Category Archives: Mark

April 10th On Philip Carr Gomm’s retreat


April 10th On retreat

From Mark

At the weekend we had another break to civilisation, to Wimbledon, where all are busy with life rather than existing as they seem to do down here in Seaford.

Another evening in San Lorenzo with Jenny, Annabel and Simon who very kindly drove up specially with my chemo pills that I left behind but had a good dinner as reward.

Into 3rd chemo now and the low white blood cell period so need to take care. No more out of date or carelessly reheated food for me. But bowel movements are easier so hoping a CT scan soon will show some reductions in the growths.

From Jenny

Today I’m leaving Mark for the first time since his diagnosis on February 8th – 9 weeks after I was given the prognosis of ‘weeks to live’. Annabel and I are going on a retreat for 2 days with Philip Carr Gomm in Sussex. The course description says

‘The long British winter tends to diminish our reserves, but by April, longer and warmer days are starting to arrive. Here is your chance to take some time out to welcome the Spring and recharge your body and refresh your soul.’

I’ve never done a retreat before but in the early days of Mark’s illness, Philip visited us and gave us a calmer, wiser perspective on life and death and our place in the world long after we have gone. It made a refreshing change from the clatter of complicated medicine names and chemo procedures. And after the greyest, wettest, windiest winter I can remember, I’m hopefully driving away from the rain clouds into a sunnier climate, fifty miles away.

So it’s Yoga Nidra, conversations on spiritual life and exercises from sophrology and Druidry for me and visualisations to calm the mind. Mark had promised that he will keep well as he enters the seventh day after chemo when he becomes more vulnerable to infections due to low blood cell count. His wonderful sister Carole is replacing me and feeding him organic vegetables from her allotment.

A headline in The Times today says ‘Sudden weight loss a cancer indicator in the over sixties’.In January Mark lost the weight suggested by the doctor in his health check and I puzzled how he had done it. At the time he said he had cut down on the number of daily meals he was eating, but now we know the real reason.

Some of you may wonder what’s going on in exciting Seaford.

The beginning of April has seen busy times on Seaford beach. By 3rd April the huge shingle moving trucks have driven away leaving the stones to go back to play and crash about in the constant winds, waves and storms.

On April 2nd, groups of twitchers, birdwatchers or birders arrived. I Googled ‘What’s the difference between a birder and a twitcher?’ Answer – A birder or birdwatcher likes being outdoors and to watch all birds but twitchers prefer to track rare birds and add them to their lists.’

I don’t know whether Splash Point has birders or twitchers who arrive at dawn and sit under umbrellas holding large telescopes and scan the horizon for hours. As a group they are intent on writing tiny pencilled notes on sodden paper notepads and not keen to talk to me.

So what birds do they see?  I point out that the great yellow thing in front of their telescopes on the horizon is the Dieppe to Newhaven ferry but the pompoms on their hats sink lower as their heads drop onto their notepads and they hope I’ll go away.

Can you see the ferry?

My rain spotted glasses mean I can’t see anything but it seems there are plenty of Brent geese, Common Scoters, Red Throated Divers and Sandwich terns flying past. The birds need a wind from the south east which blows them up to the Arctic for their breeding season. I’ve found a blog by Matt Eade who keeps a tally of all the birds he sees each day so maybe I can make a new chum – as long as I don’t speak during birdwatching hours!

Can you see the ferry now?

 

Another group of visitors arrive along the Seaford seafront as busloads of students pile out onto the windy coast and shudder in the storms. Clutching clipboards and huddling together they are poorly dressed for their cliff climb and the horizontal rain which gets under the tightest tied hoodie. Sometimes poorly prepared teachers take their groups up the cliffs and let them perch on the chalk cliff edge, presumably unaware of the massive cliff falls during the autumn of 2017.

‘Where have you come from?’ I occasionally ask. ‘Oh very far away.’ ‘Where’s that then?’ ‘London’ is the usual reply.

