About Me

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I'm Carole, living in London, happily married and mum to two amazing boys.I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer in April 2010. Surgery took place in November 2010 and I now have a permanent colostomy...Spinal mets were then diagnosed in October 2011...In January 2012 I was told of further spread to the hip area (multiple lesions)..My life expectancy is now 6-9 months. Walk alongside me on the last part of my experience with this..

Friday, 27 May 2011

'Yes, I'm fine thanks'......

Reason for title to be explained later on in this post.......

I've been back at work now and managed to get through the first half term. This week I did 5 hours per day x 3 days. At the end of week meeting with my office manager (and friend) it was decided that when I return after the half term break I'll be doing 10am to 4pm (6 hours daily) - we've also discussed that 6 hrs is the maximum that I can now do and I'll be thinking hard over the break about permanently reducing my hours.

For the first time ever I now really understand 'Work Life Balance'.

So, been back to work but how am I coping with work?
It's a two sided coin, it's good to be back with the girls and have a laugh about normal stuff during the day (we don't discuss cancer at all)...by the same token it's uncomfortable sitting upright for long periods - the ache in the tumour site has not eased off at all, my left shoulder is another continual ache (and has been since the day after my op - but no-one knows why)...so, as much as it's good to be working again it IS still hard - but I'm doing it and making progress.

I have my appointment on 13th June with the colorectal team - don't expect to find out anything much at all and know I'm going to have to insist on more than a chat but that's okay, I'll deal with all that on 13th.

People stop me and ask 'How are you doing now?'...and I reply 'Yes, I'm fine thanks' because let's face it, most people really really don't want to know how I'm feeling - they just want to hear that 'I'm fine thanks'.

But how am I really feeling?........I'm still waiting for that day when I wake up and feel well - that's how I'm feeling.

Catch up soon


  1. Carole, I can only imagine the difficulties of, once again, trying to manage home/family and work. Please remember to make 'YOU' the priority enabling your healing journey to continue uninterrupted.
    Looking forward to news after your appointment with the colorectal team my friend.
    Fully understand your comment regarding being asked 'How are you?' Wonder why I am asked when really the person asking is often thinking about what they want to tell you about their own life.
    Stay strong Carole, knowing you are thought of lovingly♥

  2. Hi Carole,
    I understand the 'How are you?' question...it is so much easier to say fine thanks than go into detail, and you are quite right, many don't actually want to know the real answer. Human nature, sadly.
    You have been through so much, and all that you have achieved so far is brilliant!
    I agree with Chez...good advice, look after yourself, and do what is best for you.
    You are a strong lady, and have helped me more than you realise.
    Good luck on 13th...thinking of you.

  3. Carole

    Unexplained left shoulder pain is often connected to the liver. It's to do with nerve links apparently. Your liver may be a bit tender or enlarged due to everything passing through it during chemo etc. Have you had your liver funtion blood tests taken? I had left should pain for years and spent a fortune on massage and manipulation which of course did nothing at all.

    My answer to the 'how are you' is 'not too bad at the moment thanks'. Like you, I dont genuinely feel 'fine', but this answer seems to sift out those who then pass on to other matters and those who then ask for more information.

    Personally I think you are working too many hours for someone who still doesnt feel all that well. But then I understand you want to get back into the swing of things and contribute as fully as possible both at work and financially at home. I'm convinced that pushing myself too hard last year was a bad thing, and made me more sick not less.

  4. Thanks ladies for the comments

    Fiona, thank you for the interesting comment re liver. No, not had any liver function bloods taken - not had any bloods taken by the hospital team since my op in November actually.
    GP felt it was just muscle strain but it's been going on way too long for that now.
    I'll pay him another visit next week and bat around your thoughts - let's see if he wants to listen or not....

    As for work/hours etc - yes, I probably am doing more than is comfortable, but needs must. I'm fairly sure I'm going to ask to reduce my hours permanently and see how I get on once I've done that.
    Unfortunately my mortgage still needs paying along with all those other monthly bills - nothing stops or goes away due to cancer eh - just our sanity at times :-))


  5. When I ask how are you I expect the full detail version as I am interested. We don't like to show our weaknesses and therefore often reply, "fine thanks". But you know the people that are interested and those people know you will not always be feeling fine. The thing is, everyone wants you to be fine as they can't change the situation themselves and feel helpless if you say anything else. Just take it as they want to ask because they do care, but some people don't know how to respond.

    As for the working hours, happy that you feel you can go to work, but again listen to your body and take action when you need to slow down. You may need a holiday in the sun!!!!!!!! Hugs and kisses
    lit sis xxx

  6. Don't worry sis, you'll get the full uncensored version :-)
    It's more people that you just bump into, like neighbours, friends of friends - that sort of thing - how many of them *really* want to hear exactly how I'm doing?

