Well I have no idea where I am even going to start to articulate how much the last two days have meant to me. I am now safely back home thanks to Mr Grey and Princess. We arrived home at around 11.30 and I was asleep in my dream machine chair by noon and I’ve only just woke up and it’s 4 pm! I’m totally exhausted and hiding under a blanket and a quilt as I just can’t get warm. I don’t have a temperature so don’t all panic but I do think I am just knackered. My forehead skin feels like it’s made of concrete and my eyes just keep closing, it’s so hard to keep my eyes open. I feel like I’m in a Tom & Jerry cartoon and I need matchsticks to hold my concrete forehead skin up.
Okay so I have decided that in order to share the last two days in detail I need to do 3 posts, The Day of Conference, The Evening of Conference and the Departing Day of Conference. Now I usually only do one post a day however if I am up all night cos I can’t sleep I’ll keep writing them so that I can catch up with daily life.
Conference Day – So Steve wakes at 7 am and we get ready for the big day. I am sad that Steve is leaving me today as it was wonderful to be able to share the working world of my life with him. Last night everyone was so welcoming to him. Whilst checking in Anthony Bates came over to shake his hand and introduce himself, which I thought was just so lovely of him. Now Anthony doesn’t have a psuedonym and I’m tempted to call him Master and drop the Anthony but keep the surname but that just seems so wrong, but it makes me laugh as I think if it, sorry Anthony. Mr Muscles also spoke to Steve last night as they are both massive Led Zeppelin fans and they shared their love of the band. Whilst we are just recalling things from last night I have to tell you a secret! We were all just chatting about charity, Janine HRH was with us. We were talking about last year when with my BHS Kingston family I abseiled off Guildford Cathedral and with that, along with other events we raised over £4000 for The Royal British Legion, one of our company’s chosen charities. I was just talking about how whilst I was down to do it this year again I didn’t think I’d be able too and that I needed a back up person. You will never guess what happened next! Janine HRH said ‘I’ll do that for you Wendy’ I was totally gobsmacked that she offered and overwhelmed too. Thank you so much Janine and I will be sponsoring you, big time plus I’ll be there on the day to record your descent. Now I know that I can trust you lot to keep a secret so don’t tell anyone please, lol lol lol
So Steve left me after breakfast at about 9 am as planned. Whilst at breakfast one of the ladies serving offered to help me and she asked if I’d hurt my leg. I explained briefly the problem. She lost her mom to cancer and we chatted briefly, again another person just wanting to share their pain of losing a loved one to cancer. She asked if everything was okay with the room and I explained my problem of sleeping and I would love another quilt to use to sleep on. James Single must have told the hotel that I was to be treated like a queen and so later when I returned to the room there were two quilts about 9 pillows and two extra blankets. Amazing thank you.
The plan was to definitely attend the opening and closing of the conference and anything in between that I could manage would be an added bonus. Again a special space had been placed for my wheelchair and a reserved notice on the chair next to the space for BFF. BFF has taken her role as guardian of the day along with Rita very seriously and she asks all the time if I’m okay, do I need anything etc. Another side seen of my party animal friend who I know just wants me to be okay and enjoy everything but she is so caring and attentive, bless her so thanks BFF for looking after me. Rita being a mom and Nana is used to taking the motherly role, she also attends to my every need and helps me with drugs etc.
Mr Bottom always opens the conference with an inspirational speech. He is just a natural public speaker and he strikes the right balance of jokes and humour woven into his serious business messages as he strides up and down the podium. As part of the opening speech, thanking people etc he also mentions me! Wow I thought how lovely of him to do that for me. I can’t remember is exact words but it was something like ‘Most of you here today know Wendy Guy and that she hasn’t been well lately. We are pleased that she is joining us here today. Where’s Wendy?’ I put my hand up and wave, feeling very special. He says that he is pleased that I’ve been able to attend today. I’m honoured and touched that I was mentioned in his opening words.
One part of Mr Bottoms speech was about what we can do as Managers and Head Office employees to ensure the ‘BHS Fighting Back’ campaign succeeds over the next 12 – 18 months. I listen intently, sad at his words. It’s like the company, with it’s fabulous employees who are family to me are on the same journey as me with my cancer. 12 months from now I hope that we will still both be here, with a strong recovery. I want to play my part but what on earth can I do from home? How I can help my BHS family. I would love to go back into Kingston to my team there and enthuse them with the conference messages, to have fun with the ‘fighting back’ plan. To engage them and get them to come up with suggestions. I dream briefly of being with my team again. Working out a plan of attack with Emma but then I return my thoughts to the sad reality of my disease and treatment cycles. But I breath in deeply and assure myself that there must be something I can do I just need to think hard and long about it but I will think of something.
