27 August 2012

Eff you Cancer

The days I walked out of Auckland Hospital Cancer and Blood Service building saying goodbye to the day stay staff on ending chemo and then radiation staff a couple of months later and hoping I don't have to see them again weren't the happiest days of my life. 
For starters the last day of chemo was incredibly difficult and I was full of tears and nerves. Before I even got out of the car the nerves and expectation alone had me on full nausea. The staff were always calm, friendly and incredibly kind and lovely and tried to make it as easy as they could. Owen and I had used up every last emotion and the nerves made us edgy with each other. It was tense, it was horrible. I was just tired and pleased to leave and go back to my bed. I remember writing it felt like a very very hard day at the office.

Radiation finishing wasn't nearly as emotional and dramatic. Just painful. The last week of radiation had finally broken through my skin and left me sore and tender. But it healed fast. 

A few weeks later though, after the business of Christmas had calmed down I was hit like a ton of bricks with doubts and fears, feeling like I was drowning in being so ABSORBED in cancer. 
Perhaps a touch of PTSD? 
Whatever it was its apparently very normal for people to feel post active cancer treatment. 
Thoughts like will I ever stop thinking about it everyday? Am I okay? How do I make life normal again?
It probably didn't help that every three weeks I still had to enter the Cancer and Blood Service Building for my IV infusions of Herceptin until June 2011.
Then they gave me my new drug, which didn't require going in to receive it, rather take six little orange oblong pills every day. And a couple of extra pills to deal with the side effects. But yet more drugs. 

But now?
Almost two and a half years on and I'm finally, finally, finally able to walk away from drugs and give cancer the big middle finger. With joy, relief and a big EFF YOU CANCER! This feels quite triumphant to me, much more so than ever before. I've dealt with the depression, I've dealt with the fears, which occasionally come back to slap me, I've dealt with the exhaustion. I now know how to deal with it and I honestly don't think about cancer everyday anymore.
And the only time I have to go back to the C and B Building is to see the oncologist and answer some questions until the day they can finally say goodbye...please NEVER come back. That day will also be very exciting. Its only 2 1/2 years away!

Every milestone, every year ticked off is a reminder that life is precious. So so precious.

26 August 2012

A Happy Week. Part 2

Warning: This post is picture heavy!

The sun came out this week just to show off to Carla and George, and Uncle Ian and Auntie Linda hanging up in Auckland with mum and dad. Phew. Apparently our winter is as good as their summer, this week perhaps better? At any rate its nearly spring and the sun finally came out to warm our chilled bones and give us a break from the colour grey!

I took Carla and George to Mt Maunganui

We played in the sand

Had coffee and gelato (so good)

Then spent the rest of the time coughing and spluttering as the flu hit the household.

And an early morning drive back up to Auckland on Friday...on this occasion all five of us went.

That was followed by a day of insanity as I had already forgotten the crazy traffic of Auckland, particularly the traffic out of Devonport! In any rate I was up because I had an appointment at Auckland, which saw the last of my drug taking - I've been taking some sort of drug or treatment since May 2010 and I am so so so relieved to see the last of the drugs! My body will be thanking me too. I was in a cloud of happiness, marred only by the fact we had to say an awful farewell to some pretty special people in our lives.

First of all my 'sister' here in NZ and one of my closest loveliest friends, Claire and her partner Nathan and their kids as they are readying themselves for a huge family move to Korea. I will miss her like crazy.

Then a farewell again to my lovely family - and a massive thank you for bringing a little bit of Gran back to us. I love you all and wish you could stay so we can have some more laughs!

Here's to precious moments and No More Drugs!

25 August 2012

A Happy Week! Part 1

It started with some baking and finished with family.
I spent this week seeing my Uncle and Aunt who have come out from the UK and I haven't seen in about 15 years, and then the rest of the week with my cousin who I haven't seen since I waved her a sad goodbye at Auckland Airport 8 years ago. This time she returned with her little boy. 
A happy week for us!

Johnny and George
And there's more pictures to come later when I've had a chance to process them all. 
Currently I'm trying to tie together my book proposal which is exciting but LOTS of work!

17 August 2012

Friendship...and sugar

Is anything more special than friendship? 

No, I don't think so.

This week had the pleasure of the company of a friend I've known for over 13 years. She's certainly someone I am so proud to call my friend and honorary sister. This woman has lived with us, fed our children, folded my washing, shared wonderful and precious moments of her life and looked after me when I needed it the most and I love her to pieces. Now she's the mother of the sweetest little boy and a baker of wonderful things. With her blog Smash Cakes Ashley is taking on the gluten free eating world one delicious cake/slice/cookie at a time as well as regularly guest posting on the Mama's Style blog.

Much to my immense pleasure Ash and her little man have been down spending the week with us and we managed to sneak in a fair bit of baking time in between drinking (mostly tea) and cruising the local op shops and spending some time in the sun (when it deigned to come out). 
I'm gonna miss them both when they head back to Auckland tomorrow.

In the meantime check out her blog for this delicious recipe of gluten free honey rolled cookies that we worked on (and subsequently ate) this week.
They are oh so damn good!


09 August 2012

Peanut Honey Brittle

Warning: This is addictive. Once made its impossible to resist. 

I've never made peanut brittle before, and after winning a book on confectionery making by Heather from SprinkleBakes I decided to work my way through a few recipes to try out. This one is my own take on the recipe though.
 I've been meaning to make candy for a while but I've only just replaced my candy thermometer since my last one got smashed in the move. And to make perfect candy it really is an essential item. 

A few tips: Make these with roasted peanuts. The flavour is just that more intense rather than using raw or blanched peanuts.
As with most candy making, make sure you have all your ingredients you need to add quickly right next you, so make sure your work space is not too cluttered. Messing up with hot sugar could be a disaster if you knock it over, so make sure you give yourself plenty of room.

Okay, so to start you combine the following three ingredients into a heavy bottomed pot.

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons glucose syrup

Put them on the stove on a low temperature and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then leave it (meaning DO NOT STIR) until it reaches 128 deg C. This takes roughly about 8 minutes.

When it has reached that temperature add:

2 cups roasted peanuts
3 tablespoons butter

Keeping the pot on the heat stir these in and keep stirring gently until the temperature reaches 154 deg C. Take off the heat and quickly add:
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 teaspoon essence 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Stir quickly and then pour onto lined tray and smooth out to about 1cm thickness with a metal spoon or spatula.


Once cooled you can do this! 

Its so moreish!