Vicky’s update 8th April 2011: Chemo Tournament – Play Resumed

Dear Friends,

I’m very pleased to be able to report that the medicinal qualities of Guinness combined with Phil’s social skills resulted in enough neutrophil friends for him, and play has resumed in the Chemotherapy Tournament. In fact Phil’s social networking and recruitment potential will be something that needs continued work, he’s shown good potential and will need to up his productivity tout de suite, particularly as the chemo dose has been cranked up. Keep it up Phil! *

The Chemotherapy Tournament rulebook has been checked and I can confirm that the dose delay counts as “extra time”. So, of the 43 days of play in the Tournament so far, including the extra time between cycles 1 and 2, the score is Vix-27 and Chemo-16. The cold is gone, and despite much public transport, has not been superseeded. Following my trip south, I decided to come north to Skye for some concomitant Dog Therapy with Chemotherapy for cycle 2. I reckon that along with Guinness, Dog Therapy and Chemotherapy consistutes a wholistic approach to cancer treatment.

I had a fun time up in the very north and down south during my “extra-time” break. It was fantastic to have Lindy over from Washington DC and go up to Fifi’s Denial Hen-do in Rua Reidh Lighthouse, north of Gairloch in Scotlands very north west. An unusual location for a Hen-do, as it quite literally is, the end of the earth. So, as good friends sometimes say “I’d go to the end of the world for you”, Fifi put all 15 of us to the test by choosing that location for her bash. It was stunning, we had uncharacteristically good weather and the company was fantastic.

After my trip to the very north, I travelled south, to Hotel Hensby and to’ed and fro’ed from there for the week, enjoying being part of their family again. I went and joined the Mass Lobby at the House of Commons, Westminster on Tuesday 29th March, marking the end of Brain Tumour Awareness Month. I waited patiently for my appointment to see my MP, whom alas, was “too busy” despite my appointment. He can look forward to a letter from me, and a visit to his constituency office to request his support of the Manifesto. If you are interested and would like to badger/ask your MP to ensure that the 2006 NICE Better Outcomes document (including improved diagnosis and research investment) is implemented and not lost in the current NHS reforms, do let me know if you want my help.

I started my “training” for the Triathlon/Tryathlon and benefitted from Amanda’s “responsible adult” and qualified nurse status, and went swimming, for the first time since my diagnosis. There was no way I stood a chance of raising my core body temperature, as our swimming pace was one which permitted continual conversation and the pool wasn’t exactly Mediteranean in temperature. The good news was, we both got our imaginary 400m swimming badge, and neither the Life Guard nor Amanda’s resusitation skills were not called upon. So, that’s the start of training for Blenheim Tri…. fingers crossed they will let me with my Special Needs take part.

I had a fun day in Welwyn at work, catching-up with friends and colleagues, and generally causing a distraction. I am excited that I will be begining a slow, gentle phased return to work from May, after the Big Walk is completed. I crave the normality, sense of purpose and routine, and hope that my new-found patient perspective will be useful to Big Pharma. So, I know I will need to take it gently, and listen to my body, especially as the chemo dose is upped and upped, but I think that it’s the way forward for me, and the Consultant is in agreement. When I was feeling a bit wobbly the other day, after listening to a fantastic compilation album a friend had made me, I thought I should “buck-up”, but got told that being wobbly at times makes me normal. So I know I need to listen to what’s going on inside my head and how I am feeling as well as physical side effects and symptoms.

After my trip south, I had blood tests on Monday, clinic on Tuesday, and started chemo on Wednesday. Smarties for breakfast: I had a total of 8 pills in my pillathlon. The pilathlon event doesn’t have quite the same intensity or physicality of a marathon, triathlon or heptahlon. Nonetheless, it requires the ability to tell the time, be patient, and count pills of different colours, and to swallow. Something for London 2012 perhaps? I will get on the the Olympic Committee right away.

After the pilathlon I enjoyed 7 hours on the bus to Skye, up throught the highlands in spring, albeit a wet spring. It seems that the weather in the UK was divided into two zones: summer everywhere except north-west Scotland, where I was, where we had horizontal sheets of rain. When I got off the bus, I felt like I walked into a car wash. It’s probably not exactly news worthy, but there is no water shortage in north west Scotland. I guess you don’t get lochs and stunning waterfalls without rain, and when it rains, I’ve learnt to look for rainbows.

