Thursday, April 30, 2009

All went well

My shoulder has been giving me serious jip since yesterday - not sure whether it is lying funny or what.  So have been in agony for most of the day and pills and creams don't appear to have sorted it out!

The meeting went pretty well and we were pleased with the results.  Now is the time to work out how much effort we need to put into the job to actually make it happen.

We have a great idea, good work so far and well documented and thought through but we all need to give up some time to take it to market.  I need to rally the troops to do it.  I feel there is no natural leader and so I may need to get into it and lead from the front which I really didn't want.

Hectic times coming up, loads of meetings and things to do in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How stupid of me

To forget that everyone turns up on the annual investiture date and wants a piece of you even though they don't have an appointment or even warn you. Ended up, at the pub meeting some guys we are working with but then my friends from another Lodge turned up as well as they were dining in the pub and so it was all a bit rowdy. I ended up, with my colleague grabbing a Pasty on the way to the station and getting home about 10:00.

So much for getting home on time ready for tomorrow. It will be an interesting day tomorrow as we are meeting with a high profile executive to present our business venture, now honed and tailored for the market.

I hope that I am actually awake enough to sort that out - at least no one will be around when I slip out of work for my meeting!

I am well and still "respectful" of not having any symptoms of BC nor of Swine Fever either!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I really shouldn't be working

But I am.  It is one of those things that people just expect you to help them out of the mess they have gotten themselves into.

So I have downloaded spotify - which is like a music radio juke box on your desk top and you just dial in what music you want to hear and it plays it!  Brilliant.  

I feel tired but much more "in control" this week.  I whacked off some heavy lump of statistical work today that should help the management team work out how things are moving in terms of numbers of beneficiaries coming into the charity.  With the current problems in the financial world we are finding not more cases (at the moment) but the cases we get are terribly complicated to work out all the problems and what we can do to help.

May is a crazy month.  Last year at this time I was going in for biopsies but this month coming - is  crazy as somewhere in the not too distant, I am out for about 10 evenings in the trot!!! I need to work out quite how I can manage that.

The change in diet has begun to pay some sort of dividend and I feel much better in myself now that things have settled down and my body isn't thinking that my mouth has been sownup.

I see everyone is bigging up Swine Flu.  You tend to wonder if the whole world has just gone paranoid or what?  Get a Grip people for goodness sake.  It could be me but recently everyone makes a huge deal out of everything and this massive overreactions and knee jerking just doesn't do anyone any good.   

EVERYONE - just chill out for a moment, stop running about, take a deep breath and relax.  Did the world stop?  Did something terrible happen?  Chances are probably not.  

So, onwards and upwards.  Another two crazy days at work this week.  It will be interesting to see how many people I bump into in the next day or two.   These are the Annual Investitures of Grand Lodge and so the place will be packed with Masons for the next two days from all over the world.  We try and keep out of the way but everyone gets the same idea - whilst they are visiting they pop down and see us.  Let the fun begin.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mind Games

I saw the boss today and he was sympathetic about last week's events. I don't think too many people get quite how debilitating these event are and what it does to me. In so many ways the after shocks of the treatment and the stress of living through this are getting fewer and far between and I noticed a few things about them this time:

  1. For a day or so before, I loose my bubbly, joking way and try hard to maintain my level of humour, one-liners and ability to laugh things off
  2. I actually get quite sarcastic and cynical - more than I normally am - almost nasty in responding to some people
  3. I get listless and fall asleep easily on the train on both journeys to and from work
  4. I find myself taking a long time to do things

Getting back to work I find that I have to ease myself back and grow my confidence again. It is strange that this ebbing and flowing of energies is both physical and mental but it is all about how I deal with it at work now.

I reckon most people know that there is something wrong here and yet don't acknowledge it. The boss has his own challenges and so I think appreciates the sorts of issues I go through which are different to his. He has to keep going in and out of Hospital himself and it cannot be easy for him either.

Mind Games? Not George Harrison's one - my own.

E-Mail a message sent is a problem passed

So it appears that in my inbox is a message for someone who wants me to check something, then print it and do the labels and probably have it back to him (well) tonight now as it is early Monday morning.

Two Hopes on that - Bob Hope and No Hope!

On a lighter note, the concert was good tonight even though I had to drive there and back in the "indulgence". Mind you it is nice to roll around in the Jag. Funny old world. We are all of that "certain" age now where we go to these tribute band concerts and are all grey haired and all a bit nostalgic. I got into the car park to drive out and I was surrounded by Jags, Astons, BMWs and other "up market" cars. How we have let down our generation. We used to be completely anti-establishment and left wind (I meant Wing but thought what a great freudian typo and left it there). We are now the most right wing bunch you could meet, we can solve the world's problems over a pint of ale and we all live in our suburban houses, driving posh cars and have our 2.4 children :-)

Ssshh - don't tell the children that they'll turn out like us in the end - they'll be horrified.

I had a slight turn at the Theatre, again being hot and packed into a seat away from an aisle. I almost walked out but managed to control my breathing and I was fine after a few minutes. I don't know how to fix that but I might get my hypnotist in again to see if he can fix that and do some more reassurance about going into Hospital after my last not so good experience last December.

Saw some friends who came around at Christmas but I was ill and asleep in bed when they arrived so haven't seen them for a while. They got married 28 years ago yesterday and they came back from their Honeymoon to see us get married this Saturday 28 years ago. Not sure that was what I needed to hear as most asked where my wife was last night. Mrs. F. doesn't care much for Genesis or any other "loud" music for that matter so she rarely makes an appearance at such things. Which is OK as I tend to attract the loonies to come and sit next to me. Tonight, rather than the out of tune banshee chorus from the last concert, I had the Air Drummer, at least it looks a little less "suggestive" than Air Guitarist. I've never really got Air Guitar or Air Drummer as, I suppose, I actually used to play a Guitar in a band and so actually could 1). Play a guitar and 2). do all the on stage flashy stuff with it too.

