Tats and tatty-bye

Been back to the reconstruction clinic for the finishing touches and the tattoo team were very attentive. Preparation is everything, apparently, and I sat on the couch for some time bare-chested while Paul, the male of the duo sized me up and his female colleague used my ‘good’ breast as a colour palette.

The actual tattooing took just minutes and I must say the result is a pretty good match and – thanks to the anaesthetic cream they gave me – the procedure was painless. I asked if there was anything they could do to erase the permanent tattoos put on before radiotherapy (two dots visible when wearing swimwear or summer tops) and they kindly offered to ‘turn them into moles’, but I declined.

Now I’m fully re-constructed I think it’s time to wind this blog up. It has been about recovery, and although I don’t think there is ever a specific moment when I’ve felt ‘I am recovered’ there are times when I realise I haven’t thought about cancer for days, even weeks, and moments when the whole experience feels like something that happened to someone else.

As life has returned to ‘normal’ the need to write about myself – that I found so therapeutic at first – has lessened, and I know have been slack about keeping this blog up to date, so thank you to anyone who has stuck with it.

So all that remains for me to say to regular followers, occasional visitors or anyone who’s stumbled across this is cheerio for now and thank you for sharing this journey with me.

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It’s a dog’s life

Five minutes with the dog whisperer and Max was walking to heel. Whereas I used to walk with my arm outstretched and the dog in the distance, straining at the end of his leash, we now amble along side by side. Amazing! The guy really did seem to speak dog-language. He explained everything in terms of pack mentality. We hadn’t set enough boundaries so the dog was getting confused about his position in the pecking order. Now we have a new regime and Max is (mostly) a model dog.

I’ve been lapse about blogging recently. We had a few weeks off-line between internet providers and I kinda got out of the habit. Plus all my time these days seems to be spent dog-walking, boating, catching up with friends and generally living!

Back to work tomorrow after two weeks’ leave and feeling refreshed and energised. Before that I had a long period of back-to-back viruses between February and May – all part of re-building an effective immune system, I suppose.

Next month I have my final bit of treatment to complete the reconstruction – nipple tattooing; after which apart from annual check-ups that’s it for me at the hospital. Hoorah! After that I will probably wind up this blog because it will have out-grown its purpose, its focus being mainly about recovery.

Better go now, time for the next dog-walk!

Another year clear

Two years on and no recurrence… that’s what I call a result!

We don’t need no education

Starting school can trigger  fear, apprehension, and acute separation anxiety; all of which I experienced when we took Max to his first doggy-obedience class last week.

Due to all the frenetic barking, I couldn’t hear a word the trainer was saying, so my stress-levels shot up, especially as most of the barking came from Max.

Max, who at home has mastered commands to sit, lie down, stay, and come when called, totally ignored me in his rush to get to the other dogs. And apart from one little terrier who got excluded early on, Max was the naughtiest in class!

The whole thing was so traumatic I’m never going back! I’m going to home-school him from now on…

He is risen, Hallelujah!

John is an Anglican who goes to church twice a year. I am Catholic but today went to a C of E church with John where the vicar taught us to proclaim ‘The Lord is risen, he is risen Hallelujah!” in sign language.

I am Catholic not because I believe it is the one true church – I don’t – but because Catholicism is where I feel culturally at home. I like the fact that in most countries in the world, you can find a Catholic church and follow the mass even though it’s in a different language. I like the multi-national nature of the congregation at the inner city Cathedral where I go, and the way that, in true Catholic tradition, everyone piles out of the church and into the pub after mass.

On the news yesterday was a story about a Baptist church in Nottingham which got prosecuted for being too loud.  After re-discovering faith years back I experimented with different churches, some scarily evangelical where people tended to fall over and shout a lot. There I always felt like the only sober person at the party.

Personally I feel closer to God in moments of quiet. But each to his own. As far as I am concerned the different denominations are just models of the same thing and the devil’s in the detail.

Having eventually come full circle back to Catholicism, I’m what you might call an ‘a la carte’ Catholic. I don’t deny there’s loads wrong with the Church as an institution. I take the bits I like and disregard the rest.

I love Easter. The Easter story is so powerful and the build-up to it so dramatic. It symbolises new life and renewal. And it happens at a time of year when life begins again in nature.

Max likes Easter too, because he’s got some doggie chocolate. Hallelujah!

Smart move

Meet Ruby, the new addition to the family (cars in our household have names and personalities).

I got her to off-set John’s Jag, because apart from being red, she’s very green. She uses almost no petrol (handy at times like this when filling stations run out); the engine cuts out when you stop in traffic and restarts when you release the brake, and there’s very few emissions. About as green as you can get without going electric.

So glad I’ve re-joined the Smart set!

We are celebrating this weekend because John’s submitted his MSC. Hoorah!. It’s been a long slog, and I’m still feeling the pain..

Bra battles

There’s a woman in South Derbyshire apparently who has persuaded Ann Summers to stock mastectomy bras in their lingerie lines.

Not before time.  I hear many a breast cancer survivor bemoaning the fact that you can’t get surgery-friendly sexy underwear anywhere for love nor money.

In theory, having had a reconstruction, I could wear any bra, but in reality anything underwired is bloody uncomfortable so I stick to the mastectomy models, of which there are few.

Marks and Spencers is about the best, but I had a mini strop in there the other day because although they do have some quite pretty post-surgery bras with, it’s claimed, knickers to match, they never seem to have my size or if they do the rest of the range is kept half way across the shop floor so you have to traipse miles only to discover they don’t in fact have the pants to match which is, well, pants.

Still, you do get let off VAT on mastectomy bras…. there has to be an upside!

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