Sunday, November 29, 2009

Initial confusion

Jan over the road reminds me that LMS just used to mean Local Management of Schools; one of those sets of initials that formed the subject of endless discussions amongst my friends and family, almost all of whom are teachers. I was always an outsider trying to keep up with it but mostly just letting the words wash over me. My particular LMS is not so easy to ignore and unfortunately I don't think there are enough professionals chewing the fat about it in middle class kitchens in order that anyone is going to do anything about it.

It's not the only set of initials that has suddenly taken on a new meaning. It's as if as soon as I retired from my strange job on the fringes of the NHS the whole world of acronyms changed too. I used to be a NED, that used to mean a Non-Executive Director, I was even a chair once, no not a piece of furniture a sort of leader, I used to run conferences for NEDs and train them in what to do. Now in a matter of a few short weeks NED becomes the height of my ambitions as NED now means No Evidence of Disease. We no-hopers don't have remission it seems but some get NED for a while and we all try to join their club.

Even BPC has changed. Up till last week even that stood for British Pharmaceutical Conference; one of the events my company helped to run and the subject of the vast majority of my email conversations. It wasn't easy! Now it's "Bill Peeples’ Angiogenesis Inhibitor Cocktail"; a list of unspellable ingredients that lots of people who are NED in the US ingest in order to stay NED.

RFA used to be the Renewable Fuels Agency and we used to chat them up when we ran the EA (Environment Agency)event now its Radio Frequency Ablation, one of the ways they can blast your lungs free of mets for awhile in the UK; if they think it wise.

So LMS, after RFA or BPC or GDR (the Dresden connection) let's have you giving me a bit of NED PDQ

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Everyday thanksgiving

It's thanksgiving in the US today. I know because I have many fellow LMS correspondents from the US now and also I was called on to make a pecan pie for my daughter who has an American lodger and follows her mother's dictum of any excuse for a feast. It seems that this is a time for counting your blessings which is a practice I try to carry out pretty regularly but somehow feel contrary today and want to curse my misfortune instead. There is nothing to bless in having this dreadful disease that is threatening to take me away from everything I love and everything I count as my blessings and no amount of thanksgiving is going to change that. So I feel a bit like the Native Americans who no doubt felt less than thankful way back whenever it was.

But I will give in and restore my usual joie de vivre. Below is a list of the things I am thankful for that have happened today:

I had a lie in and a long cuddle with my husband
The sun came out
I sent a photo of me and my lovely kids to a friend and felt proud of them..again
I had lunch with one of my dearest friends
My throat stopped being sore
I didn't feel any pain in my chest
I managed to find a parking space at John Lewis
I got the last of my Christmas presents for friends and family and wrapped up about half of them
Danny's sock monkey jack in the box arrived and he will love it
I soaked the fruit for my Christmas cake in twice as much rum as the recipe said
Jess's friend Jess opened her cheese shop and it was a great success
Gavin and Stacy is back on TV tonight
I didn't have to go to work because I am now properly retired
I walked up to the shops and my groin didn't hurt too much; I held my husband's hand
They had a Times so I can try to do the crossword before I go to sleep
My pecan pie was a triumph; if a slightly burnt one
Les bought my best cardigan back
Ruth liked her earrings
Graham invited us out for a posh dinner tomorrow
I found a chocolate mint in my mac pocket

Not sure that's enough to slaughter a turkey for but it will do till tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life is too short to...

Life is too short to:

Pluck my eyebrows
Moisturise - see what a slut I am
Clean behind furniture
Clean anything that doesn't show
Iron sheets
Iron anything that I am not just about to wear
Transplant seedlings
Read Proust
Master physics
Learn French grammar
Argue the toss
Shop at Lidl's
Get an HGV licence
Wear killer heels
Get religion
Learn to love football
Take arachnophobia therapy

But then it always was and now I might just:

Stuff a mushroom
Learn the tango
Paint a masterpiece

Feminist friends I know I used the term master twice in this post but mistress doesn't go and life is too short to be one of those as well; I might have to shave my legs for God's sake

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Biting the bullet

Today I am going to the dentist; two reasons one I have been having terrible toothache and the woman up the road with drawn on eyebrows says its just because I don't clean my teeth properly; I am seeking a second opinion! Secondly I broke one of my teeth on pheasant shot last weekend; a middle class accident if ever I heard one. We had been congratulating ourselves on our bargain haul of game from our visit to Norfolk where they have proper butchers but now the repair is likely to cost hundreds. Typical Trainor luck.

