MarySmith’sPlace – Cancerdiary#31 #randomthoughts #randomphotos

Friday 16 April: This is going to be a brief update (do I hear sighs of relief all round????) and I’m aware I’m a couple of days late if this is a weekly update.

My breathlessness and coughing continued to lessen and I felt better, both physically and emotionally (as long as I didn’t/don’t think about the next scan and its result). On Wednesday, the Lung Specialist Nurse, and as I don’t name names on this blog I really ought to pin down what his title is, called to see how I was doing.

I was doing fine. I hardly coughed during our conversation. When I asked about my last blood tests he said the CRP (C – reactive protein), that marker of infection or inflammation was within the normal range. Wow! After only a week the steroids had got on top of the pneumonitis. Chuffed!

He said I sounded well and positive and elated and before I started to backtrack and say things like ‘well, today things seem fine but…’ or ‘we don’t know if this is really an upturn’ or … I remembered a comment from Kim Ayres on my last update: “Not allowing our optimism now, will in no way prepare us, or cushion the blow if negative news comes along. It’s too big. So if it happens, we wasted those chances to feel good.” I decided I wanted to agree with the Specialist Nurse – I was feeling decidedly better than when we last met and he could tell the oncologist so and that I was not sounding as grumpy and bad-tempered as usual.

Bought this at Tesco last year – have no idea what it is. It looks like it’s going to be huge,

Wednesday was also when I was doing my talk in the evening for Aberdeen City Library on routes to publication and selling your book once it’s out there. I think the title of the talk was a bit snappier than that. I did my prep. I think the talk went well. The organiser has been in touch and said the feedback has been excellent, which is very pleasing. It makes me feel I can get back to this kind of work – helping and encouraging other writers. Despite a cancer diagnosis it is possible to carry on with ‘normal’ creative practices.

What did annoy me, however, was the number of ‘no shows’. The talk was fully booked with a waiting list. On the day of the talk, a few people contacted the organiser to cancel and she was able to give places to people on the waiting list. Three people were still on the waiting list a few minutes before we went live but did not get the chance to join despite several people not showing up for the talk. Perhaps some, to give them the benefit of the doubt, had technical problems but not all. I have to say I feel signing up for events online and not turning up without sending timely apologies is disrespectful to the organisers of the event who put in huge amounts of time and energy, to the guest speaker and to other potential audience members who could not attend because the event was fully booked and over-subscribed.

Please, please, don’t regard online events as something to sign up to even though you know you might not (probably won’t) attend. Signing up should be a commitment in the same way as buying a ticket for a literature festival event or a concert.

From the organiser of several library events: “The British Library has found it beneficial to charge for their events. Consider people obviously attach more value to something they have paid for – even if just a very small amount.  It is something we are considering.”

Part of the ‘osprey walk’ at Threave Castle

I did enjoy doing the talk though at the end of the official part of it I felt we should be sitting together having a really good blether, preferably with a glass of wine in hand (looking at you John Nelson) about writing, publishing, the ridiculous behaviour of publishers instead of saying a stilted goodbye.

What has any of this to do with lung cancer and not knowing what the next scan will show? Absolutely nothing and absolutely everything.

Random photos will have appeared throughout this blog. I haven’t been to see any new lambs but have managed a couple of visits to the garden (mainly thinking about how small my garden is until I’ve lost a precious earring and then it seems to be enormous), the osprey walk.

Oh, and I’ve had my second Covid vaccination and should be fully protected by the time I do the next update. And if all of this (brief? Yeah right,) update seems a bit disjointed and a bit rambling it’s because I’ve drunk a lot of red wine (apologies to non-drinkers) – and I’m still alive.

108 thoughts on “MarySmith’sPlace – Cancerdiary#31 #randomthoughts #randomphotos

  1. I love this update, Mary. I raise my glass of red wine to your glass of red wine. I am glad you are feeling somewhat better. I loved the Mining Memories workshop although I was sad you were not able to be there. I would never have cancelled . And I got to ‘meet’ Willow as well!

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  2. I have to say I was one of the no-shows. I do apologize. I messed up my calendar and set the time of the appointment one hour late. When I booked the appointment on March 3rd, we were all still on standard time, and I forgot to make the change to daylight savings time. Then I couldn’t log on. So I feel awful that I could not attend. I so wanted to hear you. I’m glad you are feeling better too.

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    • Oh, John, I’m sorry you didn’t make it to the talk – it would have been lovely to ‘meet’ you. I thought you’d said in a blog comment you’d signed up but I didn’t see a list of participants so didn’t know who was supposed to be there. I guess technical issues may have prevented some others from getting there though from what the organiser said it also happened pre-Covid with live events in the library – people would book then not turn up.
      The sun is shining today and actually has some warmth in it so I am feeling better and looking forward to a walk soon.

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  3. I’m glad the pneumonia is taking a hike, Mary. Hopefully it gets as lost as your poor earring. 🙂
    I love all the photos (the plant is a bleeding heart, and yes, they grow to a good size), especially the deer peacefully nibbling at the tender green shoots. It feels promising ❤

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  4. A lovely optimistic post, Mary…the bleeding heart indeed grows big as Jacquie said and they are so pretty. I was reading about no shows in hospitality … given the waiting lists and how the businesses have suffered it really is bad manners…I am so pleased your cough is on the way out and you do sound so very much better…Hugs x

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    • Thanks, Carol – it does feel good to not feel ill 🙂 I did cough more the day after the talk but it seems to have improved again – just have to remember not to talk too much! I bought the bleeding heart at a supermarket last year to put in a space, not realising how bit it would grow. Might have to move it or split it or something.

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  5. Such a positive blog. Wonderful you feel so much better . Particularly great to hear you’re back working…a moment to treasure. And to celebrate of course with a few glasses of red 🍷!! 👍

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  6. Thanks for the update, Mary. Ever so pleased to hear how well the online workshop went and that your breathlessness and coughing are continuing to lessen (oops, I originally typed ‘lesson’ there!). Loving the pics – especially the tulips with the tiny daffs peeking out between the tulip stalks and leaves. Excellent that you enjoyed the red wine. Cheers!

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    • I was pleased at how well the talk went, Wendy, both in terms of not coughing all through it and in the level of interest shown by the people who attended. I said to the organiser afterwards when we reached the end it felt like we should gather round for a good chat – which is what would happen in real rather than virtual life 🙂
      Glad you like the photos. I like those tiny daffs, too. And the red wine went down very nicely – cheers 🙂

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  7. Oh Mary that sounds so much better for you. Kim Ayres is just spot-on so I’m letting myself feel a bit more optimistic about you. Enjoy the sunshine today.
    Juliet xxx

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    • What Kim said really struck a chord with me, Juliet, and I decided to try to enjoy the times when things are going well. It’s lovely to see the sun today and feel a bit of warmth in it. It does make me feel so much better when I can get out and not be cold! Hope we can meet up before too long 🙂

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  8. Mary, glad you are making progress. The mystery plant is Dicentra Spectabilis. It has various common names such as “Bleeding Heart” or Dutchman’s Trousers”. Keep well. Lesley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lesley. It feels good to be feeling better! Thanks for the name of the plant – a few others have said it is called Bleeding Heart. Haven’t heard the name Dutchman’s Trousers 🙂 A fiver in Tesco last year!

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    • They are hopeful things, Janette. I didn’t know when I planted the tulip bulbs if I’d be here to see them flower and here I am enjoying them 🙂 Seems to be more yellow tulips than any other colour for some reason!

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  9. Wonderful news all around. I’m so pleased the presentation went well. Life goes on and we have to enjoy it while we can. Drink as much wine as you want!!! I’ll toast you as well. BTW, I love the word blather. I must use it in one of my books.

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  10. I am also very glad to hear the recovery is going on, Mary! Indeed great news, as you got your second shot against this virus. Be happy you Spring has arrived on your site. Here its cold like … finding now words. 😉 Sending blessings and best wishes! Enjoy as possible a beautiful weekend! Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Michael. It is definitely more spring-like here now and not quite so cold – though I’m still wearing my winter clothes 🙂
      I’m glad I’ve had my second vaccination but I still won’t be going to places with lots of people.
      I hope your weather warms up soon.

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      • I think winter clothes can now always be worn until the beginning of May. The whole European weather is sometimes a bit crazy. Oh yes, you’d better stay away from crowds. It has not yet been clarified whether and how the variants still cause problems. Crowds can be avoided here. They are only available at larger celebrations. Lol
        Better weather is predicted for Monday. Lets hope so. Enjoy a beautiful weekend, Mary. xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • We have a saying: “Ne’er cast a clout til May is out.” which means Don’t take off any clothing until May is out – there is always some discussion if it means the month of May or the May blossom.
          When the restrictions were lifted in England I saw on television how people were crowding together in pub gardens.
          Hope you have a good weekend, too.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hey, seems here its similar to Scotland? 😉 Why do we have not the famous products, and a much better landscape here? :-)) Now we are getting another “very strong lockdown”. I think after that our “Beergardens” will be overcrowded, and in October we will be back to the pandemic. ;-( Thank you, Mary! Enjoy your weekend! Michael

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  11. I tend to agree that there should be a small fee for those online events. People will definitely show up for something they have paid for. I was cheered by your news, and by the photos. And well done with the red wine. Why not enjoy a drink?
    (My second dose of the vaccine is booked for next Wednesday.)
    Best wishes, Pete. x

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    • Yes, I don’t think people place any value on things that are free. Some – like my friend John Howell – may have a genuine reason for not turning up but often I think people just read about an event and click to book without really considering whether or not they can make it – then others miss out.
      I did enjoy my wine after the talk – perfect way to relax.
      Hope your next vaccination goes smoothly. I didn’t have any side effects – not even a sore arm.

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  12. Mary, here’s to being alive! 😀😀 I love the snapshot of your last week, a glass of red wine, gardens, osprey, book talk … a haven of normality that’s been missing from your life for so long. You are right to celebrate these precious moments. Brilliant news that you are so much better regarding the cough and the blood test was good. Well done on the book talk but understand the frustration of no-shows – inconsiderate at the best of times and with everyone making such a special effort with online events you thought people would be more considerate. Hope the Spring weather continues to be kind and wishing you a lovely weekend with lots of nature and writing activities! hugs xx

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    • Thank you, Annika – right now it feels very good to be alive. And the sun is shining and I’ll be outside enjoying it. It has been a good week, really, and I’ve enjoyed being able to write something positive. And it is so good not to be constantly coughing! 🙂

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  13. Brilliant that you are on the mend ( yes, will say that with the same optimism that comes through your words) Mind you, being grumpy is all part of normal life, so you are entitled to a grump whenever you like. As always, much love and good vibes from Wales to Scotland. xx

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    • I am allowing myself to feel optimistic, Judith. It doesn’t come naturally to me but I’m trying to follow Kim’s advice and enjoy the good bits! I still grump – though it’s not quite as bad a stage of grumpiness as it was when I was on chemo – that was supersonic grumpiness. Love back to Wales from Scotland. xx

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  14. So good you are feeling better. and your plant will soon be enormous. I have inherited two in our new garden, and even hacked well back last year they are heading for the clouds. But pretty with it. Happy gardening – or sitting under a tree.

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    • Thanks, Hilary. It’s good to be feeling a bit better.
      I might have to intervene and move the plant elsewhere. I only put it where it is to fill a small space! I hope we have a few more days of sunshine without the cold wind accompanying it – definitely heading outdoors to enjoy.

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  15. That positive outlook affects us in the best ways. Live in the moment and embrace all of your emotions and move on to the next moment. All of your news is wonderful and I’m so pleased to read about you engaging with other writers. I always love your photos. Hugs and love to you, Mary. ❤️❤️❤️

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  16. Mary I was delighted to see you and hear your voice on Wednesday! I really enjoyed the whole talk and I felt I took a lot away from it. What I liked best was that you looked amazing…you really did!
    You are doing great please keep it up 💜💜💜💜

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    • It was so lovely to see and hear you, too, Willow. I said to the organiser in an email afterwards that when the official part of the talk was done I wanted to carry on having a relaxed chat with the participants – which is what we’d do in a real setting. I’ve sent Joy the handout I promised and she’ll pass them on to the participants. Let me know if you have any other queries.
      I have to say I did feel pleased I managed the talk without too much coughing and I felt I had engaged peoples’ interest.
      PS I was actually wearing my slippers and not The Boots 🙂

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  17. Glad to read that your symptoms have abated, Mary and your talk went well. I agree that a nominal fee would increase commitment to online seminars. As they say, ‘the more you pay, the more it is worth.’ If there are no-shows, at least the organizer gets to keep the fee to offset costs.
    Your Tesco plant is a Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) and they can grow up to 3′ tall and wide. I have a white one that is huge, at least 4′ x 4!’

