Thursday, April 17, 2014

#5 chemotherapy, crafting and more Easter fun

I began the #5 21 day chemotherapy cycle yesterday. A long day in the hospital necessitated ensuring I brought my food and some crochet with me. My hair has become really curly in the last week and it has also started to fall out again. I was exhausted after it all, but could not sleep due to the anti sickness meds. 

I was glad to be awake as Mr Margie was hosting a dinner for our nephew Cole and a dear friend Des, whose wife Sandra is overseas at the moment. 

The Easter table was v pretty and the little car name tags a nice touch. 

There was even a spot of Easter crafting done. 

It was a laughter filled evening and a culinary success, 

and the gift bags in tune with the theme of the night. 

Despite a four hour sleep overnight I was delighted to welcome another dear musician friend Mark for lunch. Both he and Cole entertained me for the afternoon. 

My mum and dad dropped by too as did another dear friend Mirielle. She brought some lovely flowers from her garden. 

It was a busy day and I am hoping for a better sleep tonight. I read a quote today and it said laughter and a good nights sleep can cure any ails, and I had plenty of laughter today. 

Happy Easter everyone ��

Big hugs, 
Love Margie ❤️

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Easter prep, Morris minor, knitting, treatment, and farewells

Its that time of year again when feathers, eggs, rabbits and chocolate become a focus.

Lein got the boxes from the attic and hung the willow branch over the kitchen table, as well as decorating it before she went back to London.

Mr Margie cut the lawn too, and the wallflowers, daffs and tulips are in full bloom, I even see some buds on the bluebells. 

The bistro is open and I found the snake head fritillaries in two spots this year. 

Lein has a car now also, she spoke to Mr Margie about wanting to buy a classic car, and one literally jumped out at me last weekend from my uncles hay barn. My cousin was selling his 1966 Morris Minor Two door Salon. Mr Margie took it for a test drive and the deal was struck, Lein is now the proud owner of a beautiful bottle green classic car. Many years of happy motoring Lein. 

I started a new knitting project, a shrug, I am enjoying it, despite the chemo brain getting confused now and then.
I was at the hospital this morning for blood tests, the results of which show my white cells are too low to continue with my treatment at the moment. I am going to have the 5 FU pump removed tomorrow and I will attend hospital again next Tuesday for blood tests again. I was disappointed at first as it delays my finish date.  I do understand how important it is to be healthy and how dangerous a zero immunity is too. I am looking forward to showers and wearing dresses for the next week and eating well to put on a kilo  or two will also be a bonus. 

A dear family friend passed away on Sunday.  Charlie was my Dad's friend, he was 84 years old, his community spirit shone all his life. He was the post master at Ballitore post office for years. He was very involved in the local parish. He ran the bingo at the local hall for many years. As a teenager I was only allowed to attend the disco because he was running it. He always drove me home, after we swept up and cleared out the shop. He was one of the athletic club coaches with my Dad. Charlie trained my sister in race walking, and she was all Ireland champion when she was 15 years old. Both Charlie and my Dad raised funds for the irish guide dogs for the blind for over 25 years, they trained, as did I, as walk leaders in the 90's and took groups up the Wicklow mountains and on trips to Mayo and Kerry.  Charlie in later life set up a walking group and walked with "Charlie's Angels" in the local area.  I was sad to say goodbye to him at te removal this evening but happy to celebrate his life, it was lovely to see the guard of honour walking him from crookstown cross to the church. 

Big hugs, 
Love Margie ❤️

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mother's Day, Crafting, and Chemo

Lein came back to Ireland for the weekend of Mother's Day.


Thus began a weekend of cooking, baking, and crafting. I got beautiful cards and gifts for Mother's Day from Mel, Chris, and girls, Rommeij and Rikki, and from Lein, along with a gorgeous drawing of me from Isla, I love how she gave me a pink Mohawk. 

Lein and I got the sewing machines out and made some Tilde chickens and ducks.


My chemo brain ensured that we had plenty of laughs over my inability to read a pattern properly.

I even managed to reverse the pattern and plain fabrics without even noticing! 

I got the pump changed today,  #4 day 15, at the hospital. My blood pressure was a little low, and all the bloods came back within the limits. I am happy to say I got the results of the CT scan I had on Monday and all good there also. 

