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Friday, 30 December 2011

New.

Hogmanay 2011
So it's 3.15am on the 31st December 2011 and I'm still awake (god knows why) and reflecting on the past year. This time last year, i was completely oblivious as to what was coming. Had someone told me I would have fought and beat cancer in the next calendar year, i would have laughed in their face. It just seemed so unrealistic. Cancer was something you rarely heard of, knew nothing about and had annoying television adverts that make you feel bad..for 5 seconds before switching channels. Now, a year down the line i feel i'm a completely different person. Not only do i appreciate life and everything in it so much more, but i feel so much less selfish and a whole lot more selfless. Thinking about it, I've been ruddy good this year, if i say so myself. I've dived in head first and got on with it as best i possibly can and it's all paid off. Cannot even begin to imagine where I'd be had it not been for my family and nurses. (probably up there with the big guy if i'm perfectly honest)

So with a new year, comes a new start and new resolutions.
(although none of my Christmas predictions were right..awkward.)
1) get good highers
2) do a lot of charity work (LYNNE, COME AT ME BRO)
3) do one good deed every day
4) stay close to those who mean the most
5) figure out what i want in life

Usually, my resolutions are that of 'don't bite my nails.' or 'eat more green vegetables' but no, this year they're back with a vengeance; bigger and better than ever and i WILL, i repeat, will achieve them if it's the last thing i do.

Quoting my fave people of all time 'we've come so far, and we've reached so high and we've looked each day and night in the eye and we're still so young and we hoped for more' sorry, seemed very appropriate for this situation.

So imma forget about how crappy 2011 has been, and welcome in the new year with open arms and much optimism. 2012 LETS SEE WHAT YOU GOT. Happy New Year folks x

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas Celebrations


I'd like to start off my blog with the best bit of news that I've been given for a very long time; I'M IN REMISSION. Yes, ladies and gents, Laura is finally and officially in remission with no more active disease. This means, that I'm now free for five years, to see if my disease relapses, and if it doesn't, I'm 'cured'

re·mis·sion/riˈmiSHən/

Noun:
  1. The cancellation of a debt, charge, or penalty.
  2. A diminution of the seriousness or intensity of disease or pain; a temporary recovery.


I was given this news (in a surprisingly casual conversation) on December 21st. Coincidentally, that night was the big night out for one of my girls' birthdays, so this was more cause for more celebrations. I physically cannot express in actions or words how relieved I am/was. Quite literally the best Christmas present i could ever have gotten. As they say 'the best presents are those with no cost' ..or something like that. And the words of my beautiful auntie "today is the first day of the rest of your life." And that's exactly how i see it; the opportunity to start over and get my life back into full swing. No better time to start than Christmas; the most wonderful time of the year.

So following that; I hope you all had the most amazing christmas surrounded by the amazing company that is your family. My mum and I paid a visit to Sick Kids Ward 2 on Christmas Eve to play the role of Santa. Unfortunately the ward is almost full and remained that way over Christmas Day. However, the 'real' Santa (obv not the real one because I saw him last weekend and he would've told me) paid them a visit and they all got lots of presents anyway.


It's been almost a week since we broke up from school, and I haven't even thought about prelim revision, so this is definitely a job for tomorrow. Been far too busy with Christmas Festivities. Why are prelims in January? give them to us in November so we can enjoy our Christmas holidays; only the most important holiday of them all in biblical terms. So I guess from now on it's solid work until May. spare me, please. Would quite like to fast forward to SUMMER please.

Anyway, happy holidays guys.

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Most Beautiful Time of Year

GUESS WHERE I WAS YESTERDAY.
okay, so most of you know, but i was in LAPLAND. yes, as in Lapland, Santa's home. Every year, the Edinburgh charity FACE (Fighting Against Cancer in Edinburgh) take a group of children who've been battling cancer to Lapland for the day to take their minds off the sh!t they've gone through and to treat them. It was beyond exciting, especially as it was the first time I've been out of Scotland for 10 months; which is the longest I've ever ever not been on holiday. (my family are holiday fanatics) so I'll give you a bit of an insight, because i know you're all dying to know.

So at 5am on Sunday, i was rudely awoken by my father telling me we had to leave in 20 minutes. ..not helped by the fact I got to bed 3 hours earlier. SKITE-MARE. We went to Edinburgh airport to find our flight was delayed. At around 8.30 we eventually got on our plane headed to Kittila, in Finland. The plane was around three hours which was passed very slowly as the children were singing christmas songs through the inter-call. definitely not needed at such a disgusting hour.

When we arrived in Kittila, we were given thermal snowsuits and snow boots into which we changed and we were ready to go. We split into groups and got a 'motorised sledge ride' into the Lapland resort. (when i say motorised sledge, i very much mean a wooden box driven by a foreign woman on a snowmobile) however, it was extremely fun..for the first twenty minutes. By then i was sure i had at least one frost bite and couldn't feel my face in the -35 climate. Finally, after about forty five minutes of being numb, we arrived in Lapland where we were greeted by my new soon-to-be best friends; Santa's elves who handed over hot chocolate and took us into a cosy log-cabin with a fire.


After much debate about whether we should venture back out into the arctic, we left the log cabin and headed straight for the Huskies. There are no words to describe this. Riding in a husky-pulled-reindeer skin-sledge. wow. It was literally unreal. 10 small huskies pulling two of us around a course. Definitely something everyone should put on their bucket list.



















We then struggled through the deep snow to the Reindeer rides. again, too amazing for words. Being pulled in, again, a reindeer fur sledge by reindeer. like..real reindeer! The little girl, Eve, i was with was telling me how the reindeer we had was Blitzen because (s)he is the fastest. But Rudolf was in the North Pole sleeping so she couldn't see him. she was close to tears whilst facing the fact she wasn't going to see Rudolf. bless her cotton socks.


As we were cold, we needed a huge adrenaline rush. so off to the snowmobiles we went. unreal fun. Whizzing around at 80mph on a bumpy snow track around a frozen lake. Snow flying in your eyes, not being able to see anything, getting frost bite, again. wow. adrenaline rush: check.


