29 August 2011

The start of spring...

Hello lovelies!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. The best part about this weekend is that the weather was warm and I got to put on my jandals (flip flops to you  northern hemisphere people) and enjoy the springy weather. Sadly its not so warm today.
This weekend was an interesting one. I started my drugs for the trial, and I've found out rather quickly that I'm most likely on the actual drug. Well judging from the main side effect (ahemdiarrheacough) that has been ever present since an hour after taking the first drug! Wowsers, its quick. But its under control now and its not terribly bad.

So I did some baking. An easy peasy sponge from Edmonds, using gluten free baking mix by Healtheries. These rose up beautifully. The only thing missing was some lemon curd or some sort of filling.

The kids helped wash the car.
When we first got our car Owen would clean it every weekend, inside and out. Now its lucky to get that twice a year. So when Owen does get out the hose and buckets, everyone wants to join in.

And we started planting the first of our spring vegetable garden. Always a sure fire sign that better weather is on the way.


The most exciting thing happening this week though will be the arrival of my younger brother and his girlfriend Lisa back from the UK. Eddie has been gone since Johnny was 4 months old and I've missed him immensely  especially when I got diagnosed last year. You may remember my BUB (big ugly brother) from this post last year, who has been over a few times since he left in 2005.
But this my BLB (best little brother). As my parents didn't believe in TV's we were the bestest buddies growing up and spending a lot of our time together. So he constantly put up with my pretending he was my little sister, letting me put makeup on him and making him play barbies with me. We even wrote plays and songs together and ganged up on Alex as much as possible. It was a great childhood.

I love my brothers very much. They are loud, they are funny, they are great company and I miss them heaps all the time. Here we all are at the airport seeing one of them off...can't remember which now.

This photo cracks me up. So formal!

And here we all were in 1985...


The thing about my brother Eddie is that he has no shame. See here.

and here

and here...

But he's really very normal and lovely and cuddly and I can't wait for Thursday!!!

Eddie and Lisa in Spain, something where you throw red wine at each other.

22 August 2011

Weekend Windup

The last post I had wasn't exactly the most positive I've written. So I just want to say its not all bad, there's just days where it all hits you like a ton of bricks. In between those days the sun shines, life is full and certainly SO worth living.

The sun really came out on Friday after a week of pure cold...so cold it snowed in Auckland last Monday. That kinda never happens. Except about 70 years ago. But mostly never.

This is what my boy and I did that day...our "mummyjohnny day" as he calls those ever fleeting days we have together before we head to school and pick up the girls.

We went for a walk,

and picked some flowers,

took them to Ashley and her wee man for me to do a shoot for my assignment. They are so beautiful.

Then we went to the local cafe for a hot chocolate and then to the beach to soak up some vitamin D. It was bliss to feel the warmth of the sun again.


On Saturday I had the pleasure of putting faces and names online...to real life faces and names with a blog meetup at my parents favourite restaurant The Mediterranean in Birkenhead (excellent value and there's even belly dancing on Friday nights. I will neither confirm or deny if I joined in once).
All those wonderful women who have cheered me on from the sidelines through my year, encouraged and supported what I do and are just generally super duper souls but who I've only ever communicated with online I actually got to meet! Kristy, Jackie, Penny, Sammy and Jaz and the other new friends I got to meet like Meg, Greta and Tanya and Lisa and Rachel. Seeing Lyns, Leonie and Simone again was super lovely too! We all had to make name tags for each other to break the ice...look at mine!!

So cute - its got my little gingerbread man!! Thanks Greta!
The lunch was wonderful and I think just the start of regular hook ups with like minded wonderful women who all have something unique to offer. Here's a piccie of us all taken by the worlds most polite waiter. Seriously! I'm looking like a bit of a dork trying to practice my best non double chin pose.


Other stuff...please bear with me, this next part sounds like I'm a desperate soak needing my fix of wine. But I'm not I promise, I just enjoy the stuff.

During the week I had kinda worked out my face swelling happened after drinking white wine...even if it was coming up the morning after. Its taken me a while to figure this out, despite having a glass of wine rather regularly - probably 2-3 nights a week and a few more on a weekend.
So last weekend I had some Lindauer and sure enough on Sunday my lower eye area was swollen. So it wasn't connected to the coldsores as I am still on medication without a trace of coldsores (yay!). Back to the topic...On Monday night I had a glass of red wine...next morning I was fine. Tuesday night just a small glass of white...next morning swelling under my other eye. So to make 100% this was it I had another glass of white wine (well it needed to be finished!) and on Thursday my cheek was swollen. Aha! I'm allergic to white wine...still or sparkling. NOOOO.
But on Saturday night we had some friends around and since I announced I'm not drinking, because I think I'm allergic, my girlfriend produced a bottle of sparkling grape juice. About an 1/2 hour after my second glass however I started to feel my lip swelling, worse than it has for ages. So I looked up the ingredients and they both shared the same preservative 220, which is sulphur dioxide. This is an allergen, even causing anaphylaxis. Would make sense for some of the other times I had swelling after eating dried fruit from the pick and mix at New World. I just never connnected the dots. Despite the lack of readily available wine (I have to now research organic wines) I'm just so relieved I have an idea of what it is. Tell you what, I'm gonna be reading way more food labels now.

