Tommy v Cancer Blog Tour

Good morning!

A bit of a different post from me today.  I thought I’d give you all a break from my rambling to do something a little bit pro-active.  Let me explain…

If you’ve stuck with me since the start of this blog (God bless you if you have), then you’ll know that I found my cancer the day before I met my literary agent.  Well, another author, Tommy Donvaband, is currently going through the same, er, challenges that I am, only he has throat cancer.  There’s a hugely active MG and YA author/reader/reviewer community over on Twitter and they put together a blog tour to raise awareness and support for Tommy.  As an author, a lot of his income comes from talks and school visits, but the treatment he is receiving has robbed him of his voice.  So, the lovely Viv of Serendipity Reviews asked bloggers to review one of Tommy’s books and I offered to be included, as both books and cancer treatment are massive things in my life right now.

So, for my review, I read the first Scream Street book, ‘Fang of the Vampire.’  As a teacher of primary age boys, it was irresistible.  Without too many spoilers, Luke Watson, who is an ‘unusual’ boy himself, is thrown into a creepy neighbourhood, a place where vampires and mummies are the norm.  It reminded me of the Goosebumps books I’d been reading to my students before I finished work, and I kept imagining how I would read it to them…all dramatic pauses and loud bangs.  In fact, it’s first on my list of things to do when I get back to work – I can’t wait to see their reactions!

If you have a reluctant reader in your life, I recommend looking the series up.  It’s definitely a series for little ones to read with a torch under the covers, especially in this stormy weather…

I’d like to wish Tommy good luck and strength for the rest of his treatment…you can do it, though there may be days you feel like you can’t.

There’s some more info about Tommy and the blog tour below, but for now, I’m off for a nap.  Normal (ranty/moany) service will resume later in the week…

Tommy is the author of the popular 13-book Scream Street series for 7 to 10 year olds, published by Walker Books in the UK and Candlewick Press in the US.  His other books include Zombie!, Wolf and Uniform (winner of the Hackney Short Novel Award) for Barrington Stoke, Boredom Busters and Quick Fixes For Kids’ Parties (How To Books), and Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis (Network Continuum).

Tommy lives in Lancashire with his wife and two sons.  He is a HUGE fan of all things Doctor Who, plays blues harmonica, and makes a mean balloon poodle.  He sees sleep as a waste of good writing time.

Website: www.tommyvcancer.com

Patreon Link: http://www.tommyvcancer.com/support/

Hair Today…

I did it…

pre-cut hair

Before…

bob hair

…after!

Saturday, 28th May 2016 was the first time in fourteen years that I had a short hair cut, and I LOVE it!  My hairdresser did a fab job and was very generous, refusing to charge me for the cut. I think she was just glad to have me out of the place in less than five hours!  The Little Princess Trust got 14 inches of hair, which was tons more than I thought! I played with different styles all weekend, as now the chemo has started, I can’t do anything with it if I want to keep it. (Meaning, I’ll need a wig just to hide the greaseball beneath, ha!)

Chemo started yesterday.  In typical me fashion, I also had an MRI on the same day, so was completely shattered from getting to and enduring two different appointments.  The MRI was the same as last time – read, boob holes – and it’s checking to make sure that my left breast was biopsied in the correct place last time.  When a biopsy of something suspicious is done, but not too suspicious (E.g.not a cancer with teeth and hair, like the Critters),they leave a little titanium clip in there for future scans.  As another biopsy wasn’t taken yesterday, I’m hoping that means they were happy with the placement and the correct part was biopsied last time.  I had a little panic as I slid into the machine, which didn’t happen last time, but this was more of an ‘Oh my God, please let it be okay, I can’t do this sh*t again’ kind of a panic.  I quickly snapped myself out of it, as I knew if I pressed the button to get me out, I’d cry.If I cried, the next time would be worse.

And I had chemo to be getting on with.

So.  1:30pm on Wednesday 1st June (I like that it started at a nice, neat number.  Does that make me weird?!) hubby and I rocked up to the unit where I’d be treated.  I met my oncologist and signed the consent forms, before going upstairs to the chemotherapy suite.  I’d already been with my mum on the Friday, so knew what to expect and honestly, I just wanted to get the first one done! No one knows what the side effects will be until they have it, so I’m curious to see how the next three weeks pan out, to be prepared for next time.

Anyway, I sat on a pink, squishy recliner, while my arm was propped on a pillow and a heat pack placed on the back of my hand in order to get a nice, juicy vein.  Thank God, as in my last procedure (fertility – let’s not talk about that one…) it took them FOUR tries to get the cannula in and that was before they sedated me.  Ouch!  This one went in nice and easily and I was hooked up to a bag of fluid, as the drugs can dehydrate you.

Then came the cold cap.  The nurse soaked my roots and then placed the cap, a fetching hot pink helmet, directly on to the wet hair.  It’s a similar temperature to a freezer and, true to what I’ve read, the first fifteen minutes were the worst and then you surprisingly get used to it.  The cap was pulled really tight, until I had attractive chipmunk face and jaw ache, and left on for half an hour before treatment.

Treatment itself, without sounding too blase about the whole thing, was a breeze!  I annoyed the nurse with questions as she squeezed four syringes of drugs into me (Two drugs, two VERY BIG syringes each) Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide.  The E-one was red and stung my vein a little, but the nurse massaged it when I told her.  The C-one was clear and very cold, so I got the heat pad back for that one.  There were no side effects as it went in, no dizziness or funny tastes, which I was grateful for.  I think my head was probably too frozen.  The cap stayed on for ninety minutes afterwards, so 2.5 hours in total.  We went home, I managed dinner and so far (touch wood) I’ve just been very tired, so my anti-sickness tablets must be working.  It’s very early days yet though,so anything could happen over the next three weeks.

I was sent home with a bag of ‘goodies’, which contained anti-sickness drugs, a medicated mouth wash and also some injections to stimulate my bone marrow to produce white blood cells and keep my immune system as strong as it can be.  I’m trying to help them along, having a handful of vitamins (C, D and B12) a freshly squeezed orange juice and green smoothie each day.  I’ve heard Manuka honey is great, as long as it’s 20+, so that’s on the list too!  

I did my first injection today and, as I dropped the spent needle into the sharps box, I started thinking about the statistics of cancer treatment.I can’t even imagine how much my treatment is costing, but my God, am I grateful for the NHS!!!  I’ve put together a little list below of my journey so far…

 

Hospital appointments: I’m guessing 40ish – I can only find letters for 30 but a lot have been phone appointments or booked in person.

MRIs: 2

Full body CT scans: 1

Surgeries: 2 minor (20-30mins, home same day), 1 major (8 hrs, 5 days in hospital).

New ‘foobs’: 1

Scars: 7

Injections given to myself: 53 so far.  Approx. 20 more to go (that I know of!)

Rounds of chemo: 1 down, 5 to go!

Number of anti-sickness drugs sent home with: 4

Radiation after chemo: 20 rounds, one every weekday for a month.

Revision surgery: 1 before Christmas.

Post-chemo drugs: 2.  Herceptin injections, once a month for a year and Tamoxifen tablets, 1 a day for 5 to 10 YEARS!

 

A hell of lot,right?

But here’s the best one…

Years left to live my dreams when it’s all over: Countless.