yo soy una graduada

please enjoy some visual aids / the remains of photoshoot day, sorry I mean GRADUATION from Cambridge!! Holy smokes I made it.
Cambridge Undergrad Class of 2018.
Thanks to the peloton for taking the lead when my legs got tired whole tribe (you, lovely reader included), for your love and support along the way… we’re drifting into 4 years post-transplant territory and me oh my I managed to pick up a souvenir certificate from Cambodge in the interim. Any ideas for my next challenge (as they say on youtube, ‘comment below’)…

More from me when cloud 9 dissolves a little… and I can see the keyboard to type! hasta!

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WOW

W O A H .

A week tomorrow, my Cambridge Finals begin. Unreal.

How did we get here? Where has the time gone? Can you believe that one brazen application, the first paragraph of which was about this blog & then interviewing with a bald head would have led me here?! Most days are still pinch-me moments. The mothership will kill me if I write much more, so for now,  PRAY4LIV.

(and once it’s all over, I’ll write and tell you about the peaks and troughs of the last 3 years in this crazy bubble they call Cambridge…!)

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a thousand days of a second chance

1000 days since (midday) 31 July 2014.

  • 86,400,000 seconds since the stench of sweetcorn hit our nostrils
  • 1,440,000 minutes since the baby cells began their navigational ‘rescue’ mission
  • 24,000 hours since day 0 stem cell transplant
  • 142 weeks and 6 days
  • Or 2 years, 8 months, 26 days including today.
  • Approx the length of 2 Cambridge undergrad degrees.. at 567 days per BA.
  • Same time as it would take to mount and complete an early 19th century expedition across a largely unexplored continent teeming with wildlife and potentially hostile indigenous people that starts in St. Louis, reaches the Pacific Ocean, and ends back in St. Louis without losing more than a single member while being hunted by four teams of mercenaries and soldiers commissioned by Spain. Sorry woah went on a bit of a tangent there… you get the point..? Is there one? It’s a solid length of time!

But really, in the words of the song from Rent,
“how do you measure a year* in the life?
In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife

How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love”

What else can you do in 1000 days? Live! Boy have I lived. I have travelled and met new people and challenged myself in ways I never imagined possible, I have used my brain and pushed my body in sport, and tried to be a better person. I have had average days and very bad days and very good days – normal life.. I have been challenged by physical and mental recovery. I still have moments when everything feels so enormous and fresh and recent and angry and sad, and some days when I think very little about the coup d’état my body tried to pull on me.
This isn’t going to turn into a list of the birthdays I’ve had, or the things I’ve done since 31st july 2014 [that’s for when the real revision procrastination hits – watch out!], but a genuine acknowledgement of this odd little life, full of [you] wonderful people with big huge hearts, who I really want to send alot of love and appreciation to! Here’s to the next thousand! xo

p.s. i promise I’m not dragging things out – this is a pretty big milestone & at over the halfway tipping point to c.u.r.e.
*= or 2.5 holy guacamole.

(click hère for full song / seasons of love – check it out it’s really great!)

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Wild dreams

Humbled to have been nominated as a ‘Woman to Watch in 2017’.  Good gracious it’s a privilege to have been named alongside some of Cambridge’s most inspiring and talented women.  Never ever would have thought that this list would have my name on it, a fun surprise. 

Please vote if you’ve got a couple of seconds 🌺

http://thetab.com/uk/brands/2017/03/20/cambridge-students-named-women-watch-2017-13385

*voting closed me oh my I was named top3 Women in Cambridge & 17th in the UK..! Thank you for always having my back! https://thetab.com/future-100/olivia-buckland

and one of 4  inspiring Student Leaders in the UK… holy moly
http://sponsoredstories.thetab.com/unilever/students-inspiring-people-past-limits/index.html

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On this day

Just read back my blog posts from this week 2013 & 2014 – the doors of diagnosis had been flung wide open and we stood staring, wide-eyed with disbelief and uncertainty about the future.

Spring had sprung and so had my non-refundable induction into the exclusive world of the cancer patient club.

Through it all, the mombulance /mothership/ mama buck/ Mrs B/ HRH Mum was right beside me & she and dad continue to give us their all. Love you best friends and look at us now!

*except when she didn’t want to stay on the hospital campbed in my room every night for a month but we’ll forgive that.

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Chop time 

dear darling chemo and creme egg readers, hi, it’s been a while ey.

Welcome to 2017. So far uneventful & believe me there have been events since we last spoke that I need to fill you in on. BUT later. 

 This is my last evening at home before I resubmerge myself into the Cambridge bubble. And so to celebrate and send me on my way, the mothership is insisting (as she has been for the past year) that I get a haircut. She’s finally broken me. That or I’m desperately procrastinating the tricky middle paragraphs of my dissertation away. ..

At 5.30 I’m going for the chop. Well it’ll be a trim. A couple of inches at the most. I’ve dug my heels in for long enough. These beautiful chemo curls will either prove themselves to be just that – chemo curls, or my hair may actually have gone curly… I’ll keep you posted. 

Anyway this is a fairly big deal for me and I wanted to share it with you. I mean, you were there when I shaved it, when mum hoovered it off (top tip : saves the mess), when I was complaining about looking like an egg with eyeballs, you were there when life as a Maggie Thatcher hair model transitioned into an untameable Diana tribute circa ’87, and when I couldn’t quite do much other than be happy I had some thermal protection for my ears. So here we go. Bye bye baby fresh (little bit dry but loved none the less) hair. You made me look more human than I felt and I’m grateful to you for deciding to sprout again from the lid. 

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please sign,

http://actnow.anthonynolan.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1942&ea.campaign.id=47185&en_chan=fb&en_ref=105911452

NHS England is planning to stop funding second stem cell transplants.
If I were to relapse again a [second] donor transplant would be my only option / offering the highest survival rate.

Please consider using your voice to prevent this decision from going through. And then share with your granny, uncle, cousin, neighbour, greengrocer, au pair – and get them to sign and share too.
xoxo

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I'm fine .

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I’m fine .

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Not feeling myself 

 

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They’re going to unzip the DNA and find the typo.

Humans of New York – one of my absolute favourite outcomes of social media – a photo series featuring candid photos and a short segment of an interview always seemingly uncovering a layer of true goodness, beauty, vulnerability, honesty – just humanity – inside everyone – have released a photo series this week in a New York hospital on a ward for paediatric cancer. The photos and their captions have been heart-warming, saddening, but also totally relatable for me. I wish I could publish every caption to the blog for you to read – but go via this one if you want more.

I would LOVE to operate a series like Brandon Stanton’s HONY; I love people.

My oncologists would someway somehow be targets for investigation at some point. They are humans too – and now when I go for check-ups I often feel guilty wasting their time.

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hair-stashe.

12/-4/16

This day (I’m fairly sure) three years ago, I was blissfully sat on Barry beach with Georgie & Beth – who were facilitating a bucket list wish to hit up the wonderousness that is Barry Island. Arcade, sandy beach, sunshine in april, and of course paying homage to Gavin and Stacey at Dave coaches/nessa’s ticket booth.

Whilst sat on the steps of the beach, I can vividly remember pulling a thick pinch of hair across my face and under my nose, inhaling the fading but still tropical shampoo smell from the morning. I said something about loving the smell of freshly washed hair and how much i was going to miss it/wasn’t going to be doing this for long time – and as all lovely friends do, they reassured me and steered the conversation in a positive direction. I had been home, recovering from surgery and was in Cardiff for a last hurrah before packing up my room and being collected by Dad to come home to begin that incomprehensible treatment a few days later.

 

…the reason I’m telling you all of this loosely tied up (pun not intended but will happily leave it) and frankly boring info olivia, is because today as I walked back to college from the bike racks, I reflexively ran my fingers through my hair and took a chunk from behind my ear, holding it under my nose and inhaling a deep memory. I totally surprised myself when I did this and was instantly back on Barry Island, the last time I can remember doing that. The same thing happened a couple of days later when I grabbed all my hair back and pulled it into a top knot, out of the way so I could get on with my work – again totally reflexively – didn’t even think about what I was doing until it had been done. My jokes are a bit lame these days; do you think all hair staying in a hair bobble for more than 3 minutes can be classified as a party trick?!

