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Michelle Kendall - Journal

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Posted 2016-06-25T17:50:00Z

Greetings from a small island that is "Not Europe"

Living in the pro EU stronghold of Oxford, the "leave" posters, rhetoric, and campaigning were few and far between, so it was a shock to wake up yesterday and see the damage had been done.  It seems obvious that the UK is stronger staying IN the EU.  To give a personal example: my health care team....  my head surgeon was Italian, with assistants from India and Poland.  My anesthesiologist -- South African; the nurse anesthetist -- Polish; my first oncologist -- Italian; current oncologist -- South African.  My GP and most of the nurses are British, but many are from Scotland and Ireland.  How would NHS (the UK health system) function without all these fabulous people?  It seems building walls is a mistake, but what do I know?  I do know that one reason I love Oxford is the diversity and international flavor.  The Newcomers Group, Bruce's lab group, my health care providers: it's a fabulous mix from the whole globe and I love that!  [...]

Posted 2016-06-16T19:49:00Z

British Countryside

Today, post chemo #3 Day 9, and the symptoms are gradually lessening.  Shelley hauled me out to the countryside, just 20 minutes from Oxford, to the magical Rollright Stone Circles and a yummy pub lunch in the charming micro village of Tew. We saw fields of red poppies, had a 10 minute rain deluge, followed by beautiful clouds and light, walked among the warmest golden Cotswold stone cottages topped with thick thatch, smelled big roses....   Life is good.  I feel content.  I feel lucky.  I feel happy.  I hope you all had as good a day too.....[...]

Posted 2016-06-13T10:03:00Z

100 days post Op

Just about everyone in the UK was celebrating the Queen's 90th birthday this weekend but we also celebrated my 100th "post surgery" birthday.  I am alive, getting stronger, killing cancer cells and fighting on.  We had dark chocolate cherry cake with sparklers to celebrate.  [...]

Posted 2016-06-08T17:04:00Z

live blogging Chemo #3 (aka mushy pea brain)

Travelling to JJ and Nahanni's wedding felt as ambitious as flying to the moon.  I hadn't packed or planned because I really didn't think it would happening, but the day before our flight my neutrophil levels came up and off we went.  It was wonderful to attend the wedding and celebrate their marriage.  (I will post a link to the professional photos in a few weeks.)  And I really look forward to visiting again, during a less hectic time, and having a big Alaska adventure with JJ and Nahanni.  In addition to the wedding festivities ,we did make time for one fun activity: a scenic flight in a Caravan on floats to the Triumvirate glacier, Mt Spurr Volcano, and Lake Beluga.  My first sea plane ride, woo hoo.  The best part was landing on the lake -- what a weird feeling, floating in a plane.  I would post pictures but google drive isn't syncing and I am too tired to figure it out.  (Bruce couldn't even get it to work, so it's not just me and my chemo brain)   After a week's delay in treatment, being surrounded by amazing nature and emotionally far from "Cancerville," it was had coming back to Churchill for my dose of toxic chemicals this morning.  But Veera kept me company all morning and the time zipped by.  This afternoon I had grand plans to write a big blog post.  But my 5 days in Alaska appears to be just enough to get me on Alaska time; it's now late at night there and my brain has turned to mushy peas.  I'll write more about PTSD, gratitude, and other stuff I'm too tired to remember, tomorrow morning.  [...]

Posted 2016-05-31T21:14:00Z

Sophie's visit: a generous, clever and appreciated gift from Sally and Bob.

***this entire blog post was written 2 hours into a dose of Zimovane sleeping pills!!***

Sophie flew home to Ohio a few days ago, after a fabulous and fun 5 day visit.  It was quite a feat getting her here: an expired passport; arranging child care for Beatrice, her 4 year old daughter; and Soph pregnant with her second child, so she had to get doctor's clearance to fly.  But wild horses couldn't keep her.  With generous help from Bob and Sally's Cancer Warrior Treasure Chest -- we made it happen.  Thank you, Sally and Bob, for your generous gift of guests!!  Sophie was the third friend to visit: the CWTC allowed Satie and Nan to visit and Allison's visit is still to come.  Soph took good care of me, tried to get my to go yoga, vacuumed, and painted my toes, (as my nurses suggested) to help brittle nails that tend to break of fall off during chemo.  I bought Beatrice a hot pink "Oxford" sweatshirt.  We took some nice long walks, and visited the covered market, museums, Blenheim Palace and Bampton (the village where Downton Abbey townsfolk lived), thanks to Shelley and her generous county outings.  [...]

Posted 2016-05-12T15:56:00Z

die cancer cells, DIE!

After the past three days of taking steroids and flying high, today I started the post steroid crash.  On Monday the nurse reassured me that a mental low was common coming off steroids and to be gentle with myself if I was feel down. In addition to the steroids, my parents left yesterday. That was a hard goodbye, only made easier by the chance I will see then again in three weeks at my brother's wedding!  Today aside, I have been working hard on my mental attitude these past three weeks.  I was feeling so pessimistic.  The five year survival stats are so grim; I was feeling hopeless and that I will not live to see my 50th birthday.  I still don't know if that will happen but I am working hard to not worry about it.  I'm feeling greedy, but not guilty, about living large and having big wonderful days, whenever I feel well enough.  There are lessons to learn when you feel death sneaking up on you.  While I wouldn't wish a "premature" terminal illness on anyone -- life is terminal, we are all mortal.  And it's not fun to think about, but doing so makes life so much richer.  I hope you all make the most of today!  [...]

Posted 2016-04-28T11:38:00Z


I have been meaning to write this blog post for some time but I was worried I would forget to thank someone.  Given my fuzzy brain and the huge outpouring of gifts, help and encouragement it is quite likely!  But it is also a bad reason not to compile the list.  So here goes....And to whomever I forgot, thank you too.  I wish that everyone going trough a really rough patch could have this much support and I look forward to a time when I am not so worried about holding my own life together and I can can give to others in need. [...]

Posted 2016-04-18T16:22:00Z

Chemotherapy Day

Thank you for all the good wishes on my first Chemo day.  Its 4:00 now. I arrived at 8:30 and have two more hours to go.  It's a long day, but easy peasy compared to the early post surgery days.   My oncology nurse recommended I try the cold cap, which cools the scalp down so the drugs that are killing my cancer cells can't do as much damage to the hair cells.  My type of chemo therapy works by targeting cells that are reproducing quickly, so hair, nails, and mouth cells are all affected.  The cold cap only works on about half of patients but since I have so much hair it might be enough to keep me looking "healthy."  So that was all unexpected; we should know if it will work by next treatment.  [...]