Joyeux anniversaire à moi!

I’ve done it! I’ve survived the first year post-allogeneic (unrelated donor) stem cell transplant. That’s really quite something to celebrate, especially as I’ve not just survived, but I’m doing pretty well… you might even say thriving!

Thursday 16 May was the day to say:

🙂 Happy Birthday to me! 🙂

Something special was required to celebrate… Number one on my List for Living and gratefully inspired by Helen Fawkes was to go to Paris for lunch. How decadent! How crazy! And as one friend said, “Oooooo! Posh!” What better way to celebrate a momentous event like the first birthday of my baby immune system?! So I could say instead:

🙂 Joyeux anniversaire à moi! 🙂

I invited nine friends to join me. Some are fellow travellers on the myeloma/cancer journey, while others have accompanied me from the beginning with support and love along the way. So as well as a celebration, it was also an opportunity to acknowledge and thank good friends. Unfortunately, four of the nine couldn’t come for various reasons. I’m sorry you couldn’t be there, Debbie, Helen, Janette and Lynda.

A few weeks ago, I met my transplant twin, Julie, at clinic. I hadn’t seen her for a while as our appointments haven’t coincided and she had lost her phone, so we had temporarily lost touch. Of course I invited her too, as it would be her anniversary the same day. Sadly, although she was very enthusiastic about the idea, she wasn’t able to come either.

Two friends who could come wanted to go to Paris for a few days around that time anyway, so they booked their trips to coincide with my special day and would meet us on arrival at the Gare du Nord.

So the day arrived and saw just four of us travelling. The trip took on an even more decadent aspect as while Helen Fawkes lives in London, so Paris is only two and a half hours away, my little gang started the day in Nottingham so we had an additional two and a half hours each way. That meant a very early start… waking up at 5:00am! Fortunately the excitement of the day spurred me on to leap out of bed and be ready in good time, remembering tickets and passports, to head off for the station.

It was a 06:28 departure from Nottingham for Sam and Janet, with A and I joining six minutes later at Beeston. We’d booked first class tickets on the trains to and from London, so big comfy seats, lots of space and complimentary drinks and snacks helped to ease us awake.

During the morning, I received congratulatory text messages from everyone who’d been invited but wasn’t there, which made me feel like they were with us in spirit.

Going through Eurostar security at St Pancras, I chatted away merrily to a security guard, saying that we were going to Paris for the day. He reckoned we were leaving a bit late, taking a train at 09:17, to which I responded that we had started travelling at 6:30, which he acknowledged with a shrug and a smile and wished us a great day.

Both the London train and Eurostar journeys ran smoothly, bringing us to Paris for 12:47, where Rhiannon and Wendy were waiting together, welcoming us with big smiles and the obligatory continental bisous on both cheeks, as we came out of the terminus.

Despite an earlier agreement between three of our party, and despite Wendy advising me that only tourists wear them, I was alone in wearing a beret. But it came in handy during the day, as I was easily spotted when we became separated.

IMG_1167I’d booked a table at Brasserie Julien, dubbed “the most feminine of the Art Nouveau brasseries”, only a 15 minute walk away from the station. We were greeted warmly and received superb service, with plenty of joking, a mixture of Français and English being spoken by everyone. The best bit was when one of our party admitted to remembering just one French phrase from school… “Je voudrais un citron, s’il vous plaît” (I’d like a lemon please), which surprisingly but sadly was not needed all day. I’m sure we could have got her to use it if only we’d tried harder.

Our lunch began with champagne, with which we toasted not only Julie (in absentia) and me, but also Debbie, Helen, Janette and Lynda, as well as a friend in California whose birthday it was that day. We also raised a glass in memory of my friend, Abir, a Libyan woman Sam and I had both befriended at clinic, who sadly didn’t survive her stem cell transplant.


IMG_1171While the food was not the very best I’ve ever tasted, I enjoyed my escargots and foie de veau, followed by crêpes Suzettes. But mostly I enjoyed the great company. Not being rushed, we took time to chat, giggle, eat and drink (an excellent Sancerre!), in a very relaxed manner under a beautiful stained glass roof, surrounded by Mucha-esque paintings.

