Friday, December 29, 2006

25. The Cobbler

Christmas in the New House; Kas with Xmas Tree; Matt & Kas on top of The Cobbler; The Cobbler standing just under 3,000 feet; The Group having a well earned rest...

We were looking for all the signs, constantly surfing the weather channels to shed some light on the Christmas weather. I've managed to experience one white Christmas a few years ago in the bonny lands so I can't be too disappointed with the news that it won't be white. As the frost rested on the windshield of the all cars in the neighborhood and the sun sunk over the white horizon, it's funny to realise how Christmas Eve can still give me a child-like buzz. I love it, waiting for an appropriate time to wake up and tear into my presents patiently waiting for me under the tree. It was the 3rd one we've spent in Scotland and I do love it; the Smith Clan make a huge deal of spoiling me... but I'm getting to the point where I'm ready for one with sun, surf and BBQ's. Maybe it'll be the year after next as my folks have agreed to take the journey over and spend it with us next year. Already looking forward to it!

Well the fingers have stayed crossed, I've remained positive and I've tried to keep my body from getting pushed too I was a bit surprised when I received my latest PCR result last week. The last one was about 2.5% and unfortunately we've been told that it still hasn't budged, we have a stubborn one on our hands. It's hasn't thrown me off my tracks but it does get me a tad frustrated when I feel that it should be going my way and that the drugs should work for me the way they were designed to. I'll now be heading back to see the consultants and we'll have a look at the next viable seems that the wonder drug Gleevec isn't working too well on the dodgy Leukaemia cells lurking in my body. They will be running a "Mutation Test" to test the effectiveness of the medication in my cells and they'll also consider three things: increase dose from 600mg to 800mg (maybe a few nasty side effects), change drugs to Nilotinib - "Son of Gleevec" and the third option is the Bone Marrow Transplant. I'll find out in the New Year when I'm back next seeing the docs. The docs say "keep your chin up" but after the turkey I've managed to munch in the past week, it's more like "keep your chins up"...

The photos I've attached a just from last week when a group of us (Kas, Mhairi, Bob and I) took on The Cobbler on Boxing Day. We started near Loch Lomond on the Scottish west coast and with our new boots on, we strided on up towards the peak of this highland hill. The views were pretty limited as we spent most of the time in the clouds, mist and snow at the top. Not bad for a few amateurs; zero to 3,000 feet. A nice bit of training for the 20,000 foot monster of Mt Kilimanjaro!

In the meantime, we will continue to press on and look for the positives...confident that we can eventually tame this beast. We have a New Years Party (Hogmanay) at our new pad on Sunday night so there will be a few photos of that night on my next post...plenty of the Karaoke Comp.

Have a great NYE and keep the messages and emails rolling in...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

24. Wizard of Oz

Photos: Matt at Jacobs Creek; My big bro Nick, Claire & Hayden; Kas & Hayden; The Gun Show with Kas, my wee sis Tash and Tam; Group Photo at Jacobs Creek; Mum, Kas and Dad enjoying some wine...

I never thought I was going to make it. I’ve sat on the dreaded London to Sydney trip plenty of times before and experienced the numbness of the journey…but this time I swore the seat in front of me was much closer to my face than ever before. I’m always one for encouraging people to come and visit me in bonny Scotland but I would strongly recommend a few glasses of red wine with your airline meal (can you call it that?) and pop a sleeping tablet to get you through the trip. As I write this, I’m determined to stay awake until at least 9pm tonight and try and sleep past the early 3:30am that my jet-lagged body decided to get me up at this morning. I’m also writing this with a big smile on my face…if I had a glass of champers right now, I’d say cheers to an unreal couple of weeks. Two weeks in Oz with Kas…priceless!

It was brilliant to be met by Mum, Dad, Tash and Grandpa at Sydney airport…my bro Nick, Claire and the wee man Hayden were going to meet us at my sister’s pad. Through all the emotions, hugs and the way you surprisingly tell people the flight was ‘fine’ thoughts were still about getting my hands on my wee nephew Hayden He was now 6 months old and growing into a little boy more and more each day. I could see that in the photo updates I receive. There was also going to be the time I meet my wee sister’s new boyfriend Justin. It was all going well until we were playing golf and he accidentally hit a rebounded golf ball that flew back off a tree and straight at me… I just managed to dive out of the way! Not too sure about him now…she may have to find a brother friendly boyfriend now.

As you can imagine, I hardly let Hayden go in the week that we spent in Sydney. I’m just glad I finally got to meet the latest member of the Sinclair Clan, it was a bit sad at times too when I knew this was the only time I’d get to see him as a wee baby…part of me prays that my Leukaemia tests will come back fine so that I can see him more often.

