Piia Pauliina
  • scissors
    June 30th, 2010

    I do not know what you imagine when you think about ‘a stem cell transplant’?  I envisaged being in an operation table, practically having a complex and a lengthy operation.  The truth about a stem cell transplant could not have any more different.

    Yesterday it was the day zero, and I got my stem cells back.  Do not get me wrong, it was really exciting, but not quite how imagined it to be.  I had two bags of stem cells the nursing staff needed to give back to me.  This happened in two sections, with a little break in between.  First the nurses needed to thaw the cells as they had been frozen.  The cells were put into these big syringes, about four of them, and then they were injected via my LTS central line.  They had a limited time, about 20 minutes for each bag, when the job needed to be done.  A second they started the injection, I felt this horrid taste, and smell in my mouth.  My eyes started to water and felt awfully sick.  I started to gag and cough. These feelings just got worse as the nurse continued to push in the stem cells through.  She felt bad for me, but they could not stop.  Those fabulous cells needed to be in me, before the time was up.  I have to say, having stem cells back is AWFUL.  But, the good news is, I recovered pretty quickly!  I have been feeling a little sick on and off since.  But, according to the nurses I did well, many are sick during and after the transplant.

    So what is going to happen now is those lovely stem cells will travel their way into my bone marrow to make loads of lovely new blood cells for me.  In the mean time my blood counts will drop to zero for the next 7-10 days, and I will feel rubbish. After this, my blood counts will slowly start improving.  And once my neutrophils are 0.5 or above, and I am otherwise well, I can go home!

    I walked into the day room this morning, and started to feel faint, so I think I will stay in bed for now anyway.  Although, my counts are still pretty good, my white blood cell count today is 1.5.  OK, it is not brilliant, as normal white blood cells count for an adult is 4 to 11 x 10 9/l.  I will get there!

    My stem cells are in those large syringes, ready to be injected.

    My stem cells are in those large syringes, ready to be injected.

    There they go, into the LTS line and then they will travel into my bone marrow!

    There they go, into the LTS line and then they will travel into my bone marrow!

  • scissors
    June 29th, 2010

    It is Day Zero!  It is the END of chemo, and cancer.  Today I will get my stem cells back.  One of the nurses whished me a happy birthday!  I suppose, today is my second birthday.  I like the idea of two birthdays!

    I am feeling fairly OK still.  A little tired, but otherwise fine.  I make sure I get up, have a shower, get dressed out my pyjamas, and go for a walk every day.  I will be doing this as long as I can, and my blood counts allow me.  I try and stay away from my bed as much as possible during the day.  This morning, I am having my breakfast in the Day Room, away from my bay.

    I am also moving beds today, still in the same bay though.  A girl got to go home yesterday, and her bed is by the window and away from the air-conditioning, which blows ice-cold air during the night, so I am moving to her bed.  I am still trying to get my own room…

    At the moment, I am getting 4 hours of intravenous fluids before the stem cells.

  • scissors
    June 28th, 2010

    It is day 6 here in Sutton. Andy and Lori brought me here on Wednesday, and we watched the England match at the hospital canteen. I was put into a bay of four beds. To my surprise all the patients in my bay are young. I am actually the oldest of the lot!

    I have had all the daily chemo as planned. Wednesday was day -6, as that is when the high dose chemo started. Today is day -1, as it is my last day of chemo. So far I have felt great with good blood counts. I have even been able to go and enjoy the outdoors, and walk around the hospital grounds.

    Today’s chemo is meant to be the worse of the lot, and is likely to make me feel horrid. Well, this is what I came here for; it has been a little too easy so far… Tomorrow is a big day, the day zero when they give my stem cells back! It will be like the first day of the rest of my life, a new beginning. And from tomorrow onwards, I will be relying on my good old bone marrow to make new blood cells and hope I do not get too many infections and particularly mouth ulcers in the mean time!

