Back to normality – sort of – 1st September 2019

This week was very much a normal week, working all week and getting back into the swing of things as summer now is slowly coming to an end. Today I even had to dig out a light jumper! I had the joy of going to an art class on Friday afternoon, which was a special summer class. I really enjoyed myself and it was very relaxing.

Last night I met a with a friend to have an drink at one of our local cafes and much to my surprise another friend joined us – I think it has been around 4 months since we were all together, so it was a lovely evening sitting outside drinking rose. Thankfully not a late night as I’m not getting enough sleep at the moment.

Cancer update – tomorrow will be the half way mark for chemo. I’m dreading it but it is nice to finally get to the half way mark, I also have a friend’s wedding to look forward to at the end of the month and I’ve now got my outfit sorted, so that is something that I’ve enjoyed doing.

I must admit being half way on my chemo journey is starting to make me think about where I want to go, especially between chemo and radio and then after I’ve finished my chemo – it is hard to think about what to do during the winter months in Europe – January and February aren’t the best times to travel! Welcome to any suggestions.

Below I have a couple of photos of one of friends and Pat both trying to outdo each other! Let’s just say that they both realised that they are not as young as they once were!

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

Robert!

A relaxing time – 4th August 2019

It’s been a relaxing week, which has been nice. The weather has been pleasant, not too hot but sunny. Unfortunately it was very wet last weekend but it did give us the opportunity to go to an art exhibition (all watercolour) in a nearby town; something that we all enjoyed a lot. The rest of the week was as normal as Pat and I worked, mum did the washing and her crossword puzzles.

On Friday mum and I headed into Limoges to do some wig shopping, however as the sales were on, our first stop was Galleries Lafayette, as I needed an outfit for a wedding in September. So I’ve bought my trousers now I need to find a shirt. After our little bit of shopping we found the first place for a wig and it appeared to be closed – it was just after 12:00 noon. So mum and I headed off to find somewhere for lunch. After a lovely lunch, as we were near the cathedral and mum was certain she hadn’t been inside we took some time out and had a look around the cathedral.

Then on to the next wig store – which was a hairdressers I didn’t feel confident enough to go in and ask about the wigs so we headed on to the next place. This place was very much like the first, in that it was tucked away and we had to buzz an intercom to get in, however in looking a bit more at the information at the door it appeared that we needed to make an appointment. So at this stage we decided to call an end to our day and head home. Pat will have to make some calls on Monday for me. Ultimately it does appear that there is no such thing as a wig shop in Limoges. They all seem to be hair specialists which help with all different things.

Saturday was spent just doing normal things, such as cleaning the house, washing and food shopping so not anything too exciting. Today (Sunday) however we are heading out this afternoon to visit a ruined chateau that has had some restoration. It is a place that Pat and I have been wanting to see for a while but haven’t yet visited. So looking forward to that and hopefully Pat will tell you all about it next week.

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

Here’s a photo mum wanted to take of the very large pine tree out the front of our rental.

A cool change – 21st July 2019

We’ve been having some lovely cooler weather here in our part of France. It’s been a nice change/relief however we are expecting another hot week this week. I have a busy weekend this weekend, this morning I went for coffee and this afternoon, we were invited to afternoon tea with friends of Pat who he has French class with. It was lovely to sit in their wonderful garden this afternoon, drink a glass of elderflower champagne and then have tea, scones, cake & tarts. Pat definitely enjoyed the food! Tomorrow we are heading out for lunch with Pat’s other French language group – which I am thoroughly looking forward to.

Last week we had Bastille day and the usual fireworks happening. This time we could just walk out our front door and watch them. I enjoyed that, Siena (our dog) not so much, though when we were standing outside together she did calm down.

I’ve enjoyed mum being here, we went to the student art exhibition opening last Friday, which was fun. Last weekend we went for a nice walk around St Matthew and yesterday mum and I went into Chalus had a look at all the art exhibitions that are currently open, had a walk through the market, had coffee and then headed off to lunch (with Pat) at a lovely local restaurant where we sat out under the tress and had a wonderful meal. I then headed off to a drop in art class and “finished” a painting of a rooster – I’ve bought him home – picture below – but I’m not quite sure if he is finished.

I’ve bought myself an adult colouring book, which I’m planning on using to distract myself during chemo. We will see if that helps, but at least I will have Pat and my mum with me, which will be really nice. I do hope that I will get some interesting and good pictures out of this – we shall see.

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

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

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

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.

A quiet week – 18th May 2019

It has been a quiet week after coming out of hospital. I am recovering well and very pleased with how I am doing after just a week – especially when I compare it to how I felt after my thyroid operation. I will be back at work next week and I had my first outing on Friday. I went to art class; which was lovely and obviously not too stressful. I also got to pick up one of my paintings which I had had framed – it was my painting of a hydrangea. It was really nice to be out and about even though I did end up in bed at 9:30 last night.

Tonight I am hoping that I will last to see the whole of Eurovision, a programme that I do enjoy watching. Though I’m not sure of Australia’s entry! However it would be nice to be in Australia at the moment as our weather has been very un-spring like – we’ve had lots of sunshine this week but it has been cold. Today I have the fire on and it is raining very, very hard. Tomorrow I am hoping that it will be dry enough that we can get out for a walk. I have been doing short walks most days this week which has been good.

Tomorrow we might even go for a Sunday brunch in a nearby town, which has a wonderful tea shop that does all day English breakfasts – and the most fantastic cakes. Or maybe I might just make Canadian style pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. We shall see, and yes I am eating more than I should at the moment but hey I won’t be doing this forever.

