Such is Life - Mary Allison (me Ali Barnicott) - Chapter 30 to 36 and the end

Chapter 30 – Radiotherapy Begins

The first one of nineteen sessions arrive or fifteen plus four as they call it.  The fifteen being three weeks plus four boosters which are more intensive.

The time goes really quickly for my first few as I am in on time.  Even when I have a delay it is only about forty five minutes, usually when a scanner breaks down.  The staff have all been brilliant trying to get us on a different machine as quickly as possible.

Before I know it I am having my halfway review and I am talking with them about side effects after all the line up is double checked.  I explain the main thing is feeling tired but I am coping better than at the start.  I am able to swim now and drinking more water which has boosted my energy levels.  The area concerned is not too red and not at all sore so the shed load of aqueous cream is doing its job.

I am now on the final four boosters.  They position everything differently after more scans to check the repositioning.  All done, so now I am into the final three sessions.  With three to go, I am sitting here in the waiting room with a thirty minute wait and I have left my phone at home which is annoying.  My husband will be annoyed as he has probably texted me to ask who is picking up our son.  I should be able to get home just in time to reply before going straight out again to collect the little man.

Before I know it I am all done and home having finished all treatments, now I start my remission.  Who would have thought, what a journey it has been.

I am feeling tired but on the whole pretty good.  Then suddenly after a few days I feel very sore under my right boob.  I get my husband to have a look and it is all blistered like really bad sunburn.  I have to go bra free for a few days, which is not comfortable when you are a little on the large side!  However it is more comfortable and I try all manner of aqueous creams etc, discovering that the recommended Vaseline is not the best remedy.  After a few weeks it finally starts to heal and I finally feel like I am in remission.


Chapter 31 – The start of the rest of my life

That strange feeling of trying to get back to a normal life is starting to hit me now. I feel odd and need my counsellor more than ever now as I feel abandoned with no hospital appointments until my mammogram in September, which is four months away.

I chat with my counsellor and say I am thinking of discussing with the doctor about starting anti-depressants as I feel so slow now it is all over.  I think the realisation of what I have been through and how it has affected the rest of the family, particularly my son is starting to sink in.

She and the doctor agree this will be a good course of action and I get a prescription for Sertraline as I can only take certain ones due to confliction with the Tamoxifen.  By now we are in July and the Tamoxifen is beginning to take its toll slightly affecting the menopausal symptoms more, the hot flushes are more intense at night mixed now with horrid night’s sweats.  I am told that the Sertraline will help with this which they do seem to a bit.

I still have one or two weeks each month where I notice the menopause more. I am now using lavender remedies such as pillow sprays which really do aid sleep and help relax me.

Before I know it we are in September and it is a year since the scan for diagnosis.  I am today having a mammogram to check all is still good.  Again a wait of two weeks for the results  and all good news thank goodness.  I will have an appointment in February with my surgeon once again to check everything is OK with the scar tissue.  He will also do a check for anything suspicious as another back up.

I have decided I am not returning to work at the surgery and enjoying being a lady of leisure more or less to think about me and my family.  However I failed to tell you about my little volunteer job I have been doing since July .....


Chapter 32 – Part time Volunteer

I am now Volunteer Treasurer for my local church.  I was asked by the Vicar (for whom I had helped with Sunday School teaching for several years pre cancer) if I would like to join the PCC (Parochial Church Council).  I agreed but had a feeling that I was going to be asked to help with the accounts.  The Vicar had hoped it would not be that obvious, but as he had my CV from a previous job I applied for it was not really difficult to fathom.  Anyway we met for a chat and discussed the options.  I could work from home and would meet up at the Vicarage every now and then to do Payroll and go through any queries as required.  At the beginning of the next year it would become a paid role, just a few hours a week as a Bookkeeper. 

I feel really chuffed to have been asked and am really enjoying it.  It will be a nice little earner next year.  I have to attend a monthly finance meeting and PCC and DCC meetings every now and then too.

As I joined the choir just before my diagnosis, it is nice to be back singing now since my break during treatment.  My son is now also a member and is looking forward to becoming a fully fledged chorister soon into the new year.


Chapter 33 – A normal Christmas

We finally have a normal Christmas with everyone well and no-one recovering from operation or illnesses.

I can eat all the cheese I want and can finally taste wine as I have already tested this several times. 

It is wonderful to have another lovely Christmas with my family with my brother in law cooking another fabulous lunch and more lovely Black Forest Gateau made by mum.

On Boxing Day morning, I can say yes to Eggs Benedict, yum yum.

We meet up with my mum’s brother at their house.  They downsized a year or so ago and it is the first time we have been there.  They hold an open house for all the family with a very nice buffet lunch.  We reminisce on the old years when they used to go to Barbados a lot and bring back rum by having a glass of the famous Mount Gay.  Again yum!

Before we know it once again it is time to go home but at least this year it is back to our normal routines and it definitely feels like it will be a New Year this time.


Chapter 34 – Normality

I am now working for the church as a paid Bookkeeper 3 hours a week and loving it.  Church choir is going well and my son is now a proper chorister.  Saw the surgeon and all is still good.

Did I say normality, my son is struggling to cope, and he has been diagnosed with mild traits of ADHD and Autism Spectrum Condition.  As we thought, he shows some signs of mild autism.  He has had some Counselling sessions as well which has really helped him to try to manage his anger.  He is working really hard to kerb his frustrations now.  Time to think about the impact it has had on him.

We have booked to return to Cyprus this year after our trip to a lovely hotel last year.  We will be at the same place and hopefully will hire a car.  Our friends who own a villa will be out at a similar time so we hope to meet up with them.

I am enjoying being back at my son’s school Thursday afternoons listening to reading.  He is thriving with his Athletics/Cross Country and is looking forward to the school cup again this year.  He took part in a series of local short runs and did very well with his school and alongside other schools in the area.  He also plays badminton after school too and looks forward to returning to Tennis having decided Football needs a break.


Chapter 35 – Looking forward

Before I end the book, I would like to thank everyone listed at the front of this book and many more unmentioned who have helped me throughout my treatment and on the way to recovery.

I can hardly believe what has happened to me, but I do not feel bitter as I have been lucky and am able to look forward now and enjoy life to the full.  Yes, I do get tired and have bad days.  Damp and cold weather plays havoc with my osteo-arthritis which is getting worse all the time. But I am still here so I will take all the problems that come with recovery and the medications I have to take.

Maybe one day I will go back to working a bit more, maybe I will not we will have to see what turns my life takes along the way.  For the time being I am concentrating on improving every day, taking it all in my stride and enjoying the challenges of every new day to the best of my ability.

As I finish the book, I will in two months time be a year in remission.  I have lost a good friend I had met through a cancer group on the way, but this has taught me a valuable lesson in life; it is what it is, our life is mapped out and we have to follow the path.  It is all fate and I will end with three words which I hope you will take away with you into your lives.

Such is Life !