A Give-Away and an Update – the journey continues…

Live, Love, Laugh

Hello friends

The page above is the front cover of my 16-page Teesha Moore inspired journal.

An apology

First off an apology, I am sorry but I omitted something from my last post.  A little while ago I was contacted by Jenny of This Rosy Life blog asking if I’d like to participate in a blog hop.  I really was not up to it at the time so I declined the invitation, but nevertheless Jenny still mentioned me and my blog in her post  here.   Jenny is an amazing collage artist and I am really impressed because she uses lots of flower images in her work, I’ve always found flowers to be quite difficult to use in collage.  If you have a few minutes to spare why not pop over to Jenny’s blog, have a look at some cool art and say Hi to her?  This Rosy Life.

The Give Away

I promised recently that once I had finished the chemo therapy I would have a ‘Give Away’ to celebrate that milestone.  I have made up 3 packs of art supplies that I no longer want or need.  All three are similar and look something like this:

Give Away Pack

There are collage sheets, papers, some stamps, embellishments, bits of maps and printed papers in each pack.  It looks like there is money too, but the £20 and £50 notes are actually printed on serviettes and are NOT genuine currency 🙂

Each pack will also include one of the small journals I made from a pile of scrap papers:

New Journals

If you would like to win one of these packs please leave a comment below and I will pick three random winners on Sunday 22 March.  It doesn’t matter where you live as I’m prepared to post to anywhere worldwide and I’ll mark the package as a gift with low monetary value so you shouldn’t have to pay any import tax if you receive one.

Update on my health and the continuing journey

I had the last round of chemo on 24 February *Happy Dance*, I’m so glad that part is over. I’ve been feeling pretty good since then, so good in fact that I thought perhaps that was the only treatment I needed and I even began to think about returning to work next month.

I’ve been spending a lot of time still de-cluttering my room, I’ve made several trips to the local municipal tip and donated loads of stuff to a local charity shop.  Making up the scrap books from the 10 years worth of local magazines took me about 2 weeks and it was a really boring task, but I got there eventually and now I just have a neat little pile of scrap books instead of a huge plastic box full of magazines. The more I’ve got rid of stuff the easier it has become and it no longer feels quite so oppressive in my room.  I still reckon I could get rid of at least 50% of the stuff that’s left but for now I’m taking a break from de-cluttering and concentrating more on creating art.

Because I thought I’d be going back to work soon I collaged one of the small journals I made.  I needed something small to fit into my handbag and carry around with me with a few pens so I can journal whenever I get a few spare moments.  That will still come in useful but I won’t be needing it as soon as I thought I would as it doesn’t look like I’ll be going back to work any time soon.

Yesterday I had an appointment to see the oncologist at Southampton Hospital.  T and I set off at 8am and it took a couple of hours to get there.  I drove over to Cowes parked the car and took the ferry to Southampton then got a free mini bus to the hospital. It took us about half an hour to find the right department in the vast hospital and then we had a short wait before we got to meet a very lovely female doctor who asked me lots of questions about what had happened to me and seemed genuinely interested in me and my condition. She said “We recommend that you now have radiotherapy” and explained why they thought this was necessary.  Not only did she explain things, she checked that we had understood her explanation and encouraged us to ask questions.  If she was able to answer the questions she did and if she was unable to give us answers she explained why there are certain things they don’t know about my specific cancer but why they think the radiotherapy is necessary.  She explained all about what will happen next and during the treatment and what the likely side effects will be, including mouth ulcers, sore skin and the possibility that the saliva glands on that side could be damaged by the treatment and how that will be dealt with.

Next Monday I will have to go over again for another CT scan and to have the face mask made up.  The mask is necessary to ensure that they can target the area of my jaw bone while causing as little damage as possible to any other area of my face and mouth. The mask will also mean that I am unable to move my head and will hold my mouth open during treatment.  About two weeks after that the radiotherapy will commence.

I have to say it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be much fun but the treatment should be fairly quick.  I’ll have the treatment every (week) day for three weeks, the actual ‘zapping’ is only for a few minutes but the fixing of the mask and lining everything up takes a bit of time so I’m probably looking at about 20 minutes or so each day, plus what ever time I have to wait around at the hospital (for some reason there is always an element of ‘waiting around’ at hospitals) and about 4 hours travel every day.  I think I am going to be very tired at the end of this treatment, but hopefully by then I will also be in a good position to get on with my life and think about returning to work.  Most of the side effects should start to improve soon after treatment finishes.

So after this long chat with the lovely doctor we both read and then I signed the consent form and then she said, “Now I’m going to get Dr B (the boss) and he is going to come and talk to you.  During your treatment here we will both be looking after you and you will be seeing one of us at least once a week during the three weeks and we will be checking on your progress”.

