My first Photohunt entry was on January 3rd 2009 . The theme that week was “hope” and I put up a photo of my battered old daybook turned to January 3rd 2010 with the words “STILL HERE!” written on it. After having just finished a second stint on chemo a few months previously this felt like a very bold thing to do.
Since then I have continued this “tradition of hope” and have posted a similar photo on this date each year. So, as always, here’s hoping that I will still be here next year on this date, and will see this page… and smile just like I did this morning.
I woke up with my head full of all the changes I had planned, feeling optimistic, feeling a bit nervous too. But I love Mondays. They always feels like a fresh slate, a brand new week to get started on new projects and plans. Then I reached for my iPhone to snuggle back under the duvet for awhile with Morcilla, and began scrolling through Instagram pics… and I read the news. It floored me, it made me catch my breath, it made me so so sad. Just 69, fucking cancer. An amazing life ended. I don’t know why it felt so personal, though I know thousands of people felt the same. Anyhow, I also felt somehow moved to make sure those changes I’ve been planning happen. Because, dammit, life’s too short.
Continuing with the “tradition of hope” that began back on January 3rd 2009 when I posted my first ever Photohunt entry. The theme that week was “hope” and I put up a photo of my daybook turned to January 3rd 2010 with the words “STILL HERE!” written on it. I had finished a second stint on chemo just a few months previously and hoping felt like a very bold thing to do. Since then I have posted a similar photo on this date and – as ever – I hope with all my heart that I’ll be here to turn the page and see this next year.
Since I joined the “5 Year Club” marking five cancer-free years I am now down to one PET scan a year (instead of every 6 months) but I still feel just as tentative writing this as I always have. So I hope to see you back here for Hope 2018.
It suddenly occurred to me around 9 pm last night that I am ON HOLIDAY!
This doesn’t mean that I’m not working as much as always, just that there are fewer tapas tours this month and that I have also made plans to travel here and there in Andalucía doing research for my new trip planning biz. So how does this qualify as being ON HOLIDAY you ask? Well, the main difference is not feeling any pressure to have to be anywhere or do anything at any particular moment. So I can just get up in the morning and deal with new things as they come up, go to the gym or takes walks whenever I want, and also comfortably get on with updating website stuff… at my leisure. Just writing this makes me want to stretch like a cat.
H – O – L – I – D – A – Y – S
I want this lily chair. Just like I want the dragonfly. And I mean, I really really want them!
So what, you say? Well, it just surprises me that I am suddenly coveting THINGS. For those who don’t know my cancer story it may sound silly, but ever since I was diagnosed back in 2008 I haven’t really been into buying things. Well, other than gadgets – computers, iPhones, etc – things that are useful and fun NOW (carpe diem). And more recently I’ve been into buying experiences, mostly travel related. Even after moving house three years ago I kept “decorating” to a minimum. New curtains, some kitchen stuff, a chair or two… mostly because I tend to live from PET scan to PET scan. What’s the point of spending money on STUFF when my next scan might show I’ve only got a short time left to live? With that in mind, I know I was a bit reckless not only getting one young cat (Loki) to keep my beloved Azar company after his best mate Sunny died…. but then I took on two more rescue kittens! Duh. Then again, when it comes to cats I’ve never been what you’d call sensible.
But to get back to coveting. I honestly don’t understand it. According to the docs I will finally be released from needing PET scans every six months if the next two turn out clean – next August will mark five years since I finished my last chemo. And then I will only (only!) need PET scans once a year. It’s a curious thing, living in six-month stints of time. Of course I make plans, and work towards a future. But always bearing in mind that, for example, all those plans I’ve made for beyond April this year (next scan) may never come to pass. And before you say “oh well, Shawn, none of us has any guarantee that we’ll be alive six months from now”… well, you are not me. You (probably) weren’t diagnosed with stage IV cancer and you (most likely) haven’t been told by your doctors that they can’t understand why you’re still alive. In any case, I don’t go around thinking I’m about to die, which is why I keep making plans and hoping for the best. But you know, all things considered, I’m cautious about what I hope for. And so it just seems silly to spend money on THINGS.
Except suddenly I’ve found myself not only wanting things, but quite outrageous things. Like the dragonfly sculpture. I don’t know why but as soon as I saw it I felt like it belonged to me. That I absolutely had to have it. Then today after attending a press luncheon at five-star hotel Gran Meliá Colón I passed through the lobby on my way out, and instead of walking by their fabulous bright red rose and lily chairs (as I’ve done many times in the past) I decided to try them out. And as soon as I sat down in the lily chair… it felt like mine! It’s absolutely the most comfortable chair ever. Perfectly designed for reading, watching tv, whatever. And I want it!
So what’s going on? Why am I suddenly wanting to buy not just STUFF but crazy expensive stuff that I don’t even need? Is my body trying to tell me that it is cancer-free for good now, so I should feel free to buy what I like? Or is it telling me that I may as well blow whatever money I have on crazy stuff that’ll cheer me up because I won’t be here this time next year? Or what?