Anyway, I must go to bed, it is another long week coming up and a big day for me on Thursday as we get to do one of our final presentations of our IT project. I imagine the day after that I will be totally shattered though.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday and day for recovery

I had a good day in London and my talk went down well. We were at St. James' adjacent to the Mall which was closed ahead of the London Marathon.

We dined in the Board Room which was very pleasant and not only was I wined and dined which I enjoyed but also I received a cheque for the charity too. I was home by 09:30 which was also a result.

I am glad it wasn't a late evening and I am very pleased that today I will take it easy for a short while doing work for the IT project I am involved in and watching the Marathon, the F1 in Bahrain and the Moto GP before heading off to go to the concert. Again, I am disappointed that there isn't public transport late tonight from what is quite a local event. The last train is at 10:45! I doubt the concert finishes until about 10:30 and so it is just ridiculous that there aren't any later trains. Buses don't run that way on Sunday either. It makes you wonder quite how serious everyone is about getting us out of our cars and onto public transport?

The coming week has some serious time commitments from me. I hope that I can keep going without feeling so tired again.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I'm coming out of this short trough of fatigue and climbing back towards some levels of fitness.  Unfortunately I was out yesterday which took me to Suffolk/Norfolk and back so about 5 hours on the road - I didn't drive thank goodness.  I am out giving a talk on the charity this afternoon and will not be home until late and tomorrow I am out at a concert in the evening. I am then out Monday night too.  I expect to be out working Wednesday and Thursday night.  I hope I don't end up back with the fatigue bit again.  Think of it as Post Traumatic Stress and you will get an idea of how debilitating it is.  Utter fatigue and concentration goes completely.

I feel very good, I will probably feel quite pumped up after talking to this group this afternoon.  Perhaps I should have been on the stage?  My careers teacher thought that it was a bad idea and no one else thought I should when I was a kid so I didn't go into acting, music and all that side of things.  De Niro may have had a problem - well probably not :-)

What else is going on?   L is off on a training hike today some 10 miles or so - they are getting them used to walking fair distances with their rucksacks to get them ready for Argentina and their trekking stage of the expedition.  A is playing "Guitar Hero" far too loudly next door.  C is desperately trying to find all our tax forms and bits as we need those for A's University grants and tuition fees.

I am about to get ready, make sure I have all my literaturs and speech in my case and then get ready to go off to London.   The sun is shining (not sure for how long rain predicted) and we are meeting in a really nice location off St. James' London.  Of course, the food last night and today are going to be a problem!  It was pretty good last night but once again I ended up with a cheese board that needed me to overcome temptation as they left what must have been a 1/2 lb chunk of Stilton in front of me.  I managed to hold back a bit!

As for the life style diet, apart from last night and tonight, I am doing really well keeping to smaller portions, low fat, high vegetable and fruit contents and eating sensibly with no snacking in between.  I must have lost a bit of weight as my trousers fit loosely which they didn't two weeks ago.  I am not jumping on the scales and measuring every week or anything like it.  I will do it when I think about it and not get too paranoid about that.  Blood Pressure is acceptable and I must print that off and drop it off to the Doctors.  I don't want to actually go in again - what purpose would that serve other than to record a bit of weight loss and for them to see how different my readings are between theirs and my own.  

Friday, April 24, 2009

Some Good News

A has received an offer of a place at University. If you don't remember September last year here is part of that link. She lasted about 3 or 4 hours and it was my last BCG treatment when she and Mrs. F reappeared after having moved into a flat and all sorts! For some reason best known to Mrs. F and A they then decided that they'd try and talk to me after I'd had the treatment and frankly, the very last thing I wanted to do was to do that (if you've had BCG and had some of the more painful twinges you'd know why). They took it the wrong way completely but I really wasn't feeling up to having any sort of conversation when my wedding tackle was stinging like hell and my stomach felt like someone had put me in the ring with Mike Tyson!

This University looks small, she can commute from here and it has a very good set of Alumni and is full of creative people and creative people only. So, fingers crossed, things will work out but at least with this one she has got her offer and filled in the form immediately and sent it back, no hesitation at all. Mrs. F and I have not seen the place but I know where it is. It has all been done by her and so we hope that it will be sorted this time.

I'm pleased that this time it looks as if she wants to be there and she will be happy. It is within easy reach of here and so she can live at home (don't know how long that will last though) and so I'm hopeful that she will do well there.

Interestingly enough there are 40,000 too few spaces for Students this year so she has done well but, of course, she already has her results to hand and so meets the criteria for, has enough points, is a year older and has her foundation course under her belt as well.

One less thing to worry about - hopefully in the three years before she comes out we will be out of this recession and she will be able to find a job.

Chronic Disease eh?

I have never ever thought of that phrase until prompted to in Steve's Blog of the 23rd April. England's St. George's Day but we don't get a holiday or do too much to celebrate it!

Back to the subject. Chronic kind of means recurrent and ongoing and long term and I suppose, in a way that is true whether you end up cancer free or not. If they take away your bladder I guess you can pretty much expect not to get BC again! However, for those of us still lucky enough to have that particular and quite useful organ, it still means a long time in follow up tests and checks to make sure that there has been no recurrence so I suppose then that Chronic is the right term.

I'm almost recovered from my fatigue now and back to some level of normality but find my concentration is a bit shot and my ability to complete things is as bad as it ever has been (it was fine before I got BC). I have a list of things to do and I'm just not feeling like doing any of them.

As usual, once I get going, then I can complete things but that is just the way it is these days.

On a more positive note though, the sun is out and I am off to a meeting up in Norfolk/Suffolk area this afternoon. We are initiating a 93 year old into the Lodge which will be interesting if nothing else. You are never too old obviously :-) This Lodge goes around the country to the old people's homes run by one of the Masonic Charities and holds meetings there so they don't need to come to us. An interesting concept. I am an Officer this year and will be involved with the work. As luck would have it, I am getting a lift there and back with a friend. I was going to go by train but, as usual, to get there would take half a day and getting back is almost impossible! This crazy country who want us to use public transport but removed half the infrastructure in the 1960s!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You cannot be serious?