I’ve come across some lovely people lately, who have seen my feature in the Daily Record, or just used my mangy dog hair-do as an conversation opener. A kind Glasweigan taxi driver and a lady who I sat next to on the train when I was heading south, kindly gave me donations for the BigWalk charities. I now commonly talk to strangers and may well be “that nutter” that people wish they hadn’t sat next to on public transport. My faith in humanity continues to be boosted and give me strength… if you smile and chat to strangers, and the world feels a much nicer place.

My Lent writing resolve hasn’t been quite as easy as I had thought it would be. It’s not like turning the “writing tap” on and off each day. There are some more musings posted and some more in progress. I hope those of you who had your own Lent resolves are being good (or enjoying being bad)…not long to go, eh?

I am utterly delighted about the charity fundraising events are being organised across the globe: massive thanks for the creative thoughts and in support of the Beatson Pebble Appeal, Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres and MacMillan Cancer Support.

In Washington DC, a the end of March, NOVA Women’s rugby club had a fun charity weekend of beer, pizza, pasta and rugby, so the perfect balance of carbohydrates and exertion and entertainment. I hear from them that “Beer Cures Cancer”.

In Bernisdale, Skye, on Saturday 9th April Mum and Dad are hosting an Open House Charity Day, which follows a mass cake-bake-athon, and serves as a good carb-loading opportunity for the Big Walk.

In Barkway, Hertfordshire, in April, my neighbours Julie and Vince are hosting a Charity Supper Night, where friends and family will be able to enjoy Julie’s fine cuisine in support of the chosen charities.

In Perth, Western Australia, on Saturday 16th April my Auntie Christine and family are having a Garden Party, which I am tempted to pop over for, but given that I haven’t flown yet, even though I have my wings again and am no longer an emu, it’s probably best that I do a shorter flight first before going for a longhaul.

In Portree, Skye, on Saturday 16th April, the BigWalk departs from Portree Square with the Skye Pipe Band seeing off the walkers…. and runners. I hear that there are some very fit participants intending to run the first leg, and sweat for me by proxy. Respect!

In The Braes, Skye, on Saturday 16th April, Rob and Hayley will be having and Open Garden Charity Day, which is on the walkers’ route.

In Fort William, on Easter Day 24th April, I join Dad and fellow walkers to do the West Highland Way.

In Bedfordshire, on Easter Day 24th April, Amanda and fellow walkers will be “Lowland” walking.

In Fintry, Scotland, on Sunday 1st May, End-of-Big-Walk Eve, we have a bit of a social do planned at Fintry Inn, and we will be finishing the walk on Monday 2nd May, going from Milngavie via the Beatson to Maggie’s Centre in Glasgow.

In Bristol, on 15th May, Olivia James is doing the Bristol 10K, in which I do believe there are quite a few hills!

In Derbyshire, on 21st May, Ingrid, my sister-in-law, is understaking her first Half Marathon along the High Peak Trail.

In the US, Lindy and Lisa are planning a string of summer events, which I look forward to hearing about and hopefully participating in the Dingle Half Marathon with them in September in Ireland.

In the Scottish Highlands, on 2nd October, Greg Trevelyan will be participating (with his Granny on his back) in the Loch Ness Marathon.

I’m utterly humbled and eternally grateful for your support, and to your families and friends who are supporting as you plan, prepare and undertake these events. Extra big kisses from me to you. Please do send me some photos….

To support the BIG Walk, please go to and type “Vicky Galbraith” where it asks for the name of your friend, and feel free to spread the request for support message as far and wide as you like.

For your leisure time, some silliness: My Blackberry is not working, One Ronnie. Listen to Noah and the Whale and their fab song L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N

Live, love, laugh, take lunch, long-lie-ins,
Big kisses and bone-crunching hugs
Vix xxxx

P.S. Please keep your news and updates flowing :o)

* For those who are not of a scientific bent and are interested in a little bit of cell biology, I feel I should correct the myth that neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, make friends and have a social life within us. Unfortunately, there is no courtship, seduction and social networking going on in our circulation system. We just have to reply on our bone marrow to produce some more neutrophils which takes a bit of time for them to mature.


One thought on “Vicky’s update 8th April 2011: Chemo Tournament – Play Resumed

  1. Vicky, Thank you so much for your lovely, upbeat and amusing updates. Whenever I see mum I ask for another update. Am going to mum and dad’s ‘at home’ day this afternoon and am expecting to meet up with lots of the ‘ladies’ from the surgery for a good, old blether – we don’t get much time for a catchup at work. Best of luck with all the things going on – am glad you are going back to work, it sounds a really good idea (mainly because I don’t like to think of anyone not working when I have to!!)
    Loads of love and hugs, Jaquie xx

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