35, an unremarkable age for most, but for me, a milestone. There have been a number of times this year when I didn’t think I would make it to here; two near heart attacks, and a winter bug that made me critical ill given my vulnerable body and battered immune system. Moments that made us appreciate more than ever the fragile state I am in as it hit home that everything could be over for me very suddenly. But each time I pulled through and bounced back remarkably well, something that I put down to my healthy diet and lifestyle (and sheer determination to stick around!)

2019 has been an unbelievably challenging year. A rollercoaster of emotions, multiple emergency hospital emissions, ongoing fatigue and pain, and continuous chemotherapy. I have one more round before Christmas which will be my 23rd, then a scan in the new year, after which we’ll decide whether I continue with treatment depending on how much the cancer has progressed. It’s going to be a difficult decision I expect.

The last two months have been especially tough as the infection that caused my hospital stay in October really took its toll. I’m still weak and the liver pain makes it hard for me to get active and strong again. I am slowly rebuilding day by day but it’s difficult. I also don’t have an appetite any more, something I struggle with mentally as well as physically as food has always been such a joy in my life. I do my best to enjoy it still, but often I look at my plate and can hardly bear to eat. With my weight at a level that makes me clinically underweight, it’s a vicious cycle of lack of energy and inability to exercise which reduces my appetite further. I need to start moving more again, a 5 minute walk along the canal each day, and a few yoga stretches every morning. I know what I need to do, but sometimes it’s hard to take my own advice when being curled on the sofa with a hot water bottle is so much more appealing! Thank goodness for my energy bunny Oscar who demands I play, dance and carry him upstairs (seriously akin to running a marathon for me as our house is over 3 floors)!

Whilst planning is near impossible these days, we’ve managed some wonderful birthday and Christmas celebrations this month; theatre trips to the Snowman and the pantomime, a delightful few days in Devon where I spent many wonderful childhood holidays, a party with friends for Brian’s 40th, and a special night away last night at the fabulous Babington House near Bath. The new year, new decade, now seems within reach and it feels like a big achievement that I will see 2020! Who knows what the year ahead will hold. I know it won’t be an easy one again, but right now it feels good that I’ll be able to celebrate its arrival!

In terms of treatment, we are now sure we’ve exhausted mainstream options, but I’ve upped the complementary treatments, with an increased supplement regime including various cytotoxic (cancer killing) compounds (some of which truly taste like poison!), far infrared sauna, an oxygen concentrator, regular acupuncture for pain, CBD oil for pain and to help me sleep, and mistletoe injections. Whilst the pain relief options are well researched and very helpful, evidence on all of the anti cancer therapies is limited, and none are a cure, but at this stage, I’m prepared to try anything really, and each thing may just keep me going a little bit longer!

On a separate note, I’ve been so delighted with the memories people have sent me written on photos/ cards! They’ve warmed my heart, made me laugh, smile and cry. I’m putting them all in an album which I’m going to keep in my hospital bag (yes, I have one permanently packed ready) so that I can reread them if/when I’m next in hospital. Do keep them coming please! FYI, it’s the memories that are more important to me than the pictures as I have dozens of albums of photos and it’s the words that make it really personal. I also think this will be really lovely for Oscar to have in the future… a fantastic insight into all aspects and periods of my life and the people who knew and loved me!

So on that note, merry Christmas everyone and may 2020 be full of joy for you all.