[CANCER] Feeling all the Feels? #BreastCancer #BusyLivingWithMets

So, it’s been four days since the diagnosis. Overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from others, and the anger that others have AT cancer on my behalf, those not expecting too many replies, take time to read the blog, etc.

I found it quite interesting that this time round, unlike the primary diagnosis, people knew that I was in the waiting room, and the lack of post gave a lot away before I said anything, whereas first time round, only a handful of people knew what was going on!

If you can avoid avoiding me, and avoid the pastoral tilt and the ‘how are you really’, that’s really appreciated – and yes, I know I look well – but unfortunately my body is engaged in a battle (we discussed this in Maggie’s today – our bodies may be in a battle, we are but observers of that – if we die because of cancer, it’s not because we didn’t fight hard enough, but because the cancer was too strong, and the medicine is not yet enough).

Coming to terms?

I am overtired, restless, disturbed sleep, (that analogy about trying to escape the surf still feels particularly apt) but also seeking to ‘find the joy in the ordinary/everyday’, and already feeling – I don’t know – resigned/accepting? I feel very fortunate that I’ve travelled extensively already, so although there’s more places I’d like to go, and a restful holiday would be nice to look forward to.

I’m incredibly grateful for where I live, and the team for being spotting this so early, and giving me so much hope. They have been very honest at all points on this ‘treadmill’ (it’s not a journey is it), and there is plenty of treatment I can be given. I will find out my new treatment regime on Monday morning, with the oncologist (the last appointment was with the surgeon) – but I do know that it doesn’t include chemotherapy (hooray for small wins), my hormone therapy will be re-assessed, some form of radiotherapy will be given (CORE trial being investigated), some form of immunotherapy will be given (infusion? = cannulas = eugh), and something else. Not bad remembering considering didn’t take any notes and was really in shock: as BCN said, “we’ve just whipped away the last bit of hope that you’ll ever be cancer free”, BUT the treatment options are good (even if might come with added fatigue).

I cried a lot on Tuesday (and scrolled a lot), and my sleep was horrendous despite sleeping tablet (which I want to go try going without tonight after a week of them). Wednesday = a couple of phone calls, a visit from Helen, and I went for a swim – with my brain spinning I wanted the joy of focusing on counting lengths – though on length 12, my goggles were filled with tears too! Also discovered the MASSIVE spa pool and floated in the middle for a bit (still not sure what latest thinking is about that and lymphedema, but…) Just as I’d taken my swimmers off, the alarm went off (I tell you, getting a prosthesis on with wet skin is not easy) – I couldn’t smell burning so I just carried on getting dressed! At counselling on Thursday (which will continue – we’re not sure for how long, but the plan to finish it is suspended), was highlighted that I’m already on high alert/alarm state, so that’s probably why that alarm unsettled me EVEN MORE! We finished with a reminder to try and catch myself before making decisions (self care) and finding joy in the ordinary – it was a beautiful day yesterday!

No idea what else I did yesterday except faff online and make these #tenyearchallenge images:


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The #10yearchallenge – with a little #breastcancer awareness thrown in. #DarkHumour

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I’ve clearly been learning a bit about self-care because (and this will apply to next week too):

People think I’m as busy as ever, but I’ve definitely got less hours in my day (before this, and now I’m extra tired, but hopefully some bouncing back, though the new drugs may squash that!). My team and my managers have been great, with more concern for me as a person, encouragement to step back to process, but recognising that work is one of the things that offers structure/meaning to my life.  We are essentially going to be managing a chronic condition – and I don’t want to be staring at the wall contemplating death (like I’m ever going to not have things to do) – so they’ll be a lot of flexibility, a lot of focus on work I can do from home without too many deadlines that have other consequences, as we see how I respond to the meds, for now…

Really appreciated a visit from my Head of Faculty this afternoon to see how I was, and ask what ManMet Uni can do to make things easier:


One of the things that very interesting to have to deal with, and I’ve felt this over this past year already, is being at home SO MUCH. I love welcoming people into my home (shorter visits usually preferred), checking that I’m in/want a visitor first is very much appreciated! And you don’t need to bring anything (I’ve spent a lot of time decluttering, and my chocolate pile is growing LOL), though, you know, some logs for my fire always appreciated (even more LOL).