It's one of the veneers I had done a few years ago and it's right at the front. I forget about it but Stewart feels the need to tell everyone as if to say no she is not usually this freaky; she just doesn't chew carefully. People are very sympathetic and it's clearly easier than empathising about my lungs as you can't see them.

The conversation with the dentist is going to be strange; the achy one he will want to save and do all sorts of painful and expensive root canal stuff I suspect. Save for what I will have to consider probably not a toothsome old age; so I may press for a quick extraction; but vanity will out on the broken one; it must be restored so for a little longer I look relatively flawless and people don't feel the need to look in the other direction and feel sorry for me...or for Stewart.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Institutional rarism! Discrimination sucks

There is a new form of discrimination which I find myself a very reluctant victim of.

I spent years of my precious time trawling around the country training NHS managers and clinicians in anti-discrimination legislation, the DDA, racism, sexism, ageism, name it if they did it I told them not to or else. But I find now that there is a new enemy to fight namely rarism. But not only do the Government and the establishment blindly practice this, they set up large institutions to defend it and proudly announce it as a justification for their acts and omissions; with the law behind them or so it seems. Institutional rarism writ large.

To me: "Oh we couldn't have discovered that lump in your vein was a cancer not a DVT because you are extremely rare" so that's alright then (funny how quickly they found it in France perhaps rarism is less rife there).

To many fellow sufferers: "No fibroids are very rarely cancer so you mustn't worry" so by implication and experience, neither will we.

Being a rarity in other walks of life is not a bad thing. There are those Antiques Roadshow moments when the expert lovingly feels the object and slathers the words: "this is an extremely rare object" and no matter how hard they try the proud owner cannot keep that look out of their eyes which means they are mentally licking their lips and rubbing their hands.

But in the world of illness forget it! What you have is rare so my conscience is clear that I never found it; or looked for it or looked at you for longer than five minutes. What you have is rare so no, no-one is investing money in drugs to try to save you, why would they bother, what's in it for them? What you have is rare so what little is available is very expensive and no we can't afford to pay for it, it wouldn't be fair to those ordinary folk would it? What you have is rare so we have no evidence that paying for anything is going to work anyway and we can't waste tax payers money can we? What you have is rare and there are only a few of you so it will not look bad on our statistics when we fail to save you, will it?

Let's superimpose you are black, Muslim, Jewish, female, blind, gay and/or old into any of those scenarios and see how comfortable our liberal sensibilities feel.

Time for a rethink maybe, time even for new legislation but probably too little time for us rarities, we are too expensive and most of us are not going to make it onto the Antiques Roadshow. We are the unexpected few and as old blue eyes so graphically put it: "too few to mention".

But wait there were those other "few" who won the war or something and who as a country we seem to revere; so watch out for us. Discrimination of any kind is wrong people! in modern parlance it sucks. Up with it we should and will not put and with a bit of help from our friends maybe the few will become the many and we will overcome some day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friends reunited

It seems I'm the talk of the town. The bush telegraph whistles round street corners and into hairdressers' parlours. So this week has been the time for very old friends to get in touch. It's another one of those bonuses of this strange new life of mine.

With those friends that are more like family there has been constant mulling and munching; daily calls and frequent feastings but now its the turn of friends from other times and other places. First Les and Jude; Stewart has known Les for longer than he has known me - 55 years to be precise and they are in that special band of friends that come from before we were married when we were very young. Memories are of pubs,camp sites and bike rides; getting drunk and sleeping on rugs; there is no need to discuss the sadness much, its a given so we move on and slip back into all the old stories.

