Who wants to play?

It’s not often that a feature in a women’s magazine makes me go YES!, let alone weekly fashion glossy Grazia. I love the very good journalism in it, and have a subscription, but as a nearly-38-year old mum of two smalls who has greeted her Kew and Boden Years with relief, I am winging it a bit as far as being the mag’s target audience goes. This afternoon, however, I not only said YES!, aloud, but also snorted tea up my nostril in a manner about as far from cool, stylish and insouciant as it’s possible to be.

The cause of this double outburst was a feature by the rather brilliant Caitlin Moran (she of the newspaper columns and the billion Twitter followers) debunking some of the myths of motherhood, for those women who haven’t got children yet and may or may not be longing for them. In particular, the sheer mindnumbing boredom of many aspects of the very early years. I quote: ‘Asked now, I can’t really remember what stupid stuff they were into – I can only remember them repeatedly trying to post tiny bits of Lego into the VHS player which, to be honest, now strikes me as fun, but I do remember it being long and tedious. Not once did those babies run into the room shouting, “F**k work, dude! Let’s go and see the Pet Shop Boys! In PARIS!’

This resonated with me, all the way down my nasal passages. (Not only because I heart the Pet Shop Boys and they are roughly 50% of the reason I just spent a stupid amount on Viagogo on tickets to see Take That at Wembley supported by PSB. I cunningly positioned them as a Father’s Day pressie, since I am taking DH and my sis along). It rang a big bell because not five hours previously, I had been lamenting to my Health Creation Mentor, Kit, that I think I’ve forgotten how to play. Because otherwise why would I find playing with my beautiful, funny, clever, edible children so damn boring?

‘I need to get in touch with my inner child again!’ I thought, and then, as usual when I have one of my Big Ideas, I ordered the relevant book off Amazon to be sent forthwith to my Kindle (in this case Playful Parenting by someone with a middle initial, which probably means it will be a bit American and ghastly). Yup, I thought I needed a book to learn how to play again. Which was a big fat clue staring me in the face because truly, when I was an actual child, I would also much rather have had my head in a book than the sort of things I feel I should be doing with DD and DS. You know, sitting down playing educational board games, going to the park, craft sessions, ball games, playing farms with toy animals, jigsaws, all that ‘quality time’ stuff. I didn’t like playing much as a kid, so why would I want to do it now?

Which got me thinking about the things I did like doing when I was Mini Pinchy, and which might translate into me spending more authentic fun time with the nippers than if I was playing Snakes and Ladders like some Stepford Mummy with a glazed smile while secretly thinking about food preparation/laundry/hospital appointments/blogging/taking a hot Latin lover (I’m joking, darling, obvs. I have HALF a TIT.)

Ergo. Reading. I read to the kids a lot. They like looking at books and talking about books. The house is full of books. DD is doing terribly well with learning to read. So this one has a big tick next to it. Ooh, that’s a good start. Next up, drawing. DD is addicted to drawing. She is rarely more than five minutes from whipping up a masterpiece. I used to love drawing, and painting, but haven’t done much of either lately. Perhaps I could indulge in some Caran D’Ache pencils and join DD with the doodling, or even dust off the paints. She would be enchanted, and I would have another little creative outlet. Sounds like a plan.

DS has absolutely no interest in drawing, or art generally, but he is just as creative than DD in other ways, role playing with various character toys, for example (last night his shoe was a space ship for Fireman Sam. Fair enough.) And he is very, very happy to watch an entire Toy Story movie, fully immersed, and likes it best if he is doing it with my arm around him. Next time, rather than fretting about the to-do list, perhaps I could just sit and watch with him, and talk about it together.

The kids like the park, but are not fussed about swings. I liked parks a bit when I was little, but actually the thing I was interested in was climbing, whether on a climbing frame or scrambling up a tree. And me and my sis spent most of our childhood weekends in the woods building camps, which I loved, and which the kiddies are probably old enough to start enjoying too, now. Perhaps we could find some cool woods to hang out in at the weekends, with logs and trees to climb on and hide under. We’ve recently discovered the arboretum at Wisley and I actually felt the same sense of adventure as my four- and two year old, exploring under the trees and collecting pine cones to make a ‘display’ at home.

Wisley fun


Plus, I do like Lego, and I’m not averse to Barbie and her acres of pink plastic tat. I like playing tea parties, especially with real tea and biscuits out of tiny cups and plates. I like cutting up magazines and doing collages and scrap books. I like making paper aeroplanes. I like paddling. I like lying on my back on the grass and spotting shapes in the clouds. I like baking.

