FiMunro

love, light and mermaid tails


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Lung Scan

Tomorrow evening at 6.40pm I am having a CT scan of my lungs.


I’m not a huge fan of scans and I had planned to not have any more however I am desperate to get on a plane and go to Thailand with hubby one day. So, this scan is to see if my lungs are clear and I am safe to fly. Fingers crossed! I am hoping and wishing for some positive news!!

Usually it’s me sending love and light but (just this once) I’m asking you to send love, light and healing to me.

I’ll keep you all posted on the results!

Fi xxx


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Magnesium – how low can it go?…

Although I had my last chemotherapy two months ago, I am still receiving monthly infusions of Avastin to stop any remaining cancer from growing new blood vessels.

This is an utter blessing as thousands of women are not able to receive this previous drug due to the legislations in their area. I feel very blessed every time I recieve my monthly dose as I am all to aware that it is offering me precious time with my loved ones. An opportunity which is sadly  denied to too many others.


Two days before each Avastin dose I visit my GP practice for blood tests to check that I am healthy enough to receive the infusion. Primarily they are checking my protein levels are high enough. In addition, they also check my CA125 levels. This is the cancer marker for ovarian cancer. Although it cannot be used as a screening for whether you have ovarian cancer or not – because everyone’s baseline is different – once you have been diagnosed it can be used to determine if you cancer is active. For example, the CA125 tends to double quite quickly over a short space of time if there are active ovarian cancer cells.

During my Avastin dose I was in discussion with one of my wonderful chemo nurses and she very kindly offered to print out a chart showing how my CA125 levels had changed over the last 10 months, including the month prior to my diagnosis.


This shows that my levels were doubling in December and then started to decline from January onwards as I received chemotherapy and surgery. They are now in the ‘normal range’ which is between 0-35. Even better though, they have come down slightly from 7 to 6 since stopping my chemotherapy.

Here’s hoping they stay there!

Unfortunately, chemotherapy has left my magnesium levels depleted, despite daily tablets, regular infusions, salt baths and a diet high in magnesium containing foods.

For this reason the blood tests also check my magnesium levels. Prior to this test I knew my levels were low as I was becoming symptomatic with aching bones and weakness in my limbs as well as fatigue. I wasn’t surprised then when the hospital said that I’d need another magnesium infusion when I had my Avastin this time.


However, unusually, I wasn’t able to tolerate the complete dose of magnesium. I felt hot and dizzy and my heart was racing. I also felt very sick and like my sugar levels were dropping resulting in me demolishing a tin of sweeties in the ward – very unlike me!

I tried to bear it but eventually I had to ask my lovely nurse to stop the infusion. Since then I have had four days of sickness caused by the mageaium drip – a side affect I get each time I receive a magnesium infusion.

Unfortunately, this time I also still have increasingly aching bones and weakened limbs as well as debilitating fatigue as my magnesium levels remain low. I am feeling very frustrated with this as the side affects of both having low magnesium and the infusion needed to restore my levels are unbearable! On the bright side I’m told that my levels should start to rise the longer I am off chemotherapy.

My nurse also gave me a chart showing my magnesium levels over the past ten months which I find facinating.

My next Avastin infusion is not until mid October so I’ll have blood tests in a ten days to see if I need more magnesium before then. Judging my how my tormented body has felt over the last few days I’d say it’s a definite yes!…but hopefully change will happen of its own accord before then. I can but hope.

Love and light, Fi xxx


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Chemo 5 Pre-Assessment and Another Hospital Admission 

Please note that this is a backdated blog post from Tuesday 21st June 2016 – I’ve just not had the time or brain capacity to complete it….

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After an amazing time at my local Race for Life event on Sunday with my nearest and dearest, I was in high spirits and feeling good about the next stage in my journey.

The long awaited week of my first chemo post surgery had finally arrived and, although I was obviously anxious about the side affects I was equally excited to get treatment back underway.

For me, my chemo week starts on a Monday with a visit to my local oncology department to have blood tests. These are simply to check all my levels are suitably high enough that a dose of chemotherapy won’t make me too unwell. Due to one of my wounds playing up the week before, however, this week I was also met by my oncologist who wanted to see how things were healing.

All was looking well and I left confident that my blood results would mirror this and I’d receive my fifth dose of chemotherapy on Wednesday as planned.

Ordinarily I drive myself to my preassessment appointments, a last bid at freedom before the side affects of chemo take hold over the next wee while. However, due to my surgery I haven’t been driving lately and so my parents accompanied me on this particular appointment. This was lovely as it meant that, not only did they get to meet some of the team that have been caring for me, but also that we could go and have lunch together before they drove me home.

