Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Right now, here in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, it's 11.14pm on Christms Eve as I start to write this message. All is quiet in the house and all is ready for Christmas Day tomorrow.

Today I had the stitches out of my top lip and the doctor was very complimentary of the stitching job that had been done by the nurse practitioner at Wollongong Hospital. It still doesn't look too good, but I'm assured it will be fine when it's totally healed. Metho on it for the next two days to help dry it out and then Vitamin E cream and/or Bio Oil.

Nikki and the children left yesterday and are safely back in Hong Kong. What a wonderful time we had together while they were here. And now I'm hoping to join them in Hong Kong in February.

Chemo carries on! The last tablets for this round are on Boxing Day and then nothing until 9 January. Black pudding doesn't taste any better, but I'm perservering. Blood tests show haemoglobin is OK. Will have other blood results later. I feel fine - just run out of energy far too soon each day. But that's a great excuse for a nanna nap!

I have a friend who has written a greeting and wishes for 2008 in French, Japanese and English and I'd like to share it with you.

Le voudrait-on, on ne retient pas le fleuve du temps, déjà 2008.
Au moment de basculer dans une nouvelle année pas question de regrets,
Le voyage continue avec de belles raisons de croire et d’espérer.
Le temps se presse mais il nous fait aussi de beaux cadeaux,
La bonne nouvelle c’est que 2008 nous donnera encore de
bonnes raisons de partager ensemble la lumière du monde.
Vite, vite, 2008 c’est maintenant; toute une année
ce n’est pas trop pour entreprendre et réaliser tous nos voeux.
Bonne et Heureuse Année


Even if we want to we shall never succeed in holding back the flow of time
2008 is already round the corner
As we are about to move into a new year, no regret should prevail
The journey continues with wonderful reasons to continue to believe and to hope
Time is pushing us but it is also providing us with a beautiful gift
The good news is that we shall have many more opportunities in 2008 to share together in "the light of the world"
Let's move quickly, 2008 is upon us
A year is not enough............. therefore let's not waste time.
A happy and prosperous new year to all!

I couldn't have said it better my self. Thank you, my friends , for being my friends. You are all very special to me. Merry Christmas for tomorrow and enjoy your journey as we approach 2008.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

the gang's all here

Yes. The gang's all here. Nikki and her children have arrived from Hong Kong and Leigh and Bob have come in from Canada. It's very busy at our house right now, although they are not all camped here.

I started another round of chemo last week and the same old reactions came forward - fuzzy head, short of breath. However this time I have escaped the headache! Yeah. So things are not too bad. My visit to the oncologist earlier this week was very encouraging. He said that I was doing very well and as a result he has reduced the dose of 2 of the 3 chemo drugs. The tumour marker has gone down yet again, so things as as bright as they might be.

Still drinking my vegie juice every day and sticking pretty strictly to Dr Chen's recommended diet. I guess the whole combination is doing me quite well - all things considered.

I had a little non-cancer hiccup on Tuesday. Carelessly, I walked into some metal roofinf that was perched on the back of a truck in the car park beside my car. As a result I have a great gash in my face with 5 stitches and appropriate steri strips to cover them. Not particularly attractive! All Christmas photos will be taken from my left side! Fortunately I didn't do any major damage to eyes, nose or mouth, there is no bruising or swelling, and at the moment, no infection. Whew!

Last night we had a Christmas dinner with both my children and their children and I'm posting the photo of the gang for you to view. It's not a particularly good photograph - it's not eaasy to get an 87 year old great grandfather, his 6 week old great grandson and several members of the generations in between - to pose for a group photo. However, we've done our best and you can see the result. Questions of identification can be answered by email!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Did black pudding do the trick?

Whatever did the trick, this time my platelets were up and I've had my second burst of chemo this morning (Wednesday). That was the infusion of a cocktail of 2 chemotherpay drugs and now I take tablets for the 3rd drug for the next 2 weeks.