So perhaps it’s not a case of being ‘not good enough’ (again) at doing what I think I should be doing with the kiddies. Perhaps it’s a case of spending time doing more of what I genuinely love doing, and taking them along for the ride. Showing them the magic of the stuff that floated my boat when I was young, and getting a slice of the wonder myself. Of seeing what we have in common as fellow human beings. If I let them, they might even introduce me to stuff I never knew I liked doing. I doubt that I’m ever going to love playing vets as much as reading Grazia with a cuppa, to be honest, but let’s give it a go. Bring on the games!



Tattoos and time out

I have my first tattoos. Can you guess? Nope, not the names of my DH or my children, or a rose, a cherub, or Chinese script that I think says Peace but probably says Arse. My tattoos are two tiny black dots either side of the New Boob, to make sure I’m being nuked in the right place when radiotherapy starts next month. I did ask, on DH’s request, if they could do them in the shape of a dolphin, but apparently the NHS doesn’t do that sort of thing.

The tatts were done during yesterday’s planning appointment for the radiotherapy, which also involved being drawn on again, like my breasts are some kind of doodle pad for bored consultants. Then I had to lie in a rather uncomfortable position with my right arm over my head, holding onto a pole (in other circs, this might sound titillating, but I assure you there’s nothing remotely Bada Bing-like about a CT scanning room). I then had to lie perfectly still while the scanner took pretty pictures.

I do not have this sort of thing. Even spelled right...

This phase of my treatment will start on Monday 4 July, immediately after we get back from hols. I’ll be at the hospital every weekday for four weeks, so all of the month, basically, including the first week of the summer holidays. The appointments only take ten minutes, so it probably takes longer to find a space in the carpark. Side effects I’ve been warned about include fatigue (as much from the to-ing and fro-ing as the radiation), and sore, red skin like sunburn. Apparently I need to get myself an aloe vera plant and rub the fresh juice from the fleshy leaves directly onto the skin. I can’t use anything perfumed on the area for the whole time and a few weeks afterwards.  For the first three weeks, the radiation will be to the whole breast, and the last week is a different sort of thing just where the tumours were. Just to make sure every last cancer cell is dead.

I met a lovely lady at my mother-in-law’s Team Pinchy coffee morning a couple of weeks ago who had made an excellent recovery from breast cancer 15 years ago, only to have it recur in the scar eight years later. They didn’t use radiotherapy as standard belt-and-braces treatment in those days, and she reckons her recurrence was entirely preventable. Speaking to people with those sorts of experiences really helps to process the importance of the treatment, and reminds me that it’s a bit more than just a huge inconvenience.

In another ‘gosh, I never thought I’d own one of those’ moment to match the purchase of the wig, yesterday I also collected my silicone prosthesis to slip into my post-surgery bra and swimming costume. It looks and feels like a chicken fillet. It’s very soft and comfortable, looks brilliant, and the children are fascinated by it. Both of them gave it a try on their own chests. DD said tonight it’s my ‘dressing up booby’, which made me guffaw.

I had yet another appointment at the hospital yesterday, to see my consultant before today’s Herceptin drip (which was fine, thank you – took ages again as lots of hanging round in waiting rooms with a startling number of people, including one delightful woman who was sounding off loudly about mobile phones (I think she meant me tapping away on my Blackberry) and ‘queers’). Anyway, I was actually honoured with an audience with Dr Houston himself for the first time in months, rather than one of his registrars. He spent quite a lot of time talking about golf (DH has seen more of him than me in recent months) before reluctantly turning to the subject in hand. Eye Eee, my intolerance of the Tamoxifen.

My lovely breast care nurse, she of the sympathetic tilt of the head, had received a rather tearful call from me on Tuesday. I’d gradually been feeling more and more unhinged over recent weeks, culminating in a couple of days at the end of last week where I really think I would have got off a murder charge. I was swinging between sudden rage, real seeing-red anger (including terrifying the children by roaring and throwing a lunchbox. I know, awful), and being in floods of tears (thank you to all those who let me cry on their shoulder last week). In between times I was feeling flat – edging towards depressed, actually – and sort of muzzy-headed. I felt out of control, scarily so, and on Friday night I skipped the pill because I wanted to be on form for the Pink Ribbon Walk. Lo and behold, I felt more or less normal all day. By Sunday night/Monday morning, we were back to mood swing central, so I stopped taking the pills and put in my emergency call.