We were then a bit chilly (aka frozen numb) so decided to get into a mass snowball fight. Clever, huh? So we had a snowball fight and went sledging and then we literally couldn't move so waddled inside the 'resaurant' for some 'food' (note: inverted commas meaning it wasn't very edible) and had a wander around the far too over-priced shop.

After chilling for a bit we joined the queue for SANTA. whilst waiting, we had banter with the elves who taught us a dance and believes i was famous in the UK for singing and dancing..lol. So we got to the front of the queue for Santa and got to go into his grotto. i kid you not, after that encounter, Santa is real. all you haters can believe what you like, but the man exists. He had a long white beard with long white hair, an oversized beer belly, and he knew everything about me. Officially a child again.
















So that's a short summary of my Lapland experience. Please, if you've never been before, GO. you will regret it if you don't. such an unreal day, very surreal; it feels like it was a dream. SUCH huge thanks to John Maccauly and his team at FACE. AYYO.

So apart from Lapland, it's a very exciting time of year, i had my end-of-treatment diagnostic scans last Tuesday, had my sixteenth (woo so old ///) on Thursday, moved house on Friday, birthday dinner and Errington skite on Saturday, Lapland yesterday, Georgia's birthday skite on Wednesday and pupil entertainment and PANTO on Thursday before we break up for CHREEEESTMUUUUSSS. So, in the case of me not blogging until Sunday, i hope you all have an amazing Christmas. However, if you don't believe in Santa, it's simple, you won't.

Ho Ho Ho!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Christmas is Coming


So, being the last post i'll do before December (which is on Thursday. advent calendars HOLLA), I'd like to take the chance to make some Christmas predictions
1) there will be snow. lots of snow.
2) Misha B will win XFactor.
3) ..or Amelia Lily (hopefully)
4) .. possibly Marcus.
5) one of the above will be Christmas number one.
6) I will leave my Christmas shopping until very last minute.
7) There will be at least 3 snow days.
8) Despite being forbidden, we will sledge down the MES hill.
9) I will accumulate a cold/flu/chest infection.
10) Christmas will be AMAZING.


Although, despite making my Christmas playlist, I've had Rihanna and One Direction on repeat all week. WHAT IS THIS?! Muust get my Christmas spirit up to scratch. Feeling v unchristmassy.

BTWz. thought you'd all like to know that we raised £4000 for Teenage Cancer Trust last weekend at our MES FPs Christmas Fair. EYYYY. #winning

Would also like to take this opportunity to point out my huge respect for Alice Pyne. Alice is a 15 year old girl, (who has the same birthday as me AYYO) with the same cancer as myself, although hers is terminal. She has a Bucket List Blog which is a crazy good read. She's currently trying to re-trend worldwide on twitter with #alicebucketlist so y'all should tweet it, by doing this, you'll be joining the likes of Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Katy Perry and the rest by helping her. well jeal.

Weell, happy December everyone.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Wall


I think I've done it, I've just hit the radiotherapy wall and I'm really not enjoying it in the slightest. I was told that, roughly 6-8 weeks after finishing radiotherapy, my body would hit a wall and try to shut down, leaving me constantly shattered. To the extent that I will be almost in tears whilst dragging myself out of bed at 7.30 for school. I will then be drifting off for the duration of the day, and when I finally go to bed, sleep is the last thing my body seems capable of. LOLWUUUT?! Quite literally thee most frustrating thing. I have never quite experienced such tiredness before, I feel as if I could hibernate until summer and still be shattered. Never have radiotherapy.

Although, when I do get my few hours of nightly sleep, I seem to have adopted a new recurring dream, which I'm not so fond of. I dream that my hair is down to my shoulders, yet I'm still extremely self-conscious and still want to wear my wig (even though my hair is shorter than most boys and i don't wear my wig) It's literally two or three years worth of hair growth in a night, much to my delight. I keep waking up from the dream playing with imaginary hair around my shoulders. To my extreme disappointment, when I look in the mirror, my hair is exactly the same as it was when I went to sleep. Putting me in a deep state of disappointment for the entirety of the day.

My weekly Sunday Photobooth photos prove that my hair has, quite literally, stayed the same for the past month. Maybe it's given up on growing. Maybe I'll be a lesbian-man for the rest of my days. The same has occurred with my lashes and brows. In all my vanity, my lashes used to be beautifully long, and are now no more than what you could call stumps. And I now refuse to leave the house without filled in brows; something I would never have even imagined doing 10 months ago. It's a sad happening really.

My skin, as well. Not that it's not growing, obviously, but that it's changed. Before disgnosis I have very average skin. Some days it could be beautifully clear and glowing, and others it could be disgustingly dry, with a colony of spots. Upon my first chemo, I got a horrendous rash all over my neck, chest and forehead, that looked much like acne, except they weren't proper spots, they were more just red itchy bumps. Then further on in my chemo, my skin was flawless, got no spots at all. Upon changing my chemo scheme, the rash came back to visit and during that scheme it was back to flawless. Now, well..it's back to average and I don't like it. I WANT FLAWLESS GLOWING SKIN. If anyone; Caggie, Millie, Audrina, Lauren C would like to swap, just get in touch yeah..?

Monday, 7 November 2011

New Found Love

Yesterday, 6th November 2011 was the It's Good 2 Give annual fashion show. Having been sitting in the audience last year thinking 'what a shame on these guys, having to go through such shit' ..it was my time to shine. Never would I have thought I'd have a reason to participate except from being a friend of Lynne's. But there I was, after months of organising, planning, sharing ideas (not so much on my behalf. most uncreative little squirrel over here) and looking forward to it, I soon enough found myself side by side with Shannon, being introduced by Grant Stott.



