The only way is up

It’s been an interesting week to reflect on the past year and all of its challenges, particularly as the 4th Jan was the one year anniversary of my big 10-hour op. I can’t believe that it’s been a year already and that having thought we had put it all behind us, we are back to battling the beast again. However, I did enjoy the best part of last year blissfully unaware that I still had cancer, I really enjoyed celebrating my 50th birthday with friends here in the UK and also in Nova Scotia, I managed to do the CWN 10K for charity with Madelaine in July, I had a fantastic summer holiday with the family and saw Tom Petty in concert in New York (thanks to the generosity of Josh and Alex), and I’m really pleased with the progress we have made in the past year for the 30% Club campaign. While the start of 2017 and the first few months were pretty horrendous, on balance I would say that it was a really great year…until November when we got the results of my scan.

Looking ahead to 2018, it will certainly be another roller coaster. My last round of chemo (#4 out of 12) on the 27th December was the toughest yet and it surprised me. I managed the first 3 quite well and thought I had it covered, but the 4th was mentally really hard. I really noticed the bad taste in my mouth and the dulling of my taste buds – even water tastes bad. My throat is incredibly dry and I struggle to stay hydrated. The pins and needles in my fingers and toes gets a bit worse each time and my face and tongue go numb as well. Certain smells really put me off, and any smell that reminds me of hospitals makes me feel queasy. None of this on its own sounds too bad in the grand scheme of things, but all of it combined is hard. This lasts from Wednesday through until about Sunday.

By Monday this week, however, I was feeling strong again with only a few remaining side effects and I was able to get back to exercising and doing all of the things I love. India and I have been cooking together (actually, I’m the sous chef), I’ve done some interviews for 30% Club and on Tuesday night we all went to a venue in Tonbridge Wells to hear Teddy perform his songs. By this Wednesday I will almost be back to normal just in time to face round 5.

I remain determined to get through this with a positive attitude and a smile on my face, but I realise that I have to really focus on filling my resilience tank on the good days (from day 6-14 of each cycle) – lots of fitness, lots of family and friend time, purposeful activity at work and on 30%, and a bit of poetry and mindfulness for balance.

My default during the good days is to go a bit crazy trying to do everything as I am very aware of wanted to maximise my time while I’m feeling well, so I do need to try to keep myself in check (as I’m driving Trend and the kids crazy wanting to do and plan everything). This has always been a challenge for me and I think the steroids I get during chemo amplify it.

I want to thank those of you who have been kind enough to attend my ‘chemo salons’ at Harley Street – it’s made the whole process much more palatable and I really appreciate it. The last one will be this Wednesday and then I will have the rest at home. I know it’s not as convenient to come to Sevenoaks, but I would love to have visitors to help me pass the time. I also want to thank my Saturday walking buddies. I’ve learned that the Saturday after chemo is a real low point for me – I have low energy and I feel down, which is really not like me – and it’s been great to have friends come and drag me out for a short walk. Thanks for all of the positive messages of love and support – it continues to fuel my resilience. I am so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family. I don’t know how I would get through this without all of you. I can’t say thank you enough. #Gratitude


12 thoughts on “The only way is up

  1. Brenda, I think you put it well, it’s an inspirational story you have to tell,
    although I‘ll say, and this is true, I really wish you didn’t have to.
    I love your work for the 30%, making a difference, for this you were truly meant.
    So well done Brenda, keep up the good work, good luck for Wednesday
    Your cancers’s a Burk (terrible end but struggled ..sorry 😂)


  2. Hi Brenda
    I am David Lane – Angela’s husband. We met in Val d’Isere in December 2015. I remember it so well because the hospital knew I had bowel cancer but didn’t tell me till January 11th – the day the death of David Bowie was announced so many people remember it.
    I found out on Friday that I was clear for a second year- so 3 more till hopefully the all clear. Angela has only now let me read your blog because I was getting scared again over Christmas. You are so brilliantly positive that you put me to shame. My oncologist kept telling me how lucky I was to have chemo over the summer and she was right because my first one in March was scary when I couldn’t breathe properly in the cold weather. Your comments bring back the desperation of days 14-21 in my cycle when I stopped taking the drugs and cycled like a maniac to keep my fitness up but in my last two cycles, I couldn’t do anything. I found that incredibly hard but at least I was warned that it would happen and realistic expectations are everything!
    I will pray hard for you because that helped me in my darkest hours even though I wasn’t particularly religious before all this.
    I still have some numbness and have to go to the loo a lot because they took out quite a lot of the bowel but I got rid of the stoma bag after 9 horrible months and appreciate life 1000% more.
    Good luck with everything- your family must be so proud of you.
    Kindest wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brenda – thinking of you and sending much strength, vitality, laughter and energy …. you know your blog gives back as much or more as we all aim to send your way … pretty humbling to say the least! 💪💪

    Sally xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My friend Brenda – you are such an inspiration. Lying in my berth on the Isle of Wight, reading this latest blog, I feel proud to say that I know you. You write so beautifully


  5. My friend Brenda – you are such an inspiration. Lying in my berth on the Isle of Wight, reading this latest blog, I feel proud to say that I know you. You write so beautifully


  6. Brenda your story is so inspiring – as is your work on the 30% club – it is extraordinary how you are achieving all that you are, and it is great news that you are responding so well to the treatment. You don’t know me but we have a mutual friend from your running club who sent me your blog partly for the incredible inspiration, but also because she recognised the top you are wearing which is from our startup company, INGA Wellbeing. It was our own experiences with cancer that led us to create the clothes so it is always so wonderful to see it bringing comfort and such style to people such as yourself. If we can help at all with any further wardrobe needs be sure to let us know, and we would all love to wish you the very best with your treatment – we will follow your story and continue to support your 30% club work.


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