Yvonne and Noel; Yvonne is my alter ego, people think we are each other even though she is younger and slimmer; we have worked together in perfect and very productive harmony for over 20 years and now we share randang and noodles, two bottles of red and have a proper laugh

Yesterday was packed with Gill, a friend of over thirty years and Theresa over 20. Life and its vicissitudes had made us go on different paths but one message from the telegraph and whizz back they come as true friends will. It was a day of swallowed tears, honest questions and lots of giggling and gossiping; right up my street.

And amidst it all a call from my doctor to discuss the German question, one from a recent colleague whose wife, like me, is a special LMS girl and a letter from the Marsden saying I must go on Monday week for my second opinion.

So Germany is postponed but not cancelled and I am looking for restaurants on the Fulham Road.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Should I stay or should I go now?

It all comes down to opinions, mine, his, theirs and learned tracts on the wonder web. Is this German to be trusted? He says it works for a lot of people and he doesn't just do it willy nilly; they, the learned ones say we have no verified evidence. And evidence is the be all and end all these days. Till the next lot of evidence turns up, and we all follow it like sheep, we must believe in what we have as if it is sent down from above on tablets of stone. The academic historian in me wonders just how many tablets we have in fact as it's such a rare condition, we all seem to be different from each other and to be pursuing different paths in the treatment tournament. But try to tell that to the learned ones who hold their faith to the letter.

The decision must be made and I am a professional decision-maker I should be good at it; but in the make believe worlds of management or business it's not my actual life that is the subject of the pros or cons; to go this way might mean I live longer, feel the sun on my back, the rain in my shoes and my husband's hand in my own.. or it might mean I reduce my chances. It's very hard stuff and I'm not even getting paid to bear this level of accountability!

The money is an issue as well as ever; how much time do you think it is worth spending £20,000 on? How many family Christmases; Danny developments; kids' hugs and humour; crises and crescendos. Is it too expensive for 6 months, worth it for 12? You may get 24 or 60 no guarantees of course, you may have got it anyway; you pay your money and you take your chance.

We all know we can't take it with us, there are no pockets in shrouds and now is the time for risk taking if ever there was one. Bear with me, I am taking more soundings from the pundits, keeping them on board and sharpening up my risk bearing brain cells. In the end I will just say **** it and burst through the door ..or I wont.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A European venture

It was France that scored first in the saving Mrs Trainor European Cup. Quick jab in the groin and hey ho a second half goal taking with it a primary tumour and one useless vein - first half had been the usual performance by England just doing what they always do and getting nowhere.

Now it seems Germany might do their usual trick and win the next round- OK I do remember 1966 but we did have to leave it till the last minute and I am not sure that will be a good tactic in this particular tournament. The clever old Germans have developed laser techniques that get a goal every time or so they say and so my money is on them for the next round.

When I say my money is on them its not just one of the contorted illusions with which this blog swarms, it will in fact cost me an arm and a leg but hopefully not a lung. I am still considering the transfer offer as to stay in England and continue the habit of coming a brave second is hard to break away from, and when they see me they might not choose me for their team; so I am seeking advice from my fans. There is more information on the team tactics at

Actually at the moment it all feels more like going over the top from the trenches - not a good metaphor I know as I maybe going over into the German camp. But we leiomyosarcoma sufferers are like the cannon fodder in WW1 - on both sides - being ordered to run out into no-mans land and take what is coming to us by the cancer cell generals. A few survive and in this particular battle they seem to be the ones that do their own thing; certainly they battle on despite numerous bayonet wounds and poison gas attacks. No choice to be a deserter in this particular war or believe me, I would be planning my escape across Northern France right now, taking in a few good restaurants and bottles of red on the way of course.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happily ever after

A very busy weekend was had looking after Harry aged four and Danny aged just one. Harry had a new haircut which only served to make him more irresistible; he is already an irresistible force to be reckoned with. Danny, I conclude, is just like me: he tries his very hardest to be constantly smiley; he has mastered the art of walking but sort of lumbers about like his Nan with her fat leg - he has two fat legs if we are brutally honest. Like me, he just needs regular food, sleep and slathery kisses; he dribbles more than necessary and hates to be bothered by mundane things like dressing. It's clearly in the genes. He manages to ignore the dribble rash on his chin and the constant snot waxing from his nose; just as I ignore the silly cough, the pain in my shoulder and Mrs R in the attic.