How did I get myself into hosting? Well..Lynne tried to bully me into modelling, and knowing I had aaall my steroid weight to come, i barely left the house never mind wanted to strut my 'stuff' on a catwalk infront of 500 people. But I knew I wasn't getting out of it so, for some reason, must have been spur of the moment, I agreed to co-host with Shannon MacKenzie and Grant Stott. The thing that was worrying me, however, was the fact i wasn't at all nervous. Despite the only public speaking I've ever done in my life is the odd 'About Me' presentation to my class in primary school. [cue sexy photo of me pouting] Anyway, I thought 'och, I'll be fine, we'll have a script, i'll learn it.' WEEEELL, this wasn't quite the case. No more than an hour before we were due on stage, we were handed cue cards and barely had a chance to read over them. But of course, Mr Panto Baddie/radio presenter Grant Stott kept us right. Hosting really is my new found love and I desperately want to do something like that again.



I can honestly say I haven't experienced such thrills in a long, long, long time. It was the most fun I've had in I'd say years. It was an incredible show, the models, each with a reason to model (patients, siblings, parents, nurses etc) were incredible. Ranging from baby Skye ages three to Lady Province in her seventies. It was a night I will never forget and I very much look forward to next year. Only someone as special as Lynne could have pulled it off. Honestly, if you haven't met Lynne, go to her house with flowers and chocolates. Amazing.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

'The Aftermath' ..apparantly.

So Alexa was asking my why i don't blog much anymore and the honest reason is that I simply have nothing to blog about right now. Life is currently as normal as it has been for a looong time. I'm doing full time at school, actually working (yes, don't fall off your seats), i've not been in hospital for over three weeks. Just keeping myself busy really.





I wouldn't exactly call this stage in time 'the aftermath' because who knows whats to come. I get my diagnostic scans in December, and if I get the all-clear I will officially be in a 5 year state of remission. Once that is over, then I will be in the aftermath. The aftermath of what has been the ultimate worst time in my life, which I would never wish upon even my worst enemy. No one deserves to go through what I've been through and what a lot of other people I've gotten to know are going through, it is quite literally the worst thing. When you're not affected by it in some way, it's generally oblivious to you. But when you experience it and how some people's lives are everyday, you simply need to do something about it. Before this year, I had never thought about it. I didn't even know what Cancer was. To me it was just a scary word that ultimately ended in death but I was soon to realise there's so much more to it than that.






This is why I've decided to become a lot more involved. I've joined our school's charities committee, which, ironically, this year are focussing on Teenage Cancer Trust and CCLASP (who recently got a large donation from the Secret Millionaire) I've also decided to try and get some girls together to do the Half Moon Walk in summer and I am doing the Race for Life (which I have always wanted to do but have always simply been too lazy). I have also been getting involved with my current fave charity It's Good 2 Give and am co-hosting their annual fashion show this Sunday. It's not that it took me suffering to get over the ignorance of ignoring charities like this, it's just that I was blissfully unaware of it and didn't really think about it nor did I want to. 






So yeah, if you're ever looking for a charity to donate your bake sale money to or to fundraise for regardless. I'd highly recommend the charities I've mentioned here as well as Love Oliver. A charity set up after a 24 week old boy passed away last Christmas Day from a chronic cancer condition. After being subject to these charities and experiencing what they do and how much of a difference they make, i have realised in the increasing extent of the needs for these charities.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Chin Up Buttercup

After seven months of intense chemo, two weeks of hell-defining radio and two weeks in isolation for shingles, I finally feel as if life is getting back to..well..normal. I did the longest week at school since March, only missing out one and a quarter periods (solely because i got in at half one that morning and didn't get to bed until the back of two) And now it's October half term with no planned visits to hospital. To think this time last year, I was chilling, having thee most amazing time in Greece, not feeling that unwell, having as perfect a life as I could possibly have when I'm fourteen. And now, just one year later I've gone through an entire treatment for cancer, all my steroid weight slowly disappearing and hair slowly regrowing, it's crazy. You'd never have thought that that was what the future year had entailed for you. It just comes to show it's the most unexpected things that define your life.



I now have a five year period of remission until I'm given the official all clear. Basically meaning, if my disease stays away and doesn't relapse for five years, I'm 'cured' as you'd put it. Also in five years, my hair will (hopefully) be back to it's nice length that it once was, a while ago. The radiotherapy caused parts of my hair to fall out again, so I have a HUGE bald patch at the back of my head that may never come back, but I think I've given up on my wigs. They're such a nuisance. Why people like Gaga wear them for fun, I will never know. They're so uncomfortable, hot, annoying, mobile etc. So beware member of Edinburgh's public, the bald patch is now on the loose. Lock up your children. No, I'm kidding, but it's not exactly..aesthetically pleasing.

Although I say all my treatment is finished, technically this isn't true. I've just started Reiki and Reflexology sessions. Now please don't ask me what this is, because I honestly do not know. Mainly because it's all very spiritual and confusing but also because for both sessions so far, I've fallen asleep for the entire session. For all I know, she could be sitting in her office having a cup of tea whilst we pay for her to go all reiki on me. But yes, if you want to know what it is, google it, I'm useless. All I know is I didn't eat for two weeks, got Reiki and reflexology where she 'worked on my digestive system' and BAM my appetite is back. ..weird.



And of course the highlight of my week, of course, was seeing the most beautiful woman who ever lived, Rihanna. I cannot even describe this, so all I will say is..OH. MY. GOD.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Radio GaGa


"Corner of mouth to tip of earlobe, 91, 35, 42" is the current tune stuck in my head like a broken record. This is the result of eleven daily sessions of radiotherapy. What this means, I have no idea. I'm lying on a 'bed' (bed? puh-lease. beds are comfy in my experience) naked with four radiographers hovering over me lining me up with red and green lasers. Anyway, I'm beyond pleased to say that Thursday was my official end of treatment and boyy you have no idea how good it feels to say that after over a year of feeling like sh*t.  