It seems this Geography GCSE day trip is to investigate ‘How coastal processes create distinctive landscapes and the role of human interactions in altering this.’ They look at how to prevent Seaford from flooding and the impact of erosion of  the chalk cliffs. Our address will be Cliff Closer soon instead of Cliff Close.

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April 5th NHS help – don’t bother just live in La La land


From Mark

On April 2nd my sister Janet and husband Bryan arrived bearing a truly magnificent turkey pie. Enjoy it I did but bowel cancer is just that so this lover of fine food does now have a downside – multiple loo visits during night.

Same in hospital. Went.for 3rd.chemo yesterday. Blood test better so OK to proceed. Everyone else brings bags of food for their 3 hour session. One had a home made Madeira for his 10 hour blood transfusion. But I risk eating nothing rather than have to drag my pillar of poisons to the loo and back.

Janet made the receptionist’s day when she asked for help on crossword. He got Yakitori and was chuffed to know he’d done the Times crossword albeit the ‘easy’ one.

Third chemo went ahead and this time it’s the full dose meaning 6 more chemo tablets, size of pessaries but taken orally today and 6 more tomorrow.

From Jenny

Many thanks to Janet and Bryan for coming to stay and help share time with Mark. And thank you for taking him to the hospital for chemo – a task that I dread. The time on my own meant I could create a new, softer bed, without him telling me the old one was fine and get essential work done.

In the fifty two years that we have been together, Mark has always been so strong in body and will and busy with new schemes and help for others. When we moved to Lewes he immediately joined Southover Bonfire. As a Down from Londoner, he knew he had little time to prove his worth as a bonfire boy so set up the annual May Fayre which this year, its tenth is held on May 20th in Lewes Priory. Many other local initiatives were supported and in Seaford he gave his rum and gin tastings to raise funds for the Sailing Club as well as taking the safety boat out to sea during racing days.

Now his cancer has exhausted and debilitated his energies – as a friend said ‘Cancer is very selfish’

This is the poem that comes into my head this week – Dylan Thomas written for his father
‘Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ Written for his dying father.

Becoming a carer

Last week in the middle of the night I joined the Macmillan Cancer Support Online Community. Eight weeks after diagnosis I identify as the carer and here is a Carer group for me on the site. What a wealth of stories and help is found on the website but I wonder if it was voyeuristic to read the postings. It is a private space where people share the raw issues of their lives and it has given me confidence to know that many postings echo my inner thoughts. There are so many posts, so many carers dealing with challenging health issues, and maybe finding support from a chat room. And so many like me that find the health system is broken and in the end the carer is left alone to cope.

How not to get grumpy when people say. ‘You need to think positively.’

What does that mean? Give me some clues when the oncologist’s letter says ‘palliative, terminal’ with big, medical cancer words for what lies ahead.

Some posts write about the helplessness of dealing with pain. And the frustration that medical services are closed at weekends. The four days of Easter have been especially long for me. Chat room responses show the expertise that carers have learnt. Drug treatment with opiates needs laxatives to take with them to help constipation – this is a serious issue for Mark with his blocked bowel.  But pain relief must be carefully managed – so it’s down to me again to find help. Google has become my doctor.

They unburden the stress and frustration when the patient gets sent home quickly after treatment to a bewildered and unprepared carer.

How the carer must look after themselves as they are the one left standing.

As the airline says – Put your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else.

Carers need to keep an hour or so a day for themselves to have a nap, read a book, go for a walk, play on the computer – so thankyou to all who have stayed and visited and given support.

And carers will get by because we have to.

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March 31st Securicare Putting you first card


31/3/2018

Securicare Putting you first card

From Mark

Now I have a blue badge to park on double and single yellow lines so watch out as I’ll be in your way – although parking wardens fine you for any mistakes.

But I also have a Securicare Putting yourself first card which says ‘ I have a medical condition and anyone I present this card to must allow me immediate use of their toilet/’

I asked Annabel what she would do if I turned up on her doorstep in Tooting and presented her with this. ‘I’ve never heard of this and I don’t know what I’d do in London – there’s no picture on you. If you live on your own it’s a hard one/

Mark says ‘I’d be peeing on your doorstep while you check out the card on the internet.

