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!


Here comes the sun

Emma told me to make something creative out of pebbles and put it on the blog – but there were no pebbles, just miles and miles of sand, so she will have to make do with a picture of feet.

Funny how summer has suddenly arrived. As recently as last week I was still wearing my winter coat (the operation made me even more nesh* than usual) but with the appearance of the sun all sorts of things kept under wraps through the winter have now emerged. Like feet.

We’ve been to the Norfolk coast to celebrate our anniversary. We found this near deserted beach. The water was warm. I wanted to stay there.

* NB for the uninitiated nesh is a Nottingham word which means ‘feels the cold’.

Back to back

The tissue in my boob, which was taken from my back, still thinks it’s back muscle.

When I do certain dorsal stretches, it flexes and contracts. Like it’s still trying to work.

Far out!

So muscle has memory.

Today I’ve had a one-to-one Iyengar Yoga session, courtesy of a friend who teaches it. She showed me some nice healing postures. And for the first time in ages I felt as though my body was my own, not some contortion of its former self.

Which is good because I had begun to worry that when they said the surgeon was ‘an artist’ they meant Picasso.

On the road

Driving again – Hoorah! Both the boat and the car.

Yesterday was a lovely day spent tootling around on the river. We took Rob with us as crew – seen here taking a fag break on the front. I hardly thought about cancer all day. I was mostly a figurehead crew member – steered a bit but didn’t touch locks or ropes.

In the evening I had a look at some of the cancer internet forums. These can be a mixed blessing. While it’s reassuring to find others have similar symptoms and side effects, there are some horror stories out there. I googled “is there an alternative to chemotherapy?” and found reams of stuff about the toxic effects of conventional treatment. All very well, but the alternative world does not, in the case of cancer, seem to offer a viable alternative.

It’s a balance between becoming as well informed as possible and focusing on things other than the illness. I don’t want to become a person consumed – physically or mentally – by cancer.


These orchids were sent by friends soon after I got diagnosed – that’s six weeks ago – and they’re still going.

Cut flowers normally last a few days or a week at most.

A few bits have fallen off but they are thriving and still beautiful.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Eek a mouse!

I hadn’t had the back-spasm effect for a while until it returned with a vengeance the other night, waking everyone up.

During the 3am worry-hour that ensued I became convinced the surgeons had left something in me which was lodged in the cavity where they took the muscle out, causing me to twitch.

JP reassuringly explained there’s no way this can happen because they count all the implements out in the operating theatre before and after surgery to check they haven’t left anything behind.

I was about to drift off again when he said: “maybe it’s a mouse!”

EEK! It feels EXACTLY LIKE a mouse running up and down inside my back.

Tomorrow is Black Box day. I see the brilliant Miss Bello at 10.30 NHS time for the results. Maybe I’ll ask her about the mouse.

Hospital must-haves

If you are contemplating a stay in hospital, I would recommend any or all of the following (clockwise from left):
1. Crocs – fleece-lined (present from JP) they work as slippers or shoes, so when you are up to forays off the ward you can wear them as shoes. You can also wear them in the shower, and take the fleece bits out to dry them. Gonna get some more crocs, although Jules says they’re ‘dykey’.
2. Ted (Rob won him in a raffle). He was at Rob’s Mum’s care home until she died. ‘He is used to looking after ladies’.
3. Cardboard bowler hats which work as sick-bowls or recepticals for other random fluids. The hospital supply these.
4. Hand cream. General anaesthetic dehydrates skin.
5. Biscuits. The last meal is served at 5pm and it’s a long fast till morning.
6. DAB radio. Radio 4 helps keep you sane.
7. MP3 player, cuts out out ward din. Listening to your own music helps you feel human. You can also put relaxation tapes on there, good for sleepless nights.
8. Holding cross (present from JP) can be comforting for the religiously minded. (I am Catholic albeit not a very good one)
9. Somersaulting frog. (present from Jules) amuses the nurses.
10. Blackberry or other smartphone/handheld device. An absolute lifeline. Thankfully they let you have mobiles these days in hospital.

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