Sunday 8 December 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

Well, it's been quite a year. I know it isn't quite over yet but 2013, while not as intense as 2012, has brought its fair share of challenges.

But I'm ending the year in a positive frame of mind. I've got a great new job with lovely colleagues, some cracking new boobs and even my hair is getting back to its voluminous former glory. As soon as I can get a date for my cosmetic tattoo, I can put the last two years well and truly behind me.

And that's important because there does need to be an end point; a line that can be drawn where you can say "that was then, this is now." I want to move forward.

Celebratory Cherry Bakewells:
It just seemed appropriate!
I finally had my last operation - the nipple reconstruction - on 5th November. My friend June kindly came with me and then we went home and celebrated ... with tea and cake!

And as always, the Marsden has done a great job. They have basically created a faux nipple out of the scar tissue arising from the earlier mastectomy and nipple removal. It's all very clever. It's a relatively new technique as before they would use bone or some other material to create the protrusion.

It's healed brilliantly too. All I need now is for the skin to be coloured and have been referred for a tattoo date - hopefully sometime in early 2014.

So in the meantime, I'm enjoying my renewed physical confidence and the various seasonal festivities. I've even just appeared in a pantomime - oh, yes, I have! - complete with some very bad jokes and some very bad singing (mine!).

And I'm still very grateful for all the experiences that I've had because they have given me a much clearer perspective on things.

In short, some things just don't matter. So pick your battles and don't sweat the small stuff. Focus on the people and things that make a difference and enjoy the good times while they're there. x

PANTOSTEIN: And yes, that's me at the front playing a power-crazed vampire!

Wednesday 9 October 2013

The things they don't tell you ...

It's Breast Cancer Awareness month again, so I thought I'd share some experiences that they just don't warn you about!

OK, yes, I'm know - I'm lucky. I've been through all the shit stuff (as documented here!) and come out the other side. I'm one year in remission. Things could be a lot worse.

However, I am also in almost constant discomfort and pain. My chest, on both sides but mostly on the mastectomy site, is at best subject to a dull ache and, at worst, is so painful that it wakes me up at night.

It can be excruciating; sharp stabbing pains and muscle spasms across my chest, coupled with stiffness in the underside of my arms. It's not nice and, sadly, seems to be getting worse.

Obviously, I've been worried. I'd been trying to contact my Breast Care Nurses but with no success, so finally resorted to consulting my good friend 'Google'.

And there I found it: Post Mastectomy Pain Syndrome (PMPS).

Apparently it is very, very common. Between 25 - 50% of women who have had breast cancer operations report some level of pain two to three years later. Indeed, one in five women still report pain 10 years later, indicating that PMPS isn’t necessarily something that will go away.

So how come it was never mentioned as a risk? Not to me and apparently not to thousands of other women?

The main reason, I think, is because they don’t really know what causes it. Of course, there are a variety of suggestions: cut nerves rejoining; muscle damage; the body still trying to communicate with the missing tissue (like with amputees) ... But they just don't know.

The most likely reason is the severing of the intercostobrachial nerves, which run through the axillary (arm-pit) region into the arm.

I certainly think this might be my problem, particularly as I also experience pain (albeit to a much lesser degree) on my left-side where essentially I just had a 'boob job'. They did though partially place the implant under the pectoral muscle (as they have wholly done on the right) and that causes constant strain across the front of my chest, my arm-pit and down the underside of my bicep.

Consequently, I have to be very careful. My mastectomy was on the right and, being right-handed, just routine tasks like chopping vegetables can cause the muscles to tighten uncomfortably.

Journeys on public transport, while never fun, can also be difficult; having to reach up and extend my arm to hold on, as well as the fear of being knocked.

Latterly, when I was still with Mr P., this used to cause problems. I don't think he ever fully comprehended the on-going pain and discomfort that I suffered, because why would he? Indeed, why would anybody? It's a very abstract thing to try and understand - particularly when it is so variable.

But, despite the discomfort, just understanding that this is a very real side effect of my treatment that affects many, many people has actually made me feel a little better.

I just wish that the surgeons and Breast Cancer charities were honest enough to flag it as a possible outcome instead of just letting us find out for ourselves.