Jenny says

The challenges of cancer move on apace and now we have to deal with toilet help.  I never imagined a disease would confront our dignity so furiously. It makes leaving the house to have a change of scene such a provocation and trial. The Securicare card may never be used. I can’t envisage turning up at any of your doorsteps to beg for Mark to be let in to use the loo.

As a child on our family holidays we roamed Britain in our rented dormobile for two weeks and went wherever the weather forecast was fine. My wonderful grandmother came with us, but she had a phobia of thunderstorms. My job as an eight year old was to knock on doors when the thunder and lightning were at their height and ask if my grandmother could sit under their stairs until the storm subsided. That now seems no different to me offering the Securicare card at doors today. If anyone else had a relative with these special needs, let me know.

My reward for this trauma was to stay in a bed and breakfast for the night with her – I also had to go in and check out the room. One night we stayed in Whitby and I remember sitting at the breakfast table overlooking the sea which had a large decorated blue china pot in pride of place. The owner said it was Captain Cook’s apprenticeship award. Can that be true?

 

So here is another idea for you inventive foodies. What would be your final meal? I’ve collated your final hour and many of you were eating – you can find the details on this link.

Mark’s final meal

Ceviche of tuna and other fish

Bavette steak with mushrooms, tomatoes, allumette potatoes and bearnaise sauce

Chimichurri sauce made by the Rose and Crown Fletching

Vanilla Angel Delight

Annabel

Sashimi

Katsu Curry and rice

Pavlova and summer fruit

Jenny

Modern version of prawn cocktail with kindly caught prawns

Skate wing – cooked by me in Normandy hand churned butter

Mashed potato and spinach, cream and rosemary as cooked in Simpson’s in the Strand

My grandmother’s bread and butter pudding made with white bread and sultanas.

 

So let us know your meals!

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1 hour left to live – ideas from the group


People in the group were asked the question – What would you do if you had 1 hour to live – here are there replies – many about sea, music, and food!

Sarah would listen to Mozart for Meditation and feast on her husband Simon’s chicken dinner with garlic, lemon and thyme.

Simon, Sarah’s husband, would play Rachmaninoff Vespers Songs for Cherubin and look at the sky.

Sue, my wonderful masseuse would go and sit by the sea and wait – whatever the weather.

Mark wants to listen to Elvis singing His hand in mine, with our patio doors open and eat smoked salmon and sashimi with a glass of Rioja white wine.

I want a helicopter to fly me to the derelict dockland area in Dieppe to Comptoir a Huitre where the chef has a plate of solette meuniere ready with some chilled white Gascony wine.

Betsy would phone and email all her family and tell them she loves them.

My friend Sue would go and look at the sea and walk about and do very little,

My sister Isobel would want family around and ‘To be in a light filled room with lovely fragrant oils . Rose, geranium, lavender, frankincense and listen to favourite music , ‘Let it be ‘ and ‘Bridge over troubled water’ then hear a beautiful poem ‘The owl and the pussy cat ‘

Giles, her husband, would listen to Starman.

Hermione, Isobel and Gile’s  daughter would like to dance to ‘I follow rivers’ and eat cake and be in the sun.

Laurence Floyd, one of Mark’s very best friends ‘One hour eh? how about Abalone, Scallops in Ginger and Moule Marinere washed down with Puligny Montrachet, whilst watching my daughter showjumping with the Bespermark mountains or the Med in the background here in Cyprus, depending where you gaze….’

