Saturday, December 26, 2009

The end of another year

It is hard to believe that this year is over! It is just as hard to believe where I am now after a year of treatment. I am going to have to face some realities next year. Another MRI in January, visit to the dentist (recommended after chemo) and a trip to the oncologist for a check up. To be honest, I don't really care about that. I believe firmly that I am alright.

On the 24th I got an aura that I would have a seizure. I felt my eyes twitching and lay down immediately. I can fight it (to an extent) if I catch it in time and change what I am doing that minute. I end up having the 2 hour nap (as usual) It is extremely frustrating!

Christmas was great and we had a wedding all in one week! (I love weddings) The kids loved their gifts. I have to admit it didn't feel like christmas as we were so busy. We moved into the house, even though it isn't finished properly. It feels so spacious! James & I are trying to recover! Plus the coffee shop is open today! What a life :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

So now I have a coffee shop

We officially opened our doors on Tuesday the 15th. It was quite a scary time because it was hurry up and wait. What a new experience to have to sit and wait for customers! What a difference from the weekend. We had 70 people on Saturday for a childrens party and our un - official opening on Sunday with about 40 people coming. I never in my life thought I would be a waitress again! I have had such positive feed back, especially with regards to the venue. People have said it is "beautiful", "relaxing", "a great vibe", "a spoil!" (PS I will be updating my coffee shop blog with how it is to start a business and the news

I have had my first booking on the 16th January for another childrens party. The kids have had a ball playing outside and our old "diggers" have caused competition between the boys.

Although I have been up early every morning and some times up till late, I haven't had a seizure - thank goodness. It is so much fun having some one cooking for me! Capturing all our products and meals took a while! This has really been a team effort with all of the family members! And we are still talking to each other!

I cannot believe where I am now - what a difference from having brain surgeries, chemo and radiation. It is still hard to comprehend. Yesterday (while waiting for customers) I looked around and wondered how it all happened. I have my family, business, children and my husband's office all with me.

What the last year has tought me is that our lives are short. I was given shocking news that made me think twice about what I wanted in my life. I made the decision to live it to the full. The reality is still hitting me! I am nothing but grateful for my blessings in life. I still need to paint again... I am just waiting for some space! The building continues!

Have a great break and I hope that you have time to think of next year and make your visions and dreams come to life. You never know what a year can hold!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Coffee Shop Progress

Getting there! Our first function - Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

At the Train

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Catch up

Well another busy week has just flown by. I have been working long and hard on a tender and the coffee shop. I can't wait for the school holidays to begin! At least then we don't have to drive all over town. The other day I spent 3 hours in the car just picking up and dropping off. VERY tiring! I haven't had any seizures, although today I did have a bit of an eye flicker thing and had to lay down.

It is my birthday tomorrow - wow another year! I will say that with all I have been though I feel like I have aged enormously! 34 doesn't sound that old - but I feel it.

The coffee shop is moving well, my worry is that it will not be fast enough for our opening on the 15th. I am having a birthday / pre-opening get together on the 13th December. It will be an alfresco lunch @R40 per head, kids free. This is really just to test our POS and systems. Unfortunately I know that this time of year many people are away. If you are in town, pop in, just send me an email so that I can make sure of the numbers.

It is always scary embarking on an adventure like this one. I particularly have a fear of failure. BUT I managed to beat a lot last year so I am hoping and praying 2010 will be the same!
Luv d:)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our coffee shop progress

Well life is busy here getting the coffee shop ready! I have been helping on a tender and generally running around. I need to fill in a blog entry at least once a week! It is actually amazing how much we miss in our lives (especially when your memory has been shot!) I am always surprised when I go back and look at entries. (I suggest we all do it) It makes our lives feel both full and short!

This week I found out that someone I had worked closely with a few years back, husband died of a brain tumour! It was a shock and a reality check - I am so lucky for all the prayers and support during a difficult time. I have to say it, I am grateful that I got through this.

Leo went for his op on his teeth - and didn't cry once! I was so relieved. I have become totally paranoid when it comes to hospitals. He had a sleeping tablet before and was like a drunk wondering around! It was quite funny to watch. He insisted he could draw but could barely keep his eyes open!

Here is a pic of the inside of the coffee shop (my brother Paul in the pic)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not much news

This past week has been really busy trying to sort out the coffee shop, kids, work etc. It is quite alot on my plate and to add to my woes, Leo had toothache and hasn't been sleeping well. He is going to have some fillings and 2 extractions next week. They will sedate him. Unfortunately he doesn't have strong teeth - something he gets from his mother! He has a young female dentist - who was really wonderful with him.

I have to go for a filling / root treatment sometime. I was told during chemo I couldn't have work done on my teeth?? Anyhow it is long overdue. I wish I could be sedated. I am petrified of the dentist! Spent too many hours there as a child. I will see how long I can hold off for!

We have been testing eats from suppliers for the coffee shop- I can feel it on my hips already!

The flu comes and goes ... very annoying! I need to try build up my strength! Its 9am and ready to go back to bed!...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A blustery day

On Monday night we had horrific weather. We had 140km/h easterly winds with rain. So ... guess what - the roof blew off in the kids room next to the coffee shop we are building! Another set back. Luckily it didn't fly into the electric cables and fell just short of them. We are already a month past our open date - and have at least a month to go with the building. We are really hoping to be open for December holidays.

We have this JoJo water tank that rolled about 10 hectares. Last time, my brother tried to push it and it rolled over him! :) We had a good laugh on his account. I asked if he wouldn't mind rolling it back!

All in a days work!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another headache

Yesterday, it was my Gran's birthday party. It was quite a busy day all round with Leo's market day preparation, Anastasia sick and all the kids coming to Gran's house. I wasn't feeling well in the morning but had alot to do so decided to get going.

At 3pm I was feeling really exhausted and needed to sleep. By 4pm I started getting a headache. By 4:30pm I was crying from the pain. Now this doesn't happen often, I am used to headache pains. My brother came to collect the kids to take them home and James waited with me. I think I was also in a panic because I immediately worry about my tumour. The situation reminded me of the pain I had last year that hospitalised me. I took a few pain killers and by 6:30pm I was feeling fine. (A bit "bruised" in the head though)

I am not sure of the cause - I think it is a combination of stress, lack of sleep, stomach pains and sinus congestion. Fortunately I didn't have a seizure.