I also saw Dr Chen today who calmed me down about the negative direction of my liver function levels. They have been moving in the right direction for the past 6 months or so, so it was rather disappointing to see them reverse this time. Dr Chen tells me that the chemo attacks the liver and that this is to be expected. He will reasses in the new year to see if he needs to adjust my herbal and acupuncture regiime. I have an appointment with the oncologist on Monday so I'll be checking with him too.

The good news is that the tumour marker has gone down even further. Yeah!

Thanks for the recipes for using black pudding in creative ways - those of you who have sent them. I'm continuing to eat it almost daily until I get absolutely sick of it, then I'll have a break and see if the platelet reading changes. Hmmmmm.

The other REALLY good news is that my daughter, Nikki, arrives tomorrow night with her two gorgeous children to stay for 10 days. Can't wait to have them all here with me. Will post pics when I have them.

And Leigh and Bob, my sister and her husband, are arriving for 6 weeks from Saturday. We will be in family overload! It'll be just great.

And for those who are asking about why I called for beetroot. .It has amazing healing qualities, I need it to be organic. It is great to drink in juice form with carrot and celery. However, I don't really need it any more, as the local beach cafe, which is within walking distance, makes just that juice, so I wander down there each day to have my hit! Much easier than cleaning a juicing machine every day, don't you think? I get my exercise in at the same time - 2 birds with one stone.

Thanks for reading and being my own personal support group. I love you all XXXXX

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Black Pudding might be off the menu!

It's Wednesday morning. No chemo again this week. The blood test showed that platelet readings have not improved, so I can't have the chemo again. Once again, mixed emotions.
This time the nurse did give me the good news as well. The cancer activity marker is down to normal - yeah! and the liver function has improved yet again. So the chemotherapy is certainly doing its work well as far as the cancer activity is concerned and the herbal and acupuncture regime is doing its job on the liver function. So, just as long as I don't cut myself or have a bump or fall that causes internal bleeding, things are looking good. It means another blood test next Tuesday which, once again, will tell us whether I can have another shot of chemo on Wednesday.

I've been religiously eating black pudding to improve my platelet count since Dr Chen gave me that advice. It obviously has had no effect -perhaps I should give it a bit longer. Are 5 days of black pudding enough to affect the platelets? I'll have to ask him that when I see him tomorrow. Special thanks to those readers who have sent me recipes that use black pudding and shared stories about the role of black pudding in their family lives. I've enjoyed it all so much.
In the meantime I have enjoyed my extra week of freedom from medication - and now I have another one. The weather has been superb and I've been riding my bike along the beach path daily. It's magnificent and gives me so much pleasure.
And, of course, the festive season has brought its share of excuses to go out and have fun with friends. Last month I shared the photo of the tennis girls on Melbourne Cup Day. On Saturday night we had our Christmas celebration dinner with paper hats and all the trimmings. A fun time was had by all including husbands - where they exist! I am including photos of the gang on the night - before it all got very rowdy on the dance floor in our hosts' music room.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

postponement - a mixed blessing

Well, it's Thursday afternoon now and I've been on an emotional roller coaster the past couple of days.

Yesterday morning as I was just about to leave the house to go for the next round of chemo, the nurse called to say that the previous day's blood test had revealed that platelets and white cell counts were too low and they wouldn't administer chemo this week. I was told to have a quiet week and a blood test again next week and if readings had improved they will do the chemo. My instant thought was "I hope the chemo is having the same destructive effect on the cancer".

The only good news I could take out of that is that I would have another week of feeling human, without the dreaded poisons being pumped into my body. So this morning I rode my bike out along the beach path. It was marvellous.

This afternoon I went for my weekly visit to Dr Chen, my herbal and acupuncture practitioner. He also received the blood test results and was kind enough to give me the good news from the report. The liver function is continuing to improve and the cancer activity is decreasing. Yeah!

So yesterday I was down, today my spirits are way up again. Dr Chen says that if I eat black pudding every day my platelet reading will improve. I've never had it. I do know what it's made of. Dad has gone out to buy me some - he loves it.

Next time I see the nurse I intend to use all my assertive communication practices to suggest that she gives her patients some good news from the test results (if there is any), and not just the bad news.