Des
The last hour? Some music to play:-

Weather Report by the Tennors.
Esta Navidad by Jackie Washington.
Yes it is by The Beatles.
Food to eat also struck a chord, pun intended!
Gravadlax, steak diane and creme brulee with poached rhubarb.
or
Sourdough base pizza with slices of new potato, cooked beetroot, capers and blue cheese and strewn with rocket followed by semolina pudding with nutmeggy skin and raspberry jam (unseeded of course)
or
Pork belly with crispy crackling, lashing of English mustard, creamy mash potatoes, cumin flavoured carrot matchsticks and cavolo nero followed by tarte tatin with creme fraiche.
Jennie
My last hour would have to be surrounded by all my loved family and friends and to be somewhere with jaw dropping awesome scenery – the stunning top of Ben Nevis watching a golden eagle.  And of course food would have to be included.  I love all food that is bad for me –  pastry and cream and chocolate but also adore seafood.  My choice would be a cold seafood salad with yummy good mayo followed by chocolate gateaux and salted caramel ice cream accompanied by a Brown Bros Orange Muscat. Delicious.
Pat
Hopefully, in the warm sun with family,  friends and cats around.
Lots of delicious appertisers, drinking a delicate rose from the Luberon and listening to  any Pablo Casals, John Lennons ‘Imagine’ and finally Vaughn Williams ‘The Lark Ascending’
Eileen
 I THINK that I would just walk in the most beautiful peaceful part of the countryside  listening to the most beautiful LIGHT CLASSICAL MUSIC…JUST DRIFT AWAY……..
I might even take paints with me  .. one last image..
Alex wrote this for me:
Some people come into our lives and stay with us forever.
Some people move our souls to dance, they awaken in us a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon . They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our heart and we are never ever the same.
My literary friend Lesley
It would be lovely to be sitting at a table on a peaceful beach in Greece. I don’t need any music, just the plash plash of gentle waves on the beach, the buzzing of cicadas, a few birds in the olive trees and some Greek voices chattering. Very fresh grilled fish, a bottle of cold retsina. My family could be swimming, sitting, idly chattering but being quiet, contented and peaceful. If I can’t have a Greek beach I’ll have an England flower meadow in June, wild orchids, clover, buttercups and a long view of hills and valleys, plus a bottle of champagne, a delicious picnic and a few favourite people lying with me in the long grass and watching the summer clouds drift across a blue sky. Ooh I almost wish I were there! Xxx
Sue Johne
I would go and sit on a beach and look at the sea……venue does not matter and I might not have time to go far! Meditation time to reflect on lovely experiences I have had and the love and support from friends and family and hopefully given too…if not last minute virtual hugs to some! Peace would be important and some songs from Dusty Springfield whose voice and songs I loved before she died from breast cancer!
Axel Johne
I’d walk around our house in the Welsh countryside and admire all the work that people have done to the house over so many years – centurys.
 From my lovely niece Jo
I spent a disproportionate amount of time thinking what I would do with my final 60 minutes – including whether or not thinking about it was cutting into my time. I also thought is it one hour from now? Can I choose when it starts? Can I hypothetically come back to the uk for it? Yes, far too much time and anxiety which I also found amusing.
I agree with the peacefulness of the sea and in my last hour I don’t need to work up a sweat dancing like Hermione, I’ll leave that to the pro. I am more on your wavelength.
I eventually made a decision!! Ok I narrowed it down.
I would be with Jonas eating our beloved oysters, he will be having a pint and I will be drinking champagne. I thought about sitting in the Lobster Shack in Whitstable but decided to go to Jonas’s favourite pub at Dell Quay. The skies will be blue and the sun strong. The yachts’ cables will be slapping against their masts and the whiff of the seaweed and the sludge will bring back past memories. Then you, family and friends will slowly join us and we will have gathered as if it was Christmas Day.

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March 21st Mark’s Title – Fun Jenny’s title 2 sides of a coin


March 21st Mark’s Title – Fun

From Mark

Two amazing experiences. One on March 19th was very sad. You may have read about Anna Campbell – the daughter of Dirk Campbell, a good friend of ours and amazing musician who played in Villa Events in Grange Road. Anna died last week in Syria, working alongside women who supported the Kurdish forces. Her transport was targeted by the Turks and her body remains somewhere in Afrin, unable to be recovered. We went to the memorial meeting on a freezing night on Cliffe Bridge and it was very moving.

