Hair today. More tomorrow 
I survived! I'm now past the worst from the sixth and last chemo, and already my hair seems to be making a comeback. It's not supposed to start growing for another 5 weeks, but it's already getting a bit dark on top.

As I mentioned last time, I'm doing a reverse Shave For A Cure. Sponsor me, and guess the date when most of my hair is 10mm long. The prize won't be of much use to you if you're not living locally however, but you're welcome to pick a date. According to all the advice I've had, the hair should start to return 2 months after the last treatment, which was 19th April. However, I note that most of the patients in that ward were 80 plus, and secondly that some of my follicles have never really stopped. So it could be earlier...

While I've been recovering, the rest of the household has had an action packed fortnight. Bronwyn took Sarah and two other girls down to the Intermediate Easter Camp (eCamp). Rachael also went as a leader, partly as part of her Duke of Edinburgh's award, and partly because she liked it so much when she went a few years ago and wanted to go again... somehow. They missed the cyclone, and all went smoothly apart from a few showers and an overturned can of coke in the tent. All cleaned up now.

Rachael then went off on a five day camp around the northern tip of New Zealand, also as part of her D of E award. She came back hobbling somewhat. But undeterred, they all went off again to someone's holiday house for an overnight retreat. I stayed at home - I wasn't feeling too good from the chemo.

But I'm feeling a lot stronger now. Just as well; I've had a massive amount of work to do, and I didn't have enough energy last month. So I'm catching up a bit this month. Now that I've got my energy back, there's a list of jobs round the house as well!

I shall be posting weekly photos of my head. Maybe I could try stringing them into a time lapse video of my hair growing...



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An update! 
I've given up Trump news articles for Lent. It's been hard. As far as I can tell, nobody's shot him yet, because the articles keep coming thick and fast...

Been quite a while since the last post. Basically, I haven't had a lot of spare energy, so I've been focussing on priorities. Fortunately I've been able to keep working apart from a day or two where I realised I'd be better off sleeping it off!

It's going well, apparently. I had a full CT scan (that's allegedly 70mSieverts of X-rays, or about 70,000 banana equivalent doses). All lymph nodes are either normal or returning to normal, particularly the one that were initially the problem. Nothing else detected (and there'a no secrets with that machine)! So everyone else is celebrating. I'll celebrate once I'm past the last treatment and feeling better again! One more to go, which will be just after Easter.

There'll then be about 4 days of feeling tired and full of chemicals. Then about 4 days of feeling tired and a bit sick. Then about 4 days of feeling tired, run down and catching infections. I've now got a stash of antibiotics and antivirals, tablets, skin ointments and eye drops plus a few steroids, which should last me for the last treatment. After that, I'll have a week or two feeling a bit stronger, but with my hair falling out and itching like crazy.

I still have some furry little curls on top. Rachael complains that I can't even 'do bald'. I'm told the hair will begin to grow back after two months, i.e. about 5 weeks after it stops falling out for the last time. I'm also told that it will be very thick, possibly curly and possibly a different colour. There's a popular charity thing here called Shave for a Cure, where people get their hair cut off for the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer Foundation. They happen to be the one that have been supporting us, providing parking vouchers, leaflets and helping the girls understand what's going on.

I'm planning to do a Grow for a Cure instead. Sponsor me to grow my hair back, and if you can guess the day when the bulk of my hair reaches 10mm (I still have a few curly bits remember...), you'll get a prize. Haven't quite decided on the prize yet.

Meanwhile, Bronwyn has been doing some amazing stuff as childrens' leader at church. She spent the first week or two going through the cupboards, throwing out crates of ancient stuff and collating vast quantities of art and curriculum materials. We're suddenly not short of paint and cardboard. She's also been on a couple of training courses and has brought in some fresh ideas as well as a bit of discipline. I'm told the kids enjoy it a lot more now! The church did want her to do a bible college paper as well, but she's only supposed to be on three months trial at the moment so she decided to wait and see how much workload it was going to be first.

The youth pastor also resigned at the end of the year, and one of the ex-youth is basically running things. A little haphazardly, but she certainly seems to be coping quite ably. The leadership is still looking for a combined youth & childrens' pastor as a part time (0.8) role. So far with not a lot of success! I suspect we just need to raise a decent team to support the leaders we've currently got.

Rach had issues with quadratics last week. She weedled her way out of an internal assessment, on the condition that she lets me know in advance if there are things she doesn't understand. So I've been looking up the general solution to quadratic equations, and explaining it to her. Didn't know it was first documented in India in 628AD, and probably came from the Babylonians. Meanwhile Sarah has been doing research on plastics, and I gave her a lesson on how to copy a Wikipedia article and mangle it into her own words...

Still quite warm here. The cyclone is due to hit us on about Tuesday, although it's rather humid and rainy now. We've had good rain over the summer, so the grass is green. We are now a two-lawnmower family. The old one sits in the shed. It'll start after about half an hour of trying, and the belt will fall off as soon as it tries to cut anything. Probably need to phone a scrap dealer. The other one was probably Claire's (Bronwyn's not sure, it appears to have been abandoned in our garage!) and the battery needs replacing but once it's started it seems to go fine.

Lost a pet lamb and cow recently. The cow (Angel) had already lost one eye due to a tumour, had had issues calving, and had got quite sick. The lamb was from a friend and had got fly strike (where flies lay eggs on the skin and ... maggots ...) It can get bad quite quickly, but it's usually treatable if you catch it quick. Bronwyn regularly checks on the sheep as she goes down the drive.