Harry and I do easy peasey lemon squeezey jigsaws and we compose stories. I am the author he is the illustrator. A prince called Harry and a putative princess called Lydia - his lost love from nursery school - feature strongly. There is much living happily ever after which causes me to kiss Harry on his newly shorn head and look behind me to see the shadows creeping in the deep dark woods.

In the real world, where Prince Harry does not scale towers or put peas under mattresses but goes off to fight other hopeless wars, our ever afters depend on the memories of our offspring, family and friends. I know, however,that in our family they will be arguing about the memories, when we did this, how we did that etc. I just looked at my number 1 son, Sam's, website - I wanted to find his address as it's his birthday on Wednesday and I was too lazy to run upstairs for the address book. It's worth a visit and after reading a few of his notes and his poems I once again wonder how I bred someone so devilishly clever and " different". In fact I bred four of them; it must have been the fluoride in the water. Anyway he describes his family as " Cosmopolitanly Brummie, lovingly argumentative, laconically verbose, individualistically socialist, stoically epicurean, sceptically utopian, strictly liberal and downright uplifting" It's a good description and makes me feel proud and I know that that is how they will deal with my ever after.. they will be "lovingly argumentative" and I couldn't wish for anything better.

But what will Harry and Danny remember? I will endeavour to make memories for them along with the stories and the easy peasy jigsaws for as long as I can. After that it will be up to the rest of them to continue to be "downright uplifting" for each other and for the next wave of loving arguers to keep their ever afters going along with mine.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Being a leftie

I hope I dont lose any of my new blogging friends by this posting but those of you who know me are well aware that I have always been a bit of a leftie. Now I am coming round to the view that I am taking it all too far - as I am sure my past friends who have deserted and gone over to New Labour might agree. It has just struck me that from as far back as I can remember things have always gone wrong on my right side. I look at the gravel rash you can still see on my right knee; I remember spraining my right ankle one day rushing through London in my professional prime. When I was about 33 a fishbone or something pierced my colon forming a nasty bursting thingie in my insides - yes guess what it was all on the right side. So where else would the LMS invader breach my defences but deep in the right of me. And which one of my lungs has the biggest blob, the right one of course.

If I look in the mirror, (only mildly disturbing if I do it face on but in profile surely not, no that mass of sagging flesh cannot be me) I now look like one of those adverts for before and after where they draw a line down the middle of a mildly disturbing looking person showing one side all bloated, bald or baggy and the other side springing hair or restored to smooth curvy lines.

So the question is should I change direction; become middle of the road or God help me steer to the right? I think not, I would be in danger of messing up the whole picture; and being neither fish nor fowl. Not unknown in the messy world we live in but not, in my view, leading to much progress.

So I will keep my left side strong and keep on battling those gremlins on the right; or alternatively just get them to saw me in half!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mrs Rochester

I seem to be giving the impression that I am being brave; I think I need to put you right and introduce you to my very own Mrs Rochester living somewhere near my bowels I think. She is pulling her hair and pounding the walls; rage,raging at the dying of the light; driven crazy by anger and fear. But meet also my very own Grace Poole, calmly efficient and able to only let the tiniest noise of Bertha's raging reach my cowardly ears. Even in the middle of the night while I lie awake listening for the movements, waiting for the footsteps and the lighted torch, Grace keeps her quiet and lets me sleep.

I know no other way, I have to cope and I have to be cheerful, the alternative is to end up like Mrs R and look what happened to her!

Monday, November 9, 2009

To the lonely sea and the sky

Short blog today readers as we are off to Norfolk for a few days (for American followers flat county to east of England with lots of sea and sky; famous for GI bases and romances in the war). Still following doctor's orders to cram as much in as we can.