So, until next week's blood test I'll be eating black pudding (and lots of other good food) and riding my bike out as far as I can each day.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

my grandchildren-I couldn't help it!

Willow and her big brother, Zeke, at mini rugby in Hong Kong

Oscar and his dad, Tim, in Gerroa.
Oscar is 1 week old in the photo. Today he is 3 weeks old.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Round One is Over

Well, Round One of the chemo regime is over. I took the last tablet on Wednesday morning and since then have progressively felt much better. The cold sores, headache and fuzzy head have gone and I'm starting to feel human again. I have been very fortunate, so far, that I haven't suffered from those two dreaded chemo side effects - nausea and diarrhoea. Keep your fingers crossed for me, please.

Today (Saturday) I'm jumping out of my skin!! So I need to take advantage of the next few days as Round Two begins next Wednesday. This afternoon I'm off to celebrate the 60th birthday of a very dear friend. The champers will be flowing, no doubt, but this old tea totaller will have to share in the toasts with something more sedate - like bottled water! Perhaps I'll wear my 60th birthday tiara to have my own sparkle.
I hope you're having a great weekend.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Back from Bundanoon

It's my cousin in HIS Rolls Royce arriving to take me for a drive.
Sunday night and all's well.

The week at the Quest for Life program is over and I've been home since Friday afternoon. The program covered so much about so much - and it was quite confronting, emotional, exhausting and yet peaceful at the same time.

It was specifically for people living with life threatening illnesses and I wasn't sure that I wanted to hang around for a week with a whole lot of other cancer sufferers. That was the one hesitation I had about going. Many special friends had advised me to attend and that advice was sound. Every participant was an amazing person and I found the contact with them quite inspirational. It was not about dying, it was all about living.

It has given me a lot to think about and that will take time. It's taken me the whole weekend to think about what I will write here tonight! So what you have in the previous paragraph is all you'll get for the moment. I am pleased to say that I have had a week of pampering as well as an overload of information that will take time to process. So, bear with me, please. Does anyone grow loads of beetroot?

The effects of the chemotherapy are minimal, so I'm functioning fairly normally. I do hope that means that it's doing a really good job - as it's supposed to. I went out for a short ride on my bicycle today as the morning was so gorgeous. Didn't make it very far, but I'll keep working at it while the weather is so great.

Look forward to talking with you again soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

a few days on

The misty memory photo was taken on the railway station in Lalinde, France, early on a November morning at the end of last year (2006). Wilna and I were leaving for an overnight stay in Paris before flying out to South Africa and Aus respectively. It was early, and it was cold and misty and our friend Jill was kind enough to drive us to the station - and she's not a morning person. But that's her there with me on the station - what a gem!

Today is Day 4 of chemo and everything is fine. The fuzzy head has gone and left a 'sleepy head' in its wake. Just as well I am fortunate not to have to answer to a boss anymore - because I don't think I'd last long. It's a pleasure to stay in bed until 11am when it's pouring rain outside, and then to retire for my 'nanna nap' after lunch again, so that I can last the distance over dinner!

Tomorrow I hope to visit little Oscar and his Mum and Dad in Gerroa. They are all at home now and settling in. Then on Monday I'm going to a retreat for 5 days in Bundanoon, just an hour's drive away over the mountain from home. It will be cold and misty there too, but we will be well catered for. No internet access means that I won't be talking with you again until next weekend.

Thanks for reading and being with me. Have a good week. Ciao 'til next weekend.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Terrie Express

A misty memory

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

First chemo session

Well, Day 1 is almost over. This morning I had an injection of 2 chemo drugs and tonight I've taken 4 tablets of a third drug with my dinner. And I'm still upright! My head has been a little fuzzy for most of the day, but apart from that I feel OK. Have had a quiet day - at home mostly. Thanks to friends who have called and sent messages of support. You are all my 'ultra' cancer support group.

The injection of drugs happens every three weeks and the tablets have to be taken for two weeks, morning and night. Then a week off and start taking them again on the day of the next injection. Keeping up with all that and the herbal tablets I also take, together with having blood tests and CT scans in between, will keep me quite busy, don't you think?

