Sunday, 12 August 2012

Mother's 90th birthday


Home to Codsall for my mother’s 90th birthday. The houses seem increasingly adorned with vertical drapes and the new, apparently modish, shit coloured window frames.

On the morning of the birthday she found a large brightly coloured hoola-hoop on the back garden. It had a label on and seemed to be new. None of the neighbours knew anything about it and we noticed small holes in the edges. I think it was a gift from the local fox population, or possibly carried there by the birds. She has been feeding them steadily every day, for the last fifty years. Over the years their food has improved greatly, they now get all kinds of expensive seed all year round and in the winter tiny,  perfectly cut lard sandwiches.

I always take my cat Maisie, who in human years is 86, for treatment when I’m up there, as it is so much cheaper than vets in London. Looked up the phone number in my mother’s book, hunting through a maze of crossings out  realised her book is like a grave yard. Almost everyone in it is dead.

My mother seemed a bit disturbed before her birthday, worrying about her future. She also started “de-cluttering” facing up to the possibility of losing her home by offering to unload her treasures on to me. She has some very nice things but I have noticed in the past that when I bring them  back to my place in London they don’t look right – removed from  the context of her house they lose their shine, and my joy in them.

Later, when she was feeling better she started congratulating herself on living so long.
 “I must have done something right” she said with satisfaction.
 I mentioned my great grandfather who lived to be 100 although he was hugely fat, smoked and drank heavily.
 “It’s the luck of the genes,” I said.
“It wasn’t genes,” she said, “He was just wicked Irish.”  

She received at least 50 cards, not bad going and I gave her lots of parcels. Ever the optimist she wanted a watch from me, and was quite specific; stainless steel face, black strap. 
I ordered it from Samuel's on line. It arrived in a very large box with lots of wrapping and two other boxes inside. We opened the final one and there it was - sparkling gold with a brown strap. 

The cancer survivor's diet


The fear I had after I started treatment, when the doctor's told me such bad news, has begun to fade now after two years. Sometimes it returns unexpectedly but I recognise it as it almost always comes back in the evening when I'm alone. I notice feelings of bloating, indigestion etc. the symptoms of ovarian cancer - but in the morning I wake up feeling fine, nothing wrong. All that was going on was my digestive system responding to daily battering from whole heads of broccoli, thick tangles of fresh parsley, sage and coriander,  and pounds of  fresh fruit.

The cancer survivor's diet is a work of intelligence and industry. I visited a friend recently who has prostate cancer. He was once a jolly farm lad who lived on burgers, pub food and beer.  He now has a juicer in his kitchen which he told me cost £350. He has a breakfast of juiced pomegranate seeds with grilled tomatoes topped with turmeric in olive oil. This is followed by apricot kernels ground to dust and drunk in fresh pineapple  juice. He eschews all sugar and alcohol.  Under his sink he has installed a maze of pipes to provide purified water.

Does it work? Well he was given 18 months to live over three years ago. The food he eats might not be able to shrink his tumour but battling away in the kitchen to defeat it seems to be keeping him going.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The interview with a survivor


I have just put up an  interview about an Olympic athlete who was diagnosed with Ovarian C last year. 

It's  not terribly penetrating - she was diagnosed a year ago, had chemo but now says she has a clean bill of health. Is that possible? 
Doctors here are much more pessimistic about it coming back and surviving with the thought of recurrence is the most difficult thing. I wonder if she has to have the 3 month check ups? I have got my next one on Monday and I am starting to get all the psychosomatic symptoms and anxiety - not as bad as it used to be though, it no longer resembles a crashing seventh wave that smothers everything in its wake.

Olympian battle with ovarian cancer

My name is Heather Von St. James. I came across your blog and noticed that you have written about ovarian cancer. I was wondering if you would help me to spread the word about the silent killer.

 The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance did an interview with former Olympic gymnast, Shannon Miller, on her recent battle with ovarian cancer. With the Olympics underway, I think this is the perfect opportunity to shed some light and increase awareness of this disease. I was wondering if you’d be willing to post a link to the interview:
Let me know if you decide to post it! I think we can really shed some light on ovarian cancer with this being so current!  

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Help! They are throwing BRICs at us!


The Olympics have taught me to keep my elbows up in the breast stroke and use my forearms more. Today I did a full summersault at the end of the line to start off my backstroke, I haven't done that before. So far I just cannot get that fly kick going to start me off though. I wish I had some of that stuff that Chinese girl is taking, it would surprise the bored lifeguards at my Virgin health Club.

I have also concluded that we will have to start treating the O Games the way we now treat the Eurovision Song Contest. Demographics and globalisation are so much against us that we should retreat with a gracious smile.