My cancer journey blog

I’m blogging about my ongoing cancer journey over on my blog from now on, the website address is



Unsung heroes (and heroines!) ……

superheroes Over the weekend, as I struggled with some pain from the offending damaged offal (AKA my liver), and was forced to rest, I watched yet again as my other half  moved seamlessly from one household job to another as he has done for the last year.  He’s taken on the care of both house and inhabitants cheerfully and without a moan, whilst continuing to run his businesss, giving me the time to recuperate and do the relaxing things I want to do during the day.  I try not to express any particular wishes as he’ll inevitably conjure them up (as per the veg planters this weekend; my passing comment about growing some veg again in pots resulted in a whole patio of brilliant planters!) During my worst days, when I’ve lost both my appetite and tastebuds, Mr A has cooked no less than three dinners in one evening in an effort to find something I could eat and enjoy.  That’s love for you.

From Land’s End to John O’Groats and indeed, around the whole continent, there are people who are unselfishly caring for loved ones, day in and day out, without a second thought.  They do it out of love and without them, people like myself wouldn’t be able to enjoy day to day life in the way we can.

Being at home, Nathan gets to see all the crap stuff (sorry Nathan xx) and does all he can to make sure I’m ok.  Leah and Hannah provide all the support I need and are there at the drop of a hat and there are no words to convey how much our children mean to us during this rollercoaster ride.  How people manage without a family behind them, I’ll never know and my heart goes out to them.  I know I couldn’t go through this without the love and support I’ve had from day one.  When we said our vows back in 1980, who could have envisaged that “in sickness and in health” would come to mean so much?

So, to all those unsung heroes and heroines out there, know that you’re appreciated for everything you do and thank you ……

The C Word – Lisa Lynch

The C Word You might have watched “The C Word” on BBC1 the other night, the drama based on real-life blogger and cancer sufferer Lisa Lynch, who sadly lost her fight with cancer a couple of years’ ago.  If you haven’t had chance to watch this, grab it on catch up or read her book.  Lisa had a hard-hitting approach to her illness, she pulled no punches and told it like it was on her blog, which she used to vent her feelings about her illness.

I was unsure whether I wanted to watch it at the moment, as I knew it would be so near the knuckle but I’m so glad I did.  Parts of the drama were like watching a re-run of our own life over the last few months, with all its shitty bits. Nothing can prepare you for life after your diagnosis and Lisa never set out to be a hero, she raged and also joked her way through the whole sad experience.  The world was a better place for having heard Lisa’s voice and it’s a testament to her that her book is handed out to cancer sufferers to help them cope.

Since my second cycle of Trebectedin a week ago today, I have to admit I’ve struggled with constant nausea and sickness and complete fatigue/lethargy.  No energy for anything other than sleep.  Everything has been an effort, from sitting up to lying down, to trying to force food down, to finding something to drink that doesn’t make me heave.  Eating’s been an ordeal and Kev has produced any number of tasty meals to try and tempt me into eating, including making home-made soups which I eat loads of on a normal day to day basis. Normal – now who am I kidding?  Since when was the last time we had a normal life??

So, a week on and only today am I beginning to feel half human again.  Not sure whether I look anything like human, I steer clear of the mirrors on days like these.  I was still struggling to find anything I wanted to eat  but yesterday, I had a sudden craving for vegetable juice. Last year we bought a juicer as it’s been proved that fresh juices help your immune system and help combat cancer cells.  Kev was pleased I actually fanced something, so off he went to stock up on veg for me. Beetroot juice has become my new fave, can’t get enough of it!

Squeeze those veg!

Squeeze those veg!

So today has been ok, I’ve managed  lunch AND dinner and have given Kev a bit of stick so he knows I’m on the mend.  I’ll keep on with the veg juices and hope I’m back up to scratch before heading off to the Marsden in a couple of weeks for the next round ……..


Budgie Smugglers – in Fareham??

Get yourself some budgie smugglers, mate!

Budgie  smugglers, mate?

Standing on Fareham station yesterday waiting for our train to London, we spotted a guy wearing the most ridiculously tight Lycra cycling leggings.  Which led Kev to recounting how his Aussie pal had regaled him recently with tales of these budgie smugglers as they call them in Oz. Can’t think of anything worse and if they were worn under the cycling shorts …….  Think we’ll pass on these.


