As most of you know by now, I was diagnosed with breast cancer the week beginning July 4th, the day I temporarily lost my Independence! I know! You couldn’t write the script!
It’s been an unimaginable 15 weeks, full of tears, exasperation, fear, love, laughter and most importantly fun. I was even able to negotiate an absence of leave and disappeared to New York for a month to get my head together. Running 4 miles a day along the New York skyline certainly helped me gather some perspective and galvanise myself for the eventful journey ahead.
By the time I returned to Wales, I was more than ready for surgery on August 25th. Keen to get cracking! Cancer is a lonely business. I mean that in the wisest of ways and despite being surrounded by an eclectic bunch of loving and supportive friends and family... In order to cope mentally and physically, one has to be prepared to manage the journey alone, to a degree, in order to survive. Never is this more apparent than when you walk the walk to have surgery, with nothing more than a pillow for company ;0) The doors swing shut and there you are, all by your self with a room full of strangers, all doing their best for you, to try and literally, cut the cancer away.
This is why I felt compelled to send Mike away on tour to the USA a week after my surgery. I am used to being alone. Despite my diagnosis, we had important business to take care of for Love Hope Strength in Washington DC, It would have been a negative for me, to have to cope with the process of cancellation and disappointment of the Alarm family, at a time when all I needed was a bag of positives. So Mike headed to the USA for a month and I moved my girlfriends in (grin). You see, there is always a silver lining. Alone but not really alone.
Poor Mike couldn’t have been further away. Mike, who is always so calm and positive wanted to jump on a plane and run to me, especially when I needed a second surgery but I didn’t want him parachuting back into my life. The show had to go on. It made me strong, dealing with it all by myself, with my nearest and dearest, running alongside me, ready to leap in if I needed a ‘love’…
I have mainly been dealing with this situation by seeing the funny side, belly-laughing with my mates through the ups and downs of this little curve ball. It honestly hasn’t been the worst time of my life. It’s been quite celebratory. I feel extremely lucky to be alive. I feel extremely grateful to my friend for nagging me to get checked. Make sure you all check yourself for lumps and bumps. Checking has literally saved my life. I just feel lucky!
Most of you who know me, know that I am very appreciative and grateful for the life I lead. I love living in Wales. I love our rock and roll gallivanting I’m addicted to the sunrise, the sunset, the beach, the mountains. My amazing folks raised me to see the positives outside my window. I certainly didn’t need a wake up call to shake up my life. However, now that cancer has happened to me, I feel forever changed. I feel more resilient. Formidable perhaps? No fear. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant. It’s just that when you have walked into countless medical appointments, massaging the fear in your throat, managing the demons licking at your heels, staying calm and positive when all colour is draining from your life and the pit of your stomach is falling away, you become less afraid, less fearful, more knowing, more understanding. This has all been about small steps. There can be no reassurance at the beginning of a breast cancer diagnosis. My situation has been so subtle. It has been such a battle for my amazing medical team to figure out where my cancer began and where it ended. Cancer is still weaving its deadly dance and it has taken great skill for my team to decide on the best form of treatment to get my personal situation under control. Small steps and gallons of patience are required. Slowly, the colours are returning and they are more psychedelic than before. Life takes on new meaning...
Now this week, the goalposts have shifted and I am delighted to announce that I am actually excited to begin my chemotherapy journey. I never thought I’d be saying that. Back in July, despite wanting to grab cancer by the balls, I was terrified at the prospect of chemo. Chemotherapy doesn’t scare me. I’ve sat next to Mike enough times and poured him tea and tossed him the occasional biscuit (biscuits are a no no in our house but MP is allowed special treats on chemo days) to see that it is much more manageable in 2016 but I am scared and dare I say cross about potentially losing my hair ;0) For most women, losing your hair, losing your breast is a dreadful option but you still feel a teeny weeny bit guilty for worrying about vanity when cancer is out to get you.
Vanity gets you through though and I think it’s important to be honest about these kind of fears and explore them. I explored my fears by shooting straight off to Manchester, finding myself an amazing and empathetic hairdresser who is slowly but surely creating me a wig to die for. Well not to die for but you get my drift ;0) Think Marianne Faithful. Think heavy fringe. I may never take this wig off! It will also be handy in the future when I’m done with this cancer journey to just wear for fun. It will be useful at the Gathering for example when I arrive early at Venue Cymru and never have time to wash my hair for show time. It will be useful for Fri nights out at the pub with the girls. No more need to wash and go.You see, there is always a positive to grasp for. Silver linings pop up when you least expect them.
This segueys smoothly into the Gathering. The Show Must Go On! The Gathering will go on! Feb 3/4/5, Venue Cymru, Llandudno, 2017… You Gatherers can do what you always do and pack your bags and go on tour whilst Mike and I (and the band) can do what we have always done and stay at home. I will hopefully be a few weeks short of my final chemo by then. I am also busy negotiating for a larger venue to house all you lovely extra Gatherer people who wish to attend, now that the Gathering has sold out months in advance. Please bear with me, as trust me, there is no one more than me who wants this Gathering to be the best EVER!