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

P.S. – Brunch was pancakes, bacon and maple syrup – lovely

Spring glorious Spring – 20th April 2019

Yes Spring is most definitely here, along with my hay fever! The trees are regaining their leaves the sun is shining (mostly) and the rain is falling but it’s not cold. In France Good Friday is not a public holiday, so while I had the day off everything locally was open and it was also a friend’s birthday. So a couple of us headed off to an English Tea Room in a nearby town for lunch. It was such a glorious day we sat outside and drank our tea and ate our all day English breakfast (including hash browns – heaven) plus fabulous cake!!! Will be going back as there were so many things of the menu I wanted to try.

Then 2 of us wandered around the medieval part of the town, I found a charity shop and left with a white summer blouse and a lovely blue scarf – all for the grand total of €3. We also explored a porcelain shop (it’s a factory outlet and great value), then into the chocolatier’s shop – well it is Easter. A small chocolate each and off we went, back to our local town to make various haircut appointments – mine is next Friday morning – the usual cut and colour, but part of me does think should I go a bit wild with the colour?!

So what is to happen for the rest of the weekend? Today started out nice and I’ve done some washing – however the weather is not looking so good now. We’ve also done the house cleaning – relatively quick job with the two of us working together. Tomorrow we have planned a walk around one of the local lakes. Unfortunately for us, both of us have to do some work on Monday, but my Monday afternoon will be spent binge watching an interior design programme – or if it is a sunny day perhaps another walk somewhere?

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

15 – The curve ball of life

Please note that this blog is identical to my fit and fab blog.

15/03 – Just before we moved, I did the wonderful thing of going to the doctors as I needed a few things to be checked out – which to be honest I had been putting off – things like a tetanus shot, my blood check (due to my thyroid operation) and a pap smear. A couple of weeks before my appointment I noticed an indentation in my left breast, so I mentioned this to the doctor, she did a check, couldn’t find anything but sent me off for a mammogram. This was duly booked in for the 11th March. Anyone who tells you mammograms don’t hurt is lying. They hurt, albeit it is brief. They hurt more when they decide that you actually need a few more and better images. I was then informed that they had found something and had to go next door for an ultra sound and did I want my husband with me! Alarm bells start to ring. So long and short of this after Pat joined us the radiologist (I think that is what she is) showed us the images and effectively stated I had a mass and that it was small and caught early, she explained how she was almost certain that it was cancer. A few tears were shed, we then did the ultrasound, definitely not a cyst and currently nothing in the lymph glands.

A few more tears and a trip back to my doctor, who asked me if I knew and asked if we had any questions (Pat had come with me). After a short discussion she very nicely rang the hospital in Limoges to find out how I get the biopsy done and she helped with all that, wrote a letter for me to put with my scans and notes and to send off. So currently I am waiting for a biopsy – this sucks!

25/03
Biopsy has been done. This also hurts – thought not so bad due to been given a local anaesthetic. Unfortunately this doctor (who very nicely spoke English to me for the whole appointment) did find a lump up in my lymph node so I have had 3 biopsy needles stuck into me. The finding of a lump in my lymph node is scary, thankfully I don’t have to wait that long, I do have my results appointment next Monday. I have taken that day off as if the news is what we are expecting, it may be a little overwhelming so I don’t think I will get any work done. I haven’t done much work today as it has been difficult to concentrate.

27/03
I’ve just had a chat with one of my colleagues around planning if I have to go into surgery etc etc. This was not an easy conversation. Planning for things that one doesn’t yet know. My brain isn’t working at its best so that also makes things difficult, as I have to work to get paid. This is a problem with being self employed. I did think I had cover for illness, but it appears not. So a real pain in the butt.

03/04
Well I’ve been to the surgeon and had my biopsy results, I have a stage II breast cancer – which has moved to the lymph nodes. Knowing it has moved is difficult, I now have to go for an upper body scan to see if it has gone anywhere else (from everything I’ve been told and read, it is unlikely). Next appointment with the surgeon is the 10th April – where we will go through my treatment.

Here is a link that is useful:
https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/stages-types-grades/number-stages/stage-2
2B on the page gives a close approximation to what I have.

So where to now, we don’t yet know. One thing I do ask of you all – I will be putting my trust in science on this – current treatment has really good outcomes. Therefore, please do not send me information and links to stuff that is unscientific and unproven – it will just piss me off. But support and good thoughts will be more than welcome.

So my fit and fab has taken unforeseen turn but I still plan on being fit and fabulous at 50!

Delia

Bitter Sweet –21 March 2019

Well we signed for the sale of our house on Monday, a very bitter sweet experience. We were happy to be selling to someone who truly loved our house and was very happy and excited to be buying it but it was sad to be selling “our” house, one we put a lot of us into. I had so many plans for our house and garden and now they won’t be happening. This is difficult for me, but Pat is happy to have his weekends back without having to worry about the next project.

We also left a little gift for the new owner, a book of photos that Pat had taken from around our hamlet and she loved it.

So we are now settled into our rental and the spring weather is back to our delight. I do like the ability to walk to the local bakery. We are slowly exploring the area for walks with Siena. Pat has already sorted out his morning walk. We did try one on Thursday, but discovered a slightly aggressive dog, the owner did come out, but we turned around at that point and headed back home.

It is also very nice to sit outside overlooking the fields and drink a cup of tea (or glass of wine) after lunch or in the late afternoon. Now we need to settle into our new routines.

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