Monthly Archives: September 2009

Get rid of hang nails!


They are not normally a treat, unless they are Nail Tek files, specially developed for soft ‘cancer hit’ nails.

At the Royal Marsden they used to have a manicurist, Francesca, who introduced me to this brand.  Yesterday, a friend sent me their latest file – in a smart red case with glittery crystals on the handle.  Now when I take it out (three times a day!) to file down hang nails, I don’t feel I have to hide the file!

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It's good to laugh


I dreaded getting those “how I suffered” books, but luckily my friends know me better.

What I did enjoy was Christine Clifford Beckwith’s wonderful cartoons – you have to have cancer to completely understand the humour!

Not Now…I’m Having A No Hair Day!

Our Family Has Cancer, Too! (written especially for children)

and Cancer Has Its Privileges: Stories of Hope & Laughter.

She also has a monthly newsletter, with a gem of a cartoon with each one.  She kindly allowed me to use one of them in the Hair category posting.

You can order these books on

Contact me

I cannot give medical advice, but if you would like to contact me my email is

I am a Trustee of the Paul D’Auria Cancer Support Centre, based in Battersea, near Clapham Junction.  This is the oldest Centre, and welcomes “anyone who comes to our centre” – so you don’t have to live in Battersea – in fact we have a happy crowd who come through the doors from right across London, and further afield.

And I write books; these are some:  (all available on Amazon)

Inflammatory Breast Cancer – a totally non-medical look at what happens when you hear the diagnosis – and also applicable to those who have ‘ordinary’ breast cancer and don’t worry about margins, grades or stages, but just want to know what is happening to me now?  And what can I do for …….   published by Anshan  ISBN 978-1848290396

Dog books:

About the Border Terrier – tells the truth about these greedy houdinis with a sense of humour.

999 and other Working Dogs – if you have ever wondered what goes in to raising working dogs – police dogs, avalanche rescue dogs, detection and sniffer dogs, sled dogs, PAT dogs, Guide Dogs, etc.

An Embarrassing problem for cancer patients

Women's panties or knickers
Image via Wikipedia


One of the most embarrasing things that happens is the sudden attack of diarrhea, which can leave you squatting like a child in the street.

Even if your ‘attack’ isn’t so extreme, this side effect can hit cancer patients with no warning.  It’s another side effect from our drugs.

So it helps to carry a handy kit in the bottom of your handbag (thank heavens for current fashion for monster sizes) which is a big help in emergencies.  This  could include

  • Femfresh Cleansing Wipes (best product for this purpose) and much gentler than ordinary wipes
  • towels
  • Spare pair knickers
  • Imodium Instant or similar
  • Femfresh spray (makes you feel much fresher)

The one good thing is that usually the nasty ephisodes fall off, until eventually you can face going on a long trip with any problems.

Femfresh as a company make a lot of helpful products, designed to spare our blushes and make us feel fresher!  They are soothing, hypoallergenic and dermatologically and gynaecologically tested, and can be found in major chemists, such as Boots and Lloyds pharmacy, around Britain.

Best of luck!  It happens to all of us, and one good thing is that doctors seem sympathetic.

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DON’T copy Chanel when out in the sun!


Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cancer Patients must avoid direct sun, be careful when out in sun, and don’t forget that even under an umbrella, sun’s rays can bounce off the sea, or even concrete, and burn you!

It was Coco Chanel who made a sun tan fashionable, after she was caught in the sun one day.

Today, although sun is good for you, doctors advise use a good sun cream and top it up regularly – particularly after swimming. When slapping on the suncream, take the opportunity to examine your skin for ABCD, suggests the Cadogan Clinic.

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New book on Inflammatory Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

There are many books on breast cancer, but this is the first to specifically discuss inflammatory breast cancer. It is a guide book that will be immensely valuable to IBC sufferers, their carers, family and friends, and to GPs and oncologists around the world.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is a highly aggressive and thankfully rare type of breast cancer, which is not yet widely recognised both by the public and the medical profession.

As it is such a rare form of Breast Cancer

1.  The book is being written in layman’s language, for patients themselves.

2.  I am NOT medically qualified, but had breast cancer. Once treatment is started though, the treatment path is very similar. The publishers wanted a  book written from a patient’s view – not the official language that might be difficult for us to understand.

3.  Every patient reacts differently to treatment, but many aspects are common to all.

4.  The book covers  conventional treatment, with clinically-trialled drugs, NOT alternative treatments. But is writtten to show everyone that although this diesease is dire, there is hope.

The publishers, Anshan, say

When a patient presents to her GP, there is often a misdiagnosis in the first instance. This is because the symptoms include swelling, redness and heat in the breast, but often no discernible lump. Consequently the condition may be only diagnosed as a less serious dermatological problem.

The author is herself a survivor of breast cancer and can therefore write with expert knowledge and experience. She discusses with compassion, insight and humour everything a person ought to know about IBC –

  • the patient’s initial fears
  • the diagnosis
  • best place for treatment
  • the operation
  • postop care

She discusses the different forms of treatment, and also the side issues – where to find support from carers and friends, what to eat, how/where to go on holiday – a valuable resource of information both for the patient and the professionals involved.

Of course the book also tackles the scientific and medical issues and the various drugs used in the treatment, but Verite writes throughout in a clear, simple style that enables easy understanding of the more complex details.

CONTENTS; 1. Introduction 2. What is Inflammatory Breast Cancer? 3. Diagnosis 4. Help – what should I ask doctors and nurses? 5. Where do I find sensible website info? 6. Operation 7. After your op – returning home 8. Treatment after the operation 9. How will I feel? 10. Chemotherapy 11. Radiotherapy 12. Hormonal drugs 13. Handling side effects from chemo and hormonal drugs 14. Complimentary and alternative therapies 15. Why have massage? 16. Now I want to know – where to find help 18. Carers and friends – how they can help 19. Food, weight gain/loss, what can I eat 20. Take a holiday – but where/how? 21. Doctors are humans – how to deal with them 22. Having fun – where to go for information on what’s good 23. The help minefield 24. Regaining my life – and handling change 25. Contacts, organisation, charities, international agencies and other helpful people 26. Index

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