Tuesday, 17 January 2017


It's funny thinking that not that long ago I couldn't even deal with the stress of renewing my car insurance without a glass of vino to take the edge off, and yet now, several times a year, I have to cope with check ups to see if there's any sign of my cancer coming back stone cold sober.

Yesterday I had a meeting with my oncologist to go through the results of my blood tests. The key thing they check for is 'tumour markers'.

Their main concern is that some pesky breast cancer cells may have escaped last year's slash and burn procedure and have taken up residence somewhere else - like my bones, brain or lungs. If this happens (which is, in my case, statistically unlikely, thank heavens) I am buggered.

I'm getting better at dealing with these appointments. On previous occasions I've started to freak out several days in advance and have had to take a friend or relative with me to hold me up.

Yesterday I only started falling to bits that morning and I decided to (wo)man up and go on my own.

I love my oncologist. He's all antipodean and twinkly and frightfully clever. If you have to have someone use the words terminal in front of you (apart from an airline operative), then he's the one you'd choose.

"So," he says, after giving me a bear hug, "how are you doing?"

"Good," I reply while thinking just tell me about the tumour markers. Are my children going to be motherless?

"How's the Tamoxifen? You don't look like you've put on any weight." (I bet he says that to all the girls) "Hot flushes?"

"I get a bit warm sometimes, but at least it saves on heating." I'm trying to read my incomprehensible blood test results up-side down.

"Well," he says, moving his finger painfully slowly down my print-out, "immune system fine...." tumour markers??? "Vitamin D levels normal," what about the tumour markers? "liver function good" ha ha, "cholesterol good" spit it out! "tumour markers normal."

Hurrah ! Hurrah! Hurrah! Looks like I'm going to be around for the immediately foreseeable future, which is great as I have a lot to do.

We move onto the 'manual examination' phase. I have had my breasts fondled more in the last fourteen months than over the entirety of my teenage years. And my boobs were a completely different kettle of fish back then.

(Can one describe one's boobs as a kettle of fish?)

While the Prof is copping a feel I take the opportunity to tell him about the book.

"I thought you should know that I'm writing a book..... and you're kind of in it."

"Really? What's it about?"

"It's about quitting booze, with a little foray into the whole breast cancer thing. I know it sounds dreadfully worthy, but it's actually a black comedy."

The Prof looks rather chuffed and asks for a signed copy.

"How much were you drinking?" He asks.

"Around a bottle of wine a day," I reply. The first time in my life I've been honest about my drinking to a member of the medical establishment.

He looks a little shocked, but rallies quickly. "I'm sure lots of my patients drink that much," he says. Bless him.

He signs me off for a whole year (although I still have appointments for mammograms and ultrasounds).

I skipped out of the cancer clinic feeling like an escapee from death row.

In the old days I'd have gone straight to a bar. Now, without the masking effects of booze, I realise the real impact that huge stress followed by release has on the body: I felt utterly exhausted.

I picked the kids up from school and, as early as possible, we all piled into my bed, read Harry Potter and went to sleep... at 8.30pm. Result.

Love to you all,

SM x


  1. SM how utterly brilliant. Couldn't be more happy for you and your family. To quote you..." You rock!". xx

  2. What good news SM. Sending you many, many hugs!

  3. Hurrah! For You :-) What great news and a perfect way to celebrate with your family.

  4. That is wonderful news!!!! It must have been such a relief. So very happy for you. xxx

  5. I love the humour you bring,,,to a not so funny situation, so happy for you....the not knowing is hugely exhausting...my sister and mother in law both got all clears at Xmas,,,,fear of cancer was one of my motivators to stop drinking.....sugar feeds cancer...alcohol equals sugar.....my sister still drinks quite heavily, but she knows the risks...it's a choice....I guess...here's to another fun filled year for you....my friends and I are awaiting your book....excited..x

  6. Yay! xoxo

    and good news certainly deserves a luxurious nap :)

  7. Yay, Yay, Yay (Pom Poms waving high in the air). Awesome news!

  8. Great news! Congratulations!

    And as always, delivered in such entertaining style.

    And, as always: you, hitting the nail on the head - 'the real impact that huge stress followed by release has on the body'....exhaustion. Something that can be too easy to forget when we need to cut ourselves a break.

    Go, you!

  9. Fab news, SM. And I love your way of celebrating - book and bed and being kind to yourself! Red xx

  10. So pleased for you and written so well. You are brilliant xxxx

  11. Great to hear that you have the all clear! That is such wonderful news! Imagine if you had been drinking that would have given you the go ahead to have lots of drinks "to celebrate" and today you would have been so hungover. Hangovers are still in the back of my mind, it is what is keeping me on the sober train. I cannot have another one and I know i am not capable of moderation

  12. What a fantastic result. How wonderful. Delighted for you.

  13. Delighted to hear such encouraging news. What a journey you have had this last 22months (?) is it March you hit 2 years?
    Keep going SM your troops need you.

  14. So happy for you SM, I skipped my mammogram last year because "too busy", so dumb because I've had 2 biopsies in the past. My appointment is now scheduled for next Wed., my last drink was Jan. 1 of this year and I really feel I could face whatever comes without the booze, you've been a tremendous help and inspiration, thank you.

  15. That is fantastic news! What a great start to 2017!

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  17. Congratulations on your great news! I have been reading your blog for the past few days. You are such an inspiration. Today is day 11 AF for me. I haven't committed to being AF for life, but decided to take a break from alcohol. Kathy

  18. How long is the book writing process going to take? I'm ready to order my copy. ; )


  19. And another thought -- I remember having to have a drink to deal with filling my car up with gas. Oh, the stress!!!

  20. Sorry to shout but THANK GOD I'VE FOUND YOU!

    By that I mean...after trawling the web forever for someone who is like me, reading articles that don't quite get it, blogs which don't relate..people drinking meths in the gutter or half a glass on Sundays...I've found my other half lol

    I'm six days in...can't remember the last time I didn't drink on a Friday..I'm currently euphoric..just teared up to the bee gees on radio 2 fgs!

    Still tempted by this moderation thing though..a bottle in the fridge and it's Saturday night blah blah...if I cave I cave..but I know the end is in sight..

    Enough of my ramble...I'm binge reading your blog..I'm at Aug 2015 so I've majorly done a spoiler by reading your latest post..

    I'll be back xxx

  21. Congrats on the good news SM - Eeyore

  22. So happy for you lovely SM

  23. Fabulous. The come down of exhaustion not a hangover is so much better