Sunday 8 September 2013

LATEST SCORE: Katie 1 - Cancer 0

As of this week, I'm officially one year in remission!
This is obviously a good place to be. I'd hoped for my final reconstruction op to have been completed too but an administrative cock-up at the hospital has pushed it back another two months until the beginning of November. Grrr.
This was particularly annoying as it was only after I'd been in for my pre-op assessment at the end of August that they realised that my surgeon would be on holiday on 5 September - the operation date that I'd had since July.
Initially, I was VERY upset at having to wait another two months. While I know that priority must be given to those at immediate risk from cancer, I am still living with the effects and - more than anything - I really wanted the whole process to be finished. Now, allowing for the post surgical cosmetic treatments that need to be applied, it's quite possible that completion will not be until January 2014, two years after my cancer diagnosis.
However, we are where we are, so I'm taking the opportunity to celebrate the good stuff:
  • I'm one year in remission
  • I feel very well
  • I have a lovely full head of hair
  • My new boobs look great!

So while last the few months may have been a bit crap, I am still very lucky; I must never lose sight of that ...

I am a WINNER!

Celebrating at Lichfield Proms in the Park!

Thursday 1 August 2013

Life begins ...

Well, after a promising start, 2013 has definitely taken a slip towards the complete and utter shite!
30 June: Naughty and Forty!
Celebrating with my twin, Clare

The first half of the year had ended positively: a successful implant reconstruction, my 40th birthday celebrations, and new jobs for both me and Mr P. It was all looking rosy.

And then came, July ... I hadn't been able to complete the fertility saving / IVF treatment in April/May but the opportunity arose again and I gave it a go. It was a pretty intensive process, getting scanned and injecting myself three times a day for a week. I had to come off my Tamoxifen and because of my 'severely diminished ovarian function' I was on the maximum dose of hormones.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, it didn't work; my egg cupboards proved to be pretty bare and the three they did manage to extract were well past their use by date.

Consequently they didn't fertilize. They have offered me the chance to try again, this time injecting directly into the egg, but I really don't see the point because (a) it will cost nearly £5k with very little chance of increased success and (b) Mr P and I split up this week.

So, yes, in the month that I realise that chemotherapy (and age!) has left me pretty much barren, I also now find myself facing a single life again.

Forty is most definitely NOT feeling fabulous!

However, I do accept that you can't keep doing the same things and expecting things to be different; you have to make change for other changes to come.

I'm trying to view it not as an ending but a new beginning ... A chance for two ugly ducklings to spread their wings and transform into swans. I know that's all a bit wanky but something really needed to give.

The last 18 months have been very difficult for both of us with our day-to-day lives becoming completely dominated by my cancer treatment and his unhappy job situation.

It's been relentless with very little room for lightheartedness or fun. That takes its toll and I do think we both need time to refocus on who we are and what we want as individuals. I think it's been so long since either of us truly felt like our former outgoing, fun-loving selves that we have lost sight of our priorities or why we got together at all.

We used to have such good fun together; we'd laugh and laugh ... But when we didn't - my God! - and that's where the damage has been done.

I'm an eternal optimist and so haven't completely given up hope that we might be able to resolve things but for now we must take separate paths.

It feels like a very daunting and lonely journey after everything else that I've been through, but come what may, I feel very fortunate to have had Mr P. in my life

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" (Dr Seuss)

Sunday 19 May 2013

Getting it off your chest

Jolie: Considered the odds
and made an informed choice
Breast cancer treatments, and specifically mastectomies, have been in the press a lot this week.

It was prompted by Angelina Jolie's very well-written piece in the New York Times, in which she explained her decision to have preventative surgery after discovering that she had one of the BRCA genes that give a much heightened chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

However, as she also points out - and which has largely been missed in the wider reporting of this story - the genetic BRCA cases account for a tiny proportion of breast cancer diagnoses as a whole.

So while it is true that carrying the BRCA gene increases your risk to between 50-90% chance of developing one of the several different breast cancer diseases, the vast majority of breast cancers are random and sporadic and down to sheer (bad) luck.

Angelina's piece is very honest and does allude to the complexity of the surgery and the mental and physical impact that mastectomy can have. It is not a straightforward process; it is protracted, painful and, while the cosmetic outcomes can be very good, your breasts will never look or feel the way that they did.