I was bracing myself for some sort of battle with the good doctor, but he was brilliant. Clearly this is not a put up and shut up situation after all. He told me to take a nine week drug holiday, keep a mood and hot flush diary, and then have some blood tests to ascertain my menopausal status. He says it may well be a combination of a ‘major life event’, a chemo-induced menopause (thanks GOD I have my babies already, I can’t imagine how painful this is for younger women who haven’t had children yet), and the Tamoxifen. If it is the Tamoxifen, he can prescribe yet another drug to take with it, a new generation anti-depressant that will even my moods out and also help with the hot flushes. Not keen on all these pharmas, I have to say. We shall see. In the meantime, since stopping taking the meds, I feel absolutely fine, which is marvellous.

And I also made a huge decision this week. After a momentous coaching call with Amanda Alexander, who yet again teased out what is actually going on below the Pinchy bullshit, I cancelled the work I had lined up for July. I felt terrible about this, because I have never let a client down before, but I’m going to be sensible for once. For the first time since I was diagnosed, I’m going to stop work during treatment. This is a Big Deal – I really hung onto work as ‘normal’ during my chemo and very soon after surgery. I was even editing stuff for clients on the chemo ward. But you know what? I’m tired now, and I need a break, and if I try and fit work in on top of the radiotherapy, I am going to get in a pickle.

Double tah-dahhh: I’m also officially having August off for DD’s first summer holiday. She’s in a play scheme for one week and is spending three separate days on a ‘daughter swap’ with my lovely friend E so both of us have some time to get on with stuff while our littlest ones are at nursery. So rather than cramming in work during these precious hours, I will, for the first time I can remember in my life as a mummy, have some free days to do WHATEVER I WANT. I didn’t even have maternity leave with either of the kiddies, really, as I just carried on writing during naptimes, rather foolishly.

I am tremendously proud of myself. It feels utterly liberating. Sheer relief. I have a bit of work to finish before the holiday, but then I can properly relax, knowing that when I come back all I have to concentrate on is getting through the treatment, and enjoying the children, rather than stressing about juggling work as well. Sometimes, you have to accept that it’s OK to drop a ball, you know.

So it’s been a  week of firsts that the cast of The Only Way is Essex would be proud of: tatts, fake tits and time off any real work. Now where’s that St Tropez so I can get my face the right shade of orange?

Team Pinchy did it!

We did it! I am still smiling. Yesterday was such an amazing day. Team Pinchy did the 10 mile Pink Ribbon Walk at Petworth House in Sussex, and has so far raised more than £2,700 for Breast Cancer Care.

Team Pinchy at the finish!

The day started well: DH let me have a lie in, and woke me with a cuppy tea and a good luck card, before making me a properly good fry up. (I might hang onto him…) Then at 11am, me, my mummy, my sister, and my beautiful friends S, N and B met in the marquee, all in our pink t-shirts with our numbers pinned to the front, all nervously excited.

Mummy had made us all bracelets from pink beads, and B very kindly surprised us all with a Champney’s voucher for a pedicure for our soon-to-be-battered feet. My lovely Pops had volunteered to be a marshal, so he was there too, and dished out lovingly-created bags of all day breakfast with sausages, boiled eggs, biscuits, and even little packets of salt, pepper and his usual ‘parsley garnish’.

After a welcome from the event organisers, the editor of sponsor Woman & Home magazine, and celebrity supporter Andrea McLean (her off of Loose Women, accompanied by her mad dog, also in a pink t-shirt), we had a bit of a warm-up led by Green Goddess Diana Moran. And then at midday, we were off! There were 800 people walking yesterday, and as the line of pink t-shirts stretched ahead of us on the Downs (we started at the back), I felt quite overwhelmed by the scale and significance of the event.

The South Downs are without doubt one of the most beautiful bits of the country, and the views as we trekked up and down the hills were stunning, with a dream cottage round every corner. The weather was perfect – white clouds scudding across blue skies. The sun came out long enough to cheer us, and the clouds kept us cool enough. We walked in pairs, rather than all together, being of differing heights and ages, and caught up with each other at rest/water/wee/lunch stops along the route.