Since that first time I pulled all my hair into a bobble – and it stayed beyond keeping my head totally stock still – since it’s grown back, I have had this strange dawning realisation that there are three stages of people who know ‘me’ now. There are those who knew me before I was ill (I guess as this list lengthens, each group runs into the next). Those who I met whilst I was ill, those who I met (after I was done ‘being’ sick / in remission / not sure which phraseology works best here) whilst it was obvious something had happened but they weren’t explicitly sure what, and those who perhaps now from looking at me – you would be none the wiser.
The external representation of being a cancer patient, is in the first instance the trademark bald head. Why the trademark and auto-assumptive properties? Because cancer (now here I’m generalising I’m sure) doesn’t give you a bald head. Nor does your body shutting down because of the coup that’s being staged in (in my case) your blood stream. The drugs you chose to attack those DNA typos makes you bald. This shouldn’t be the scary part – the part to fear. Should it perhaps be celebrated as the sign that you, yes you,  you’re doing it – you’re headed back to life. To health.

I don’t think I’ve ever written so many ‘yous’ in the same sentence. The ‘You’. Thats what the fear is though, right? Losing a sense of who you are to a drug-addled haze. Maybe your own mortality and the legacy you leave being of someone that wasn’t you. That was my fear. I loathed and hated every day of treatment and still do, but that is not the person I will let myself become. The drugs are harsh as the worst thing you can imagine but actually they’re for your own good. Granted not all of the side effects will be ‘good’ and perhaps not for a long time will you recover, (perhaps mentally there will always be a corner of your mind that is cancer land. One day you may be able to build the walls around it, over time adding a ceiling, a front door, some windows, so that it becomes a place you choose to visit, not a deco-tenticled monster that seeps into your every thought and moment of quietness.). BUT. If you understand that treatment for cancer left you with something beneficial (a.k.a. life) then that’s pretty sweeeet.

 

Peace, love & long or short or no hair at all.

 

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Condensing…

World Cancer Day – 4th Feb.. Not sure how I feel about this giving a day to cancer or to awareness or whoknowswhat..! Anyway – the lovely president of the Cambridge CATS (Cancer Awareness in Teenagers) Society asked me if I would be involved in the photo-series ‘Students of Cambridge’, who in the week building up to W.C.D. were going to profile some young cancer survivors.

‘Sure! Absolutely!’ What a priviledge to be asked that suddenly turned into a daunting prospect. Not because 15 minutes before I was meant to have my photo taken, was in the shower and the fire alarm went off.. nor because I really cared about the photo element at all – but mostly about what I was going to say and how it would come across. It’s very hard to condense 3 years worth of an experience into a couple of paragraphs and capture the essence of it all or totally miss the gun and wish more could have been said. After all once publish has been hit – there’s no going back and retracting things or people unreading them. SO.

I was interviewed and had photos taken. Zeena emailed me the final write-up just to make sure that all details were okay and I was happy. But I really struggled with what was there – not so much that any of it was wrong just I wanted everything there, not just the big parts but all of it. The culmination of so many medical and non-medical but absolutely integral people and drugs and other things that dragged me through. I felt like I was about to make a speech to the world and it had to be just right.

I started to edit.. it became a 3 page word document. I should have just sent the blog link.

But then I felt totally ingenuine. Brandon, the creator of HONY (Human’s Of New York), the original photo-series, never fails to capture the goodness in the people/his photographed strangers/subjects within their segments of their interviews that he publishes. And of course, the caption is meant to just hint that everyone has their own lives and thoughts and should be valued equally in this world.

(Think  the Oscars and thanking everyone bar your mum and the director = major life regret. Even though they know how important they are.)

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life at my pace

 

Life is busy and things are going well. My next oncology appointment is mid-april during the spring vacation but until then I’m happily filling my time with friends, rowing, dinners, parties, playing netball, and working and enjoying it all. This week was the Lent Bumps regatta series – a traditional ‘chasing’ race up the River Cam. The premise is that crews line up and chase to bump (yes quite literally the aim is to hit the crew in front of you, but avoid the crew chasing you by rowing faster than them) out and climb or drop a rung in a ladder style divisions table. The crew gave it everything they had and over the four days/races, we rowed over (neither bumped – just raced the whole course to the finish line – so our position was maintained for the next day) twice, and bumped up twice (bumped two crews). Mum, dad & kb came to watch on saturday which was great! Homerton M1 now sitting at 4th in Division 2 – the highest we’ve ever been in the history of the college! Onwards and upwards! (enjoy the photos from el regatta… mostly me looking kinda mad..
Two weeks left of this semester, only one all-nighter had to be done this time bc of my  s l o w  reading (can I call chemo brain out on that one?!). The sun is out in Cambridge today (leap year day) and there are cherry blossom buds peeping everywhere! Book recommendation of the term : ‘The Long Song’ by Andrea Levy.