Good old John McEnroe :-) Bless him. I was re-reading the previous post and perhaps ought to state that I wasn't being flippant about Bladder Cancer rather that I was suppressing how bad it could be. It isn't nice, it isn't superficial even though they use that to describe it. It is a cancer like all the rest and if it does get out and about in your body it will wreak the same damage the other more well known ones do.

It is still a strange phenomenon that Bladder Cancer, arguably the 4th biggest Cancer in men and sixth in women is still hardly known out in the non cancer world. I know men fear Prostate cancer and yet no one tells them to fear this one. Strange.

So, not being flippant, just being protective of my own feelings about BC. If I am not being serious it is because I am using that tactic to convince myself about it and also to assist others to come to terms with my condition.

Consider that I have been clear for almost 2 years and yet I still suffer from set backs like the past few days when utter fatigue just sets in without warning. I worry that people who don't have this will not understand but this is just the way it is, this is my body saying STOP, rest you've overdone it again. The false sense of well being is the worry - I have been happy and working well and getting on fine these past few weeks - never felt better and suddenly that came to an abrupt halt. I still think I can work at the levels I used to before I had Cancer and actually, I am not back to "normal" even though I think I am. Almost 3 years of treatments and operations, body imbalance and everything else has got to have taken its toll. I forget that it takes a while to get back to normal and that I must take it one step at a time.

The mirror test

How are you feeling? Go look in the mirror. I look like a bag of dung this morning. I was very surprised how bad I looked, unshaven and dark baggy eyes - yuk.

Had a shower and shave which appears to have made me look almost human again. Read Steve's blog this morning on the bacon and its relationship to bladder cancer - not sure if that is through the smoking or processing but it has been published before about the risks but no sort of explanation why that should be and perhaps other cuts of meat aren't.

Interestingly in the blog was a note about how HK's doctor said that Bladder Cancer is a chronic condition/disease. It may well be but I've had to put it to the back of my mind as a serious disease that I've gotten over but may come back. But, perhaps I need to take it a bit more seriously than I do. I don't for instance tell people when I discuss my condition with them what it was really like unless they want to know and often you have to stop short as it isn't pleasant. It all happens around a piece of your anatomy (especially men) that is pretty much a no go area and only occasionally do I go into some of the really heavy detail about the black shadow, the dark dog of depression and other stuff that you go through on top of being ill! It just doesn't belong in polite company and so I tend to just be holding back and not saying much about it or how serious it is.

You can die from BC, bottom line. If it gets out, it can kill you and it can be an aggressive and frequent visitor even if you think you have had it removed and that you have recovered. Believe me when I tell you that the fear of recurrence is still an everyday thought and worry.

I see that Asya is about to have her TURBT today and best wishes for a successful outcome. I'm getting close to three years in on my journey. About three years ago I was just about to embark on what I hoped would be my last career change and one that would have been a major change in the way I worked and would enable me to settle down a bit. That all went by the board after I was diagnosed and worked on but, it is fair to say that looking forward from the time of being diagnosed you don't see very far at all. It is a life shattering event and you get the whole 9 yards at once. The physical and the mental bits all come into play and you have to adapt.

Looking back, reflecting on what has happened, is different as is coming out the other end and being (as far as you can expect to be) clear has other challenges. I can see at least a year ahead now if not 2 or 3 where before I could only really see my next treatment and my next operation.. Those were little milestones in the journey. When you got to those, then you knew what the next part of the journey would be. You hoped it might be along the road you would wish to choose. Fortunately, for me, the roads have all been the ones I wanted for myself and for my family.

I feel for everyone who is newly diagnosed as the big cancer wall appears and there is no way over it and your mind just has to deal with so many things. Once you've accepted the first bit you need to reassure others which is the most strange part. However, you need to elephant eat the situation and take small bites, and do a bit at a time. It gradually gets better and it becomes clearer and on you go day by day, week by week and so on.

I try not to "dumb down" what I went through or to trivialise the situation but at the same time I do try and fight against it by not letting it be as dangerous as it is, as frightening as it is or as physically and mentally demanding as it is.


Post Cancer Fatigue - strikes again. I suppose I should have predicted this one as I was beginning to feel tired earlier in the week.

So absolute tiredness yesterday to insomnia tonight. Bizarre.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Well I said I was feeling tired but this morning I got a rude awakening when the alarm clock went off. I was so tired I could hardly believe that I'd slept for 6 or more hours. I got the warning signs yesterday at work when I started feeling tired at lunch time.

I actually just feel out of salts and very tired still even though I slept for most of the morning and just got out around lunchtime. I feel quite strange and whilst I can't actually tell you what is wrong with me - I have been unable to concentrate and have been falling asleep on and off this afternoon.

I feel that it might be a precaution not to go in tomorrow so that I can just get myself together.

Yesterday was an interesting meeting and I'm interested to find out whether it was my fault that I got cancer or I was given it for some reason. Now call me an old cynic but, I think I only have myself to blame for getting cancer and I don't see blaming it on someone else or indeed to apportion it to someone else is the right thing to do. I can only hope that I will be able to discuss that again with my companions from last night. One was a creationist as well and that was interesting and where I see allegorical meaning, he tends to have a far more solid belief in the words on the page. I can stretch my view of the world to suit most things but it did indeed give me a different insight into someone who hasn't had their faith stretched and questioned.

I still like to believe that "I" have some sort of say about things.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Challenge my belief

Interesting evening. I have a certain amount of faith. I believe in a supreme being and up until not too long ago was probably a happy Church of England trinitarian and then.....

I got cancer.

Then, as you can imagine, things got really complicated and deep and spiralled into the usual questions and worries that only a logical and scientific brain does.

I was with the guy that gave me a hard time last week and another chap I know but not so well and they have an unshakable faith and I was struggling to come to terms with that. I don't think right now is the right time to go into that as I need to work out quite what it actually meant to me listening to these guys and their solid beliefs.