I stayed at home today to rest and unfortunately missed Leo's market day. (the weather was really nasty!) I think I have become more paranoid about the tumour after my treatments than before. Perhaps that is because I know what it involves. I even worry about my kids getting brain tumours or seizures. Anything that remotely represents it lights a little "spark"

My brother and I were chatting about dogs that can sense when you are about to have a seizure - amazing. I should find out more about it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A great idea - radiation mask exhibition in the UK

I got this email and was asked to participate - I like the idea and would like to be involved...

The exhibition will be held during Brain tumour Awareness Month (March in the UK) and will be made up of around 25 radiotherapy face masks.

The masks will literally be just the clear perspex face that is used here in the UK and the idea is that people who have in some way been touched by a brain tumour decorate a mask, in anyway they like, but so it shows their thoughts on brain tumours.

For example, I have a 16 year old who is decorating a mask as her mother has a Grade 3 brain tumour and she wants to help bring attention to the journey her mother and many others have to go through. She is an art student but I have no idea what her mask will look like, however, she will provide a short piece to be displayed with the mask to help explain the thinking behind her design.

Other masks will be decorated or autographed by some celebrities who have been touched in some way by a brain tumour. We are asking anyone taking part to also write a little about why they decided to take part and how they are connected to the brain tumour 'world'.

All the masks will be displayed together then at the end of the exhibitions we will be auctioning off the masks decorated by the celebrities in the hope that they will raise a decent amount of money towards our charity (we are currently in the process of registering as a charity here in the UK).

But first and foremost this project is about raising awareness of what brain tumour patients, their families, friends and carers go through.

The Exhibition will be held at...

1st March - 7th March 2010: NeuroSupport Centre, Liverpool

8th March - 14th March 2010: Nottingham (venue to be confirmed)

15th March - 21st March 2010: London (venue to be confirmed)

22nd March - 28th March 2010: The Forum, Norwich

For more info go to :

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My first visit to the hairdresser

A big moment when I had my first visit to the hairdresser today and got my hair "styled" It even got cut! What a long way I have gone!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Become a blogger for me!

Now - I am so close to having my other website ready. The main website is it will have maps to navigate your way around South Africa. (Still adding data - a longer than expected process!) It is not quite there but you will get the drift.

It is linked to a blog site which I am managing. I am looking for people that can write articles on South Africa as a normal South African or visitor to South Africa. I am looking for any quirks, advice, pictures, places you enjoyed etc etc. I am not interested in politics - so don't even bother. You DON'T have to be a writer or a journalist - if fact I don't want that. I just want someone who will give a visitor to our country some information. Go to or send me an email

If you enjoy soccer and have soccer articles that we can show for the world cup in 2010 - please send me an email.

In Wilderness

Well we arrived safe and sound in Wilderness after a 4 hour drive from PE. No rush on our part as we stopped at Storms River along the way. There are still road works going on! When we arrived there was a big bowl of fruit, champagne and a card. Camilla (James' cousin) has once again racked on the guilt by giving us a spa treatment as a gift! Thanks a mil Camilla - you REALLY shouldn't have (we are enjoying it none the less)

The past week has been a bit rough for me. I was not feeling great and have had to gobble down a few extra tablets. It is very frustrating. Luckily (besides a bit of flu which keeps returning) I am feeling ok today.

I realised that this is why they term me as "disabled" I can't work the hours I used to and the risk of seizures makes everything a worry. I went to an auction with my Dad to get goods for the coffee shop. I couldn't go alone and I always worry that I will have a seizure. After 4 hours there - I was absolutely exhausted and went home to crash.

We went to the most wonderful restaurant last night - they serve organic food and their menu is great. We went there again today to look at the produce stores and get some ideas / sources for our coffee shop. We decided to stay at the lodge tonight - James has gone "hunting" at a market for some ready made meals.

Its very much "Hippie" country - people eating seeds and wearing tie dye clothing. Men with untamed beards and women with no bra's (even though they really need one) Its not exactly our scene but a wonderfully relaxed, friendly and safe atmosphere. Perfect for a holiday!

(I have put up more information on )

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"About BT Buddies"

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Getting away

On Thursday, James & I are going on a "honeymoon" long weekend to "Lodge on the Lake" I am really looking forward to it. It will give me sometime to catch up and perhaps do a bit of writing.

I still haven't an opportunity to paint - location not permitting. This waiting to get going has really made me think about have a "life style" that is worth living.
So far no seizures. I really have been watching myself. (especially when I drive as we are out of town) Kids and James all good ...
On Friday I went for a breakfast hosted by my mom's company (Lynn Page & Associates) I really enjoyed it. We had a Alinda talking about the Free to Grow programme she & her associates run throughout the country. A great programme with long term impact both personally and in the business environment. I suggest you have a look...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What a week

This week has been crazy (I suppose like the rest of them!) Kids are on holiday (well only the boys) Ana is on holiday next week! So we have over 3 weeks of holidays. So no break from early drop off to school. (although Mom helps alot) I have been working on a project for a year now ... we are doing tourist maps of South Africa especially for the Soccer World Cup in 2010. We are hoping to launch on Friday - well pushing at least. Soon I will really need feedback from you...

The building of the coffee shop is taking longer than expected. We are getting the teams in for longer now so that we can push the times a bit better. At the end of the day its just pay pay pay. We better make money!!

No seizures - yay! The "flu" actually seems to be allergies. Being on a farm in spring is not helping the cause! I do enjoy having the space though. I am looking forward to rewarding myself with a shopping spree sometime soon! A woman's got to do what a woman's got to do! Have a good week - d:)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Smoky Car

Well yesterday - amongst the flurry of end of the month payments - my car smelt smoky. At first I thought there was an outside bush fire. I realised that it was actually my car! I thought it was the brakes were going to give in. I even had visions of my car exploding or us dying of smoke inhalation! So I took it to the service centre at Renault - in South African style waited 2 hours to find out what was wrong!

