The Waiting Room – Vegan Grub in Deptford

I thought it was about time I got out of the house and blogged about something else, other than this rotten illness that has kindly been bestowed on me by the powers that be! So, last Saturday Alex and I decided to head out for a fun-filled day in Deptford. ‘Eh, what’s in Deptford?’, I hear you say… Well, I’ll have you know that it may not be everyone’s number one choice for a London day out, but we discovered a little gem of a place called ‘The Waiting Room‘ that will definitely have us going back for more!

On the day that I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I immediately adopted a vegan diet. I’d toyed with the idea a lot in the past, but decided that this was as good a time as any, so that was that. There wasn’t a last (meat) supper or anything – just a straight swap, and it wasn’t all that hard because I had a lot of other things on my mind. It certainly helped that Alex became a culinarily vegan whizz overnight. Nothing better than your own personal chef! I shall bake him cakes in return, don’t worry. Eating out, on the other hand, has become a whole lot trickier.

Anyway, we found ourselves at The Waiting Room because I was missing the foods that I used to eat and was in need of a little ‘junk food’, to get me back on track. The Waiting Room is a vegetarian cafe, which offers plenty of vegan options. Veganism has never been so easy! You just choose what you like from the menu and say ‘make it vegan’ and they’ll pretty much deal with the rest. Now, that’s my kind of place – no stress over whether or not you can eat something. Just let them take care of the finer details, sit back, relax and stuff your face full of lovely food.

It’s not just vegetarian and vegans that are catered for here. The Waiting Room also offers gluten free alternatives, and I hear they do pretty darned good coffee too. I had my eye on a few more cakes and treats, but we had already gone a little overboard… All for blog research purposes naturally! I noted that they also serve amazing-looking Brick Lane Bagels… Mmmm, bagels.

The staff are all pretty hip in this establishment (like myself, obvs), and even though there was a queue for the whole time we were there, they got on with things quickly and didn’t seem flustered in the slightest. Alex and I had obviously got far too used to inflated food prices in fancy carnivore restaurants, and were pretty surprised with the total bill. The food here does not cost you the earth… What’s not to love!

We kicked off with these bad boys – I went for a Caramel Milkshake and Alex had ‘Bloody Kevs Bloody Berry’! 

The Waiting Room

Looks aren’t everything… This Hot Dawg was pretty tasty.

Vegan Hot Dog

We did prefer the burger though…

Vegan Burger

Ermergerd! This Brownie was epic… I told you we ate a lot.

Vegan Brownie

The Waiting Room

More food please…

Vegan Cafe

The ones that got away… We’ll be back for you – don’t worry.

Goodies

As for the area, Deptford is slowly improving and small businesses, just like this place, are definitely helping, but these things do take time. Don’t let that stop you paying them a visit though, because you’ll be missing out on a real treat. After we ate, we took a stroll and spent some time (and a little money) on some artwork at the Cockpit Arms Open Studios, who had opened their doors to the public, as part London Craft Week. By the time we got home I was pretty worn out. Unfortunately, my current health status doesn’t seem to carry me as far as it used to, but I had such a great day it was worth being totally wiped out for!

Until next time x

 

Feeling Down and More Test Results

There was bound to be a time where this breast cancer lark would have me feeling down, and I have to confess, Sunday was not a good day for me. I had round two of my chemo on Friday and my hospital care hadn’t quite been up to the standards I’d got used to… Nothing too serious, but when you’re someone who likes order, a little disorder can be very unsettling.

I was somehow fooled into forgetting the unpleasantness of my first chemo and round two came right at me with a great big punch in the face. Charming. The problem I’m having is that I’m being really sick, before I’m allowed to take my first anti-sickness tablets. I then feel a little better, take the anti-sickness tablets and they make me feel sick again. Something that needs looking into obviously, but when you don’t get to see your usual oncologist before the next round of chemo and see someone who doesn’t know your case for precisely three minutes, how are you meant to sort all that?!

I took one look at my still not completely bald self in the mirror on Sunday afternoon, and just became a total misery guts for a few hours. Cutting and shaving my hair made me feel in total control, but as I sit and wait it for it all to drop out, it is no longer down to me, but those nasty toxins. My morning ritual for the past few days has been shaking out my sleep cap, which catches the evenings ‘droppings’. How times have changed!

Ah, well, it’s Monday now and things are looking a little better. I’m still feeling nauseous, but I have just been made aware of an expensive drug that I need to push for, to stop me being sick. Apparently, no one should be vomming as much as me, so we’ll get that nipped in the bud, that’s for sure. I’ll probably get Alex to ask for the drug though, as he has a better way with the doctors and nurses than me – I’m more pally with the surgeon, which I think will pay off greatly in the end!

