March - May 2006

(Don't forget you can click on the following photos to see them bigger)

Birthdays Time!
     It was a big milestone for Lydia this year as she turned 5 and started school! Emily beat her two weeks earlier by turning 3 :o)

     I was still in the thick of chemotherapy at the time, so we decided to just give Emily a small family party at our place to celebrate her day. She had requested a Pooh's Heffalump" party and decorated the table and surrounding areas as best I could in that theme. We did a classic Kiwi BBQ meal, nice and simple, followed by cake. It was a lovely evening and we still can't believe our youngest princess is already 3 years old!

     I outsourced the cake making (to keep things easy) for both girls parties. I got confused at one point and ordered a big cake for Emily - thinking we were discussing Lydia's cake, so we had a lot of cake for our small party LOL! It was a stunning cake though - WOW!

Emily's amazing cake!

     Turning 5 is of course a big deal and deserved to be celebrated in style! So for Lydia's birthday we decided to hold it at a special child's birthday venue called "Ivy Cottage" and the theme of the party was "The Enchanted Garden (Fairies and Pixies)". It was a fantastic setup and very well run (we just had to turn up!) and the kids had a fantastic time! I've never been so relaxed at our own child's party before! A highly recommended party venue :o)

The treasure hunt reaches the wishing well!

Time to blow out the candles
on another gorgeous cake!

The magical party table was fantastic!

Lydia's first day of school!

     We had an inkling that Lydia would slip into school well, when we discovered that all her closest friends from her Kindy days (that had also been invited to her birthday party) were in her class! I was very impressed with her classroom - very sunny, colourful and welcoming, and a wonderful teacher (Miss Cousins).

     Although I was still ill from the chemo I was determined to take Lydia in for her first day - it was a milestone of hers that I did not want to miss! As we walked into the class (we were instructed to arrive a little late!) all her girl pals ran up to her shouting "Lydia Lydia!" and "She's my friend, I want her to sit next to me!"! Lydia was thrilled but also taken a little aback by all the conflicting affections! I stayed there for about an hour, hovering in the background - but it really wasn't necessary - she was in her element!

     Miss Cousins seems to adore Lydia, who seems to be keen to please and learn and clearly knew more than some existing children in the class ;o) Well done Lydia - we're so proud of you!

All set for her big first day!

The monster returns!
     Well, as many of you know by now, my birthday present this year was to find that the big C is back, and grew back during my chemotherapy treatment!?! My specialists are stunned that this happened "given we'd attacked with the full arsenal of chemo". Yep its a mean aggressive cancer and is determined to stay - not if we can help it!!!

Looking back, my gut instincts were correct, but I let my doctors tell me they knew better...
(1) Asked for mammogram several months before my big first lump found - doc talked me out of having one!?
(2) When lump finally found (measuring a large 3.5cm), a different doc suggested it was an infection, I demanded mammogram, where it was quickly determined to be cancer!
(3) After op, they told me that the standard treatment protocol was operation > chemotherapy > radiotherapy. I wanted radiation before chemo - but was told oooh no, chemo first. So we did that and cancers grew back during it?! According to radiologist, I've been proven right!?!
(4) I've been complaining for the past few months that the re-affected area felt weird and was getting weirder, feeling hard, tight etc. Was told it was just swelling from chemo - it was actually the lumps growing back. It was me who asked AGAIN for the hard area to be looked at, that finally saw the cluster of new lumps identified as such.

     So, given all the above, one of the first things I told my specialist after the new diagnosis was in was "From now on, my concerns are to be listened to! No more breast checks, waste of time! I want ultrasounds instead (lumps show up beautifully on those)" to which she said "fair enough!". Hopefully this new approach isn't to late for me?!

     So my situation now is: Where once there was 1, now there are 7 - biggest lump already measuring up to 2.8cm in diameter (Ideal size for lumps is under 1cm)!?! Remember this is in a breast-less area - and my specialist didn't feel them when he examined that area every 3 weeks, last check was less than a month before those measurements were taken! Mammogram everyone - mammogram!

     I've just finished the last of pre-planned radiation treatments, and have just begun on the new intensive radiation starts - another piece of a jigsaw, excludes what already has been treated and goes further up so that overall a broader area has been treated. On top of that they will be doing stronger blasts on the existing lump mass. The plan is for radiation to shrink them down to nothing = no more surgery. I've been assured that radiation will shrink them down, maybe not all the way, but certainly reverse the growth. So at least another 6 weeks of radiation lies ahead of me!?!