On the way home I was in a sort of daydream on the train and there were flash backs of my journeys home 20 or 30 years ago. Happy times (I guess you deselect the bad ones) and a real nostalgia trip of travelling home on the same late night train with a bunch of your mates and just enjoying everything. How different life was then to now. If only I'd never started smoking etc. Yet, at that time, it was what everyone did and it was part of the ritual of going out.

I am going to be toast in the morning! I am absolutely knackered and it is only Tuesday. My brain has taken in far more than it should have and trying to come to terms with some of the "big questions" the guys posed this evening was pretty difficult but I am not sure that anyone could answer the question of why he gave me cancer!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The fear of a recurrence

I was chatting to a friend of mine and we were discussing our various mental states and he is having a bit of a time at the moment and the strange thing is that, he doesn't have the offending organ that had the cancer in it as the cut that out and has been clear as long as I have. Like it is difficult to have Prostate Cancer if you haven't got a Prostate! There were no Mets and all was being monitored from very early on.

So - what has this to do with recurrence. Well it reminded me that I had the strangest dream last night and then came too realising that I'd had quite a bit of luck getting to where I am now considering they re TURBT on me the second time I went in for an operation - which was meant to be for biopsies. I have to say that memory made me shudder and then considering the grade of cancer I had, it was certainly noting short of miraculous that it went from CIS to clear pretty swiftly. CIS, Precancerous, Clear, Clear, Atypical. I could do with a clear this time as I haven't had treatment this past 4 months now. That would be really good and again reduces the odds of recurrence once again. I scared myself a bit worrying about a recurrence but figured that I am that much healthier now than I was then and that it would be manageable now and not a huge shock like when it was discovered the first time.

I've managed to put some distance between the feelings and my day to day life and have a job (if I want it) to take up after the next operation. It's all looking good but the nagging that it might recur are largely self generated and not based on anything at all. In addition I still attribute things like a slight cough or aches to being cancer - it is just the way your head deals with it I guess.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

At least

The Grand Prix started an hour later than the qualifying on Saturday and I was up in time to watch the race and very good it was too. It is nice to see some competition coming back. I fixed the Smoke Detector and Light upstairs and then the fan in the bathroom and sat down to a day of sport on the TV and researching out holiday. You would have thought it was easy to find out where we are going to dock and how we can get around and sort out a visa for St. Petersburg. After all, all the other ports are easy enough to sort out. After 3 hours research I think I can answer most of the questions I have.

I don't feel particularly good this afternoon and evening, a slight headache and I've had terrible tinnitus all day - yet little yesterday. Other than that I am feeling OK and as someone mentioned, perhaps it is just hay fever. It would be unusual as I don't suffer from that but I know a few people at work who are having a rough time at the moment.

It was good having my cousins over yesterday and we had a good day, went out for lunch and enjoyed catching up. It made me think as two of us have had scares recently, that there really isn't anything quite as important these days as enjoying your life. Not everyone comes with me on that one at the moment.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

UP with the Lark

This morning to watch the qualifying for the F1 China GP. Very good and more cars in the mix and at last it looks as if us fans will get the racing back and for there to be some competition and some real racing and overtaking available. Looking forward to tomorrow's race now.

I have my NZ cousins arriving this morning. Quite excited about that as we haven't seen each other since 2003 and until 1999 we didn't even know each other existed. Well we thought we did but we were both just blank "?" marks on a family tree. A case of instant family and today I get to meet a 2nd cousin who I have never met before and I think that then completes my family as far as 2nd cousins go.

I imagine that my appearance may come as surprise as in 2003 I was a fair bit lighter than I am now. However, I have been working on how I am going to reduce all that weight and to drop 1 or 2 stone in the next 6 to 8 months. I'm not dieting in a short term lose the ponds way. This is long term eating properly, exercising regularly, cutting out the beer and a few other things that pile on the pounds.

I'm certain that by doing that I can sustain a long term fitness and wellness regime. The last few attempts haven't really worked properly but then I tended to "react" to situations and do things in the wrong way flipping between starvation and then eating all the wrong foods in the wrong quantities and completely throwing any balance out in doing so. I've learnt my lesson on that and also stopping exercising didn't help matters. Getting a regular job means that I have ended up losing the exercise habit which at one time was a daily part of life!

Why is it easy to pick up bad habits than keep up good ones I wonder? Probably because I don't particularly like exercising and you spend 30 to 40 minutes on a piece of apparatus not actually getting anywhere. At least if you walk you can see the scenery I suppose.

Generally health is good again, the sun is out (hooray) and looking forward to a good day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Planning our Cruise

It is pretty exciting trying to work out what we will be doing on the cruise. We have a number of stops but at one point we do a City every day for 6 days albeit 2 of those days are at St. Petersburg. Trying to work out quite how to fit it all in is interesting. We will be busy as you like which is better than hanging around. Just got to get fit I suppose. Talking of which, the first week of the change in diet appears to be working and I am just making sure that I am eating properly. I feel good and whilst I know I am not as fit as I'd like, I will be able to start working at that too. I do plenty of walking each day.

I am surprised how there is an ongoing and gradual change in the way I act and behave now I am clear. I have a confident attitude and am comfortable with myself. It is quite interesting to see that each day I get a little more pleased with the future and I am getting used to the attitude I now have too. That's the one where everything that happens is a bonus from now on.

I'm looking forward to catching up with my cousins from NZ tomorrow and another cousin too who is new to me.

Early morning call

Apologising, at least it was off his chest. It appears someone hit a raw nerve with him last night and I received the fall out. Nothing to lose a friendship for, just as annoying for me as it was for him I suppose. A problem shared is a problem halved the trouble was that I didn't have a problem (half or otherwise) to start with :-)

It was good to see another success story last night. A friend who had Bowel Cancer caught at a very early stage (surgery no chemo or radio) and is fine now. Unless you've actually heard those words, all gone and you're clear, you can't begin to imagine the relief you feel.

At home today - miserable weather outside and I'm about to get tucked into some serious admin work and to tidy up the office and the house as my cousins are over tomorrow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Apprentice and the Master

I had my evening ruined tonight. Nothing that dramatic I suppose excepting someone I have known a long time cornered me and gave me a load of verbal and, frankly, I had just had a really nice afternoon and evening, was nicely mellow and didn't need all that hassle.

