23 July 2010

A Day in Pictures - Cornwall Park

Well after being cooped up in that hospital bed it was high time for some fresh air and family time. It's been a good many years since I've been to Cornwall Park so last Sunday seemed like the perfect time. The weather was crisp and sunny and the kids were certainly ready for a run around.

There was even a opportunity for Katie to learn a lesson in perseverance when she got stuck up the side of a steep hill and panicked. So I helped her and fell with my camera into the mud too which gave us a good laugh and a chance to help each other to the top. She felt so proud of herself for making up instead of going back down!

What a great place to go to see a bit of country smack bang in the middle of Auckland City.

I love this place. Just make sure you take your gumboots...

22 July 2010

I'm Back

Well I think this is the longest time I've been away from the blog. Truth be told I've been to exhausted or uninspired to go near the computer and type in everything that has been going on. But today I'm feeling better so I best give you an update.

Well the last dose of Taxotere knocked me for six. The days after my infusion were brain addling, painful and long and only happily interrupted by Alison arriving. After a few days I was fine, and after a blood test my blood counts didn't even seem too bad. Everything was looking smooth sailing, especially important as it was school holidays and the kids were all a bit under the weather. Then the first Friday of the holidays I woke up feeling a bit gripy in my tummy. No nausea, no diarrhea but just a little sore. So I went to bed. Then I woke up with a fever at 37.7 C which is okay, but I rang into acutes just to check. I was told a doctor would call me right back, which by then my temp was at 37.9C and they usually start worrying if you reach 38C. So I had to make a 4pm Friday trip all the way over to the Emergency Dept at Auckland Hosp. Not a fun trip in peak traffic. The whole hour I thought I was going to faint.
By the time we got there my heart was racing like the clappers and my temperature was rapidly climbing, so off I went for a chest and stomach x-ray. Everything looked fine but a blood test revealed my blood counts to be too low. This is called a febrile neutropenic episode and requires a stay in hospital with IV antibiotics until my temperature, and more importantly my white blood counts (neutrophils) are at the stage the doctors are happy with. In my case it took a four night stay. Booo.

The good news was that I had a room to myself, a tv and some of the best staff you could ask for. Ever. My good friend Amanda was on for the night I was admitted and two other shifts so we had a great time together. Then the other staff who looked after me were so wonderful and caring and always had time for a chat, laugh, let me have a wee cry when I missed my sick babies all coughing and spluttering at home without me, as well as doing their job with the utmost professionalism.
If I had to be in any ward then ward 64 is the best! Thanks guys!!
I also had some lovely vistors armed with magazines, fresh coffee and muffins, chocolates and good laughs, so thank you Ange, Becs, Cookie, Lynne, Auntie Ruth and Uncle Kevin, Mum and Dad and Owen.

The bad news is I didn't have a camera to take the photos of the meals I was served. Bummer. I have to say that Auckland does a great roast lamb, but other than that, it was pretty standard hospital fare!

Anyway, I was back at Auckland this week with my 4th chemo dose, but my first FEC dose. This means my drugs for the last phase of chemo are different and I would be feeling different too. The first thing I noticed is they throw way more anti nausea drugs my way. So I was a bit nervous anticipating an increase in nausea, especially as I had done so well on the Taxotere. The infusion went well, no hiccups or drama. Owen and I took a walk up North Head to kill time before the kids got home from school but by the time we walked back to the car I was like a lump of lead. It had hit me straight away and I couldn't wait to get into bed. So the fatigue is definitely a harder thing this time. Today I'm feeling a little better...enough to make a wee trip with Alison to Pak'n'Save and then probably straight back home to the couch. But no sickness or nausea yet so I think those expensive drugs are doing their job so far...

The thing is, my hair has already started growing back as the Taxotere just thinned it, but this drug is definitely going to make sure that all falls out again. So I might well be losing my eyelashes too, which is what I dreaded much more. Ahh that vanity again...

06 July 2010

A bit lost for words...

Well I've made it through my third dose of chemo and my final dose of the dreadful Taxotere. This last one hit me hard, which is kinda why my posts have been few and far between. I just haven't had the energy or brainpower to get to the computer and type something coherant. Excuse me if this post is full of spelling and punctuation errors...my brain has gone on holiday - hopefully to some exotic warm island and will come back well rested, and tanned in due course.