However, as is often the case with cancer, it had other plans. Half way through lunch I started to feel unwell. My tummy was cramping and painful and I just wasn’t feeling myself. In my typical approach to life, I tried to battle on but by the time they got me home I just needed my bed.

As soon as they left I was in my PJs, in my bed and had taken some breakthrough morphine for extra pain relief. I’m fairly certain I’d fallen asleep before they’d even left my street.

Most disappointingly I’d arranged for a friend to pop round briefly that evening while my husband visited his parents. Sadly those plans too had to be cancelled – having cancer is bad enough, having cancer have a say in what you can and can’t do is just plain annoying!

I slept for a good couple of hours before waking to constant sickness. I feared that a repeat of the previous week was on the cards, made worse by the thought that this could potentially delay my next dose of chemo. This brought a new kind of fear as, although chemo isn’t exactly ‘pleasant’ it is a necessary evil and it had already been delayed two weeks!..what would this mean in terms of my journey?…

So many questions went through my head about what a hospital admission would mean that, in hindsight, I probably suffered longer than would be advisable before I eventually called my husband and asked him to come home.

Unsurprisingly when I then called the oncology ward they advised that I came in to be checked.

It’s odd really, I made the decision to call them, I knew they’d want to see me but, somewhere, in the back of my mind, I just wanted them to tell me I was fine and should sleep it off. Sadly it’s never that simple with cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I think the oncology ward staff are exceptional but all I was focusing on was the fear of another admission and the potential of my chemo being delayed – again.

My fears were met. I was admitted. I was taken for chest and abdominal X-rays…something I loath as I’ve had so many in the last few weeks and they are, afterall, just exposing my body to more radiation. I was then given three bags of IV fluids overnight and given a syringe driver to provide me with constant anti-sickness drugs.

The Dr that came to see me on the ward let me know that my blood tests from my preassessment had been fine – my white blood count, infection markers etc were all in a ‘safe’ range for receiving chemo. However, knowing that my magnesium levels are prone to dropping, and also recognising that one of the side affects of this for me is sickness, I asked what my magnesium levels had been like during my preassessment. She let me know that they hadn’t been tested and agreed to have them looked into. As it turns out I was right to question this. My magnesium levels were low and, subsequently, magnesium was added to the fluid IV I received overnight.

By the time I’d had my X-rays and been attached to IV fluids and a syringe driver it was 1.30am. I was exhausted but I felt safe. Despite not wanting to be admitted, there is something so wonderful and nurturing about the care and compassion shown by the nurses that treat me. When my husband left to go home they sat with me, they held me and they listened until I felt calm enough to sleep. I’m sure they were busy, I’m sure they had a million things on their mind but in that moment they made me feel like I was all that mattered and that’s a gift. That’s real care.

The next morning my oncologist came to see me. Both of us were unsure what had caused this ‘blip’ after being so well during my preassessment only hours before. Perhaps it had been because my magnesium levels were low or perhaps I’d just inenvertently had a tiny amount of gluten at lunch with my parents (I have a gluten allergy). Whatever the cause, by morning I felt much better and my oncologist agreed that my chemo could go ahead but just a day late (Thursday) so as to allow my body time to rest.

I was happy and releived. Once again I felt supported by a whole team who see me as a patient and not just a condition. They understood my concerns, the comforted me and they put plans in place. Most importantly they removed my fears. The greatest gift of all.

Love and light, Fi xxx

Please spare two minutes to nominate me for a justgiving award.


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Another trip to hospital

Tuesday night I was ill. Not your average ill…but proper sleeping on the bathroom floor after hours of sickness ill!

I just couldn’t stop being sick and I was in so much pain with abdominal cramps that I just curled up on my dressing gown and my husband put a towel over me and brought me a pillow. I stayed there for most of the night. The next day I was expected at a charity coffee morning in my name and, not to let them down, I had a bath, threw on some make up and turned up with a smile. It was a great event and I’m so glad I was able to go! But I was tired and knew something wasn’t quite right with my body…although at that point I wasn’t sure what was bothering me.

Later that night I noticed a suspect lump on my main abdominal scar. My tummy was also rather swollen. I joked to my husband that we might have another hospital visit in store. I wasn’t actually taking it seriously…not appreciating how serious an infection can be when you don’t have a spleen and have had chemo.

When I woke on Thursday morning the lump has grown and turned purple. This want good. I phoned my GP to make an appointment and got one for a few hours later. Feeling happy and reassured I went about my normal morning routine of taking all of my medication. I dropped something and bent to pick it up and then things got pretty gross!

