Christmas has come and gone (sorry no festive update this year, we were either busy, hungover or ill with the flu) and now the new year is upon us.
Tash reminded me the other day that this time 12 months ago she had just finished radiotherapy treatment for the unscheduled new friend in her spine and we were still waiting to hear about the Lapatinib trial. This was not a pleasant time in our life together and we are both pleased that we are in a better place now.
As has been frequently commented about me, I am a glass half empty kind of guy and Tash, well it is hard to tell when she is up or down. Happy and sad are easier, if she is one, she will be doing her upmost to annoy me in her best "cat sits in the middle of a newspaper as you try to read it / wife jumps in your lap expecting attention whilst TopGear* is on" kind of way. I have never seen her down, perhaps in future I will monitor her purchasing more closely (as if I could any more than I am already) and will therefore be able to ascertain her moods from her purchases, "ohh six pair's of shoes this week, hmm you need a hug don't you", "a new blouse hey, I have annoyed you" and ...... "new trainers!, right, what is his name?"
*Even if it is a repeat, TopGear is still sacred viewing. Girls, this is an important boy fact!
We started to talk about this the other night over dinner, or the sniffling-eating table, as it has become known. Nothing to do with me I might add, food is something that we both hold dear in our relationship and at these moments of maturational meditation she has often been overcome by thoughts that make her shed a tear, in this sense she is very sensitive, "it is all Grandma Hayes' fault", she will often quantify for you, "she used to cry at anything and so do I" - this is not strictly true, small furry animal, probably, some hardship in the world, likely, the fact that you have forgotten your password for the third time this month and don't want to receive her displeasure, so come up with a "but my dog ate the password and then got run over, please don't shout at me Natasha Dean IT Queen" story, no chance matey, you are for it. The conversation moved around to us talking about how things are much more positive this year than last, in the midst of this end of year reflective moment, she started to tell me of the conversation that she overheard whilst waiting to see DR ONCO II at St Bart's last week.
Dr Ghallagher was dictating some medical notes to his registrar post consultation with the previous patient and Tash was sitting outside the office waiting to go in, she did not hear any identifying information just the mechanics of the lady's case...
"Patient had a ductal carcinoma of the left breast which was ER and PR positive, grade 2 HER positive. She is currently on Cycle 3 of adjuvant chemotherapy along with Herceptin. I have arranged for her to have a mammogram and ultrasound post chemotherapy. Patient was uncomfortable with all the intravenous infusions in her arm so I have advised her to have a portacath inserted for easier access..........." At this point the water works started to produce a stream as they fell like a tropical storm onto the hot meat slab on Natasha's dinner plate - and, as I half quizzically (what the fuck are you doing, eat now, cry later!), half compassionately (Oh Christ what now, did you see a dead bird on the way to work, no, has Pete Doherty said something really poetic on his blog, no, did you see a nice pair of shoes again?) waited for the "huh, huh, huh" oblique explanation for the rising flood stream curtain now separating us across the table.
huh huh, i got upset, huh, because I suddenly, huh, huh, thought huh, that poor woman, huh, huh, she has soo much to go through, huh, such a long journey ahead of her, huh, huh.
She had a point.
Somewhere around St. Valentines day in February Tash will have reached eight years from her original diagnosis and four years since "the second half" (as I refer to it. much better than "the dark time" I am sure you will agree) that has now given us the Tao, marriage and an understanding of Cancer, life and the bits in between that I never would have thought possible.
We even started to formulate a 2008 plan, figuring that whilst we are in a good patch it would be wrong not to make the best use of the time we have been given. Obviously we could blunder through in another flurry of international travel, socialising, wine and song, but perhaps we are becoming more precious and would like to achieve something, having said all that, the first point covered in this monumentus accord was when we can book Tash's 'next big holiday', an African Safari.
So this new plan thing may take some time...
The same meal also marked the very end (we hope) of Natasha's last cycle of her third Chemo regime. Her fingers are very sore and cracked, so she is very happy to see the back of it, we are also running out of crockery, dropping things is also a side effect of the finger soreness.