** Two weeks ago our netball 1st team popped to London & took part in the World Record attempt for the longest netball match played (90hrs > we played a flat-out hour). I am a World Record Holder. WOOO!! **

**I like posting pictures of ‘the now’ in the main blog posts column so that as you scroll down they can be compared to the ones of treatment fun times on the right and I can restore my gratitude / perspective. **

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time waits for no man….

…. so don’t fret about your hair and enjoy life now.

I’ve been collecting selfies  I set myself a project the second time I welcomed back the shiny head that if and when andhair timelapse eventually and definitely the/my hair began to grow back I would take on a new project and snap a photo every fortnight to eventually compile a timelapse / photo series. Who knew how long I would be able to commit to it for..? Well, it turns out I (am really vain) committed for the long haul and have many many more images – I think up until starting uni I was on track with at least a photo or two a fortnight, then things dropped off a bit but I was so happy to finally take some time & begin to put this together.  I wanted to complete it for the 1year remission milestone in November but alas sometimes life gets in the way.. so here we are at 15 months remission worth of hair growth!

And so dear reader, I wanted to show you this work in progress. Aaaand of course squeeze in a little cliché; what a difference a year makes!

Enjoy. ‘Hair Nov 2014 – Present – Feb 2016′

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full of happiness

thanks to wonderful friends and family for a very special birthday & for all the lovely messages and general bday love..feeling 22! Mahalo!
and the blog is BACK!! Will fill you in on what’s been going on soon… for now.. happy friday! and tune into cam.fm [ http://bumps.camfm.co.uk/ ] tomorrow, friday and saturday (27/02) at 15.18 GMT for live coverage of races I’m coxing for Homerton M1.
Life is as good as you decide to make it. Peace.

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metaphors and mountain lions

Came across this hilarious allegory  this morning. Caitlin Feeley has created something great and in the process hit the nail on the head.

“What’s it like to go through cancer treatment? It’s something like this: one day, you’re minding your own business, you open the fridge to get some breakfast, and OH MY GOD THERE’S A MOUNTAIN LION IN YOUR FRIDGE.

Wait, what? How? Why is there a mountain lion in your fridge? NO TIME TO EXPLAIN. RUN! THE MOUNTAIN LION WILL KILL YOU! UNLESS YOU FIND SOMETHING EVEN MORE FEROCIOUS TO KILL IT FIRST!

So you take off running, and the mountain lion is right behind you. You know the only thing that can kill a mountain lion is a bear, and the only bear is on top of the mountain, so you better find that bear. You start running up the mountain in hopes of finding the bear. Your friends desperately want to help, but they are powerless against mountain lions, as mountain lions are godless killing machines. But they really want to help, so they’re cheering you on and bringing you paper cups of water and orange slices as you run up the mountain and yelling at the mountain lion – “GET LOST, MOUNTAIN LION, NO ONE LIKES YOU” – and you really appreciate the support, but the mountain lion is still coming.

Also, for some reason, there’s someone in the crowd who’s yelling “that’s not really a mountain lion, it’s a puma” and another person yelling “I read that mountain lions are allergic to kale, have you tried rubbing kale on it?”

As you’re running up the mountain, you see other people fleeing their own mountain lions. Some of the mountain lions seem comparatively wimpy – they’re half grown and only have three legs or whatever, and you think to yourself – why couldn’t I have gotten one of those mountain lions? But then you look over at the people who are fleeing mountain lions the size of a monster truck with huge prehistoric saber fangs, and you feel like an asshole for even thinking that – and besides, who in their right mind would want to fight a mountain lion, even a three-legged one?

Finally, the person closest to you, whose job it is to take care of you – maybe a parent or sibling or best friend or, in my case, my husband – comes barging out of the woods and jumps on the mountain lion, whaling on it and screaming “GODDAMMIT MOUNTAIN LION, STOP TRYING TO EAT MY WIFE,” and the mountain lion punches your husband right in the face. Now your husband (or whatever) is rolling around on the ground clutching his nose, and he’s bought you some time, but you still need to get to the top of the mountain.