I'm feeling a lot better today after spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday either in bed or on the couch (watching Food TV and making myself sick with hunger) and really not moving from there except to visit the pantry or the toilet. A combination of steroids and chemotherapy is DANGEROUSLY unhealthy as I want to eat and eat and eat and then I pay for it later on. The other side effect of watching Food TV all day is that I then was going to the pantry craving fois gras with mustard seeds and spring onions in duck jus and only walking away with half a packet of stale corn chips. (I've never actually eaten fois gras by the way, but I figured its so fancy and expensive it must be nice?)

My hair is alternating between growing and falling out and can't seem to decide what its doing either. I think on my next phase of chemo, which is a new drug, my hair will fall out altogether. So far its a nice fine fuzz.

My amazing and very good friend Alison arrived on Saturday from Aussie to whip me into shape and fill me with good food and less stress and help out until she is sick of the sight of us. This is a great thing and I continually feel amazed and blessed by everyone who does even the littlest thing to make life easier. This is mostly why I am lost for words, because it really really does mean SO much and I don't feel even remotely deserving of all it but am so thankful regardless.

Mostly its a mental battle. It's an ongoing frustration of not being able to get out and be normal, do normal family things. Everything has changed and I don't know if it will feel normal again for a long time. One thing I am learning is to see myself differently. This post here from a fabulous blogger Simone really began that process for me. Its worth a read because we all have to be reminded that in the society that we have these days, beauty really is on the inside. Yeah that does sound cliche, but I couldn't imagine in all my life that at the age of 30 I would be missing a breast, have no hair and weighing in heavier than I've ever been (I'll exclude pregnancy). During the day I can wear my prosthesis, put on make-up, chuck on Ginger and no one is any wiser. I can look normal, pretty and quite healthy. But at night I take that all off, put on my comfy pj's and look at myself in the mirror and get a fright every time. That's right, every. time.

Sure, I never expected to have the body I had at 19 forever. I expected to get old and crusty but I guess I never expected so many dramatic changes all at once. So what I'm doing now is getting to know the new me and striving to make sure my daughters especially see that it doesn't matter at all what the outside looks like. Being alive and living and loving is the main thing.

Winter's On The Way Cake

Well Winter is already here in little old NZ but here's a good cake to warm you up and make you feel all toasty and full of goodness on those cold blustery days. I served this cake while still a little warm and it went down a treat. The butter and sugar sauce from the pears creates a lovely crunchy caramel topping on the cake and really is what sets this cake aside.

The recipe comes from the River Cottage, Winter's on the Way season.


• 150g unsalted butter, softened

• 125g caster sugar

• 2 medium eggs

• 75g wholemeal self raising flour

• 75g ground almonds

• A good pinch of cinnamon

For the caramelised pears:

• 3 pears (reasonably firm, but not rock hard)

• 25g unsalted butter

• 1 tbsp granulated sugar


1. Preheat oven to 170°C/gas 3. Grease a 20cm-diameter springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

2. Peel, core and quarter the pears.

3. Melt the 25g butter in a frying pan big enough to take all the pear pieces, over a medium high heat. When it’s bubbling, add the sugar and stir gently until it has dissolved into the butter. Add the pears and cook gently, turning once or twice, until they have softened and are starting to colour – 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with each to stop the mix curdling.

5. Combine the remaining flour, the ground almonds and the cinnamon, and fold into the mixture. Scrape into the prepared tin. Arrange the pears on top and pour on any buttery juices left in the pan.
6. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7. Stand the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then release the tin.

03 July 2010


Check out this gorgeous cake from Eat Cake Be Merry. Its so simple but so beautiful too.
And this no bake white chocolate cheesecake from Sprinkle Bakes looks to die for.

And its that time of year again. Threadless are running their annual cake competition Threadcakes and its well worth checking out as there are usually some pretty awesome entries. I'm probably going to be posting my favourite entries in here at some point. Here's a starter of this year's entries and below that is last years winner.

And finally, what's in my CD player right now? Well this little winner. A great CD for the school holidays...

01 July 2010