Monday, 18 December 2017

Where on earth has the time gone?


Greeting's Laughers at non-hodgkin's Lymphoma. Long time no speak my friends. I do hope this finds you fit, well and embracing the wonder that each day brings. We are, after all, still alive!

I write this reclining on a sofa near a gently crackling open fire in my former home in the beautiful hamlet of Neunkirchen-Seelscheid. Slap bang in the middle of the stunning Naturpark Bergisches Land. The perfect place to ramble and cycle (seriously, the road cycling is sublime!) The blog hiatus was simply a response to only having so much energy and so many hours in a day. Life, as is its want, got the upper hand for much of the last couple of years. However it has now been firmly wrestled into some-sort of submission and is once again at my command. Sort of!

In summary, the journey of re-learning how to live continued its punctuated progress and a return to something like my former life was almost achieved... almost, but not quite! More in this later.

Now I look back on the days, weeks, months, indeed years, since my last post the adventures I have had seem almost surreal; certainly otherworldly - as if they happened to a soul other than myself.

January 2016...
I was still in 'Watch & Wait'. The energy levels were all over the place and the NHL gradually building.
The return to part-time teaching at the fantastic Canon Slade SchoolBoltonLancashirewas a real confidence builder. Fortune smiled on me as I discovered another wonderful Science department, led brilliantly by Pam and staffed with fantastic teachers. It is with a sense of real pride that I look back on on my two-terms there as the whole experience gave me to confidence to take further steps forwards. Sadly during my time at Canon Slade School my mother passed away - I was acted as her unpaid (such is the UK today!) live in carer for over eighteen months; possible the second most challenging thing I have experienced, but the right thing to do. The dreaded hospital call came through during a morning break and the science staff, without fuss or hyperbole, simple accommodated my absence with immediate effect. I can not thank Pam and her team enough for this. Still, it was noticeable how little I was able (physically/mentally?) to cycle. One great positive was the turn out for Mum's funeral service at St Michael & All Angels Church and the epic shindig that followed at Doc's Symposium (an afternoon-evening-early morning now etched bold in legend!), Mum would have had a ball.

R.I.P Pauline Ruth Dey... Mum.

Summer 2016... one to learn from and move on.
Further reduction in energy and increase in fatigue. Sleeping lots now; at least 9-10 per night (according to my Fitbit Surge). Appetite all over the place. Very little cycling or exercise possible - at least without help. More frequent tests and visits to The Christie and Thomas Linacre Centre (The Christie's outreach haematology & oncology clinic in Wigan)
The long planned London-to-Paris 2016 bike ride had to be postponed until 2017 - I was just in no state to tackle it and three weeks of radiotherapy had just been mentioned. The Lymphoma Association were hugely supportive, agreeing without fuss to defer entry and funds until 2017. A huge thank you to all my sponsors - especially Rich Boon of Salesforcefor matching the monies raised. It meant an awful lot to me and helped a large number of Lymphoma patients. Thank you again.
The annual Deutsche Junior Science Academy also had to be missed. It carried on without me but I was heartbroken to have missed what would have been my 9th consecutive academy. Thanks for the card team. Here's a link to our course-blog: Investigating the Physical Universe 2017. I'm rather proud of this bunch of mini-physicists.

August 2016... Radiotherapy and zero income!
Well, eighteen months after my initial diagnosis and surgery the waiting part of 'Watch & Wait' was over. I was scheduled for three weeks of daily radiotherapy on the now very large lymph node cluster in my left groin region. The Christie consultants and radiologists were absolutely wonderful. Everything went without a hitch. I'll post a full report on the radiotherapy process as soon as possible. Again, thank you The Christie Hospital.
Work was out of the question for the foreseeable and I came, for the first time in my life, face-to-face with he empathy free beat that is the welfare state. The less said about Universal Income the better - no income for five months and my first payment arrive just as I returned to work. This is insane, incompetent and not-fit-for-purpose. Again friends saw me through. Four especially went above and beyond the call of duty; Rich (again!), Rory, Nadja and Nic made survival possible through the generosity. I'm so incredibly grateful to the, and also so very relieved that all have been repaid (I think?)

A new beginning... again... for the third time in two years!

Financial pressure led me to ignore medical advice and return to the science lab and teaching in January 2017. Lady luck smiled upon me once more as I found myself in the most perfect fit of a school I have ever experienced: Bury Grammar School - Boys (now merged with the Girls school). This was to be the happiest two terms of teaching I had experienced for many a year. I was now a chemistry teacher in a simply outstanding department with some of the smartest, most competent and friendliest colleagues I have ever had the good fortune to with. Life long friendships were made - and a staff crown green bowling trophy won. Sadly, it was a maternity post for the brilliant HoD Jo' - huge congratulations on the first child, hope hubby still has time to cycle! - and I departed in July 2018. What to do now? 

August 2018... an academy return and a new adventure in the school science lab

coming soon.