Eventually you reach the top, finally, and the bear is there. Waiting. For both of you. You rush right up to the bear, and the bear rushes the mountain lion, but the bear has to go through you to get to the mountain lion, and in doing so, the bear TOTALLY KICKS YOUR ASS, but not before it also punches your husband in the face. And your husband is now staggering around with a black eye and bloody nose, and saying “can I get some help, I’ve been punched in the face by two apex predators and I think my nose is broken,” and all you can say is “I’M KIND OF BUSY IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED I’M FIGHTING A MOUNTAIN LION.”

Then, IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the bear leaps on the mountain lion and they are locked in epic battle until finally the two of them roll off a cliff edge together, and the mountain lion is dead.
Maybe. You’re not sure – it fell off the cliff, but mountain lions are crafty. It could come back at any moment.

And all your friends come running up to you and say “that was amazing! You’re so brave, we’re so proud of you! You didn’t die! That must be a huge relief!”

Meanwhile, you blew out both your knees, you’re having an asthma attack, you twisted your ankle, and also you have been mauled by a bear. And everyone says “boy, you must be excited to walk down the mountain!” And all you can think as you stagger to your feet is “fuck this mountain, I never wanted to climb it in the first place.””

Caitlin Feeley (2015) – the one, the only, the magnificent (https://twitter.com/caitlinfeeley)

 

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antibiotics and anti-essay-vibes

Day 3 on clarithromycin for the cough.. or respiratory infection / whatever it is. The 24/7 sour metallic taste is really delightful but nothing on chemo mouth so just imagining nice tastes again. The nightmares though are really something else.

In other news, I coxed my first race today with the Homerton Novice Women first boat in the Emma Sprints regatta on the Cam. (In fancy dress as Alice in Wonderland characters)  Side by side racing against other colleges – much fun. We had a narrow loss, followed by a great win of over two boat lengths! Not sure what position we came overall but a great boost and really encouraging effort from the crew after only a handful of water outings due to consistent bad weather recently. With 4 essays knocking on my door to be started I’m desperately trying to crack the halfway mark with the current one but I’ve hit a wall and have also exceeded all procrastination/distraction options. Room is tidy, many naps taken, food made, most of the internet exhausted, jobs done etc. Now waiting for divine inspiration. Just over two weeks to go until the end of term, I can’t believe (well actually I can) how quickly this term has gone and how drastically different life has been to the last two years. Human adjustment is v cool.

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Goddammit immune shytstem

“Amoxicillan. Actually, no I think we’ll go with some second order antibiotics.. because you probably are immunosuppresed. Potentially an upper respiratory infection or something like that. This is what I would prescribe when the first stuff doesn’t work.” Different GP.
Let’s get this antibiotics started show on the road – I’m busy I have a life now and that does not involve frequenting the doctors every other week pleeeeeease.


[ Instead it involves much time rowing and training and going out and having fun and playing netball and plays/concerts and working and lectures and eating and socialising and fun things that you do when you are well. This time last year and the year before, things were so different, I have a post-it on the pin board above my desk with the word ‘Perspective’ on it and key dates; Apr 2013, Apr 2014, July 2014. Incentive enough to LIVE NOW.]

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if its not one thing, its another

Pain settling down, occasionally greeting me but not as consistently. What a weird few weeks that was. Had a couple of days recently involving a very tender right rib cage, that woke me up in the night saying things like ‘ouch.’ Can’t be bothered to use the word ‘pain’ because I know what real pain is and these are not that. (appalling grammar that somehow makes sense?)

Aaaanyway in place of those central chest issues, I now have a non-productive, dry choking cough. For what reason I’m not sure. On a scale from 1 to annoying, it’s extremely irritating. Probably more for other people than myself. Especially in lectures. Pholcodine from home and picked up a herbal remedy ‘BroncoStop’ (was sucked in when I saw marshmallow root on the bottle, wish I had known it was going to taste like thyme syrup…). Neither really helping so booking to go and see GP again.. God they are really going to think I’m digging for something / major hypochondriac. This is all just coincidental.

Next available appointment in a week. If I haven’t choked to death or been hit over the head with a heavy book for disturbing people before then…

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oh[long exhale of breath]

night sweat. again. drenching.

To control the body you must first control the mind. But that’s near impossible when you’re asleep.

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Variables

I haven’t had the heating on in my room so far this term. So that can’t be the reason for the night sweat. I’ve not had a red bull nightcap, nor am I particularly stressed about work, or sleeping in alpine pjs.
Why oh why have I woken up twice in the last 10 days having to change bedding and my shorts and tshirt? Coincidence or not. This is not helping. #NightSweats

In other news the xray results have to be faxed to the oncol at home, which of course makes sense because they have nothing to compare the picture to here.. is that what they’ll do, send it down? Why can’t oncol dept. send my electronic scan results or something to cam radiology??