    It has been boring already. Luckily, Suzie came to visit me yesterday to watch the football, England vs. Germany. England was rubbish, Germany deserved to win. Today I will be supporting Holland, as I feel like I am an honorary member of the Kemner family who all come from the Netherlands.

    Me in Wagamama with Minna on Sunday before Sutton.

    Me in Wagamama with Minna on Sunday before Sutton.

    Lori and Andy who drove me to Sutton.  Visitors need to wear these charming plastic aprons when they enter in to our bay/room.

    Lori and Andy who drove me to Sutton. Visitors need to wear these charming plastic aprons when they enter in to our bay/room.

    My lovely cards. And my cute tins of green tea!

    My lovely cards. And my cute tins of green tea!

    Lori gave me this gorgeous card.

    Lori gave me this gorgeous card.

    My bed...

    My bed...

    The Royal Marsden Sutton in the eve.

    The Royal Marsden Sutton in the eve.

    The hospital from the distance.  There is a small park top of the hill, and I have been walking there every day.

    The hospital from the distance. There is a small park top of the hill, and I have been walking there every day.

    This is the park.  Suzie brought my picnic blanket and I have been relaxing on it.

    This is the park. Suzie brought my picnic blanket and I have been relaxing on it.

    Me on Midsummer eve.

    Me on Midsummer eve.

    Midsummer eve sky.

    Midsummer eve sky.

    I was loving the sunset.

    I was loving the sunset.

    The entrance of The Royal Marsden, Sutton.

    The entrance of The Royal Marsden, Sutton.

    The door leading to my ward.

    The door leading to my ward.

    The corridor when you enter my ward.

    The corridor when you enter my ward.

    The door to our room.

    The door to our room.

    The hospital is decorated for the footie.

    The hospital is decorated for the footie.

    Suzie and I went to watch the England - Germany game in the hospital canteen.  Whilst I was having chemo!

    Suzie and I went to watch the England - Germany game in the hospital canteen. Whilst I was having chemo!

    Our World Cup munches, organic white tea with vanilla, fresh fruit drink, and dark chocolate!

    Our World Cup munches, organic white tea with vanilla, fresh fruit drink, and dark chocolate!

    My chemo bag and the match in the background!

    My chemo bag and the match in the background!

    Suzie outside the hospital after the match.

    Suzie outside the hospital after the match.

  • scissors
    June 23rd, 2010

    I am going to Sutton today.  I called them yesterday and they said ‘make your way down here tomorrow’.  They did not give a specific arrival time, so I suppose I can turn up whenever I can.  My lovely friends, Andy and Lori offered to drive me there, so I leave it up to them when we go.

    I felt really stressed out and emotional when I was doing my laundry and packing yesterday.  It was partly because of the worry about the transplant, will it work or not and how am I going to cope being an inpatient for so long, and partly I was emotional about the fact that this could be it.  It has been a long journey to get this far, and in three weeks time I WILL be cancer free!  I feel also that I have lost a little focus, as I have not have time to meditate in the last few days.  I must get back into that as soon as I become a hospital hermit.

    I am going to try and update my blog as much as possible from the hospital.  But, what I would like to say is, if you have a little time to spend, please send healing and loving thoughts to my direction every now and again.  I would appreciate it.

  • scissors
    June 17th, 2010

    It was exactly a year ago when Megan the doctor came into my hospital room and brought the news of my diagnosis.  Back then I said ‘my life is about to change quite drastically’.  I was so right.  What a year it has been!  I can hardly recognise the person I was back then.  It has been amazing healing journey so far, and I have already learned so much about my ‘true’ self.

    I had the kidney and heart tests yesterday.  No big deal really, particularly as there are no special pre-test restrictions regards to what (not) to eat and drink beforehand.

    I spoke to the dietician whilst I was there in Sutton about my concerns about the hospital food.  She was reassuring and said there are several different kitchens and chefs in the hospital and they WILL find something I like eating.  She took one my dry fruit bars to be checked if I could bring those with me.  Sadly, they are not suitable as the fruit is not cooked and can grow bacteria.  When I am in the hospital, I will not be able to eat any fruit that cannot be pealed.  I am going to email her the details of my supplements to see if I can have any of those when I am in the hospital.