A budgie as we know it

A budgie as we know it

Fair dinkum cobber, it’s a proper budgie …..

The Curly Word….

This C word is one that’s sadly crept into our vocabulary over the last few months, much to my disgust ….

Anyone who knows me will know that with regard to swearing, that particular C word is a no-no! But the new C word in our home is guaranteed to get my back up – and it’s all related to hair. Yes, hair.

Last early summer, I lost my hair thanks to the wonderful chemo treatments and resembled a newborn mole. Come late summer and after a few cycles of the new aggressive chemo drugs, my hair follicles decided they’d had enough of hibernating and sprang to life! I’ve spent the last few months nurturing this new head of hair, albeit now a totally different shade and texture. It’s soft and – well, ok let’s get to the C word then ….

Curly. There, it’s out. CURLY!  The one word that’s guaranteed to get my goat! And doesn’t Kev know it …….  and it’s his new nickname for me (when he can get away with it). All my life I’ve battled against a kink in my hair that resembles the hind leg of a donkey, with blow drying and the my-couldn’t- do without GHD’s.  And now I’m here with a new head of hair and nature has decided to give me a totally new makeover with CURLS!  Thank god I don’t actually look like Shirley Temple …..

Mine aren't this bad thank god!!

Mine aren’t this bad thank god!!

I’m so grateful to have hair again, in whatever colour, texture and style. But pleeeze – curls at my age??

Spring update ……

It’s been a month or so since I last updated my site and apologies for this.  So, the latest …. the CT scan I had back in March showed that the tumour in my liver had grown again and tumours had decided to rear their ugly heads again in my lung.  So, onto a new chemo schedule.  This time, a little easier on me as it’s a three weekly cycle and this particular beauty involves a 24 hour infusion via a pump into my PICC line (oh yes, the PICC, more about this in a minute) which is then disconnected here at home.

Chemo pump

My new friend ……

Well, it was certainly a case of trial and error how to deal with a heavy canister dangling from the line into my arm.  As we are still staying up in London after it was administered, going down to dinner with this is fun.  It ends up in my bag and has to sit on a chair right next to me, getting star treatment.   Getting undressed etc is fun, needless to say! Travelling home on the train proves noteworthy too, as my bag obviously can’t move too far away from the end of my arm!! God, the things I have to do …..  Hopefully, this new drug will help shrink the tumours again and stabilise everything.  Fingers crossed  …

Yes, the PICC line ….. when my oncologist informed me that my new chemo regime was to be every three weeks, it was like, yay, then he hit me with the fact  that this drug could only be administered through either a PICC line or a port. Didn’t fancy the port, especially as it involves a general anaesthetic putting it into your chest, so the PICC it was.  I clearly remember putting my head in my hands and groaning when this was decided – having had so much trouble with the line last time around, I didn’t fancy a repeat performance.

Having had the PICC in now for just under a month, it’s already showing who’s boss.  Firstly, it took over three hours to get one inserted, as the site of my old line wouldn’t play the game after three attempts, so it had to be put into my right working arm.  It’s been ok, just didn’t want to play when it was time for the DN to try and take bloods and having the dressing changed was still as cringworthy as it always was.

Oh well, onwards and upwards – back up to the Marsden next week for the next round and two days up in the Smoke with Mr A.  Just wish it was for more fun reasons that visiting a cancer hospital!!!!

Ah, home ….

Back up to our second home from home, the Premier Inn, Earls Court and its great staff.  Check in far earlier than is allowed which is great as we can relax.  We head out to Tower Bridge and I take piccies of good old Shaun the Sheep who’s set up home there at the Tower.





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By the time we get  down to dinner, I’m already dog tired but gamefully manage to down a gin and tonic before dinner, plus a small glass of red during! Not long after we’ve eaten, the fatigue gets the better of me so I have to head back to our room, ready for bath and bed  before my head hits the table like it did once before.

London today is beautiful – a bright sunny spring day which certainly seemed to put a smile on the public’s face for once!  Our trip t0 the imaging department at RM went completely to plan ;straight in, cannula inserted and then in for the scan.  Nice to have another date with my Stargate friend ….  ct scanner




Leaving the building down the iconic steps seen so often on tv, we spot a vacant taxi, which has also clocked us and hailed it.  In less than ten minutes, we are back at Victoria Station and onto a home-bound train ….  home sweet home, until we return in 10 days’s time for the results – the one part I hate with a passion.