Dr B must have been busy because it took a while before she came back with him.  He too was was very friendly and warm, explained things to us, checked we understood and encouraged us to ask any questions.  I told him that we were not used to being encouraged to ask questions and in fact we had both been made to feel like we were being awkward every time we asked the consultants at the local hospital any questions.  It was just so refreshing to be treated like adults for a change.  So we did ask questions and he gave us full and frank answers, then eventually I plucked up the courage to ask the one questions I really wanted the answer to, I said, “There is something else I’d like to ask you and I don’t know how you will react to this because I’ve asked two different consultants at my local hospital the same question and both times I’ve been made to feel that it is a totally unreasonable and ridiculous question to ask, but anyway here goes.  Is it possible for me to see the scans I’ve had taken and be given an explanation of what was found”?

Both doctors immediately said “Of course you can see your scans, you can see them right now, it’s not an unreasonable question, it’s something we would expect you to ask and we always show patients this information”.  Within a few minutes he called up the information on a computer screen. First of all he showed me the CT scan I had taken at the local hospital when I was first diagnosed and still had the tumour in my mouth.  The tumour was really obvious in the image.  Next he showed me the PET scan I had taken at Portsmouth hospital a few weeks later by which time the tumour had disappeared and he said “So we can see there is no tumour evident in this scan however when we get right into your jaw bone these bright areas show that there are still some cancer cells active and as you can also see here there are some large voids in the jaw bone”.  I was told that once the cancer is eliminated there is a good chance that the bone will grow back, but in all likelihood I will always have a weakness in the jaw bone and I may have dental problems in the coming years.

Dr B said “I’ll be honest with you, there is a possibility that the chemo has already dealt with the cancer, but to have this type of cancer in the location where you have it is extremely rare and it can be difficult to treat.  I want to give you the very best chance of survival that I can and that’s why we recommend this further treatment.”

I don’t know but it felt like they both really cared and although I’m not entirely happy about having the radiotherapy I also want to give myself the best chance of surviving this cancer so I’m OK about going along for the additional treatment.   And so my journey continues but I finally feel like I am being dealt with by people who care about me and are involving me in the decision making, it’s a refreshing change from how I’ve been dealt with over the past 5 months.  I hope I don’t get referred back to the local hospital when the treatment is finished because I don’t want to come under that hospital again even if it means I have to pay to travel to the mainland to be seen there.

So that’s where I am right now, probably not going back to work until the end of May, by which time I will have had more than 6 months off!  I’m fortunate that I work for a good company and they are being very understanding and caring about me too.

I hope all is good with you all, take good care of yourselves and make sure you have fun because you have no idea what could be waiting for you just around the corner.

Don’t forget to let me know if you want to be included in a chance to win one of my Give Away packs. Good Luck!

Big love from me

AJ     🙂  xxx

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

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See what happens

See what happens

Hello friends

I hope all is good with you.

I have been doing well since my 5th round of chemo three weeks ago, I’ve had much more energy and I haven’t been watching day-time television.  I’ve even managed to do some more of the de-clutter of my room (still lots to do though), I’ve thrown out lots of stuff and taken several boxes of more useful, but unwanted, things to a local charity shop.   At the moment I am de-cluttering a big box containing 10 years worth of local magazines.  I bought some scrap books and I am in the process of cutting out anything relevant to the town where I live and sticking them in the books.  They will become reference books for the local history group.  I reckon I will have 4 or 5 scrap books of cuttings rather than a big box of magazines at the end of it, so that will free us a bit of space for me.  It’s taken a week so far and I’m only half way through.

I’ve been doing little bits of art in the meantime, but not much.  The page above is from my latest 16-page Teesha Moore styled journal, all the collage and much of the penwork was already done but I managed to finish the page this week with the quote.

Today I have been to see the consultant at the hospital and my final round of chemo is tomorrow. It should have been today but I wanted the specialist nurse to come to the meeting with me for support and she does not work on Mondays so last week I changed to appointment to today and the chemo to tomorrow.  I phoned the nurse (she wasn’t there) and left a message on her answerphone asking her to be there today.  I needn’t have bothered because when we arrived this morning there was no sign of the nurse and we were informed that she is off sick today (just my luck)!

I really hope I don’t need any more chemo after this because it has been pretty difficult over the last few months.  I didn’t realise just how bad I had been feeling until I started to feel better.  I just hope I don’t get ‘knocked out’ by the chemo again tomorrow.