The lump on my scar burst and with it came a flow of what an only be described as puss. I took a photo for the Dr which I’ve shared here it’s totally gross and I’m sorry but I did promise to share the good and bad of cancer.

It was pretty disgusting! And, in not going to lie, frightening. All I could think about was the chance of a hospital admission and I was terrified! I’d only just settled back into life at home and I was finally beginning to regain my confidence!

I phoned the hospital to explain the situation and, after a lot of back and forth about whether it was an issue for the ward or the chemo room, I was advised to come and get checked.

The whole drive there I was worried about being made to stay in. When I arrived I was met by my Macmillan nurse and it was my first question…’will I be admitted?’ followed by ‘will I still be able to have chemo next week?’

Both were met with uncertainty. If this was an infection then I’d be admitted and I also wouldn’t get chemo. Disaster!

Very quickly we were joined by one of the local surgeons. Like all members of my team, I respect her wholeheartedly and trust that she has my best interests in mind. I was right too feel this way. She checked me over and took swabs and blood tests. She agreed that I could go home and wait for the test results. If the bloods showed infection then I’d be admitted. If not then I’d just have to come in for daily checks. It felt like the best deal possible. I was so grateful.

The phone call came. The bloods were clear. Hurray! I can’t tell you how happy I was that I would be sleeping in my own bed again that night!

We agreed that I would come in the next day (Friday) for another check and that we would then make plans for checks over the weekend.

However, when I got checked on Friday, this time by another local surgeon, everything had cleared up so much that I no longer needed checked over the weekend. How amazing is that?!

I am once again so grateful for my medical team. They could have just seen a me as a patient and presumed, given the symptoms, that I had an infection. Instead they saw me as a person. They listened to me. They appreciated that I prefer to be at home and recover better there. They worked around this to ensure, wherever possible, that this could be achieved. They once again demonstrated person-centred care. I cannot tell you how happy and blessed this made me feel.

I am also once again grateful that I am able to recover at home. The fear I felt about the prospect of another hospital admission just served to remind me of all the little things we so easily take for granted at home: our own bed, our own bath, eating when we want, privacy, our pets, lying on the sofa…the list is endless.

I am thankful for this blip in my recovery as it reminded me how well I am doing and how lucky I truly am.

Chemo is going ahead next week as planned and although I am obviously anxious about the after affects, I am equally excited to be back on track with my treatment and confident I am in safe hands.

Love and light, Fi xxx


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The Joys of an Oncology Ward

You may expect an oncology ward to be a sad place. A place of suffering and tears. Pain and death. A place where people have lost hope and with it their spirit, their vibrancy taken by the many drugs, treatments and procedures.

You’d be wrong…

I remember at the start of the film ‘Love Actually’, Hugh Grant describes the love you see in an airport; people greeting one another with hugs and kisses and happy stories of fun and laughter. I liken this to an oncology ward.

You see here there are no arguments, no stress, no hatred. There is only room for love.

The patients have a certain appreciation of life that comes with a cancer diagnosis. They laugh and joke together and quickly bond. They have a connection they don’t share with their friends and family. They know the pain they each feel, the daily struggle they each face and they see through it, sharing stories of how far they have come, supporting those at an earlier stage in their journey and learning from those who have been walking this road for many years. It is truely inspiring to watch. I am so touched by the strength of my fellow warriors.

Likewise the visitors, the friends, the family members don’t bring stress or drama or judgement. They bring hugs, photos, stories and laughter. They bring hope and a reminder of life outside the hospital walls. Most importantly they always, always bring love.

I am most inspired by the partners [mine most definitely included of course]. They are pillars of strength for the person they love. They comfort and sooth. They bring smiles and laughter to faces stained with tears. Then partner no longer looks the same and yet they look beyond it. They show the importance of loving a soul and not a body.

There, of course, is a sadness too in their eyes. Sometimes they cry with their loved one. Sometimes they just hold them, offering a comfort that no one else on this earth could match. It’s a real test of a relationship to witness. While their partner goes through treatment they have to take on every role in the family home, whilst also caring for an incredibly sick loved one and emotionally dealing with the implications of their diagnosis. Some of these relationships have children and they are called on to care for and reassure them also. I struggle to find the words about how beautiful and wonderful these relationships are to witness but the words ‘soul mates’ comes to mind, after all, once cancer strips your identity and everything you’d expected in your life together what else is left apart from two connected souls.

