Sunday, 30 January 2011

Is this the end or just the beginning?

I guess this is a significant week in our family.  Tuesday (hopefully) sees the last session of chemo for Rich at our local hospital.  Everyone sees this as a good thing, they see this as the end but you know what, for us it is just the beginning, just another step in this long journey.
We (although i should say "he") still have to face the spinal chemo, which on our last visit we learnt would be 4 treatments, one a week for a month, a tough tough month.
Then there is the PET scan, the results of which will tell us how the treatment has worked and will hopefully tell us that the cancer has gone.
Then there is the check ups, the countdown until we get the all clear.  But even then its not the end because he has his whole life ahead and every ache, every sniffle, it will be there, at the back of our minds, like a silent stalker.  I guess in some ways you can say that the cancer is here for good now, because although (fingers crossed) he will get the all clear, it has already invaded our lives and its never going to leave even when its gone.

Also this week our eldest, Jade, turns 9.  Unfortunately it has worked out that his last chemo falls on her birthday so we had her party early with her friends and hopefully the plans I have made for Tuesday will make up for the fact her daddy will be pretty much out of it for the day.  I also hope to god that this is the only birthday he will have to "miss".  If he has to sacrifice this one to make sure he is there for the rest of them then so be it.

There is so much of him that I miss, there is so much of our relationship that I miss, i cant wait to get them back, I will fight to reclaim the things that cancer has taken away from us because if we dont get them back then the cancer has won hasnt it!
It seems as time goes on I get more and more emotional.  Cuddling up next to him in bed, i struggle to fight back the tears, the what if's and the why's, I love him so much it hurts, it makes my heart ache to think of all he (we) have been through and i dont think we will ever understand why.

A special friend of mine posted some things in her blog tonight that I can identify with even though our situations are so very different, I hope she does not mind me sharing the bits that stood out:-

I am not strong. I'm just numb. When you tell me I am strong, I feel that you don't see me.

Please don't say, "Call me if you need anything." I'll never call you because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have.

Most of all thank you for being my friend. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping, for understanding. 

Well the insomnia is finally leaving me so its time to go and hold my man tight and close and pray i get to hold him tight every night as long as I live!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Self destruct

Today I seem to be in self destruct mode, dont know what else to say really.

I have worked hard on my diet and exercise but tonight i cant be bothered with anything, i have spent the day crying at daft little things, everything just seems too much today.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The end it in sight!

Dare I say things seem to be going well!  Rich is coming up to his last chemo at the local hospital and has so far managed to have them all on schedule.  His bloods have recovered well inbetween treatments and I am sure his positivity and relaxed attitude has helped with this.
When we chatted to the Dr on Monday we discussed the Intrathecal (spinal) chemo and up till now we assumed that it would be just the one but he has told us that it will be 4 treatments, each a week apart.  This fills me with absolute dread and im sure it does him too.  Its going to be a very tough month as we have to travel to Cardiff for the treatment which is a good 2-2.5 hour drive each way which I am going to have to tackle not having much experience of driving on motorways, never mind round a city like Cardiff.  Also we will have to go in his car as it is a miracle if mine makes it up our drive in one piece.  Driving his car makes me nervous, more so when he is in the passenger seat giving me "advice".
There is a MASSIVE round a bout outside the hospital which scared the living daylights out of me when i was a passenger, how on earth am I going to cope driving round it?  This is probably not a big deal and im probably worrying about nothing but the panic is slowly setting in.  I must however remember that this is nothing, totally trivial compared to the worry that Rich will be experiencing at the thought of having a needle in his spine!  Of course as usual he has not really said much about it but I know him and I know he will be stewing about it and before the first one he will be working himself up inside.

On a plus note, the end is in sight.  It does not mean that the nightmare is nearly over, that will be in a few years when he gets the all clear, that is the day I look forward to the most.  I cant even imagine how it will feel, or even how we will feel on that day.  I wonder if life will change again or if the cancer has put us into a new direction in life?

I am back to the gym tomorrow morning with my big bro.  The training for the 5K is going well, as is the sponsorship!  I cannot believe in a week I have almost raised £600!  The messages of support have been overwhelming and if im feeling a bit fed up and unmotivated I sit and have a read and it gives me the kick up the arse i need to get up and get going again, so to those of you who have visited and sponsored me, a big thanks from the bottom of my heart, you people rock!