The consultant told me that I will now be referred to the oncology/radiotherapy specialist in Southampton Hospital and he will decide if I need to have radiotherapy.  I asked if I could speak to this doctor but she said in a rather cross tone “No! I will speak to him.  If he wants to see you, you will go to Southampton and you can speak to him there in his clinic”.   Well that’s really all I wanted so she didn’t have to snap at me, I am so fed up with just being the subject of the treatment, not being involved in any of the decision making, getting contradictory information and being made to feel like a nuisance every time I try to ask questions.  I just want to have a conversation and explanation from someone before I agree to any more treatment.  I have had absolutely no indication from my consultant as to whether or not the treatment is working.  Maybe she doesn’t know but I’d have thought that as the cancer is in my blood then they might be able to tell from the blood tests I am having every three weeks.  When I asked the other consultant about this she said in a rather irritated voice that that is NOT what the blood tests are for, she didn’t say what they are for though.

Fortunately I still think I am going to be OK at the end of this, but it would have been nice to have had some feedback and encouragement from the team looking after me.  If I ever have to go through this again I think I will ask to be referred direct to the specialist cancer team in Southampton as I have not been inspired the consultants or care at the local hospital.

However I have no complaints at all about the chemo suite which is at the local hospital. All the people who work there are very lovely and professional and, although all my visits have been about 7 hours long, they have been very kind and nice to me and have done their best to make sure I’m comfortable while I’m there.  There have been a couple of times when my treatment has taken longer than it should and they’ve had to stay beyond their normal finish time, but it didn’t alter the way they treated me.

So, one more visit to the chemo suite tomorrow and then … wait and see. I didn’t get a blood test form today so it looks like I don’t need any more blood tests and I’ve got no appointment to see the haematologist consultant again so I guess I just have to wait to hear from the doctor in Southampton.  She did tell me that after our discussion three weeks ago she wrote to the Maxillo Facial unit and told them that I would like to see them to discuss what needs to be done about my degrading jaw bone and the tooth that was almost pushed out by the tumour. She said they should be writing to me direct with an appointment.

Gosh, I’ll be glad when all of this is over and we can just talk about art and normal life again.

Following on from my last post here is my 2nd journal video, it’s an early journal I made in 2011 and was inspired by watching Teesha Moore’s YouTube videos on her journal process.

Take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

Big love

AJ xxx 🙂

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Its Nice to be Nice!

It's Nice to be Nice

 

Hello friends!

I hope you are all keeping well and happy.

I am pleased to report that I have been feeling pretty good for the last week and have not had to collapse onto the couch and watch daytime tv for several days now.

Anyway first things first the page above is from one of my Teesha Moore inspired journals. I’ve been wanting to use the phrase ‘It’s Nice to be Nice’ in a piece of art for a while now.  I first saw this phrase on my first visit to Tobago in 1999.  On the very short drive from the airport to our hotel (it was short drive as the hotel was on the other side of the fence from the end of the runway!) I saw this:

It's Nice to be Nice Tobago

It was a lovely way to be welcomed to the beautiful Island and when we started to meet the local people they all very friendly, laid back, chatty – all things nice.  This is what I aspire to be although I don’t always succeed…

I have now started the de-clutter of the art room and so far I’ve chucked out a couple of big bin liners of rubbish and filled a big box with stuff to take to one of the local charity shops.  I have discovered that I now have 22 completed journals, 10 journals that are in progress and enough blank (not started) journals to last me several lifetimes!

I have made the declutter slightly difficult for myself as I am insisting that before I throw something out I have to try and use at least some of it in one of my ‘in progress’ journals.  I also found a big stack of plain, thick paper so I made some journals:

New JournalsI have been making up some packs of goodies, by that I mean stuff I have previously purchased and used as art supplies (mainly papers) but no longer have room for.

I am thinking of having a ‘Give Away’ to celebrate my final round of chemo-therapy at the end of the month.  I’ll include one of the smaller journals in each pack (there are three packs in total).  But more of this later…

 

I have to say at the moment the art room does not look any tidier and even when I’ve finished I think that most people would still say it’s too cluttered, but at least I will know it’s an improvement on the chaos I’ve been living with for the past few years.

I wanted to start documenting all my journals, I tend to share images from the journals but rarely show the whole thing.  So here is the very first journal/altered book I created when I had no idea what I was doing and very little art supplies.  It’s not very good, but it was just my first attempt and I was just playing, I don’t think I’ve ever shared any images from this book before:

Take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon

Big love from me

AJ 🙂

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2011-2015 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

My Kind of People

Crazy People

Hello friends

How are you all today, I hope it’s good.

