Sunday, 30 March 2014

Visitors to my blog

My blog has been going over 7 months now, and thus far I've received just under 8,000 pageviews.


Actually 8,000 isn't that much.  I'm sure if I was the Pope or the Queen or a film star I would have got that many views in the first half hour.  But I'm not so I'm quite happy with 8,000 views.

What I have found interesting is how many different countries visit.  I've now found a mapping gadget to add to my blog. (and I deleted the goldfish while I was at it as I was getting a tad bored with them).  The only thing I don't like about it is that if you click on it to see a larger version, it does show a few annoying ads.  I hate blogs with ads and I never intend to put any on my blog, but the map gadget does look nice on other blogs.  Just avoid clicking on it and you won't see the ads.  If they annoy me too much, I will ditch the gadget and replace it with something else.

7 days to go or DIEP-Day -7

By this time next week my operation will be finished and I will starting the recovery process.  I can't wait to get it over with.

Of course there is trepidation - is the recovery process as bad as everyone says?  My recovery from knee replacement 3 years ago was nowhere near as bad as I expected from reading people's accounts on the internet.  Perhaps I will be lucky again?  Or perhaps everything will go pear-shaped this time?

What will be really brilliant about reconstruction (and the symmetry procedure on my other breast) is being able I am normal again rather than deformed.  I want to leave this cancer well behind and get on with my life.  Some people have their world defined by their breast cancer "journey"- I hate the word. I'm not on a journey, I'm just having treatment.  OK?

I want to finish treatment and be able to wear a swimsuit and other clothes without looking weird.  I want to be able to get changed in front of other women at the gym without freaking them out.  At present I go to a curtained off cubicle to get changed.

Of course the fear never goes away.  If I use one of those online calculators, it indicates that my chance of surviving the next 10 years is just under 80%.  And of course, even if I survive 10 years, I am not out of the woods.  Those 10 year survivors include people who already have metastatic cancer which will get them in the end.

I will never be out of the woods.

But the longer the cancer stays away, the more drugs there will be to treat it and this is an area where £Squillians is being spent on research. New drugs are being approved all the time: Perjeta, TMD1, GMDC0941, Neratinib, Everolimus, Tanespimycin, Bevacizumab.

Maybe we really are (or will be in a few years) at the cusp for a step change in treating cancer?

Just after the Second World War, it was like this with TB.  Before antibiotics, TB was one of the big killers of young and middle-aged people.  The only treatment was rest and surgery to collapse a lung.  And once TB spread to other parts of the body, you were a goner.  Even when it went into remission and you were allowed to leave the sanitorium, you knew it wasn't cured. It was just arrested.

And it could come back.

Then within a few years TB was completely curable with druge - antibiotic treatment swept away the sanitoria and the mutilating TB surgery.

Maybe it will be like that with cancer?  Maybe within 5 or 10 years?

Friday, 21 March 2014

T shirts made from trees

I bought a few things at the recent Marks and Spencer Sale.  Among them were a couple of Tencel T shirt (less than half price).

Tencel sounds like one of those fancy technical synthetic materials that cling and don't absorb moisture.  In actual fact, Tencel is not synthetic at all - it is made from wood pulp and is what is termed a cellulosic fibre.  It is deemed to be a manufactured cellulose fibre because the wood is chemically processed and then extruded in the same way as synthetic fibres such as nylon or polyester.

It belongs to the same family as Rayon/Viscose fibres, discovered over a century ago.  All those bamboo clothes that have been promoted heavily in recent years are also in the same family.  Bamboo clothes are made from Rayon/Viscose using bamboo instead of wood.

Tencel, or Lyocell to use its generic name, is actually a third generation manufactured cellulose fibre and is claimed to be far more environmental friendly than similar fibres. It uses the lyocell process in which the chemical solvent is continually re-used in contrast to the much older viscose process which involve more toxic chemicals which are released into the environment after use.  Bamboo, although heavily promoted on environmental grounds, typically uses the viscose process

Tencel shares many properties with other cellulose fibres such as cotton, linen, ramie and rayon, being soft, absorbent and biodegradable.  It drapes without clinging or building up static.  There is evidence that 100% tencel fabrics inhibit the growth of bacteria.

I try to avoid synthetic fibres for clothing in contact with my skin.  For shirts and underwear I normally go for fibres such as cotton, silk and wool.  I bought a couple bamboo T shirts a few years ago, which I do like.  Having discovered the advantages of Tencel/Lyocell over bamboo, I will buy the former in future.

Despite its superior characteristics, Tencel clothing is often less expensive than Bamboo.  The advertising/marketing hype seems to have worked and bamboo is regarded as a premium product, whereas many people have not heard of Tencel.  I certainly hadn't before the M&S sale.

Shiverton Hall: Harry Potter meets Stephen King

Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell is a creepy horror story set in a boarding school in the country.  Arthur gets a letter out of the blue congratulating him on winning a scholarship to Shiverton  Hall.  He quickly makes friends with a small group of other teens who have one thing in common - they all had an imaginary friend when they were younger.

On Arthur's first night, he hears a warning from a mentally deranged former student that the friends are coming.  The school has a history of supernatural forces attacking nice and occasionally not so nice people leading to their unpleasant death.

Arthur has the usual school story problems, threats and intimidation by the bullies, success and failure in sporting and academic pursuits, a crush on the most beautiful girl in his class.  At the same time, sinister forces are gathering.  Arthurs friends start to see unpleasant versions their old imaginary friends, and they have to find out what it all means.

I can't say more about the plot without revealing spoilers, but the pace and creepiness do really pick up towards the end.  The first part of the book in contrast felt unpolished and inconsistent, with frequent POV shifts which felt disorienting and irritating.  The last third was much better crafted.

The writing wasn't consistent enough or the plot strong enough to earn the coveted 5 stars, but I did give it 4,

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Date for DIEP reconstruction

I now have a date with DIEP: Saturday 5th April.

It will very good to get it over with, but I can't help feeling a little apprehensive - what if it all goes wrong?  It is a very long operation - 6 hours or so - and although I've had quite a few operations in my time, I've never had a really long one. I just hope I wake up at the end!

I won't bother describing the DIEP procedure - if you want to know you can google it and many of you who are reading this blog entry will know what is.  I've been studying various  websites with images wondering exactly how mine will turn out.  The quality of the cosmetic outcome does seem quite variable although most people are pleased with the result.  Patient satisfaction may well depend on where you started from.

When you think about it, DIEP is a nice concept.  Getting rid of abdominal fat and putting it to good use elsewhere.  I hope the recovery period is not too long or too unpleasant...