A long overdue update

It is June 25th, 2013 11:58 pm. I can’t sleep. Lying awake, staring at the ceiling in my dark room, I have been wrecking my brain trying to find things that could put me to sleep without having to take 2 Temesta (sleeping tablets). Then it dawned on me. There is one thing, which is seriously therapeutic for me. One thing, that will help me clear my mind, de-clutter my brain, and put me at ease.  Writing. Incredible enough as it sounds, it has been two whole months since my last serious (I mean actually-proper-written-post, not sharing a quote-by-someone-famous-post), how time flies. Now I am sitting here at my dining table in my flat, with a cup of linden tea, in my cuddly pink bathrobe and my snoopy PJs. I guess there is quite a bit of info here, updates to be honest, that I need to fill you in on. So here I go:

  • My flat: Yes, indeed. I have moved out of my parents’ place and into a rented one bedroom apartment. Technically speaking, the apartment is not mine, as I am renting, but the furniture is definitely all MINE. Whoop, whoop, and look at me all grown up, owning furniture, like a big massive dining table that can easily fit 10 people. Wuhu and I got a proper adult bedroom now, with a double bed, massive wardrobe, and two nightstands, proper grown up right? My chateau, as I have lovingly called the flat, is gorgeous. It has got a massive dining/kitchen/living room area, a huge open space which is great for entertaining friends. Also, I have got, what I think real estate agents would call a Master Bathroom, or a Master Bedroom with an Ensuite Bathroom. Now, if this does not sounds like proper grown up, I don’t know. It is the nicest flat I have ever lived in, and I am gradually starting to enjoy living here. I love cooking again (I have been posting a few of my dishes on Facebook, like a Thai Green curry and Tortilla, and my youngest sister was like “What? You can cook? Why did you never cook for us?”). I am also reading loads again – I have stacked all my unread books together – and I really, really had this rule that “I-am-not-allowed-to-buy-any-new-books-until-I-have-read-all-of-these” but then there was Church Fair and they had a second hand book tent and you could like buy like 7 books for 5 Euros, which went towards charity, which I think was completely acceptable excuse to break the rule. I never used to buy second-hand-books, but seriously, I think this has been a big mistake, like ever. And the best of all? Well I have not moved in on my own. Nope. I had a fella move in with me. Yup.  He just turned up on my door step one day, and it was love at first sight, and well, you only live once, so why wait when you got to live now, so he moved in with me. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to introduce you to Carlito, my Carlito.

20130518_222008

20130519_205826

20130519_205908

He is a great house guest, he never leaves the toilet seat up, he doesn’t complain about what I am watching on TV, he gives endless cuddles         unconditionally, he doesn’t make a mess or leaves dirty socks lying around. Only down side is that I still have to train him on how to make my cup of coffee in the morning and bring out the trash. But no guy is perfect, right? LOL!

  • A cup of linden tea: the last couple of days I have felt unwell, nauseous combined with headaches. A migraine possibly, or food poisoning, or my hormones just going on a rollercoaster, so to have peace of mind, I ended up going to see my GP (another doctor’s visit). As it turns out I got an intestinal virus infection. Nothing major though. I just needed another day to recover, got some meds, and am drinking linden tea to soothe my upset tummy and am eating dry biscuits… I am gutted about this, I hate being sick and unwell, and having to pay doctor’s bills… but as my health is my most precious treasure (no Lord of the Rings punt intended), and I really did not want to take my chances. I guess you kind of want an update on my health: well, I still need to go into hospital every 3 weeks for my Herceptin IV. A few weeks back I actually got a port as sticking needles into my veins had been a torturous process leaving me in tears – my poor veins are also clocked up, so once the nurse found the vein, the latter decided not to give any blood, and we had to look for another vein. Agony, I can tell you that. So that is why I got the port implanted in a minor surgery (under local anaesthetic), but it still meant a whole day in hospital, an appointment scheduled in the middle of me moving flat, apparently there was not enough stress in my life yet. Apart from that, I am doing great. I feel like I have lots more energy, find it easier to concentrate and handle my workload. I even when one a two day hike: 15 km on a Saturday, and 10 km on a Sunday, what an achievement for someone as unfit as me! Have a look at some of the pictures I took:

20130609_101356

20130609_101634

20130609_101822

  • Snoopy PJs: I am a massive Snoopy fan, just so you know. I love snoopy PJs and my Snoopy mug. I am also a massive Eeyore fan, I have Eeyore PJs and Eeyore mug. The mug is my favourite, no one is allowed to drink out of it but me, and if that one would break, I would get seriously cross. Just so you know, in case you ever come and visit me J. But honestly, you guys, my love for Snoopy and Eeyore just makes me adorable, right? I know this is completely useless information and utterly random…

Ladies and Gentleman, I am officially back (maybe eve in full swing), so stay tuned for more posts.

Lots of love,

Your Warrior of the Pen

P.S. Yes, writing this post has really helped for me to go to bed and fall asleep, Mission accomplished.