I am fine, I had my first round of chemotherapy on Thursday, it took over 7 hours because I had a slight reaction to the antibody (that’s the bit that locks onto the cancer cells and flags them up as targets for the other drugs), so it could only be dripped in very slowly. When the antibody was finally in it took just over an hour to get all the other stuff in. Because of this reaction it means all the other treatments (another 5) will also take that long.  The plus side of this is that I’ll have plenty of time for doodling and that’s never a bad thing 🙂

So far I’m feeling OK and I went in to work on Friday. I am still taking meds that I bought home with me, they finish in a few days time and I’ve been told I might feel a bit unwell for a few days after that, then I’ll start feeling better, then I see the doctor for a check up, and then on November 20th we start round 2.

I have a feeling that the problem with my ‘none’ treatment on Wednesday was due to staff shortages and overwork in the NHS so I’m not going to complain.  I think someone just overlooked my paperwork because they had too much to do.  I know it’s shocking that it could happen, and fortunately for me the consequences were only upset and inconvenience, but I don’t want anyone being ‘hung out to dry’ for that. They know it’s happened and it is being investigated but I don’t need to add anger to the equation.

I’ve had a really good day today, the weather has been warm and sunny and early this morning I received a package from my FB friend Iain ‘Oli’ Oliver containing this wonderful limited edition print by artist Jamie Reid:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I took the photo under artificial light so the colours are not true in the photo, but it’s bold, bright and uplifting and I LOVE it, thank you ‘Oli’ ❤ It brought me JOY 🙂

I had a slow and lazy morning pottering about – making sure I took meds at the right time, doing some washing, making a batch of smoothie, having breakfast, taking more meds and getting showered and dressed.  Then I wandered in to town and did some shopping and when I got home there was another package waiting for me.

 

This time it was a the book Dizzy Spells by the artist David Shillinglaw:

Dizzy Spells

I ordered the book about a week ago I think and I was so happy to receive it today.  I love David’s art, especially his wall murals, they are so colourful and cheerful.  There’s lots of symbolism and repetition in his art that just speaks to me at a deep level.

I had made tentative enquiries about getting him to come to Ryde, the town where I live, to paint a wall for our local arts festival next year.  We have a perfect wall that is in desperate need of a piece of wonderful artwork but I have to be honest I’m not really sure how I would get permission from the owners to have it painted (maybe just ask?) or raise the funds to pay for the project, but I’m sure it would have been worth the effort.  Then I got hit with the cancer so now everything is on hold until I recover in that regard. Never mind I can still go on enjoying his artwork even if it’s not here in my town and Dizzy Spells is a little gem of a book, full of black an white illustrations from David’s journals.  He is very clever with his use of words too, it makes me smile.  Thank you David 🙂

And that brings us neatly to my little offering of art at the top of the page, it’s a page in my journal inspired by ‘Teesha Moore’s Amazing 16 Page Journal‘ and the quote says: ‘Life is about finding the people who are your kind of crazy’.  And I reckon that Teesha Moore and her husband Tracy (both of whom I’ve met), Iain ‘Oli’ Oliver and David Shillinglaw (who I haven’t met) are definitely my kind of crazy people. 🙂

Take good care of yourselves and I’ll see you soon.

Big Love

AJ 🙂

 

 

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2014 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

It’s finished!

Global Psychedelic Soundsystem

 

Hello friends!

I hope you are all well and happy.

Here I am again after a long absence, I’ve just been busier then usual and had no time for blogging and little time for art in the past few weeks.

The page above is in my Amazing 16 page Journal. T asked me if I could make a flyer for his Global Psychedelic Soundsystem and here it is.  There will be another part to this page but it’s not finished yet.

However the kitchen is now finally finished – phew!  And as promised here are some before and photos:

Looking from dining room to end of kitchenBEFORE – Looking from dining room to end of kitchen – AFTER

 Looking from back door to dining room    -    AFTER

BEFORE    –   Looking from back door to dining room    –    AFTER

It probably doesn’t look a lot different but there is more space to move about in now and much more work-surface and storage space.  The style is more in fitting with the age of the house AND, although T is quite scared of colour and always wants everything painted white, I did manage to get a teal coloured wall and multi-coloured tiles, so it looks much brighter now.

The pink sign above the arch to the dining room says ‘MIND YOUR HEAD’ as it is lower than normal door height.  It’s fine for T and Me as we are both short and can walk through without ducking, but we do have some taller friends and we don’t want anyone knocking themselves out when they visit.

