Mikhail Bulgakov

Today while lying in bed with a cold, sipping on some ginger tea and gulping down my supplements, I received a wonderful gift. Giving gifts can be tricky – because guessing taste needs a mix of judgement and luck; besides even if you do know a person’s taste what then? After the second box of tea, third kitsch trinket (etc.), gift ideas run dry. This is a constant challenge.


But this was a wonderful surprise delivered by my wonderful husband from a friend at his office.  The gift was a book, The Master and Margarita.

If you have never read this title but do love to read, then I suggest you head immediately to your favourite bookstore and sink into the first chapter. In all senses of the word, this story is fantastic. I haven’t read much Russian literature (Anna Karenina is my list topper for ‘need to read’) but, from what I’ve read, they pen a trippy ride. Man, those Russians can write!

Anyhow – I had woken up thinking, “My goodness, yesterday was wonderful but today I’m stuck with a cold,” and couldn’t find much good in it. Now the silver lining is clear. If I hadn’t had my cold, then I wouldn’t have been in bed, and therefore (objective qualitative inference has led me to this conclusion) I would not have been in the perfect setting to receive the perfect book. By my calculations it was approximately five years, four months since I last read Bulgakov’s novel. It’s about time for another dip into that pond.

Hard cover too. 🙂 Extra exciting.

My cold is clearing. This I cannot attribute exclusively to the gift, because I absolutely must credit my acupuncturist. I arrived at her office feeling sluggish, stuffed, and grey as the sky; I reached my bed an hour later with the sniffles receding and now they’re gone. Mixed with my mom’s supplements, a pot of ginger tea, kind attention from Zsolt, and a little bed rest – that acupuncture(pressure) really makes a difference. I don’t even mind that she finds painful points all over my body and rubs them till I can’t stand it. (In fact, I kinda like it – fun!) “Pain means it’s working”, so she assures me.

And now, cherry on the top of my  ice cream sunday: Zsolt is playing Ennio Morricone’s  “L’avventuriero” on repeat in the other room, and that music fills me right from the inside.

Yesterday was lovely. I made fruit salad, rhubarb crumble, and chilli for Zsolt. We took a long walk followed with a little dancing to Frank Sinatra. We went out and pub quizzed with friends over at Trago. The entire day felt good, good, and good. So good to be normal.

Today stared miserably with a cold and some sweats – but that’s England for you, things change with every push of wind. Outside there are clouds, and it’s still fizzing rain . . . but inside, here in this bedroom and under these covers, I feel pretty good.  [Nothing befunds me, not even not knowning what befund means . . . however, according to my online dictionary I am most certainly using this word incorrectly. What do you think, Tony?]

My cold is finally passing. But just to be sure – I’m taking a nap!

Better than 50%

On special request from my grandmother, Lulu, I will attempt to write more often.

alternative cancer treatmentShe put it to me quite nicely yesterday: “I don’t want to bother you, but I worry!”

Well don’t worry Lulu, because I am fine – Je suis tres bien aujourd’hui. J’ai travaille avec ma mere pour etre “okay” avec ma chimio, j’ai aussi commence a faire un menu pour que Zsolt puisse me faire de la nourriture quand je suis fatigue* – and I am writing.

I was just saying to my mother the other day, ‘Who are these people coping well with chemo?’ because I hear of them, but haven’t actually met any of them – nor have I see their blogs online.  So, that started the google search mission. Both she and Zsolt have managed to find stories where people cope with the treatment and do not suffer any treacherous side effects. Mind you, each chemo approach is different depending on the cancer. For instance, one lady had chemo every three to four weeks. I’ll be having chemo every two weeks, later followed by every week. However, I’m trying to ignore that side of their good news and focus on the positive stuff – people cope well, and are able to carry on with their lives.

And on that note, Mom found an interesting website. There was a little boy – three years old – who was diagnosed with a cancer that has a survival rate of about 3%. Now that’s scary. But his parents took it upon themselves to give him every fighting chance possible. Years later he is cancer free. His dad ensured that every possible option was explored – and while there was probably an element of miracle in his great recovery – watching this father speak was a source of inspiration for alternative ways I can better prepare and protect my body**.

But you see, it’s not that I want to turn away from the medical advice provided. The doctors I have worked with are very experienced, specialize in breast care, and know what they know. So that isn’t it. I’m still having the chemo. I’m still having the radiation. I’m still doing the hormones. But . . . I still want to do more. I want better than 50%.

A long time ago I worked for PWC, and while working there – during a purge of office clutter and clean up – I acquired several pads of PWC note paper. On every page of this notepad it reads: ‘Have I explored every angle?’

Apart from loving to have that sweet copywriting opportunity, I admire the statement.

Have I explored every angle? Not yet, but I’m trying. Today I went to the acupuncturist. In a few weeks I’ll start treatments. A while back my breast was removed. In the meanwhile I’m taking supplements. On top of that I’m lessening estrogen-encouraging food in my diet. Tomorrow I’m going to the shop and buying glass containers to replace my plastic Tupperware (though I do love my Tupperware). Tonight I’ll try to meditate. And all the while my air filter is running, getting rid of mould and mite crap from the air.

Why not fight from every angle, what’s so wrong about that? Nothing.  Not a thing.  Nada.

So, that’s encouraging.  🙂

* Thanks for translating, Mom.

** Watch Bobby’s father describe their efforts to beat cancer and reduce the side effects of chemo treatments. It’s broken into parts. Click here for Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four. You can also visit their website, where proceeds go toward supporting other children in a similar situation: http://www.bobbyshealthyshop.com/