Indeed, they could look better! Mine probably do. But I would be lying if I said the implants feel natural under my skin and I'm not conscious of them every single day. Of course, not everyone has implant reconstruction and many use their own fat and body tissue. This probably feels quite different to implants but it is still a very complicated and uncomfortable process.

Which is why I get REALLY annoyed when people make mastectomies sound like they're simple or straightforward. It's bloody insulting. Especially when, like mine, it was a life or death necessity not a choice.

Heaton: Shut yer cakehole
Take, for example, Michelle-Liberty-X-Heaton. I really do wish that woman would shut her big shiny face. And, yes, I know she's had a preventative double mastectomy; we ALL know, it's all she ever talks about. She's become a cancer-free-rent-a-quote, resurrecting her flagging career by constantly harping on about her, and others', 'media mastectomies'.

And was it really necessary to give interviews from her hospital bed, bleating on about how easy it all was? Maybe it was for you, love, but I'm nine months in and still not finished! She seriously gets on my tits ... Grrr.

*deep breaths*

On the plus side, however, it does allow the breast cancer charities to stay in the public eye; they just need to ensure that the information given remains realistic and objective.

One in eight women will get diagnosed with breast cancer and the vast majority of cases will have no genetic link. So stay vigilant and check. I would never have thought I could get breast cancer at 38, but I did, and I'm hearing more and more cases of women in their 20s and 30s.

That's not to scaremonger but please be aware that the risk is there and that you don't need to have a family link for breast cancer to occur. Once diagnosed though, the treatments are good ... and you might even get a perky new pair out of it!

Friday 10 May 2013

The icing on the cake

Saw one of my breast surgeons at the 'Marsden today and she was very pleased with my "excellent result". So pleased, in fact, that she dragged in another colleague to have a look.

Mr P: Boobs and cake. What's not to like?
To be fair, my boobs do look great. Far more balanced in shape than I had anticipated and quite natural in texture due to the earlier fat transfer.

The next and final stage is nipple reconstruction. A lot of people don't bother with this but I really don't need to decide until I go back again for my review in eight weeks.

Nipple-wise, they can either create one out of scar tissue or mould a prosthetic one that you stick on with skin glue, presumably for special occasions ...

The argument for creating one from scar tissue is (a) it's permanent and (b) it looks realistic "from a distance". Now, call me old fashioned, but I generally only display my nipples in close proximity, so I'm not sure that this is a massive selling point. However, it would be nice to complete the process and feel that I'm finally finished.

Mr P. and I still wanted to mark the occasion though. And so we did, with coffee and cake ... OK, quite a few cakes, care of the Hummingbird Bakery.

It was also an important day for another reason. Eight years ago today, I lost my lovely Dad to bowel cancer. It simultaneously feels like both a short time and a long time, but I think of him often.

So here's to you, Dad. Thumbs up! x

Friday 3 May 2013

"I must, I must, I must improve my bust!"

And I finally have! Yesterday, I was back for surgery at the 'Marsden for the fourth time in less than 10 months to get my implants. Even one of the day ward nurses commented: "I recognise you. You've been here loads!"

It's true I have. Never mind the surgery but all the assessment, review, counselling and nursing consultations have been pretty numerous.

It was quite nice though to see my surgical team again, Gerald Gui and Ana Agusti, who have looked after my case for exactly a year. They also brought another member of the team in pre-op to assess my 'breast volume'.

I thought this was quite funny and asked him, "so doctor, your job is to look at naked breasts and guess what size they are?" He looked a bit embarrassed and then, when Mr P. asked for a business card, the poor bloke didn't know what to say!

It's been a right old 'Carry On'
but Mr P and I are pleased with the outcome
However, he obviously judged well because I'm very pleased with both the sizing match and the symmetry in my clothes. I really don't think anyone else would know the difference but it does mean that I don't have to pad out 'lefty' any more and can start wearing my nice bras again instead of mastectomy ones.

That said, I have received a few texts from people asking how it went, including a very direct one: "Let's see 'em then!" All in good time, ladies, all in good time ... ;-)

I'm still very taped up and sore. The left hand side is particularly painful as I hadn't had surgery there before, but both sides are very tender. I can lift my arms up above my head but can't reach up yet so will definitely need next week off work to recover before I brave the Tube for my post-op assessment next Friday (10th).