Advertisements

Hair and Beauty

Exactly 5 months ago today, on November 10th, 2012, I had an appointment at the hairdresser to have my hair shaved off. My hair had started falling out only about 10 days after my first chemo and it just felt disgusting how the hair came out with every brush or stroke. Seeing the hair go by itself was just plain horrible, devastating and mental torture. I cried my eyes out, this was by far the worst thing chemo could have done to me. I loved my hair, I loved getting it coloured at my hairdressers, or done up for special occasions. It was something that made me feel beautiful, feminine and sexy. So I felt I was being robbed of a part of my femininity – if I had no hair, was I still worthy being considered a woman? (I can definitely affirm this now!). I grieved my hair before it was shaven off completely, yet surprisingly enough this “intervention” did not end in tears as I expected. On the contrary two remarkable revelations during that day helped me redefine myself as a woman and left me feeling loved and beautiful.

First of all when we arrived at the hairdresser and I was led to a separate room, specially reserved for cancer patients, my dad mentioned to the receptionist that he wanted the same cut as me. What? I could not believe my ears, I thought I must have misheard, but no, when my dad joined me a bit later he was bald just like me. My dad is not someone who expresses his affection towards his children with grand words, but rather through gestures – and this gesture screamed I LOVE YOU MY DAUGHTER. Dad promised me that day that he would shave his hair off for as long as I was bald. This is by far the biggest and most special love declaration of all times. Dad and I were united, in solidarity, though this cancer battle. (Credit is here to be given to my “little” brother who actually came up with the idea and also cut his hair very short that day. I love you bro!)

Secondly after the hairdresser was done shaving my hair off, she asked me if wanted to see myself in the mirror or if she should just put my wig on straight away. I chose option one. And my first thought, when seeing me bald, was not “Oooh I look terrible without any hair”, no, quite on the contrary, I thought “WOW – I got a beautiful face”. I will never ever forget that feeling. I felt beautiful for the very first time in my life, how odd is that? That lesson taught me that beauty does indeed come from the inside and that from this day forward I would just have to redefine my own personal definition of beauty.

So this is post is in a way a homage to my hair and my beauty in the form of a little photo series:

My hairdo at Miss MoneyPenny’s Wedding in 2010

067

065

068

My hairdo for MFBF’s birthday in July 2012

20120706_235356

My hairdo for Miss Exchange’s Wedding in August 2012

194

Knowing that I would loose my hair, my oncologist and my breast cancer nurse suggested that I should get my hair gradually cut. So 2 Months (October 2012) after Miss Exchange’s wedding I looked like this:

20121026_190629

Two weeks later and my hair was gone. The first picture I took of me being bald was in December 2012. My eyebrows and eyelashes would disappear over the next few months.

Me_Bald

In March 2013 my hair started growing back! And last night I brushed my hair (or my scalp to be more precise) for the first time, which is recommended to spur on the hair growth. I cannot wait to experiment with short hair cuts in the future! I won’t be able to get my hair done up for Miss Goldielocks’ wedding, but I am sure that I will look beautiful never the less.

A Passion for Education

So what does a productive day look like? For me it is something along those lines…. 

20130220_171516

Last week I got stuck in developing my workshop entitled “Education – a right for all?”. So when I get this “writer’s block” I take my notebook and head to the Development Education Library, run by another NGO, to have a look through their resources and materials. Going through about 4-5 compilations with a particular focus on education. I quickly came across the activities I needed to bring my workshop to life.  I had known all along what message I wanted to pass on the students (appreciation for the education they are receiving here, the importance of quality education and the crucial role teachers play in delivering this), but I just did not know what the best method was to do transfer this. Completely immersed in the different textbooks, I soon came up with the structure, content and activities for my workshop, which included

  • a comparison of a Senegalese and a Luxembourgish classroom with the help of a photograph;
  • a brainstorming activity to think about factors prohibiting access to education and
  • my “diamond” game, where groups of students have to rank different factors according to order of importance and then justify this choice through different arguments – a great activity to develop skills such as ability to compromise and critical thinking.

I left the library with a feeling of relief and accomplishment.

Lunch Time Walk

On Ash Wednesday – where Catholics traditionally do not eat meat- one of my work colleagues and I kept wondering what we should give up for Lent 2013. I had never given up anything for the 40 days before Easter and even after having given it much thought I could not think of anything appropriate. I briefly considered “dessert” or “alcohol”, but I knew I would utterly fail at giving those things up, so I rejected them again as soon as they crossed my mind. Then however the idea emerged that maybe instead of giving something up, we should take something up instead, focusing on the positive (Let’s do this) instead of the negative (Do NOT eat or drink this or that). That is how our plan to go for a walk during our lunch break every work day, as long as the weather permits.

I went on my first lunch time walk on Friday, and I was just reminded again how beautiful Luxembourg is. The scenic Petrusse valley is only 5 minutes’ walk from our office, it is very quiet, green space, away from the city centre noise and frequented by people walking their dogs or going for a run, so ideal for to taking up our resolution for Lent. On Friday most of the area was still covered in ice and snow, but today as the temperatures had risen, you could actually see the grass again. My work colleague joined me for this second walk and it felt great walking in this beautiful green setting, in the middle of a busy city, chatting away while taking in the cold, crisp air. It was really refreshing and energising – afterwards I felt like I got a bit of my vitality back, which is great. I took some pictures along the walk, to let you share in the beauty that I got to contemplate during my lunch break.

20130218_123744

20130218_124233