Yesterday I went to Jeremy for the lastest acupuncture session before he goes on holiday. Jeremy always asks how I feel and this time I said my gut and stomach had been upset for weeks – in Shakespeare’s terms it caused the ‘ague’. He put 2 needles in my belly and an hour later all the ague had gone and still not returned today. Acupuncture is a winner and how lovely to wake up this morning to another of Seaford’s cloudless, blue skies, with boats going out to the wind farms and to fish, and the shingle movers maybe bringing this 5 week session to an end.

From Jenny 2 sides of a coin

Mark is looking fitter and fatter than he has done in weeks, and his face has a suntanned glow from who knows what.  I’ve been able to spend normal time in Lewes and we plan to go to Wimbledon at the weekend as the flat should be ready after its refurbishment.

Meantime I have boxed up my ‘Just in case’ collection of medicine and instructions which are given to carers of people who are terminally ill. The pharmacist asked if I knew what to do with the stuff and seeing my puzzled face, said I needed a medically trained person to administer them. ‘Where do I magic that person from?’ was my reply – I left off the f… word.. It seems I dial 999 and the magicians will come.

Good old Google helps me out again. The Just in Case box was developed because professional help and the medicines were often not available beyond normal working hours, Monday to Friday and this led to ‘feelings of anxiety heightened in patients and carers.’ Bloody right it does. Weekends are a bugger.  ‘Fewer surgeries are open on Saturdays and GPs can opt out of out-of-hours care.’ Our surgery phone line says ring 111. I tried it one night and would have got more help from a dead cat.

So now I’ve got a toxic mix of diamorphine, midazolam, cyclizine and glycopyrronium – and some phials of water. But it’s not for me to use or learn to spell – I just need Mervin the magician to come with a syringe when I wave a magic wand.

I feel we all need to address the issue of dying with dignity and like the C word, assisted dying has been in the news. In the Sunday Times Professor Paul Cosford explained about his choice in end of life care as he has incurable lung and liver cancer. He says he would like a quiet chat with his GP when his time is nearly up and ask for medication to make it easier when the time comes.

His challenging talk to The Royal Society of Medicine is on this link

These are some parts that mean a lot  to me from Paul –

‘I wanted to explore two things to have some control at the time if I need it.  

  1. I don’t want to die with someone jumping up and down on my chest. (Jenny’s note – The form to prevent this must be done by a medical professional and not the carer or patient – we’ve got one! It says ‘Allow a natural death’)
  2. At the point that all my reasonable treatment options run out, and if it all is too much for me, I will have the wherewithal to bring things to a conclusion myself. My thinking was that, if I know that there will be an option that gives me some control, I don’t need to worry now about what might happen at that time.

We need to be much more open about how we help each other to die well. My experience is that I can live much better now if I do face this issue well in advance.

Heidegger the philosopher says  “If I take death into my life, acknowledge it and face it squarely I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life – and only then will I be free to become myself.”

What I want is that the last gift I can give to my family and those closest to me to be that they can say “he died well, and that came at the end of a life in which he made a difference to those around him – he lived well too.” I hope that this afternoon will be a step on the way to making this a reality for more of us than is currently the case.’

His words have really helped me to know that others don’t want to live in LaLa land but want to consider the serious options ahead and have some control.

The other leaflet in The Sunday Times was the Campaign for Dignity in Dying – their mission is to let people have a legal control over how we leave life. The late Terry Pratchett was a patron ‘ I think it’s time we learned to be as good at dying as we are at living.’’Here here’ I echo.

From Guardian 22/3/2018 

Assisted dying is illegal in the UK under the Suicide Act of 1961, punishable with a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

Every eight days someone travels to Switzerland for an assisted death – average cost £10,000.

Polly Toynbee writes – ‘If, like me, you have watched a beloved parent die in needless pain, longing for an end the doctors denied her, then you know this is a personal right everyone deserves.’

