Happier New Year

This may seem a bit late but pretty much most of Christmas and the New Year has passed me by. There were some lovely moments however far too much of the last few weeks have been a blur of illness, aches and a throat full of the most painful mouth ulcers.

When it gets this bad you have to pause your life. Most of the stuff you want to do just doesn’t happen. You have a constant exhaustion. Meanwhile it seems like everything around you just carries on as normal. Recently there have been some wonderful comments on my blog. Thank you. I’m sorry that I don’t have the energy to reply right now but they’re all read and apperciated.

The three weeks recovery time after chemo no 5 are always the worst because it’s the penultimate load of drugs. The build up of toxic chemicals is horrific. There is no real chance to recover before the final session. Somehow chemo no 6 doesn’t seem quite so awful as you know that the treatment is over. At least for the time being.

So it was on Christmas Eve that I had chemo no 5. This was exactly a year after being told that the disease I’d thought I’d fought off was advanced and would kill me someday soon. What is it about my cancer that ensures I spend Christmas Eve at hospital??

This year there were no mince pies as we waited. It didn’t matter as I’m not allowed to eat on the morning of my chemo anyway. But there was some Christmas cheer on the ward. Especially as my friend Chantal brought along some festive flowers.

I saw the same lovely consultant as the year before. I’ve been her patient for so long. We have shared some Incredible highs….she gave me the all clear from my ever first lot of cancer. And more recently, some terrible lows…on Christmas Eve 2012 she explained that I may only have months to live.

But Christmas Eve 2013 seemed so much more positive. The latest test results were encouraging and showed that the chemo was giving my latest tumour a good kicking. Most importantly I was still alive! Still able to sit in that small, bright room and talk about my future. On the way out I gave my consultant a hug. I thanked her for helping to prolong my life. There’s not many people you can say that to!

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It wasn’t great being in hospital at that time of year. But at least we were all able to leave at the end of the day. There was a unique feeling that we had something special waiting for us when the treatment finished. Normally all you have to look forward to is projectile vomiting and a chemo hangover.

Even my bag of drugs had a Christmassy look. As they slipped into my veins I had a dreamless doze under a thin, blue blanket. When I woke up it was time for Christmas.

That night, when we got back, I slept in my own home. I’ve now properly moved to the countryside. Thats no 1 and 2 that I’ve been able to tick off my List for Living! It means I’ve stayed alive long enough to do the most important on my list. As I fell asleep I was happy that this Christmas Eve was much better than the last one.

31 thoughts on “Happier New Year

  1. I’m so happy to read that you have your own home in the countryside. I don’t know if you blogged about it but if so, I missed it. Congratulations and may you be happy there! x

  2. So pleased to see this post Helen – have been thinking about you and hoping you were OK. I was diagnosed with breast cancer late November and had my first of six rounds of chemo yesterday, which will be followed by a mastectomy and radiotherapy. You are an utter inspiration and, as a former journalist turned PR consultant, I too am blogging about my experience – trying, as you do so brilliantly, to capture the highs, as well as the lows. Keep fighting lovely lady – we’re all cheering you on!

  3. while you clearly had a tough time with the chemo and the timing right before the festive season, it’s a real delight to be able to wish you a very happy New year and the prospect of ticking even more items from your list for living. I hope Gloucestershire is not too flooded!

  4. That’s great news Helen, enjoy your new home and hopefully some country walks before long.xxx

  5. I’ve been thinking of you so it is so good to hear from you. I don’t want you to feel obliged to blog, but your posts are a treat – they have helped me get through diagnosis and treatment and now the awful scary moments in the middle of the night when you wonder whether anyone really knows what they are talking about. I don’t feel we can offer much back but we do all think of you. I hope you are really enjoying that country cottage and that before long there will be a dog to keep you on your toes.

  6. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am sending positive thoughts your way hoping that you are able to slay the monster. You make me realise how much in my own life I have to be grateful for rather than focusing on the inconsequential details.