I do have some exciting news!  The local paper contacted me this week and want to use our story to launch their Race For Life coverage.  I think it is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of Lymphoma and get the message across that its not only people who smoke or old people or unfit/unhealthy people who have cancer.  Lymphoma is the biggest cause of cancer in the under 30's yet most people dont know that yet they all know that smoking causes cancer!
Im not sure how Rich feels about being in the newspaper, he is a very quiet and naturally shy person but he has said himself that if it helps someone out there then it will be worth it.
I will post the article nearer the time.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


That just about sums up how I felt this evening when I checked my sponsorship page
I cant believe the page has only been open since Monday and I am over 70% of the way to my first target.  It is just amazing how generous people are both with their money and encouragement.  It is really helping to spur me on and make me more determined to do this.  I really enjoy running and get frustrated because my legs seem to give up before the rest of me is ready to!
I am using the Iphone Couch to 5k app which i can thoroughly recommend to anyone who is wanting to get into running,  I have no running skills at all but this app has helped me to improve my fitness and running distance in a few short weeks. (No i dont work for Apple lol)
Rich is getting back to "normal" now after his last lot of chemo and has started back working at the house we are building.  The house is looking amazing!  Rich has done most of it by himself in his spare time which is why it has taken us almost 9 years so far, but when it is finished its going to be another huge milestone in this crazy journey they call life!!

Monday, 17 January 2011

And so it begins...

I am officially signed up ready for my Race For Life which takes place on the 19th June, a few days before my birthday.  This year there will be one difference, i wont be running in memory, i will be running in hope and with pride.
If you have followed my blog, or just taken 2 mins just to read this post then please take a look at my page
The minimum donation is £2 and every donation is a step towards finding a cure.
My heartfelt thanks to you all.
Ally xx
<a href='' alt='JustGiving - Sponsor me now!' target='_blank'><img src='' width='120' height='90'></a>

Saturday, 15 January 2011

It's only pain...

That's what i kept telling myself when I was on the treadmill at the gym on Friday.  Its been a rather long time since i went running.  I went for one session before xmas but then i came down with the flu and then pneumonia so that was the end of my training.  The aim of this pain?  To run Race For Life and proudly display Rich's name on my back!

I have done RFL every year bar one since it started being held in our local town and although I have never managed to do as well as id like to, I have always finished the race in a respectable time and up till now I have raised £1,659.70 (Which im a bit taken a back by to be honest!!)

Last time I had this determination I  was running the 5K Race for Life, 7 months after giving birth, for a very special little girl Evie.  Evie was born on the 4th of October 2008 weighing 6lb.  A beautiful little girl who captured the hearts of not only her parents, Carly and Mark, but everyone who saw her.  A month later Evie was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections. There are two main types of white blood cells-lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. ALL affects lymphoid cells.
Leukemia cells are abnormal cells that cannot do what normal blood cells do. The abnormal cells are immature white blood cells that cannot help the body fight infections. For this reason, children with ALL often get infections and have fevers.
ALL is also called acute lymphocytic leukemia. It is the most common leukemia in children.
Sadly on the 24th November Evie lost her battle for life, with her parents at her side, she was 7 weeks old.
  As a mum to a baby of a similar age it really tugged at my heartstrings and I wanted to do something in her memory and as I had done RFL previously i felt it was the ideal opportunity.  On that occasion alone i raised £784.50!  When something is close to your heart it really motivates you to do something.

This time its the same, although a lot closer to home.  This year I have a sense of determination I have never felt before.  I feel I owe it to Rich to get myself fit and healthy and I NEED to raise awareness and as much money as I possibly can.  In an ideal world I would love to match the total I have raised so far.  In a real world I know money is tight for a lot of people and im not even sure I know enough people to enable me to raise that much but I will give it everything I have and try my best.

If anyone reading this has any ideas or suggestions then please post them and as soon as I am able to sign up for the race then I shall post a link to my just giving page.

So tomorrow when I am back on that treadmill and it is REALLY burning I will be saying to myself "It's only pain" after all Rich has cancer!!


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Number 5!

