Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Truly truly Halleluiah.



After a sleepless night, I found the courage to ask busy Reyes (the head nurse) for advice on changing my oncologist. He and I don’t click I told her. That’s putting it mildly.

I must not harbour any negative thoughts or judgements in this healing journey. I know that.  In the middle of the night, I'd realised I really did not like this man.

Reyes said she’d talk to Rocio, the senior nurse for admin.

I told them  how he had given me no hope, how his words and raised eyebrows  had huanted me for 4 months. Are you telling me I'm not going to get better I had asked him during our first meeting.  His eyebrows had  moved towards his hiarline, and his mouth  had remained closed. 
What I need is  support I told Reyes, like the lady oncologist seems to give in bucketful’s.

I told Rocio about my work with disadvantaged  children in Bolivia and Peru. I said I'm not finsihed with that yet.  I thought she was going to cry.

An hour  later she returned and said it was  fixed! I have a new oncologist. A lady.  The one Encari has, the one who is understanding, kind and loving.

Halleluiah.  Truly, truly, Halleluiah.

Then I covered my face and silently wept till the tears stopped ! 





                                          It’s been a wonderful day, and it’s not over yet.

Above pics:  Christmas 2013. A group of Ivan Nogales young actors performing at  the infamous San Perdro prison, La Paz, Bolivia for the 350 kids who live there with their dads.  Now groups of these encarcerated children - all living at great risk in the jail - are  taking part in Ivan Nogales's  art center activitives once a week, thanks to our Chocolatada last year. There they can learn drumming, acting, dancing, painting and much more.  They are bussed from the prison to the arts center.  We need more money to continue this.

Pic 2. This little girl dancer I met in Bolivia in 2013.  Her's is a happy story of a uninted family.  Her parents have made a tiny cafe, sell delicious snacks, then dance beautifully for tourists who come to  visit the local Sunday market.  Note the little girls traditional shoes. They have cymbols attached.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

There is no such thing as...



There's no such thing as a usual chemo day.

Today, in the hospital, it was a  kind of a bland, lacklustre experience!  But it started with a great laugh.

The head nurse Reyes first job was to insert a tiny little tube into my chest, where deep down lives a small metal implant, a 'resevorio,' into which the chemo enters a large vein. Mine is  exceptionally hard to  find.

Two student nurses gather around Reyes to watch, and Rocio, the senior admin nurse, arrives I think to witness or to help if things go wrong. This all happens in a little curtained off cubicle.  Everybody in the ward of course can hear, if they want to.  Most do.

'Push the chair (a blue reclining chair) back,' orders Reyes . Wham. Suddenly I’m flat on my back. My head seems to bounce at least twice!

'MADREEEE MIAAAAA,' I exclaim. I wasn’t expecting that! Everybody laughs.

Reyes says, 'shut your eyes.'  Rocio says, 'pretend to sleep!'  The two trainee nurses giggle.
I shut my eyes.
Reyes silently presses the 'reservoir' thingy, trying to find the entry hole.  It’s uncomfortable but not painful.
'Breath,' she says. She finds the hole and slips in the needle.

There’s a little murmur of respectful awe.

 ‘Done?’ I ask.  ‘Yes,’ she says.  ‘Enhorabuena,’ I say, and they all crack up !  The laughing doesn’t seem to be stopping !

I don’t know why that was so funny, but Rocio said something about ninos  (children)... maybe that’s the sort of comment you’d make to a nina when she’s done something unexpectedly, extremely well !

Jaime the jolly bearer of free filled rolls, (bocadillos), easily persuades me to have two, and a plain yogurt, and  would I like juice and sugar fee biscuits? Yes. He smiles ear to ear and pats my knee.

I’m disappointed the shy hospital chaplin didn’t show.  I was going to ask him for another blessing because my Reiki friends can’t come tonight. I have a feeling he might be a Reiki master himself.

I have to admit I am very upset- that’s is a strong word I know - let’s say I am disturbed to see my lovely seamstress friend Encari in bad shape again. I haven’t seen her for weeks. It’s deeply sobering to see my companions all on their own cancer camino… some of us are not going to make it, some of us are.
Encari told me her oncologist is a woman called Mayte.  I’ve heard great things about this Mayte. Tomorrow I will ask Rocio  if I can change. I feel excited at the thought of having a female oncologist who is simapatica, amable y carinosa. This is her reputation: understanding, kind, and loving.

Two new friends coloured the day beautifully.  While waiting in my car by the 7 Eye Bridge for Martin to pick me up,  I had a moment of fear.  What if he didn’t come, what if his van had broken down… a 101 what if thoughts galloped in…. I tried to change the chip.

Looking out of the windscreen, I suddenly saw the most beautiful rainbow, just a chunk, low down, over the direction where we were going  to be driving. The colures were fabulously strong. It zapped the fear instantly.