Whenever we do this I think will this be the last time we go to a, b or c together? When in fact we probably wouldn't have gone back anyway and may have just daydreamed through years of budgeting on a pension and not doing what we had done before or what we had always wanted to.

I sometimes think about the good things about having this unspellable disease; its not a long list but it includes:

Having a fantastic time now
Feeling very loved now
Knowing the worst- or perhaps that's tempting fate
Not being the one left behind - ditto
Escaping spiders, mosquitoes, politicians and bankers; football, Radio 1 and dusting

So off we go for fresh air and fun. I will take the laptop and try to wifi

I go off dancing to Mick: this could be the last time, this could be the last time, baby the last time I don't know-O.

Not if I can help it readers

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dining out on it - a foodie forgets

It was twice yesterday, lunch on son Luke and his lovely wife Aleks; tapas and entertainment from Harry and Hannah and dinner, Italian and Saturday night sights with Graham and Ruth, in-laws extraordinaire. Since D-Day its been one long food extravaganza.

Friends and family cramming in twenty or thirty years of expected eating together into .. well lets not speculate how long it might be. Perhaps we should dress up as sprightly septuaginarians or naughty nineties to give the phenomenon some veracity; Whatever the costume I'll always be the roly poly one who never fails to accept a refill and if the opportunity arrives, ogles the waiter.

And while we slather and slurp we forget and that's what adds the extra spice, jus or gremolata to every dish. I could and may try to write a new sort of restaurant guide on this blog; rivalling Giles Coren I could mark places on minutes not thinking about cancer; opportunities to pretend to be following anti-oxidant diet by combining greens with mind blowing other ingredients; not putting cheese in everything and offering copious glasses of red wine; and finally comfortable seats, important when one has a battered groin or doesnt want to be reminded of pain and suffering.

Long may it continue say I and thank you to all my eating companions and my boozing buddies.

Friday, November 6, 2009

More bad behaviour

I smiled nicely at them all and made the odd quip. While I waited I did the Killer Sudoko - deadly grade and did it in 30 mins instead of the 71 they reckoned it would take. Take heed deadly things!I read the Homes and Gardens they had there and gawked at a couple with a £40K budget to do up their bathroom; ended up looking like the loos at Euston in my opinion. Just got started on the Times crossword when they called my name.I'd been looking at the people coming out before me and they all looked a bit on the shattered side especially the relatives; so swallow hard and in we go, big smile.

I say I feel fine when he asks apart from the funny shoulder, the slight cough when I laugh and the raging toothache I had in France. Only the cough is of interest so I dont mention the funny pain in my big toe; don't want him to think I am a nutter. We look at the Xrays and once I have located the bit I am supposed to be looking at I can see about four blobs and I ask how big; biggest 2 and a bit cm he says; and not much bigger than last time. No dramatic change he says. What next then? I ask about surgery and he repeats it wont work because there are too many- so we count them and we reckon about 20 most of them teeny weeny but just waiting to get going it would seem.

So chemo then and I can if I like but he says wait till after Christmas and see what things look like because you are still well (on the outside anyway!) I swallow my English politeness and ask should I see someone else and yes he thinks I should if it makes me feel better; so I am off to see Ian Judson at the Marsden who is the main man I am told.

We talk about NICE and a new drug and push the nastiness away again. Doesnt bother me as long as we can keep doing that again and again and again.

How do I feel? not very different; glad I haven't got a tennis ball sized one yet; glad I am taking some positive action and if I am honest glad I haven't got to face having my chest sawn open!

We live to fight another day and yippee I will have hair for Christmas.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lets make a deal

Hi Leio, sorry not to use your full name but it is a bit of a mouthful isn't it. Leio does have more vowels than is strictly necessary but then you are a something of a one off aren't you. I wanted a chat because tomorrow I am off to see the doc and he will take pictures of you and see if you have grown. It may be decision time and so I thought I'd try to make you an offer.