Big hugs,
Margie ❤️

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Stage 3 of my treatment for stomach cancer

It's been a wonderful week, I had so much energy and was in such great form.i went out to our friends house for dinner and was so pleased to be able to eat well and sustain energy during the evening. I was on cloud nine after. I hope you all enjoyed St. Patricks day whether your are home or abroad, I know I did. 

I drove Mr Margie (first time since the surgery to drive) in my Landy, to St Patricks well a few miles away.
The well is maintained by local people and forms a stream that flows off to join larger ones. The farmer whose land the well is on opens the gates to the public for the day,and permits parking in his field. This well probably precedes Christian times. There is a china mug hanging on the tree growing along side it for use by anyone wishing to sample the well water. I always feel there is something very special about wells. There are many sacred wells in County Kildare. The sculpture of St. Patrick at the well site was carved by our dear friend Dick Joynt who passed away eleven years ago. His art legacy is evident in Marley Park, Tallagh Village, Dublin Airport, Along motorways in Wicklow, and in many private collections. He is missed everyday.
On Tuesday I had lots of people visit to wish me luck, being me gifts and chat, the visits were all much appreciated and I am so thankful for your friendship, kinship, support and love. I even went to the pharmacy for my anti sickness meds in prep for the chemo. I also went to the supermarket and the fruit and veg shop in the afternoon. 

I started the third and final stage of my stomach cancer treatment- sandwich or MAGIC therapy. Now that my cancer was taken away at surgery the next step is to make sure no rogue cells were left behind . I will have three 21 day cycles of the triple therapy (epirubicin, cystoplatin and fluorouracil ) to zap them all. The night before I packed my food bag for the morning, and my hand bag with drugs, crafts supplies, and a book.  I started the day off like a chirpy chicken, in good spirits. My mum and I met with the consultant oncologist Alexia, at 9:15 and she outlined the treatment,  and the plan for the next few months. I will have a CT scan in a couple of weeks, and a heart Eco graph soon also. 

By ten thirty I was hooked up to my fist iv hydration bag and I even managed to so some crochet before the chemo drugs were pumped in, all through my port, which makes life way easier. It's funny how I cannot stand having a cannula inserted, it's my pet hate and one of the things that makes me feel uneasy when I have to go to the hospital for admission. 
I began to feel tired, no more chirpy chicken, more a hounded hen, during the last iv flushing and hydration bags around 3:15 and was happy to see Mr Margie arriving in to take me home. I slept solidly when I got home, ate well and slept all night again despite taking the steroids. I am conscious of my food and nutrition again even more so this time as I have mastered my eating without a stomach and need to keep that functioning but also there are many foods that can upset the chemo causing nausea. Balancing the two will provide one of my challenges for the next few months. The other challenge comes from the foreign objects it have inserted in my body. I still have the j tube in for iv feeding should my weigh drop below it's current 39.6 kilos, it has to be cleaned and flushed twice a week. I have mastered the art of that myself. Finding the right dressings proved difficult but it's finally sorted. Since yesterday I have the Fluorouricil 5fu bottle attached  for continuous chemo flow through my port, this is 24/7 for the twenty one days. The bottle is housed in a bag (that's looks like a zippy pencil case I once had) as it is light sensitive. The bag is on a belt which I wear around my waist day and night. All this makes showering impossible as neither j tube or belt and bag, can get wet, so bathing is an event. 

I know that it will all be worth it in a couple of months and I am very honored and humbled by the love and support of my family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, medical staff, and even strangers. Thank you one and all. 

Big hugs, 
Love Margie ❤️

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ups, downs, and anger

It had been a time of ups and downs. Two weeks ago my blog friend Deborah over at My Moms Work contacted me to say she was in Ireland, as I had missed her a couple if years previously I was determined to meet her. Mr Margie and I welcomed her and her husband Jim to our home after six years of blog friendship. She kept up to date with my cancer and surgery over the blog. We hugged and chatted as though we knew each other all out lives. Deborah took a few minutes to set up my spinning wheel, and had it running smoothly in no time. While she does not have a New Zealand, Ashford wheel she has others and does spinning demonstrations back in the USA. She left me with lots of hugs and a beautiful handknit ring. 
Mr Margie took Morris out from under his cover so Deborah could take some photos and I waved from the bedroom window. 