Don’t worry, It’s not all doom and gloom here in Camp Zoe. Last Wednesday, I went to get my results for the second lump and was told it was benign. Hurrah! I was then asked if I’d started my Herceptin treatment (by the temp oncologist who didn’t even know which round of chemo I was on). After explaining I didn’t know what she was talking about, she said “Ah yes, your results show you are ‘HER2 positive” – Great. Next time, I’ll have the results first, thanks.

Anyway, apparently HER2 positive is what all the breast cancer ladies hope for. This means that my cancer cells are more likely to grow and divide…  Stick with me here, it gets better. Between 15 and 25 out of every 100 women with breast cancer have HER2 positive cancers. It doesn’t sound like good news, but Trastuzumab (Herceptin) is a wonder drug that will reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. See the slight bonus there? As usual, the good comes with the bad and I will most likely have to have a stingy injection in my thigh, every three weeks for a year… A whole year! *sobs*

It’s good new Zoe. It’s good news. Hmm.

I have survived round two of Chemo – Just six more to go!
Until next time x

 

This little chihuahua has been very supportive. Barking to get out of her crate, and then running to me whenever I’ve got my head stuck down the lav… True love. 

Feeling down and more test results

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Last Thursday, I went for the chop and had my hair cut short, ready for the expected hair loss from my first chemo session. I’m currently on a treatment called Epirubicin Cyclophosphamide chemotherepy (eh? EC for most), and a quick Google search reveals that people’s hair often starts shedding from around day fourteen. I probably should have done it sooner because on day eighteen, Alex was given the task of shaving off his hair-obsessed financé’s barnet, to a number one all over. The stress was very evident on his face, let me tell you.

Oddly, both cutting and shaving experiences were surprisingly easy for me to handle. There were no tears and actually, much laughter! I liked the short style because it was nice a change that I probably never would have braved before. The shave was an easy enough step as well – The thought of waking up with a pillowcase covered in hair, or it just randomly falling out all over the place, was a big no-no for me. Surprisingly, I didn’t have the weird shaped head that I was expecting to find under my hair. It’s definitely not the best look I’ve had, but it’s looking like it won’t be around for long either. I’ve now got tiny little hairs falling out, and I have a feeling that after tomorrow’s shower, it will all be gone. C’est la vie, that’s cancer for you!

Hair today, gone tomorrow…

Chemo Hair Cut

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

I’m pretty new to this selfie business and obviously Betsy is a pro…

Chemo Hair

 

Left Boob and Right Arm Challenge

This morning I was challenged with the feat of keeping my left boob and my right arm dry in the bath. The left boob and right arm challenge – A tricky task, let me tell you. I was told by the boob team that I wasn’t to shower, but shortly after was told by the PICC line team that I couldn’t bath… Hmm, what’s a girl to do? These are just the everyday comedy tasks that I have found myself facing since I was diagnosed with cancer… “Don’t get this wet or it will get infected” – “Don’t go out between these dates because you are more likely to pick up infection”… Yeah, yeah. Whatever!

Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of my day at the hospital, having another biopsy, followed by a second attempt at my PICC line insertion. First up, at 9am (progress on last weeks 7.45am appointment), the dreaded biopsy on the new lump that they have discovered. I was hoping that I wouldn’t get Dr. Arrogant, but in he strolled, in all his “this won’t hurt as much as the biopsy” glory… He shot me with the biopsy gun twice and then did me the courtesy of asking if I could cope with a third shot, which was thoughtful. I was in and out in no time at all. Turns out, that he’s pretty good at that part of the job. It was much less painful than the very first procedure and I’ve had no pain whatsoever since… Just another whopping bruise to add to my collection. Marvellous. I’ll allow Dr Arrogant to shoot me in the boob anytime he likes, if it’s going to be that easy!

Next up, my PICC line insertion. We found ourselves waiting around for an hour and a half for this, due to a lack of communication amongst the hospital team. It didn’t bother me one bit though, as I was chilled as a mofo, after popping a Lorazepam earlier in the morning. Waiting around has never been so easy! Having a PICC line inserted is a very slow process, mainly due to the extensive setting up process, making sure everything is sterile around the patient. However, with a different nurse this time round, they managed to find a vein relatively quickly, and it all went quite smoothly. Hurrah! They then sent me off for a quick X-ray to check the tube was not heading towards my throat or anything nasty like that… Eek!

PICC-Line

As easy as it was to get it in this time, the PICC line was pretty sore afterwards, and it still is now. I’ve been told that it will take a good few weeks before it starts to feel less painful… No one had thought to warn me about this before I had it done. Cheers guys! Anyway, it’s there now, and it really will help having it – The fewer needles, the better if you ask me. It should speed my chemo sessions up a little bit and generally make life a whole lot easier at the hospital.