     Radiation treatment are done EVERY weekday, in at Auckland hospital in town. It is a major headache getting in there every day when you have 2 young children to arrange care for in your absence, traffic congestion and limited parking options when you get there!!! Radiation is only available in the public system, so trying to book times to suit when both girls are in school & creche is not always possible. Even when they do get it right, it means that most of the time that Emily is in creche (when mothers normally get the house in order, grocery shop etc) I'm busy getting to and from the hospital! So keeping up with everything at home is a major effort when I should really be resting... Friends will have noticed a big delay in my responding to emails, phone calls etc - my deepest apologies - I've simply been busy keeping all the balls in the air!

Me looking a tad battle-weary a month before the bad news struck!

     As my updates on this webpage are only about every 3 months, and I know many of you want more regular updates on my situation, I've set up an on-line diary walking through this recurrance day by day, which I will update regularly.

Thanks so much to everyone out there for your kind wishes, thoughts and support :o)

Brent builds a phenomenal rimu desk!

     During all this nightmare the bathroom has finally been finished and the carpet throughout the whole house has been re-stretched, room by room. During that we did a rooms shuffle part of which was us moving our study from the largest room upstairs into the much smaller nursery room (about half the previous floor area!). Fitting our two desks in there, filing cabinet etc was a challenge and looked cluttered and it was!

     Brent decided to build us a combined double-desk which we decided would have to be a T shape up against the end wall. When he told me it would be recycled rimu I was thrilled, but when he brought home the rough recycled narrow planks I was quite dubious about how it would end up (I envisaged it being all bumpy or looking like a deck LOL!). But Brent's amazing carpentry skills certainly came to the fore - the resulting desk is amazing - a real work of art!

     It took him 5 weekends to do it - including a few very late nights! The first weekend was cutting out the frame and just working out which sections of planks were to go where on the frame (as it was recycled there were marks, nails holes etc all over the place) so that best pieces were on the desk top and front leg and the not-so good on the other less-visible legs etc) and cutting them all to size. Planning was everything! Then the frame was screwed together to check it would work. Then each plank glued and screwed to the frame, and clamped together. Once the planks were all on and the glue dried, the excess glue was scraped off and the edges all cut clean to size. Then it was the mammoth sand-off using a power sander and very rough grit paper as the wood is incredibly hard! Finally, edging applied, final fine sand, polyurethaning (and painting of framing on other side) and then the final construction - in the room! Applying the first layer of polyurethane was very exciting - how beautiful the wood looks - photos can't show it off enough!

Gluing, clamping and screwing from underneath!

The big sand-off!

The final masterpiece!

     I'm in awe of you Brent - you're such a multi-talented man ;o)

Megan and Hilton get married!

     We were thrilled to be invited to Megan (our girls' nanny) and Hilton (old family friend of Brent's) wedding in late April (Lydia and Emily wished they could have gone too!). This wedding had been in the planning for a long time and was a very personal affair with Megan and her family sewing all the dresses, arranging the flowers, doing the hair etc etc. As the guests we could never have guessed it - it was a very professional looking wedding ;o) Megan looked stunning in the dress she and her sister hand-sewed themselves, with beautiful detailing hand-sewed all the way down the back.

The day went off splendidly, the weather was very kind, there were no hiccups - it was a perfect wedding! Congratulations Megan and Hilton, we wish you a long, happy and prosperous life together!

Other recent fun happenings!

     There has been some other fun in our lives too! Firstly, as a "Bye bye Chemo" celebration for myself I organised tickets for myself and a couple of girlfriends to the absolutely awesome stage show "Dirty Dancing", after I'd read rave reviews about it. Even with all the hype, we were amazed by the show - so incredibly well done - the acting, dancing, stage effects etc etc. It involved a huge cast, high-tech props and floating video screens to create backdrops for scenes etc - outstanding! Highly recommended! For more information see

     On the morning of Lydia's birthday, Glyn turned up in his newest addition to his car collection - an MG Model TF! Lydia was given the inaugural first spin around the block and thought it was fabulous! She looked so gorgeous sitting up there in the front in her new fairy dress - it was quite a sight!

     Around this time we also, finally got to visit Butterfly Creek for the very first time! We'd been recommended it for a while, but to be honest, I wasn't expecting much! How blown away was I when we got there - what a great place - perfectly geared up for the kids with a great range of sights and experiences (large seawater aquariums, the famous Butterfly House filled with stunning array of exotic butterflies all flying around us, farmyard animals, a train ride, playground... Best of all, very affordable! WOW! How soon can we go back?! ;o)

Dirty Dancing stage show was great fun!

Lydia goes for a spin in Glyn's new toy!

A beautiful inhabitant of Butterfly Creek

That's all from us - will focus all my energies now on beating this new challenge ahead of me. Thanks for visiting!