Much as we try and make the best of our trips to the Marsden, enjoying the “couple time” we get, it’s always so nice to get home again!








Back in Lennie Henry’s bed …….

image So here we are, back up in Earl’s Court, ready for CT scan tomorrow at the Royal Marsden.  It doesn’t seem five minutes since we were last here.

Kev certainly got straight back into the swing of things by rapping at least two lots of ankles – well if you stand in the middle of a busy Underground looking gormless, it’s bound to happen!

Anyway, relaxing now in Lennie Henry’s bed before heading down for a welcome Happy Hour and dinner ……


Nail Update, Spring 2015 …..

Autumn 2014 ...

Autumn 2014 …

As mentioned last year, the chemo I was on just decimated my nails, which I had spent so long nurturing and growing! But gradually, they’ve been recovering, helped along by the fact that I’ve been on a chemo break! I used to look my nails and despair of ever having decent digits again but our bodies are constantly regenerating and nail growth is no different……



Fast forward to 2015 and I can see a vast improvement in my nails. I still have ridges but these are gradually growing out and although my nails still tend to break easily, I can at least wear polish again!

Spring 2015

Spring 2015

I’ve still been applying the Trind Kerotin Nail Restorer and will have to buy another bottle shortly.  This little beauty has certainly lived up to its promises. I’m also still applying my old faithful, the NutraNail Naturals serum which I swear by; think I’ve gotten through about three bottles during the course of the last year!  I’ve also been giving Sally Hansen’s Vitasurge Cuticle Gel a whirl but nothing seems to beat my all time fave, Champneys Cuticle Softener ….

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Kev’s Planet …..

kev chef

This time last year, Kev was a Facebook novice; he’d be the first to admit he had virtually no idea what he was doing when he logged onto his account which we set up for him! Then, during the spring when we discovered I had cancer, he was inundated with family and friends all wanting to know the up to date situation and he decided the easiest way to do this was to post regularly on his Facebook page.

All through the long summer months when we were travelling up to London three weeks out of every four for my treatments, Kev continued to update everyone via FB with his witty, sometimes irreverent and always honest opinions and thoughts until I suggested that he should start his own blog. After all, what he was doing already was blogging and it needed its own platform. So was created and now Kev has an outlet for his thoughts and opinions, which I think he finds cathartic at the very least. He’s quickly got the hang (almost) of the WordPress set up and spends a lot of his time  tapping away on his laptop and I’m so pleased he’s found a way to express himself which he can also share with others, particularly his love of cooking.

With our return to London this week again, I’m sure Kev will have plenty to blog about as we enter a new phase in our battle against this awful disease which has torn shreds out of our family.  Hope you’ll come along the ride …..


A year on ….. Happy birthday Nathan xxxx

So, it’s a year exactly today, on our son’s birthday, since I was finally admitted to hospital after over two years of illness. So much has happened since then but I can remember each and every step of the long journey I’ve had to take, a journey I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

image Who would have guessed after I’d been admitted and thought I was finally going to see an end to my problems that in reality, they were only just beginning? It’s the kind of case scenario you read about and hope never happens to you but when it does, you have options. Once the sheer shock of what was happening had abated, I was adamant that I would NEVER give in to this awful disease, that I would fight tooth and nail to give myself the best chance, no matter what treatment or procedures I would have to undergo.

Even so, had I been able to foresee exactly what I would have to go through, I might have panicked slightly but luckily, no crystal balls are available and so I’ve had to take each step as it comes.

No words are enough to thank the wonderfully caring staff at the Royal Marsden in Chelsea. They’ve filled our long, stressful visits with kindness, humour, truth and above all, a calming sense that all that can be done WILL be done.

After a break from chemo, which has given me time to gather my strength both physically and emotionally, I’m ready to return to the RM shortly to find out what the next steps are for me.

All I know is that I wouldn’t have got this far without the love and support of my family and close friends. I’m so proud of the way you’ve all handled such a hard, distressing year and I love you all. Xx

Look Good, Feel Better afternoon …….


Spent yesterday afternoon over in the MacMillan Centre at QA Hospital with a group of ladies, attending the Look Good Feel Better workshop.