    I also went to the hospital PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Services) office to ask help about my admission date, specifically the time, as I had not been told exactly when I needed to be there next Wednesday.  I was thinking, maybe I could get someone to drive me to Sutton on that day, since I am sure I will not be travelling light!  I was told I would not know the admission time until on that day.  I will basically have to pack my bags, be ready to go and wait for their phone call!  I might not even be admitted on Wednesday as it all depends if they have a bed available, and they will not know this until on the day.  I can understand why they are doing it this way, but boy it is so inconvenient!

  • scissors
    June 14th, 2010

    I woke up tired this morning, I think I only got about 3 hours of sleep.  I was anxious about today’s stem cell harvesting, if I had made enough of the CD34 molecules, and if the whole process of harvesting my own stem cells would work.  At least, I felt I had done everything possible to help a positive outcome.  I have been eating well, resting, meditating, using positive imagery, and sending my prayers to the universe.  And, I know I have also been getting a lot of positive vibes from friends…

    They took my bloods 8.30am, and sent them off to be analysed straight after.  I asked what the CD34 needed to be in order for them to be able to harvest the stem cells.  The nurse said, at least 10, but ideally higher.  I said they would be 15!  After the blood test, I had an appointment at the rehabilitation unit to see an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, a dietician and a councillor in preparation for my admission.  I started to panic a little, as there could be a chance that I will not get my own room.  I cannot bear the thought being in a bay with strangers for three weeks.  That is not what I had planned.  It will be hard to get any peace in a bay, and my plan of a ‘retreat’ will not work.  Fingers crossed I will get my own room.

    When I got back to the medical day unit at about 10.15am, I saw one of the senior nurses setting up the stem cell harvesting machine.  I desperately wanted to go and ask her if she was setting it up for me, but thought I better not disturb her, and went to the reception desk instead.  One of the nurses saw me, gave me thumbs up.  I rushed to her and asked if the CD34 was high enough.  She said it was 21.75!!  I almost could not believe it, and nor could the nursing staff.  I felt like I had just got an A+ on an exam.  They admitted they were surprised I had managed to develop enough stem cells after so many months of chemo.  I felt so moved.  I totally believe the week in Penny Brohn had helped.  I was the only one who had good results today; the other two patients also scheduled for the harvesting had not made enough stem cells.

    I was ‘wired’ to the high tech stem cell harvesting machine (please see the pictures below).  It only took about three hours to harvest the cells, which were then sent to the lab to be checked if there was enough stem cells for the transplant.  There was a chance that I would need to go back tomorrow for more harvesting.  The nurse said it was quite likely as my white blood cells were not that high today.  However, I called them at 5pm to find out if I needed to go back there again, and the answer was I had made enough stem cells, and I did not need to go back tomorrow!  The nurse was amazed and said whatever I did before the harvesting, obviously worked.  The power of mind and spirit on the body, that what it is!  I have got to believe it when I see it.

    So the stem cells are in the freezer now, ready for the transplant.  I have few more tests before next week’s admission: heart, kidney and lung function tests.  I have no doubt I will pass these with flying colours.

    I feel like celebrating, I am so happy!  But, I will postpone the party, as I am exhausted after poor night of sleep and a day of harvesting.  I am going to chill out at the hotel where I have been since last night, and will trek home tomorrow.  I might treat myself with a nice cup of organic white tea with hint of vanilla accompanied by an organic dark chocolate brownie!

    The stem cell harvesting machine.  All ready to go!

    The stem cell harvesting machine. All ready to go!

    The yellow bag is my plasma, and the stem cells are in the 'red' bag

    The yellow bag is my plasma, and the stem cells are in the 'red' bag.

    It looks so 70s, yet so high tech!  An amazing piece of equipment.

    It looks so 70s, yet so high tech! An amazing piece of equipment.

    Obviously they used my LTS line for the harvesting.  Blood went into the machine from one of the catheter ends (blue) and then came back to me via the machine through the catheter on the right.

    Obviously they used my LTS line for the harvesting. Blood went into the machine from one of the catheter ends (blue) and then came back to me via the machine through the catheter on the right.

    The harvesting is finished and the nurse taking the bag down.

    The harvesting is finished and the nurse taking the bag down.

    The nurse is packing the plasma and the stem cells to be picked up the specialist stem cells lab people.

    The nurse is packing the plasma and the stem cells to be picked up the specialist stem cells lab people.

  • scissors
    June 8th, 2010

    I am at the wonderful Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre in Bristol.  I arrived here on Sunday evening, but it feels like I have been here for a very long time.  And I am not saying it because the time has been dragging on, no the opposite.  I have had the most wonderful two and half days already, which have already made me feel more connected with myself.

    Yesterday, we got to know each other in the group, a little bit of our illnesses and journeys so far.  Like the last time I was here, I heard so many moving stories, and admire everyone’s courage and positive attitudes and sunny spirits.  In the afternoon I had healing during which I felt like my body was washed inside out with clear water.  I felt like all the London grime was washed away!

    In the evening we had a talk about Healthy Eating.  I particularly wanted to know a bit more about fats and oils, for instance what oils are good to use in frying, what are good alternatives to butter if I wanted to have a spread for toast.  For frying the most stable fats are butter, coconut and avocado oils.  Olive oil (extra virgin) is OK for frying if used in low temperatures.  Goose fat was recommended for roast potatoes.  For salad dressing, the best oils for their Omega 3 and 6 qualities were linseed, sunflower and sesame oils.  Organic butter was the choice as for spread for toast, however if lactose intolerance was a major problem, organic olive based spreads were suggested.

    I also learned that too much protein could cause more acidity in the body, which is an environment where cancer flourishes.  Meat particularly can increase the acidity.  Hence, red meat should be avoided or had very rarely.  Fruit and vegetables are good to alkalise the body.  Protein is still important, and I should eat more nuts, seeds and pulses, especially as I consume hardly any animal products.  We were given some useful tips what kind of easy dishes to cook with pulses.

    Later we were treated with a performance from an excellent harpist who not only played us beautiful songs from different parts of the world but also educated us about the history of the instrument.  The music was so beautiful.

    Even though I feel relaxed here, I have struggled with sleep because of the LTS line.  I keep waking up from pain when I move.  I think the line is pulling at the site where the stitches are.  Instead of having to take paracetamol throughout the day, I was given an ENM pain relief device, which is a bit like a TENS machine.  I was surprised how effective this device is; I have only needed painkillers once a day, and can feel pain reducing when this fantastic gadget is on.

    I woke up this morning feeling extremely grateful that I had managed to get here just before the stem cell transplant, as I am already starting to feel all the positive effects of this retreat.  Today has also been a bit of an anniversary.  It was exactly a year ago when I last worked as a physiotherapist, and when I first ended up in hospital to eventually be diagnosed with this cancer.

    Here I am, a year later.  I have to say, I could not be at any better place, in a personal level.  It has been a journey, extremely hard at times, but very rewarding and educational.  I have learned so much about myself, and what is important to me.  The journey is still going, but I have gone so far already.

    It has been a full on day, but a very good one.  I had Arts Therapy in the morning that I truly enjoyed.  I was in a very small group of two, it was raining outside and the room was lovely and quiet, perfect setting for painting I thought.  I did two pieces.  One of Finnish midsummer which was kind of at our summer place in Finland.  It had all these elements that I miss, forest; the cottage; birch trees; ‘vihta’ (a fragrance utensil for sauna, made out of bendy birch tree branches); sauna; Jopo, the bike in our summer place; the lake; wild blue and lingonberries; and ‘juhannuskokko’, a midsummer bonfire by the lake.  And of course there was the sunset.  The sun does not quite set down at all at midsummer, and the colours can be spectacular, and the sky is simply beautiful.  I lost myself drawing this, and I was at the summer place for that time.  It helped me to rationalise my home sickness there, as by drawing the place it became a bit more real and not so much this ‘grass is greener at the other side’, this over divine place that is out of my reach.  I might take the picture with me to Sutton when I get admitted.

