Thursday, November 28, 2013

I hope you're all having a nice Thanksgiving – and Hannukah. I learned on the radio this morning that they coincide this year, for the first time in millennia.As for me, I'm afraid I'm sunk in gloom. It's always like this: I trot on through early November thinking, this isn't so bad, what's the fuss about? and suddenly find the Black Dog waiting at the kitchen door.

Yesterday's unsettling news is that our youngest niece has breast cancer. My husband's only sib, his younger sister C., died of colon cancer two and a half years ago, as many here will remember. She had three daughters – the eldest, another C., lives here in Edinburgh and it is with her that I go for walks from time to time. That relationship, as it has developed since her mother's death, means a lot to me. The middle daughter, A., is a chronic invalid, also Edinburgh-based. The youngest, F., the peacemaker since her earliest years, lives in Glasgow. She is the subject of the bad news.

She will have a lumpectomy next week. (Sixty years ago, I met the man – Geoffrey Keynes – who pioneered that operation as an alternative to radical mastectomy.) I had a very upbeat email from her this morning – she went to the hospital for some pre-op prepping yesterday, and disgraced herself by walking up ten flights of stairs thereby distorting heart-rate and breathing. She has been told to take lifts in future.

She has done a lot of charity walking and, I think, marathon-running, for cancer research since her mother died, and feels that her own diagnosis is rather unfair.

Lots of people get away with it, these days. Lots more have years of excellent health before the damned thing comes back. But we've now got to live with the shadow of extra anxiety, at best. And F. has pain and fear on her immediate agenda.


I'm using Open Office here on my new computer. It works fine, saving things as Word documents and communicating with the outside world. I thought I could bring Excel databases over with the same ease. Not so, I discover. My Christmas list! My income tax files!

Alexander and Ketki, like Archie, were not sanguine about my chances of porting programs across from the old computer. I decided to get a Man In, instead of sending for Laplink. I must do that today.


Back to the routine, yesterday. Three more rounds of Rams & Yowes – half of a little filler pattern between the boys and the girls. Yarn then re-attached to the left back shoulder of Milano and that task polished off. I now have several peaceful evenings ahead knitting the front before more shaping will be required.

It's time the yarn for the Sensible Christmas Project turned up – especially as it is likely to be delayed another day or two by the need to pay VAT.


  1. Sorry to hear the news about your niece. My grandmother survived it twice, and lived to a ripe 80 odd years. So, positive thoughts and wishes to her and you.

    Nice to have you back in town again!

  2. Very sorry to hear about your niece. My Dad had a mastectomy in his 70's and is now 90. Current treatments are very effective.

    If she has Oncology Chemotherapy, she will need a warm and stylish cap when her hair falls out. Have a look on Ravelry for some stylish options.

  3. Sorry to hear about your niece, have prayed for her and you all xxx

  4. Positive thoughts going to your niece. My nephew's wife is midway through her treatment, and we are hopeful for her domination of that evil diagnosis.

  5. Anonymous1:13 PM

    Very sad to hear about your niece. I hope recovery is swift and complete.

    Beverly in NJ

  6. Oh, Jean, so sorry to hear about your niece's diagnosis. My mother had an unusual & quite malignant form of breast cancer in 2007 and is celebrating 5 years cancer-free this year; my sister had breast cancer two years ago and she is also doing just fine at this point. It was a surprise to me how much treatment has improved just in the last 10 years. For my sister (in her late 40s) the side effects of treatment (really, the side effects of sudden & complete menopause) were more difficult than the cancer itself.

    I hope your niece has an easy time of it and recovers quickly and completely. I'll be thinking of you and her.

  7. I echo the other friends here about the progress made in treatment. Sending healing and soothing thoughts across the pond.

  8. May your niece have a lumpectomy and that's all she needs. Worked for my mom (and taking tamoxifin) for 20+ years before she had a re-occurrence and that was complicated due more to age (and back issues) than anything else. On the plus side, I learned we have hunky paramedics and if you're going to faint mom's breast surgeon is where to do it (bleeding in the breast which freaked me the hell out).
    But we're three? years on from the last lumpectomy and no issues. Hugs and while the big C is never fun, breast cancer is much more treatable and survivable than it used to be. Make her something warm and soft (I made my mom a prayer shawl) and let her know she's loved.

  9. Always enjoy reading your updates, but today I was sorry to hear your news. All the best wishes and thoughts from me, too.

  10. I'm so sorry to hear about your niece, Jean. Like others before me have said, breast cancer treatment has come a long way in the past few years. Still, it's very upsetting news, and no doubt makes that Black Dog seem even larger than usual. Hugs...

  11. It's never going to be a good thing to go through, even with the much-improved prognosis. I second the notion of something helpful knitted for her.
    Do I not remember you taking regular brisk walks around the gardens at this time of year? Exercise makes such a difference to one's mood, as I am discovering rather late in life.

  12. Anonymous7:08 PM

    I echo the other commenters and I am sure many lurking readers with best wishes for finding reasonable and effective treatment options for your niece.
    I also think one can't have enough walks at such times.

  13. sending prayers for your niece. life can be so unfair. we appreciate your sharing with us so that we can share with you!

    sending you Thanksgiving greetings and thanks for your daily posts !

  14. Wishing the very best for your niece and hoping for the most positive outcome.

  15. Anonymous12:15 AM

    This is very sad news. I hope your niece has a complete recovery. I love to read your blog it is so warm and caring. Regards

  16. Anonymous8:50 PM

    Early detection is the name of the game. Mammograms every 2 yrs. I had a lymphectomy 2 yrs ago and 5 lymph nodes removed. Biopsy was negative for the lymphs, then 30 radiation treatments (no hair loss, just fatigue). Extremely sore breast for 18 months afterwards. Early menopause is the most difficult, brought on by tamoxifin, ie: hot flushes etc. Thyroid gland effected and now on thyroid meds. Otherwise no after effects from bc. Despite having mammograms every 2 yrs from age 46, it developed within a 2 yr period and I was 52 when I had the lymphectomy. Fortunately bc has come a long way and is treated quickly and effectively. So far so good. Hope your niece fares as well. My lump could not be felt by hand and the mammogram picked it up. I encourage all women to be vigilant about mammograms, they are so important. Best of luck to your niece.