Plans are already well underway for next January when me and Nick will be 50. Ulp. Nick will be over with our mum and Esther. Plains, trains and automobiles, plus a spot of camping. Should be good!

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Last of the holidays 
Hot and sticky. I'm supposed to measure my temperature daily to make sure I don't get a fever. It's tricky to tell in this weather. We had at least 10cm of rain last week, and it's currently holding us in a muggy sauna while they battle bush fires down south.

The kayaks arrived! Rach and Sarah spent several hours out on the dam yesterday, and will probably be out again this evening. Everything arrived separately. We're still awaiting the second rain cover.

Had a quiet weekend in house over on the east coast. It belongs to a friend of ours. It's an old holiday home, sandwiched between multi-million dollar houses, and build when the east coast was only ever occupied by farmers and holidaymakers. Spent lots of time on the beach, hunting crabs, collecting hundreds of shells and stones, and studying geology, The cliffs have layers of sand and mudstone separated by various layers of volcanic ash. The sandstone itself has micro layers in it, and cracks filled with a variety of other rocks. The layers also flow and change direction, and in one spot there's a 5 metre thick layer that's been completely folded back on itself, and the resulting gap filled with loose mudstone. I'm guessing it was a tsunami. Must have been a big one - it came from the west!

The girls are back at school, and already I'm fielding questions about oxidation states and line graphs. At least it's better if we deal with it all in February rather than October!

Three treatments down, three to go. I'd like to call it half way, but I'm still suffering from the last one! The specialist very carefully felt the left side of my neck. He then wrote a note saying that there was no evidence of the cervical lymph nodes. I didn't want to interrupt at the time, but I thought I'd better ring and say that they're actually on the right. But apparently he's still happy with the progress. Right now I'm suffering more from the treatment than I ever did from the disease!

I'm missing my daily dose of Trump. It all seems to have gone quiet lately. I hope they hurry up with the next episode...

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Gone bald 
I regretfully announce that my hair and I have parted company. Well, some of it. Some bits dug in and clung on. Other bits fell out everywhere. The result was a bit of a mess, so I'm down to a Number One at the barbers. Sarah's OK with it. Rachael insists I wear a hat!

Currently on antibiotics. Spent yesterday in bed. Obviously I caught something during my low-immunity phase last week. But I seem to be bouncing back today. Managed to jump the queue at the doctors. They've been told I'm on chemo of course, so I went in straight away. I'm hoping for a good week and a half to catch up on things before the next round.

Meanwhile, we're now looking forward to the delivery of a couple of kayaks. Rachael has to do some form of physical activity for her Duke of Edinburgh's Gold award. She's managed to fudge it so far, but this time Mum says she has to do it properly! So a friend brought round some kayaks for her to try out, and she really enjoyed it. So did Sarah. Hence we've ended up getting two. Of course, we've only got the dam to play on, and no means of transporting them, but Rachael's happy.

Bronwyn has been busy. She's still doing up to 3 days at work, plus 15 hours doing the childrens' work at church. Having been through the cupboards and the laptop she's investigating new programmes and activities. Apparently the new DVD-TV didn't work today, so they had to bring The Big One down from the loft. Playdough worked well, provided it stays away from the carpet. But on the whole, things seem to be working out well.

Hot and dry for once. Rach and Bronwyn are out wrapping hay, and we've been keeping an eye out for maggotty sheep. Harley got quite badly eaten and lost a lot of weight, but she's recovering well now. The chickens have discovered the underside of the house. Unfortunately they've got the idea that the polystyrene insulation has some sort of nutritional value. To prevent them laying Christmas decorations, I went round and blocked up all the holes under the house...

Pardon me; I need to tune in for the Next Thrilling Episode. J R Ewing sits in his huge chair, having just signed the deal for a new oil well. Meanwhile, his elegant wife Sue Ellen cordially greets the neighbours. But who are these who threaten his reign? Find out this time next week. Or more accurately, tomorrow.

At least JR had business sense...

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January 
After two hours on the chemo drip the nurse looked at the lump on my neck and casually said "Yes, it seems to be reducing". Crumbs. That was quick! Within a day or two it was down to just a fleshy patch with no noticeable lump at all.

Had a week and a half of not feeling too good, but this week I've been pretty much back to normal. Hasn't been half as bad as I'd been expecting. And now they're saying that my hair is just going to thin a bit, rather than all fall out. So all going well so far. Next chemo is on Thursday. Thanks to everyone for your support.

Sarah is getting bored, and Rachael has hardly left the house. Bronwyn's been planning a few trips out in lieu of the camping trip we were about to go on. Now that their friends are back home again, there's more options for sleepovers. Sarah spent a night camping with her cousin and came back extremely tired!

Bronwyn is now on the staff at church as children's ministry leader. She's been turfing out all the cupboards and planning activities. She's down to three days a week at her current job, and 15 hours for the church. I've given her a time tracker on her laptop; she wants to be keep a log of how much time she uses!

It's generally been cloudy and warm here. Occasional sunshine, but not really Auckland January weather so far. But Bronwyn's been busy out doing haymaking or treating fly struck lambs. Harley got particularly badly hit by maggots, and was back in our garden for a bit recovering. Meanwhile, one of our chickens has been broody, and didn't leave the nest for ages, despite not laying any eggs. We had to keep her shut out for a week or two. She seems to have got over it now!

Had a birthday tea this afternoon. However, due to various reasons nobody turned up! At least it gave us the incentive to tidy up and put away all the Christmas decorations, and then have a quiet hour until some friends turned up rather late...

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