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    • Yes, I think a small fee would attach more value to the event in the mind of those who book it. Though, having said that I received an email today about an online writers’ gathering and some of the talks had a charge of £8, which I kind of think is a bit steep. Happy medium required, I think 🙂
      Others have given me the plant name of Bleeding Heart – but although I realised from last year’s growth they can get big, I didn’t realise 3′ and more. When it died back in the winter I wasn’t sure it would reappear this year but it is thriving and I’ve put it in the wrong place (though it seems more than happy there) as it wasn’t a big space to start with. It will have to be divided!

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  18. I’m happy to hear you’re feeling better, love all the photos (I’m happy to share in everybody else’s garden now that I don’t have one), and the talk sounds fabulous. Keep looking on the bright side, Mary. Stay safe and take care 🙂

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    • Thanks, Olga. I’ve realised over the last couple of weeks I’ve never looked on the bright side – I just don’t because, I think, it is tempting fate – but I’m learning now to do that. It’s actually quite liberating (apart from the moments of panic when I think: ‘No, don’t tempt fate – don’t get too optimistic).
      Happy to share my garden photos. I’m not a real gardener – as evidenced by the plant called Bleeding Heart which is going to grow to about 3 feet in a space for a plant which should grow six inches! Hugs xx

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  19. Glad your plant has been id’d… and three foot is on good soil, but it’s not a thug, and other things will grow through it. it dies down quite early too.
    I think you’re unfair on your chaffinch for calling him corpulent. He was either cold , or thinking about starting to sing!
    But I’m glad your mood has lifted. You deserve some good days 🙂
    Lovely pictures— keep it up 🙂

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    • I planted it last year and was quite impressed by how it flourished. When it came back to life this year I did start to wonder just how big it would get. I’ll split it up if it starts to crowd out the agapanthus next to it.
      It was Liz Gauffreau who said the chaffinch was corpulent – but I did agree. I think he was pausing mid-song 🙂 He was a poser, though.
      It’s good to feel better. I hope Roscoe is doing well and has maybe been able to get back to Dr Grass.

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  20. Wow – something I said was thought about, and quoted!
    Totally caught me by surprise.
    Having been a parent and step-parent for 3 decades I’m far more used to being nodded at but then any advice forgotten within 15 seconds of being imparted (or just straightforwardly being ignored or given an eye-roll, like what would I know anyway?), I think I get a bit taken aback if I discover something I said was listened to…
    Might just allow myself a wee smug moment…
    Delighted you’ve got your 2nd vaccine and are able to enjoy wine again too 🙂
    ((hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

    • It has been talked about on Facebook, too, Kim. You definitely deserve a wee smug moment. I have enjoyed feeling more positive over the last few days, thanks to what you said: “Not allowing our optimism now, will in no way prepare us, or cushion the blow if negative news comes along. It’s too big. So if it happens, we wasted those chances to feel good.” I want to enjoy those chances to feel good and from comments here and on FB, so do many others.
      I know what you mean about the eye-roll and being nodded at 🙂
      Yep, second jag done so by the end of next week I should have full protection (well, as much as the vaccine can provide). Hot chocolate in a cafe near us is coming closer 🙂

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  21. Your random words and random photos are a breath of fresh spring air ~ enjoying the beauty of life at the moment. Great to hear you doing well, and especially like the photo of the ‘osprey walk’ at Threave Castle. Take care, Mary, and enjoy your Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really trying to enjoy the good moments which come along in my life, as advised by Kim, instead of always trying to downplay them in case I jinx things. I feel I’m living rather dangerously 🙂
      I did the osprey walk again this evening. The osprey is now sitting on at least one, possibly two eggs, so I am looking forward to when they hatch. All the best.

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      • This one the one thing I appreciated in this post, the celebration of the small moments in a day (or an hour!). A good reminder to celebrate the optimism when it arrives too 🙂 Enjoy the week and take care.

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  22. Mary, it’s lovely to share your news here and I am so glad your cough is behaving better and your energy is rising. Congrats on your library talk. I love your photos. Much love flowing to you along with the sunshine. ❤ Xxxx

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  23. Pingback: MarySmith’sPlace – Cancerdiary#31 #randomthoughts #randomphotos – MobsterTiger

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