Friday, November 30, 2007

Little Bear

Two years ago one of my staff contacted me to tell me his wife, Pat, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was my first proper close encounter with cancer and I was stunned and scared. What do I do to make my colleague and his wife’s lives easier with this Damoclean sword hanging over them?

About eighteen months ago, while visiting blogs – probably through Michele – I fell into the world of Minerva. This amazing woman lives in London England with her young family on the cusp of life, while Minerva is looking into the face of death.
Breast cancer was battled, successfully month through month, with a trusty band of bloggers supporting her and encouraging her – sending her bloglove and blogstrength. But again, there was the little voice in the back of my head saying; what can I do to help this new friend?

Four weeks ago I heard my cousin in Toronto had been diagnosed with bladder cancer, had surgery to remove her bladder and the tests showed the cancer has mestasized. What do I do from 5,000 miles away for a cousin I have only met twice in my lifetime?

Two weeks ago I learnt my father has been diagnosed with malignant colorectal cancer, specifically colon cancer, and has had a hemicolectomy. He will be tested again in two months to check if it has regrown. The figures go round in my head; about 32,000 cases are diagnosed in the UK in a year, about 16,000 survive. Is my father’s glass of life half full or is it half empty?

Two years ago, cancer was something someone else got, that other people struggled with, that afflicted families other than mine.

Knowing Pat and Minerva, I decided this year to take part in the Race for Life in June to show my support. Blogpals and colleagues supported and sponsored me and I managed to raise about £400. With bad knees and a bad back I walked the course, managing it in 54 minutes and 26 seconds.

Since June I have heard that Minerva’s news is not positive and Pat has had more surgery. With my father and cousin also faced with the ultimate battle I have committed to taking part in the Race for Life every year.

I won’t be doing the Race alone. Cyberkitten supported me this year and will do again. The Race for Life is a race for women, so that wives, mothers, daughters and sisters can show solidarity against the evil that is Cancer. The men come along and wait while the women do their bit for their families and friends.
In addition to Cyberkitten, I will be accompanied every year by a bear purchased in support of Breast Cancer Campaign who will be with me for each and every race.

For the last two weeks I have been searching for a name for the little bear with no name. Dozens of bloggers and friends suggested names, most touching and meaningful.
Although the little bear with no name is a delicate shade of lilac pink, it definitely has a boy’s face. So, little bear with no name is a boy, and that narrows the choice of names. Boy names ranged from Raphael to Orwell.

I have decided.

The little bear with no name is called Mac – short for Macmillan. First of all, it is to celebrate the work of Macmillan Cancer Support without whom many families would be mired in desperation as life with cancer gets more and more difficult. Coincidentally, I am descended from the Scottish clan MacMillan.

Thank you to Nanny A and the wonderful family she helps who suggested Mac.

Nanny A - I knew that lovely message was from you. Please tell your friends that I am keeping the family in my thoughts. You are due your prize - I will be in touch :-)


Allow Me to Introduce....

To you............
so far.....
a bear without a name.....

I don't even know if it is a boy or a girl.....

Cute, isn't it?
And it exists for a reason, the clue is stitched on the bottom of the adorable foot.
This is a breast cancer bear, 10% of the purchase price went to

So, it's over to all you wonderful people, what is the bear's name? There is a prize for the one chosen.
There are some considerations - no Fluffies, Cuties or Pinkies. No cutesy names, I want my bear to have a meaningful name.

My only request is, when you leave a comment, leave a naming suggestion. Ask your children, ask your friends, ask your readers. I want to have as many choices as possible.

I recently committed myself to do the Race for Life every year, for all the Minervas, cousins, and dads in the world, to raise money to ensure the research into cures for cancer continues. This bear will accompany me every year until we are both little old charity-raisers and it will be the avatar on my fundraising pages.

A huge thank you to Bobkat for the gorgeous portrait shots of the Bear With No Name :-)

So far it's still a toss-up whether it's a girl or a boy.....and I have lots of lovely suggestions, but I need more!!