  7. Dear Helen, the mixture of feelings in your post is incredible. Well, it was to be expected as your intricate, yet clear way of thinking is incredible. I am thinking of you all the time and often mentioning you and things you have thought me. Sending you love and smiles!

  8. Happy New Year to you, Helen! Congratulations on the house move!

    Sending the best of everything for a healthier 2014! x

  9. I love reading your posts because your positive attitude is inspirational. Here is an anonymous quote I love: “Don’t lost hope because when the sun goes down, the stars come out.”

  10. What a lovely happy blog. So full of hope and inspiration. I’m delighted about all your news. Not least of all the news about your home – wonderful!! Well done to your friend Chantal. Really beautiful flowers and so festive they would cheer up any situation. I’m going to get my friend’s husband to read your blog. He is putting our heads away because he has turned 52 and is down in the dumps because of it!!!!

  11. So pleased to see you have moved home. An ordeal in itself however you are feeling so what an achievement. I wish you a wonderful 2014. Fight like a girl … I know you will xxx

  12. You are such a wonderful inspiration Helen. Bless you indeed. Sending Love, light and laughter your way take care….keep going XX

  13. Reading this today reduced me to tears. Congratulations on your new house. Hope you have wonderful times there to enjoy xx

  14. I’ve learnt a lot recently, from some very poorly people. I realise that moments are so precious. Giving only my time (which seems so inadequate sometimes) to some very special people has made me appreciate these individuals for the unique people they are and their ailments are the things they suffer but mostly I learnt there are still moments to enjoy and I feel privileged when I part of that moment. I hope I’m always looking for those moments of joy and giving them to others also. I love the velvet red roses.

  15. Dear Helen,

    I am so impresed with your positive spirits.
    It is a blessing to read your blog!

    Keep fighting and remember to enjoy life whenever you are able.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Best wishes,
    Claire

  16. hi helen i too have secondary cancer and it is to you that i look when i need some faith. I want to tell you that you have been very brave but i know that word can be provocative – You did not choose this battle, you had no choice. However, your chemo is nearly at an end and your bravery lies in turning the negative into a positive. Being a spin doctor. Yes that makes it more palatable of course. Fighting evil with light! That is what people want to hear but it is also true, if you take that leap of faith and believe. Share the impossible dream with me and hold the faith. We can beat cancer x

  17. You sound very positive which will help greatly. I recall spending Christmas Eve 2010 with my wife in The King Edward ward at Readings’s RBH as Sue was given her first slow… dose of Herceptin. We left at 5.30 and the ward was empty. The staff, as ever were wonderful. I particularly liked the festive IV.

  18. wishing you all the best for 2014 – you are such a brave lady. stay positive x

  19. I love reading your blogs Helen and being inspired by your love of life, whatever it throws at you. Hope 2014 brings more adventures from your fab list and less horrible times following chemo. Enjoy your new home! x

  20. Everyone here is (obviously) willing you not only to get better, but thrive and beat all the odds.

    If the will of everyone here could be distilled and turned into a cancer-beating treatment, it would feel like a day full of tickles, a day of deep sleep to recover, and a return to work with the energy of an out of control basketball player.

    Rock on!

  21. My friend does a blog as she has terminal Liver cancer and I showed this to her, and she said it really cheered her up because she had the same experiences and it made her not feel so alone. So above all thanks for that.

    Congratulations on the new house :)

  22. Helen, it’s great that you have had a more positive start to the new year. I was wondering if you are able to share anything about how you were able to get your own home. This is a dream of mine but with stage 4 cancer I don’t know how I could do it. Very best wishes.

  23. Excellent that you have your house in the country. Mediapunk echoes my own thoughts exactly. So, a dog now? I know lots of people go for rehoming a dog, but a word of caution: my brother went down this route recently and had a terrible time with a dog the home said was ‘scared of other dogs’ – turned out it was other dogs that were scared of him, he went nutty at the slightest sniff of another dog, he fought them all regardless of size & they had to give him up in the end. So choose carefully! I hope you get a beautiful, comforting, floppy-eared, lolloping sort of dog you can roam your country estate with.

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