As she comments;
Last time I reported that I was almost at the end of Cycle 6, which was to be the final cycle of the chemo on this trial. My next appointment, for reasons which I won't go into here, landed me with a Cycle 7, nothing sinister I should add, just a very keen registrar!!!
So come the end of cycle 7, when I was faced with my third keen registrar, I got grumpy (well, to be fair, it was already 2.5 hrs after my appointment time, so I really was already grumpy)... To put it into perspective, I don't sit around and wait for that long to see some registrar who hasn't got a clue about me and my medical history. Fortunately, she got the hint pretty quickly and after revising my notes and scans, went and got Dr Onco II to come and see me. We settled on a final cycle of Capecitabine (the chemo), making it 8 in total, and then carry on taking the Lapatinib on it's own.
I have now finally finished with it and here is a picture of me washing down the very last dose on NYE with my bubbly before going to Karen and Alan's party...
Happy New Year
Because we are overdue, a small round up of recent activities.
1st December we kicked off the party season at Donna and Franc's annual "Champagne Evening" (this also included the "Mr Franc's Whiskey's of the World in the kitchen" tasting session, which you can see in the last pictures). The evening involves, drinking lots, eating lots and getting into the Christmas spirit ready for the weeks ahead. Donna likes this to be a "dressed up" occasion, so this year, in an effort to get away from the standard "black tie", Tash and I took a trip to get a "new" outfit... I'm sure you'll agree we looked smashing, and yes, that is a velvet blazer.....! Further partying ensued in the following weeks until Tash finally crashed and burned with a cold the week before Xmas. (queue, many jokes about what Tash had managed to catch off PD at one of several gigs she's been to recently...)
Christmas Day we spent at home hosting Marisa, Nathan and their friend Ben for the festive meal. Surprisingly for Tash and I, we were calm, organised, and actually started eating closer to lunch than dinner... which was a nice change. Boxing Day Tash headed out to the Cotswolds, for her annual pilgrimage to the Croft's and enjoyed some country air & Christmas frivolty with all of them.
Karen and Alan hosted this years festivities and to put it bluntly we were a bit surprised at the number in attendance. They fitted more than 50 people into their flat, I know that they know more than 50 people, but as I only know six, it is a difficult concept for me to comprehend. Also surprisingly, all but a couple of us did not smoke, so it was best described as being in a dark, loud, very smokey club, but with free alcohol and windows down two sides of the main room providing a vista over Tower Bridge. Karen and Alan, though good hosts are awful DJ's, this time those of us in the know took control of the sounds, a small Sony bedroom stereo, with Mr Franc (PC Music Maestro - as he will hence forth be called) using Donna's iPod to provide the tunes, followed, by some awful house dance stuff from Radio 1 (there are benefits of such an arrangement, mixing desks do not have radios to pick up the chimes of Big Ben at midnight!) and then Fiona took over, emptying the dance floor (behind the sofas, by the dinner table and next to the wicker lounge chair) of the dancey types and brought on the old school boys with...
chick chick chick chick chick chick chick chick dah nannanah nannanah winkywankywinkydinkywoo dah nannanah nannanah bigun bigun bigun bigun etc....
AC/DC's Back in Black filled the room and up sprung all the rockers in the house, well one, Andy the Greatful Dead and Gov't Mule fan, for the first time that evening looked like he had a place in the room as he lead us all in welcoming in 2008 in a fine air guitar style (well he did, we all stood and watched in appreciation, Fiona danced and everyone else lit up another fag (trans: cigarette, not homosexual, that is no way to start a new year).
Finally something for me:
I would like you to submit the Tao for inclusion in the 2008 Bloggies - a once yearly Celebration of the web blogging community and one that I had previously entered into my desktop calendar and oh ok, it has pooped up to remind me to remind you that voting has started for this year. Submissions end on Friday 11th January so if you could hurry.
The Tao' would be happy to receive nominations in any of the following categories;
Best European - unlikely
Best Topical weblog - maybe at a push
Best Writing - that's a bit much
But would really like you to consider giving your vote in these three categories: