It’s the anniversary of my operation to remove two fairly large cancer tumours from one of my breasts. I wanted to mark the date by posting some more musings.
My admiration of the NHS has grown during this year. The way my case was handled from start to finish was efficient, professional and caring. A recent mammogram showed that there was no cancer showing. So the surgeons did a good job. I shall see my lead surgeon (who is Italian, see my Brexit rant below) in a week or two to be signed off for a year. And I feel very well. Time will tell whether the rest of my treatment, chemotherapy and radiotherapy have prevented the cancer from popping up somewhere else.
I strongly believe that the attention I paid to my diet and exercise regime had a very strong influence on the outcome of my cancer. We patients cannot just leave it to the medical teams. We have to work at it too. But we must also trust our medical team to offer the right treatments best for our particular case. One thing I have learned in the past year is that everyone’s cancer is different. Everyone I met had a different regime, a different drug cocktail, a different radiotherapy type. And the medics know what they are doing. We can help by keeping our body properly and nutritiously fed, by not putting on excess weight, by keeping the heart and muscles strong with exercise, and by maintaining a positive attitude and avoiding stress if possible. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to avoid stress completely.
My dealings with the NHS were not over in July when I finished my treatment. Not wanting to be left out, my husband became seriously ill at the end of August and has spent almost six weeks in hospital over the past three months. Throughout, the care he has received from the teams of doctors and from the nursing and care staff has been excellent. Of course, any stay in hospital is stressful and the longer it goes on the more stressful it becomes. My husband suffered mentally during his time there and is happy to be out now. And I found being in the hospital for many hours each day, and being solely responsible for his care during the time between his two hospital stays, extremely difficult. He is out again now, but still may have to return for an operation. One thing the NHS is not, is ageist. He is offered the same level of care as a person half his age.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am vehemently against the disaster that Brexit represents. I follow an NHS against Brexit Facebook page. It highlights the dangers that face our NHS. Here is just one recent article highlighting cancer care closures due to a staffing crisis. Many EU workers have already gone back to their countries because they are made to feel so unwelcome here – even by some of the patients in the hospitals where they work. On October 20th I went on the Peoples’ March in London to call for a second referendum. Despite the closed minds and ears of the Government, it is looking increasingly likely that we might have one. Of course there is a risk that the result may still be close, but somehow I don’t think so. Opinion is swinging against Brexit. The 2016 referendum was a protest rather than an informed choice.
But it may be too late. Damage has been done to our country. Our friends from Europe feel beleagured and unwelcome. Those who have not already gone feel uncomfortable with the way things are going, with being called “queue jumpers”, with having to change their lives entirely because this Government has moved the goalposts since they arrived here. I have dozens of friends affected by this: EU citizens who have been living here for decades, paid their taxes, contributed majorly to our society, and who now are facing excessive and expensive red tape and Home Office intransigence.
I owe it to my friends to try to stop this madness. And I am trying to find out if my Irish grandmother, who, unfortunately for me, was born in Scotland while her family lived there for a couple of years, will allow me to have an Irish passport so that I can once again call myself an EU citizen.
This blog post has turned into a bit of a rant but I don’t apologise for it. Doomsday is very near and I feel I must fight till the end – and beyond.
This year has been full of uncertainty in my personal life. I call it my own personal Brexit because, like Brexit, I have no idea where next year is taking me.
Just one brilliant thing happened this year. I became a proud grandmother to baby Oliver. Who is totally adorable! I shall be in Singapore next month to meet him.