So there I was sitting in awe at 9am on a chemo morning.  Lovely Martin right arrived right on time and drove me to Motril.  And simapatica, amable y carinosa Maureen brought me back.  Both made that experience a joy.
I notice now how I have more energy to talk, and to listen.  To begin with after chemo,  I just wanted to look at the mountains.

Back home, some more packing for the move on Thursday, and then something to eat at our local  Moroccan café,  Baraka. The Sufi chef is a friendly acquaintance.  He is also very simapatico, amable y carinoso.  I was way too tired to cook, a bit short of cash, so I chose the cheapest thing on the menu and waited hungrily.

What appeared in front of me almost made me cry. It was a work of art.  It was so beautifully prepared with two little  spinach croquetas (treats from the chef) on the side, my absolute Baraka favourite.

Ten minutes later, I can’t pronounce or spell the chefs name… Nade I think… help me Jeni… Nade  came over and said in English,  “My wife would like to send you healing, she’s in England, but she needs your permission, and she needs your name. I will speak with her in an hour. Would you like that?”


There is no such thing as a usual chemo day.


Monday, 16 March 2015

All that I seek now finds me.




    Yesterday I witnessed a beautiful little exchange in our local, back street, book and stationary shop. Not so long ago this shop changed hands. The new owners are a friendly young couple.

    A pretty nine year old girl with long blond wispy hair wearing denim dungarees whose straps were falling off both shoulders, clutched her tiny tapestry purse, and asked for 18 pencils. The 20 something year old owner of the shop smiled at the child ,disappeared, and returned with a box of HB lead pencils. She carefully counted 18, and handed them over the glass counter.

    The little foreigner wriggled her whole body, grinned, and said, ‘coloured ! ’

    I wondered what you were going to do with 18 lead pencils said the petite shopkeeper with a huge smile.

    Disappearing again she returned with a box of 18 coloured pencils, and handed them over the counter. Under the glass was what I was waiting to buy, calligraphy nibs and inks.

    The child tipped her coins onto the counter and the young woman helped her count them.



    In the corner of the shop by the door, a 2 year old cherub was seriously looking at a large children's picture book, and her 5 year old brother was seriously studying a book of joining up the dots. Their curly headed Sufi dad , with his back to them, was looking in the dictionaries section.

    When my turn came, I was asked what would I like. Your advice on calligraphy nibs I said. The young man smiled and pulled out 5 different possibilities.

    Do you have gold ink I asked? Yes he said, caught up in my delight at the prospect of a new hobby. The gold ink looked like milk in a small fancy bottle. He shook it vigorously, and magically, the milk turned gold.



    Blood tests again tomorrow, and Tuesday and Wednesday more chemo.

    Who will be my companions this week? What will be the fillings in the free sandwiches, ham or chorizo? And will the shy chaplin stop long enough for me to ask him for another blessing ???

    My new affirmation is ‘All that I seek now finds me,’ so, apart from finding somewhere new to live, I’m hoping to attract a calligraphy teacher and a little groups of other calligraphy enthusiasts.

    A pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled .








                                                    All photographs thanks to Pinterest.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Getting Better !


Tomorrow and Wednesday more chemo. Tomorrow the third meeting with the serious oncologist. I will not be driving myself to hospital this week (!), nor going by Mongolian school bus, great pic eh ?


Somebody asked me, in order to be so positive about cancer, does that mean you have to deny your feelings? The answer is definitely no. I can spook myself quickly and easily. It doesn’t happen often now, but it can happen. It happened on Saturday morning. I wrote about it in the blog, but was then shy to share it with you.

I did not like my oncologist when I first met him. He gave me no hope. I am working on meeting him with respect tomorrow. He is a scientist. I am an artist. Our minds and lives run on different tracks. He is doing his job, and I am finding wonderful ways to show him there can be more than one prognosis.



I am tired. I am happy. I’m home after 5 hours of chemo, a conversation with the extremely serious oncologist, and a blessing from the extremely shy hospital Chaplin. Two friends have just visited me an given me Reiki. I am blessed and am I am blissed.

During the drive home though the mountains I said to Merche, I don’t want to frighten you but I have to do something, so I wound down the window. We’d just had a celebratory lunch on the beach. The mist was so thick we couldn’t see the sea, but we could see hundreds of seagulls resting in a little lagoon.

‘I’m getting better I yelled out of the car window, I’M GETTING WELL!!!  Merche joined in with appropriate loud happy noises.

That’s what the oncologist said, not in a reluctant way because he has to backtrack now, but he said these very words, and there was a faint, a very faint smile. My heart soared and my mind went blank.

He hadn’t offered this information. After telling me in English what tests they had done and that the results were favourable, I asked, are you telling me I’m getting better? ‘Yes,’ he said quietly. ‘You are getting better.’ At this stage Merche joined the conversation and we switched to Spanish.

Too tired to write more except to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being with me on this journey. Your positive thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement, plus the whole village in the Andes in Peru who are praying for me every single day – thank you dear Padre Rene - are making miracles happen. Bless you and thank you one and all.
Love this quote: Ram Dass: "We're all just walking each other home."