bone, but I am determined not to change my routine. She admired my tenacity to continue as normal rather than dwell on yet another health problem. My reply was I’m a Yorkshire woman with attitude my body is not going to rule me.
Then the subject was moved onto my mastectomy and cancer. She said on the outside you would not have known that I had gone through breast cancer. Part of me wanted to question what she had just said with, well what does breast cancer look like? Instead I looked at her direct with a very serious face. That’s because I am a false representation of breast cancer and its treatment. I have held onto to my smile on the outside leaving my tears and torment locked away from view, so how was this woman suppose to see the reality of this disease. This was my way of dealing with my particular cancer and each individual is different just like the treatment we all receive. I keep repeating to people, but I am not on the same treatment of course my behaviour and appearance is different. This to me is like a guilty noose around my neck. My truth and their truth is far from the reflection this individual wants to see.
Words come easy when you hit the emotional switch off button. We all want a positive to evolve from a negative situation. People often talk about the affects of guilt especially when you become a part of special community. That the door to cancer once opened will not remain closed.
But whilst individuals brave the storm and are willing to tell their experience of cancer then innocent observations should not be hidden. The freedom to express and the internet has given individuals a voice. This voice means if you type in the right words or ask the right questions you will find someone affected by cancer. These people reveal the raw truth of their journey with cancer. So my reflection of my journey is very different and I hope it remains that way.  Minus the appointments my treatment now is about vanity and a sense of closure. So yes guilt, everyone feels guilt at some point on the BC convoy.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Breast Cancer isn't a Game!

I understand why this latest game on my FB was developed, but it is creating upset with people who are trying to make sense of the BC journey. People affected by BC can either ignore or join in. I and quite few others though are venting our disgust at this latest titillation on FB.

PVT message I received for the third time:

Ok Pretty Ladies

It's that time of year again in support of Breast cancer Awareness!
We all remember last year’s game of writing your bra colour as your status? or the way we like our handbag handy.

Remember last year so many people took part that it made National News, and the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we're doing this and helped raise awareness!

...Do Not Tell Any males what the status's mean, keep them guessing and please broadcast this to all your female friends to see if we can make a bigger fuss this year than last year.

I did my part...So now it's your turn!

The idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to the girls only and let’s see far it reaches around. The last one about the bra went round the world.

So you'll write...I'm (your birth month) weeks and I'm craving (your birth date)!!! as your status.

Is there method in this madness, well to the individual who created it yes. His or her intentions were to create awareness plus support for BC. But to me it was just not well thought through. Breast cancer survivors that go through a more rigorous treatment than I have faced may not have children.

The other issue I have with this game is the secrecy it generates. We took Breast cancer out of the closet. Why place it back in?

I am personally tired of people acting like my issue has been solved when I know because of the close community I am involved with that is not the case. There are women out there with better diagnoses than myself and BC has returned. That is the scariest heavy load I carry around with me. The knowledge I face could mean I could be back to square one which nearly happened back in January this year. The pain and worry I faced for those several weeks I would not wish on my dearest nearest enemy. My results were clear, but even my oncologist was worried.

I understand we want a fluffy outcome to a very much dome a gloom situation, but BC is not a laughing matter. Whilst a survivor smiles on the outside, we are caged emotionally inside. We are screaming to be heard, but they are silent screams because we are trying not to offend. I read blog, upon blog and I have developed relations with those affected by BC and this journey we are on is very, very lonely.

So I am sorry but these games to me are just not appropriate especially when I am chatting to individuals that are Stage IV and facing the agony of chemo, Rads and meds with no end in sight. That is the reality of BC not this silly game. Please bring back the pink ribbon in its entirety as the true symbol of BC. Not the silly games and pink wigs... We need the reality of Breast Cancer to be taken seriously.

Today I went to my GP and I am being referred for a ultra sound on my hip. I don’t know what I have done, but I have been in pain for over two months now. I delayed seeing my GP because I did not want to return to yet another hospital. I even managed to do the ‘Race for life’ through pure stubbornness, but I have finally faced the fact it won’t just disappear. My fingers are firmly crossed that all will be answered on the examination.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Not all is Postive in Cancer Land!

In the land of free speech and the right to express is the mute button. Some of my fellow cyber bloggers feel very much muted once again. These blogs written by guest blogger Coco, &  explains why the echo started and questions its conclusion on Positivity v Negativity on diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It has created a united debate on blog boards by fellow BC comrades. Not all is positive in the land of cancer it can’t be, but the push by media to portray a smiley face is very clearly seen. The efforts to show a positive towards treatment on television/adverts rather than the negative are wearing thin. To engage the public to be pro active in finding cancer sooner rather than later is everywhere. But one idiot decided to do a written piece on how our approach to life can impact on whether we get the disease in the first place, has hit a cord of discontent.

This was my reply to the debate:

No matter which way you look at it Coco, it is the devil you do, the devil you don’t. There are two stereo types meek and tearful, or shout loud and proud which people want to see. Yet what if you are a bit of both and that is not addressed well you’re stuck.
My nurse would say stay positive, but what if the positivity bug is creating a negative bubble. I personally started to ask why? Why can’t people shout, slam, throw their fists in the air if they feel it is needed. Why can’t we discuss the negatives of our treatment loud and proud like the pink brigade that is thrown in our face? Deep down we have all felt anger at varying points of our treatment so why can’t we express it? The truth is the cupboard that was with BC suffers so long ago is still wide open ready to silence the individual that upsets the balance.
I’m not sure who or what I represent in the fuzzy land of BC. Personally I dealt with my situation by filling my life with options. I just did not want cancer to claim me or change me. I did not want my young daughter to see me wither away over something I have no control over. Positivity or negativity to me or just decisions we make. Wrong or right if you feel you need to scream then to me bloody scream loud and hard, but the positivity brigade will ask, and what did that achieve?

Well it made me feel better... and not just another positive statistic sat on the sidelines following an intimidating representation of what BC suffers should be... We are born to question and not to just sit on the mute button. Even though our representation of the BC Land does not fit the jigsaw that is very much media controlled.

There are no wrongs or rights in this debate only a group of very rightfully angry ladies who are trying to make sense of their treatment, but again the right to show the true nature of cancer is very much being controlled. More and more females thanks to the bloggers sphere are shouting ‘No this is not my representation of cancer. WE honestly feel let down and wish that people would open their eyes to the reality of this disease’.

Common sentences used:
You talk about cancer too much.
Don’t you think you should focus on a positive rather than be negative?
Why are you negative all the time?
You need to get a life.
You’re not the only one affected by cancer.
If others can move on surely you can.
I’m sorry!

This list could keep going on and on. To me thank the Lord for the Cyber city we are building because now we do not have to feel we are the only ones with the same feelings. It is not peaches and roses and things do go wrong in the land of cancer. A lot more than we dare to admit! This is not a negative, but reality...