Anyway, Mr P is staying with me today to help me do things and the weekend will see my boobs' first outing (not literally) at a big family gathering in Oxford, with all of Mr P's extended clan.

It's going to be quite a celebration.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Positive moves

Three weeks into my new job and I feel like I've been there three months; it's certainly been a baptism of fire!

Given that I hadn't worked (at least, not properly) since January 2012, I was amazed how quickly and easily I jumped straight back into things; writing plans, managing staff and fielding calls from aggressive international media. And that was just my second day!

So while it has been tiring, and stressful, it has also been enormously confidence boosting. I took this new role because I felt I needed a fresh start, an opportunity to reinvigorate myself both personally and professionally. And that's exactly what I got.

For the first time, in many years, I feel like the old Kate. While I loved my old company and all my colleagues, this change was much needed. I had become lazy and complacent and had forgotten how much I could love my work, and be bloody GOOD at it!

Next week: A nice new pair
Of course, next week I will also have another big change: my new boobs. Finally! After eight months of discomfort and 'tissue expansion', I will have my fourth operation and get my permanent implant. 'Lefty' is going to get a makeover too, or augmentation, so that I get an (almost) matching pair.

And lastly, fertility. The NHS have confirmed funding and I'll be undergoing 'fertility preservation' in the next week or two. There are no guarantees of success, given the changes caused by my chemotherapy treatment but, just to have the opportunity to try, feels a very positive step.

My life is good. :-)

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Spring forward

Apparently, it's now British Summer Time. Certainly the clocks have gone forward but the weather is taking its time to catch up.

For me though, life is definitely on the move. Today we went to IVF Hammersmith and got all the info and drugs I need to undergo the 'fertility preservation' treatment.

It won't start now until early May and will probably coincide with my surgical recovery (post-op at The 'Marsden) but that's possibly a good thing and could minimise any disruption with work etc.

Because tomorrow I start my new job. I'm obviously apprehensive but I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into something new.

I've definitely got a spring in my step!

Thursday 21 March 2013

Celebrations all round!

Today is Mr P’s birthday and we’ve both taken the day off to lie in bed, drink Bucks Fizz and be very, very lazy. And tonight we’re off to a ‘Sports Dinner’ with friends to enjoy some nice food and some great company before I leave my job (of over 12 years) tomorrow.

As I wrote in my last post, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Things have definitely started to fall into place, in a way that has truly surpassed all my expectations.

Specifically, I have been told this week that I can definitely start hormone treatment and freeze MY OWN eggs! I could start taking the drugs as early as Easter (although the end of April is more likely).

I’m still pinching myself about all of this. Eight weeks ago I felt completely crushed and let down by the system. I felt that I had been cruelly deprived of life options but didn’t feel that I had the energy to fight the NHS bureaucrats.

But, two months later, and the situation is very different. Hot on the heels of being told by the ‘Marsden’s Oncology team that I could stop Tamoxifen for a month and take hormone treatment, I got a random phone call from Queen Charlottes’ IVF Team which resulted in me going in for more tests and getting their agreement that I can start the drugs for egg stimulation ASAP.

I don't know if my 'letter of concern' to the Primary Care Trust's CEO has accelerated any of this but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. It all feels brilliantly surreal.

Of course, I know it’s not going to be an easy process, far from it. And the timing could be better: who wants to start a new job dosed up to the max on hormones(!) but, f*ck it, I'm just going to go with the flow. By the end of June, IVF and surgery should be finished and I can start my 'naughty forties' with perky new boobs and some frozen eggs in the bank. ;-)

So tomorrow, when I leave AAT, it will be with a real sense of optimism. I'm enormously grateful for all the support that I've received over the last 15 months (and indeed, 12 years) but I do believe that everything happens for a reason and that my life is now moving forward in an incredibly positive way.

I'm also looking forward to meeting up with some ex. AAT friends who will be celebrating with me. Onwards and upwards, as they say!

Friday 8 March 2013

All change!

Crikey, a lot can happen in two weeks.

Firstly, I’ve got a new job and resigned from my current role. I’ve been with the company for 12 years, so it is a big deal (for me, at least!) but I think a change will do me good and give me a renewed sense of purpose. I need to feel that my life is moving forward again.

