Monday 31 December 2012

Goodbye 2012

With Steve going through chemotherapy for the second time in three and a half years, it's easy to forget that there have been many special events, memorable occasions and good times during 2012.  So here's a quick look back at the last 12 months before the year slips away....

This year has seen some significant family events, starting in March with Steve's 65th birthday in March - when you are diagnosed with an incurable cancer, becoming an OAP really is something to celebrate! 

Our ruby 40th wedding anniversary was on 1st May.  When I started the blog back in 2009, I wondered whether we would make it, but make it we did and in style, in Marrakech!  

In April, daughter Katie moved from Manchester to London, where she has started a new life with partner Ed.  Since then she has got a new job and they are now buying their first flat.

Also in April, we incorporated Wride and Company Planning Consultancy and I held my first planning appeal Tribunal in Guernsey.  

During the year, I was fortunate to be awarded two photographic distinctions (AFIAP and DPAGB), have three images published in the Guardian Weekend Magazine and many more selected for online photography galleries 1X and Fotoblur. An invitation to join the judging panel of Best Shots photography competition; a interview/feature in Advance Images (a Malaysian photography magazine) and becoming a gallery co-ordinator for Fotoblur have been other photographic highlights of the year.

We have been off on our travels again, both at home and abroad: Rome, in the snow in February, made particularly memorable by the kindness of Giuseppe and Maria Adele; Morocco in the heat in May - souks, palaces; gardens and museums; a mellow September in Carcassonne, France with Katie and Ed.  

Closer to home, we've enjoyed wonderful short breaks in the UK with friends - a girl's weekend in Liverpool in March, followed later in the month by a few days in Bristol being tourists for a change, including a meal out with friends I worked with at the Planning Inspectorate, and a weekend in London, where we saw Agatha Christie's Mouse Trap and progress on the Olympic Park; Keith and Glynis's house-warming and anniversary celebration in Bury St Edmonds in June whilst the rain poured down on the Queen's Jubilee Thames Pageant, and a chance to visit my cousin who lives nearby; plus visits to Glorious Goodwood races and the Cass Sculture Park whilst staying with Anne and Colin in Chichester in August.

We've enjoyed having people visit us here in Oxford and days out with family and friends; cheering Rob in the Brompton (folding bike) World Championships at Blenheim Palace; visits to the Ashmolean Museum with Anne and Colin; a riverboat birthday tea party with Ruth and the Green family; a meal with Sarah on the roof terrace at Tate Modern; the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition with Jan and Peter; some wonderful meals out and at home with Sally and Jon, as well as trips to many exhibitions in Oxford and London.  

Not forgetting my birthday treat visit to the Olympic Park on the day following the Opening Ceremony, with Katie and Ed...and enjoying the rest of the summer of Olympic and other sport, in particular the Tour de France!

Some of the events of the year were more difficult, but had happy endings: Steve's mum was admitted to hospital as an emergency in September and it was a couple months before she was well enough to be discharged.  However she is now settled and thriving in a care home, much to the family's relief and delight.  

Over the spring and summer, I had to go to hospital for a gynae scan and biopsy, but nothing sinister was found so unless there is another incident, I carry on as normal.  

If you are a regular reader of the blog, you will know that the most dramatic change for us this year was Steve starting second line chemotherapy in October.  After along period of stability, the doctors thought it was time to have another go at knocking back the mesothelioma given the disease progression that was discernible since his drug trial chemo in 2009.  

Three months and four cycles of treatment later, I won't pretend that it has been an easy ride.  Steve has suffered the usual side effects of treatment - nausea, occasional retching; fatigue, breathlessness and a sore mouth, as well as the side effects of drugs designed to alleviate these symptoms: a skin rash and a fuzzy head, or chemo brain as its often called! 

However he has soldiered on bravely, taking the antiemetic tablets for nausea; rubbing in the cream for the rash; using the mouthwash for the sores; taking naps and early nights as and when necessary to deal with tiredness; grinding through the periods of feeling fuzzy mentally, and not complaining about being a pin cushion when there have been problems inserting the cannula into his hand or arm.  

For all we know, the treatment may have come to an end already.  Whether or not he has two further cycles of chemo (pemetrexed and carboplatin) will depend on out the results of the scan he had before Christmas and how his body is coping with the toxins that have been pumped into him over the last 12 weeks. We will have to wait for 2013 to hear that news.  However, it's not a long way off now.  In fact, it's only a few more days before his next assessment.  In the meantime, he's enjoying at least one extra week, if not longer, between treatments, which is very welcome!

Looking back over the last 12 months, we know we have much to be grateful for and we appreciate how lucky we have been, especially when we learn of others who have lost their battles during this time. Sadly, I learned today that two more meso warriors died this morning. Our hearts go out to all those affected one way or the other by this horrible disease, and we send positive thoughts to all those like Steve who battle on, confounding the statistics.  

When Steve was first diagnosed in 2009, he was told by the hospital consultant here in Oxford that he could have "a few months or several years" of life left.  In April 2010, a London mesothelioma expert estimated Steve's life expectancy as two years, but with a significant chance that he may survive more than three years and a significant chance that he may die within a year.  

As we leave 2012, I can say with delight and relief that he's already outlived the dire predictions and the expert's survival estimate, and is still going strong on the "more than three years" scenario.  And long may it last!

We wish you good health, happiness and fulfillment in 2013!  

Happy New Year everyone :-)

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