Two Years On

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you well, with dry feet and power, unlike friends in the north east America. It seems that Sandy made her way east, as there was wind in Barkway a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t think it had anything to do with my extraordinary levels of broccoli consumption. I trust the Autumn Test series is keeping you entertained; I’ve been delighted, in fact amazed by the Scottish boys, who have remembered that the on a rugby pitch, the goal is to score tries. Tries scored against the World Champions New Zealand, what more can a girl dream of. Well done boys, build on that performance and I might put a fiver on us not getting the wooden spoon in the Six Nations championships in a few months. I am hopeful that this is the start of a new era of Scottish rugby, an era of tries, good handling and opportunities taken. I celebrated a loss for Scotland yesterday, a good loss. I also have been celebrating my two year anniversary. Believe it or not, I have just passed a few two year milestones, two years since surgery, and diagnosis. I am beyond the statistics. Bring it on!!

I hear we’re about to enter a new era: it seems the Mesoamerican long count (Mayan) calendar comes with promises of a transforming event on 21st December 2012. This date is special, Christmas eve, eve, eve, eve, special not just because there are only four more sleeps until FC comes to visit. I don’t think we need another global catastrophe just now, and personally, 2010 was a tough year, so I am hoping I can slide gently into 2013, with a positive focus, and if we have to have a Mayan transformative event, let’s hope it’s a jolly positive one, an era on contentment, peace, health and kindness.

My news is not of winning elections, though well done Barak O’Bama, I am very pleased you are having a second try. My news is positive, in that, on my third October trip to Glasgow, the MRI scan of my head, done in September, had finally been reported and the report awaited me. I was told that the report was a “sitting on the fence” report: there’s some good and some not so good. Overall, given that Phil the neutrophil had been prolific in friend recruitment, thanks Phil, I was able to proceed with cycle three of chemotherapy, a handful of lomustine capsules. I’m getting on with living, and remembering that Phil likes tough love and detention. So far I have tolerated this cycle well, with little nausea, some fatigue, but no infections despite the snotting and sneezing I hear everywhere I go, particularly on public transport. Please be a considerate citizen and carry a hanky with you at all times, just in case. I’ve been trying not to cotton-wool ball myself and excessively wrap myself up as a germ prevention mechanism. I’ve been tempted by a full face burke, medical face masks, and a snorkel and mask, to filter what goes into my body. My only annoyance wellbeing-wise at the moment is my hearing in my right ear. I feel like an old lady, I have to position myself, angle my “good ear” towards to sounds I want to hear, and tune out the white noise in my right ear. It seems sixty grey of radiation to the right side of my brain may have had some long term consequences to my mid frequency hearing… so when you speak to me, if I appear to be ignoring you, please speak to my left ear, or at low or high frequency.

I’m still working and trying to balance the hours I work, with those I don’t. I’ve learnt that being part-time is tougher than it sounds: the discipline of not working, is one I need to develop. It is far easier to work more hours than it is to stop. People are used to having more of me, and it’s difficult to give and do less. I have to manage that better.

I am trying to be disciplined too, with my writing. I have started writing my book, my novel. I was knocked sideways by the amount of energy, effort, focus and control that it took to sit me down, and write the first word, the first line of the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page of the first chapter of my book. I have done it though… the ball is rolling. I only have another 74,500 words to write in the first draft. Please don’t expect it to be in bookshops in time for Christmas. Thanks to those of you who have pushed and nudged and shoved me to “get on with it”. It is fun in and indulgent and gentle way, and I think my spelling is improving.

I’ve been enjoying some cultural treats too, with a trip to toe Royal Albert Hall to watch my friend John sing (along with 1499 other singers in the choir) in the “Festival of Voices and Brass”, a jolly big choir, two brass bands, the massive organ, plus some fiddlers and a piper. What a night, a musical feast as a Cancer Research UK fundraiser…. thanks John, I’ll be there at the next one. I’ve been to Cambridge Corn Exchange too, to see Deacon Blue, who looked and sounded as good as they did when I was in my twenties, and Alan Davies, who is on his “life is Pain” tour…. I could have told him a few things about positive mental attitude, but instead I chose to listen to him.

I woosied out of the “run to the beat” half marathon a few weeks back, leaving my neighbour to pound the streets of London at her pace, rather than at my painfully slow plodding pace. I pulled out after much consideration, but being mindful that I didn’t want to distract Phil from his friend making by knackering myself out. I did feel wretched about pulling out though, I felt guilty and lazy, though I knew I was doing the right thing in not doing it, and I reminded myself, that lots of my friends have never done a single half marathon, let alone one on chemo, so really there’s no need for guilt on my part.

The Barkway Belles, the group of handbell ringers of which I am part, have taken a firm grip again, and kicked off with a sight-reading performance of carols and a local village hall annexe ceremonial opening. We amazed ourselves, sight-read carols sounded better than practiced ones. We are open to invites for gigs. With that, I shall leave you and yours to the festive preparations and I shall go and continue my celebrations for being here today, more than two years on. Enjoy your day.

Living, Loving and Laughing

With big wet kisses and bone crunching hugs


For your on-line viewing pleasure, do take a few minutes to watch this, written and performed by one of the tutors from my Arvon writing course. Not only is he a clever bugger writing, he can do songs and play the guitar and sing. Makes you sick eh? Fat Old Bastards with Guitars (Terence Blacker)!

Do read Dawn French’s biography “Dear Fatty”. A gentle way of getting to know an amazing lady.


7 thoughts on “Two Years On

  1. Hey Vicky, So pleased to hear your positive news and all about the stuff you have been doing. You continue to be amazing. Much love Alison H xx

  2. Ach, you and Phil (and friends) are awesome. Glad to bone-crunchingly hug by your inspiration and smile about you as I do it. Kath xx

  3. Your an amazing lady! friend! neighbour!
    x diet partner! oh! and x allotment director! love you lots! your Barkway buddie! Julie xx

  4. Loving it – loving you……

    Kind regards

    Jacqui Spencer
    Global Head PDG Innovation Communication and Engagement (ICE)
    PD Site Head – Welwyn Leadership Team Member

    Roche Products Ltd
    6 Falcon Way
    Shire Park, Welwyn Garden City
    AL7 1TW, United Kingdom

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