Ironically, I wasn’t really looking but I saw the post advertised in January and speculatively applied. Getting it though, did make me feel a bit guilty. My current company, AAT, have been amazing in their support of me over the last year and had been trying to revise my role. However, I do also think that the right things happen at the right time and I will wave farewell on Friday 22 March and, following a short break, start my new role after Easter.

Secondly, I have submitted a letter to the North West London Primary Care Trusts regarding my cancer treatment (and specifically the lack of fertility guidance/support) and have been advised that my GP will need to make an individual funding request in order to secure funding for any fertility-saving treatment for me past the age of 40. You have to be able to cite exceptional circumstances, which I think we can (and he has agreed to do), so we’ll see how that goes …

Thirdly, and related to the fertility issues, I met with the oncology team at the ‘Marsden. It was a very informative and positive meeting because (a) I am definitely not menopausal, and (b) they do not see any reason why (if Queen Charlotte’s Hospital thought it could be successful) I would not be able to take the necessary hormones for egg harvesting myself.

This is, of course, a big ‘if’ as my ovarian function has been significantly diminished by chemotherapy. However, the fact that they do not see an issue in the short-term application of hormones, and stopping my Tamoxifen for a month or so, was a very pleasant surprise. They would also prefer me to do this sooner rather than later as then I can have a much longer, uninterrupted period on the medication.

Lastly, I have seen my surgical team. They seem happy with the results of the ‘Coleman Fat Transfer’ so it’s full steam ahead for my implant operation on Thursday 2 May and a new pair of matching boobs, which were ordered today.

So, all in all, it’s been a very positive start to 2013.

Sunday 24 February 2013

So what happened next?

Sorry for being a bit quiet of late but there have been a few things to organise and sort out ...

Many of my friends will know how upset I’ve been about not being able to take any steps, pre-chemotherapy, to try and preserve my fertility. It has caused me untold sleepless nights – especially as I now realise that, contrary to what I was told, I did ‘have time’ and that there were drugs they could have offered me to protect my ovarian function.

So while we can’t undo what happened a year ago, Mr P. and I do want to take issue both with the Primary Care Trusts and with Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals themselves; just to get it on record that we feel that we were given erroneous information.

The cynical part of me, also can’t fail to note that the procrastinations of Ealing Hospital in dealing with my diagnosis and treatment plan also brought me very close to the 31-day deadline by which NHS guidelines say that I needed to start my treatment (after diagnosis). So maybe it wasn’t actually me, that didn’t ‘have time’ … ?

Fortunately my GP has been very supportive and recognises the anxiety that this has caused me. The Royal Marsden too, has been very good in getting me referred to Queen Charlotte’s Hospital for fertility tests and allowed us to explore our other options.

Peas in a pod:
Clare and Katie
This is where my very lovely (and conveniently, identical twin) sister comes in. Because of the nature of my cancer, and the drugs that I am now taking, it is not feasible for me to take any hormone-based treatments. However, my sister has said that - subject to her being suitable with successful test results etc. – she would be willing look at the possibility of acting as an egg donor and letting us freeze some ‘options’ for potential future use.

This would obviously be a very generous thing for her to do. Egg donation is clearly a much more, ahem, ‘involved’ process than sperm donation requiring a month of hormone injections and essentially feeling like crap.

She’s already been down to London and spoken to our consultant, where he explained some of what would be involved and the timescales/potential costs. She’s also had a blood test and scan, the results of which we will get just after Easter (when she will be in London again).

There’s still an awful lot to be discussed before we know how far along this road we can go but it is an enormous relief to me to know that there are still possibilities that can be explored. In particular, my medical team at the ‘Marsden have arranged for me to speak to their Oncologist this week (Friday 1 March) to get a much better idea of whether or not I could ever be allowed to have a hormone-heavy IVF treatment. Moreover, I want to be sure that - given our identical DNA and my previous breast cancer (and her fibroadenoma) – I will not be putting my sister at any increased medical risk from a hormone treatment.

However, there have been some lighter moments this month. Mr P. and I are both really enjoying being back on stage and rehearsing for our next amateur play, the first that we’ve done together since the summer of 2011.

I also hosted a charity wine-tasting event for a number of my friends. Sarah at Window on Wine (and Tesco wine community blog(ger) of the year 2012) donated her time and expertise free of charge and took us through a variety of sparkling wines, which we learnt to ‘swirl, sniff and swig’ with increasing enthusiasm with each additional glass.