My mummy, sis and Pops

At mile 5, mummy jettisoned her 20 year old trainers, which had inevitably fallen apart almost instantly, and did the second half of the walk in flip flops. At mile 7, some Enid Blyton-style enterprising children were selling homemade lemonade by the side of track, with 50% of profits going to the charity. I found mile 7-8 the toughest, including lots of very steep, narrow tracks through muddy woods, with burning thighs. (Obviously none of us had done any proper training…)

At the top of the final hill we saw Petworth House come into view again, and felt elated as we did the last achy mile. As we approached the finish line, I saw some little figures running through the grass, and realised it was DD, DS, and my gorgeous nephew. I got a bit wobbly at that point, as they raced towards us, and I walked the last 100 yards holding hands with my babies. Just before the finish, DH and my lovely brother-in-law met us with glasses of pink champagne – such a fab, thoughtful gesture. (It has to be said that the dads all did a stirling job being On Duty all day yesterday, including taking our respective smalls to parties, sorting out meals, naps, and clothing, dealing with little accidents, and generally keeping the children alive).

My best girls

We all tied our pink ribbons to the finish line, and Team Pinchy crossed it together, arm in arm, and all in tears. It was an extremely emotional moment: I’m actually sobbing again as I write this. We’d carried our ribbons throughout the walk, with personal messages written on them. I dedicated mine to Team Pinchy and all the mummies who go through breast cancer. All the messages were so touching (although S was concerned that her lovely dedication sounded a bit final, like I’d actually died).

We’d done it in just over four hours. I remember cheers, and photographers, and feeling we’d really achieved something. We hugged, cried, rested, drank, and watched the kiddies, including B’s daughter, dancing on the stage to Madonna and Queen. Then we all went our separate ways, elated and emotional. We headed back to my sister’s house for a well-deserved takeaway (my mum’s legs had completely seized up by this point, bless her), and drove home with sleeping children, before sleeping for a full, uninterrupted eight hours for the first time in months.

I woke this morning still on a real high. Because although, as S’s DH pointed out, we’d only walked a couple of times round a golf course, it was a Big Thing. When we registered in February, I had two chemos and surgery to go, and the walk felt like a very long way away, in all ways. And then the day was upon us, and I was with some of the people I love best in the world, who have always been there and who have supported me so brilliantly since I was diagnosed.

It was a strange feeling, being the one who they were walking for. Every so often, it hits me that I have had breast cancer, and it’s a shock all over again, like being winded. But at the same time as forcing me to acknowledge what I’ve been through, the day felt like a real marker in the sand. A line drawn very firmly under the worst of the treatment. A celebration that we have all got through it, together. A very firm two fingers up to caaancer. I felt strong, and so alive. And so very, very honoured, proud, and humbled to have been joined on the walk by five wonderful women.

Breast Cancer Care exists so no-one – women, men, partners, friends and family – has to go through breast cancer alone, and Team Pinchy embodied those values to perfection yesterday. So thank you – everyone who was there, all the virtual members of my team, everyone who sent messages, and everyone who donated so generously. On paper, it may only have been the equivalent of a corporate golf jolly, but in practice, it was one of the most memorable days of my life. Go Team Pinchy, blisters and all! Whoop whoop!

What it’s been like being my mum: a guest post

I asked my amazing mummy if she would write a guest post for me. So here, in her own words, unedited and unabridged, is what it’s been like as a mother and grandmother having a daughter with breast cancer. ***WARNING: KLEENEX REQUIRED!***

‘A crisp, cold November morning last year.  My darling daughter and I left her house at 7.30 am to drive to the hospital for her first chemo.  I sat in the passenger seat, experiencing an emotion that was somehow familiar.  It was the same feeling that I had as my darling husband drove me to the hospital for her birth to be induced 37years before.  Abject fear, knowing it had to be got through, that I had to deal with it as bravely as I could, that I didn’t want my DD to see that fear.

Dear M, a friend who had been through chemo the year before, helped me to prepare; I needed to know what to expect.  I knew that I would still be unprepared – the strangest scenario, taking my own daughter, still a young woman, for treatment more usually associated with women of my own age.  But I was glad it was me going with her the first time; it seemed right for both of us.  Other than the day she received the diagnosis, when there were many tears, she had (at least when she had been with her Pops and me) been focused, enquiring, and determined that she was going to get through this.  The last thing she needed was a mess of a mother on that day of all days.

