Day of the FUZZY BRAIN

Today, despite being sunny and beautiful, was thick with brain fog. This morning, I forgot about my acupuncture appointment; this afternoon,  I had to rearrange work around a seminar I thought was tomorrow but was actually today; and this evening I went to my friend’s house a day earlier than planned! Ah!

My head must be screwed on funny.

And so, as any person would do, I turned to playing Donkey Kong on the wii for some needed mental relief. Nothing like a little harmless distraction to help relieve the mind.

But I must say, that the afternoon seminar was quite something – it was a LookGoodFeelBetter presentation and basically involved 14 pre/post/during chemo & radio ladies in a room together, learning how to be pretty again. This might sound frivolous, but it’s deeply impacting – never before has mascara made me want to cry and cry (in a good way). However, that story will have to wait because apparently my brain has gone scrambled eggs for the evening. Better to leave things till tomorrow.

Today’s screw-ups are coming to a close (unless anyone can spot a typo in this post, which is highly likely). I guess everyone has these days . . . though maybe if you keep a daytimer it happens less often. I’ve tried planning things, writing them down, being organized . . . but ‘scheduling’  fits me like a turtle neck sweater (ie. suffocating) and never lasts more than a few days.  Well, at least my friend’s husband was entirely welcoming (since she was out) when I rocked up to their house and rang the bell. Zsolt had just dropped me off so I was temporarily stranded until he could turn the car around . . . man, their place smelled wonderful with the chilli he was cooking.

Anyhow – GOOD NIGHT fuzzy brained day. I’ve had enough of you!

Onto better things

Whew, good morning and good day. Yesterday I couldn’t bear to write a post for this blog – it wasn’t for a lack of ideas, but rather a lack of BRAIN power. That is it say, I was tired.

Ho Crap! Have only just checked the clock. It’s 7.58 am, which means I have woken up abnormally early considering I was so incredibly tired yesterday. But that is what writing does to me : I get these ideas inside my head, and sooner than later they turn into running narratives . . . almost like a dictation .  . . and if I don’t write it all down, the words will keep circling around and prodding me. This may sound crazy (maybe?), however, it is also the truth. But it’s no wonder Zsolt is still in bed. Normally he’s first up and out, so this morning when I rolled away from the covers and he was still totally asleep, I just thought it was because the poor man stayed up till like 2am last night with his thesis.  Nope. It’s just crazy early here.

At least, in the student world it’s crazy early. For normal 9-5ivers to wake up at eight must be equivalent to sleeping in. Anyhow…

Right! Went to London last Wednesday and believe this is a city not to be eaten in small bites. Yes, you get a taste – but really, a visit in the afternoon isn’t enough time to soak up everything the capital offers. It’s easy to understand why people take a 2m x 2m apartment just to stay in the city; with all those shops and pubs and restaurants and BOOK LAUNCHES and shows and incredible neighbourhoods, what’s so wrong with living in a closet? Not a darn thing.

Anyhow, we navigated the subway system and found our way to Holland Park. First things first (and being about 2 hours early), we stopped in at a French Patisserie named Paul. This place was lovely, and all the servers with their white cook hats had French accents. Are they really French? Quite possibly. Anyhow – they had all sorts of gluten-filled goodies, so I abstained and ordered a large mug of tea instead.

One hour later it was onto the pub for dinner with friends (and a twenty meter walk down from the bakery). Funny, I’d arrive for the evening with black stockings on, but my built-in slip did not extend to the actual bottom of the dress. This is inconvenient,  becausewhile walkin the bottom strip of fabric would start to inch-inch-inch-up with every freaking step. Anyhow, I made the executive decision to remove the stockings and just wear my knee high socks – thus flashing a lot of bare legged thigh, and ended up looking like an Asian-fusion stewardess/school girl with my combo of dress and socks, all wrapped up in a polka dot jacket that also cuts at the thigh (thus giving no help to the rising skirt situation) – but then throw on top of everything my incredibly short hair and I really must have come off as eccentric (or as a breast cancer warrior, maybe I should have pinned a ribbon for clarity). But if there’s anything chemo has taught me it’s that even when you feel/look like shit, it always pays to stand up straight. So on Wednesday night when I doubted my outfit (though it was fine, not chemo-bad at all), I at least tried to stand up straight.

Did you know that London, or at least Holland Park Avenue, is chalk full of late twenty and thirty-somethings? This is a mecca for the post-uni, pre-middle age crowd. I loved it.