I haven't seen little Oscar for a few days. He will be home tomorrow, so a trip to Gerroa for a cuddle will be on the agenda, probably over the weekend. That will be GOOD medicine.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Melbourne Cup Day

Were you at a Melbourne Cup lunch today? I was. Every year the great girls (and great tennis players) that I play tennis with get together for a Cup lunch. Today we had a delicious lunch, a lot of fun and laughter, much admiring of the photo of Oscar Eddy - Oh - and we watched the race. I managed to win a little of my sweep money back on Mahler, who ran third. This is a pic of the tennis girls before lunch - and before too much champagne!

Today a 'good medicine' gathering with special friends and tomorrow - my first dose of chemo. Yuk!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A New Grandson

Isn't it wonderful how life just keeps going on? Last night (3 November) those expectant parents, Tim and Meascha, were rewarded with the arrival of their little son, Oscar. He weighed 3.7kg and decided to arrive pushing the wrong part of his head first! Anyway, it took a little longer than expected but he finally arrived with all 10 fingers and 10 toes and all the other bits he should have. And he is gorgeous. Mum and baby are doing well. And I was there to 'hear' his arrival and to cuddle him very soon afterwards. A very special moment.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Babies-Today's Happy Pic

Whatever your opinion of Hallowe'en and its commercialism and/or irrelevance to us here in Australia, you can't deny that it makes for cute kids sometimes. These are my grandchildren - Spiderman Zeke and Angel Willow (that's her halo she's waving) with their orange Trick or Treat bag. They live in Hong Kong. Aren't they just gorgeous?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A happy pic for today

The first-time expectant parents - Tim and Meascha Eddy - my son and his wife. Baby due 5 November. It sooooo exciting!

The Next Phase

Oncologists and surgeons are not conveyors of happy news. I ought to know that already! Anyway, the oncologist says that I am now on chemotherapy indefinitely. I seem to recall him saying that exact same thing to me over a year ago. We'll see about that!

There is a variety of drugs that can be used in a variety of combinations and I will be starting on the first 'cocktail' next week. It's a combination of tablet and injection in a 3 week cycle - 2 weeks on and 1 week off with the single injection session happening in week 1.

Side effects are expected to be minimal and if they do get too bad, then the cocktail changes to another combination of drugs. And I won't lose my hair.

The one happy piece of news from today is that he (the oncologist) has some patients who are still alive after being on these drugs for as many as 5 years. Now here's the challenge - to see if I can beat that and by how much! And he says that my quality of life will not change much.

I'll keep you posted.

This to remind me how I felt before this news -- and how I will feel again very soon!

Monday, October 29, 2007

More about that other 50%

Professor Morris, the surgeon, is not my friend any more! He is not willing to operate as he says that there is no guarantee that he will be able to reach all the tumours in the lymph nodes.

He recommends 3 months of chemotherapy, which is designed to shrink the tumours in both lymph and liver. This should then make the situation operable.

Hmm. I would have preferred an op only, not 3 months of chemo and then an op. And the chemo is not guaranteed to work anyway! It didn't last time.

I have an appointment with the oncologist on Wednesday afternoon. I'll make another entry here then.

Thanks for reading. And for your supportive comments. No happy pics today!

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Email Address II

OK. So, now I've discovered that my gmail address only shows when I sign into the blog to make an entry. Sorry to confuse you. The gmail address is I'm using both email adddresses for a while but will eventually convert completely to the gmail address. Today is a stunning sunny, blue sky Wollongong day, so I'm going out to enjoy it while it lasts. Have a great day. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New email address

You can see at the top of the BLOG page that I have a Gmail email address. I will gradually move over to this address, but please feel free to use the address as well.

That 50/50 Chance

"There's a 50% chance that your cancer won't come back now. We'll monitor you regularly and it will be easy to zap the new small tumours, if they do come back, and keep it under control" These most welcome words were delivered to me by Professor David Morris following my liver surgery in January this year.

