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Pat and Paul's Diary 2007

The new year was barely in and we were off. New Zealand on January 2nd for 8 whole weeks. We flew from Heathrow by Korean Air and very good they were too. Extra leg room, stop over at Seoul which is exactly half way and the cheapest of the lot!

Met at Auckland by Sharon, Ashley, Preston and April. A beautiful greeting and a helium baloon, 'Welcome Home'. If you are an avid fan of these diaries you will know that they are nearly all pics and as I nearly always go without a camera, the diary is concise. But not so this time. I did have my camera and came home with close on one thousand shots which were reduced to 276 for the album and to somewhat fewer for you. Once more, Pat has produced a great journal - ask to see it.

Over 4 weeks of the 8 were spent in North Island. We stayed most of the time with Ugo and Sharon, indeed we joined them on their holiday trip going to places they had never visited. We also took a trip with Don and Sita, Sharon's parents, and spent some days with Merl and Bert Costar. Everyone was extraordinarily kind and generous.

Whether in North or South Island we had no difficulty in finding places to worship. Apart from Sharon and Ugo's lively community church I think all of our hosts were Anglican. Towards the end of our stay we had an invitation to Wellington and dined in the parliament building with Russell and Barbara Marshall, previous High Commissioner in London. Sitting on the table next to the Prime Minister we were introduced to several senior Ministers. A Minister of another variety was the Dean of Wellington who met us in his cathedral and undertook to write a review of 'Open for You'.

Our time in South Island was spent in a variety of ways including an 11 day tourist package by coach and a few days when we hired a car. I cannot remember why but we were accorded some special treatment in the cathedral in Christchurch.

Here are a couple of pics to start with but do visit the others - just here!

Reach out and touch it - Mount Cook from the window of our little plane.

On the road from Queenstown to see where the Lord of the Rings was filmed.


That 'c' word again (there was an entry in Diary 2006 relating to Pat)

Before we left UK Paul had felt a little niggle in his groin and had thought it might be the beginnings of a hernia - years ago he had gone to the hospital to have a similar thing on the other side checked out. Snag was if he went to the doc the insurance would be vitiated if anything developed. Whilst we were away it swelled as it might well have done but it was also hard - which didn't sound like a hernia. Paul didn't really give it much thought although it was growing all the time. Having said that there was enough concern to have Simon fix a doctor's appointment for Paul for the day we returned. By then the lump was the size of a cricket ball and as hard. Surprisingly it stumped the GP, as you might say. One of his colleagues had a look as well - made their day as they had never seen anything like it.

So it was off to hospital for a consultation and then a biopsy and then a ct scan, each with 2 weeks between - which means targets are met.

Pat wasn't very keen on going away again so soon but somehow Paul had fixed with Simon to go walking on the South Coast footpath. So towards the end of March we took of for Cornwall and bedded down at a Country Club called Clowance in a flat big enough for eight. It was all part of an introduction to an outfit called Seasons and cost us just over £100 for the week. We only took it up because their system of marketing was to offer all sorts of things seemingly for nothing and then try to sell a membership - which, by the end of the week, we had avoided. Simon joined us a couple of days later. One day on a recce altogether and then the men went walking and Pat stayed indoors working on her New Zealand journal and warding off people who wanted to sell us the time share. Perranporth to Zennor Head gave us a fair idea of the north Cornish coast - or these days it seems that one should say the north Cornwall coast. Anyway part of the South West Coast Path which trails 633 miles from Minehead to Poole. Mixed weather, some hailstones, much sunshine.

One evening we all saw a sight greatly to be feared. Pat, when she is roused. Over the years it has been our experience that at a good restaurant the waiters are attentive and available and at an inferior restaurant all sorts of things happen including an enquiry, 'is everything all right?'. At the restaurant in the club house we had been asked three times by three different people whether everything was all right when a chap who had been lounging against the bar wandered over and asked the same question. Pat took off. Exactly what she said I can't remember but the enquirer, it turned out he was the manager, reeled. 'What do you know that we don't? Are you expecting us to find something wrong? Why do you keep asking?

A full 9 weeks after Paul went to see the doctor he was in hospital for his first dose of chemotherapy for what, by then, was a stage 4 case of non-Hodgkin lymphoma centred in a lump which had grown to the size of a grapefruit.

The situation was serious, to say the least. We agreed to start reducing the size of Paul's wardrobe and to buy a smaller and new car so that Pat would have no transport worries for the first three MOT free years. The prognosis was a fifty fifty chance of being clear in five years but that left a fifty fifty chance of not seeing the year out. It was quite a jolt. What actually happened to our action plans is a bit of a mystery as by September we had bought another car. But instead of new it was two years old and instead of smaller it was larger. A Skoda. Used to be good for a laugh: now just good.