I took my anti-seizure medication early - I was worried that I might have a seizure as I hadn't eaten and was tired.

It turns out there was grass in my car and it was smouldering under the heat of the exhaust and engine! Between my bad mood, bill, frustration at waiting and them having to remove the bumper just to replace a fused light bulb on my front indicator - I called James to come fetch the car so that I could fetch the kids from Gran. Now what do I do - I have grass ALL OVER the farm. At least now I know the cause.

I think that if the car manufacturers want to test their vehicles - they should just drop a few off here - putting it in a controlled environment is not like real life at all!

I love the Toyota bakkie (pick up truck) story where they left it in the sea overnight and then drove it out the next day - now that is an African car!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A headache

Well I am on day 3 of a localised headache (meaning it is in the area where my tumour is) BAD BAD headache. I am not sure if it is due to my upset stomach or the sort. BUT I want it GONE. I can't pretend that it doesn't scare the hell out of me when I get one. I don't know what to do with myself. I am not tired enough to sleep and the headache doesn't really allow me to do anything but sleep.

Its amazing how a little thing like a headache suddenly has such a huge significance in my life! SUCKS

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A plump affair

Well being off chemo and the like has definitely been good for me - so good that my hips are the evidence. James loves to grab them and point them out - very VERY bad husband. I think that with being off medication, my body is taking a break. That or my love for cake / biscuits is showing. (in my cheeks - butt and face) The pendulum is swinging! NNNOOO....

I can't wait to go to gym, my body is crying for it. My family are a bit paranoid as I have had a cough and a runny nose for a 2 weeks and it doesn't want to let up. My mom wants to rush me off to the doctor - I have had enough of them for a lifetime and would rather stay at home. I feel better today at least.

We are still staying with Mom and Dad because "The Grove" is not ready yet. (it is progressing nicely though) I am not planning on going anywhere till they are done building. Living on a building site is terrible. Sorry for the folks --- "jy wil mos"

Monday, September 14, 2009

A church service

Yesterday, I spoke at my Gran's church to say thanks for all the prayers and words of encouragement I have received over the past year. I wanted to talk about how (I believe) powerful prayer has been in my life. I was a bit nervous chatting to all of them. I do get emotional sometimes when I speak so I have to take quite a few big breaths. Overall it felt good.

I had to remind everyone it was a joke when I said "An important thing for me is not to put my finger in my brain hole" The shock on some peoples faces was extremely amusing. The minister also joked with me before the sermon saying "your talk mustn't be better than mine" my retort - "if you want a good talk - get your own brain tumour"

I did have a seizure on Saturday - very irritating but definitely related to sleep. I have been quite bad lately. Isn't it funny how people with epilepsy are so blase about a seizure - "oh my dear, it was ever so inconvenient."

I printed out just the text of my blog and not including any comments or pre-website crash and there are 59 full A4 pages! My Mom and James are suggesting that I write a book - I may consider it...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A time to sow

Well we are ready to go at Green Valley Estate. Last week the first olive trees were planted. (75 of them) as a test of course. We plan on planting alot more in the next few months. It is strange to make an investment into something so obviously tangible and delicate. So far they have survived the rain, storms and cold weather we have had. We have to water them daily and they are supported because they are still quite soft. They are 65cm tall already. I refer to them as our babies. It is funny how similar human needs / behaviour is to nature.

The building of "The Grove" Tea & Coffee shop is progressing nicely although it is a bit behind. I am looking forward to it. It is scary starting a new venture, but hey, we only have one life. I have always believed that if you start off by dealing with "what's the worst thing that could happen if I do this" and prepare for it - then the rest will be manageable.
PS - How hot does my husband look?! Thx Mom for pic

Monday, September 7, 2009

I have my hair back

Well I finally have enough hair that I don't need to wear a wig. Obviously not as much as I would like, but some none-the-less. I could wear my wig longer (which would be easier) but this is my victory statement. Beaten a brain tumour! I will go blond again (give it a few weeks to rest out) It took a few days to get used to the cold again! But now I seem to have adjusted.

I have hardly been on the internet, let alone my blog for the past 2 weeks. We have moved house! What a job because the "new house" is still being built. So we are staying with my folks until we can get in. We are renting our old house for a few months - I am not quite ready to let it go just yet! This past year has been a financial strain with me not working, global crisis and medical costs! BUT it is over and I can start getting back into normal life. The kids are all in one room and I actually think they enjoy it. It is great for us because when Leo wakes up at night, he just turns to Anastasia and says "Put my blanket on" Which means we don't have to get up. Well what else could my royal son expect. His sister is not at all impressed.

My poor dog is missing his golf course and has become quite a celebrity. Three of my neighbours have offered to keep him. We just can't think of doing that unless completely necessary. He has to contend with a big doberman (who thinks he is a little white snack) at my Mom's place so he is kept indoors till the dogs can adjust.

On the first couple of nights staying with the folks, we had to get used to the farm noises. James & my father were both on alert. It was quite amusing (although not pretty) how they ended up wondering around at night in their underwear with rifle in tow. Such manly men!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A monkey & me

This weekend we celebrated our friend Kevin's 40th birthday at the Pumba Game Reserve. We all arrived at 12, went for a short game drive to the main lodge, had lunch and then settled into our chalets. It is absolutely beautiful and a real spoil. At 3:30 there was a game drive with sundowners and snacks before our black tie evening function at 8pm. I elected not to go on the game drive after my HORRIBLE experience with dune bashing in Dubai. I don't think driving in bushvelt for 3 hours is going to do anything for my head.

Anyway, I snuggled into my bed with a book while overlooking a magnificent view of mountains and game. The chalets are isolated and surrounded by glass windows - hardly any brick walls. I fell asleep and after a while heard this "Crash" I jumped up and found a monkey had run through the sliding doors, past my bed and into the bathroom. He was trying to get out but kept bashing his head against the windows that make up the flat. He threw my stuff around and defecated all over (nerves on his part) I locked him in the bathroom and tried to gather my thoughts. I opened the front door which was on the other side of the chalet and reasonably secure. I ran back and opened the bathroom door for him and ran out the front door. Eventually after crashing around the bedroom, he got out. Back inside I rushed to close the doors. The place smelled terrible. Luckily I just had to call reception and they came to clean up. I wondered around for an hour while then polished the room. SO, I had more "game" then those on a game drive!