More on my medical dramas, all my tests (bloods, heart echo etc) have come back great for me to start the trial drug. I had all of these last Friday. So I start this coming Friday...if anything its going to be interesting!

So yeah I think that just about wraps it up. If you are reading this, thanks for hanging in there with that long update!

05 August 2011


Next week I begin the road into drug trials. In particular a drug called Neratinib that they hope will lessen the recurrence of brain mets for women who've had a Her2+ breast cancer. I fit the bill for the trial (completion of herceptin and no mets), and so next week I am back at Auckland Hospital after a blissful break from over a year of 3 weekly visits.

I feel this decision is good as I'm taken care of by a great team, and the chance to try a new drug to help lessen my chances of recurrence is fantastic for me (unless I get the placebo). However it is tinged with fear, dread of new side effects and basic all round reminders that I'm not off this rollercoaster of cancer I've been riding.

But this morning I woke up with a swollen left side of my face, in particular my forehead has swelling that I've never experienced and upon showing it to my GP he announced he's never seen anything like it. I don't know what is wrong with me and every new thing that my body does since chemo threw it into a chaotic mess, throws me right back to feeling how I felt at the beginning of this journey...vunerable, emotional and well, scared. My face has been giving me grief since going on herceptin. Random lip swelling that I thought was allergy based has increased from once a month to once a week and has got me thinking its being caused by the onslaught of coldsores, otherwise known as herpes simplex virus, that I've been having since chemo and continued throughout the herceptin treatments. And every time I get swelling I end up with a big horrible and painful coldsore. So my GP has put me on a 6 month course of acyclovir to hopefully make it dormant. Alongside that I've bought some lysine tablets to hopefully kick my natural immune defence system back into gear. If that doesn't fix it, then I'll go back for more tests. Hmmm...lets hope this does the trick.

What I'm essentially trying to explain though is that for each woman who has finished the treatment for breast cancer (and I mean surgery, chemo or radiation, or in my case all three) the biggest fear is recurrence. Things that used to be only a bother and maybe we'd leave it, give it time to see if it will heal, any ache or unusual behaviours of our bodies are now elevated immediately to the status of METS! in our head. It's a lot to deal with mentally. We are always on the lookout for it.

The betrayal of our bodies for getting breast cancer in the first instance is just the start of the unpleasant cycle in which we find ourselves in and the mistrust of our bodies is long and continuing.

I hate cancer.

Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie. Bananas, caramel, cream. An immediately likeable bunch of ingredients, but I have to say I've never been a huge fan of banoffee pie. I think its the sweetness and all the cream and by the time I'm on my 3rd or 4th mouthful I'm done, the sweet tooth has done overtime and I'm feeling sickly.

I wanted to make a pie that had the above ingredients but to be able to finish a slice without feeling the need to unbutton my jeans and lie down on the couch with a glass of water.
I think this one does the trick. And its so easy...you don't even need to turn the oven on.

Start with a packet of gingernuts and 100g melted butter

In the blender crush the biscuits until breadcrumby and pour in the melted butter.

Tip out into pie/flan tin and press down to form a base. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Open a tin of sweetened condensed milk - the caramel version. Mix around a bit in the tin till its smooth like this...

And spread around on top of the biscuit base which should be nice and firm.

Cut up a couple of bananas nice and thin. Place on top of the caramel until the top is completely covered.

Pop it back in the fridge while you whip up the cream. This is the important part. A 300ml pot of cream, with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste added to it should be whipped up into a creamy deliciousness - be careful NOT to overwhip or it will split so keep an eye on it. It should look like this...

Carefully place and spread on top of the bananas. However thick you want the cream is up to you, but I like mine to be nice and even all over.

Sift cocoa and nutmeg together over the top and leave to set for a few hours. After this it will slice up beautifully!

I couldn't cut into this one for you to show you the delicious insides...this was for an order.


Quick Ingredients Round Up...

x1 packet gingernuts (Griffins are the best!)
100g butter
x1 395g can Highlander Caramel
x2 well ripened bananas
300ml cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
Cocoa and nutmeg for sprinkling

Serves 12.

01 August 2011


This is my reality...and many others too put brilliantly and perfectly.

Click on the image to enlarge it.
Here's the website link.