I'm pretty much a non confrontational sort and whilst I held my own in the argument and tried to level the field a bit, it didn't end particularly well.

I'm annoyed as whilst I have loads of time for this guys, I wouldn't go and spoil his evening like this. As I have known him for some time, I let him spoil my evening. Making sense? Maybe not if you don't know me. He probably felt better for getting it off his chest. i wouldn't have tackled it that way. At the end of the day, all I remember about today was him having a go at me and not the comradeship of a good meeting and nice meal.

My only solace is that I wouldn't react or act like that so I wouldn't put my friends through it. As he is a friend he can get away with it. Again, you'd need to know me to understand that too.

People aren't logical at all and I want them to be detached and logical and non emotional but trying to work on them to think straight is difficult - more so when loaded with booze too.

I think I will go and sleep this off. I'm disappointed that he didn't think about how it would mess up my evening though.

The Apprentice became a tradesman ( and a better one) many years ago. Only the Apprentice realises that this is so but he still respects and admires his Master.

Can you feel thin quickly?

I actually feel a little bit thinner as I fit inside my trousers a lot better than I did last week or the week before. Blood Pressure is reasonably low and the change of diet appears to be maintainable and not as bad as I thought it might be.

Home now until Monday and I hope to try and behave tonight as I am at a meeting with dinner to follow so there will be wine, beer, three courses and goodness knows what.

At least a few days to work it off.

Feeling quite good at the moment physically. Mentally having a few flash backs to deal with after the death of this chap earlier this week. Fear of a recurrence is the thing as if you get that you can be pretty certain that if the next set of treatments don't work you'll be in for a seriously rough old ride and it could be worse than that.

Sometime I ask why I am the only one who "Gets it!" Maybe no one wants to think or discuss that part, I'm sure that is what it is. It goes back to earlier posts about the change in yourself is massive and yet in those around you not so much. They don't have to deal with it inside them just someone they know who has it.

Anyhow, I'm dealing with it and hoping that June comes around and is clear and that the next steps are too. I'd hate to go back and start again, unless, of course, I had to.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You're a long time dead

Another of my phrases to people who really ought to "Get a Life!" It really doesn't matter that your team lost or that your seat on the train was taken and all that stuff. I like to complain and let off a bit of steam but the perennial whinger in my office has received the cold shoulder for a few days from me now as I just cannot spend my time to listening to all of the troubles and trials and tribulations. I know how to deal with them but my advice would be lost words on them I fear :-)

I was thinking to myself about the chap that died (he actually died on Good Friday). Not particularly Good for him or his young family even though they all knew what was coming, I doubt it can be any comfort at all to his wife and two young children. Of course things will be looked after for them, it sort of goes without saying but I find out today that the request is that money in his memory will come into our charity - which is a nice way to remember him and our work.

On to less pressing things. I have a meeting tomorrow and need to come home at lunchtime to sort myself out here and work on that. My change of lifestyle appears to be going well. My blood pressure is nice and low, I felt quite hungry today as I have cut down on quantities of food and also the types of food are different. Let's see how I get on. Rather than consciously go on a measurement and rigid regime, this is all about eating the right things, not eating the bad things, cutting back on the fats and the sugars and making sure I eat plenty of the right things.

I am noticing almost daily how well I feel. I may still have the hearing troubles but the rest of me seems to be feeling better. I think the reason is that no one is prodding or poking around with me and I haven't had any sort of treatment since December. If you think about it the longest I have gone is 12 weeks between treatment and operation and this time it will be close to 6 months before they have to do anything to me again.

Quite pleased that my insurance has dropped right down and my condition, as it is now clear for 2 years means that it has reduced by 75% or more on last years premium. So, if you are in the UK have a look at what SAGA can do if you are over 50. Of course, being over 50, I wasn't sure of any benefits although, saving money may well be one!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Early Home

Hence writing this blog but it was good as my friend Pete came along and the lads haven't met him for - well - 35 years! What a great laugh we had and suddenly memories were firing off and the synapses were off at all sorts of tangents. Names of teachers and events long ago forgotten suddenly sprang to mind and we just had a load of laughs about our time at school.

W reckoned that our "human Rights" were violated and that we were treated worse than being sent to Guantanamo but - it doesn't really seem to have done many of us much harm apart, that is, from being far more right wing than we were when we were teenagers.

We had less beer than we usually do and the football interrupted our evening a lot (Chelsea versus Liverpool). This particular "soccer" match was pretty good by all accounts but frankly, it isn't Cricket and it certainly isn't Rugby Union and so we weren't that interested. How on earth these "players" command 6 figure weekly sums is pretty disgusting considering they can't challenge for a ball without falling over and crying.

So - we did Religion, Politics, Strange goings on with some of the Teachers at school, totally non PC stuff like bringing back fireworks from the continent and letting them off and all other sorts of naughty things we did as kids that these days is treated as some sort of disorder but is really only high jinx!

Great time, cheered myself up and ready to get back to work and face off some of the numpties I have to work with there!

Another Warrior Dies

I heard today that someone that I knew to wave at and briefly say hello had succumbed to Cancer. No one seemed to know what he had other than it was diagnosed last year, was very bad and he died in less than a year - unfortunately he was only 45 years old which is, frankly, tragic.

As I said to the guys I was with today "There but by the grace of God go I". It sure does bring it home when you hear that sort of thing.

On a brighter note, my cousins are over from NZ and planning to meet up this weekend which is lovely. I hope the weather stays nice and we can sit out. It's been a few years, certainly before I got Bladder Cancer and perhaps even a few years before that. I hope that as the girls get older we get the chance to go and explore. The best time is our Winter and so much else happens then. Maybe in a year or two. We will have to see if Mrs. F and I are still speaking to each other after our cruise. We haven't been away together for longer than overnight for 19 / 20 years and that was when we went to Canada. Gee!

