51 weeks and counting…

Ally and I went away a couple of weeks ago, it was our first solo trip away this year and while it was wonderful, it got me thinking about the last 51 weeks.

As we head towards my cancer-versary, or one year since I was diagnosed I hadn’t noticed it but with a little hindsight and a step back (plane journeys are great for thinking lots and sorting out any jumbles in ones mind) I have realised that I had (until this week) been posting less on my ‘last meal’ social media. I’ve still been doing bits and pieces behind the scenes for cancer charities and talking to people who contact me through my ‘last meal’ pages, but I’ve certainly been doing fewer blog updates.

Once I’d realised this I forced myself to consider why this was the case. I’m not sure I really got the answer, I was slightly distracted by Ally’s snoring (we had barely taken off and he was sound asleep) but I do think I’ve got cancer fatigue. As much as I’ve tried not to make it my life this past 51 weeks there’s no denying that it has been consuming and there is still barely a moment where I’m not thinking or worrying about something cancer related.

My family and I have done our damnedest to try to ensure that the last year has been more than just about cancer, and I think that we’ve done a good job, I find it staggering that I can say that throughout most of the year my over-riding feeling has been happiness. I’m extremely lucky in that my family really have been wonderfully supportive, and forgiving of my up and down moods; I’ve made some new friends for life, I’ve renewed friendships with people I’d lost touch with; but as I’ve mentioned before I’ve been let down enormously by some people that I thought were good friends. I continue to be surprised by the generosity and kindness of people, but also saddened by the reactions of others. If I’ve heard once ‘oh, I haven’t been in contact because I didn’t know what to say’ then, as the saying goes, I’ve heard it a billion trillion times. Contrary to my rather self indulgent social media and blogs, I am more than just breast cancer. I am very happy to talk about anything other than breast cancer, BC bores me more than it does you – I can be certain of that. And if you’re worried then I do have regular milk, so if you come over for a cuppa I won’t make you drink whatever fake milk is in my fridge. I know this sounds a bit like a rant, it isn’t, its just that I want to get my old life back as much as possible, I’m never going to look the same, and one can’t go through cancer and its treatment without changing a little, but I’m hopeful that I can understand that and challenge myself to ensure that I become a better, more empathetic person.

And so back to Edinburgh and getting my old life back, I’ve realised that I won’t ever get my old life back and I’m coming to terms with that, but I want to find a new normal that I’m comfortable with and I think I’m getting there. For the first time in a year I felt like a very normal 37 year old mummy on a weekend away without her toddler. As much as we missed dear Filly, we promised ourselves that we would make the most of it, so no cancer diets and we very happily fell off the wagon! Well if you can’t have a Scotch or 2 in Scotland where can you?

We went out for lots of delicious food, we toured the Christmas markets with mulled wine, we danced, we ate more delicious food, we went on a cheesy open top bus ride in the rain with a hot chocolate (which was an absolute hoot) and most importantly of all we went to Murrayfield to watch Scotland beat Argentina, the tickets for which were Ally’s Father’s Day gift from Filly. It wasn’t the most entertaining game of rugby (sorry Ally) but we did have such a fun time and singing Flower of Scotland with the pipers was quite an emotional moment. We fell even more in love with the bagpipes, so much so that we bought a set – so once one of us has learnt how to play I will be sure to post a video for you!

It really was a brilliant weekend, I even managed to find it funny when after eating almost a kilo of Pick and Mix sweets Ally had a sugar crash and could barely speak for half an hour – I don’t know how he does it, I still haven’t got my sweet tooth back, give me a slice of cheese over a sweetie nowadays. We ate a lot of wonderful fresh Scottish seafood and I had the most incredible crispy oysters with garlic aioli, seconds were definitely called for. We did a little whiskey tasting too, although after hardly drinking for a year I was a little tipsy after just one dram.

We headed home feeling very refreshed and happier as a couple than we had in a long time. Unfortunately the bubble was almost burst when at the airport I had to go through a body scanner and my mastectomy showed up on the scan report as a red area and alarm bells buzzed alerting the scary that something was ‘unusual’. Thankfully the staff at the airport were very sympathetic and discreet and after a quick chat and another scan I was sent on my way – so thank you to the very well trained and understanding staff at Edinburgh airport.

This weekend will be a year since I was diagnosed, I’m feeling quite anxious about how I will feel, which I know sounds ridiculous but I’ve had a good amount of ridiculous thoughts and feelings this year. What I do know is that I will try my hardest to ensure that this weekend will be remembered for being happier more than it will for being sad. There will, of course be some reflection and I’m sure I’ll utter ‘it’s so unfair’ more than once but I’ve got an amazing family, brilliant, supportive friends and I’ve been cared for by a fantastic team at Cheltenham hospital and so I’m lucky and I will be counting my blessings.


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