Saturday, January 29, 2011

Breast Cancer again!

The first time they told me I had breast cancer was on the 24th December 2003.  It had come as such a complete shock that it devastated me.  I'd had a blocked duct removed two weeks earlier and I can still remember the breast surgeon saying, "Well at least you know its not cancer."  How wrong he was.  Christmas and New Year was spent in deep depression as I thought I was going to die.  My gran had died from cancer, so for me cancer equated with death.  My operation was set for the 19th January 2004, and after the op I had so many complications, resulting in me suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  Although I survived the whole unfortunate and unpleasant business, it was not something I would ever have liked to go through again.
In September I had a strong gut feeling.  I didn't have a lump or anything nothing to merit my concern, but I just new that there was something wrong with my so-called healthy breast.  I tried to find out about getting a mammogram done in Moshi, Tanzania where I live.  The hospital down the road had a mammogram machine, but nobody who knew how to work the machine or read the films.  In Arusha, 90km away, they had someone to work the macxhine but their machine was broken.  During the October break I traveled to Nairobi to have a mammogram at Nairobi Hospital.  Unfortunately, they lost the films somewhere between the hospital and the doctor.  Obviously, there was nowhere in East Africa I could go to with any confidence.
Searching online for a breast specialist in Cape Town, South Africa, I stumbled upon Prof. Affelstaedt, whom I always refer to as Prof Apfelschnapps.  The mammogram and ultrasound both showed a suspect area in the spray of calcifications they'd picked up in China in 2008.  The good Prof immediately performed two fine needle aspirations.  The results were inconclusive.  The Prof suggested a core biopsy.
Having had a miserable festive season seven years earlier with the spectre of cancer looming over my head, I wanted to avoid having to go through that again, so I told the doctor that I'd have the core biopsy after the festive season.  I think I just knew what they would find.  The first results came back and they were only 70% sure.  The pathologist had to stain the cells and then the results came back.  100%!  Even though I'd been expecting it, even though I'd gone through it all once befiore, it was still a shock.  My mom saw I was upset so took me shopping.  The cure for all woes in her book.  At first I handled the news that I'd need another mastectomy quite well.  They can't do another tram-flap reconstruction, as they'd already used my stomach muscle the first time.  This time, I'll be having an implant.  As the time looms closer for the surgery, I can feel myself becoming more anxious.  The Prof suspects that I carry the cancer gene as bilateral breast cancer in a woman under the age of fifty is not common.
Last time I went through it in a strange country with only my children for support.  This time, I'll be surrounded by family and friends.  Even though I know it won't be as bad as the first time, I still feel scared.  I can feel myself disassociating as a way to cope.  Like part of me is here going through the motions, but my spirit has gone to some zone to hang out until this is over.  Like I'm an observer watching what is going on but I am no longer a part of it.  I guess, that's just how I cope.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cape Town - top holiday destination!

Cape Town, in fact, the Western Cape in general including the Garden Route, has to be one of the best places on earth. From sampling wine and goat's milk cheese at Fairview Wine Estate, to more wine and checking out the cheetahs at the Cheetah Outreach at the Spier Wine Estate, to picking strawberries near Stellenbosch, beautiful beaches, gorgeous mountains, lakes and forests, you can experience it all. Add in family and friends and you have the recipe for a great holiday. If you like shopping, the malls in Cape Town are the best. Of course, then there's Table Mountain. I have to admit, that each time it's the time to leave and return to wherever in the world I happen to be staying at the time, it gets harder and harder. I could never think of retiring anywhere else, not that I'm quite ready to retire yet. 
A few days in Cape Town, a week in Hermanus an hour away, the next week in Sedgefield which is near Knysna on the Garden Route in the lake district, then back to Cape Town for the last week. A holiday of a lifetime. I thought it best to show you snapshots of December 2010-January 2011!

You can check out the rest of the photos on my Facebook.