So apart from radio, I've had an interesting few weeks, hence why you've been left blogless. I got cysts inside my bones as a result of steroid withdrawal, i then got bad cramps in my left ribs which turns out to be shingles (juust what I need eh) so I spent 5 days in isolation, and not even in my own ward (no TCT = no big TV, no colour LED lights, no internet, no DVD player, no nice snacks etc etc) so as you can imagine, I wasn't happy. 5 days meant 4 cannulas, 15 bags of anti-virals and 20 bags of fluids. On top of all that, my gullet is burnt to a shrivel due to the radio so I'm unable to eat, drink or swallow comfortably pluss I've been very sick. So it's not a great time for baby lgibs. Buuuuut its almost the end, when my radio symptoms disappear I will be an (almost) normal being. I think anyone who'se got or has had cancer can agree with me when I say that once you've been diagnosed, 'normal' is a very unusual word that isn't used often. 

My parents and Lynne McNicoll have been my saviours this week by providing me with ice lollies, ice creams and amusement. There was an It's Good 2 Give fashion show meeting on Tuesday which I managed to convince my doctors to let me out for. So yes, 
It's Good 2 Give 
Fashion Show
Tom Fleming Centre 
(PAC) at SMC
November 6th 
from 4-6
£5 a ticket for an 
amazing cause. 
(just ask for a ticket 
and I'll get you one)


Please come, it's going to be amazing. Over 50 models all with some connection to cancer and some truly wicked hosts (yours truly, the infamous Grant Stott (baddie from the pantos/radio presenter) and a fellow patient Shannon.) 
                                                                               

So, now that I'm (as far as I'm aware) finished, let's hope it's all up and away from here. I'm so over being ill.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Looking Good, Feeling Better

Appearance is a tad of an issue for baby lgibz these days. With the excess steroid weight, the horrific steroid face, the in-between hair stage (long enough to be 'hair' but too short to go wigless) and my constant 'why is she looking at me? does she know this is a wig?! is it slipping off?!' worries. Anyway, I've never been one for these wee groups. My parents convinced me to go to one at the beginning of my treatment where 8 of us awkwardly sat and ate pizza and talked about anything other than cancer, although that was probably the ony thing we all had in common. Since then, I've avoided the rest, making up petty excuses to miss them. I'd rather stay in 'the mushroom club' as my dad calls it and be oblivious to the cancer world and pretend I don't have it.

Well,  I'd heard of Look Good Feel Better and it sounded pretty good, although I was meant to get a personal one in hospital but it was never organised to I though i'd may as well go to this one, so on Tuesday, I attended a Look Good, Feel Better session. Basically, LGFB is a charity that aims to help women cancer patients in the most practical, positive way by giving them makeovers and make-up/skincare advice. It involved well over 30 young cancer patients, both male and female from both Sick Kids and the General Western who either are going through treatment or have gone through treatment sitting round a big table, getting their make up done. (Not so much for the boys, they engulfed more in face masks and moisturisers) The volunteers are all either beauticians or work in the make up industry and are all volunteers. We all got a huge gift bag full of skincare products and make up and got taught good regimes and tips in both areas.
     It was a brill night with some lovely people and is definitely something I would recommend to other cancer patients, you can get group sessions or one on one sessions. It's good to talk about hot flushes, steroid pains and sleepless nights with people who have experienced the same.

with my lovely nurse Fionaaaa in the mirror


So, this week I also got voted to represent the charities committee for my year group at school along with another girl. The three charities we're focussing on this year are the Red Cross, Teenage Cancer Trust and CCLASP. Two of which are very close to my heart and I have benefitted a lot from. Before I was diagnosed, I had a 'it's only charity' attitude, but since I've seen what only a small number of charities can do and the difference they make in general and personally to my treatment is absolutely unbelievable so my attitude has completely changed.



With chemo, it's a known side affect for your tastebuds to change and for you to get cravings, and I've noticed it. I prefer salty foods to sweet foods (eg. HP sauce to Ketchup) and I have a HUGE craving for Petit Filous and have since the very beginning of my treatment. they. are. amazing.



So I start my Radiotherapy tomorrow. I've had endless hours of planning and end of treatment scans in he past week and got my last 5 tattoos today for the radio. I've had 6 needles put into me in the past three days. Life is so unfair.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Not Over Yet

Just when you think you're coming to the end of everything, chemo's finished and everything's beginning to look up, BAM I'm back in A&E at 11pm on a Tuesday night. Soo, here's what happened..
daddy sleeping in A&E at 3am
I was walking down the Buchan stairs at school on Tuesday morning, headed to my first class when I go over my ankle and fall over. Classic Laura, always the clutz. Anyway, after embarrassing myself and having first years laughing at me (who do they think they are) I man up, stand up, and hobble to class. The pain went away for the day but decided to come back and keep me company during my last lesson of the day. So I hobble down the hill and hobble home and lie in bed 'RICEing' my foot for the evening. (rest, ice, compression, elevate) Well, we had no ice, so I subbed in a bag of frozen chips. After RICEing all evening, the pain was actually getting worse and I could no longer walk. The pain slowly began to creep up my leg and I got ache and cramp in my entire left leg, soon to be joined by my right leg. I was in so much pain that I just decided to take some codine and try and sleep. A couple hours later, the pain was even worse so i crawled downstairs and asked dad what I could do. He phones the ward and next thing I knew, I was in a room in A&E in my pyjamas. They gave me liquid morphine, paracetamol, brufen, ora-morph, MSD and sevridol to ease the pain. I was discharged on Friday afternoon, still with a pain score of 8/9, and back in on Sunday afternoon, still in pain.