Anyhow – finally we arrived for the launch of The Cloud Messenger, held at Daunt Books. It’s strange going to someone else’s party; I always wonder, ‘who the heck will I speak to?’ And indeed there were moments of awkward milling (And nerves! I’m just terrible in new situations), but thanks to social lubrication (wine) and a friend graciously making introductions, it was an interesting evening of chatter, new people, listening to Aamer read his lovely passage, and essentially enjoying that bookish buzz. Great stuff.

Fast forward to the train ride home, then a crash into bed. Best part of the evening : snuggling with Zsolt and talking about the party. Followed by sleeping, which is always wonderful.

And speaking of which, Zsolt has just woken up. I’m going to go and jump on him. (this poor man is spiriting to the finish line and banging his head against a wall simultaneously; PhD theses are not for the weak-willed, that’s for sure. But he’s almost there. Almost there! All I can do is make him tea.)

Signing off!

PS- it’s so nice to write about a day that has NOTHING to do with cancer. Okay, talking about cancer now kind of ruins it, but really, I have to say how wonderful it feels. The entirety of Wednesday was dedicated to things other than cancer. Awesome x 20.

Radiotherapy is OVER

It’s past nine pm here in Southampton, so I’ll keep this post short. In fact, I could let the entire thing slide, except that it’s not right and I’m willing to bet my grandmother is waiting for an update.

Today was the LAST day of radiotherapy. And on top of that, the last day of treatment.

Mastectomy: check.

Chemotherapy: check.

Radiotherapy: check.


It’s incredible. Incredible. Today I lay on the radiotherapy table and stared at the ceiling as the normal procedures went on around me. The nurses were ‘ant’ing and ‘ent’ing, shifting me here and tweaking me there, and I kept thinking ‘this is it – today it’s over’. That’s when the music (did I ever mention they play music during radiotherapy? They play music. It’s a pleasent distraction) . . . when the music switched and the entire treatment room swirled into a vortex of time travel. UB40s Red Red Wine began to play as the nurses left me alone for the radiation, and while the machine clunked and buzzed, I disappeared into a memory of my first dance.

For some reason I had thought it’d be a good idea to wear a knitted, long-sleeved sweater to a dance. A purple, knitted, long sleeve sweater. With a hair band to boot. The girls would all dance in a circle, and the guys would huddle in the corner, and whenever a slow song played people would group up in whispers till one by one it was revealed that so-and-so wanted to dance with her, and so-and-so wanted to dance with him. A kid named Steve asked me to dance, and I flat out refused. Why? Two reasons. ONE: I was wearing a knitted long sleeved sweater to a dance, and was thus sweaty, and therefore smelly. Man! I stank. And these were the early days of puberty, so I hadn’t mastered the whole ‘put on deodorant regularly’ thing.  And TWO: I was head over heels for the boy down my street and wanted my first ever slow dance to be with him.

Which goes to show, it’s good to push for what you want – because at the next dance (where I wore no sweater, but tons of deodorant) I had my very first slow dance with the boy down the street. Red red wine wasn’t playing… it was boys to men’s I Swear, but Red Red Wine played at that first dance and it is so burned into my memory that just the mention takes me back in time.  The entire thing reminds me of being giddy, and uncertain, and just so incredibly excited.

Life’s bag of experience suits me now, but I get why it’s fun to be a kid. Anyhow, that’s what I listened to on the radiotherapy table, and that’s what I thought of as the very last bit of radiation was shot into my chest.

And then it was done. Over. The nurses gave me some parting paperwork, I walked out to the waiting room to collect my husband, and we went home. Easy Peasy. This evening Zsolt and I went out for a date (dinner and dessert) to celebrate the end of treatment. That was good. This is good. Everything is good. Tomorrow I’ll have my hair trimmed to equal lengths, and very soon Zsolt will submit his thesis.

Some things are ending, while others are just getting started. There’s so much to look forward to, it’s really a great feeling. Thanks goodness – THANK GOODNESS – treatment is over. What really felt impossible not too long ago is now here, here and real and right now.

Wow. What a relief. What an experience. And here we are, on the other side.

[There’s still a ways to go, but I think the biggest hurdle has been jumped. Now it’s about recovery, change, and prevention. That’s a lot, but it’s an adventure that I look forward to. In the meantime, I’ll keep slathering cream onto my radiotherapy burn and hope it heals within the next few weeks. All I need to do is look at my skin, or my finger nails, or my hair to know that just because treatment is over, doesn’t mean that the fight is done. Plenty left to get done, plenty left to flush away, plenty left to strive toward. But – this is end of treatment, and that is very good thing. A VERY good thing.]