We settled into a routine, of sorts, every three weeks.  Chemo on Friday, me and DH staying the night, bringing our darling grandchildren back with us the next day, other Grandma taking them back on Monday and staying the night, DD gradually getting back to something like normal by Tuesday afternoon.  For the last two sessions DD and her family came to us after the chemo so that they could all be together.  Much better for us all, although hard for me and DH to see DD on days 3 and 4 after the chemo, when she was so weak and nauseous.  Harder still for her.  But she greeted her children with a smile every time they went into the bedroom to see her, gave them a hug, read to them and was in every way simply incredible.

 And I wasn’t alone.  DD’s Pops, my own DH, has been with me practically and emotionally throughout.  He cooked, shopped, ironed (so much ironing with two small children!), played with the kiddies, cried with our son-in-law over a drink or three when DD soaked in the bath after chemo.  Me trying to hug both of these big men at once, tears streaming down all of our cheeks.  Smiling when DD came down after her bath.

And I had my other DD – the only person in the world who was going through exactly what my DH and I were going through.  She had a very new baby and a toddler when Pinchy was diagnosed but she was steadfast and strong, so loving and caring, always checking that DH and I were OK, never noticing (although I did, a lot) that I could not spend the time I would have done with her and her babies if things had been different.  I simply don’t know what I would have done without her.

A friend’s daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before DD, with surgery followed by chemo.  The daughter tried to protect her mother by not telling her much, not seeing her much. It didn’t work.  I am more grateful than I can say for DD’s blog, for her being able to articulate so well, and in writing, exactly what was happening not just with treatment but with her own emotions.  The blog helped me to absorb and fix these new clinical and medical words in my memory.  That is so important when you need to support someone going through lengthy and complex treatment.

I have wonderful friends and colleagues (and a very special mum of my own) who understood that sometimes I was running on empty and needed time out, and who cheered me up when I was just so tired of feeling sad all the time. 

But I end this guest blog on a happy note.  DD looks beautiful, amazing.  She kept most of her glorious hair thanks to the cold cap.  The baldy patch on the crown is now covered with new hair and not noticeable at all.  She gets tired, still has radiotherapy to go through (although M says it’s a walk in the park after chemo, so fingers crossed) and more Herceptin and the dreaded Tamoxifen for 5 years (menopause symptoms – been there, but as DD says, 37 is way too young for night sweats and hot flushes).  And balancing surgery in November so she has two matching breasts (although her Pops says no-one should be looking THAT closely!) 

But she’s OK – she has had the very best care from brilliant clinicians and a topnotch surgeon, and from her clinical trial nurse, Celia.  I know from M and J (another friend who has been through chemo) how precious it is to have the same person looking after you in a cash-strapped NHS where it is normal to see a different chemo nurse every time who may or may not have been able to find your file.  I know that DD has been lucky (well, she could have been luckier!) in being in the right place at the right time when she was diagnosed.

This weekend I will be walking with both of my darling daughters for Breast Cancer Care.  DH is volunteering as a marshal.  We are all looking forward to a great day out for a good cause.  Just a few short months ago I could not have imagined such relative normality.  I have stopped holding my breath.’

A fabulously normal half term

The first day back after a school holiday is a funny thing. I don’t know about you but today I feel a curious mixture of relief that we are back into our routine and I can get back to the relative calm and quiet of the office for some adult head space, and regret that the fun is over and we are back to getting out of the house by 8am to do the nursery and school run.

We had a packed week. It started, happily, with me and DH having a night away in Bristol to let our hair down and be by ourselves for the first since I was diagnosed (not counting me recovering from chemo or surgery). Actually, we hadn’t had a night away since our 10th wedding anniversary last August, where my lovely parents took pity on our impoverished state at the time and booked us a very romantic night at Howard’s House in Wiltshire. This time, we stayed at the Bristol Hotel on the waterfront and retraced my old uni haunts, including lunch at Brown’s, where I had my graduation lunch. We saw a Banksy, and had some retail therapy (I am now totally down with the kids in my lime green Hollister t-shirt, although I was stunned that the shop was dark and I kept tripping over whippet-thin 13-year-olds in denim hotpants who were probably wondering what a sad middle aged woman was doing squinting in their midst).

We then had a very boozy dinner at Graze, a brasserie run by Bath Ales (River Exe clams, local lamb, pork belly, that sort of thing, with rather better wine than student days). And all weekend, we talked and talked and talked. We had long, honest, tearful conversations about what the past eight months have been like for us both and how we are feeling now and about the future. It was a very important 24hrs, much needed, and lovely to know we could relax with the children having fun with their grandparents.

