Thursday, 23 September 2021

Coffee morning

I went to a Macmillan coffee morning today by myself and I went there on the bus. I've never been to one of these fundraisers before and wanted to support the charity in my own small way. Waiting for the door to be opened quite a crowd had gathered. I found a table and it was explained that you went to the bar for a coffee and to help yourself to a cake from the table and put a donation in the collection box. Boxes of cakes were available to take home for a minimum donation. When I returned to the table a lady was sat in my seat but I was able to sit opposite her and we got chatting. Sadly she told me her husband had cancer and was too ill to be at the event with her. She was waiting for her friend to arrive and by the time her friend turned up I'd had my cup of coffee, enjoyed a small piece of ginger cake and chosen a box of cakes to take home. I was told all the cakes were homemade by the hosts which was very impressive. I didn't enter the raffle for a doll or enter the tombola to win a prize but said my goodbyes to the lady I'd been chatting to so that her friend could join her at the table.

I suppose I should have chosen a box with just six cakes in but having just enjoyed one at home with a cup of coffee I can tell you they are absolutely delicious and I look forward to enjoying more but not all of the rest....I don't think. I took the photo in the bus shelter while I was waiting for the bus to arrive and  even the bus driver commented he liked the look of my box of cakes.

I can't remember without trawling back through my blog about how much or little I revealed about my own cancer diagnosis in March last year just as the pandemic and  lockdowns began. I had a very helpful telephone conversation with a lovely Macmillan nurse at the start of my treatments which initially my surgeon informed me thought may not go ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic but thankfully they did and I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. Just this week I listened here to a well known TV presenter speaking about her own diagnosis and planned surgery, I think she's very brave for being so open and honest about her diagnosis and expressing her feelings. Although I don't have young children like she has, unlike her I had no history of cancer in my family at all so my diagnosis came as a total shock. I've decided I will tell a little of my story here.

I discovered my lump just by accident as I awoke one morning with my hand on my chest. I felt the lump and immediately I feared the worst. I'd had a letter inviting me for a mammogram  a couple of months prior to that dreadful day but had put it to one side as we had workmen in the house at the time and I forgot all about it. Thankfully I remembered I had this letter and telephoned the number and fortunately the mobile testing vehicle was still in place on a supermarket carpark and I was given an appointment for a few days later. A short wait for the results and I was then given an appointment at the breast test centre where I had a biopsy of the lump and lymph nodes and I could see on the mammogram myself it wasn't looking good and the radiographer sort of confirmed the diagnosis before I got the official results.

I had a 40mm lump and the cancer was also found in my lymph nodes. I was lucky that I only had to have a lumpectomy and a number of lymph nodes removed but unfortunately during my surgery they discovered another much smaller lump as well. I needed to have twelve rounds of chemotherapy although I missed the last one as I was reacting badly to it by then. The chemo was quickly followed by three weeks of daily radiotherapy treatments and I was unwell during that time but the treatments went ahead regardless. Losing my hair was another of the harsh side effects of the treatment and having to have district nurses coming to the house to take blood from and look after the line I had in my arm.  It's been a long journey made all the more difficult as I had to go it alone due to the coronavirus restrictions in the hospital so no visitors allowed.  I think it's only natural at the outset to think you won't survive this thing but I did and I'm here and I'll be eternally grateful for all the wonderful care I received. Ladies, please do check regularly for any lumps and know that there is so much support out there and the Macmillan nurses do an amazing job. I'm feeling much stronger now, I got through it during a pandemic too, how cool is that.

 

14 comments:

  1. It's a horrible thing to go through at any time, but siting through chemo on your own must have been hard, my hubby was with me every time, to help as much as he could. I'm glad you are through your treatment, mine was in 2010, so 11 years for me. As for Macmillian, I can never thank them enough, we give to them every month, not a huge amount, but for as long as we can afford we will give back to them.

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    1. I know you understand how tough it is going through cancer treatment. I found the going it alone hard and I would have loved my hubby to be sat there next to me, I'm glad you had that support. It's good to give something back to Macmillan and I must set up regular donations too.