I am out tonight with my old school chums. That should be a barrel of laughs - I always feel great when I come back although my head may be sore in the morning. Had a laugh at work today and put up one of my stinging notices - paraphrasing Oscar Wilde - "People in here appear to know the price of everything but the value of nothing!". No one really commented, maybe they just got out of my way today and realised that I wasn't in my normal top of the morning mood.

As luck would have it my evening out with the mad Armenian and my ex boss is cancelled tomorrow so I don't need to go to the Betty Ford Clinic to dry out :-) I was dreading that as these guys can stick the booze away and whilst I used to be able to - since the treatment cannot for more reasons than having to run to the toilet every 20 minutes :-)

I'm suffering with this confounded tinnitus again and my boss has had to go to the GPs as he now has the problems I had in January and has gone deaf. I hope he has got it early though.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Diet begins

It isn't really a diet as such, more eating a healthy and more balanced diet. This week is a bad week to do that as I am out every night this week. I need to see if I can limit my eating and drinking to suitable limits.

I need to lose about 2 stone I reckon and at least 2" off my waist if not 4" if I can. The problem with diets is that they don't keep the weight off whereas changing your style of eating will help reduce your weight and then keep it that way.

My BP readings appear to be pretty good at the moment and I also need to look at getting over and seeing the GP again. What a pain, I suppose they realise we all have to work but just to go back and talk about my Blood Pressure appears to be a waste of time to me, I've already had that particular talk. I might just send in the BP results and then see if they want to see me rather than go and deliver by hand at an appointment. I know what the answer will be anyway.

I seem to be feeling generally well and apart from tiredness which is getting more manageable, things generally appear to be getting better. Mentally, I still have some minor concerns about the change of heart of the Consultant but, June will be the month when the biopsies are taken and the results known.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Watched the Programme

On Cancer and it wasn't too much to go on about. Much of what any cancer sufferer or cancer warrior/survivor may already knows was in there but there was a nice quote from a lady who was a Breast Cancer Survivor. That was that she didn't like people going on about how brave she was or how she must have suffered.

I think if you didn't have cancer it didn't do much for you other than reminding you of the basics. Eat properly, don't smoke, go to GP early if you have any symptoms.

On the lady who didn't like people saying she was brave etc. I kind of subscribe to that. You have cancer, you get treatment and you have to live with it. If you don't you could end up a lot worse so you just get on with your lot. There is nothing you can do about it and whilst it isn't particularly nice it's not as if you are brave as such.

The Easter Egg hunt went well again today and we had to hold it inside as it was inclement but everyone enjoyed themselves.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Was good actually. My friend and colleague came around and we thrashed out some business issues and plans we have been working on. We went out for a beer and lunch (Ham, Egg and Chips) which was great.

I have a load of things to finish off now as we are planning to get our business off the ground soon.

I am hoping that I can continue on feeling as well and as fit as I am even though I still get tired.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Last Day in the Office for a while

It's quite a nice feeling actually. A couple of days off work and perhaps an opportunity to catch up with some of my own work and meet some friends too plus the Easter Egg hunt on Saturday.

It was bitterly cold last year and we held the hunt inside. It should be warmer this weekend but there is a threat of rain. Let's hope that the sun shines and that the children have a great time as well as the old people who reside at the home where we organise the hunt.

I was really pleased to see that A is going to do the Race for Life for Cancer Research UK. I'm very proud of both A and L as they often go off and do things for charitable causes on their own initiative. L who is saving up to go on her World Challenge Expedition still found time to raise money for Comic Relief a few weeks back despite also needing to raise her own funds.

I was thinking this morning on the way into work of the time that A shot a series of photos for her college work on various designs for anti-smoking material to go on cigarette packets and there was a reference to her having chosen that because I was suffering from Cancer. I felt quite choked up when I read that as I realised that the family were going through the mill a bit.

Anyway, nice to see she is raising some money and probably having a good time doing so. Let's hope that all the effort does some good and that the money raised goes into more research that will help 2 out of very 3 of us.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Getting to be a habit

Missing days in my blog. Not deliberate really just the pressures of this week and not getting the time to sit down at home. Hence a blog from work.

As we run up to Easter, all sorts of things are happening in the madhouse that we call home. I am out everyday whereas Mrs. F. and the kids are off College and School for a two week break. A is getting ready to go camping as a precursor to going off to one of the music festivals later this year. Good for her - I never did get to go to one of the festivals. I hope the weather is good for her.

Busy at work in a way, there are lots of things going on which are good but there are lulls in between which are boring. I am proofreading this afternoon but my heart really isn't in it as I wrote the damn thing in the first place so I know it will be a difficult read to correct my own work. Most other things have been completed ready for the Easter break and we get a short day tomorrow which is always nice to have.

I'm quite pleased that we have booked the holiday in the Baltic. I am looking forward to getting a serious overdose of architecture and culture. I've always wanted to go to St. Petersburg and so that will be a highlight for me.

As for health - I seem to be OK. Dropped a few lbs in the past week but not really worked a good routine out for not eating too much at work yet. The exercise machine is looking dusty and I keep glancing at it knowing that I must get back to that. I have done my Blood Pressure for the past few mornings and evenings and I am back at acceptable levels - it may take a shedding of a stone or so and a bit more fitness to get back to some of the really good readings of last year.

Running up to Easter I managed, at least, to sort out cards and chocolates etc. It was a bit touch and go but that is done. I have the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday which will keep me occupied then and hopefully I can have a few days not doing too much except my accounts which couldn't be completed last week.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Blood Pressure

Is much lower today than on Friday and Mrs. F. Almost had to have a row with the GP surgery to get my tablets. I'm happy to miss them and drop a not to the surgery asking for when they've stopped fannying around to perhaps sort out my prescription. As it seems to be the case everywhere these days no one talks to anyone anymore and there were about 3 different sets of instructions and it isn't worth arguing with these "types" as they don't actually have a pragmatic view on the world. If "Computer say no" then it is the right answer.

