I’m so sorry that it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted anything! It’s been a very busy few weeks/ months! So where to start…
Ok maybe I should just get the worst over and done with… so the last I think I told you about treatment was that I had finished radiotherapy for my head and I was going to have a head MRI just to see that everything had gone to plan. I’m pleased to report that (touch wood) that all came back ok and it seems the radiotherapy is working it’s little magic ion/radon (I really have no idea what particle it is) backside off! So that’s a bit of a relief! However… and I know you were probably waiting for that bit because I am me after all… I also had a routine chest X-ray.
I’d kind of been struggling at college since the beginning of April, I was just feeling quite tired, coughing a lot and I was really quite breathless! Just getting to and from the train station was tiring me out (I did suggest to my parents that I should get a Segway but you can imagine how that went down!). Sorry, getting off topic. So after an X-ray up in London I always have my oncologist appointment with Dr Strauss and she is fantastic. She’s always been straight with my family and myself about treatment, cancer, side effects, etc. and that’s what we’ve always wanted. She’s been my oncologist from the very start and I couldn’t have hoped for a better Doctor!
So the X-ray, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I’d had a few problems but to be honest I thought it was probably just a chest infection! However, that wasn’t the case. We sat down in Dr Strauss’ room and she immediately asked me how my chest was feeling. I explained to her what was going on and she didn’t look surprised at all. She then listened to my chest and I sat back down in the chair. She said there’s not really an easy way to tell you all of this but the bottom of your left lung has collapsed (the lower left lung is where the tumour is, in which I had to have the chemo for and radio for). She then went on to say that there was sign of tumour growth on the left side and also on the right side. And that the lower left side was blocked from a tumour. Well that explained a lot… and all this time I thought I had a cough not a collapsed lung!
Ok, think you’ll agree, not great news. Dad and I were both a little stunned. Dr Strauss said radiotherapy was out of the question however there was one chemo left that we can use but to be honest ‘it’s no miracle worker’ and she said she would be more worried to give it to me in the thought that it might make me weaker and give me more chance of infection then actually do anything for the tumours.
So I think we pretty much decided then and there between the three of us that chemo wasn’t worth it. Dr Strauss gave me all of the necessary paperwork to look over in case I changed my mind and she said come back next week, we’ll do some CT scans and discuss any other possibilities.
So that’s what we did, over the week, as a family we discussed the option of chemo and we put a lot of thought into it! Although at the end of the day, it was my decision. But you know what, I didn’t feel qualified! I know it’s my lungs and my life but I really was pretty 50% / 50% for a while! How do you make a decision like this at 19?!
So we went back the next week and the CT scans confirmed everything that Dr Strauss had said. We decided on no chemo and I was supplied with a double bag of medication – yes double bagged because there was that much! They even asked me for ID and to sign some statement!! But it’s ok, I didn’t have to pay 10p for my bags (sorry, thought I’d try to lighten the mood with that one!). So yeaaaahhh… I have loads of medications and I still have appointments up in London with Dr Strauss every 3 weeks or so, just to check in but other than that I’m not on any treatment for my lungs.
I know it’s not a nice subject but I’ve always been honest with you guys! I haven’t been given a time or anything – Dr Strauss literally said ‘how long is a piece of string’, which completely makes sense, No-one knows what can happen! We are in contact with the local Hospice and we’ve had a few conversations as a family up there which I’m sure you can kind of imagine the stuff we’ve spoken about.
And, you know what, I’m ok with discussing it all, I’m not going to curl into a ball and pretend it’s not happening, what’s the point in that? To be honest the thought of having to go through chemo for a third time was a little terrifying. And yes, I am happy with this decision, I know there’s going to be good days and bad days but I have so many good friends and family surrounding me that I feel pretty ready to take this on. I’ve been to college a few times and I’ve started just doing things I want to do, which quite honestly is eating loads of food, have fun days out with friends and family and just enjoying my life! How many people get the opportunity to just do whatever they want?! Whether I’m ill or not I’m gonna grab onto that firmly with both hands!
Anyway… I always was a strong believer of getting the worst bit over and done with first! Kind of like eating all of your peas before you eat the nice stuff on your plate for dinner. Sorry to any pea lovers out there!
Right, I WENT TO THE FAT DUCK! And it was bloody amazing! I went with my friend Kirstie, her Dad and his Girlfriend and I think we all had an incredible time. The restaurant it’s self was actually pretty hard to find. It’s in Bray, in Berkshire and it didn’t really have a sign or anything, just a woman standing outside what looked like a pub in a Victorian dress! We followed her in and stood in a mirrored room for a minute or so and then we were taken through to the dining room.
We started our meal with a small liquid nitrogen meringue, flavoured to a cocktail – I had Pina Colada. It was just like cold, pina colada air in your mouth, crazy! We then went onto a beetroot macaroon with a horseradish filling, which again was so light but the flavour came bursting through!
Next was a dish of a smoked salmon royale with a pea consommé and an artichoke sorbet. That was followed by a soup, this one was a real eye opener to me! It was a rabbit and mushroom soup that was served in a little clear teacup. The left half of the soup was cold and the right half hot, however, they both had the exact same consistency and flavour! Not going to lie, I was pretty mind blown!