This will remain at the top of my blog for two weeks. Please read down for new stuff.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Round and Round in my Head

I love this advert, amongst others at the moment, and the song, made famous by British comedy and variety artist Arthur Askey, is now constantly going round and round in my head.....


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Company of Chivalry Banquet

OK, so I missed out on the Banquet and Joust for my birthday, but the Company of Chivalry 14C annual banquet has just been held.

Being a small local company, our banquet is held in a local village hall. But once the trestles are put up, flags posted, candles arranged and trenchers put out [ref: Setting the table means exactly that; great boards placed over wooden stands at each end will be set up in a square fashion. White linen from the holding cupboard will be spread over each table. The High Table will have pewter platters and goblets. For most of the guests, however, it'll be bread trenchers (large thick slices of bread) which will hold their meal. Later on, these trenchers will either be fed to the animals of the manor house, or distributed to the poor], even without the linen cloths it looks rather good.
So we all gathered, hugged, exchanged greetings, changed into kit and started drinking - of course.......and the banquet began - with a few surprises for good ol' cq in store....

Vintner (aka Malcolm) and his helpers produced a six course dinner, from soup to game pie with everything in between.
The peasants and yeomen served the higher ranking members of the household, with Lord Hungerford, Young Lord Hungerford, Lord de Beauchamp and Lord Berkeley (aka Gary, Simon, Nick and Aaron) at the high table, eating from pewter dishes and drinking from glass goblets.

But good ol' cq's camera batteries went flat after one photo (above), so I am relying on Company members to provide some pictorial evidence for you guys!


Friday, November 23, 2007

A Letter

from an unknown person:

I'm sure your dad will make a full recovery. I have two friends in their forties who were diagnosed with cancer last year, and they are both responding to treatment and getting their lives back. It's strange but they both said the same thing to me, independently of one another: "I just wished at times that the family could see me and not the cancer..." I think for family members that's almost impossible, isn't it? The mere mention of the 'c' word and all sense of proportion goes out of the window, doesn't it? My mother survived it twice and lived to a ripe old age, so as difficult as it may seem to be optimistic when faced with treatment regimes and hospitalisation, you must try to stay positive for your dad - and for the sake of your own sanity. You can drive yourself insane with worst case scenarios. It's easy for me to say but don't do it. All you can do is take it all one day at a time and let your dad take the lead with regard to how each day is going to be. It's going to be very hard and there will be days when you are going to feel like the parent. Let those around you support you when they offer it; you don't get a medal for soldiering on alone and your dad wouldn't want you to carry all that weight without help. For what it's worth, even though we've never met, someone who has been through it twice will be thinking of you, especially as we go into the Christmas season, a family time made all the more poignant when a family member is temporarily not all they were. Remember to keep the 'temporarily' in mind. I'm sure he will be the dad he was pre-cancer in no time at all. Chin up...

Thank you, Andrew - your words give me strength.

Have you left a suggestion for the little bear with no name? Little Bear needs a name...all suggestions considered.


Monday, November 19, 2007


It's winter......

It's raining......

It's dark.......

Took a back road to avoid the rush hour....

So - perfect conditions for a flat tyre......!

I jacked up the car no worries, got the flat tyre off in a trice.........but putting the spare on proved a total nightmare. It was so heavy that, with bad elbows and a dodgy knee, I couldn't get it onto the wheelnuts. I struggled in the dark and the rain for half an hour to try and get the wheel on.

By this time I was exhausted and soaked, filthy and weeping loudly out of sheer frustration.

I finally just threw caution to the wind and lifted the wheel and managed to put it on the wheelnuts using my back, which has now 'gone'.

I got home, oily, wet and exhausted, and said 'I want a hug' to MB. When I tried to tell him what a nightmare it had been (and therefore how wonderfully I had coped on my own - d'uh!) his response was 'Why didn't you phone the breakdown people?'
'For a flat tyre????????' I was horrified at the thought of calling out the breakdown people for something as simple as a flat tyre.....

'Anyway,' I added. 'I don't have a mobile phone any more.....'


Friday, November 16, 2007

I Got an Email....


