Radiotherapy Graduation

After 6 months of treatment, involving surgery, 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 25 cycles of radiotherapy, it was time to celebrate. On April 23rd, on my last day of radiotherapy, I had my own private little “Yeah, I did it”, celebration. Over the last few months, Miss Crémant, had been spoiling me with gifts, ranging from soap and shower gels, to chocolate, to a little bottle of crémant, which I had saved for a special occasion. So last Tuesday, in the evening, I opened that piccolo bottle and had a glass of flavoured sparkling wine with snippets of 22 carat gold foil and a good measure of cassis liqueur. It was great and I felt victorious. 20130423_221715 On Wednesday, the celebrations continued: after encouraging words and hugs from colleagues we toasted to my good health with kir royal before grabbing some fair food at a small market, set up to accompany the religious pilgrimages to the cathedral in Luxembourg at the moment. In the evening I had asked some of my friends to join me in my favourite bar for sushi and cocktails. The bar has a little garden area with outdoor seating, which was open due to the good weather. I was showered with a few gifts: a lovely bouquet, in a red-yellow-orange colour scheme, of my favourite flowers (roses and gerbera) and a pair of lovely blue earrings, which matched my outfit of the day perfectly (blue cardigan and blue headscarf). I had a great evening with lots of laughter and smiles.

 

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20130428_192818For the rest of the week I just enjoyed the fact that the daily trips, which had become routine over the last 5 weeks, were over and that I was able to work full time again from the office. I have been soaking up some sun while having ice-cream and this weekend I have been catching up on some much needed sleep. So all is good so far.

Living Life on the Fast Lane

“You are definitely living life on the fast lane”, that is what my mum keeps telling me when she sees my social calendar. It is true though, I am out a lot. For example last week I had a Scouts meeting, a work dinner, an after work event with my social expat group, a school theatre play, a coffee-and-carrot-cake-together and I took the Scouts to an open air museum in the north in the country. This week has not been any better – I so far have been out for an after-work event in my favourite bar (Monday), cake and drinks at my favourite café (Tuesday) and a concert – Amy MacDonald – at the Rockhal (Wednesday). Apart from helping my mum out at the village bazaar, I have no other plans this weekend. I am however tempted going to the cinema….

I agree I might be doing too much in too short an amount of time, but being out with people gives me loads and loads of energy as well and makes me feel happy. It is incredible how much I have changed in just about 18 months – I went from a shy introvert, lonely and miserable young professional whose idea of a weekend night out was having a glass of red wine while watching her favourite crime series to an extrovert who is no longer scared talking to strangers and hanging out in bars. This is all thanks to me making a massive effort in regards to my social life when I returned to Luxembourg in July 2011. Things had to change back then – I could just not sit at home, feel sorry for myself and let life pass me by. I had to go out, enjoy what life had to offer – after all I am in my twenties and not a spinster.

However I have had to realise that I kind of went from one extreme to another – from going out hardly at all to going out all the time. Balance I guess is the key word here, and that is a lesson I still need to learn … I am not doing a particularly good job at it at the moment, I have to admit though. I am glad I am home though tonight, I finally have time to work on my blog, some posts are overdue and I am slightly behind my writing schedule. I have also realised that I have not been reading for quite a while, and there are definitely well over 15 unread books on my shelf (aha new topic for my blog is emerging – I could write about the books I read, couldn’t I?), and my ironing is piling up as well (well, I am not looking forward to doing that), so there are definitely enough things I could do at home. Oh yeah and eventually I should get started on the flat hunt as well (oh dear, here I go again…. that is one of my vices, if I get an energy rush I want to do EVERYTHING at the SAME time, which can become frustrating. So I need to remind myself to take one step at a time).

I have booked two days off Monday and Tuesday next week to give myself a break in between chemo and radiotherapy, and recharge my batteries after some important work deadlines. I was wondering whether I should go somewhere, but maybe what my body really needs is just some nice and quiet “down-time” with loads of rest and maybe some chillaxing on my couching having a cuppa or hot chocolate while reading a book. I guess the reason why I am struggling with the reading is because I am finding it difficult finishing one particular book “Tiny Sunbirds Far Away” by Christie Watson – I started reading it well before Christmas, but it is a bit long winded and so I have lost interest, I am stuck on page 218, so I am too far into the book to just give up.. What shall I do? Maybe I need to try reading another book first before going back to it – some of my closest friends in London gave me Caitlin Moran’s “How to be a woman” for my birthday, and seems like a really good funny read…. We shall see.

Books and maybe a trip to the cinema it is then for my long weekend – time to get off the fast lane and back onto the standard lane – I guess if you are driving too fast, you won’t be able to see the countryside that is passing you by…..

For now though it is time to go to bed – night, night and sweet dreams.