Next on the list was a box of cereal… so I always remember my Nan and Grandad buying these little variety boxes of like 8 different cereals and you’d always eat coco pops first and cornflakes were always left last! So this was a similar idea but with completely new ‘cereals’. The cereals were flavoured as tomato, bacon, black pudding and the milk poured on top almost solidified to enhance that kind of salty, greasy fry up kind of texture – ok, I’ve made that sound disgusting but it was actually really good!
Our cereals with our toy to build!
Our next adventure was sound of the sea! The waitresses brought out a huge sea shell for each of us with headphones in it playing ocean noises. And then a postcard was brought out to me, now beforehand Kirstie had been sent some questions through from the Fat Duck and one of them was what is your favourite childhood memory. I lived in Cyprus with my Mum, Dad and Brother from the age of 5 -9 and I said that’s where all my best childhood memories are. So on this postcard it had a picture of Cyprus and on the back it was addressed to me and said ‘Childhood in Cyprus’. So I was pretty in awe of that!
Anyway, the dishes…the first dish had a sea foam with pickled herring, pickled octopus and samphire, and it was definitely fishy! The next were three little ice creams! The first a celery and watermelon rocket lolly, the second a smoked salmon, avocado and horseradish twister lolly and the third, a crab ’99’! Next on our seafood stop was a jellied crab sitting in a rock pool like plate. The waitresses poured over a crab consommé to melt the jellied crab and reveal some caviar and flaked crab!
These are the ice lollies.
We then moved onto a forest theme, the first dish was a mushroom and truffle dish with lots of different textures but predominantly these flavours – now not being a mushroom lover this didn’t really hit the spot for me but the presentation and work that had gone into it was incredible! We then had the ‘Mock turtle soup’. This came in a clear teapot in which we had to dunk golden tea bags into a clear beef consommé which we then poured over what looked like a quail’s egg (actually an artichoke jelly) with some pickled vegetables and some smoked ham pieces. This was a fantastic dish and the beef consommé had such a rich flavour! Then a tiny toasted egg sandwich was served.
Next we were given our ‘menus’. The starter was a cuttlefish cannelloni with textures off peas, the main was venison, which was so succulent it was almost melt in the mouth! The dessert was a selection of textures of dessert wines and grapes, I really enjoyed this! The textures of cold sorbet and a biscuit crumb with a caramel shard was perfect! Next we were served 5 little whisky jellies which varied from strength, well I ate them all so I think I might be a new whisky convert!
The light above us then changed to a night-light colour, to show we were reaching the end of our meal. We were given fluffy spoons that smelt like talcum powder and the dessert was served after we all had a malted milk meringue. The dessert was a malted milk crumb with meringues, a caramel filled marshmallow and a goat’s cheese sorbet and it was delightful!!
Here is our dessert.
The last course was called ‘Kid in a sweet shop’ which was fantastic, a tiny little Doll’s House/ sweet shop was wheeled out and opened up to reveal lots of little drawers. So like I said before we had been asked a few questions and one of them was what is your favourite fruity flavour: Strawberry, Raspberry, Apricot or Blackberry. I said strawberry and was served 4 little strawberry sweets, some you could even eat the wrappers from! They were all lovely!!
We had such a fantastic evening and even got to look in the kitchens at the end! We didn’t get home until about 1.30 am but I think it was worth it!
On Friday 22nd April we had our annual Teenage Cancer Trust Dinner! It’s always such a great night with friends and family and this year we determined to go bigger and better!! We managed to get the most amount of guests we ever had and this year we had some really generous donations of raffle prizes and auction prizes. I think we were all willing to really push it this year!!
I was in the pastry kitchen this year but I did sneak off for some peeps of what was going on in the main kitchen and the restaurant a few times – I’d decided I wanted to be a bit of a photographer, well that was my excuse and I was sticking to it!! We were really highly supported this year and with some new ideas like the ‘photo booth’ and Teenage Cancer Trust coloured pick ‘n’ mix sweets on the table, I think our guests were suitably wowed by the evening! With many saying it was the best menu and dinner that we had held!!
I think I enjoyed it most this year with many of my friends and my Boyfriend, Will’s friends being there too, it really was a fun night! I did a video this year instead of a speech which I think really took the pressure off! Also I was worried if I did a speech I would just cough all the way through!!
We managed to raise just under £5500 which is the most we’ve ever managed! This means over the past 3 years we’ve managed £15000!! I couldn’t be more thankful to all of the Chef’s, students and other fantastic people who helped out, and of course everyone who came to support us! The meal tends to sell out really quickly so this year I had some friends ask if there was a way they could donate to Teenage Cancer Trust so I have set up a Just Giving Page… feel free to take a look! Thank you so much to everyone who has already donated!
Here are some photos from the evening:
So that is me for know, I’m sure you’ve had enough of me prattling on! I’ve already started the Bucket List but I think I’ll save that for my next post, hopefully I’ll have done some more by then too!
Over and out! For now!!