So, Cancer Research UK's Race for Life, is over for another year and Christmas will be upon us before we know it.
Before it arrives though we wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some amazing facts about the 2007 Race for Life series:
- This year Race for Life brought together 665,000 fundraising women to help beat cancer
- At all our Race for Life events we stayed silent to remember loved ones and celebrate survivors for 4.6 hours
- If you put all the Race for Life 5k courses together they would span 1400k - that's even further than Lands End to John O' Groats.

However, the most important fact is that you have returned all your sponsorship money to us and this will go directly to Cancer Research UK's life saving work. Now that is amazing and thank you once again.
Together we will beat cancer.
With best wishes,
Cancer Research UK's Race for Life Team.

For those that were wishing us the best, my dad has been diagnosed with malignant colon cancer, but they think they might have got all of it. He has to go back in two months for a colonoscopy to see if it has regrown or mestasized....

And speaking of Cancer Research, stick around to find out more about this little character, who is appearing as my avatar........


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Everything at once.....

Yesterday I heard that one of my Canadian cousins has just had drastic surgery and is being tested for cancer in the lymph nodes. I'm hoping she gets all the breaks. She and her husband were just in a position to enjoy themselves, with the children grown and going out into the world.

My father is still in hospital. Today he is being moved to Invergordon County Hospital, apparently to recuperate. When I know his ward number, I'll be sending him a big colourful bunch of flowers for his new room. Still no word on his tests, but in our family no news is good news.

MB very kindly killed our burglar alarm today. It went off three times last night (at 12.15am, 3.15am and 4.45am), screaming through the house, scaring the cats half to death and bouncing us out of bed in horror. The first time I went staggering downstairs instinctively to turn the damned thing off and I managed to twist my bad knee - so I am in pain again. It went off twice again in one night so we got very little sleep. So we agreed that MB would kill it today. He phoned me at lunch time and I asked 'Is it dead?' 'Yes,' he replied.

And good news - anyone want to see good ol' cq having a good time?? I asked Aginoth to take photos, and he managed two [chuckle] - too busy having a good time, I guess.......

This is the Girl's Bowling Team, me and mah girly posse! Dig those gucci shoes!
From the left, cq, RCA, K (lying down) and Mrs Aginoth.

No pictures of the boys - they were far too shy.......oh, hang on, I managed to grab the Sleepy One....Lord only knows what RCA was trying to grab........

We're all (except the girls who are back in London) getting together again for SleepyPete's birthday on Thursday and then we're off to get drunk at the Aginoths' to celebrate Mrs A's birthday on Saturday.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

11th day of the 11th month

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.


Friday, November 09, 2007

The Week That Was....

Wow, what a week!

On the plus side, my mother phoned tonight to say my dad is slowly improving and will be moved to the local county hospital in Invergordon on Monday. It's a nice little new hospital, which replaced an old Royal Naval hospital pulled down in 2005, which has geriatric, elderly medicine and psycho-geriatric beds (new word in my personal dictionary - psycho-geriatric!). One good thing about this is it is only about 11 miles from my parents' village, instead of the 80 mile hike to Inverness' Raigmore Hospital. No word on when he is likely to be returned home, so they are obviously not altogether happy with him.
The gastric infection was actually picked up in hospital, so only right they treat him! No definitive word yet on his test results.

I have been struggling with one good leg this week (see here). My knee still ain't right, but it's definitely soft tissue/ligament damage and not a fracture - as I can put my weight on it, I just can't flex it so walking is difficult and stairs are nigh on impossible.
So it's a long healing time, particularly as my knees are weak anyway.
Monday I struggled into work only to give up at lunch time and limp home.
Tuesday I spent all day with my leg elevated and overdosed on anti-inflammatories, resulting in stomach pains that still bother me today!
Wednesday I had a big display at work for Road Safety Week, so I had to go to work - and spent all day on my feet (well, foot!), taking the strain on my good leg.
Thursday I spent all day with my leg elevated.
Today I had to go into work, so I took it easy and spent most of the day sitting at my desk, with colleagues running the occasional errand for me.

