She Has Wings!

Dear Friends,

Hope all’s good with you and yours … and your holiday plans are pencilled-in.

Over the last few months, I’ve been held responsible, sometimes blamed, for all sorts of things, including turning lives upside down, the acquisition of Mac the Labrador puppy in the Hensby household, two kittens (Lady and Willy) in the Chapman household, Greg’s snowboarding holiday, Rae and Dai’s decision to move to New Zealand for a few years, nasty bottom smells and noises (even when I wasn’t in the same country), late homework, and much more no doubt. I take responsibility for it all. However, I know my skills and circles of influence are wide, but I promise that this ash cloud was nothing to do with me. It wasn’t my revenge at those who can fly. I might climb mountains, but I can’t move them or tectonic plates. I promise. Really.

After over six months of not flying, I now have my wings back. It’s odd, but being told by a Doctor that I can’t do something, made me scared of doing it, on the assumption that they tell you not to do it for a good reason. Now, I’m pleased to report that the flights were uneventful; the in-flight sandwiches were average, neither oxygen masks or safety vests were required, the queues for immigration control was long and baggage carousel slow. My head didn’t implode, or explode. No messy stuff.

My first flights were work-related, as I have started doing some work again, and my job in oncology drug development feels even more purposeful now. I attended a meeting in Portugal with over a hundred colleagues working in oncology drug discovery, research and development, lots of scientists and clever folk, to whom I gave a talk on my new perspective, as a Cancer Patient. It was really well received, and I was very pleased that I managed to stick to my time allocation and deliver it without crying. Work will be a gentle pastime whilst I continue on chemo, given that I need to rest lots and have time for the consumption of medicinal Guinni.

My next epic is my debut triathlon. It’s something that my good friend Niki thought would be a good idea for us to do, about a year ago, well before my cancer diagnosis. Being one who is up for most things that involve pushing yourself physically and mentally and getting sweaty, and quite possibly because I was drunk too, I agreed to it. Before I could have second thoughts, Niki had registered me for a Sprint Triathlon. I was hoping that my training would involve something more athletic than a long walk along the West Highland Way, some bed-rest, and one 400m swim. Still, I will be setting a Personal Best even if it takes me several hours to complete the course at Blenheim on Saturday 4th June. There will be no Sprint in my Tryathlon I can assure you. I have a go-slow competitor companion, and will just take it very gently, to avoid and core-temperature increase i.e. sweating. I think it will be more of a paddle-cruise-stroll than a swim-cycle-run. The positive side is that there is no possibility that I will have any chance of over-training or pick-up any training injuries.

My biggest worry is my wetsuit. I bought it last October in Fort William, the day I had my diagnostic CT scan of my head, which led to the helicopter ride, surgery and so much more. Six months ago, when I had been exercising more regularly, the wetsuit was a snug fit, just right. No one wants a baggy wetsuit. Now though, I think I might need help, and scissors, to get me out of it, not to mention a team of helpers and buckets of lube to get me into it. If anyone even dreams of filming or taking pictures, there will be consequences. Apparently, I have to wear a swimming cap too, which seems a bit of a joke when my hair is less than a centimetre long. Still at least my transition times won’t be lengthened by sorting out my hair. If you’d like to support there is a group of us doing it, a bunch of rugby girls and Rochettes. Some of them have even done triathlons before. Here are the links: Cancer Research UK: Isobel Hospice (Roche’s charity of the year):

I recently starred in, an exaggeration, I appeared on TV, Scottish TV to be precise, talking about Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre on a show called “The Hour” which is on between 5pm and 6pm when most people are busy driving home from work, or making tea, and trying to keep the kids quiet, but the TV is on in the background. I promise I didn’t wear my princess “it’s all about me” T-shirt on purpose. There’s a bit about Maggie’s in part 1 and my little bit is in part 2, at around 10 minutes into it. I won’t be changing career based on how I look on TV. Massive thanks to those involved in and supporters of the VixBigWalk and related events. We have raised about £14K, so far. If you would still like to support, here are the links for the three charities.

The Beatson’s Pebble Appeal

Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres

Macmillan Cancer Support

Big congratulations to friends doing their own fundraising physical challenges: Olivia James for her sub-50 minute time in the Bristol 10K and Ingrid Galbraith for her Half Marathon on 21st May in Matlock. Ingrid ran an amazing debut time of sub-2 hours. She totally hammered my Personal Best, safe in the knowledge that I can’t do one for a good while yet. It was lovely to be there and shout to her, in a supportive way, “looking good, feeling fine” at various places along the course. My friends Lindy and Lisa, across the other side of the big pond, completed Nashvile Country Music Half Marathon, the second in a series of five events they are doing over the summer.

For those intrigued by the score-line of the Chemotherapy Tournament, it is still very much in Vix’s favour, after-all, I make up the rules as I go along, so I will win!  For sure, no meals have been lost or missed (Galbraiths don’t like food wastage), and no infections since the last update, just one small paper cut and my small blister from the Big Walk which took ages to heal, but both are now better. Vix is still hammering Chemo, 73-20.
For your leisure time…some on-line silliness:
Do go and see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain if you ever get the chance. I went earlier this week and they were fantastic, a lovely blend of superb musicians, humour, singing and some whistling. It was a bit like having Barry White, Stephen Fry, Jo Brand, Jenny Eclair, Jamie Oliver and Michael Mosley and a couple of others as masters of the ukulele doing covers of things from Anarchy, Crazy, Teen Spirit, Shaft and so much more. Here’s a taster:
Vix goes into orbit. A gem from my brother about his 9 year old daughter’s fun at school a few days back:
“At school today the kids had a rocket scientist come and talk to them about space, rockets and the moon. They then all built and decorated paper rockets that were fired in to the sky with compressed air using a machine that the scientist had brought.  Everybody gave them names: Star Chaser, Moon Rocket, Galaxy Quest, etc. Elsa called hers “SUNSHINE II” and wrote “Live, Love, Laugh” on it. Luckily the anecdote ends well and it took off properly unlike some of the damp squibs!”
I continue to be humbled and eternally grateful for your continued support and positive vibes and well wishes and silliness.

Live, love, laugh, lunches and rocket launches
Big kisses and bone-crunching hugs
Vix xxxx


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