We bought it four days before going to Tenerife. Everything was fine for the first day when we drove to Aldershot to see Annie, Adie and Belinda. The next day Pat summoned up the courage to drive the beast the six miles to Stow to the local Tesco. She duly made it home - in a cloud of smoke. The next morning our new car was winched on to a low loader for transport to the seller's garage and replacement of a burnt out clutch.

The regimen was a clinical trial called R-CHOP14 with the letters standing for the drugs and the 14 for the periodicy of treatment. There were a variety of pills and daily injections which Paul could (but usually didn't) self administer for 9 days out of the 14 to encourage the white cells to get back on the job. The most unpleasant and dangerous treatments were the chemo introduced through a lumbar puncture. After the first dose in hospital the chemo was taken as an outpatient and there was only one furhter in patient period - for neutropenia. That was interesting for the number of visitors to an isolation room. Thinking there were a goodly number the first day Paul wrote a list of visitors the next day. There were 15 individual people - some of whom visited more than once - before 12 noon!

The doctors were very cooperative in fixing appointments for scans and other procedures to enable us to take our September holiday in Tenerife. The chemo had finished in August and the plan was to return in October for 13 radio therapy sessions.

During all this time in particular, and from time to time following, Paul sent a medical bulletin to lots of lovely people who were supporting us in prayer. Each time they were not only given the update but were asked to consider various aspects of prayer and its efficacy. Some were happy to return with their take on the whys and hows. Very interesting.

We had been due to go to Prague as locum for the ICS Chaplain there and to Westminster Abbey for our annual chaplaincy stint but obviously those had to be cancelled.

Tenerife and La Gomera

With no car we travelled from Blockley to Gatwick in the van - staying overnight and leaving the van with Joy. When booking th flight we had taken advantage of services offered and arranged for special consideration at the airport, thinking it would be quite fun to be whizzed through the crowd on a golfing trolley. As it happened the desk had no note of the request and we went through as perfectly normal people. During the weeks between arranging the service and failing to receive it Paul had made a pretty good recovery so things were not too difficult. During those four weeks away in the sun a little fitness regime was instituted and paid off, which was just as well as the subsequent radio therapy left the patient very tired.


Back to Pyrford

The tenant at Fosters was supposed to move out in March but when we were in New Zealand there was a series of e-mails claiming he couldn't find anywhere else and trying to negotiate another term. This was annoying because we had already given him an extra year. He probably thought we were a soft touch. In the end we agreed to let him stay until September 18. As it happened that was brilliant for us because we were hors de combat for much of the year and having started treatment at Cheltenham had no wish to enter anyone else's care.

We planned to move our furniture back to Pyrford on Saturday 17 November. Prior to that we camped out in the annexe for a few days to oversee the laying of a new carpet throughout the ground floor and stairs and landing, together with other things that need to be done. Once down it became clear that the carpet was not fit for purpose and there ensued a 6 month battle with the supplier. The original objective was to have a 'proper' carpet laid even though there would then be a houseful of furniture to move. In the end we kept the carpet - with the supplier refunding the cost of both carpet and its fitting. Possibly what the police would call a result.

For three and three quarter years our furniture had been in store in a 40 foot container which we had bought and, by extremely kind permission of a fomer parishioner, Daphne Jones, had left on her ground in Oddington. We had originally thought it would only be there for a year and a bit and had not thought to list the contents - the complete contents of a five bedroom vicarage. Starting in March we had shifted several van loads back to Pyrford in order to persuade the tenant we had no further intention to renegotiate. We had, from the beginning, reserved the small garage for our own use and now that was totally full. On 17th November Adrian hired a lorry with internal dimensions of nearly 20 feet by 7 feet by 7 feet. He collected Timothy and they met Paul at Oddington at 10.30 and the work began.Professional movers can carry a grand piano down stairs whilst having a bed tucked under each arm - or so it seems. We are not professional movers! By the time we were approaching Pyrford, full lorry followed by full van, it seemed out of the question to move everything into the house especially as ignorance of the contents had prevented the drawing of a proper plan as to where everything was to go. We filled the double garage and the covered sideway with goods piled high and hardly an inch to spare. It was 1.15 on Sunday morning when Paul got in the van for the two hour drive back to Blockley. Just as well he had engaged in a back to fitness regime but still perhaps not to sensible to work a 17 hour day shifting furniture.

A few hours later, on Monday morning, Paul set out again, this time with Ezikiel. Simon was waiting for us - he had been in Hungary over the weekend - and we moved everything into the house.

At the end of the week back came the van with Paul and the car with Pat and, after 14 years and 8 months, we took up residence once more in a house where Pat would not bang her elbows and where the leaves of the American red oak had covered the ground several times already..


The next day we worshipped at the Church of the Good Shepherd where Paul had been a curate for 12 years.


Christmas Day it was just Simon and Michael from next door with us. On Boxing Day we were altogether - Simon took the pictures so he is not on display.



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