—- turns out the result that was faxed was a one-liner, not a visual.

—- oct 29th — Xray results ‘normal’. What does that mean? How can a 2d image of my internal chest be reported as normal, when not compared with any previous images/scans – and there is a strange shaped mass/scar tissue chillin’ next to my heart?!? Think I might be going crazy – how does no one else understand this? Nurse specialist just said she had results faxed over; I too went to pick them up. Blood levels all fine. Xray report literally says ‘Heart and mediastinum normal.’ Thats it?!?! Do I just sit around now and wait for the pain to go away, or have another night sweat!? I’m really not trying to create something, nor do I want to even imagine in my wildest dreams that there is anything sinister going on but I can’t quite wrap my mind around this ‘normal’ when they don’t have any of my notes or history to go on, to know my ‘normal’ – or at least most recent norm.

Going to go home next weekend. Need to get out of my head. Hard to even attempt to talk about this with anyone here and I don’t really want to – cancer chat always feels like the biggest sympathy scrape ugghhhhh

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deja-vu? I hope not

All a bit unsettled this week. On monday I went to the doctor in cambridge after over a week of serious deep chest pain on the right hand side of my spine. This persistent/consistent pain had me considering all sorts but mostly, and if you know the history you’ll be one step ahead here – is the scar tissue active again? V similar to when I relapsed and I couldn’t focus for the week. Which is annoying when you’re working at pace in an 8 week term. I’ve not picked up my exercise regimen recently, it’s been at a steady level for a few weeks now – so I’m not convinced it’s anything to do with that… but it could be that dang pesky scar tissue just shifting around but how much time does scar tissue need?! Thought everything would settle over a few days so just left it.

Then I had a drenching night sweat. Finally pushed me over the edge and booked to see the GP. Walked in, sat down, told her my potted history, concerns, and left with an xray & blood request. Luckily addenbrookes hospital is a 5 minute cycle from college so went early the next day for the bloods and the xray booked for the day after. [ Always feel brave having bloods done by myself – the phlebs (phlebotomist is looong) must think I have a screw loose when I start chatting away and trying to distract myself.] Funny old habits die hard, found myself telling the phleb that my veins are really stringy from chemo and often jump around… I wonder if this is still true, or if they’ve filled out again (do veins even do that?).

Chest Xray on weds was over in 30 seconds, the cycle in the pouring rain was fun. As was seeing the buckets dotted around the corridors, catching drips through the ceiling…. Kidding the pain as we cycled out of college gates was so intense for a minute I thought I was going to be sick.

Results next week, maybe sooner. Not that I’m expecting anything from the bloods as the markers never have and don’t highlight anything for me & old lymphoma in the back seat. Focusing on rowing to block things [thoughts/pains] out because that feels like the only time I can right now. Now we wait. aGAIN.

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Visual update of Cam life so far

Matriculation/ Formal dinners/ Fun times / Sporty times / LIVING LIFE AGAIN

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subtle…

On referral form there is a box for ‘Clinical question to be answered’. GP has written, ‘?relapse’. \

Um no thank you.

College are being really great about this – I had to let the college nurse know and then talk to my tutor as I am just not engaging with my private study, my minds’a wandering. More support than I ever had in the past few days than what feels like my whole time at Cardiff. Which is a shame because this is going to turn out to be nothing. I have decided that.

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back on an ergo, back in a boat

Very choked up stepping over the side and into the stroke seat of the boat this morning.

How strange the last time I was sat in a boat was in Cardiff, a real proper rowing boat and I had no idea what lay before me and the hurricane of change which was so imminent.

And guess what? After all this time, nothing has changed about the boat, the blade handle, the way the height of your hands and the handle when resting alters the balance of the boat.

So so very surreal. Closed my eyes and was whooshed back to the Tideway (River Thames) and the 6.8k Head of the River race and all the training that went into it – feeling excited about what lies ahead. But know that I must be careful and look after my body, so coxing the boats for now and slowly integrating more erg training and fitness.

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time flies

this evening I realised, well more remembered than realised,  that a few days ago was october 15th. A date that is not only the birthday of my favourite little human but also my first remission date.