On the Monday evening I began to feel unwell, and over a couple of hours it steadily became unbearable, dry retching followed and I could bear it no longer, At some point during a sleepless night Mr. Margie drove me to hospital in Dublin. I endured prodding, poking and numerous x rays before Professor Ridgeway came round. He asked me a couple of questions, then held my hand as he explained it was an infection, a minor hiccup on my road to recovery, and he promised he would get to the bottom of it and I would be home in a couple of days. I was home three days later feeling better. 

Thank you everyone who sent me get well wishes, cards, texts, private messages, emails I cannot keep up with the hundreds of wishes,or requests to visit and I do not have the time or energy to reply personally. I will try to explain how important your love and support are to my recovery. 
Mostly talking wears me out, especially if there is more than one person speaking. Also repeating the same story about my recovery or illness is tiring. Sometimes all I want is to not talk about it all. 
I am not the person I was six months ago, I have changed totally and entirely, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, I have struggled through every hour of those six months shaping and reforming this new me. I find it difficult to witness someone seeing me for the first time since this change had occurred, I know this is about the person having to accept the changes, however pity, patronising and condescending attitudes just make me angry. I don't want to be reminded of how I was before as it is painful for me, I don't want to be talked at about how well I look despite the cancer.  I have already come to terms with these changes and I am angry that I had cancer and had to have my stomach removed. However I cannot change that, the only change I can make is in my recovery. Everyday I wake to face my recovery one day at a time, seeing what challenges each new days brings.  I know that this is a new opportunity for me, one which I am not fully aware of as yet, each day a step closer, but every now and then I have flashes of what might be. It is support and love that helps me through the struggle to survive. Your messages of positivity and get well support the stepping stones on my journey. 

Big hugs,
Love Margie ❤️

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Feeling the "Love"

I really felt the love for valentines day and during the week with lots of love from across the world, seeing Mel and Chris, Lein and Duane, Isla and Esmé, Rommeij and Rikki over the internet. I had a homemade card from Mr Margie. I got get well cards and drawings, flowers from my aunt in Australia, a basket of flowers from my parents, crocus bulbs from my dear friends and special visits from dear people who have my recovery at their very hearts. I have visitors lined up for next week too. 

This week I met with my Oncologist and my GP, both of whom are very supportive  and understanding.  My Oncologist informed Mr Margie, my Mum and I that since the cancer has been removed the mop up chemo will be tailored especially towards my needs. I will meet with her again in early March to discuss starting date and chemo drugs.  My GP identified my leg pain as L5 nerve memory pain due to the epidural. It will slowly improve and walking and exercising will help. There is a drug I could take but it has side effects and with chemo on the way I prefer not to have more complications. 
As a result of all the love I am improving slightly everyday, able to be up longer and a bit more active and eating a little more also. I am feeling very loved and very proud of myself.
Big hugs, 
Love Margie ❤️

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Next steps and update

I had a hospital visit last Friday with the histopathology of my surgery, it showed my cancer is quite advanced, I had a 6 cm tumour and 4 of the 28 lymph nodes contained cancer, so mop up chemo is the next step. I will be starting another three rounds of chemo in a week or two and I am busy everyday at improving my eating, a challenge in itself due to the small amounts I can take and the unpleasant and painful side effects of over eating or being dehydrated. Yesterday afternoon I tried some croissant, only to suffer for the next three hours, pains, sweats, weakness, symptoms of something called "dumping syndrome" apparently these symptoms reduce in the first 6 months to a year after Gastrectomy.


 I have not been sleeping too well either, I have had pains in my legs, that woke me up after one or two hours sleep, perhaps dehydration the dietician said, perhaps psychological as a result of the surgery the doctor said, I wondered if it was the result of having the epidural for eight days. All my bloods came back within the normal parameters so not electrolyte issues.  I started taking multi vits two days ago and last night was a good night, no leg pains for six hours and only waking for a few minutes, not the hours of before, so hopefully it was a lack of some trace element. I feel that I have had a move along to a slightly better feeling, so it can only be upwards and onwards from here. 
Big hugs, 
Love Margie ❤️