An unexpected encounter – 29th June 2019

It has been hot and humid here in France, not the most pleasant of combinations. Thankfully the bedrooms are downstairs in our current house and that means that they are significantly cooler than other parts of the house, so for the most part we’re getting some sleep. Currently I’m sitting out the back of the house (in the shade) enjoying the light breeze that is wafting around me, waiting for my nurse and typing this blog. The weather is due to change later in the week with storms forecast.

So Pat headed off to the UK for a couple of days for a funeral, I still had the nurse coming so didn’t go with him. Pat didn’t enjoy showing up at his hotel (a pub with rooms) and finding it closed! He had to find elsewhere to sleep! While he was away I took Siena up to the Voie Verte for a walk, this is converted railway that is now paved and used for walkers, bikes etc. I had a very close encounter with a rather large collard grass snake – thankfully totally non-venomous and if harassed they actually play dead rather than try to bite (there is a picture at the very end of the blog). The Australian in me did have mild hysterics however as I really did nearly stand on it – and Siena walked right over the top of it. I was very fortunate that it wasn’t an aggressive (or venomous) snake.

I also had a very quiet week at work, which for me was great as the 2 days that I worked last week were manically busy and I was exhausted by Friday – so much so that I slept in on Saturday until 9:30 (nurse showed up at 9:40 and I was not ready for her). This Friday was much better with the whole day off and I was back at art class – I’m currently painting a rooster, I’m really enjoying this painting, partly because I painted it for fun and it is actually working out really well. Not sure when I will finish it but hopefully it won’t take too long.

Cancer Update – We finally have heard about chemo – the results came back indeterminate, which basically means that the risk to benefit ratio is very close. The surgeon wants me to have a chat with a chemo specialist so that I can make an informed decision about if I will go forward with the chemo or not. I go back to the surgeon this coming week to get the biopsy results for the 2nd operation – hopefully everything is clear this time.

We have friends arriving next week – for a long weekend with us – so the next blog may be late – but should have a number of photos 🙂

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

The only way is up!

Our time in France has been both eventful and quiet. I feel like its been a pastoral interlude and that once in Aus our lives will begin again. When we first arrived we had a summer gite in the middle of a cold winter. For differing reasons we lost both of our main clients. What with the cold, the stress of the property search and difficulty with our work things were stressful. Not to mention the extra stress of all the necessary French paperwork. Yet Delia and I learnt a lot about each other, how we each handle stress and, eventually, how to deal with each other during that stress.

Moving to Beaulieu meant we continued to spend most of our time together or at least under the same roof. I will certainly miss her company when she is back doing the commute. But nothing prepared me for the massive weight dropped on us by her cancer diagnosis. However, after the initial shock we gradually found that the future was less and less bleak. But not without some long dark nights. I really learnt to appreciate Delia when the stark possibility of her not being there dropped on me. Its come as a surprise that we’ve been at our happiest with each other over the past weeks. Yes Delia curses the cancer wishing it away, as do I, but, given the contrast of what could have been, we find ourselves not bickering over little things the way we used to. Generally being nice to each other and more accomodating. Why say no to each other at all I guess.

We have learnt lessons that, one way or another, most couples who stay together have to learn, I suppose. We’ve each learnt to care more for each other. Delia certainly spent a lot of time caring for me during my shingles and the after effects – with me suffering in pain but at least not life threatening. Now I get to care for her. The stakes initially seemed higher but now we understand that we just have to get through it as best we can. We are in it together.

We are looking forward to several visits from friends and relations now we have an idea of how things are proceeding though we still don’t know if chemo is on the cards (apparently only 34% of breast cancer patients actually do have chemo). We are looking forward to some of the travel that we have had to postpone over the past weeks. Plus, now my visa seems to be moving forward at last there’s a real possibility of us being in Aus before Christmas (?).

What’s up? 15th June 2019

Well it has been an interesting week, we’ve had lovely weather and crap weather. We’ve been out, we’ve been back to hospital and tonight we are heading out for dinner! Let me start at the beginning, last Sunday we were invited to a concert at one of our ex-neighbours. We had a wonderful hour listening to a cellist & pianist, we have heard them before at a previous concert, it was lovely and we got to see a lot of our ex-neighbours. Our friends who joined us for the concert also really enjoyed themselves.