Continuing the “tradition of hope” started on January 3rd 2009 when I posted my first ever Photohunt entry. The theme that week was “hope” and I put up a photo of my daybook turned to January 3rd 2010 with the words “STILL HERE!” written on it. Since then I have posted a similar photo on this date and hope with all my heart that I’ll be here to do the same next year.
This photo also serves as this week’s Friday Foto Finder challenge “beginning”… if all goes well this year it will indeed be a new beginning. I will get the chemo port removed, and PET scans will only be once a year. Fingers crossed my friends.
Check out what other Friday Foto Finders are posting over here!
It all started when I got chosen to be one of the expert judges in a new gastronomy project organised by the Sevilla Tourism office (more on that next blog post) and I was told to show up early for the presentation and press for a “family photo”. Eeep! Everyone who knows me knows that I have had a lifelong dread of having my photo taken, and especially now that I’ve got so fat and all. And so while chatting about this to my friend and fellow blogger Fiona (Scribbler in Seville) she suggested that I use some foundation to “smooth things over”. Well, this obviously wasn’t about to make me look 20 kilos thinner but the more I thought about it the more curious I got. Just to say, I have never worn “face make-up”, though I did used to powder on a wee bit of blusher years ago. Don’t really know why I stopped. Anyhow, the only make-up item I own these days is an eyebrow pencil, simply because I don’t have any eyebrows to speak of. So usually it’s just a quick shading in of the “eyebrows” in the morning and I’m good to go.
But suddenly I found myself out in search of make-up! And the obvious choice for me was to go to the Clinique counter in El Corte Inglés. Fiona had warned me that all the make-up girls there were snobby but I knew that Clinique trains its own staff and I’ve always been treated well when buying perfume. At first I wasn’t even sure what to ask for and told the sales clerk that I was just looking. But then I finally gave in and told her I was looking for some kind of foundation but had no idea… and she took things from there. Not at all pushy about selling, she showed me a few items and explained the difference, and then recommended this light foundation called “Almost Powder”. Then she suggested I sit in The Chair for a mini-makeover. Ha. Here comes the Big Sell, I thought, but no…
First thing she did was ask my name and then said “Hi Shawn, nice to meet you, my name’s Carmen”, which I though was a really nice touch, especially when someone is about to start doing things to your face. And what she did was first brush the foundation on half my face and then show me the difference. I was actually kind of amazed, especially as it didn’t look artificial. So then she went on to finish the other half, applied a light dusting of blush on my cheeks and then a bit of pink lip gloss (wtf??). But when I looked in the mirror again I saw she was right – the lip gloss actually worked! So I bought this super expensive compact that just happened to be 10% off. But even at full price I would’ve been happy because I’m a sucker for Clinique packaging. Always elegant. And then I headed off to purchase a much cheaper version of blush and lip gloss from Rimmel (so I could look just like Kate Moss).
Next day I got ready for the presentation and dreaded photo shoot, and then applied The Make-up. And you know what? It actually made me feel more attractive. Not even so much that I thought I maybe looked better, but more because I’d taken that extra step and time… in any case, when it came time for the photo I strategically arranged my bulk to be half-hidden behind one of the organisers and then confidently looked out at the line of photographers whirring away and thinking, hey, this is me. Looking as best as I can, and really not too bad for a 56 1/2 year old chica. Actually made me feel kinda grown up.
I’m going to have to stop taking days off … they’re too exhausting. As it turns out, today is my only day off this week as I have tapas tours booked from tomorrow until Sunday (eep!). So of course today I had to GET THINGS DONE. This started off with answering a few emails (yes, work related stuff, but when you’re freelance these things need to be done) and then I decided it was a good time to wash, iron and rehang all the floor-to-ceiling white living room curtains.
That done (they look fab now!) I scooted off to the gym, thinking I’d have just enough time before heading over to the hospital for the monthly chemo port cleaning. Which I did. Just.
After that I walked over to Pablo’s to see the kittehs since he lives in the general vicinity of the hospital and I hadn’t seen the wee darlings for a week. As you can see, they are a little bit bigger now, though what you can’t see is that they are much more wide-eyed and frisky and checking things out. But it was feeding time when I arrived and they were less than thrilled about me “unplugging” them so I could hold them and take a closer look (still can’t decide which one is MINE!). By then it was lunch time so Pablo and I headed out for a nice tapa lunch in his barrio, handily a place I’d been wanting to update on Sevilla Tapas for some time, so okay, that was kind of work related, but it was also lunch.
After lunch I decided to walk home, which took a good hour or so. A lovely long walk past the park that I hadn’t done in ages. Then I stopped off at the Flamenco Museum to book and purchase tickets for one of Peter’s tours, which yeah, was kind of like working. But it was ON THE WAY and anyhow was a lovely afternoon and perfect walking weather.
Finally got back home and dealt with a few more biz emails (yeah, yeah I know!) before heading out to get my hair cut. And (just like my curtains) I look fab now! Then I had to pick up a few summer lingerie essentials and also had a quick look around to see if there were any nice summery clothes in my SIZE that I liked. There weren’t. So it was back home again to feed the cats, change my sheets (it’s Monday!) and have a second shower after all that running around.
And now, if you don’t mind, I think I shall pour myself a lovely chilled glass of rueda and put my feet up. Cheers!