Me? I'd tell them to fornicate off as I can't abide jobsworths. Had one today who wont take my word for it and wants my bosses signature. Instead of my boss telling him what for he countersigned it. Me, in my organisational days, would have ripped the guy a new arse for that sort of behaviour. Unfortunately for this particular "jobs worth", he hasn't worked out what a truly awkward sod I can be yet. His day will come and he will rue the day he ever tried that stupid trick on as it will permanently backfire on him. Mind you, he is pretty strange...

So - back to my health. I'm OK, just realised though that I have booked up loads of things including my holiday and a staff paintballing day that may clash with a future operation. I think I will drop a line off to the Consultant to make sure they get me done in early June. At least that way everything is avoided.

I need to lose a shed load of weight and whilst I have started to lose it, as I can actually feel it going, I must concentrate on it. Today was a case in point. Soup, low bread and fillings and get taken out for a few beers and lunch unexpectedly. It just doesn't do and I really want to get back to a good weight prior to going into Hospital so I can be as fit as possible to endure that. I don't want a session like last time either, it left me really low so building up my strength and fitness will help.

Wot? No Sunday Blog

I must be losing it. Well actually we were recovering from our meal the night before with A and the family. Then it was early up for Malaysian GP, then it was the Touring Cars, GP2 Asia, Rally and SuperBikes and in between booking the holiday which was traumatic as after filling in shed loads of forms, got to the last page to find that they had trouble with their servers so booked this morning.

So we are off to the Baltic and the capitals of the area. I have always wanted to go to St. Petersburg as well as Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen. The only one we miss is Oslo. Looking forward to that already.

Back at work today and see that the Cancer programme is getting more comments HERE. As well as HERE too.

Amazed at the views - or maybe shouldn't be as the BBC attracts its fair amount of loonies as does everywhere else I suppose. Interesting question but not really the best way of asking it. "You're reaction to the word Cancer?" Some kind of say death sentence straight off. I suppose that, apart from that stereotypical view, it is very much your own experience and that what come through, together with the Snake Oil salesmen too.

I will have to watch it on catch up TV or iPlayer later. Been a hell of a day at work, really slow and not really getting anywhere. Hope tomorrow will pick up again.

Measured BP this mornining and at a reasonable level although higher than where I want it to be.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Well it was to me - my blood pressure was through the roof and I can only put it down to my normal hate of the GP waiting room and them being 30 minutes late so I was beginning to seethe by then. Normally they are on time but yesterday - it wasn't great. My BP was way too high, it came down later but even so wasn't as I record it back here. What I do realise though is that I must sort out exercising and even though I have lost some weight now and altered my diet drastically, I do need to drop a lot of weight and quite quickly too.

Luckily we discussed blood tests and they were dismissed, I hate blood tests. The upshot is I have to go back again in a few weeks and take some of my won readings along. exercise and all that need to be sorted though as well.

On a happier note I went out last night to a Lodge meeting, ended up giving the response to the visitors toast (again) but I enjoy it and there was plenty to say and I can crack a few jokes and anecdotes with the rest of them..

Today we are builder free, we do however have dust you can write your name in just about everywhere in the house.

It looks as if a holiday may have been sorted out and we are considering a cruise. Now Mrs. F. wasn't greatly amused last time about the cruise around the Faroes, Iceland and Norway although I enjoyed it. We have both always wanted to visit St. Petersburg (Russia not the US version) and the other Baltic Capitals and it looks as if we have found a cruise that will do that which would be great. I priced up doing city breaks and it is cheaper to go on a cruise and get a day or two in each of these capitals.

Tonight we are off for a meal with the family to celebrate A's birthday. It should be nice as my Nephew is over from Luxembourg for the weekend and it will be great to catch up with him.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Maybe that's another view

Going on from the previous post and the emotional response to other people's sufferings perhaps signifies something else. I just wonder if there is more to all of this than is comfortable with most of us? By that I think that I'm not comfortable with the mortality I was presented with and that perhaps I didn't face up to it at the time and probably still haven't faced up to it now?

You get to look at death and you get visited by the little voices in the back of your head, the Black Dog comes and visits in your dreams and during your waking hours too. Black Dog? My friend's and my name for the horrible dreams and nightmares, the bad thoughts in your head, the madness and depression and negativity of living with cancer. The Black Dog comes and tears down your optimism and questions everything and is generally non constructive thoughts and dreams.

So, you look at death and don't want to go there. Invariably though, it isn't quite as bad as that and whilst you go through some pretty serious treatments and experiences, you aren't "near death", there are others worse off than you and poorly you may be, but nearing meeting your maker you are not.

I don't think you therefore actually come to prepare to meet your mortality because you don't need to at that time. If they had said "You are Terminal" then you would have to. That process of working through that particular challenge didn't happen, something similar did happen but it wasn't that. Hence now, when you see terminal illness and suffering the switch goes off in your brain and it becomes upsetting. Not because you know what it feels like, but because you think you know what it feels like. In fact the bit that is missing is that I never did sit down and face up to my mortality and what it meant. early on I got pretty upset about not being there when the girls got married, graduated or whatever - I felt sad for all the things I perhaps should have done, I really thought that I wouldn't last long but, the interesting thing is, once I rationalised things and got the first operation out of the way, my attitude was completely different. It is highly survivable, they can treat you with some pretty effective medicines and even if you need to have radical surgery done, you can live with it.

So my addition to the earlier blog is about having empathy with those who are terminal in as much as I may have started off down that path but never got far along it. I managed to turn back and go down a different path. Down the terminal path I have no idea how you feel about meeting your end, how your family and friends will react (which is a strange thing to think about really as they'll still be alive) and all the other thoughts that must rattle around your head at a time like that. When you meet someone who is terminal, and I have, you can empathise with them and be sorry to hear their news yet you will steer away from the major questions "How long?", "How do you feel about that?" as it is often in a social gathering that such conversations take place.