We have since discovered that, after having MRIs on my legs, I have cysts inside the bones in my tibia. (ew) which is a direct result of my steroids that is 'uncommon, but can happen.' So, again with the beloved steroids. First, they ruin my entire appearance by giving me a face that looks like a hamster whose filled it's cheeks with food, they ruin my body by bloating me and making me gain so much weight, they give me a huge lump at the back of my neck making me represent Qusimodo and now they've kindly given my legs a not-so-nice end of treatment present of cysts. Thank you, Prednisolone.

it'sgood2give parent's pack ayyo
It just comes to show, that even once you're finished, it's never quite over. There will alway be complications and visits to Sick Kids. I don't think I'll ever get rid of this place, but I don't think I really want to, it's like a second home for me now. My face and body may deflate back to normal, but I'll forever have my bodily reminders of what I've been through (my many scars, my radio tattoos and (hate to say it) my disgusting stretch marks.) But as my friend Robyn put it 'you are so beautiful Laura, even more beautiful with these reminders as they show you are a survivor! LOVE LIFE! :)' So, all I can do is look at it as that, reminders that I fought and beat cancer. Quite like Harry Potter fought and beat Voldemort..but his fight was longer..and probably more painful. And it doesn't really help with the number of cancer adverts around. Whether its on chemists/doctors windows, on television (I tell you, the number of times I've seen the cancer research advert..I still cry. It's at the end, the old man just starts crying alone. :( it's just so sad.)  or through the post. We seem to constantly get these 'please donate' posters through the letterbox. The worst one is a bbm broadcast or facebook status that goes along the lines of 'All of us have a thousand wishes. To be thinner, bigger, have more money, a cool car, to date the person of your dreams. A cancer patient only has one wish, to defeat cancer, I know that 97% wont post this as your status but my friends will be the 3% that do. In honour of someone who has died from cancer, fighting cancer or survived cancer post this status' ..ITS JUST SO AWKWARD. Of course, the majority will just post it out of respect, and broadcast to everyone..but I just find it very uncomfortable and cringe (for me)


Anyway, I've been chemo-free a week now and start radio in a week. So not long at all to go! I have all day MRI scans on Monday to plan my radio and one last check over at the Western and three more tattoos (blue this time. So i have MES school colour tattoos. waheey) I also now have blonde hair, how exciting and my actual-lid is positively progressing so everything is beginning to slowly look up! I'll soon be rocking the Emma Watson look..only a tad more..plump and less pretty. Oh well, we can't have everything. Hang on..I don't really have much going for me..MEH.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Chemo No More

I sit here, in my bed on the 23rd August 2011 and I can officially say I am no longer a chemotherapy patient. Yesterday, I indulged into my last ever chemo infusion for 5 hours, and when that beep went off with the pump reading 'INFUSION COMPLETE' it was, honestly, one of the happiest moments in my so far life. (I grabbed my iPod to snap a picture, but just as I was about to do so, my nurse came and turned the pump off- bit of a let down)


Things at the moment are good. I had my first meeting at the Western yesterday to discuss my radiotherapy, which is now only two weeks instead of three, and will start in two weeks, so overall finishing three weeks before expected. Which means, I have the entire October holidays to celebrate! The staff were lovely, seemed pretty reassuring until they got me to sign all the consent forms, agree to everything, read the terms and conditions and all the 'we cannot guarantee this will work' 'there is a small chance it will create a second cancer' malarky and then, after this, spring on me that it's most likely necessary to get 4 tattoos. (just small ones to line up the lasers..but 4 tattoos..for the sake of 11 hospital visits. crikey.)

Post-Radio Plans:
To give me something to look forward to, I've decided on a few things I'm going to do to celebrate right after my radiotherapy.

1) Get the double piercings I've waited for. -Due to having constant scans/surgeries and with the 'no metal' rule, I've not been able to get my double piercings as I'd have to take them out every so often, so it just hasn't worked. So I plan on getting my doubles done and most likely cartilage. (only like a year after I anticipated.)

2) Get Jack to buy me a Nandos. He's been going on forever about 'when is your finish date' 'when is everything over' so we can grab a celebratory Nandos, and now that I have an official date- September 26th, Creaders, you are very welcome to buy me the Nandos you promised me.

3) Go on a massive shopping spree. Because of the steroid weight, I've lived the past 4 months in baggy, disgusting clothes and I've refused to go shopping because it's just upsetting. So once all the steroid weight vanishes, I will treat myself to a new wardrobe, using the Bank of Mum and Dad obviously, c'maan I deserve it.

4) Have dinner and cocktails with my girls. ..yes, this is just an excuse to dress up and get my favourite girls together.

5) Eventually have a big 'I NO LONGER HAVE CANCER' party.

my two fave pens. mature fifth year, huh?
School also starts back tomorrow, which I am majorly excited for. I did the last of my school book shopping today so I am now all set with all new stationary, books, bags, uniform etc. Although I am requesting a day off on Friday because I have scans..normality? Not for me.



My mummy and I went school snack shopping today to Tesco, and the effort of wearing my hair to a small outing like this has never been necessary. As we got to the checkout, the checkout girl says to me "I love your short hair. I've always wanted hair like that but never been brave enough. ..also with winter coming up it may be quite cold. But you really suit it!" I. Was. Over. The. Moon. Thank you, kind checkout girl. Even if she was mocking me, as my brother seems to believe, my confidence has boosted. Although not quite enough to go commando back to school..


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

No Miracles Here



So I've started cycle six; my last cycle of chemotherapy which seems like a miracle. Like Jesus feeding so many people with so few fish, like Moses parting the Red Sea, like me getting an A in my maths exam..
ANYWAY, I currently have two more infusions, but like 10 more days of steroids. (I've so far had 2 infusions on this cycle, but managed to use 5 cannulas and like 7 litres of hydration as the chemo is beyond painful going into such a small vein)
So this is like the end of an era, like when the credits roll on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, when Take That announced they're splitting up, the carnage and rioting that caused..it's quite sad really (okay, well not really. genuinely haven't been this excited in a long time. but you catch my drift..or maybe not)
ANYWAY (again). With my chemo coming to an end, we need to look into the future, so I have my meeting at the Radiotherapy centre on Tuesday. There, I'll be told what's going to happen and what I'm to expect, to be honest, not sure if I want to know..


I then plan on returning to the place I like to call school on Wednesday to crack on with 4 highers (I was told to only do 3, but since I got an A in maths y'know..) and I plan to go back full time. Seeing as I haven't been in school longer than three hours since February..I think I'm underestimating how difficult I'll find it. Although, on the bright side, I have free periods as the majority of my year take 5 highers, so one of the beds in matron has my name on it for 5 hours a week. I'm weirdly excited, but the novelty of it will wear off after the first couple of days and I'll just be longing for summer again. However, I'm excited to use my new stationary, the majority of which is from the Disney store. Classic Lgibz.