This then leads me on to the Alarm shows later this year. Whilst the show must go on, I’m hoping that my beautiful Alarm family will cut me some slack in this department ( I know you can get frustrated at times) to allow me to reschedule these shows for a later date. I just need Mikey by my side for the chemo, not necessarily to hold my hand as no doubt I will be tapping away furiously at my laptop under my Cold Cap (yes, I’m going to fight hard through the brain freeze to keep hold of my hair despite the ownership of my new Marianne wig) but I just need MP home to manage the home life. My close friends and family have been managing this in his absence but they all have their own jobs and families to take care of too, so time for MP to be By My Side...)
Think ‘putting the bins out’ (It’s a Thursday, Mike!!!!) think taxiing the boys to tennis, golf, footie, drums, Tic, guitar, swimming (Good luck with that, Michael!) and don’t keep asking me "what’s the plan today, Jules… check your itinerary!!!!” ;0) Mike has never forgiven me for making him shift a few boxes outside the chapel after his first ever chemo or making him shift his backside in the morning after most of his chemo appointments… (You get enough lie ins on your tours, Mikey Boy!!!)… I’m hoping for ‘The Good Wife’ Boxset, bit of ‘Cold Feet’, tea in bed, the day after my chemo but I think it’s all a negotiation...
I’m actually quite excited about Mike being home for a few months. Lately, we have been gallivanting. A LOT. My North Walian mates get frustrated by our gallivanting sometimes. Makes it hard to plan ahead. Where are the Peters’ Family? Month in Los Angeles. Month in New York. How they get frustrated with us sometimes for our rock and roll lifestyle (grin) Now they get us all to themselves. Dim gallivanting o gwbl. It’s going to be fun. Comforting. Like slipping on an old holey jumper (no offence Delyth & Leanne) and when I say holey jumper check out the new new 2016 version in All Saints…
Mike and I will get to watch TV together. We never usually do normal stuff like that. We might even start going to bed early! It’s going to be like entering a whole new world. Box set recommendations please! Something that can please him and her… 24 did it for us in the past. Homeland. Stella ;0) (On Tour) Should we re-attempt Breaking Bad? Lost our way there…
We are also going to get cracking on making music. Oh yeah… With our special team, kicking off this week with Marky, George and Smiles… Nothing like a few melodies bouncing around to lift the spirits. MPO will be open for business as usual and we will be keeping as busy as ever. Bus-yness is good for the soul.
My soul needs nourishment and for the last few years, running has become my mantra but as I can’t run just yet, I decided to walk. The idea of not being able to exercise each day would have finished me off! Go to keep on moving...So the day after my surgery, I took MP out of the door and headed out into the local lanes. It just happened to be our wedding anniversary too. 28 years. We took small steps and it felt great so we just kept walking and I haven’t stopped since. Each morning, I wave the boys off to school, stick ‘Staying Alive’ on the turntable (Let the vinyl wars begin in Chez Peters’) and step out the door. I clock up 5 miles a day at least. I love to feel the wind on my face. Check out the beautiful view. I listen to Radio 4 and so am now super hot on current affairs ;0) and by the time, I am sat back at my desk in the Chapel, I’m full of positivity.
Of course there have been black moments but in all honesty they have been few and far between. I prefer to see the funny side, laugh myself senseless. You certainly couldn’t write this script. Feeling black isn’t particularly helpful to me so I’d rather get the friends round, crack open a bottle of something, share the fear and and put the world to rights… There is always a way...
Plus, I am being documented!!! It’s like having round the clock counselling! The Avanti Team, who started making “Being Mike Peters” long before my diagnosis, have been thrown into a whirlpool of activity… Wales, New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, The Hamptons, Bangor Hospital! Diolch to the Avanti Team. You are the best and have always kept me smiling even through the darkest of times!
So, now as my Manny arrives… (Smiley can drum, play footie with the boys, make me laugh and serve up tea and toast), I’m feeling calm and positive to face up to the next chapter of my journey. Who knows what it will bring…? Everything happens for a reason. I have no regrets and would’t change a thing so don’t feel sad for me. Laugh with me, love with me.. Feel hope and strength. Join me for Snowdon Rocks next year and our 100 mile trek from Wrexham Hospital, via Glan Clwyd to Bangor Hospital and then straight up Snowdon!!!
I hope to be fixed and right as rain for June 24th 2017… Hope you can join me… (Yep, I’m milking this ;0)
I hope to be fixed and right as rain for June 24th 2017… Hope you can join me… (Yep, I’m milking this ;0)
What doesn’t Kili me makes me stronger….
Love Hope and Strength,
Jules Jones Peters x