This weekend has been busy Ryde Social Heritage Group hosted two Open Days at Ryde Cemetery, where we had exhibitions, guided walks and talks and a ‘Meet the Residents’ event.  It all looked fantastic and was a great success, fortunately the sun shone on both days and we had lots of visitors.  It took a lot of hard work by the team to get it all together – researching, writing up display sheets, collecting items to display and sorting out costumes, but it was definitely worthwhile.  Today is a bank holiday in the UK so I’ve just been having a quiet day resting, the weather has been wet and miserable today but that’s OK as I was still in my PJs up until 3pm.

That’s all for now folks, I have a stack of ironing to do before work tomorrow and various other bits to sort out.

Have a great week and hopefully I’ll be back soon.

Big love

AJ 🙂

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2014 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

Universal Force

Universal Force

Hello friends!

Another Sunday and that’s another week flown by!  Everything here is fine. T is recovering well but his doctor is insisting he takes another week off work, just to be on the safe side.

Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday anyway so we are both off work and we will probably try to get a bit more of the tiling done.  In a day it’s unlikely that we will finish it but it will be good to move it on even if it’s only a little bit.

I had a busy week, I had to go to a team meeting on Monday which took up all day and the rest of the week was spent catching up.

On Thursday I began to feel unwell at work and when I woke up on Friday I had a sore throat and aches all over my body.  I phoned in sick and spent the whole day in my PJs and most of the time in bed although I did get up several times for short periods.  I felt pretty rough all day though which was a bit worrying as on Saturday I had to make an early start and, with my friend, take our exhibition boards to a one day conference of the IW Family History Society.

Fortunately I did feel better when I woke up on Saturday and I dosed myself up with medicine before I left home at 07:30.  We had a good but tiring day.  Our exhibit was one of many local history displays and it was good to meet up with old friends and chat and meet new people.  Some people gave us information and others we were able to help. There were a number of talks throughout the day at the conference but sadly we didn’t get to hear them as we were ‘on duty’.  We were both really tired when we finally got home at about 7pm.

Today I’m feeling better again so I suppose I only had what is known as a ’24hr bug’, phew!

The page above is in my 16-page journal, I like this page, it’s zingy and fun!

A good friend of ours is currently in Nepal at Boudhanath Stupa, it’s a very wonderful and powerful place.  T and I went there way back in the 1970s. It’s pretty special to know that a good friend is there right now.

Boudhanath Stupa, Nepal

Public Domain Image of Boudhanath Stupa.

Our friend is doing 108 circuits of this magical place and performing a healing ceremony at a given time tomorrow.  All I have to do is be in a quiet place, relax and focus on my heart for 15 minutes.  I know, this could sound really crazy, but “There is force in the universe, which, if we permit it, will flow through us and produce miraculous results”, so said Mr Gandhi. 🙂

Have a great week.

Big love

AJ 🙂

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2014 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Travel the Universe

Travel the Universe

Hello friends

I’m back!  I hope you are all fine, happy and following your creative flow.

Finally on Friday we had the water and gas reconnected in our new kitchen (we were almost a month without that luxury) and things are slowly getting back to normal again. Prior to that we had a few set backs and problems which we thought were going to cost a lot of money to sort out, but eventually our fantastic plumber worked it out and managed to do the job fairly quickly so hopefully his bill won’t be too huge when it arrives.

Still to do: build one more cupboard and hang it on the wall, sort out a back for the cupboard under the sink and finally buy tiles and fix them to the wall, then bring all the kitchen stuff that has been stored in T’s room since February back into the kitchen, oh and there will be several trips to the local landfill site to dispose of rubbish and accumulated stuff. I think we are coming to an agreement on which tiles and which colours to use. The kitchen is already looking pretty fabulous but the tiles and backsplash will complete the job. I don’t know if you will be interested but I will show you before and after photos once it’s finally complete. I am NEVER going to do a big job like this again, it has been really hard work and we will both be glad when it’s finally completely finished and actually now that it is almost done it’s a bit of a struggle to keep going and finish it.  Fortunately when things have gone wrong we have managed to keep each other’s spirits up.

The page above is another in my Amazing 16-page journal.  I had loads of fun with this page which is good, because I’m really not sure about the end result. but it is what it is. The quote is by Andre Robillard, a French artist I only discovered recently and whose work I absolutely love.  It may be a little difficult for you to read the words so here is what they say: “An artist is like an astronaut, with your mind you can travel the entire universe”.

I need more time, there are ideas forming in my mind for new projects, but I have too many other projects and commitments at the moment to bring them to fruition.  I guess I’ll just have to write the ideas up in my note book for future reference.

That’s all for now folks, have a great week and I’ll see you soon.

Big love

AJ 🙂

 

© Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal, 2014 unless otherwise stated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janette Gregson and ajsartjournal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.