The biggest piece of advice I've been given about finishing treatment, is have things to look forward to. So I'm already organising my summer holidays for next year where I plan on going to T in the Park, Portugal, France, Majorca, London, hopefully Gibraltar and Ibiza. I also have my wish to decide for The Make a Wish Foundation, co-hosting the It's Good2Give fashion show along with Grant Stott and a fellow patient and of course, my general end of treatment celebrations.


Last Tuesday, Lynne had organised for myself and seven other people to go to a silver ring making workshop where we got the chance to make a silver ring with a scottish stone. The lovely Ian who runs the Precious Metals workshop guided us through step-by-step. With each of us being complete amateurs (unless you count making pasta jewellery as experience) parts became stressful and proved to be more difficult that Ian made it look.  Of course, the fact that we started at 10am meant mine, if not everyone else’s brains weren’t quite fully functioning. We worked solidly from 10am to 6pm with an hour lunch break in the middle, and I think it's very safe to say we were all proud of the outcome. Of course, my mum’s was not quite as good as mine, in fact, no ones was (kidding, obv, that's just mean)


Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel


So with only one cycle of chemotherapy to go, the end is drawing near and the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting brighter, but still flickering on and off. I only have four more infusions left; two of which are only half an hour, but two of which are six hours and fifteen days of steroids. So, in hope that everything goes to plan, this time next month i will be chemo-free and hopefully returning to a normal face/body shape. In saying that, I then have three weeks of nothing before three weeks of the dreaded radiotherapy which I've only heard bad things about. I aim to be done by mid-October. So when I think 'YUUS ONLY ONE MORE CYCLE. I'M NEARLY FREEE' ..i forget that, really, i still have two and a half months..but that's nothing, i still gots me my whole life ahead.


Of course my summer hasn't exactly panned out how i'd imagined, the past five months all sort of merge in together with no school, treatment, being home, mainly being alone, but I shouldn't complain because my life will be back to normal in no time. But it's really made me realise that time is a funny thing. In ways, it feels like a zillion years ago that i was at the doctors every other day, undiagnosed, being hated on by my GP because he was clueless as to why my feet were itchy. Then that first day of scans and my first day at sick kids after being told I have 'Lymphoma' which was a word I had never heard and had to write down to remember. And in other ways, it's zoomed by. Being told I'd have to endure six months of very solid treatment, imagining that I would not see nor speak to anyone for the entire time, being violently sick and weak- it felt like it would last forever. And here I am, with one cycle to go, having had as normal a life as I possibly could have for the past five months, with the end in sight. 


I was in hospital for a blood test yesterday- just to check all was okay after the cycle, and one of my nurses introduced me to a newly diagnosed girl who was the same age as me, but with a different cancer and different treatment regime. She was lovely, although you could tell she was worried and had no idea what was going to happen to her, so I played it cool and told her it's not as bad as she thinks. Although she stared at my head for the entire time, obviously like 'HELL NO I DON'T WANNA LOSE MY HAIR AND LOOK LIKE A LESBIAN' but unfortunately, it's inevitable for us cancer gals. I can remember being first admitted, I was never introduced to any other patients so I never had the reassurance I hope I gave this girl, I just sort of had to find out things for myself and talk to the nurses, who obviously aren't as helpful as patients as they just witness what happens, and don't know whats it's really like to lose your hair, have your face and body blow up like a balloon in the space of a week and develop scars all over your body which are mistaken for tattoos. (yes, James Lennon, this is aimed at you) But in case some of you haven't gathered, MY HAIR IS COMING BACK, and i'm rocking the very lesbian-esque/boy look-which really, really doesn't work on me, but I'm hoping to have a reasonable lid my christmas, and of course I shall keep you all updated in that department. My arms and legs are back to normal, so I've snapped out of being in denial and I've had to shave them. Obviously, I lack normality in my life, but that part could've stayed away.

 i love james armour as well <3

Friday, 22 July 2011

Po(r)t Luck


I guess in some ways, I could say I'm an extremely lucky girl. And in others extremely unlucky. Lucky, because; they caught my disease before it spread far enough to kill me, because I have a cancer that has a cure, not only that but a 95% cure rate and only 9(ish) months of treatment, because I've not been that ill with the treatment I've had and my body seems to cope well with it. Unlucky, because; well, obviously I have cancer, because if it had been caught earlier then it would have been easier and quicker to cure, because not only do I need Chemotherapy, I also need Radiotherapy with a chance of being left infertile, and of course because of my huge lack of luck with my ports.
   I've explained, or tried to explain, what my port is before. But the nurses hate me for my ports. There's constantly a problem and when I get called into the treatment room to get my grippers in, they feel pressure and when/if they manage to get them in, even after 4 or five goes, they'll get a round of applause from the small audience I seem to always have. If any of them get in in first time, they deserve a bonus on their pay cheque. I've had a port now for four months, and in that time I've had two ports, one potentially-fatal infection and five trips to surgery for it to been seen to and probably about ten line-o-grams. Most patients with long-term illnesses such as Leukaemia, which is usually a 2-3 year treatment course, only have (on average) probably two ports.

My first problem was only a month after it firstly got inserted, my line wouldn't draw back blood and got blocked. So the nurses injected a 'Mr Muscle' type fluid in the hope it would unblock over night, unfortunately no such luck. I then got blood cultures done and it came back saying I had a Pseudomonas gram-negative bug so my line had to be removed instantly. I was told not to google Pseudomonas, because I'd get scared, so of course, I googled it to find out that 60% of people with a compromised immune system (very much me) actually die from the bug so I was glad to see the back end of that one. Two days later, I was fasted again and whirled back into surgery (24 hours after I started fasting) to get a new line put back in on the other side. Giving me more scars on my neck and side. I'm almost symmetrical now.  So HORRAY end of line problems. Ohh no no. This line decided to play the awkward game and be very mobile. To the extent that I had two nurses holding it, and one inserting the gripper. (bearing in mind that the port is less than an inch in diameter.) So no wonder my left hand side is completely nerveless and I don't even notice them putting the needles in, even without magic EMLA cream. (this could be very fun in the future)
    All was going well with line numero deux (minus the mass swelling) until one day, whilst getting fluids pumped into my, liquid started gushing down my side and continued to do so for an hour or so. I went for a line-o-gram (basically an x-ray) and there seemed to be no problem. The next day, my site wasn't nearly as swollen, but still poured liquid at us after taking it out. But the chemo must go on. That was about a month ago now and even at the beginning of the week, it was still leaking. So I got a cannula put in and got my chemo through that. Imagine getting bitten by a vampire- the excruciating, burning pain, and double that- this is how chemo going into such a small vein in your hand feels. La-dee-da got another line-o-gram (I'm sure the x-ray staff think I have a thing for them) the other day which showed the contrast they injected going into my line and pouring straight out into my tissue, which is simply not good for chemo. So, OF COURSE, today consisted of fasting and returning to the beloved theatre to remove my line.