A new way to market

Thank you for your interest in my book - here's a gift for you
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Thank you for your interest in my book - here's a gift for you
You get 1,000 points, with my compliments, to use on - the world's biggest book winning site. My book - 'The Case of Billy B', appears in the games on this site. Just click anywhere in this box, and follow the instructions.

Everybody needs a spa day!

Sometimes your family knows just what you need! My youngest brother David and his wife Ellen, gave me a gift voucher for a spa day at the very exclusive Crystal Towers Hotel and Spa in Cape Town. What an amazing Christmas present, and to make it even better, they gave my two youngest day passes for the theme park, and my oldest daughter the same at the Crystal Towers. We got to enjoy quality mother/daughter time!

Never having been to a spa before, I was in for a treat! Okay, I've had many foot massages and back massages in China - some leaving me quite badly bruised and unable to move. The Thai massage in Thailand had been so gentle that it was a bit of a waste. A tiny girl/woman walking up and down my back. In Goa India the ayuverdic massage with special oils had been amazing and invigorating. But that had been in the back of a little shack-type shop. A spa day in such opulent luxurious surroundings was a definite treat and something I'd never encountered.

The entrance was so grand! Uniformed women tip-toeing softly everywhere, all looking civilised, soft relaxing music in the background; it was like I'd accidentally stumbled into another world. A world of rich people and Hollywood movie stars. I quite liked it. This was something I could get used to, and if I lived in Cape Town, I might have to visit once a week. A perfect escape from the reality of life. Hmm, not sure if my pocket can deal with that!

We had to get naked and drape ourselves with luxurious white robes and wear little slippers. The therapist was wonderful, and her body massage soon put me to sleep, so I probably snored away loudly while she gave me a pedicure and then a manicure. I just remember her saying, "You have the perfect nails for French nails, can I do that?" I grunted yes not knowing what the hell French nails were, but they looked good afterwards.

The Crystal Towers has this amazing swimming pool which faces onto the road that runs alonside. Hard to describe. It's on the 4th floor or so, but the side of the pool is the glass window. So cars driving past can see you swimming. Cool if you have a hot body and are built like a Hollywood starlet. Not so cool if you look like a hippo that's migrated south. I braved the glass side of the pool and went for a swim anyway, but had to get my daughter to hold the towel to block the view from drivers driving past. No sense in causing one of them to look up and see me and cause an accident. Maybe that's the whole point. You need to use their spa to get a better body so as to avoid cxausing car crashes when you swim there!

We had to go back the next day to use the flotation chamber. Knee-deep water smelling of sulphur, you float on your back and fall asleep listening to the relaxing music played through underwater speakers. A half an hour later you get out and shower off the salt. So you would think. Unfortunately, I did not take advantage of the shampoo and conditioner that was supplied in the shower, but settled for a basic rinse-off in the shower. An hour later my younger daughter asked why I had white smudges all over my face and neck. It was dried salt! To make it worse, I accidentally ran my fingers through my hair. It was like touching a steel helmet. The salt had dried, making my hair stiff. Pulling at my salty locks caused white powdery salt to fly in all directions. Soon the dashboard of the car was covered in a fine white layer of salt. The moral of the story is: Use the shampoo and conditioner provided by the spa. It's there for a reason!

True DetectivesTrue Detectives by Jonathan Kellerman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book wasn't that bad but wasn't as brilliant as some of his earlier novels. It was a bit ho-hummish and I missed Alex Delaware, Robin, the dog and Milo Sturgis. They basically only had mentions in the book which is based around his new characters who don't quite work quite as well as his previous characters. Maybe it's just because I am getting older, I'm getting more resistant to change.

It took a while to get into the book, which for me with a Jonathan Kellerman was quite unusual. Once I got gripped I did enjoy it and we raced towards the end.

The brothers he uses now as the main protagonists, they both irritate me. I think he needs to develop them further maybe appearing as minor characters in an Alex Delaware/Milo Sturgis story.

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