The party was great and the guys got to see all the Big 5 game and a few others too. A wonderful weekend, the friends went a bit crazy not having kids around, they could party all night! Happy Birthday Kevin!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I decided I needed a website upgrade to co-incide with my new lease on life!

Dr Butler Feedback

Well I had a conference call with Dr Butler (neurologist) today. What wonderful news - he said I am doing remarkably well. He is not worried about the tumour as such and is concentrating on my seizure management. He said that it seems to be low grade, as we thought, and growth has stopped. I just feel so happy with the confirmation I am getting from all sides.

I really need to detox. Last night I was feeling really depressed with how my body is looking. I need exercise and build up my muscle tone. Quite honestly, I don't know where to start. It is so frustrating. I will just have to make a plan. Having 3 kids with different schedules doesn't really help the cause...

Well, one thing at a time. I am just really grateful and blessed that the inside of my body is healing, its time for the outside now... d:)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


We all know what a mine field it is looking on the internet. I have been building up a catalogue of links - If you have any links, please can you email me or leave a comment on my blog. These are the categories I am looking for (On anything to do with the brain)

General brain information
About brain tumours
Types of brain tumours
New treatments
Foundations / NGO
Other / Unusual / Interesting

Please let me know which catagory you want it in and I will have a look - (Don't want adult sites!) Give me as many as you can find...

A hair affair!

Hi all - I said to James that it is so strange not having chemo or even having it in the back of my mind. It is a huge relief. It literally feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It also makes me a bit scared (which I never expected) as I don't have that "defense wall" anymore. Even if I know that the chemo was also doing damage to my healthy organs.

About the ear - all fine, just a build up of fluid. Suched it out and voila! I could hear clearly. I tell you I have had to adjust my hearing again - it was SO loud!

You won't belive it but I have had 5 random people come up to me (in different places) and comment on how beautiful my hair is! What the hell do I say? The first person I just said "Thanks" the 2nd and 3rd asked how I got it that way and I told them it was a wig. Much to their surprise. Then we started a long conversation on brain tumours. The 4th & 5th I mearly said "It was done as a project in Johannesburg by Revlon" I didn't want to spend an hour talking about having a brain tumour! Not too far off the truth! The doctors have both told me to take the wig off now as my hair has grown back. BUT I am just waiting till the "booster" section has grown a bit more. It is actually so easy having a wig, it is going to be hard to go back to the "old" way! (Never though that would happen either)

Another suprise - the hair around the booster spot has come out BLOND! Plus it is real baby hair. So strange. So not only do I have different sizes, colors, curls and texture - I have a baby spot. Well I look at it as a new beginning around my tumour area - a fresh and "clean" start. Like I said - I will wait a bit till it grows out before loosing the wig. I don't want to look like some 80's hair style - burn my bra - chick (which I would NEVER do - I have had 3 kids!)

My advice to anyone going through this - get a wig, it helps with self confidence. Don't worry if people you know, know its a wig. The other was is that people you don't know, know you have cancer. My personal view was that it really isn't nice to feel branded wondering around and I would rather not do it!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Scan results

Well I am finished with chemo. I elected not to do the last round and didn't get too many hassles from my doc or my husband! I need to have my ear checked out...Its time to celebrate!!! I must admit, it was a bit of any anticlimax. I was expecting for feel great - but I just feel the same as yesterday! It was nice to know that I didn't have to swollow those HORRIBLE things! So this is me - one year later and fit and flourishing! To think I was actually on death's door this time last year! VERY bizarre.

I have alot on my plate and quite excited about getting back to normal. This month is going to be busy! This past week I worked quite a bit - I took a bit of strain. I have realised that I just can't work like I used to. I put so much into it in the first 2 days that it took two days of sleeping to let me recover. I had a headache with it so I didn't feel happy at all! That is not going to happen again I am afraid! From now on, afternoon naps are a must. I think that I am a little paranoid now, after going through all of this, that it could happen again... I will just keep praying that it wont.

Here are some pics from the scans. The area that used to be "the gap" where I had the surgery is now filled with dead tissue and liquid. You will see a faint black outline where this is happening. If you look at the grade 2 that's left, it is smaller than what there was in January. I am very much a layman, but this is what I can see. Leo looked at the pics and said to me "That is very beautiful Mommy" - interesting point of view! I need to send it to Dr Butler now for his opinion. Click on it too see it a bit larger...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Doc tomorrow

Well off to see the doc tomorrow for the last series of treatment. And as usual I have my doubts if I want to continue. I have had trouble with my ear for a week now. It is buzzing and I struggle to hear out of it. I would say I hear 30 %- 50%. It is a worry, considering that the radiation could kill tumour (good thing) but the massive booster I got was right over my ear.

As I said before, it feels like I have swimmers ear. If I jump up and down I can feel the vibration. Sometimes it feels like it is going to "pop" and other times I get this high pitched noise. VERY VERY ANNOYING. James always moans that Anastasia is like white noise (always talking, listening to music, on cell, tapping - you name it) I feel like I have white noise following me around.

I will talk to the doc tomorrow and if there is any chance that the chemo will damage my ear further, I will not have it. (Big Sigh) I will also collect my scan pics so that I can finally put them on the blog...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Seasons in seasons

I tried to get my chemo tablets so that I could start a week earlier. But they only arrive next week anyway, so we will have to stick to the schedule. I am off to see the doctor on Wednesday for my FINAL check up. My left ear has been sore for a week now and the constant buzzing could make anyone feel mental. It feels a bit like when you have water in your ear. Never mind - in 2 weeks time I will be able to say "It is finished" The rest, I don't really care about.

My mother and my great grandmother have written books (oh & thx Mom 4 the pics of green valley) My mother's one was called "A Time for Everything" and my Great Grandmother wrote a book of poetry. (more about these later) The reason I am telling you this, is that recently, I have had (albeit annoying) song in my head "To everything (turn turn turn) There is a season (turn turn turn)" It has made me think of their books as well as were I am in my life.

This season is over ...I have realised that, I too have been through many seasons within seasons. I always felt that I was born in the Autumn of my life, I have now passed through the cold Winter and I am looking forward to Spring. What I am happy about is that my life now will be filled with new life. Also, in my last days, when my soul is in summer - I will have lazy days, drinking gin & tonic and watching the summer sunset!

Helen Steiner Rice also has written a poem called "Seasons of my Soul" here is an excerpt

I ask myself often ...
"What makes life this way,
Why is the song silenced
In the heart that was gay?"

And then, with God's help
It all becomes clear,
The "Soul" has its "Seasons"
Just the same as the year.
I, too, must pass through
Life's autumn of dying,
A desolate period
Of heart-hurt and crying.

Followed by winter
In whose frostbitten hand
My heart is as frozen
As the snow-covered land.

Yes, man too must pass
Through the seasons God sends,
Content in the knowledge
That everything ends...

I could actually write about this forever - but alas - I have normal chores and need to take Leo to school! Sign...

Monday, July 20, 2009

1 year

11 months ago I had my head shaved! An incredibly emotional time! A year ago I was hospitalised... I can't believe how quickly time goes. I worked out that I will finish my last round of treatment around the time I was in Cape Town going for my surgery. So a year of radiation, surgery and chemo. Its all quite a blur really. I must admit it does seem to stay back of mind these days as other things occupy my thoughts (which is nice for a change)

I have been so quiet because the past few weeks have just been crazy with the planning and working. It is so exciting, yet stressful, building. We have had alot of fun shopping, designing, going onsite and seeing it grow. Soon The Grove @ Green Valley Estate will be a reality. I do worry that I am doing too much and watch myself. It is a hard thing to manage. But a little voice is always next to me telling me to take it easy and think of me first.
Here are some before pics and now pics of the building progress over a week ago. (the one without the roof is the old) It may not look like anything but when you go onsite it is significant. Interiors, clean up, leveling of land, trees, herb garden ...Considering this has been done in 3 weeks!

Here are some view pics of the farm (Green Valley Estate) - pretty hey!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another week

Well the second last week of chemo is done so only one more week to go. (From 2nd August)I am still feeling all the effects of the Zofran and trying to detox, which is not easy! It takes about a week after the chemo to get back to normal. On Friday was extremely tired, I think the week of chemo hit me. Saturday wasn't much better and all the kids activities didn't help! But luckily, after a good sleep, I felt alright yesterday.

I am pushing on - nearly the end of the race and I don't want to loose it in the last minute! With the opening of a new business and moving home - there is alot to keep me busy. My mind is quite far away from medical issues - for once in 2 years. I am looking forward to starting a new fashion trend this year - I will start with some HAIR. Yes, it would be nice to finally get that on track again! With the cold weather, my leg hair stands about a meter high - but that is not exactly what I was looking for.

I forgot to tell you... when I went for the scan, they gave me this "new style" (in fashionable burgundy) gown to wear into the MRI room. Just put it this way - I looked like Moses (or Noah) I just needed to grow a beard. It was so long but fell short of my extremely skinny white ankles. I had put socks on because I knew how cold it gets in the MRI room. What I didn't know is that they would actually walk me through the HOSPITAL to the x-ray department first, wearing this unsightly gown, mismatched socks and skinny while legs. (Lets not forget cold) My family will testify that I walk really slowly because I take half a step, so I had to run behind her, holding certain parts of my anatomy which usual require some sort of lift. I looked like a child in a Christmas play.

Well I am under a little bit of pressure to finish my last 2 paintings - I don't know where I can fit my canvases once we move! Back to painting at night!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nearly there

Well I have one more night till I finish this round of chemo. If I take Zofran, all is well - I will deal with the side effects later. I only have one more round of chemo then I am FINALLY finished! It will be great to have that lifted off my shoulders. This time I have just had the treatment "in the moment" I only think about it when I have to. I am too busy planning my future now and the next stage in my life.

James' grandmother died last week and the funeral is today. We think it was for the best as she was quite old and had been in hospital for a long time.

My Gran has asked if I will talk at the church once my treatment is finished. I have been on prayer lists all over the place and she would like me to thank everyone who has supported and prayed for me over the past year. I automatically responded "Yes" which is quite unusual for me considering I attend church irratically. I think it is time I give back a little. A bit scary though!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

My journey

Last night wasn't great. I tried not to take the Zofran (a little overconfident!) and ended up waking up at 1pm vomiting. So - lesson learnt. I must say I feel really quite tired and my stomach hurts from getting sick. Today I was quite emotional. I think it is a combination of things, the news, the relief, the chemo & the lack of sleep. All I wanted to do was curl up in the bed and feel sorry for myself.

The good news is that Dr Dupper called to say that they are in consensus on the findings. The tumour has shrunk and there is evidence of dead tissue. There is no odema. If there is more tissue death (I pray that there is) then they may have to drain the area. Luckily for me the dead tissue has moved into the open space where the operation was. What's left of the tumour is stable (not growing) They cannot test it because their results may be incorrect due to the radiation, chemo. (I don't quite know what this means) I will have a scan in 6 months to monitor the tumour. Then we can see if there has been more death and what the left over "tumour" is. (if any)

I realised on the weekend that everything has changed since I have been diagnosed. Alot of people have asked me if the tumour has changed me. My response is always "no". I think the same, act the same and perhaps I am a bit more proactive. What I realised is that it has changed everything around me. The decisions I have had to make have affected my work, my children, my house, my husband, my family, where I live, how I live, my travel ... etc. This is significant because although I am the same person, I have had to change my choices. Being diagnosed has changed the course of my life and others around me by the decisions I have made. Suddenly my life takes on a whole new course that never in my wildest dreams I could of imagined. (Kind of like falling pregnant at 19!)

When I was diagnosed, my parents, brother and ourselves decided to buy a small holding just out of town. We would build 3 houses. Primarily this was due to my health and the fact that they wanted to look after me. We were also discussing simplifying our lives. What has ensued is that we found a farm just out of town over looking a beautiful lake. We found a much bigger place that could be divided instead of just one plot. We could all own different plots and have our independence. James managed to get investors that would also own a portion of the land. My brother ended up getting a house that has left him bond free. James is now developing an olive estate (you know how long our municipality takes) called "Green Valley" This will encompass all the plots and allow James to be a developer. My parents are living out there, which has meant my Dad is back on a farm growing crops and my Mom is now close to the city. Now with the economic crisis, we decided to have a cash business out there and get out of the rat race. We are building a coffee shop, kids area, deli and bed & breakfast accommodation. (Which we will stay in till our house is built) It has given our entire family potential work in our area of interest. We will be able to be self sustaining in the future. Although, I do think that there could have been easier ways for us to get to this place rather than the tumour ... !

I have always believed that God does "Work all things together for good to those that love him" We need to be receptive and willing to move. I don't know what is in store for me in the future. This has been a hard journey. I definitely don't want to "learn the lesson" again! It is time for me to reflect on where I have been, what I am doing and what is my purpose in the future. (No matter how small our lives have meaning) I believe that we need to be positive and if we can throw a bit of laughter - that's a bonus. Our lives don't have to be dreary.

I hope my journey has motivated / inspired / helped you in your journey. It won't have made my pain worthwhile but it will make it bearable. It also makes me realise that we can choose to sow into peoples lives and our harvest is so much greater than the tiny seeds that we put in.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Whats been done

James & I were working out what has been done in the past 6 years of us being together (5 years of being married)

We have moved house 3 times, had a baby, built a house, James has moved office premises twice, we bought shares in a farm, Anastasia changed schools, had 6 different cars, opened another business, travelled to 5 countries, gone for brain surgery, chemo & radiation, travelled around SA on business, started painting, did blog.... And now we are renting our house out and moving to farm in SEPTEMBER ...where we are opening a deli, kids area & eventually a B&B. I am so happy to have a new lease in life!

I think I need a nap!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

MRI Results

Well I have had good news! It seems like there has been quite alot of tumour death. (I only use the death word if bad things die!) There is still an area that is possibly low grade. They are taking my scans to this new fancy scanning machine to test if there is any grade 3. I am believing that I will only get good news.

Dr Dupper is going to speak to a few other specialists to see what they have to say. So nothing is cast in stone as yet. I also have to courier the scans to Dr Butler to see what he thinks. The tumour death has meant some fluid built up in the wound site. This can cause scar tissue and affect seizures...but to me its is good news showing that there is death. There doesn't seem to be swelling or odema. You can actually see areas where the radiation blocks have killed cells. This is because the death bits are semi rectangular! (Plus its along my booster area) I will wait till I get more news and opinions before I can make my future plans! They will also give me a CD copy so that I can put some pics up on the blog.

More good news - I thought I still have 4 sessions of chemo but I only have two. So my last chemo week will be 9th August - Then I am DONE - YAY!!! I didn't even fight / moan with him about doing it. I was just so excited to hear the good news about the scan and that it chemo was mearly 2 more sessions! This means when we open "The Grove" (more news about that later) I won't have to have any chemo!

The other good news (it comes in 3's) It is James & my wedding anniversary tomorrow. What a year it has been. This journey was started 2 weeks short of a year ago. We have so much to celebrate and have achieved so much in the past year and in fact, in our whole marriage. (in all areas of our life) Even with all the hardships, we have no room to complain. Its time to count our blessings and look at all that has been done for & by us.

I believe that our faith in God, the support and love from you all has carried us through. I know that I will have to spend years monitoring this, but that is ok if I can get on with my life and put this treatment behind me.
Thanks guys for your prayers - See it works!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Off to MRI

Well I am going to have my MRI this afternoon. It was meant to be this morning but there was an emergency. It didn't bother me too much, I didn't have to wake up early and I could take it easy. I postponed my appointment with Dr Dupper too because there was no point seeing him before we had the scan. I am just really eager to see what there is / isn't to see. Think of me when I go into the noise machine and pray that all is going to be ok... I better not forget ear plugs because the noise in the MRI machine makes a jet engine seem like a pleasant melody.

Have a good day! :)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Armed robbery

Well on Saturday, my middle son Adam (he is 11years) went to tenpin bowling with his friends for a birthday party. I got this frantic call from him saying there were robbers. We were not sure what ensued during that time but we were not able to phone or go there.

It turned out that 6 robbers broke into the casino at the boardwalk. One robber got stuck in the vault and took 3 people hostage. The others ran trying to get out the service exit. When the armed robbery started, CID officers surrounded tenpin bowling (and the rest of the boardwalk) and wouldn't let anyone out or use their cell phones. The service exit is next to tenpin bowling. The kids were all evacuated into the basement and kept locked in there (we are not sure how long that was) Apparently the robbers tried to break into the building in an attempt to take more hostages. Adam says that a very large bouncer managed to hold back the door! (I think he has become an urban legend)

Anyway the police then ran through the building fully armed causing much noise. Adam was very upset and started crying. This is when Adam managed to call us. After 2 hours of negotiations, the robber let the hostages go. Luckily no one was hurt. The public were finally allowed to leave. Adam was there for just over 3 hours. There seemed to be very little news about it and we are wondering why everything is so hush hush. The story that we heard from the mom who took the kids is quite different from the newspaper article. But of course this was from a different place than the casino. Read the report on

I can't pretend I wasn't really unhappy and scared. It is just so disgusting that in this day and age people are still living like animals.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Scan booked

When I had the last debacle with the pills last month, they had booked my next appointment with the doctor and my start date for the next round of chemo on the 1st July. But I had to wait longer and only ended up taking the chemo tablets on Sunday 7th June.

I see the Doctor and go for my MRI on Wednesday 1st July. I should (hopefully if all goes well) get my tablets on the same day. I will only start the chemo tablets on Sunday. This will give me the full 3 weeks break. Starting on Sunday night was actually good because I have my last tablet then on Thursday evening. So I still have my weekend to myself. It ties in quite well because on Friday 3rd is my wedding annivesary. It feels like it has gone really quickly and yet it feels like a lifetime! We will make an effort to get away and take a night to ourselves, which is not that easy with kids, money and work.

We have been having the most incredible weather. Hail, strong winds, rain, clouds, lightning, storms .... I find it quite invigorating, but I know alot of people struggle in these conditions. Last night our garden and the golf course was WHITE from all the hail. It actually looked really beautiful. Every time the lightning struck, it would light up the entire course like a flash photograph. Its amazing how excited we get. The kids were trying to grab pieces of ice. Just the sound makes it more cold than we think. Unfortunately South Africans don't have heating systems. So we ended up with a wardrobe on and sitting next to a small fireplace. (we do have underfloor heating though) And of course we get to snuggle in bed... What could be more fun than that?!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We are just too busy...

Well next week I have to start my next round of chemo (bo hoo) I still haven't booked for the MRI. I want to have it done before I see the doc on Wednesday next week. Otherwise times flies and we go on with all the tasks. Hopefully I can have the scan by Friday so we have some time to mull over it on the weekend (not that the weekends are any quieter!)...

I have been tired but battling to sleep. I think this is from excitement of all the things going on. By the afternoons (and sometimes the mornings) I am exhausted. When I do fall asleep, I sleep for about 2 - 3 hours. That assuming I don't just lay there with my head spinning of things to do. The 'panda eye' look is not really working with my 'not all there' hair look...

I am eagerly awaiting that last patch of hair to grow back and pushing my body to do it by the end of the month! (You go girl!) Oh I am SO craving a chocolate...

Friday, June 19, 2009

A new schedule

This week has been really busy and that feels good. Last night, I decided that during the week we are going to turn off all electronic goods from 5pm to 7:30pm. No more IPod, computer, cell phones, playstation, WII, music etc Kids must be back from friends at 6pm. I just found that things were getting out of hand with the kids going to friends and constantly preoccupied. Suppers had cell phones ringing and the TV on. This way we can actually talk, read and lay in bed. Obviously if there are emergencies or important concessions, this can change.
We will change the rules on weekends and give the kids a bit more leverage.

I just need a bit of peace in my home. I have found that my ears are extremely sensitive. I struggle in shopping centres and at movies. I think it depends on the pitch or type of noise. We also need to spend time as a family and ensure that we are connected.

Well the first 2 nights have gone well (although there was alot of moaning) The kids were counting down to 7:30pm ... lets hope we can keep it up.

Dr Dupper sent me to a dermatologist because my scars were itching when I took the chemo. I am totally fine!! Yay some good news for a change! It is amazing how it works now days. They scan your mole or problem area with a hand held device and it analyses the structure of the mole. It then gives an analysis. So no more chopping out of moles 'for just in case'.

Interestingly I have been using E45 cream on my face and body and love it. It happened after the surgery as I ran out of face cream and my skin was very dry. E45 is quite cheap and it makes my skin feel great. Now before I used E45, I was using a range of expensive creams, I went to beauty houses and had consultations etc etc. I asked the dermatologist about it and he says E45 is a great product! It holds in moisture and I just need to put a bit of sun block with it.

So there you go! During tough times there is still something cheap that works! (take my word for it) Shouldn't I be paid for this advertising??

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Yesterday I staying in my pyjamas and did some work. I'm such a dirty girl :) It felt good to not have to rush anywhere. (The kids didn't have school) I got a few things done for a family project. We need to be innovative in these times...

I tried to get hold of my doctor yesterday, to find out if I can get the referral to have an MRI. He is also having a long weekend because of the public holiday today. I will call him tomorrow as I want to have one next week. (add to my collection of brain pictures) I am very curious as to how it is going.

I have a few things planned for this week, which is good. We have to have a reason to get up. Being busy means I don't have to cook! I do have a bit of a wheezing chest, I think it is from the chemo. Since I have a couple of weeks till the next round, I am not too fussed.

I hope all of you had a great public holiday.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Hair

I am feeling so much better today. I think it is knowing that I have finished another round of chemo. Also... I got my new wig and think it is great. It is so similar to my old hair style. It is just a bit more red then I was hoping. But they didn't have the other in stock so I settled for this one. (apparently it takes months to make) The hair is so soft and feels real. It blows around. I really love it. Now we know how the movie stars do it! ...Well done Revlon!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rough day

Today wasn't great. I was really tired, but I think that Leo had something to do with it. I wasn't brave enough to ignore the Zofran and took half a one last night. I am feeling quite nauseas but that might be because I actually can't eat anymore food as the system is slowing down dramatically.

Well its the last round tonight...of course till I have to start the next round. I am looking forward to having my next scan and my hair is nearly fully back. Hopefully it will be back by month end.

Sleep tight...d:)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A beautiful blessing

I found this Irish blessing. It is really beautiful and actually made me feel a bit weepy. (They were playing beautiful Irish music in the backround which didn't help) I do have Irish ancestory so I think I might have a closer connection...

My wish for you

I wish you not a path devoid of clouds, nor a life on a bed of roses,
Not that you might never need regret,nor that you should never feel pain.
No, that is not my wish for you.
My wish for you is:
That you might be brave in times of trial,when others lay crosses upon your shoulders.
When mountains must be climbed and chasms are to be crossed,
When hope can scarce shine through.
That every gift God gave you might grow with you
and let you give your gift of joy to all who care for you.
That you may always have a friend who is worth that name,
whom you can trust and who helps you in times of sadness,
Who will defy the storms of daily life at your side.
One more wish I have for you:
That in every hour of joy and pain you may feel God close to you.
This is my wish for you and for all who care for you.
This is my hope for you now and forever.

-- anonymous Irish blessing

See the flash version -

Treatment going well

I can't believe it, but the last two days of chemo have been totally fine. I woke up feeling normal both mornings. I only took half a zofran the past 2 nights and tonight I am going to be brave and not take any. I have to try sometime. I know when I was on half dose chemo (110mg), I never took zofran. I don't know if it is the diet I am on thats helping (I am gradually getting into it). I have figured out that I need to go to bed on an empty stomach. I have been having a bit of plain yoghurt and rooibos tea about an hour before the chemo. (I don't know how scientific that is)

I have been on mixed emotions - happy that the chemo is going well and sad that I am in this situation. I had to ask my doctor for a report on my situation and treatment for my 'serious illness' Insurance claim. To get approval from insurance company, the report is perfect. To read it is not great for my self esteem. Looking at it in writing has made me realise that this is going to be a long term battle. My life, although I haven't fully thought it, has changed in every aspect. (Like I have said before - I am slow to catch on!)

So, my struggle this week has been emotional. I am feeling weak as I realise that this has and is going to continue to change my life. Its not a great thing to be hanging over your head! (so to speak :) )

Monday, June 8, 2009

Taking tablets again

Last night I took my 220mg Temador. As usual I am not happy to do it. I didn't get sick but don't feel great today. My chest really hurts, I have a stuffy headache and my lower back seems to be cramping. Don't ask me what is causing it, I don't really want to find out. I am telling you, seeing doctors can really make you paranoid. Every mark, cough, nose run, you wonder what is next.

I have come to the conclusion that I cannot go to the movies anymore. Both times I have felt as though a seizure is coming on. My eyes start twitching. After 20 min in the movies, we had to leave. I had to try prevent anything happening. The sound is too loud and the light flashes too much.

So lets see what today has in store, no plans really. I have few to-do items but pretending they don't exist. I have finished 2 paintings - which I am really happy about. I want to go see what it looks like on the wall in case I need to make a few changes.

I am thinking and praying for everyone going through financial stress. It is weighing heavily on my heart. Necessity breeds innovation...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chemo tablets arrive

Well my chemo tablets arrived today. Apparently they had to be couriered from the US. There seems to be some sort of political thing going on with some pharmaceutical companies on strike. Anyway they are here now and Dr Dupper said I can start on Sunday evening.

Yesterday I called Dr Butler (neurologist) to discuss a few things. I asked him when I could have a scan and he said I could have one in July as the chemo doesn't really cause swelling. I asked him about being on chemo when I have a low grade tumour and he recommended that I do the full treatment. It just made me a bit depressed to think that I have to be treated so seriously. I was hoping he would say I could stop now. I am going to ask to have another scan after this round of chemo, the last one was done 6 months ago.

This weekend seems to be reasonably quiet (thank goodness)... have a good one.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

60 Years

Thanks Divina for reminding me to put something on. My grandparents have been married for 60 years and have been an inspiration to us all. After all this time - they still love each other. Eat, drink & be married!
Well done!

Eat Drink and be Married

I have always enjoyed Ecclesiastes ... To many people it seems depressing, he is pessimistic and says that all is futile. My interpretation is different. I think he is saying, life is not difficult to understand. We are trying to complicate life but actually it is not complicated. We spend our life fighting for things that are futile and somehow, miss the real meaning.

Ecc 8:15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

I think that when you have a serious illness, you realise this. As I have said before, we shouldn't have to wait till we get to that point to have to change our thinking. The reason I felt I should speak about this today, is partly due to the party we had on the weekend and partly due to seeing how many people aren't glad. It is a hard one, but hell, life is short, we should find any excuse to celebrate.

You will see that work is mentioned, I believe that we can get much joy for fufilling our purpose in life. My Grandfather always says that life is only about relationships (he is right) - so lets eat drink and be glad with them!

I still haven't got my pills, so I will reluctantly call them today to find out what is going on. James & Leo are sick and I am not far behind. Maybe its a sign (Now I am hoping)

James' view on the meaning of life : Eat, Drink and be Married! (I like that)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Diet Plan

I got the diet plan and it doesn't seem too bad. I have never been able to follow a diet. I find when I am on a diet, I think about food all the time. So what I will do is just make sure that the foods I have in my house are on the list, so when I eat, I am eating what I am supposed to, at the time and quantity I need. I usually have a snack in the morning and breakfast at about 10 - 11, for example. I am not far off on my portions, so I am not going to count out "one cup of potato"

I am putting a link up of MY plan.

Please note that this is not for everyone, but has been formulated based on my current needs, weight, height and medical situation. I am not at all suggesting that this diet will help anyone with other serious problems or problems similar to mine. (Unfortunately now days we have to say this!!)

I will need to add benefibre to the diet as she has cut out the insoluable fibre. Well now I am going to fetch a few of the ingredients needed for my diet and particularly for the crumpet recipe! You may notice I am "allowed" a scone!! OH YAY!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chemo postponed

I went to fetch my tablets yesterday, to no avail. I can't say that I am upset that they didn't have the tablets in stock! They have just moved to a new centre and the pharmacy is busy stocking up. Needless to say, it is a bit of organised chaos going on there. People with drips, nurses running around and the place is almost impossible to find.

They need to send my tablets down from JHB. So I didn't have to take tablets last night (yay) I should get the tablets tomorrow. (Wednesday) As we were standing in the chemo room, James was looking at some of the patients (there seemed to be a lot of men yesterday) and said "Isn't it crazy that they have to poison you to heal you?" I would agree. I am doing this with such a heavy heart, every time I go there I want to cancel. I know what it is doing to my body and I just hope that it is having some sort of effect on the low grade tumour and all of this is not an exercise in futility. You have to be strong to go through chemo. I am aching to do a scan and see what the past 4 months have been doing.

Anyway, I forgot that Friday was the end of the month, with so much going on at the party, that I forgot to pay school fees! I had a call today and got straight onto the internet! (very embarrassing!) I thought my bank was looking good! Well I have alot to sort out today... before I sulk tomorrow!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Toga Pics

Well, I have to go fetch my chemo tablets today and cant deny that I woke up quite depressed about it. Not only am I worried about what to expect tonight, I am tired of it. I have to keep reminding myself that it doesn't last long... I am going to try half a Zofran, I am just praying it is going to work. Getting sick is really not on my agenda today.
We had to rush Leo off on Saturday morning (7:30 am) because his chest closed up completely. I was cleaning the venue and collecting the things. Leo has had this before, his gets into a spasm and his breathing is really short. He is totally fine now.
We were hoping to sleep in, but got an afternoon nap anyway. The party was great. We ate, drank and partied. We have the photo's to prove it! Here are a few, I am still busy downloading and getting some from my Mom. I will upload the rest to facebook... "Deirdre Howe Kohler"

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