It also turns out that Phoebe (my cat) is quite the ‘party animal’. You’d think that fourteen loud, lairy, wine-swigging women would phase a little puss but, no, she worked that room like one of the girls.

All in all, it was a great night and we raised over £100 for the Institute of Cancer Research. Cheers, ladies!

Monday 21 January 2013

Nearly there ...

Subject to another check-up in early March, I have been given a provisional operation date for implants of Thursday 2nd May. While it will mean another overnight stay in hospital it will be nice to finally feel 'balanced'!

After that, there will be another operation (if I want it) to cosmetically finish things off.

More immediately though, the bruising from the graft procedure has gone right down and, despite some residual muscle pain, I am now moving easily.

I'm also waiting on a mammogram date. I'm supposed to have one annually from the date of my cancer diagnosis but I've had to remind them and chase it up.

It's a year this coming Friday since Mr P. and I received my news. So while it's not a milestone to celebrate, it is one to be remembered. We've come a long way ...

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Tickled pink

Mr P. and I had some great news yesterday; he's been selected as a runner-up in the Breast Cancer Campaign's 'Wear it Pink - Superhero' competition!

I nominated him back in October in recognition of all the wonderful support he's given me over the last year. I wanted him, and everyone else, to know just how much I appreciate everything he's done.

So it's lovely that others have recognised his efforts and he will soon be in receipt of  (i) a year's supply of 'Vanish' (sponsors of the competition - and no, I don't know how much a year's supply is either!), and (ii) two tickets to see 'Viva Forever!' the Spice Girls musical. I howled with laughter at the thought of him using the second one but I am going to make him go ...

In other news, we have also been lucky enough to have been cast in a play together. Regular readers will know that Mr P. and I met doing amateur theatre and we have been cast as husband and wife in our group's next show, The Memory of Water. It's a great script, funny as well as moving, and I'm really looking forward to getting back on stage after my enforced hiatus. It will also be nice to do something together that doesn't involve hospitals!

However, I will be back at the 'Marsden on Friday for a post-operative follow-up. The procedure does appear to have been successful in improving my mastectomy reconstruction but it has left my legs very bruised and painful.

So painful in fact that I will now be off work for another few days. I ventured into the office today for the first time since surgery but was in so much discomfort that my boss told me, in the nicest possible way, that he didn't want to see me again until next week! Fine by me ...

Wednesday 9 January 2013

New year, new boobs!

Yesterday I went to the 'Marsden and had my third breast operation but the first that was cosmetic.
That makes it sound like it was driven by vanity – it really wasn’t – but it will hopefully enhance the end result when I finally get my reconstructive implants.

Essentially, I’ve had fat siphoned out of my outer thighs and injected into my boob. And yes, I know that sounds like every woman’s dream - especially post-Christmas - but, before you get too jealous, please try to remember that I’ve only had one tit enhanced and have to wear support pants for a month!

The immediate result is that my fake boob is now even bigger than it was before (and now significantly larger than the other one) and bright red! My legs are also very, very bruised and sore. Once I am stood up, or sat down, I’m fine – but getting there is an entirely different matter. I’m feeling very battered and pretty immobile.

Fortunately Mr P. has come to stay with me for a couple of days and was, yet again, the designated ‘responsible adult’ into whose care the hospital discharged me. However, when I say ‘responsible’ most people who know him will roll their eyes ... and with good reason! I’ve cited some of his hospital exploits in the past but this time I decided to get photographic evidence. I really can’t leave him on his own for more than two minutes!

Logging in to the hospital system and playing a football game; trying to take his own blood pressure (the machine stopped working altogether after this); having a little lie down on my surgical trolley.

Also keeping me and my lop-sided cleavage company this week is my new furry flat-mate, Phoebe. She moved in on Saturday and has already made herself very comfortable. She's also had about five different names but, hopefully, this is the final one!

The name was actually suggested by Mr P's Mum and it seems to suit our little glamour puss very well. In fact, it’s also proved rather prophetic as we have discovered that little Phoebe has a few, ahem, ‘digestive’ issues – so has been serenaded with more than a few choruses of ‘Smelly Cat’ in the last couple of days.

But naughty boyfriends and flatulent cats aside, everything else seems to be on track. I’m hoping 2013 could be my year.