The rest of the week felt like various trips to the hospital. Tuesday we went to see my new surgeon (another lovely female surgeon) who informed me that we still didn’t know about chemo but that she did need to know by the time of the surgery as I was to have a port if chemo was going ahead and my surgeon wanted to put it in while I was under. Unfortunately by Thursday we still didn’t have any information back from the pathologist so I had a short operation to remove the extra tissue that needed removing. I’m doing really well after my operation, so much so I was allowed to head home later that day – after I had eaten and drunk something. I also feel like they finally got my anaesthetic correct as I had no vomiting or nausea after the operation – and that was fantastic.

So yesterday and today I’ve not been doing much, I’ve had the nurses to visit both days to change the dressing, both were sad to see me again as they knew that it meant I had to go for another operation. But ultimately the results are good (ie. How the boob looks – but I’ve definitely got a size difference happening!). We are hoping that, that is it on the surgery front but unfortunately we don’t know. I am however well enough to head out to dinner tonight – we were invited by our quiz partners to come over for dinner so we are looking forward to that, and I’m really happy we can do it as this was planned before I had my operation. Tomorrow I’m also hoping that the weather will be a little nicer and Pat and I can head out for a small walk together. Also to help along my tomatoes as my cherry tomatoes have little ones happening and I’m happy about that.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

Picnic season?

Sorry about missing my last blog, I was fiddling around trying to write some “further information” about our relationship.  It is surprising how few photos of both of us we have (to prove our “togetherness”). They want a UK police check and also want a certified translation of my French police check – ironic that, having spent most of the past 6 years having certified translations into French. Anyway, its good to have some hint that they know I exist, visa-wise at least.

Delia goes to the consultant this Tuesday and then a further op on Thursday. Her first op has healed well and is just stopping being painful so its annoying to be “looking forward” to another two or three weeks of more pain. We already know that 5 weeks of daily radiation therapy is going to happen but should know on Tuesday if chemo is also on the cards.

Last Sunday was the first time that the weather was good enough for a picnic. We went to a Lac St Estephe to the west of us. We managed to avoid the crowds who thought the same thing and had a lovely shady picnic. Now, Delia and I differ on what constitutes a picnic. Me? I’d be happy with a plastic bag with some baguette, cheese and tomatoes and pausing somewhere to sit wherever seemed good. Delia on the other hand requires a table, plates and cutlery (the concession was that we had to “tear and share” the baguette).

After we had eaten we carried on around the lake. At one point there is a delightful little pontoon that you have to pull yourself across with. We took a selfie of ourselves – the first one I had tried with a new phone – can’t say I’m impressed but here it is anyway.

We have had to suffer storm Miguel the last couple of days, definitely unseasonal- hopefully I’ll have more sunny morning walks to look forward to such as this one below .


Summer has arrived – 1st June 2019

Well the weather is currently glorious, which is wonderful. I actually got up this morning and put on cut-offs and a t-shirt – no jumper or warm slippers. It was wonderful. However along with this wonderful weather, we get interesting surprises, such as the snake that slithered its way through our back yard yesterday while Pat and I were outside enjoying a late afternoon drink and snack. We did have to remove Siena from the situation as she was a little too curious. We think it was a non-venomous snake but not sure, it definitely wasn’t aggressive. We will try and get a photo of it, if it comes back.

Last weekend, we headed off to a local fete – one that we used to walk to. We ran into a lot of people we used to know and it was lovely to catch-up with people. We have 2 invites at the moment, one for cake and the other for a concert – another cello and piano recital which will be lovely. I also bought two tomato plants (cherry – one yellow, one red) at the fete as I’ve missed doing a bit of gardening (never thought I would say that!). They have yet to be planted into their planter that is a job for this afternoon.

Friday at art class I finished a painting – and started a new one – but I’m very happy with the finished painting. I feel my watercolour painting has really improved over the past 6 months. I know I just need to get on with my drawing and give that the boost it needs. I am actually planning on combining the two mediums a bit more which will be fun to play with.

On Monday, we did head back to the surgeon, this was a mixture of good and bad news. Good news – only 2 lymph nodes had cancer. Bad news, no clear margins on the tissue extraction around the tumour, so I have to go back in to be operated on. This will be a much smaller operation than previously – so that is also a positive. We however still don’t know if I need chemo, and using my results from the testing they have done on my tumour (thank-you NHS Predict) it appears I am sitting on the margin of risk versus benefit for chemo – ie. There may be nothing gained from having chemo. So we wait for more tests and I will find out on the 11th June. I am healing well and very happy with the results so far.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

PS. Pat apologises for not doing a blog last week, due to having to write an essay on “The nature of our relationship” for his Australia visa application.