You see it strikes me that we are in this together. It really makes no sense whatever for you to polish me off too quickly as lets face it I will take you with me. I know we havent got off to a good start, firstly you came totally unbidden into that vein in my groin; I never sent an invitation you just turned up. I admit you are not the first to have wanted to nestle in that particular part of my anatomy and OK once I knew you were there, I let them rip you out without a by your leave. You might see that as cruel and I understand that. I didn't really know you then you see and you did come as quite a surprise.

So to pay me back you headed for my lungs; a trifle wham bam thank you Mam in my view, but can we call it quits now. If not it will be war you know. Clearly you have the advantage and are more experienced at this than me but as soon as they start all that chemical warfare and sticking knives into you, its going to hurt you as much as it does me and one of us wont live to tell the tale. Bit too Russian Roulette for my liking.

So can you slow down a little? We could come to some agreement if you like, things I've got two of, could you just stick to one of them. Then in the future once you notice me going a bit do-lally and wetting my pants (Ok since the groin incident I dont wear them but I am talking metaphorically here)then by all means move in and be as quick as you like.

You must see the sense in this, gives us both more to hope for.. are you listening Leio; come on give it a whirl.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The elephant in the room

There he stands in the corner where the big black spiders also lurk. He keeps still and quiet while we plan our meals, laugh with our friends, listen to our music, read our books. Now and then we mention him and we discuss his shape and colour and move on. He comes with us to the restaurants, the parties, the shopping centres, people don't seem to see him.

Sometimes when we plan for next summer, or celebrate a birthday or especially when a cross word is spoken, a why do you always or a why can you never..he lifts his tail or curls his trunk ready to show his presence; but then retreats to the shadows. Tomorrow we will pack him away with the wine we will take back; with the clothes we never wore; he will twitch a little when we wonder, but don't voice maybe, the question about when and how we will return, bald maybe; less than the full complement of lungs maybe.

One day, hopefully a long way off, he will rampage through our world and break the pots and the pictures, devastate our order, upset our children and their children and then turn and mourn, as elephants do, his old companion.

Monday, November 2, 2009

everything I've always wanted- just what the doctor ordered!

So the doctor said go and do everything you have always wanted. I know, I know its a bit grim it means he doesnt think I should wait as my time is running out but hey its one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Usually its no we cant afford it, or you must do this or that and usually this or that is miles away from what I have always wanted to do.

But what do I want to do? I joke that perhaps George Clooney isnt ready for an OAP weighing more than him, with a battered groin and one fat leg but really I am not ready for George and never will be. I think hard and confirm those things I have never wanted to do: bungee jumping, spider stroking, a marathon.

I must be unimaginative as it seems that when the chips are down I only want to do those things I have already done and know I enjoyed and if you really push me hard all I really want to do is be alive and be with my kids, my friends and of course Stewart and it can be as boring as you like. But none of that I must follow doctor's instructions and so in the last six weeks since that day in the doctor's office I have, with Stewart:

Hugged my son, Joe,and his dog and eaten the best apple cake in the world in Utrecht

Travelled on the Eurostar to Lille and dined with Number one son, Sam and his lovely wife Julie, hugged them too

Done Grand Tour of Italy to all the places we love. I have danced alone in front of crowds in St Marks Square as the bands played and felt alive. I have beamed beatifically at the Grand Canal, been stunned by the Guggenheim, sat in awe in front of the Ravenna mosaics, screwed my neck to see the Piera Della Francesca's in Arrezo, the towers in St Gimignagno and the floors in the Duomo in Siena. And my God the food! we have eaten in all of our favourite restaurants and in lots of new finds and been in seventh heaven. We even overcame the battered groin and enjoyed romantic moments on sunny afternoons. We hugged each other a lot.

Then to France to our lovely little house in the Dordogne; bombarded by the two grandsons, Harry aged 4 and Danny who celebrated his first birthday with us; Jess and Tom and four lovely friends. I lived the dream of sun drenched lunches au terrasse everyone piled around our garden table indulging in fantastic French food and wine and in October too!

So I have done what I was told and I have enjoyed every minute; it has been a real bonus and on top of it all everyone is being really nice to me;I think I can truly say I have never been happier.. funny old world eh