My new best friend…

Picc Line Arm

This Summer’s new look…

Left Boob and Right Arm Challenge

I get the results of my biopsy next Wednesday and have been told there is a 98% chance that it will be benign. Here’s hoping. Before then, I’ve booked to get my hair cut quite a bit shorter, in preparation for its departure from my lumpy scalp… Yup, I ended up getting a rash both on my face and in my head, after the chemo, so was given hydrocortisone and antihistamines to clear it up. They seem to have been effective after just one day, so things are looking up. I just don’t want to be a spotty, bald-headed sight for sore eyes, so it’s a race against time to get rid of it all completely. Other than that I’ve been feeling pretty good. Just killing time until my next chemo session next Friday.

I’m waiting for a proper cover to arrive so I can shower and bath with a little more ease, but this morning I had to get busy with a roll of cling film and a tea towel. Did the job.

PICC line Bath

Oh, and If you were wondering, I sent Alex off to do a few chores this time round. No one needs to hit the ground twice in such a short space of time ;)

Until next time x

Since Chemo Last Week

I feel human again. Hurrah! Since chemo last week, I’ve been sick, angry, grumpy and tired… Oh, so tired… Hmm, nothing new there then! Today is the first day I have felt like I could quite possibly not have cancer (although, unfortunately, I still do) and I’m feeling much more like myself again. I wanted to blog sooner, but I wasn’t the real me and it took a while to claw my way back to where I wanted to be. I didn’t like the other me and I’m not really looking forward to seeing that person for seven more rounds, if I’m honest. I’ll be doing my darnedest not to go down for so long next time though, that’s for sure.

So, how was chemo? Well, to start with, I was given the chair I’d already picked out as the one I didn’t want, from a previous visit to the chemo room – Smack bang in the middle of the action, amongst the hub of the nurses, on full display, right next to a lady who was on her seventh round of treatment…. Bring on the tears.

I haven’t really felt the need to cry throughout all of this and have only done so either when things hurt, or for ten-second intervals when I first told a few people the news. I’m not dealing with the pain so well, but I am coping with the fact that I’ve got cancer, so that’s something, I guess. The trouble is, when I sat down and saw the lady next to me with no hair, no eyebrows and with her sore fingers resting in a bag of frozen veg (tactics for keeping your nails in good condition, apparently), I just broke a little. I had actually been in the perfect frame of mind to take on anything a few hours earlier, but some clever person at the hospital decided to call me with the news of another lump and a second biopsy appointment…. I mean who does that, right before your first chemo session? No need folks. No need. Those mother fuggers hurt, God dammit! AND another lump? Give me a break!

Anyway, I got over the tears quite quickly and appreciated my centre stage chair in the end. Turns out someone on their seventh round can cheer you up no end, showing you that life still goes on, no matter how vain you want to be. Perspective Zoe. Perspective. The procedure was pretty painless, and after all my worries about them finding a vein, a nice juicy fat one was found in no time and all the rotten chemicals were pumped through, over a space of a few hours. I didn’t feel anything other than a cold sensation pumping through the vein and a slight pinching/throbbing pain around the cannula throughout the whole time. Easily dealt with and back home we went.

I’d decided that we should eat a meal full of goodness before my sickness came on and in case I was unable to eat for a while afterwards. Alex cooked up a Vegan Cheesy Broccoli Soup as soon as we got home… I can barely bring myself to even type those words, because of the awful memories. Let’s just say that soup is NEVER a good idea when you are going to spend the evening with your head down the toilet. It was an extremely nice soup, but I definitely won’t be going there again. Something I have learned very quickly is that you have to pick your chemo foods wisely, because you could find yourself missing out on something you like, for life. Note: I haven’t had a gin since.

My oncologist likened the after effects of chemo to a very bad hangover, and I have to say he was right. A very bad three-day hangover with added little extras, just for the fun of it. It took about three hours for everything to hit me and then I was pretty much laid up in bed for two days. It wasn’t nice, but we all knew it wasn’t going to be, didn’t we? On occasion, I’ve had a slight metallic taste in my mouth, and my appetite has been all over the place. I’ve lost a few kilos, but that’s easily rectified (or not – yay to weight loss! ). My boob lump has been a little painful and has been twitching like a nutter  – I’m hoping that it’s twitching itself down a size and that all of this will be worth it in the end.

Every morning since, I’ve been waking up and touching my eyebrows and lashes to see if they are still there. I’ve washed my hair a few times, but had a few epic fails because I was trying not to rough it up too much and seemed to end up leaving half of the shampoo in. It’s a good look. You should try it.

Today I feel like my hair is not going to fall out (it is), that I can go on holiday whenever I please (I can’t), and I feel in control of this whole situation (I’m not). We’ll see how things are tomorrow, but for today I’m happy. I just hope there is more of that to come over the coming months.

 

Something I managed to eat after a few days… (adapted slightly for Vegan version)
Millet Cakes w/ Carrot & spinach + a sunflower seed hummus

Vegan Cooking

The dreaded soup…

Since Chemo Last Week

 

Lights, camera…

Since chemo last week 2

 

A little chart to show you some of the side effects I may go through on this journey… Who doesn’t love a good chart.

Common side effects of chemo