    I also drew an abstract picture just using different colours.  The image was reflective of what I have been thinking a lot lately after reading The Journey by Brandon Bays who was diagnosed with a football size tumour in 1992.  The Journey book talks about that we all may have these trapped painful issues or memories that we may have been struggling with, unknowingly leading to unwanted emotional patterns.  The painful memory is stored in the cell, and passed onto the next cell when the cell regenerates; the cells are there to protect us from this painful memory.  She felt that her cancer was not going to go away, unless she went on a healing journey and dealt with the issue underlying the cancer, what ever it was.  Brandon cured the large, football size tumour in about six weeks by following her step-by-step healing journey process whereby the person goes through different layers of emotions until hitting the core issue that has been stored in the cells, and then resolving the issue with forgiveness finally ‘finishing the story’.

    Earlier in the morning when I went to make myself a cup of (green) tea, I briefly saw our psychotherapist.  I asked if she had heard of the Journey and what she thought about it.  She had heard of people who had done it and had found it very useful.  I suppose, I wanted to know someone who at least knew someone who had done the Journey.

    The Journey book had certainly ‘spoken’ to me, and I have been very keen to look into it further.  The way I got the book was a kind of a sign, I thought.   Suzie went on a yoga retreat in Egypt at the beginning of May, and met this lovely woman, Stephanie.  Stephanie told Suzie about this book, and Suzie mentioned me.  Stephanie then said, is it this Piia, ‘a blonde, stunning looking girl’?  (Very kind of her calling me ‘stunning’!) I suppose there are not that many Piias in London… It appeared that we had met at this warehouse party few years ago.  She asked Suzie to give this book to me.  So the book came to me all the way from Egypt!

    The afternoon was filled with individual appointments with a psychotherapist, a doctor, and a nutritionist.  I felt so privileged to spend nearly an hour with all these highly skilled professionals having their undivided attention, and valuable advice.

    I am much better ‘equipped’ to go to my transplant now.  I am basically going to see it as a retreat.  I am going to surround me with beautiful things.  I am going to get myself some nice new nightclothes, lovely shower gels and body creams etc.  And of course, I am going to bring all the programmes/series to watch, loads of them!  I am also going to use the time to meditate and try and learn more about myself.

    I think, one of the key things for me to be able to sane in one tiny room for three weeks is the ability to ‘live in the moment’.  If I can do that, I will be fine.  I am also thinking, as this hospital ‘gig’ is going to be my ‘retreat’, I believe it is important I keep visitors to the minimum.  I would not want my friends visiting me here at the Penny Brohn as this is my retreat and I want as little outside distractions as possible whilst here.   Also, sometimes having visitors at hospitals can be quite invasive to a person’s privacy.  Imagine feeling really rough, you are in your pyjamas, you have not had a wash, and all of a sudden, loads of your friends turn up by your bedside!

    At the end of the day, we all shared what we had thought of the day and how it had went.  One of the ladies, Tina mentioned about the Journey when she talked about her art therapy session.  Our psychotherapist looked at me what I thought was meaningful way.  Afterwards four of us went on a walk in the countryside near the centre.  Tina who had mentioned the Journey during her arts session told me that she had done the Journey only last Wednesday!  My wish to meet someone who had done it had come true far quicker than I thought!  She said the process was just like in the book, and that she has felt great ever since, and that she would recommend going through it.  I think I have wanted to hear from someone I know that it works before committing to it.  I really want to do it now, and I suppose now I need to find a practitioner who could do it with me…

    The view from my room at the Penny Brohn.  They had put net curtains to block the view.  I took it off immediately!