Well that's chemo number 5 out of the way!  It was a long wait today, we arrived at 9:30 as usual and were sent straight to the day ward for Rich to settle himself on a bed (after his fainting episode he is no longer allowed to sit in the comfy chairs).  Tracy, his assigned nurse, came and put the heat pack on his hand straight away and after a few minutes Dr Mike came and put his cannula in.

Then we waited, and waited and waited a bit longer.......I got a little bit peckish and wandered off to the shop to get some food hoping that by the time I returned they would have got underway, no such luck!  I sat and ate my food and then finally about 11:30am Tracy came in with the drips and off we went!

Treatment is always very quick, about half an hour usually.  Tracy is very good and chats away nineteen to the dozen about random things which helps to make the time go by faster and also puts you at ease a little (as much as you can be with toxic drugs being pumped into the body of the man you adore)  During treatment I often trek down to pharmacy to collect all the drugs that he will be taking for the next week or so.  There are steroids (20 a day), stomach settlers, anti gout and 2 types of anti sickness (although he still manages to be sick!)  This is a huge contrast to his life before cancer when he wouldn't even consider taking paracetamol for a headache.

The drive home is probably worse than the drive there, treatment has become familiar now, we know how the process works and although its an anxious time, he is in safe hands and we know now what's coming.  Today's drive home was painfully silent which made me anxious, was there something wrong and he wasn't telling me?  Was he feeling sick already?  What was going through his mind?  I still cant answer those questions as he is a typical man who keeps it all in and will only show fear and anxiety through stropiness which I have learnt to ignore.  I also feel a sense of relief when we leave the hospital, I feel as though I have him back, he is in my care now and I can look after him.  I know the nurses on the day unit are fantastic beyond words but at the end of the day we are trusting them with his life, and that is a hell of a lot of trust to put into someone! When he is home he is mine, I can wrap my arms around him and protect him from the outside world.

Today I am tired and frustrated.  I feel like the responsibility for everything is on my shoulders and i'm constantly thinking about 3 days ahead, trying to mentally prepare who is going where and doing what on which day.  I sometimes feel resentful that this has come into our lives at this time.  I got cross this morning that after getting up at 7:30am, getting the two girls up and dressed, Jade off to the bus then Richie up and fed, bottles made ready for his day an nannies, bag packed and ready to leave by 8:45 and all Rich has to do is get up, dressed and make his breakfast then off we go.  I am not in his position so I don't know how thought consuming it can be going for chemo or to have cancer.  He has said before that he needs to focus on himself and I can totally understand that, this is his life on the line, but at the same time his family need him and his children and growing and changing so fast that he needs to cherish every second with them no matter what is going on.
I lost my dad when I was 7 and grew up not knowing what it was like to have that father and daughter relationship and my biggest fear has always been that I would lose Rich too.  Until now we have had our feet comfortably under life's table but now things are different, now we have had a second chance and I need to make the most of life and what it has in store!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Twas the night before chemo....

I hate the night before chemo, I feel nervous, sick, scared, anxious and a million and one other negative things.  I worry about how he will react, how many times he will be sick, how long will it take for him to start feeling better.....thank goodness im not the one having the chemo otherwise id be a gibbering mess on the floor!

We are still waiting to hear from Cardiff about the lumbar puncture and spinal chemo and i am praying that they dont find any traces of it in his spinal fluid, i dont think we could take anymore bad news.

Baby Richie is 3 months old tomorrow, he was born a week before chemo started, those 3 months have passed in a blur and we will always see his birthday as milestone in more than one way.

Isnt it funny how during every xmas hols i always moan about him being off work, but now after being off work for over 3 months im dreading it!!  I have loved every second of him being at home with me its just a shame it was for horrible reasons!

Sunday, 9 January 2011


There is one thing in life that you can always rely on and guarantee and that's friendship.

I am very lucky to have an impressive number of friends, these friends are always there day and night, they keep my feet on the ground, they listen to my every moan, they cry with me and laugh with me.  They are never too busy to offer advice or "give me a slap with a wet fish".  They never cease to amaze me with their thoughtfulness and kindness.

Since Rich was diagnosed with Lymphoma they have been there for me every single day, even before the diagnosis when we were worried about the test results they were there to reassure me.