The Turtle and the Birthstone

After having finished my chemo I wanted to buy myself a little present to celebrate this part of my journey, so I was off on a shopping spree to add another charm to my bracelet. After careful consideration I had decided to embellish my piece of jewellery with the turtle charm, as this had a very strong meaning for me. As I mentioned in my Chemo Graduation post,  the green turtle for me is the symbol of perseverance and serenity, it reminds of my strength to overcome difficult times, kind of like a friend who had pointed out to me that “you only know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have”. Turtles can grow really old as well so this particular charm also stands for the dream and hope of long, happy and healthy life.  

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Unfortunately the shop where I usually buy my charms did not have my object of desire in stock – so what to do? Thanks to the wonders of the internet I was able to buy my charm online and get it delivered to Luxembourg. To avoid having to pay charges though I decided to add a second charm to my order.

My choice fell on a charm with my birthstone, which for the month of January is a red garnet.

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Why this particular charm? Well first of all it is red, so it complements the colour scheme of my bracelet (black, silver, green and red) really well; on the other hand my bracelet, which is celebrating different stages of my life, would be incomplete without a reference or acknowledgement of my birth.

To my surprise though this particular charm turned out to be more symbolic than I had originally imagined.  As I was not familiar with birthstones, I did some research on the net (reference: http://earthsky.org/earth/january-birthstone-garnethttp://www.americangemsociety.org/january-birthstone)to find out more. So what did I learn?

The name of this semi-precious stone is derived from the Latin word “granatum” meaning pomegranate. This, I thought was pretty cool, because it reminded me of a time in the UK when I had cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for 14 people, for which I had prepared an autumnal salad with pomegranate seeds to accompany the turkey.

Interesting enough I then read that ancient warriors believed that garnets brought victory and that in medieval times this stone was believed to protect its wearer against poison. The garnet is indeed then the perfect choice for me – what better charm to add to my bracelet than one that makes reference to me, the warrior of the pen, ending this journey victoriously, particularly at a time where I had “survived” the poisonous cancer treatment aka chemotherapy?

During my little (non-academic) research I also found out that the garnet stands for a light heart, loyalty, enduring affections, eternal friendship and trust, which are qualities and values I have come to appreciate, value and treasure highly over the last six months.

I bet you can imagine how much I was beaming when my parcel arrived 2 days after having placed the order. Looking at my new charms now evokes even more wonderful memories. I cannot wait for the end of radiotherapy, as this means another charm for my bracelet – the chameleon. However you will need to wait until the end of April to read about the reasons for that choice.

Surprises

I love surprises – they make me happy, put a smile on my face and turn an ordinary idea into something special. My scouting and gig buddy, Miss Crémant, surprised me on Saturday with a little belated birthday and actual chemo graduation present. The gift bag contained 1) a chocolate teddy bear, 2) a bottle of lavender shower gel, 3) a bottle of bubbly and 4) 2 (ripe) avocados. I squealed in surprise and amazement like a little pig! These are some incredibly thoughtful presents and are all things that really help me recover – chocolate is always good for the soul (even though chemo has killed my appetite for it slightly);  shower gel or any other pampering products help my skin to regenerate from the poisonous treatment;  with a nice glass of crémant I like celebrating my joie de vivre (unfortunately chemo had the side effect that I was unable to taste the bubbles in any sparkling for a about a week after chemo – so drinking a glass of crémant is a real pleasure again at the moment), and well you all know the story behind the cravings for avocados. Here is a little photographic evidence of the pressies/surprises:

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Christmas

The following post is a  revised version of a Facebook status update I wrote on Christmas Eve 2012, which prompted L to suggest I should start writing this blog.

So dear Facebook you want to know what is going on (I always thought you wanted to know what is on my mind – but I guess you changed your mind on that!) – well here we go then: Not much is going on to be honest, I am just trying to get myself into the Christmas mood;  not easy considering it is way too warm outside – 9 degrees Celsius! –  and this Christmas being  different from all the others, you know why.

So I finally wrote my Christmas cards yesterday (hmm, I know dear friends, I am a lazy bone when it comes to those), I have wrapped my pressies (which I enjoyed tremendously), I have tidied and cleaned my room (this also involved sorting out my clothes drawers, including undies and socks drawer, which I am well proud of), I have lit some candles, however none of those things really seemed to work. So while I kept wondering whether or not I should have bought myself an hilariously funny Christmas headscarf, it started dawning on me that what I really needed was some cheesy Christmas tune, so I put  Wham’s Last Christmas on, and you know what, it did the trick!

So now I am well excited for Christmas season, I am looking forward to our Family’s traditional Christmas Eve Fondue, unwrapping my presents, and deciding which of the two new books I bought on Amazon I should read first – Peaches for Monsieur le Curé by Joanne Harris or One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern (which is a special edition signed for by the author). Both books are by two of my favorite authors, so this will be a tough call.

And you know what Facebook, maybe just because it is Christmas I might even put a skirt on and one of my fancier headscarves – just to be pretty. This calls for another replay of Wham’s Last Christmas as well as  Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is You  (which might prompt my youngest sister to literally strangle me), and someone, anyone really, please pass me the Glühwein (mulled wine)!