I am now, officially lineless, with only five more infusions to go until FINITO. I'm hoping to be free my mid-October. This gets me beyond excited, if you haven't already figured.                                    

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Summer Lovinn'

So it seems my prayers have been answered and it's finally the summer holidays. Not quite going to go as I'd planned with 3 weeks in Portugal and a week in Ibiza, livin' it large and loose, but nevertheless, my friends are finally free. 8 weeks of freedom doesn't make such a difference in my current schedule, nor does a break from work since I haven't worked since March, but all the difference is made in that I now have people to chill with that are not my parents nor my nurses. AWOO. I also have the next two weeks drugless as that's my fourth cycle finished today. The end is drawing very near and I am VERY excited. 31st August is the last day of chemo, then I have radiotherapy, then my face unbloats to a normal shape and size, and life slowly becomes..normal. Wow, that's a word I haven't used in a while referring to myself. Well, summer's got off to a good, eventful, SUNNY start, although I think those three days of scorching weather seem to be over, but let's just hope the sun puts it's hat on and comes out to play for the next 8 weeks, please.


So summer is here and it seems as if spring has sprung too. Obviously not in the seasonal sense, as spring is before summer..but in the hair sense. Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen, the hair is making a sneaky appearance. Although I've been told not to get my hopes up as, with two more cycles of chemo (only 8 more infusions though) there is a chance that it could all disappear again, but still. So the razor has been dug out from the deep corners of the bathroom and my legs are needing shaved. I was hoping in some ways that only the hair from my neck up would grow back-so my lashes, brows and head, but apparently you don't get to make that decision. I'm also beginning to worry that my hair follicles have some crazy boost and decide to grow me a beard. ..how awkward.

As exams are finished and everyones on skite patrol, I've actually been going out. I've gone out more in the past month than i did between new year and April. Loving reconnecting with the social side of life, although I'm unfortunately not quite the skitelord I once was. (of course this is sarcastic) But I promise that I will be once this is all over. I've been told it can take up to six months to fully recover from Radiotherapy, but as my schedule currently lies, I'm free for the second week of October and do not plan to spend a single day/night at home. People keep asking me what Radiotherapy is, and the honest answer is; i do not have a scooby. All i know is they zap me every day and it burns your throat to the point where you can't eat for weeks. Sounds pretty fun eh?

I came accross this is town on Lothian Road last week with Lily. Was significantly awkward and surprisingly hillarious to me, although very offensive at the same time. What sick sick people would cut ill people's treatment to save money for the government when there's criminals living in jail costing millions who deserve to have to pay. Oh society these days..

Monday, 20 June 2011

ChemoWHAT?

plugged up to chemo.
So, after being asked many a time, I've realised people don't know much about Chemotherapy and what it is. So, I'm reluctant to answer this question much more; it's like in second year, after subject choice, every person you come across asked you what subjects you were taking and for the 500th time that day you begin '..English, Physics..' in a droned out voice, that is exactly what this is like, so imma tell you.

Chemotherapy is the treatment used for cancer with an antineoplastic drug or a combination of these in a treatment regime. The way it works is it rapidly kills fast dividing cells which are what cancer cells are; fast dividing. The drug regime depends on what type of cancer you have and how serious it is, so I have a different regime than someone with Breast Cancer or Leukaemia. Chemo is not always given to cure a patient, a Palliative chemo regime is given with the intention to decrease the tumours and increase life expectancy.
chemo regime.


Chemotherapy originated in the early 20th century but was not originally intended for cancer treatment. During WW1 mustard gas was used as a chemical warfare and it was studied in WW2. During a German air raid on the Italian harbour, Bari, a group of people were accidentally exposed to mustard gas and were later found to have very low white blood cell counts. They then thought that as the agent damaged rapidly growing white blood cells, it could do the same to cancer cells. So in the 1940s, patients with 'advanced lymphomas' (cancers of certain white blood cells) were given the drug intravenously and the improvement was remarkable. Researchers then looked for other substances that may have the similar effects against cancer and that is how other drugs have been discovered and developed, mainly from plants.
The drugs I'm given are; cyclophosphamide, vinchristine, etoposide, etoposide phosphate, doxorubicin (also known as 'the red death' -yummy), prednisolone (a beloved steroid) and dacarbazine. And here's a bit about them;
-Cyclophosphomide is  a nitrogen mustard alkylating agent in the oxazophorines group of drugs. It was developed by Norbert Brock who synthesised and screened more than 1000 oxazaphosphorine compounds and converted the base nitrogen into a non-toxic 'transport form' which was a pro-drug subsequently actively transported into the cancer cells. This is given as an hour infusion which must be followed with a 5 hour infused hydration.
-Vinchristine is a vinca alkaloid from the Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) and was used for many years as a folk remedy. This is given via a syringe so only takes 2-3 minutes.
-Etoposide is made up of podophyllotoxin, a toxin found in the American Mayapple. This is given as an hour infusion.
-Doxorubicin is from a red pigment of soil in the Castel de Monte in Italy. An antibiotic was produced from the bacterium and was found to have good activity against murine tumours. Doxorubicin is extremely dangerous and can be fatal if too high a dose is given. Due to it's bright red colour and bad side effects it is known as the 'red devil' or 'the red death.' It's given an an hour infusion.
-Prednisolone is a steroid with predominant glucocorticoid and low mineralocorticoid activity, making it useful for the treatment of a wide range of inflammatory and auto-immune conditions. This is a tablet taken orally.
-Dacarbazine is an alkylating agent which destroy cancer cells by adding an alkyl group to it's DNA. It is bioactivated in liver by dementhlyation to "MTIC" and then to diazomethane which is also an alkylating agent. This is given as a half hour infusion.