    It's a question that so many ask without wanting any answer that doesn't include the word 'fine' or 'very well' or 'good' :-))
    Anything else is too complicated...and it's not a criticism, it's just how it is.

    I probably do need another holiday in the sun - but minus the mozzie's...being eaten alive here as it is. I wouldn't survive in Greece now :-)


  7. Shoulder pain, around or between the shoulder blades, is also a common symptom of something up with the gallbladder. Gallstone patients get pre and post op shoulder pain so often that it has become a research topic! The gallbladder deals with bile from the liver, the two are connected.

    I was told for years that my shoulder pain was variously stress, pulled muscle, typing too much on the computer, bad posture or frozen shoulder. None of which were the correct diagnosis. I still get a little on and off, but now that my liver function inflammatory markers are down into the normal range, the shoulder pain has gone.

  8. Hey Carole

    I know just what you mean about the 'how are you' thing - especially when you're back at work. I always find myself changing the subject really quickly after the 'yeh good thanks,' and I sometimes wonder if thats because I don't want to be reminded about my brush with cancer. A bit of the 'La La La La La' in my head syndrome! (If you know what I mean!)

    In the early days back at work, one or 2 people used to irritate me with the classic line 'I bet it made you take stock of things...' or 'I bet its changed your priorities in life...' etc. I'd rather they just asked how I was and not listened to the answer than assume they already knew how I would be feeling. (But they were the people who irritated the hell out of me BEFORE cancer anyway, so I didn't expect anything else from them! :-))

    Anyway, I finally just came to the conclusion that people are just very awkward, and very embarrassed about asking sometimes, because they're scared of the answer and they're terrified of the word 'cancer.'

    It'll get easier in time -, just like everything else will. One day you WILL wake up and feel better than you did the day before - and so it will continue until you can honestly wake up and say 'Hey, I feel pretty good today!' - but it will take time.

    Much love as always

    Lisa xxxx

  9. Hi Carole,

    I have taken to saying 'Do you really want to know?' when they ask, watch peoples faces drop as they reply of course, really quite funny. An earlier log on this thread notes that most people are waiting to tell you how they are and what is going on in their life rather than to really find out about you - that is so true.

    Like you said the June appt will generally be a nice chat rather than the results of blood tests and scans that you have not had!!! Poor show!

    Much Love

    T xxx

  10. Carole, I'm glad you are back enjoying some aspects of work. I marvel at people like you who are able to juggle it all. I took this year off and don't know that I will return to teaching. I know exactly what you mean about just saying, "Yes, I'm fine thanks." Not that many people want to know the details. Maybe it's better that way, I don't know. I wrote a post a while back about the details too. Boy do I relate! Good luck back at work, Carole, but don't over do. I know that's easier said than done. I'll be thinking of you on the 13th. My best.

  11. Carole,
    I think we all learn pretty quickly that people don't want to know too much, get too close to cancer. It scares them, and I understand. Our websites give us the opportunity to find people who do care how we are doing and in turn, tell us how they are.

    While I can blog about breast cancer from a helpful, informative, pragmatic and even funny point of view, losing my husband five months ago has not been as easy to talk about. I'm sure my readers are tired of hearing about James and how his death has affected our family, but I thank them for letting me vent. I do see the cloud lifting.


  12. Hi Carole
    That's true they ask out of politeness, they really don't want to know, out of the same politeness we answer, but I have taken to answering I just smile and say I'm fine... It avoids questions or the ones who want to hear every gory detail..they feed on this kind of information..

    Take it easy wishing you the best...... Alli xx

  13. Hi Alli,
    Good to hear from you :-) Hoping you're also coping well

    I'm positive that people who follow your blog are definitely not sick of hearing about James. It's good that you can peek out from behind those clouds a little more often - but slowly slowly is the best way forward

    Lovely to see you and I knew you'd 'get it' when you saw this post. I think with our diagnosis being around the same time, we are around the same stage mentally at times too :-)
    Hugs xxxx

  14. Hey Tony,

    'Do you really want to know' would probably wash over most people's heads as they've already moved on to *their* lives and what they want to say next - lol
    You already know, from our lengthy chats, that I'm absolutely not settling for just a chatty experience on the 13th. They should know me better by now ;-)

    Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments - I did laugh at your 'irritating ones' story...so far no-one at work has asked me anything *daft* - they've either asked if I'm doing ok being back at work or they've smiled and said 'nice to have you back' - both are appreciated comments.

    However if anyone says something like 'Bet it's made you take stock of things' I shall laugh and say 'Nope, I never think that far ahead' :-)