Now you may think I am very lucky to have all these friends, and that is true, I am blessed with having the most amazing people in my life, but the sad thing is I have never met half of them and probably never will.  You see I am a member of a very special online community which I became involved in 2 years ago when a lovely lady I had "met" online needed some help in setting up a forum.  I offered to lend a hand and the rest is history.  2 years later and with almost 200 members we are a pretty special and unique friendship group.

These ladies have done so much for me I cant even begin to list them all.  Each one of them is special and thoughtful and is always on hand whenever I need them.

I know there are people out there who think that having online "friends" is odd for me its perfect.  Whenever I need help, advice, sympathy or just another point of view I just open up my laptop and there they are!  What more could you want?

Monday, 3 January 2011

Life after the big C?

Today I took down the xmas decorations, cleaned the lounge from top to bottom and relished in the normality now that xmas is out of the way, this led me to thinking how we will feel when (fingers crossed) Rich is cancer free.

Will life just go back to normal again or will there always be that "fear" that it will come back? Do you panic with every sniffle/ache/slight pain? Can you ever fully relax? I am sure there are those of you reading this who can offer me some kind of answer to my questions but I know that for everyone their experiences differ greatly.

I have an inspiration, a lady called Helen (I hope she does not mind me mentioning her) . We have never met yet I look up to her and look to her as an example of strength and courage. We "met" via the internet long before Rich was ill. She has been there and won her fight with cancer and has gone on to have a beautiful little boy so I guess that is proof that there certainly is life after cancer. She, along with many other of my lovely friends, has been there every step of the journey to offer support and guidance and to give me a patients perspective to help me understand tough times that little bit better.

For now though this is just a dream, something to look forward to. A time where we are not counting down to the next chemo or blood test, a time when we can make plans and not worry about how it fits into treatment and hospital appointments.

We have a holiday booked for September, our first since the diagnosis and since Richie was born. This cant come soon enough and I live in hope that Rich is well enough to enjoy it too.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


Do you believe in fate or is life just a bunch of coincidences? I have been thinking about this a lot today because there are so many things in my life that can be put down to fate that I wonder if it is possible? Let me explain...

Rich was born in Essex, me in Wales. By chance (fate?) his family had always holidayed in this area and decided to move here. Had that not happened then we would have never met.

The random email that was sent to everyone by his friend, had i not replied then we would never have started going out.

When discussing with family where Rich lived it transpired that my Grandad used to work on the same farm as a young man (before his parents owned it obviously) so i already have a family connection to this place.

After we had our second child I was keen to try again straight away, there was something telling me that we needed to try again quickly. The timing worked out as such that baby came a week before he started his treatment, perfect timing really (fate again?)

Rich got a small electric shock off one of the fences on the farm a few months before his shoulder started playing up, this was the only reason he went to the Dr because he thought he had damaged it from the shock, turned out not to be anything to do with the shock but a tumour growing out of his shoulder blade. Was it fate that he had this shock considering his job (electrician) and how careful he is usually around electricity?

Was it fate that meant our last child was a boy? The one thing that Rich really wanted and the one thing that was guaranteed to lift his spirits after diagnosis?

Who knows if these things were just pure chance or if there is a greater force at work? Im not a religious person so im not one for "God's will" or anything like that but it just seems to me that everything is happening for a reason.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!!

It has been such a long time since I have sat down with 5 mins to spare to write about what has been going on so while I rock our son to sleep with my foot I shall sit and babble for a bit!

Well Christmas has been and gone and it was all rather a blur. Flu decided to hit our household just before so I spent most of it sleeping or coughing. Thankfully it seems to have evaded Rich at the moment with just a bit of a sniffle and a cough.

Talking of which he is doing well. He had chemo number 4 just before xmas and made a quick recovery in time to enjoy the day with the children. I was looking at photos of him last night on facebook and it looked really odd seeing him with hair! It took me such a long time to get used to him having no hair so it seems odd saying this but i do know that i want him to grow it back, i do miss playing with his hair when we have a cuddle!

We are still awaiting an appointment for Rich to have his lumbar puncture and spinal chemo. I am really not looking forward to this appointment because i know he is dreading it too. He has been so strong through all this treatment which has kept me strong too.