My own mother suffered dreadful pain during her death as we had no help in place. I asked the doctor if he could help. ‘If she were a dog we could put her out of her misery, but it is not allowed.’ That was 34 years ago and now I am revisiting the story with  no more help or ideas of what to do.

The Netherlands had 6,600 assisted deaths in 2017. Death by euthanasia is 4% of all deaths in the Netherlands.

 

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7th March An Away Day


7th March An Away Day

For the first time in a month I can get away from Seaford. Mark’s sister Carole and husband Tony are staying in The Sea House so a night  in London is a welcome diversion.

Standing at crowded Haywards Heath station, after we’re tipped off the London bound train the announcements are boringly repetitive.

‘The train from … is delayed/cancelled

‘Southern apologises for the inconvenience this may cause you

‘Thameslink apologises for ..

‘On March 12th the RMT union are taking strike action – everyone apologises and check the website before you leave home.

‘Anyone hoping for a relaxing lunch before their afternoon theatre forget it – Southern apologises ..

And anyone booked for Hamilton The musical, forget it and do something fabulous instead.

It’s not a sell out as they claim – I booked tickets a few days ago. And if you want to leave at half time because you do not want to stay in your very expensive seats and listen to such ghastly hip hop, they put yellow barriers in your way and say you can’t leave. Until there are enough of the exiting audience shouting

‘Let us out’ very loudly’ and ‘do I look like a ticket tout?’

Friendships balance the turmoil of the last few weeks.

The drama has been running a month and I’ve missed London. Seaford may have seas, storms and seagulls but it’s no substitute for our many friendships, easy travel and exhibitions and art galleries.

First a visit to our Wimbledon flat which is being refurbished with new floors, plasterwork and redecoration. The place is a dust heap but work is progressing quickly with a deadline of March 21st which I hope Mark can visit to stay.

Then catch up with friends. The light, bright bustle of Carluccios by the river Thames lifts my mood and Eleanor, as always has supportive help and advice. She wisely told me to get on with Power of Attorney so that I can operate banks and stuff if Mark dies. A plate of crispy squid, a bowl of steamed spinach and a glass of Gavi from the wine growing area where Antonio grew up – then another and the future seems possible.

On top of the 93 bus Wimbledon Common glows in the spring sunshine and no doubt the purple crocuses will flower in Cannizaro Park. I’m staying in Linda’s cosy house and like me Linda is a well deserved airbnb superhost.  Unlike me, she’s not threatened with strike off as I cancelled bookings due to Mark’s illness. Harsh business renting rooms.

We share stories of happy times, odd Lancashire recipes and photos at her birthday party where Mark and Axel both look so handsome.

Then onto Bill’s to meet my great travelling companion, Eileen whose energy defies the National Grid.
When Mark and I moved to Lewes in 2008, our Sunday breakfast was a full English in Bill’s first restaurant and grocery shop. Who would have thought that 10 years later there would be nearly 80 Bill’s around the UK. He once told Mark that Wimbledon was one of the most profitable, and the venue is a strange choice for a country themed eating place, down a dull shopping precinct lined with white plastic windows next to Morrisons and the Odeon cinema? But once inside, the nourishment of the Lewes interior floods in. Chandeliers, stripped wooden tables, green, chipped enamel teapots with wired orange gerbera daisies and orange and pink raffia dangling from shelves like a Moroccan souk – Bill once told me his favourite colours were orange and pink, and he grows those colours in his garden.

My favourite tins of Gordal olives come from Bills – plump, huge, green and meaty – and I’ve stocked up with plenty – essential for our guests with their evening drink visit to Seaford.

Eileen is very much onwards and upwards and lifts my spirits with her challenges. I show her the HEAT card that the oncologist says I must read to check on adverse symptoms after chemo and we agree that the medical terms defeat us.

HEAT card for Neutropenic deaths

My Bill’s hamburger and two glasses of chilled Albarino and the future seems brighter.

She’s excited by the Ocean Liners Exhibition at the V&A and I hope I can get to see it before it closes in June.

