For me, cancer never felt like a war. Cancer wasn’t something I “had,” but a process my body was going through. Brutal but effective medical treatment paused that process, as far as I know today. By the grace of science and God, I’m alive with no evidence of active disease as I share these words. It’s as close to “cured” or “winning” as I get, one day at a time. And I’ll take it, with gratitude.
I am no warrior. I just showed up to my medical appointments, did what I was told, and lived as best I could.
During this odd era in which facts, truth, and reality itself seem to be up for grabs, I’d like to propose that with cancer, as Lisa suggested, we just call it what it is. War is war. Cancer is cancer. Cancer is a disease of cellular biology in which some cells stop obeying the good instructions they’ve been given. They hog the body’s shared resources, and replicate over and over again, until the body’s own organs cannot carry out the basic functions we need for life to continue.
Earlier this week I got my sixth cycle of chemotherapy at the Cancer Unit of my local district hospital.
Once again I’ve had the very best of treatment administered by a team of wonderful specialist nurses.
Now, I’m having 48 hours of chemotherapy at home and a community nurse will come and take the pump down later this afternoon.
The community nursing team covers an extensive rural area and the logistics involved in getting the nurses to the right patients at the right time must be a challenge for the admin. team.
Sometimes the community nurses are known as District Nurses and one of the team caring for me has a name badge which identifies her as a District Nurse while her colleagues are Community Nurses. I still haven’t managed to work out the reason but whatever their designation all the nurses in the team are fantastic.
The photos accompanying this blogpost are District Nurses in training in 1944. The uniforms and equipment have changed but the nurses role in caring for sick people remains the same. Chatting to my chemo nurse about her job she told me how much she loved her work. “I’ve always wanted to give something back,” she said, “and in this work I know I can.”
We don’t value the nurses in our NHS enough.
They haven’t had a pay rise for years. When they went into the job they knew they wouldn’t get rich. But they should get a wage that recognises their skill set, the pressures they’re working under and the contribution they make to the well being of our whole nation.
From a very young age I’ve understood that oranges and other citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemons, clementines, tangerines and satsumas are bursting with Vitamin C. And, indeed, oranges provide a very healthy 53.2mg of Vitamin C per 100g.
Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of my chemotherapy treatment is mucositis which, in my case, is exacerbated by citrus fruits.
Once I’d worked out that it was my daily orange that was making the mucositis worse, I removed all citrus fruits from my diet immediately.
But I still wanted to get some Vitamin C from my five-a-day so looked for alternatives to the oranges.
And here are my top non-citrus fruits with Vitamin C:
Mango 36.4mg per 100g
Cantaloupe Melon 36.7mg per 100g
Orange 53.2mg per 100g
Papaya 60.9mg per 100g
Kiwifruit 92.7mg per 100g
Red Pepper 127.7mg per 100g
No problem getting Vitamin C into my five-a-day but I do miss the oranges.
We watched the Stand Up To Cancer Gogglebox Celebrity Special last night on Channel 4.
We don’t usually watch Gogglebox and weren’t planning to join in the show’s fund-raising as we already make a donation every month to Cancer Research UK. But we wanted to see Jeremy Corbyn.
In the current febrile atmosphere of Westminster politics, Corbyn stands out as a beacon of hope. I can’t recall any politician ever having to contend with so much abuse and personalised vilification. Ed Miliband and the bacon sandwich, which plumbed new depths a couple of years ago, now seems moderate by comparison. And Corbyn has risen above all the abuse without biting back and now occupies the high ground. Hopefully he will be given the opportunity to lead others to his personal standards of respect and integrity.
So, having seen the hype about Corbyn’s appearance on the Gogglebox Special we were interested to see how he would handle it. And, of course, he was modest, quietly humorous and actually had quite a low-key part in the programme despite the fuss.
Without Corbyn’s involvement I wouldn’t have watched the show. My own cancer diagnosis is too recent and raw to go looking for TV programmes about the disease. And so I would have missed two of the most inspirational stories that could ever be told. A young girl was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer and faced up to the disease and its treatment with a maturity that most adults would struggle to achieve. Two young parents kept their children closely involved in the mother’s struggle with cancer while sustaining their loving family unit. The stories were told with honesty and truth; there was no sentimentality. And there was the inevitable conclusion.
The Gogglebox participants were overwhelmed with compassion for both families and so were we. Who could fail to be moved to tears by the stories of such young lives stopped short? I’ve been devastated by my own cancer diagnosis but I’ve enjoyed a full life of opportunities and experiences. Listening to these young individuals, and their families, talking about cancer with such fortitude, resilience and determination was a privilege and I am grateful to them for sharing their stories.
Last year Stand Up To Cancer raised over £15 million for cancer research. I’m sure that will be exceeded this year. We enjoyed watching the Gogglebox Stand Up To Cancer Celebrity Special and if you missed it you can catch it here.
I’d been diagnosed with cancer and didn’t think there was any way I could sustain a daily blog.
My cancer treatment is palliative and I didn’t think I would be around for too much longer to be writing blog posts or anything else for that matter.
I decided to try and keep my Cabbage and Semolina Blog going for as long as I was able and I’ve been writing a long blogpost each month since my diagnosis.
However, I’m now in a chemotherapy regime which requires me to rest regularly and I find myself with an active mind, a weary body and time on my hands. So, I’ve come back to 3sixtyfiveblog and am going to continue with the challenge I set myself on March 20th 2017 and try to write a daily blog for a year.
I’m learning to live with cancer and I suspect many of my future posts will be about these changes in my life. But I haven’t lost interest in all the other aspects of life in my third age bubble so there’ll be more of that too. So, I do hope you’ll keep coming back to see if I can keep up with my daily blog challenge.
Thanks for reading today and hope you have a great weekend.