The Evening Before my First Chemo Session

I was just sitting here, wondering if I should be doing something fun on the evening before my first chemo session tomorrow. After what seems like forever, the day is almost here. I’ve decided against heading out for some sort of vegan feast though, as I’ve got an rather annoying sharp pain in my boob, after it was abused at the hospital yesterday – I guess that sometimes, you just need to rest up and get your work done in preparation for the sick days that are about to come. No vegan fun times for me!

I’ve been to the hospital a few times in the past week. The first visit was to have a PICC line inserted. My veins are playing silly buggers and proving difficult to find, so having a tube attached to my body for the duration of the chemo (that’s eight sessions, once every three weeks), will apparently make things a whole lot easier… Well, that’s if they can get the damned thing in! Turns out there are no visible veins anywhere useful, so I ended up going through a rather traumatic time, only to come away with nothing inserted and just one massive bruise to add to my collection. Grrr. I now have to go back in a few weeks, doing without a PICC line for the first session, but it seems as though I’m getting used to all of this pain, so I’m not too worried.

Without going into too much detail – just imagine the tube being inserted into the top of my arm, and then poof, the vein just disappeared before it makes it to the goal. Who knew that was even possible? Is that possible? Well, that’s the story they told me, and it ruddy hurt. I had my support team with me (Alex), but he unfortunately didn’t bring his A-game and passed out at the sight of it all. Amazing skills! I’m a little upset that I didn’t get to see the grand fall, but the news did perk me up a little. Look, I’ll take anything for a good laugh these days!

My most recent visit to the hospital was yesterday for an MRI scan. Obviously someone needs to have a word with the person that makes the appointments because I was booked in for 7.45am! I mean, do they not know that I like to sleep? And yes, I am still sleeping pretty well, even though I have been diagnosed with cancer. We were there before the staff obviously (because they too were hoping for more sleep), but it wasn’t long before I was face down, with my boobs dangling (well, I say ‘dangling’, but that’s probably an exaggeration) through two holes in an MRI table (TMI?). All pretty easy and twenty minutes of no pain. Hurrah. #glamorous.

Next up, I had to have a coil marker inserted. “This won’t hurt anything like the biopsy”, said the doctor… He lied. It effing killed. He also said that he had found another lump… He was lying about that too. Phew! I guess some people cope with pain better than others, but I don’t want to be going back for one of those anytime soon. No, siree. The coil marker has been placed in my breast to mark where the tumour currently is. If all goes well, the chemo will shrink it right down to nothing and then, ta da! the surgeon can see where the tumour was and just remove the tissue around the area where it used to sit. It had better bloomin’ disappear after all of that – I’m currently sleeping in a bra for added support to help the pain. Sad times. A good tip though – it helps a lot.

As for tonight… Well, I might have a gin and sit on my balcony, contemplating life before I officially become a ‘chemo patient’. Or I might just carry on as usual because tomorrow is just another day that I’ll work my way through, no matter what is thrown at me… That will probably still involve a gin though.

See you on the other side.

x

See… No one was there at 7.45am!

The Evening Before my First Chemo Session

 

And an obligatory cat shot, even though he has nothing to do with this post…

Not So Fat Cat

 

 

 

Harrods Urban Retreat Wig Boudoir

Last Monday, Alex and I accidentally (on purpose) found ourselves sitting up on the fifth floor of Harrods, in their Urban Retreat department, waiting for my appointment in the Vicki Ullah Wig Boudoir. Yup, Harrods. I had intended to do a quick internet haul and try on various wigs at home, but after a little search online I came across the boudoir and decided on a little luxury. I’m actually more of a Selfridges kinda gal, but it was a swiftly made decision that we just went with, whilst we had the time.

It’s highly likely that I’ll lose my hair during chemo and it could be two or three weeks after the first session, this week. Everyone is different,  but I just wanted to be prepared and get myself mentally ready for the loss. I’m also not 100% sure how I’ll feel about going for fittings when my hair is on its way out, so it was best for me to just get it out-of-the-way. Tick that one-off my list and all that!

Having dwelled on it for a week, I’ve decided that I wasn’t really happy with the whole experience at the Wig Boudoir. Firstly, the area I was seated in wasn’t exactly as plush as the rest of the Urban Retreat Department – It was nice to be a little hidden away, but the small boxed off area that I was seated in was a dark, gloomy and pretty tiny space. Noting at all like the area we had walked through  or what I would have expected from Harrods, when comparing it to the rest of the store. I’m not sure if they were  renovating, but that’s definitely the vibe I was getting.

I was told that there were only two wigs that would really match my style – a mid-length bob. Hmm, I have to say there surely should have been something else that was a little closer to the style, being quite a standard cut, but the wigs I was shown weren’t exactly good matches. They were placed on top of a nylon hair cap and not really adjusted, to make then look as though they could be carried off as a replacement for my hair. Just sort of plonked on and jiggled about a bit.