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  2. I'm glad you had the support of Macmillan, they were really helpful when Michael's dad was diagnosed with cancer in his throat a few years ago. Sadly it wasn't treatable but the few months of his life from diagnosis to when we took him back home to Roscrea were made much easier with the help of Macmillan. When I worked at our local Citizens Advice Bureau I would get involved with their Macmillan coffee mornings and a couple of the advisers would make some really nice cakes. Yours look lovely, and being the daughter of a baker and confectioner by trade who baked every week I can definitely say that home made cakes are the best. Incidentally, is your hair still wavy? :)

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    1. Macmillan give fantastic support at a time when it's most needed and I'm glad they were there for Michael's dad, that must have been a great comfort for you and Michael. All the cakes looked wonderful and the ladies had put in a lot of effort and I'm sure the coffee morning will have raised a lot of money. First one I've ever been to, I didn't stay long but didn't need to and I'll certainly support them in future. Yes I still have my chemo curls and my hair could do with a trim now but I'm resisting the urge to get it cut as I'm too afraid of losing them :-)

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  3. Those cakes look delicious and the coffee mornings are a brilliant fundraiser for such a worthwhile cause. Even though I've been through cancer myself I never had anything to do with the Macmillan nurses, or any sort of support group. My consultant referred Mick to some sort of therapy group when he realised that he was struggling because of my diagnosis but I was left to get on with it with just the support of my family. Consequently, I don't think I've ever really come to terms with some aspects of having a life threatening disease, especially as it was just a year after my sister had died from cancer. I would second what you say about checking yourself for lumps, and any changes in your body, no matter where they are, need to be taken seriously, treatment has come such a long way and the earlier these things are dealt with the better the outcome so don't put these things off.

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    1. You're much like me then Jo just left to get on with it and it's tough. I phoned Macmillan for advice and the nurse was so understanding and helpful. I feel for you having lost your sister to cancer and to know that your husband struggled with your diagnosis and treatment. It's a cruel disease no respecter of age and it affects so many people and their families. Treatments have come a long way and that's exactly what the radiographer doctor said to me before the test results came back and I knew that he was warning me about the diagnosis. I worry for people who may have left things too late as a result of the pandemic.

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  4. There is a Macmillan day at school today. The children have all baked cakes and are wearing something green - I crocheted a little tie to go in Lily's hair. Macmillan are such a worthy cause and provide a great support to many.
    Yes, it is cool - and so are you, Eileen! :)

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    1. I think today is the official date for the Macmillan coffee mornings. How wonderful that children are made aware of cancer and can take part in the fundraising. I'm sure Lily will be enjoying the event and wearing her Mum's crocheted tie in her hair and I'm sure she will have baked a delicious cake specially for the occasion.

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  5. the cakes look fab and a great cause. It must have been difficult facing this alone during the pandemic, I'm glad McMillan was there to help. xx

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    1. They had gone to a lot of effort for the fundraising event and the cakes are yummy. It was tough but I consider myself fortunate to have been so well cared for in these difficult time and all the nurses are so caring, tough times for them too.

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  6. I know how hard the chemo was for my sister even with her husband to support her, so my heart goes out to you for having to experience that alone. It's brilliant news that you have come so far and long may that continue. Did you eat all the cakes?

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    1. It sure is a tough time, I hope your sister is doing well. I found it was a long recovery period following the radiotherapy but I'm feeling more like my old self now. Unfortunately I am rationing myself to the cakes as they are quite sweet and gooey but very tasty. Unfortunately my husband is diabetic so it's a challenge for me working my way through them :)

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  7. I'm sorry to read that you had a cancer diagnosis and needed treatment, especially during the pandemic. I discovered my lump during a routine mammogram screening in 2015. I, too, had a lumpectomy followed by chemo and radiation. My daughter was away at university, but, she would fly down to go with me to each chemo treatment. We don't have Macmillan nurses here, in the US; I wish we did.

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    1. Welcome to my blog Bless. Sorry to learn you have been through exactly the same cancer diagnosis and treatment but you came through it as I did. That was lovely having your daughter by your side throughout the treatment, such a comfort for you. The Macmillan nurses are amazing, I needed their advice and someone to talk to at the start of my treatment and it was such a help to me and they send regular emails which is a reminder they are always there to listen. Even the lymphoedema nurse told me she was a Macmillan nurse and she is such an understanding and caring person. It's a shame they are not available to you in the US, I didn't know that.

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