My mum had organised a huge family ‘get-together’ at a BBQ site near the Blue Mountains. Surprisingly everyone came and joined in the celebrations, park cricket, cold beer and a chance to see people on this rare occasion. There were relatives I didn’t even know I had (maybe they weren’t, could have been there for the booze!). The only thing that struggled on that day was my Scottish pasty skin when it was introduced to the hot Aussie sun. Not sure why everyone called me Casper

After the farewells, and emotional ones at that, we were back on board my good friend the aeroplane and off to Adelaide to start the wedding celebrations for Drew and Alana. As it was Karen’s birthday the next day, we decided to head out into the city and I could take her out for an early birthday meal before the hectic few days ahead. It was so good just to mill about with my boardies, thongs (or Flip Flops for the Poms), t-shirt and sunnies…even at night, minus the sunnies. The next day was all about the catch up with all my mates, two had even just flown in from UK that morning, and get started on the Stag Do for Drew! What goes on Tour, Stays on Tour: so I can only add that we dabbled in a little Go-Karting, Coopers Brewery Tour, Barefoot Lawn Bowls, a Night Club where I once again tore the dance floor up with my robot moves and then to the Adelaide Casino. I can say that the next day, I was the only one without a booze induced hangover as we all lazed down on the grass at the Adelaide Oval….not too much was said or drunk as we lazed in 35 degree heat and watched the Aussies tear into the Poms. Casper was the call once again though…

Then was it was time to almost get serious and start preparing Drew for the wedding the next day in the beautiful Barossa Valley. More and more people started to arrive for the big day and it wasn’t until a phone call from Drew on his wedding morning to run through his speech, did I realise how much of a big day this was for him.

The wedding was set in a stunning old winery, Chateau Tanunda, in the heart of the wine region. We were set up casually on the croquet pitch, rose petals were strewn from side to side and the sun even seemed to ponder in the afternoon sky in an attempt to see Alana climb out of their 1920’s car. The ceremony was nice and relaxed…I was so stoked to see them get married that day. With the scares of potentially requiring a bone marrow transplant at the same time, I was glad that my body was settled enough for me to come back to Oz and see my good mate get married to Lanski and be surrounded by all my closest old mates…

The remaining couple of days in the Barossa were spent checking out a few of the local, and not so local wineries. My parents flew to Adelaide and then drove themselves up to meet us and enjoy some more quality time before we headed back to the European winter. Jacobs Creek was a highlight, not only because I work for them here in the UK, but that it was our last day together with everyone. We were sampled plenty of free wine and were given a tour around the Winery….not a bad way to finish up.

Then it was back to the Adelaide Airport, said a some more undesired goodbyes and we were back on the flight to Scotland. The only good thing about this flight was the captain’s update as we came into Singapore – Aussie’s won the 2nd Test and Shane Warne is the Wizard of Oz! The trip has been such a good one, extremely busy but definitely glad we managed to come back to a couple of weeks and see and do so many things. As I wanted to keep taking my medication at the same time of day my body has gotten used to, I then had to get used to taking them at night. This made me almost forget out having Leukaemia and I managed to get on with a relatively normal life on my holiday…lucky for mum’s texts at night to remind to take the Gleevec though!

It’s been such a good way to ‘escape’ this dodgy cancer. Even though I know it came with me, it’s more that I managed to escape everything else that come along with the Leukaemia ‘package’…doctors, PCR’s, oncology wards and to some extent my CML Diary (although I’m very happy to be writing in it again). I’m only human; I think I will just need a break from it all every now and again…

Now it’s back to life as I left it a couple of weeks ago – plenty of Scottish drizzle, the busy period at my work, doing what I can to raise awareness for Anthony Nolan and Leukaemia Research…and then back to the docs next Wednesday for a very important PCR test. Fingers crossed…

23. Photo Description

This Diary Post was just going to be a few photos…but after looking through them again, I decided they definitely require a few words to explain how important they are and how much they mean to me. They are all based around Leukaemia Research…each of them displays some pretty gutsy stuff to show how vital it is that people highlight worthy charities and also how hard some people work to make them successful.

The first couple of photos are of my Mum and Dad. They are taken at the Rugby League ground in a place where I grew up, got in trouble and met some of my closest mates (and got in trouble with them)…Cowra. They were there in a way similar to me…it was something they (or I) would never have done before the word Leukaemia started to get thrown about and now they are participating in a huge charity fundraiser. This event was a tough one; each team has to walk through the afternoon and the night, around and around the oval. There were hundreds of people there to raise money for Cancer Research…not bad for a small town. Gusty effort and one I’m proud of them for!

The other photos are from this years Anthony Nolan Scottish Ball held in Glasgow. The guys all arrived in their Scottish man skirts and the ladies were looking very classy in their long ball gowns and dresses. It started off with a bang when trays of free booze started to get handed around…and this set the scene for the night. After an hour of enthusiastic chat, admirable gazes at the ice sculptures and money getting thrown about for the various raffles, 650 people were then led into the Main Hall and seated for a memorable night. We all reminded pretty quickly on the main role of the Anthony Nolan Trust when we were introduced to a man who had donated his Stem Stems for a Bone Marrow Donor. We were all in awe as he was interviewed, shown photos of the very sick 6 year old boy who was the recipient and chatted about how easy the process was. Then plenty of tears started to flow as the 6 year old boy was then introduced to the crowd…he was now 14 and living the life of a normal teenager. I have to admit that the frog in my throat crept in quite quickly as they were introduced to each and embraced for the first time. Gold! It just shows how important donors are!

The night then kicked in and provided all 650 people with an extremely brilliant night…raffles with great prizes, cheer leader show (I closed my eyes!), some good tucker and a band that had me burning up the dance floor when I tried to impress Kas with my best robot moves.

Anyone up for a good night next November?...check out the ANT website!