After about 1 1/2 hours of sitting in my chair and only having 3 hours sleep I’m tired and BFF takes me back to my room for a sleep and we agree she will wake me up for the lunchtime break. I get into bed and drift off instantly. BFF returns as planned, we get lunch before the auditorium comes out for theirs. We eat in the sunshine outside. Now there are so many people there, 500! Some I have seen recently and some that I haven’t. Whilst outside I saw Princess. Now do you remember I was due to attend a function on the weekend of despair and I didn’t go? Well it was her wedding. I have pre written out her card and I’m pleased to be able to give it to her at long last. Card given I start to apologise for letting her down. Just talking about that weekend and remembering how low I had become makes my tears uncontrollable. I sob and sob with her. That was the start I think of the uncontrollable tears that lasted the day, night and following day. I also saw Sarah Jayne, Lorraines daughter and I’m in tears again just thinking of my special friend who I worked with for 3 1/2 years at Marble Arch M&S. We have remained friends for all these years and she is also a very special person to me.
I saw Jo, now she behind the scenes again has been so supportive and nagging me about wheelchairs, disabled badges and pain relief. She sadly lost her mom to cancer and I’m pleased to see her. Bless her she has even offered to talk to my daughter as she understand what it’s like to she your mom suffer. I saw so many people that via my blog I speak to regularly. I saw Sue from The Isle of Wight and I’m in tears again because her team from early days decided to support and adopt me. They have raised and given so much to my cause Beating Bowel Cancer, thank you to all of you out the on the Isle of Wight.
Lunch over we go back to the conference. I however am tired again after only an hour or so as I needed to take drugs BFF took me again back to the room to rest and we agreed a pick up time as I didn’t want to miss the closing speech by Mr Bottom. Sleep over and I’m back in my special reserved place. It was the HR slot first. HR Director, Sarah Gillet was speaking and all of a sudden my face appeared on the big screen! Sarah talked about my illness, my blog and how much I had raised so far for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer. Everyone in the auditorium stood up to clap and remained standing, applauding me for well over a minute. I was in bit’s sobbing like a baby and then all of a sudden, Rita, Mother Hen and BFF were all around me too, hugging me and crying with me. I thought about Karen who was in the other side of the auditorium and about how proud I knew she would be and probably crying too. It was all too much. I appreciated the acknowledgement from the business. However I don’t consider myself special at all. Everyone says that I am inspiring and I just don’t get it at all. I just want to help others, to raise awareness about cancer and to save others from going through this nightmare of a journey that I’m on. Eventually everyone stopped clapping and sat back down, I continued to cry. Mr Bottom sums up the main conference messages and gave thanks all the people who made conference happen, including James Single and I clapped very loud at this note of thanks as he has made the whole thing possible for me to attend along with Amanda from HR. I keep saying thank you James and Amanda throughout the conference but words are just never enough sometimes.
Conference over and Rita, Karen, BFF and I head as planned to the swimming pool. BFF has agreed to swim with me but I know that she would rather not. I’m glad of her support anyway as we all head for the pool area. We decided to go swimming first and then head for the Jacuzzi. Rita helps me put on my special PICC line protector on and off we go. As soon as my body is submerged in the water my back pain stops. Wow, no drugs involved just water making my body weightless. It was so wonderful to feel normal, swimming about having fun. We then head for the Jacuzzi, as I left the water the weight of my body and the pain returned instantly. Into the Jacuzzi and again once submerged the pain went. It was 39 degrees in there and the heat, bubbles and water were just heavenly.
We were joined by Janet from Hanley. (she doesn’t come in the Jacuzzi) She has had her own issues with cancer and because she like so many gets the worry and stress of going through the process of being diagnosed and then through treatment, we all cry again as we talk about our journeys. Then Mr Muscles joins us, again not in the Jacuzzi but to chat briefly. I try to talk about marriage vows and how wonderful my hubby has been but through tears but I can’t get the words out. We were all blubbering wrecks.
Rita, BFF and Karen wanted to leave the pool and get ready for the evening do. I however could have stayed there for at least another hour as all I was going to do was to have a quick shower, throw on my dress and make up, and then pop my wig on, 15 minutes maximum I estimated. Gotta love the wig.
So we head off to our rooms and I phone Steve excited to tell him about the swimming, the pain going and that we needed one at home. We agree to look in to it. I quick catch up about our days and then I head off to get dressed for the evening.
The evening will be a separate post as I have so much to share with you all. I just want to thank Rita and BFF who pushed me around all day, made sure that I had everything I needed. They showered me with such love and I felt so safe. We laughed and cried all day long and it was definitely a picking daisies day for me. Thanks to everyone who made me feel so welcome, my to BHS Family, It was a day that I will never forget and in terms of precious memories, It is definitely up there for me in my top 20.
Got to go now as I feel so bad that I haven’t replied to one comment, answered one email our Facebook message, not to mention the private messages that I receive. I think it will take me about two days to catch up, sorry but I will reply to you all.
I was also given this card with £30 in to put into my JustGiving page, which I will do after today’s post goes up. Don’t worry Tracy I haven’t forgotten and thank you for the card and your generous donation to Beating Bowel Cancer. They appreciate every penny and so do I.
Evening do to follow soon…