The hair cap was a bit of a tricky moment for me. Aside from the fact that it was the first time I’d seen myself with all of my hair hidden, I was also struggling to be in the environment I was sitting in. It seemed that my stylist was being questioned by a lady who wanted her attention, and was just hovering around my little booth. I shook it off quickly though – it’s just hair after all and it will all come back, and I know it’s not easy to stop little ole ladies on a mission!

Moving on from the mono-fibre wigs, I was swiftly shown a much more expensive, long real hair wig. Things were looking up… Despite still not being styled, it looked a hundred times better than the others and a lot more like my own hair. I was asked if I wanted to walk out of my private area and check it out in ‘another light’ (because the space I was in was too gloomy obviously!), but I was far too upset and embarrassed to be seen with the wig on my head as it was. Luckily I had the vision to see that once cut and styled (for a fee of £55), that it would be a pretty good substitute for my real hair. Unfortunately, the hairdresser that specialised in wig styling was not in on that day, which I probably should have been told in advance, as I’ll have to return another time. Ah, well, nothing I can do about it now.

Anyway, Alex and I decided that we should spend the extra money and I left with the real hair wig and a goody bag, which included a Nuture card offering me a complimentary facial and makeover.  I also left  with a great sigh of relief to be moving on from that awkward situation!

So there you have it. I guess I’d just presumed that I would be taken into a room with a display of all the different wig styles on offer, or be given a lot more choice before having the more expensive option thrust upon me. If you take a look on Harrods’ Site, that’s the impression you are given in my opinion. I could have asked to see more options (and I’m kicking myself for not being more persistent) BUT, I do think I’m going to be pretty happy with my purchase, once it has been styled at Harrods (or somewhere else) and that’s really what counts here isn’t it?

 

My goody bag… with a leave in conditioner (which I found amusing, for obvious reasons)

Harrods Urban Retreat Wig Boudoir

 The final purchase… As modelled by Alex, because you won’t see my in it until it has been styled!

Harrods Wig Boudoir

 

 

 

Pleeeease God, Let Me Keep My Brows!

So, it turns out I’m blogging again. Alex whipped up this new blog design for me over the weekend, and I really couldn’t say no, after all the trouble he took to bring it a little more up to date. We toyed with the idea of starting up a totally new blog with cancer in the title, but I decided that as SeeByZoe is a blog about my life, then why should I change it just because cancer has just decided to bust in on that action. I may as well  just keep on nattering on about it all over here because I’ll only have to swap back over when I get through all of this!

We popped down to Devon last Wednesday and returned on Sunday. The weather was pretty shoddy for most of the time, and on the one sunny day that there was, it was so over-crowded that we decided to do adrive by and head back to chill at the apartment. I’d like to say we were scoffing cheese and drinking fine wines, but eating clean, ready for the chemo, scuppered those plans. Boo. Hiss.

I have now been a Vegan for two weeks… Who’d have thought it? After a few attempts in the past, it took rotten ole cancer to push me into it. I’m actually really enjoying it – particularly because Alex has been doing all of the cooking! He has been amazing. I’ll do my part in the kitchen soon, but I’m trying to get up-to-date with all of my work before any sickness kicks in. The doctors say being freelance is a bonus, but little do they know how much I stress about getting everything done. I do see their point though as working from home means I can just take a few little naps throughout the day, and then just sit right back in front of my laptop when I’m feeling up to it. I’m much luckier than so many people, and I think it’s that thought that has been getting me through all of this. Well, that, music, Alex and the kids pets.

I’m more than prepared for the chemo to start next Thursday. There are a few things before that which I’m not looking forward to at all, but if they get me over the finish line, then I’ll take what’s going to be thrown at me. Suck it up and get on with it Zoe. You can do this!

I have to say that most of my preparation has involved shopping! I’ve stocked up on natural skin care products, ready for the effects the treatment may have on my skin. I have also purchased a wig (more on that soon), as well as an Anastasia brow palette (with stencils, cos I ain’t no artist!), just in case I have to draw those suckers back on. I was hoping my get ready routine would be reduced by half because of the expected hair loss, but then I figured if I lose my brows and lashes on top of my hair, then it could take me even longer… We shall see.

Pleeeease God, let me keep my brows and lashes… I haven’t exactly been blessed with amazing ones as it is – it’s not asking too much to spare me them, is it?! I’ll let you take the hair, at a push, but not the lashes and brows!