So, emotional reactions for a non emotional type? Empathy? Yes perhaps it is mainly that, I've been through some of the stuff you have been through and I know it hurts, debilitates, knocks you sideways, isn't understood and so on. Knowing that the person is having a seriously rough time, yes, I still consider myself to have gone through a rough old time and many have told me it is pretty shocking, I can feel their suffering but it is more than that. Comparing their problems with mine maybe that too plays a part but I think when it boils down to it, it goes back to something more fundamental than these points alone. I think it goes back to "It's all about me", I feel emotional because I don't normally feel emotional about myself. I've never really grieved for myself and my situation and these glimpses into other people's lives just reminds me how lucky I am to be where I am now. It triggers a response that I never really allowed myself except right at the beginning and that is to let it out and have a bloody good sob and feel, for once, sorry for myself!

I go back to the time I came back from the GP after he referred me to the specialist. Before I knew for certain it was cancer. I knew it what it was although I refused to believe it at that time and I locked myself into my office where I am now and went into meltdown. I don't think I cried after that even when I knew what it was and had the couple of days wait to go into Hospital. I was almost relieved to know what it was and that it could be tackled although we didn't know how bad it was going to be (staging) until afterwards.

I may have whinged and moaned about some of the tests and treatments but haven't cried since then about myself. I remember having tears of pain after one treatment but not anything on any real scale since.

I don't know. It could be any of those things and it could just be that my hormones are all over the place with the treatment.

There remains an even simpler answer; that I used to view everything as a cynic and turned over when bad or upsetting stuff was on. Now I face up to it.

There you are, an explanation but no nearer. Life's like that, it would be a boring place if we had all the answers I suppose.

The Trouble with being in touch with your emotional side is

That it becomes increasingly uncomfortable to sit through many programmes that show any sort of real life suffering. Tonight there was a programme about the work the Childrens' Hospice movement does and it concentrated on Helen and Douglas House. One of the related charities I work with is Lifelites and they provide the entertainment and computer equipment for these life limited children and their families throughout the childrens' hospice community.

So, I watched the programme and just got more and more uncomfortable and quite emotional about the plight of some of the guests and their families. Before I had cancer I would have turned over but tonight I stuck to it. I could have done with a few more handkerchiefs it was quite distressing and at the same time quite uplifting showing the comfort that such places provided in some terribly difficult circumstances.

What was nice to see was someone who survived a life threatening disease and she was just in her 30s and had a new lease of life and was coming to terms with being well again, not having to to go for treatment and not having her timetable set by doctors, hospitals and medication. She struggled to find meaning in it and it was good to see that the hospice rose to the challenge of helping her get a grasp on what it now meant to be healthy - or on the way back to health. Suddenly others expected her to be "just like them" straight away and perform at their level and get a job and settle down etc., etc. Totally unrealistic. I felt a lot of empathy with her as I am still coming to terms with it and what it means and wondering how to spend the gift of being free of cancer.

Here is a LINK to the web site about the programme - it is available for a few days on iPlayer.

I discussed this new "emotional me" with a good friend not so long ago and it appears to go with the territory of having cancer and a number of people I have spoken to have said they are far more "emotional" than they ever were before. I can't tell you quite why that would be apart from your whole body gets stirred around and goes out of balance and I understand that your hormones go all over the place as well so perhaps that. There is the empathy you have with people with terminal diseases and even more so when they are young. Some of these youngsters are very matter of fact. It is also a joy to see how well they are cared for and the support for everyone involved.

The strength it gives me is that I can "do my job" and raise awareness and funds for the Charity and play on other's emotions because you can hear in my voice the often difficult job we have to do in this respect. The trouble is there are so many tales of suffering that you could get flooded with it all too.

If there could be anything that has changed massively in me these past 33 months now, it is that I find anything like this programme seriously upsetting. tonight I made myself watch it and it did move me and somehow it adds a determination to change things in any small way that I am able. I may not make a difference to those children directly but through Lifelites my sporadic donations may help them enjoy having a bit of fun.

There's another thing, if you have children and they are healthy, this sort of tragedy for the parents and the child are just unthinkable. It should make you count your blessings, whatever denomination you are, and be glad that you do not need to call on their services.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Changing attitudes to Cancer

Newsnight next Monday 6th April will be reporting on "How Good is Your Cancer Care?" It will compare it with Europe. It will also look at the breakthroughs and also the attitudes towards Cancer. The programme starts at 22:30 BST.

The BBC web link is HERE

Typically I cannot see it on the night but I will use the catchup service iPlayer

I think that only sufferers and their families will have a different attitude to what the word cancer means to them. In most people I speak to they think that I have been through terrible suffering (maybe I have - I'm hardened to it). Additionally in the early stages most people thought I was dying and a lot thought I'd lose (what's left of) my hair.

The stereotypical response to cancer will no doubt be in evidence but I have a feeling that many more people will feel that the success of combating cancer is better. The fear is, of course, driven by high profile deaths from Cancer. Often these are described as "aggressive" - frankly all cancers are that.

Anyway, it will be interesting viewing and I'll be interested in what it has to say.

Working from Home

Is OK. I needed the extra few hours sleep as well as I was feeling tired again towards the end of each working day. The tinnitus is still with me although today it is very much in the background. The only thing I can liken it to is the constant noise you'd hear in an engine room or in a room full of electronics but at a higher pitch.

The mind is pretty good at dealing with it though and it just fades into the background. It is worse in the mid afternoon and the last few days have needed me to play music through my MP3 player to combat the noise and try and distract myself from it.

I'm waiting on the builders to show up and do their thing. They have to plaster the new ceilings and sort out the electrics tomorrow. Whilst I am a trained Electrician I am not allowed to touch it these days by Law. A clever move on behalf of the industry that has probably saved the hundreds of millions of people who died every year of electric shocks - not!

Hopefully all will be completed by the weekend and then, I have no doubt, it will dawn on Mrs. F. that redecoration is required. Life goes on!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

OK quick blog in and out

So two days off the builders need to get sorted and luckily I am here tomorrow as they will be late. The G20 stuff in London seemed to hardly affect us but the trains in and out were rubbish today.

I am off out to a Jazz night and looking forward to that. I intend to get as much done as possible in the next few days to clear my backlog of things.