This jolly photo is from our last holiday before my cancer diagnosis.
We spent a fun week over Christmas and New Year in Dubrovnik and by sheer chance I ended up on Croatian TV on New Year’s Eve. It was to be (or it turned out to be?) my last TV appearance!
When on air with my fashion jewellery collection DiGBY Bijoux on QVC here in London, we actively supported QVC’s initiatives raising money for Breast Cancer Care.
One year I received a thank you letter from Cherie Blair (the wife of our then prime minister); I would have never thought that one day I’d be joining the club… never say never!
My wonderful chemo nurse Sarolta advised me to get a few headbands to keep my ears a bit warmer during the many hours of chemotherapy wearing a cold cap. She was right. The temperature drops to minus 5 degrees during this special treatment. Even now I still wear them - having acquired many styles and different colours. It has become a fashion fad and helps with avoiding chemicals and hairspray. Luckily, I kept my hair.
I discovered the lump in my breast one evening taking a bath. After that, everything happened very fast thanks to our private healthcare cover. I was operated on three weeks later in the Princess Grace Hospital in London. Here you can see the charismatic Princess Grace of Monaco (Grace Kelly) when she opened the hospital in Marylebone in 1977. Its Breast Clinic has an excellent reputation.
Just like Professor Kefah Mokbel who heads up this clinic - a great authority on this subject.
I was relieved to come round as I've never had a general anaesthetic before…
This photo was taken on my first wedding anniversary. I had just come back from the hairdresser. After more than 40 years with long hair - it was now “gone”, meaning very short.
A few days later I started chemotherapy and I had been advised to have it cut. I decided to
wear a cold cap which is supposed to prevent or limit hair loss but it’s no guarantee. However, I was
determined to stay positive.
This is my very own angel: Nurse Sarolta from Budapest!
She looked after me so well during the months of chemotherapy. With kindness and competence. I’ve learned that if you want to know what’s up, speak to the nurses. Doctors are often too removed from the daily grind that most concerns and worries us patients.
And this is how it looks: Cold cap and everything a modern woman needs during her session of chemotherapy. There is a lot of liquid being pumped into you except mineral water, green tea, coffee and tomato soup! So it was always a great relief when the time came to be disconnected for a few minutes allowing a quick "pit stop” to the loo before carrying on for another hour or two.
Here you see me after my last op - this time at The London Clinic. I was so happy and almost proud I kept my hair and my sense of humour! This time I refused a full anaesthetic as it takes a long time for the poor body to recover from that heavy chemical hit. I had felt terribly weak after the first general anaesthetic and wanted to spare me that experience for a second time.
Once my daily radiotherapy sessions had finished, we flew to Riga for my partner’s birthday. We were supposed to avoid the sun so Latvia at the end of July seemed perfect.
I was joking that we had become so thin during the previous months that it took the two of us to fill the picture; nice staircase of a patrician’s house in the old part of town.
Twenty pounds lighter and on our way to see my great-aunt near the Danish border, we stopped at a busy motorway cafe near Hamburg. We had only told our South African family about my odyssey. It was much easier for me this way.
As always, good Aunt Elfie was understanding. She was a nice lady and always had a heart for her “Tinchen”. Sadly she died recently and I will miss her.
Christmas in Filzmoos in the Salzburg mountains. Our first holiday after the many months of treatment and we enjoyed every minute of it! The fresh mountain air and long walks did us both the world of good.
Birthday in South Africa. A year after my op. We hadn’t seen our SA Family for many years and as my sisters-in-law were born in early February as well we thought it would be a nice opportunity to catch up. We’ve been to the same quaint hotel in the Magaliesburg many times and it is not far from Johannesburg.
I also have to pay a visit to this friendly gentleman every six months, my jovial oncologist Professor Paul Ellis from New Zealand. Luckily I don’t have to fly around the world to see him as his surgery is in Harley Street in London.
Many people suffer from cancer and I saw Roger Moore and his wife during one of my checks here, too - he is often remembered as one of the many James Bonds. And in 1996 I was a Bond Girl myself. Small world!
I have left the jewellery world behind for good and taken up writing so my Blog Reports are good practise. Please press the LIKE and SHARE buttons if you enjoy my stories, dear readers.
I have written more than 30 short stories and will start adding illustrations in the next few weeks.
We also want to travel the world in our new Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 Camper Van which is bound to give me some inspirations!
I'm looking forward very much to this new chapter with my fantastic partner without whom I would have not coped and come through this cancer ordeal half as well. I owe him a very big THANK YOU!!!