And whilst I think / know that relapsing thus makes the first date of remission redundant, how strange to think that 2 years ago on the 15th October 2013 I had just been told I was in remission after finishing chemo a week or so earlier.. And had everything ahead of me but I couldn’t have predicted (as one never can in this funny life) how things would go over the next several months and then the gargantuous rollercoaster I would get back onto.

Very emotional remembering and wanting to reach out and give my younger self some guidance and a bloody massive hug for the road ahead. A bittersweet memory.

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Other things in my mind as new adventures begin..

– Benjamin button ; hair getting longer, going back to uni, its like rewinding a video and watching everything happening in reverse.

-this will be the longest time I’ll have been away from home since April 2013. Current record is the month in hospital for the transplant.
-have to keep reminding myself I’m in the country it’s just school it’s going to be fine
– do I pack my Cardiff kit? will I get back into rowing? am i small enough to be a cox>?

-on the eve of making new friends, I realise now more than ever how much the stalwarts in my life have done for me. Those that I’d known forever and those that I’d only met at Cardiff a few months prior. I was and am
So lucky.

I want to apologise to anyone who I may have inadvertently pushed away with my selfishness of protecting myself and energy levels – I just blocked everyone out especially at those low moments when I just wanted to sack it all in and stop the treatment.
I know term is short but closing my bedroom door this afternoon I said bye & thanks to my bed. For holding me and not letting me go. Especially on the first day at home after the ICE chemo, perhaps for another blog post but that was one of the lowest moments of it all. Lain in bed thinking I’m dying and I’m going to die here in my bed with my parents sat next to me. But something strange happened in that calm and time moved on and my body dug deep and let the poison poison me and then leave.

AND NOW I HAVE LIFE AGAIN. Perspective is the most valuable attribute I have gained from this experience.

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Leaving home

leaving home, leaving the nest, the cocoon, stretching that damned metaphorical bubble the furthest it’s ever been stretched since I stepped inside in march 2013.
Have I done it? Am I ready? Will I ever be ready? OMG.
Many moments of private tears over the past few days when gathering things together; a culmination of flashbacks from packing for uni the first time and wondering what I would have done differently knowing what I know now. Also trying to think of all the things I have achieved whilst at home. And berating myself for not having done more, read more, cooked more, created more, painted more, practiced my uke more.
This week the girls next door taught me how to ripstick.
A space age-y skateboard that requires wobbly knees and ankles to move. With much determination and hours of practice up and down the road after school I finally got it (although fluke because the next day I was back to basics!!). It really served as a reminder to me that there is no substitute for hard work – I need to remember this in the upcoming weeks and months as I get back into that thing called routine.
I have absolutely no idea what to expect and also not sure who I am anymore, looking back on this whole time (if you don’t know by now I hate the phrase ‘journey’) it feels almost dream like – bad dream but dream all the same. I’m not quite sure who I am after it all however, so in order to help myself distinguish a personality I went and did what any rational person would do in this situation – shopping! To carve out my ‘image’, cement who ‘I am’ – and like the girl who gets a haircut to get over her boyfriend or the person who gets a motivational phrase as a tattoo; the authentic ‘real you’ isn’t altered. Duhhh why can’t my sage head always be screwed on..!?
And because getting my driving liscence /re-learning to drive is number 4 on my to-do list I went online shopping. Which in a word is, risky. There’s some adrenaline rush knowing that you’ve spent enough ££££ for next day delivery ((and then after figuring out how the university email system works (via a very complicated set of instructions) setting up an account making use of being a student / discount perks!!
Even if 98% of the items are being sent back. Ordering in the vain hope that some of these threads will serve me up an epiphany as to how I am to carry on into the next stage of operation – BACK INTO THE WORLD.

bUUUUUUUT they didn’t, not one garm gave me wisdom – perhaps it was the lack of result that reminded me what was most important, summed up by the greatest of wordsmiths,

to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

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by | October 1, 2015 · 12:56 am

Cancelled plastic surgery appt

These are my battle scars cheesy cliché but true.
I don’t need or want them ‘fixed right now.’ Thanks though NHS for thinking of me, never a day you aren’t a thoughtful and kind country, England this NHS is the greatest..
I’ll keep using the silicone dressings the consultant prescribed for a while, and using bio-oil when I remember but for now that appointment and money can go to someone who needs it.
Pass the bucket, the martyr’s on her soapbox.

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