...don't worry, I don't understand half those words either.

Most of these are given through a drip into my port, some are through a syringe, also into my port and prednisolone is taken orally. I've blabbed on about my port quite a lot and I've been asked what it is, and it's pretty hard to explain 'um..a plasticy, metal thing in my side where needles are put' doesn't really cut it. So these are pictures of the type of port i have (although I have a double port..so basically two) and hopefully you'll understand better.

This is a single port with a gripper put into it;
the port is under my skin so the gripper is basically a needle.

this is an x-ray where you can see
the port and the line coming out
of it into the central vein.


Chemotherapy can either be given as an inpatient or an outpatient. Luckily, I'm an outpatient and don't spend much time in hospital anymore. During my first two cycles called OAPA I was in hospital for roughly 5 days a month getting infusions and taking prednisolone for 15 days and then a 13 day off of drugs before the next cycle began. I'm currently on a regime called COPDAC where I'm in hospital for roughly four days a month, taking prednisolone for  15 days and then a drugless 13 days.


The common side effects of chemo are tough. Firstly there's the death of the much needed immune system which can lead to fatal infections- how nice. Then there's fatigue which is the side effect that's effected me most. I'm constantly shattered. This also leads to anemia which leads to blood transfusions. The reduction of platelets means you bleed and bruise easily and reduces the ability to clot the blood which is brillz, you just bleed and bleed and it never seems to stop. Gastrointestinal distress such as nausea and vomitting and of course there's the allopecia which is simply the worst of them all. This is only temporary and hair grows back, and in many cases previous straight hair grows back curly which is known as the 'chemo-perm.'


my current blood counts- best they have been since
pre-diagnosis. AYYO.


Chemo generally doesn't hurt- you can't actually feel it being dripped into you and so far (touch wood) it hasn't made me vomit, although I have felt not 100% and have been very tired. I'm guessing the whole raft of anti-sickness drugs I'm given help. The worst side effect with me is boredom, as I've told you. Especially whilst you're sitting on the ward for a good 5/6/7 hours watching some drug drip into you- not fun I tell you.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Battle of the Lashes

So the way chemotherapy works is that it kills all the cells in your body in order to kill the fast dividing cells (cancer cells.) Obviously, drugs don't have brains so they can't tell the difference between the good cells and the bad cells, so kills them all. This is how your hair comes out, the cells in the hair follicles are killed so the hair comes out and doesn't grow. And yes, ALL body hair comes out except the odd one here and there and with an exception of your eyebrows and eyelashes which thin dramatically but don't necessarily disappear completely. Thankfully, this isn't permanent and hair grows back post treatment.



I've already done a blog about my hair, which I miss deeply so I'll tell you about the battle I'm having with my lashes and brows. They started thinning during my second cycle of chemo. Not to be cocky, but I had the most beautiful, thick, long lashes, and they were my favourite, most prized feature. My brother used to get christmas cards addressed to 'Maybeline' when he was in junior school. So of course, it's devastating to see them go, my heart sinks a little more each time I find a lash on my cheek. I've stopped wearing mascara because of the fear of pulling them out whilst removing it. I've been trying various make-up tricks to cause an optical illusion that I have normal lashes and brows, some of which have worked and some of which have failed epically. But it's all about trial and error. When they started to thin, the hospital promised to set me up a 'Look Good Feel Better' session, which is a visit from someone from Maggies who show you how to do your make up to make you look normal. When I say normal, I mean it. I seem to have developed the cancer 'look' and by that I mean, the steroids have caused my face to bloat to the extreme giving me hamster cheeks and a very round face, I've developed bags under my eyes which don't look normal anyway due to my lack of lashes, my eyebrows are almost invisible and the change in hair follicles on my forehead have caused me to develop spot-like things that aren't actually spots. So ladies and gentlemen, that is the cancer 'look.'


So here you can see the difference a bit of eyeliner and clear mascara can do, and I've filled in my eyebrows with a Benefit brown eyeshadow as I'm yet to be taught properly. But still, for the tiny bit of effort and 30 seconds it takes to put that on, it's beyond worth it to look half-normal.

I managed to venture into the hallowed halls of school last week after a surprise visit to surgery. I swear, my ports hate me. I have had literally no luck with them since the beginning, I developed Pseudomonas in my first one which could have caused my death (luckily it didn't) and I get my second one, it settles down, scar is healing, swelling has gone, and BAM it decides to flip over.

But anyway, that was dealt with and I went to school. Entirely for the social benefit rather than academic. Not that we're doing much, I seem to spend too many lessons sitting 'getting on with other work' which I have none of due to the fact I've not been in school so have done no work since March. I got a lovely homely welcome back from the tech department which put me on a high for the rest of the day. Speaking of which I have a picture for Sophie. Sophie has been fascinated by my wig and has been nagging me to take it off and show her the inside of it, which of course I refused to do as we were in a classroom full of 20 girls who would find it very awkward, and I look like a pigeon with no hair on. So I promised her I'd upload a picture of the inside of my wig so she wouldn't take it off me and run away, leaving me bald and upset. Oh..and Mowat and Isla are okay too.



Cycle four of chemo starts on Tuesday, half way to success and still smiling. Except on the odd day where I'm all 'why ME' and hatin' on life. This is generally when i take a good look in the mirror after flicking through photos of pre-cancer life and be hating on my hamster cheeks and severe lack of hair, which, by the way, is kept in a River Island bag in my hair utensils basket (you may think it's disgusting, but I spent fifteen years growing it and it's sentimental.). MISS YOU BUD.