Friday, 15 July 2011

FiREBUG Friday!

This finds me in TGIF mode, thankful it’s Friday. Although it was a quieter week I developed a virus in the middle and its left me with a sniff and a wheeze! It’s not the virus that is the biggest problem it’s the fact that my asthma kicks in and disrupts my sleep and well-being. What I know from before is that having treatment for cancer on top of another condition like asthma can really increase your vulnerability.

When I had radiotherapy last time I got a cold and ended up needing steroids. The fear of coughing while having a radiotherapy beam aimed perilously close to your heart is quite something. But I am still here so disaster was avoided then. And radiotherapy is undoubtedly a life saver for many forms of cancer. However my trip to the Western Isles reinforced for me the impact of several weeks of radiotherapy can have on someone’s life especially if they are from a remote or rural part of the world-as many parts of Scotland are. The knowledge of that impact can lead to decisions about treatment that will avoid the need for it. So more women in the islands have mastectomy and less have reconstructive surgery- a situation we have not found acceptable in urban areas for sometime.

So what can change that? For the moment its ensuring acceptable pathways for care and treatment eg travel, accommodation, rural follow up clinics etc. But in the future it’s about more targeted therapies. Through Breakthrough’s research we are finding more ways to understand people’s genetic profile and therefore understand what treatment they need when. And new technology is enabling this to move forward with the urgency it all requires. We now have technology that can decode an entire  genome in two weeks which would previously have taken several years. The opportunities this gives for the breakthrough’s in the future are wonderful.

But this technology costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. And these are difficult times for all charities. The dilemmas this presents are real and no more present than this week. Much of the chatter has been would you have accepted funds from the last publication of the News of the World for your charity? Now I would accept that I have a liking for the moral high ground on the odd occasion so I was quite clear what my answer would be until I heard that one charity stood to get almost £1 million. Mmmm what could we do with that in Breakthrough?-even one more life saved, one family saved from pain and distress is of incalculable value. So am I really guilty of saying the value outweighs the integrity of the offer? The integrity of a charity should never be in doubt or its very existence is put at risk and the people it is there to serve ultimately let down. But the reality just now is that many charities are fighting for their very existence. These are not easy decisions and are the things charity leaders face regularly.

So a very personal contribution from me has been to make the decision to do our Perthshire trek in September. When I re-read the documentation and realised its 16 miles I had a moment of panic! My inattention to detail is one of my challenges in life I do admit. I have walked back from work twice this week. Big deal I hear you mutter and you would be right. The viral illness has got in the way so next week the plan begins in earnest. (Have you heard that before?). I promised to keep you posted on my progress so I will. The breast care nurse also made me promise to look after myself. It is my hope and my theory that the two are not irreconcilable! Your support and encouragement will help so much. You can sponsor me here  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AudreyBirt if you are able.

True to form I at least have the outfit for the walk in the bag-it was in the sale honest. It’s not so much that I am vain but I do like things to match. So much so that I found myself about to touch someone on the shoulder in the bus this week in order to point out her red and yellow scarf clashed terribly with her blue and white striped dress. I stopped my self in time but in that moment accepted that it was up there with my airport rage episode. Perhaps I need to get that “I haven’t been well you know” t-shirt printed after all? It may save me from a black eye.

Reasons to be cheerful.  Its Firebug Friday again and a proud Aunt and Uncle are joining us this time in the cheering party. Also we are meeting up with a group of people to see some classical musicians from Japan, followed by sushi in a lovely setting in Edinburgh on Saturday. And I have been promised to meet up with Mary. Who is Mary you ask….she is the new West Highland Terrier puppy belonging to our lovely friends. I am so looking forward to it. We lost our much loved Golden Retriever 2 years ago and I still miss him so I expect to have serious dog envy. Maybe I will manage a wee walk too?

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