    The view from my room at the Penny Brohn. They had put net curtains to block the view. I took it off immediately!

    Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre.  Such a gorgeous place!

    Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre. Such a gorgeous place!

    The Gazebo at the Penny Brohn.

    The Gazebo at the Penny Brohn.

    The view from the Gazebo.

    The view from the Gazebo.

    A lovely swing which was in the gardens at the Penny Brohn centre.

    A lovely swing which was in the gardens at the Penny Brohn centre.

    I took this pic when I went for a little walk in the countryside outside the Penny Brohn centre.  (This one's for you, Tina!)

    I took this pic when I went for a little walk in the countryside outside the Penny Brohn centre. (This one's for you, Tina!)

  • scissors
    June 6th, 2010

    I am up mega early as I am so excited about going to Penny Brohn today!  Partly why I am excited is the fact that I am NOT ill, and can go!

    My ex-colleague/friend, Daniel who also got cancer has got one the tunnelled catheters almost like mine. His is called the Hickman line.  The main difference is that my catheter tails are shorter and more rigid, and the lumen of the catheter is wider.  They need the wider catheters for the stem cell harvesting as this apparently happens in at a high velocity.  Daniel sent me a message about his cyborg line, and said that a doctor had advised his not to shoot with a riffle on the side where the line is.  I am in a pickle now, since I am right handed!  Ha, ha!

    As I mentioned about the Maggie’s London Night Hike advert, I thought to attach the picture that they are using (please see below).

    Team Piia outside the Channel 4 building

    Team Piia outside the Channel 4 building

  • scissors
    June 4th, 2010

    The B&B lady, Pauline helped with my suitcase and drove me to the hospital this morning.  She is such a lovely lady!  She even said she would visit me once I was admitted for the transplant.

    My LTS line site is still painful, but apparently that is normal straight after the op.  The nursing staff at the out-patient clinic have gone through how to care for this line, clean it and flush it.  Next time it needs cleaning/flushing, I will be at the Penny Brohn and they are organising a district nurse to come and flush it for me.  I am thinking, maybe I could even do it myself?  I was given a pouch with a strap where I could keep the end bits of the line.  However, the end bits do not necessarily need to be covered.  I might just cover them with some gauge.

    I was given the Cyclophosphomide today, with some extra IV fluids (apparently this chemo can cause some problems in the kidneys, and I was advised to drink minimum 3 litres of water a day for the next few days).  It was a long day, 8.30am -5.00pm, just treatment!  The unit was practically empty, so I did not have to wait around, which was a bliss.  Even their chairs are more comfortable than the ones in Medical Day Unit in Chelsea!

    I am pleased everything is going according the plan so far.  I am trying to be careful not to get ill, so I am not taking any risks, as I do not want any delays now.

    Two more nights until Penny Brohn!  Yay!!

  • scissors
    June 3rd, 2010

    I do not think many of you know, but I had been planning to go to see my little sister in Stockholm in June.  She is there with Sami (her fiancé) as an exchange student until the end of June.  I had planned to visit her at the beginning of the year, but as we know, the cancer grew back and all my travel plans had to be put on hold.  Anyway, one morning, ages ago when I was feeling exceptionally homesick, I decided to book myself to Stockholm for the last week when Johanna and Sami were still in Sweden.  I thought, surely the treatment must be over by then!  I bought a one way ticket there, thinking I could then also go to Finland, and fly back to London from Helsinki.

    When this stem cell transplant kicked off last week Thursday, I asked if I could go to Stockholm on the 22nd when my flight was booked for.  The answer from Joy, my specialist nurse was: “Yes Mark says you can go – he’s not over the moon BUT says its only delaying you by a week –so you may as well go!!!”  That was music to my ears, so I went and bought the rest of my flights to Finland and then back to London.  At that point my hospital admission date for the transplant was the 30th June.