The same can be said of the staff. In an oncology ward there is time to get to know your patients, what makes them laugh and cry, what they are feeling, who they are as a person when you look beyond their diagnosis. Many of their patients have been on the ward more than once and, almost always, for extended periods of time. Watching the nurses as they laugh and joke and comfort the people in their care it is sometimes hard to remember the pain these caring souls also deal with too. They connect with their patients on a long and challenging journey then, all to often, are at their side when they pass. Yet despite this they smile, offering strength and courage, hope and determination to those in the greatest of need. In minutes they can go from hearing a patient be told they will soon pass to making jokes with another patient whose soul needs to be enlightened with positivity once more. These are true angels at work and I am so blessed to have witnessed them. I have so many stories of the support each of my oncology angels gave me whilst in hospital. We’ve shared hugs, jokes, tears and laughter. They have been true blessings on a challenging journey. I send so much love to them all.

I once again reflect on the gifts cancer has given me, most importantly the gift of seeing true love in the everyday. We truly live in a wonderful world filled with hope and possibility and love – you just need to know where to look.

Love and light, Fi xxx 


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Making Progress with Baby Steps

Since my post about feeling broken I’ve come on so far in my journey to recovery.

After breaking down over the needles on Saturday the medical team worked together to make things more comfortable for me. In fact their response and speed was second to none and what a difference they made! Within an hour they had made the decision that I didn’t need to receive fluids anymore as my blood tests showed that my levels were stable. They also switched all but one of my antibiotics to oral tablets. This meant that I instantly went from being attacked to an IV drip 24/7 to needing it only 3 hours twice daily. This meant that in the afternoons I was now able to be drip free! After so long this felt like a massive step in the right direction!

More importantly, this meant that I was now free to leave the hospital between lunch and dinner – if aided by my husband.

Instantly I went from a sobbing lost soul to my old self. That afternoon my husband brought my rescue dog to visit me and I’m not sure who was more pleased to see one another!

Pets really are an instant mood changer!

Together we went for a slow(!) walk in the woodlands on the hospital grounds.

It was magical! I felt so free. I was me again, walking my dog with the man I love. I still had my syringe driver and drain attached, I was still weak, I was still in pain, but I was happy and really, when it comes down to it, what more can we really ask for from life?
The following day (Sunday) my husband took me to the local Botanic Gardens in a wheelchair. 

Oh the buzz I got from being in nature again was just indescribable. The grass never greener. The flowers never more fragment. The sky never bluer. Slowly my soul was healing. Isn’t nature so powerful and wonderful.

Monday brought more positivity. I was visited by my consultant; a wonderful woman, who treats me rather than my diagnosis. She agreed that I would heal faster at home and that our focus needed to be to get me detached from all the machines/equipment. First step was to speak to the lab about the samples of sepsis taken from my body and what antibiotics would best treat it. Their response enabled me to be switched to just one antibiotic – rather than four! Best of all it was an oral antibiotic! I was disconnected from the drip completely and the painful venflon removed from my arm! Cue mini celebration!!!

Tuesday I was sent for an ultrasound scan to see if my drain could be removed. This would be dependent on all the sepsis having drained. I was so anxious. So desperate for good news, knowing that this would determine how much longer I needed to remain in hospital.

The scan, of course, was painless but they could see that a small (15ml) pocket of fluid remained. I was disheartened but I remained positive. I reminded myself that this was a tiny amount. I reminded myself how far I’d come. And I was right to, because the ward made the decision to remove the drain! They also made the decision to remove my syringe driver and try me back on oral pain relief and to stop my anti sickness medication. It was a lot of fast changes but it was positive. I was making progress. I was moving onwards in my journey and, more importantly, in the right direction.

My drain wasn’t removed until this morning but wow what a feeling! Suddenly I was free from attachments. I felt able to straighten my aching body again. Able to move more freely. I’d regained a sense of self. Today when I showered I wasn’t coordinating my usual juggling act of medical equipment. It was just me, standing under the healing water. Oh what bliss. The little things in life we take for granted really are all that matter in the bigger picture. They are wherein lies the joy.

As I write this I am dressed, no longer living in my pjs. I am free from equipment and my scars and bruises are fading. The cancer patient I faced in the mirror just days ago is fading. My sense of self is returning. This was only possible because of an exceptional medical team treating the person and understanding that health care goes beyond pharmaceutical drugs. This is person centred care. I am so grateful.

I’m not going home yet. But soon. The light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright. I’ve made it through another phase in my journey. It was tough. Tougher than tough. I saw darkness​, I felt pain, I faced fear, but it didn’t break me. I feel stronger for knowing the experiences I faced. Better for the people I’ve met. Inspired and encouraged by the human spirit and the love and care in the world.

I write this because I know many other beautiful souls will go to the dark places I went to in their own journeys. Please remember that where there is darkness there comes light. There is a way through. Never give up, least of all on yourself. You have the power to do this. You are enough.

Love and light, a very happy Fi xxx