I catch the early morning train and arrive in Lewes for a bacon sandwich in Bill’s and see Charlie, my grandson, cycling by in Simon’s bicycle, then I’m joined by the ever excitable Daisy and her mum Tamsin which is a delight.

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15th March Second chemo underway


From Mark

After a couple of days of rain and sea mists – yes it can come even to Seaford – the sun is out in a clear blue sky. Seems so strange to sit in hospital looking out at the lovely day outside and yet look around inside and everyone’s sitting and lying around with litres of poison being pumped into their  bodies. This time for me it’ll be a third more than the first batch so slightly concerned at the possible after effects. And you should see the size of chemo pills I need to take over the next two days. In the old currency they’re an inch long.

Fun to confirm how taking chemo in hospital is not a natural state. Our great friend, John Downie has long tried to get Jenny and I tuned into the perfect tic toc required to keep Jenny’s grandfather’s old clock going in New Road. And to John I can say, that the tic tic of the chemo as it’s pumped in is certainly not rhythmic. It’s completely irregular.

Great words of wisdom yesterday came from Philip Carr Gomm, the Chief Druid which were very timely. Philip brings a wonderfully spiritual insight into everything. He said not to fight pain or despair but to embrace it to reduce its strength and that certainly explains a lot of my current experiences. My mind is completely decluttered of all that’s bad and distracting. Instead sitting here with the constant background of the waves opens up all the wonderful values of nature all the way to the horizon.

Back home after chemo and with doors open even at 6pm. Thank goodness for the microclimate of Seaford. Then supper with Jenny, Simon and Annabel.

Woke up this morning with more energy than for weeks so maybe this is what Adam calls his green day straight after chemo. I shall make the most of it with today’s acupuncture and then maybe a trip to Brighton with Annabel and Simon to visit a ‘vape’ friend to explore a more direct way of taking Nigella’s liquid. This really has become a trip through so many new experiences

 

From Jenny

The hospital is a giant octopus swallowing us all up as we stream through the doors. Walking, limping, shuffling, zimmer frames and wheelchairs. We disappear down the long, hygienically cleaned tentacles to arrive at the oncology sucker end to find a full Outpatients area.

Walking past the closed Interview doors with signs ‘Interview taking place. Please do not disturb‘ reminds me that a few weeks ago we sat there and heard the medical pronouncement in language that still is not clear.  More tense young and old faces strain around the experts for their results and on the table, a coloured box has tissues pulled out in readiness.

A nurse brings more chairs to line up in the corridor as patients are standing, waiting for treatment.

The pen-smeared whiteboard has announcements.

‘1063 people visiting our clinic last month.. 0 (that’s zero) did not turn up for appointments.’

I wonder if they count patients that have ‘passed on’. Surely they must get some surprise cancellations?

Two jolly, grey haired ladies chat about their chemo.

‘My friend sailed through it and lost some weight. I’m really strong, never been ill, so I’m expecting good results.’

Another talks of her cruise to Norway in a few weeks. When Mark tried to get travel insurance, cruises were not covered and he had a ‘precondition’ so they needed to get a doctor’s note before they would consider us..

The day time TV choice in the waiting room shows High Court enforcement officers visiting sad debtors running unsuccessful businesses. Then another soul sapping  programme on break ins with burglars being caught on CCTV.

There’s the usual reading matter in the racks of Macmillan Cancer Support – ‘Give up smoking, Body image and cancer, Travel and cancer.’ Waterstone’s could display them under Misery Reads.

Why can’t we have a Cancer Joke Book? Here’s one from www

Old man goes to the doctor. The doctor says “The test results are back, and I’m sad to say you have cancer and Alzheimer’s.”. The old man says “Phew! At least it’s not cancer!”

Or some Poems in the Waiting room like I see in the dentist.

Two hours after arrival, I leave Mark still waiting for treatment. There are two people ahead of him, and I find the injection of toxins too traumatic to watch.

If you’ve got any jokes or poems that might please, do email us!

Joke reply from Sarah

“People who joke about cancer have no sense of tumor” .

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