    After booking all the flights, and being over the moon excited about the prospect I was going to see my little sis, and my little brother in Finland, I began to worry.  What if the cancer comes back, like it did in December last year.  Two days after when my seventh cycle of R-CHOP was due, my cancer was back with my chest raised again!  It has taken six months of hard-core chemo since it grew back to get to this point, not to mention everything that has gone into organizing this stem cell transplant, I would be devastated if it all failed because I went to Sweden/Finland for 6 days.  Therefore, I really had no other choice but to cancel my holiday plans, and ask to be admitted for the transplant on the 23rd June.  I feel sad about it, but my gut instinct says do not go to this holiday, and I better trust it.  I am going to lose the money I spent on the flights, but that is just money at the end of the day; the most important thing for me right now is to beat this cancer!

    In my last blog, I mentioned about the early appointments, and the lack of money to stay in a B&B in Sutton.  Well, I contacted Maggie’s last Friday and had a lovely chat with Bernie who runs the place.  She immediately began to sort out applying funding for me.  She delegated the job to Jay who has helped me with financial matters before, who got in touch with Macmillan Cancer Support, and managed to get a little grant towards the cost of a couple nights in a B&B in Sutton!  I love Maggie’s, and Macmillan, two absolutely amazing organisations.

    I am currently in a B&B (Beeches Lodge) in Carshalton, which is near Sutton and the Royal Marsden.  I needed to be in the hospital for 8am this morning for my minor operation for the tunnelled central line, LTS line (I believe it stands for ‘long-term silicon catheter’), and tomorrow I am booked for 8.30am for the Cyclophosphomide prime, a chemo drug which will aid for the stem cells to come to the blood stream from my bone marrow.

    The operation went well.  Although, they had planned to put the line in my left side, but failed, so I have it on my right side now.  The PICC line is gone!!  It is weird not to have it anymore after nine months.  My right arm looks so bare without the dressings etc.  But, then I have this ‘thing’ in my chest now; I look like a cyborg with tubes coming out of my chest (please see the pic below)!  It is a bit painful at the moment, as the tube is much wider than what the PICC line tube was.  I should not have this for that long though, only a couple of months I think.  I have to mention, that the anaesthetist was amazed how long I had had the PICC for, as in his experience they only last about 6 weeks!

    The nursing staff at the Smithers ward where I was for this operation were absolutely wonderful.  I have mentioned how lovely the staff is at the Chelsea branch of the Royal Marsden, but these nurses were that one notch even lovelier (I did not even think it was possible).  They were ever so caring, which left me feeling happy and looked after.  They really wanted me to stay the night there once they heard I had no one to look after me for the next 24 hours.  I said, I was feeling well and I was staying very close by in case anything happened.  Plus, I was coming back early next morning.

    In fact, I was feeling so rested after all day sleeping, that I decided to go to this London International Fine Arts Fair in Olympia where the Maggie’s were holding a Champagne and canapés reception.  I got an invitation for this ages ago, and as per usual was not sure if I was able to attend.  I am so glad I went, even though I was only there for a short while, as it cheered me up.  It was extremely fancy; the place was filled with posh people sipping Champagne.

    When I walked in the VIP lounge, few Maggie’s people came to me and said, “you must be Piia!”  They had seen pictures of me, so could recognise me.  I was introduced to all these people as the ‘face of Maggie’s’.  Team Piia, my lovely five friends and I did the Maggie’s London Night Hike last year, and our footage of the experience was used in their Night Hike film, then I was interviewed by Kevin McCloud for the RIBA building of the year programme last year and featured in Channel 4 when that came out, and now they are going to use a picture of the girls and I (Team Piia) outside the Channel 4 building during the hike for their this years poster for the hike, so no wonder people have started to call me the ‘face of Maggie’s!  This advert is going to be in several tube stations starting this Monday!!  Crikey.  As I was not drinking alcohol, I was given a bottle of special London International Fine Arts Fair Champagne to take home with me.  I will enjoy this once the treatment is finished and I feel better again.

    LTS line

    LTS line - the entry site is where the (bloody) dressing is, and the exit site is where the tubes come out. I'm such a cyborg!