Look Good Feel Better is the only worldwide cancer support charity, providing practical support for women struggling with the side effects from cancer treatment.

Finding out you have cancer is daunting and life-changing and the added stress of the appearance related side effects of treatment can be demoralising and very hard to cope with. This can have serious consequences on self-esteem and confidence at a time when a positive attitude is very important.

Look Good Feel Better is dedicated to improving the self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing of people undergoing treatment, for any sort of cancer”

photo (21) Despite everyone there being in the throes of cancer treatment and all the baggage that goes with it, the afternoon was filled with laughter as we all dug into our huge goody bags of different high class  products and learnt how to get ourselves looking (almost) how we used to be …….

I was chuffed to get a bottle of Emporio Armani “Diamonds” EDP in my bag; what a great scent!!

Anyone who’s suffering from cancer can book themselves onto one of the LGFB afternoon workshops, just contact your nearest MacMillan Centre.








Coconut water shampoo? I’m in my element!!

coconut shampoo

So …… finally back to “proper” hair washing and although it’s a bit of a novelty at the moment, can’t say I’ve really missed all the hair care palaver over the last few months, to say nothing of the money saved!!  But hair’s arrived so it must be nurtured and looked after.

Was chuffed to find this latest Organix shampoo in Boots today; not only are Organix one of my favourite shampoos but to find a coconut water bubbly was great! Those who know me know I LOVE coconut products and will always walk the extra mile to get a bottle of  pure coconut water – walking round with said smell on my head will please me indeedy ……

julie, feb 2015


Dame Judy Dench, I can give you a run for your money …….



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Over the last few months, I’ve had dry sore lips, thanks to the chemo and have gone through Vaseline tins and lip balms like no one’s business but today found this little beauty, Lanolips Lemonaid and decided to give it a whirl. Not exactly cheap but if it does the job, then it’ll be well worth the payout. Smells lovely …….


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Whilst mooching through Boots (ah it’s the little things that please me these days) I saw this on the holistic aisle and thought it might come in handy for those days when I don’t wake up with a smile on my face.  The fact it contains brandy is just a bonus ….. will let you know whether this works ……



… and I couldn’t go past the nail polishes without grabbing a couple of new ones for my collection!

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Updates ….

snowdrops It’s been a while since I last blogged on my site so here’s the latest updates: my chemo was doing well and had shrunk my tumours considerably but back in October, I was rushed to hospital, unable to breathe and in a lot of pain. Turns out the chemo had caused some damage to my lung and resulted in me staying in hospital for a week, with blood transfusions and CT scan. I know I was extremely ill and it wasn’t a good time for me or our family.  I was informed that if I hadn’t have gone to A & E, I would probably have died …. that’s the second time last year.  Not good. However, back up to Royal Marsden for a follow-up re. the scan results and it was decided together that I wouldn’t start chemo again for a couple of months, to allow my poor old lung to recuperate!

So, I’ve been on a break from chemo since October and how great has that been! Tastebuds and appetite back to normal, fatigue all but gone  (although I still get very tired each day) and best of all, my hair has grown back, presenting me with my new look, that of a Judy Dench look-alike!!!  Being off the chemo does have its drawbacks, however, as I’m constantly aware in the back of my mind that things could be progressing in a way I don’t want. January 3rd, however, saw me back in A & E, delivered by ambulance this time, with severe pain in my liver area. Bloods showed that I could be suffering from an aneurysm or a kidney stone, so it was off to the CT scanner again! Both ruled out but follow-up at RM recommended, which we did and scan showed slight growth in the liver tumour but our consultant stated that nothing drastic would happen in the space of a couple of months before March so have to go along with that way of thinking.  Chemo still off the cards until March at least, so I’m  kind of living in a bubble at the moment, just waiting to see how things pan out.

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But there has been some good news (apart from my hair!) On January 28th, Leah and Si presented us with our third gorgeous grandson,FREDDIE OWEN MUSTOE, at 12.04 am weighing in at 8 lb exactly.


Also, my nails, which had suffered so badly from the chemo, have also had chance to recuperate and are looking a whole heap better (although they are still slightly ridged and break sooo easily!) I’m still applying the Trind Kerotin, although not every day but it seems to have worked so I’ll stick at it ….

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