I really want my house sorted because enough of my life feels out of control, and that feels like something that could be done! I jokingly said about getting my hall done, and some people have suggested they’d be up for this. VERY welcome – I have the paint, the brushes, etc. (not quite sure about the right ladders), though some pretty nasty wallpaper needs to come off, and there’s likely to be holes to fill too! Think bathroom needs to wait for ££ (and a professional!). Anyone who wants to give advice on gardening (or weed/mow the lawn) always welcome. Thankfully my cleaner keeps on top of the house/changing my sheets/ironing! Unfortunately, I’ll probably need to sell on my new back massager – not good for spinal mets!!


Over the past few weeks I’ve been at Maggie’s every Friday learning ‘Where Now?‘, designed for those who’ve finished treatment, but oh yes, yesterday I also popped across to there to check that I’d be all right to continue (yes, because it’s all kinds of cancer, with people at different stages, including long term treatment), and to chat to Stephen who gives advice to help employers/employees make good decisions!

  • The first week we got to know each other, and talked about the experience of being a ‘cancer patient’ (finding it encouraging as ever to see how others cope, and the things that you think you’re just having a moan about are pretty legitimate!)
  • The second week was on exercise – I’d already headed to my parents for Christmas, and doing all right on that anyway!
  • The third week was on nutrition, which I was really wary about because of past history with food/diets, etc., but we started with ‘there’s no such things as bad foods’, challenged a whole load of food myths, and ended with ‘eat kale if you like it – don’t if you don’t’, ‘eat the rainbow’, ‘enjoy the food you eat’. Notes for self
  • The fourth week was ‘working with your medical team’, so how to get the most out of GPs, consultant appointments now that you’re not seeing people all the time.
  • This week started as ‘what do you want to talk about’ – opened with my news on #stage4 diagnosis – which segued into a talk about how difficult it can be to feel/manage emotions, thinking about death so that it’s not so frightening (we’ve prepared for it, so we can get on with living, knowing what we’re living for) and we ended up looking at anger and various other helpful angles, including my fierce desire for independence in a situation where so many things are not under my control!
  • Next week we’ll think about what’s changed, and where we go from now.

Maggies: Emotions

A few things that are helpful to share from this week’s session. This diagram comes from a form of therapy known as CAT, which was helpful after having seen You Don’t Have to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro: The Pressure to Be an Overachieving Cancer Patient this week:

There’s a lot of pressure to come out of cancer, having found silver linings, which this excellent video voiced by Brene Brown – identifying the difference between empathy and sympathy (if your sentence starts with ‘at least’ you’re probably not saying anything particularly helpful)

We also watched this about boundaries (also worth checking out Cloud and Townsend for this), about finding ways to manage boundaries (I’m currently battling the – yes please let me know you’re thinking about me, but I need some space to process this stuff, and I don’t need to see everyone this week – they are being positive that I hopefully have many more years to go), but anyway, back to Brene Brown:

Anyway, my laptop battery is nearly dead (though I have a lovely new screen on my phone, and a pile of library books to read – go me getting that done today), and my energy is through the floor, so – anyway – thought I’d keep people updated. Probably be back with more on Monday after oncologist conversations! Is the crying done, I don’t know – we’ll see!


9 Stories About #DigitalParenting 06/12/13

Keeping track of a number of stories relating to ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age‘ in the news:

  • n2lASIqEmotions in the digital sphere and the effect on future generations: We live in a strange age now where a large proportion of our daily interaction tends to take place online. This affects almost every generation, from children through to adults, most of whom are constantly digitally interacting with others, whether via business emails or social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Given how much time and effort we put into these digital portals, have you ever thought about how much they might be changing the nature of human interactions in general?
  • ‘Tis the season for marketers to think more like children: Technology has had a hugely liberating effect on the youngest in our society. Touch, gesture and voice navigation have opened up a whole new world of learning and possibility. And this has big implications, as technology has also liberated marketers to engage, excite and delight in new and profound ways. But has the marketing industry kept pace?
  • Making Kids’ Tablet Time More Meaningful: During busy times like the holiday season, many of us parents turn to our mobile devices to help manage our kids while we manage… everything else. Engaging the services of a digital babysitter is not something to boast about, but it doesn’t need to be anything to be ashamed of, either. So, how can we make the most of the time our kids spend with technology over the holiday break?
  • Tips on how to clean electronic devices when you have sticky-fingered kids: My two little angels (3 years old and 19 months) are obsessed with watching videos on my laptop and playing games on my phone. Unlike me, they are not the least bit concerned that their hands might be covered in some weird combination of chocolate and sand. Nor do they hear my pleas not to drink their orange juice in the vicinity of the keyboard.
  • New Selfie-Help Apps Are Airbrushing Us All Into Fake Instagram Perfection: Much as in real life, the only thing worse than looking zitty, wrinkled and tired is looking like you’ve sought help. If you get caught editing a photo, “it’s very embarrassing,” the 18-year-old said. “People are hyperaware of not wanting to seem fake in their pictures. As much as they edit them, it has to come off as natural.”
  • East Kilbride pupils experience the digi magic: The huge interactive touch screen table brings a whole new meaning to digital participation and makes the digital world a truly immersive experience. A key component of the Scottish Government’s Digital Exclusion agenda, the new digiTable is aimed at encouraging people to use the internet in new and imaginative ways.
  • In digital age, where do parents set boundaries?: “Technology has allowed me to do a lot of things my mother couldn’t do. My mother was gone from the house a lot. It was hard. Technology has allowed me to create my own schedule,” Shlain told But while Shlain praises technology, she acknowledges that she must set boundaries for her children, who are ages four and 10. Aside from the Technology Shabbat, she limits her children’s daily screen time.
  • Why Social Media Has Value for Children: First off though, kudos to the Academy for bringing to the forefront the debate about children and media in the digital age. We can’t avoid the topic nor should we, unless we want our kids to become the failed technology experiments perpetrated by our own fascination with all things digital. I think Dr. Marjorie Hogan, one of the co-authors of the policy, offers a valuable prescription by encouraging “a healthy ‘media diet’.” That’s a great starting point, albeit with the challenge to define what is “healthy.”

and Kobo wins acclaim from parents, too much technology for baby monitoring?, and see the technology that Santa requires these days.

Life(style) Reviewer

Book Review: Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend (1992)

cloud-townsend-boundariesI bought this book in 2006, read the book cover-to-cover, and have since encountered many people who have found it helpful.

Written from an openly Christian perspective, this book investigates ‘the God-given gift of boundaries’, aiming to allow us to take responsibility and ownership for our lives – allowing us not just to survive, but to thrive. We can’t take responsibility for the behaviour of others, but we can prayerfully (and practically) take responsibility for our own lives (no longer feeling a victim to circumstance). With plenty of practical tips, the book identifies what boundaries are before moving onto cover boundaries in relation to:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Work
  • Self
  • God

I particularly love pp13-26, and pp287-296, where we meet Sherrie – in the first scenario a frazzled Christian incapable of saying no, and in the second, where she has implemented the suggestions in this book

p.17 Dependable, faithful, reliable … Sherrie thought, I’ve always been described this way by people who wanted something from me. Sounds like a description of a good mule. Suddenly the guilt hit again. There I am, getting resentful again. Lord, help me ‘bloom where I am planted.’ But secretly she found herself wishing she could be transplanted to another flowerpot.

p20 [The phone rings during dinner. Sherrie picks up. The woman’s ministry leader is asking if Sherrie can become activities co-ordinator at the church retreat on the subject of ‘priorities at home’]

The retreat. Sherrie had almost forgotten that the annual gathering of church women was this weekend. She had actually been looking forward to leaving the kids and Walt behind and strolling around the beautiful mountainous area for two days, just herself and the Lord. In fact, the possibility of solitude felt better to her than the planned group activities

[Sherrie, however, berates herself that it is] a privilege to serve God and these women, Sherrie! By giving up a little portion of your life, by letting go of tour selfishness, you can make a difference in some lives. [Sherrie says yes, Phyllis says thank you and]… that’s the abundant Christian life isn’t it? Being living sacrifices.

If you say so, thought Sherrie. But she couldn’t help wondering when the ‘abundant’ part would come in.

p293 [By the end of the book, the same phone rings with the same request, but is picked up by the answerphone as Sherrie focuses on dinner with the family. Sherrie is soon to ring back and say she is unable to do it as she will be spending proper time with her husband. She has found that as she withdrew from Church commitments she had more clarity about, and enthusiasm for, new area. She’s never be as available as some Church members wanted, but that was an issue between them and God, and not for Sherrie to worry about.

The book is such a bestseller worldwide that many sub-titles in the Boundaries series have been produced.

Prepared for use as an Oak Hall Leader.