Well, 50% is only 50%, isn't it? Last month I had my regular CT scan and blood test, which had all been clear and very encouraging until this point. In early September the tests showed new tumours in the liver and some in the lymph glands close to the liver. Professor Morris sent me for more extensive tests which showed even more (yuk!), and said that they could be removed by more surgery. He encouraged me to go on my planned overseas trip and come to see him again on my return.

Which I did - and I saw him last week.

Further tests showed further growth in the existing tumours and more new tumours. (yuk again). He is examining the scans more closely with colleagues next Monday and will call me to let me know if he considers that they can all be removed with an operation. If not, then other treatment options will need to be considered - the most likely being chemotherapy.

So I am spending this week keeping myself, and particularly my mind, very busy - not dwelling on what might be. I have an appointment with the herbal doctor today (Thursday) and will discuss it all with him too.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me, and say a prayer - if it is your custom.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Back in the Gong

Good morning from Wollongong! France is a very nice country. Paris is a wonderful, historic city. It was fun to be there. The Rugby World Cup atmosphere gave the whole experience just that little something extra.

My time in the Dordogne with my friend, Wilna, at her Chateau Lalinde was very special. We are the best of friends and Wilna is the supreme hostess. I felt like 'a Princess in a castle' the whole time I was there. My room even had a little tower window through which I could view the beautiful river with the white swans and ducks and pigeons that were constantly on the river. It was magic. Leigh and Bob spent a week with us there and then the week in Paris with me.

And now I'm home and it's all a wonderful memory. And I can dream and make plans about the next visit to France. But it's great to be home. I have the house to myself for the next week which will be a treat. Dad has gone to Hong Kong and will visit Nikki and Sam and the children while he's there. Tim's first baby is due in 2 weeks, so there's lots to plan for. Meanwhile, today will be 38'C, so the challenge will be to stay cool!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A few memories of a wonderful time in France

Good food................

(good wine).....................(shhhhhhhhhhhhh....)

Lovely sunshine, loooooong leisurely meals..........

excellent discussions ----------

(with a captive audience it is always easier..............)

wonderful sights to see and things to do...........

picking up strange men along the way..............

(as is the custom...............)

La vie est

and a fond farewell --------------

until next time!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A bientot!

After seeing and doing lots of Parisian things, including walking till I can't walk any
more, today I leave Paris and France to head home. Yesterday was spent at Versailles - magnificent!
Because there is a general strike in France, we are leaving one day early to avoid the chaos. This means an overnight stay in Tokyo, which will give me a chance to recover from one flight before taking on the next. I will just stay at an airport hotel at Narita and have a quiet day in transit.
Photo: Hervé Gac
I have just bid farewell to Leigh (my sister) and Bob and am having one last stroll in the streets of Paris before I go to the airport. Next time I write here will be from my desk in Wollongong.
A bientot!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


With the demise of the Wallabies and All Blacks in the rugby,
I'm now an avid follower of
Les Bleus!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Act II Scene 2 : The disappearance of a blog.....

Hi everyone. This is for those who have asked me where my previous blog has disappeared to. The answer is: 'I don't know!' One day it just wasn't there any more. I looked and looked for it to no avail. So, now I have started this new one. Let's see how long it stays with us.

I am currently in France, staying with my friend, Wilna Wilkinson, in her chateau on the Dordogne River in the south west of France. Life is good. My sister, Leigh, and her husband, Bob are here with me for a week. Today they are out cycling along the river visiting the magnificent villages in this area. I'm having a quiet day in!

On Friday we 'remove to gay Paris' where we have rented an apartment for a week. I'll be back in Oz on the morning of 20 October after two overnight flights! Not looking forward to that sojourn, but at least I've treated myself to business class seats.

It was exciting going to the World Cup Rugby game, between Australia and Canada, in Bordeaux,recently. The game wasn't particularly spectacular, although an Aussie win was good, but the atmosphere was tremendous. It was fun to run into people I know from all over the world. Amazing!

This entry is a test and I'll send the link to a few people to see if it works. Menawhile 'au revoir, mes amis'.