Saturday, 10 December 2011

She came, she saw, she cooked - by Rick's sister, Elaine

Mum Magill, Elaine & Rick; Christmas 1972
Rick asked me to write a blog but at first I was a bit nervous as (a) I'm not as witty as him and (b) I've seen the abuse that he gets on here and don't really want to be on the receiving end of it. I then thought that it would be a good way to get back at him for all the years of torture (physical and mental) in our childhoods.

After some more contemplation it did seem like a good way to try to reassure all the thousands of people (yes, apparently this blog does have a major following, not just the usual suspects with OCB who write the comments) that Rick really is doing incredibly well and the treatment he is getting is second to none.

Rick did ask me to try to keep this as short as possible, but there's so many things I could/should write about I've really struggled even after cutting a lot out. Sorry! So, either settle down with a cup of tea or skip to the end - your choice!

'Rick's room' at Dr Wong's clinic
Firstly, he really is doing as well as he is making out. Yes, he’s going through a very, very tough time and every day seems to bring a new challenge to overcome, but each challenge is being met with a very positive attitude and with a big dose of humour. I know he is frustrated with often being very tired, disoriented and a little more retarded than normal.

In particular he’s concerned about not being able to keep on top of all the emails and messages he is getting. Knowing that you are all out there supporting him is bringing a HUGE amount of comfort to Rick, so please keep it coming…… but please, please don’t think he’s not reading your messages if he doesn’t reply – it just takes an awful lot out of him to sit in front of the laptop and he can’t do it every day.

Then there’s the medical treatment he’s getting. He has written many times about the doctors, nurses and facilities so I was expecting good things when I got there, but what I saw blew me away. Each specialist has their own little clinic with a dedicated team of nurses and their own treatment rooms. Dr Karmen Wong is clearly a lady who knows what she’s doing and I feel honoured to have met her. Three times. Each time nervously trying to keep out of her tortoise-spectacled eye line. Her nurses are extremely professional but also somehow manage to bring light and laughter to the clinic. They all deserve a glistening halo.

And then there is the treatment room – there’s no faffing around or delays trying to get a bed for treatment here. Everything is set up to seamlessly move you from the consultation through to treatment in 5 easy paces, or 10 shuffling steps in Rick’s case. The rest of the hospital is amazing too. I kept calling it the hotel by accident, as when you sit in the lobby sipping a café latte watching people arrive and sit around in the comfy sofas you would think you were in a 5* hotel. And not a 5* at 4am after a wedding either – there’s not a whiff of vomit/urine/disinfectant anywhere.
Massive thanks to Ilse for everything
Rick is so incredibly lucky to have this level of treatment, but none of this would have been possible without Ilse. She organised everything so that he didn't need to worry about any of the logistics or details, and since then she has been completely selfless giving over her gorgeous apartment to the sweaty, smelly, high maintenance man that is my brother. On top of that she made me feel so wonderfully welcome when I arrived.... And how did I repay her? By drinking all her wine and staying up chatting until 2am the night before she had a 7am flight to the Maldives. Sorry Ilse!

Last, but by no means least there is Moniek. I’m not really sure what I can write to get across the amazing support she’s giving Rick. Looking after him is a 24/7 job and she’s doing fantastically well at it. On top of the stress, anxiety and uncertainty about the future she is also making sure each day is a pleasant as possible for Rick with constant bedding/clothes washing & changes (he sweats – a lot!), cups of tea and cold drinks, making sure the cupboards are stocked and there is food on the granny tray (it’s not tartan, but it might as well be)….. and always with her beautiful smile. She’s one in a million, which is strangely similar to the incidence rate of chorio….. so what are the chances of Rick getting both!?!
Rick hit 89kg during my stay
- his fattest ever -
a world first for chemotherapy?

The week I had there went incredibly quickly but I took so much away from the visit that has increased my confidence that Rick will beat this thing. He has everything and everyone that he could possibly ask for, and he also now has a slightly increased waistline due to my cooking/force-feeding. I’m hoping that this will not only give him some extra strength in the coming days, but it will also give Moniek a bigger target of flab to aim for when he next needs the booster jab!

Love to you all


PS – I’ve re-read this a few times now, and despite multiple edits I know there are at least four comments that Des, Ian et al (aka the Finbar Saunders gang) will pick up on!


  1. good blog my dear, I say up to Rick's standards.

  2. Is that picture in Paignton Road? haha I would have recognised your mum... she either borrowed that rather fetching frock from my mum, or she got my mum to make it for her. haha

    SO pleased to hear the Rick really is doing as well as it seems. To put on weight during chemo is incredible.


  3. We've all been waiting soooo long for an update we thought you'd forgotten about us. Good blog Elaine, well done for keeping us updated about Rick. You really must have been a great boost to him. Great news at how well the fight is going. Keep it up and keep on the road to recovery. All the best mate.

  4. Elaine, fabulous prose. A real work of fine literature. I suspect this is because you didn't have the misfortune of being in the same O level English class as Matt & Rick. The reference to sweaty retard must have been difficult to work into the piece, but you certanly cracked it.

    Des, anything to add to such a fine blog?

    Oh & glad to hear the Hood / Ming fella is doing well.

  5. Ian - there were a lot more references that I could of worked in there, but I thought I ought to have some sympathy for the inflicted.

    We did do a thorough comparison of Rick vs Ming & Hood.... and although there are clearly a lot of similarities with Ming, Hood won it by a non-existant hair's breadth.