Anyway, I’ve rambled. My next few posts will be the story of the wig and Wilson, the PICC line that never quite happened!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter and ate lots of lovely chocolate for me. I’ve just been sniffing the stuff like a glue addict – Wasn’t really into the vegan chocolate that I tested out, but on the plus side, it’ll all help my figure when the chemicals start getting pumped in ;)

Until next time.

x

Anastasia beauty Express for brows and eyes…

Cancer Brow Anastasia

Just a dog chilling’ in Devon…

Besty Chillin' in Devon

 

Vegan feasting…

Vegan Curry

One cat in hiding…

Cat in a Bag

On Being Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

I know, I know… It’s been quite some time! Unfortunately, I’m just stopping by to tell you all a little bad news. Last week, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer – In my favourite boob at that… such a traitor! I have decided to share the news, so I don’t feel so lonely when I’m going through my treatment. You all know that I like to talk.

I guess, for some people, it’s hard to come to terms with news like this, but I think I’d accepted it even before the words came out of the doctor’s mouth. I was told to prepare for the worst after all, and oh my, did I do that. One minute I’m just plodding along, looking forward to my year packed with many plans and then before I know it, I’m being attacked with a biopsy gun, followed swiftly by the dreaded news.

If I’m honest, I thought I’d feel a lot worse on hearing my diagnosis, but I still feel that it’s just simply another hurdle that I have to get over in my life. I know I’ll come out stronger. I may end up having no hair for quite some time and a bit of a wonky boob, but hey ho, there’s no point grumbling, as it will just make things depressing for everyone around me. There are definitely people a lot worse off than me in the world. So, I’m going to try and get through this with much grace as possible and most probably with the aid of lots and lots of wise cracks, that nobody really needs to hear.

In other news, I am now a vegan (sobs), I’m off wig shopping next week (because no one needs to see my bald head), and I’ve got someone on the case for my chemo playlists. You can never be too prepared.

I’m unsure if I’ll be blogging my journey throughout the year… I mean, come on, I’ve been a pretty shoddy blogger to date – why should this change anything?!

Don’t you worry about me though, I’m far too much of a stubborn little lady, who really does like to get her own way :)

Until next time x

As you can see, the kids have taken the  news pretty well…

Fat Cat

Betsy

The Lodge Pop-up Restaurant in Balham

Cheese, glorious cheese, you know I love it so! On Friday night, we went along to The Lodge pop-up restaurant in Balham, and boy am I glad we did. Ahead of our booking, I’d spent a good few days convincing Alex that the dodgy fondue he’d had years ago with his flatmates wouldn’t be a patch on what they are offering at Jimmy Garcia’s three-month residency in Balham.

I managed to get him to agree to share one with me, rather than go for the usual meat feast that he does so love, and I’m glad that he said yes because if you’re opting for fondue then you have to do so in pairs. It was definitely the right choice for the evening, even though I’m still suffering from a mild cheese coma as I type! Mmm, cheese.

The Lodge has been decked out to make you feel as though you are dining in the mountains – all warm and cozy, with decor to reflect Alpine scenes. They are open all day, from Tuesday through Sunday and serve fondue, HOT COCKTAILS(!) and a selection of  dishes including pigeon, venison and a delicious looking Huntsman Breakfast among other delights. Did I mention the hot cocktails? It’s worth the visit just for one of those alone.

The Lodge

For research purposes *cough* Alex and I tested out a few of the hot drinks and I have to say they were delicious. We probably should  just have had one, what with the amount of food on offer, but we braved a second like the gluttons that we are! My favourite was the Jersey Shore, consisting of rum, butterscotch sauce, golden syrup, giffard liquer and cardamom. Alex loved the Jamaican Hot Toddy made with Blackwells Rum, all spice, golden syrup, a twist of lemon, and a dash of water.

Hot Cocktails

The food took a little while to come, but we were in no hurry… Why rush when you’re relaxing in a comfy lodge with amazing company and great food to look forward to, eh?! We ordered fondue with charcuterie, mainly to keep me from eating too many of the potatoes and bread that came along with the cheese feast (allergies), but also because the meat looked too good to resist.

Fondu London

The Lodge, Balham

Cheese fondu

 

The Lodge Review

London Pop up restaurant

Everything was superb! The fondu was made of a blend of Coolea and Ogleshield Somerset provided by Neal’s Yard and the serving was far larger than we could manage, but we gave it our best shot, don’t you worry about that. Alex even found room for dessert – three scoops of ice cream served with a tray of toppings  waiting for you to pile as high as you so dare. Or maybe not, if you’ve taken the fondue one step top far!

Balham Pop Up

Jimmy's Ice Cream Factory

As fabulous as the food was at Jimmy’s pop-up restaurant, it was the relaxed atmosphere that I enjoyed the most – We didn’t feel rushed at all, the staff were friendly and the setting was just right. It was pretty busy, so if you can make it, make sure you call to book a spot soon. The Lodge has already been open a few weeks and I’m sure their three-month residency will fly by, over the festive season. I, for one, hope to get back for the breakfast menu sometime very soon.

 

To book a table email bookings@jimmyspopup.com
More details about this pop-up restaurant, head over to the website HERE.