Then, it was over to the kids. On Monday, we were at a rather brilliant birthday party for one of DD’s best friends, during which a ‘fairy ballerina’ kept 22 small girls and two boys entirely mesmerised with games and stuff for two hours. That’s some talent. Even DS was doing ‘ballet toes’ in his Spiderman outfit by the end. The mums loved her because it made the party almost effortless, and the dads just loved her.

On Wednesday, I took DD and DS to Peppa Pig World at Paulton’s Park near Southampton, where we met their cousin, auntie and grandma. It was pricey – a flat rate of £19.50 each if you book online, for everyone over 1m tall (luckily DS is still only 96cm…) – but worth it. The theming of the park is just perfect – the colours, the look and feel, the subtle use of the show’s music were all spot on – and the smalls loved it. Some of the queues were a bit tedious, but the seven main rides were lovely and all intended for adults to go on with younger children. Plus there was an outdoor play area and indoor soft play. DD was an enchanted angel, and DS only had four minor melt-downs during the day, which wasn’t bad for a two year old without a buggy in his first theme park, for more than five hours. I wouldn’t go in the school holidays unless you had no choice, but I thoroughly recommend it.

On Thursday, me and DD dispatched DS to nursery and headed up to London on the train. We went on the carousel on the South Bank, as always, then walked over the bridge to visit grandma’s office at the College of Optometrists , a beautiful four-storey building in Craven Street. DD was a little in awe of seeing my mummy being the boss, but asked for a tour, and was introduced to all the staff, many of whom have been extremely generous in donating to Team Pinchy’s Pink Ribbon Walk this Saturday. Then the three of us went to a little Italian place in Villiers Street before me and DD headed home.

On Friday, it was time for another day out down the M3, for my  wonderful mother-in-law’s coffee morning to raise more funds for Breast Cancer Care. She had rallied all her friends and former nursing colleagues, and during a lovely morning of homemade cakes in the sunshine, she managed to raise an astonishing £315. I’ve just checked our totaliser, and am delighted to report that even without this being paid in and other promised donations, we are at exactly £2,000! Whoop whoop! I thought that was a really ambitious target, so I’m chuffed to bits – thanks so much to everyone for being incredibly generous.

On Saturday, DD was invited to her first ‘pamper party’ by a school friend. She is four. Gulp. (And in the same week that the Mothers’ Union launched its campaign against the sexualisation of children). I went along as chaperone, needless to say, especially since the whole idea of little girls being ‘pageanted up’ contradicts what I said last year. It was at a really cool kids’ hair salon in Farnham called Spikes and Curls, where every chair (including some shaped like fire engines and planes for wriggly boys) was in front of a flat screen telly with CBeebies on.

The five girls had their hair curled, French-plaited and glittered. Fine. Then their nails done. OK, I let DD have painted nails for school holidays anyway. Then they were made up. Eeek. (Naturally they all chose pink eyeshadow.) I was quite struck that as the layers of blusher, mascara and lip gloss went on, my beautiful baby girl actually looked less and less pretty. Her giraffe lashes, freckly cheeks and grey-blue eyes just don’t require cover up or diversion. It was scarily close to the general effect of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. The girls loved it, of course, but it made me feel a bit queasy. The brilliant Linda Jones has written a great post, Why Are Our Daughters Growing Up Too Quickly, which struck a real chord with me.

Our last half term hurrah was a trip to the Thames Ditton Miniature Railway, down the road from my sis and her family. We had a marvellous afternoon going round and round on the pimped Hornby trains in the drizzle before the kiddies collapsed into bed, tired and happy. Me and DH finished our busy week with a bottle of red from the brilliant Naked Wines, plus The King’s Speech on box office, equally whacked out and content.

Because do you know what the best thing about this half term was? For the first time since DD started school last year, I felt like a normal, healthy mummy doing normal, fun holiday stuff. She’d barely started school when I was diagnosed, and the half terms, Christmas and Easter holidays since have basically been about me having scans, treatment, and hospital appointments, and recovering from chemo and surgery, rather than having fun with my kiddies.

I can’t say I was Mary Poppins all week and didn’t snap or feel tired, and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy stepping into my garden office this morning to the sound of the birds and nothing else. But I can say that I didn’t take a single moment for granted. It really was a precious week, and now I can’t wait to get radiotherapy out of the way (I’m seeing the radiology consultant tomorrow for the first time) so I can enjoy the summer holidays.