I still think Jacques Fruit Cider

and vodka

were an excellent combination and will have to try it again......

Monday, November 05, 2007

Answers on a Postcard

RCA said...
1) West Wing is the best series in the world ever.

2) Steak should be eaten blue - I'm a lapsed vegitarian and their is no zealot like a convert!
3) My dire, awful and non-existent bowling skills are not improved by alcohol.
4) It was YOUR idea CQ to pour Vodka into the cider so I hold you wholly responsible for your pain and mine!


'YOUR idea CQ to pour Vodka into the cider'

But honey, that was an EXCELLENT idea........

Update: My dad has a gastric infection and has been moved out of the main ward to avoid infecting the other men.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


You know, the thing about alcohol is you don't feel the pain until the alcohol wears off......
And ten pin bowling when drinking on Prozac is a recipe for disaster......

So......somewhere about the 5th vodka or half way though the bottle of Jacques fruit cider, I twisted my left knee. I think I did it because I overcompensated when I got a twinge in my right knee. It was uncomfortable last night, but today it's agony.......

mmm alcohol......[waits while stomach settles]

Anyway, a good time was had by all I think.

Me and Cyberkitten and SleepyPete went to see Elizabeth, The Golden Age. hmm - lovely frocks and hair, but a little light really. Too much preparation and the battle with the Spanish was a bit rushed at the end.

Then we went next door to wait for the tenpin bowling booking. The bowling alley has a bar!! So by the time the rest of the Crazies arrived I was on vodka number four - I think........
The boys won the bowling - somehow when Aginoth and RCA were setting up the computer they decided it would be a battle of the sexes - and us girls struggled to get anywhere near 100!
But the opportunity to let my hair down with my best friends was fantastic. I caught up on lots of missed hugs with RCA and K (now they live in London), had a couple of screaming matches with Mrs Aginoth (we love screaming abuse at each other - very therapeutic), worried Aginoth when me and Mrs Aginoth start chuckling and pointing at him, lots of jokes and cuddles with mah boys (SleepyPete, Cyberkitten and Bionicdwarf).

HUUUUUUUUUUGE dinner at the local bar and grill. Mrs Aginoth indulged in Sex on the Beach and RCA managed to masticaste her way through a half-dead cow.
K and I did the girly thing and went to the toilets together. A very nice lady joined us and we quietened down (very slightly!), explaining to her that one of us was drunk and the other was gay. She laughed and said that she was neither but was totally understanding of both conditions.....

Once dinner was over we all loaded into the Aginoth's huge tanky car van thing and went home to Bionicdwarf's little house. Eight adults really, really fill a small lounge! More pressies came out of various cupboards and cars and we put Bulletproof Monk on the DVD player and then all slipped into catatonia........

I got lots of lovely presents, books, DVDs and a beautiful jewelry box. I got a huge surprise all the way from Hollywood - all seven seasons of The West Wing, which RCA and K then spent all evening recommending, including singling out certain episodes for huge praise and even begging my to start watching it instantly......thank you, Naomi. As it has been unanimously praised, I am in for a treat.

The Aginoths finally poured me home at 1230am and I then lay in bed with the room spinning, my stomach churning and my knee screaming.

An EXCELLENT day - thank you to everyone...........

And happy birthday to me today.....!


Friday, November 02, 2007

One Voice

It's Friday and time to relax. Life is not so bad now I am Prozacked up and getting some sleep thanks to sleeping pills.
So many friends are going through hard times at the moment, I wish I could be in a million places at once, to hold them all and comfort them.
For everyone whose hearts are weeping - here is one of my favourite comforting songs.
[Video removed 'cos it never shuts up! :-) Thank you Mr Manilow and One Voice!]

I have learnt that Life is not made up of just one voice - there are always other voices raised in love and support.

Update: My dad is not being discharged today after all, he has a temperature and they are worried about one of his test results. So they are keeping him in hospital. But he's mobile and there is a very nice dayroom, apparently....

For those new to this blog, my birthday is tomorrow. I am off out with my Crazies this afternoon/evening....