Image 1Lunch lasted longer than I’d anticipated, but we still had time to jump in the Metro and head towards Montmartre, where we took the funiculaire up to Sacré Coeur, managing to avoid an opportunistic pickpocket en route. We had a wander around the Place du Tertre and a few of us sent postcards, but hélas, le temps passe vite quand on s’amuse (alas, time flies when you’re having fun)!

There was no time for a drink at a terrace cafe. And somehow we didn’t get around to buying a beret for Sam or Rhiannon. We made our way back to the Gare du Nord à pied, all of us wishing the afternoon could have been a bit longer.

We hugged goodbye to the two remaining in Paris and made our way up to the Eurostar check-in. The rest of the evening/night was spent rolling rapidly through Northern France and Southern England with any one of us yawning or nodding off at various times and none of us talking very much, but all of us brimming with grins, memories and bonhomie.


Thank you to my lovely friends for joining me in this crazy idea and making it such a delightful day, more special for being so brief and so wanton. As Sam put it, “when else am I ever going to be invited to go to Paris just for the day?!” So eloquent, Sam! 😉

This entry was posted in * Myeloma, Fun, play & adventure and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Joyeux anniversaire à moi!

  1. Hurrah! Formidable, cherie! That’s the most uplifting thing I’ve read in ages. Congratulations on your anniversaire. What a way to celebrate – style, eh? May there be many more celebrations


  2. Congratulations! May you enjoy many anniversary lunches in Paris.

    Hugs and kisses


  3. Deborah says:

    Tres Bien, sorry the only French word I could think of and I may have got that wrong, if only I had listened more in my French lessons! I am amazed and very excited to hear about your trip to France all in one day! And I thought camping in the conservatory was fun. I really must get round to living more. You are an inspiration and I take my hat ( beret of course) off to you and wish you a belated Happy Birthday. I have yet to go down the transplant route and I hope it won’t be for many years yet but it’s good to know you come out the other end and get to do such exciting things, I want to be in your gang. Oh I can feel another Miranda moment coming on and I want to start singing. If only this damned Neuropathy would stop getting in the way of my enjoyment. Thank you for making my morning Jet and making me think even more excitably about retiring early!
    Deborah xxx


    • Jet Black says:

      Très bien is absolutely perfect Deborah! So glad to know my great experience has had such a good effect on you. And camping out in the conservatory sounds lush. As for retiring early, I say Yes, DO IT!!!! But then I’m not your accountant. x


  4. Lorraine says:

    That sounds a wonderful day. It is really heart-warming to here how well you are doing.


  5. Lorraine says:

    Sorry, I have just reread my email and realised that I have not spelt hear correctly. I blame it on the medication!


  6. Sandra abraham says:

    So nice to read your story about your day trip. I would love to go on the euro but it means staying over night in London as the train times from cumbria would not work !!!! But your story is nearly just as good as being there thanks Jet xxx


    • Jet Black says:

      Well, either overnight in London, or overnight in Paris, Sandra!!!! I know which one I’d choose.
      If you do decide to do it, I can recommend a lovely B&B in Montmartre where I stayed last year.


  7. It was a great day (well afternoon for me actually!) and I was glad to be involved in your celebrations, hope there are many more for both of us in many different and exciting places!


  8. Delia Grodner says:

    Indeed ….. Joyeux anniversaries a toi….. And many happy returns. Glad to hear you had such a fab day. Xx D


  9. michele says:

    What a beautiful story…i had my sct april 16 and i want to go see the lights of the las vegas strip at night…thats always been a dream…maybe i can go there for my one year…either that or back to key west which is my favorite place ever…you inspire me..i just prey eveything goes well for this whole year…positive thoughts daily for sure…ty for making my day cheery…


    • Jet Black says:

      My pleasure Michele! Sadly I didn’t make the first anniversary of my autologous (my own) stem cell transplant, which was in August 2011, but while the recovery from the allogeneic (donor) transplant has taken a LOT longer, it seems to be working!!!! 🙂 Good luck with yours and your trip to Las Vegas sounds like a great way to celebrate!


  10. Ginnie says:

    love it Jet. Another beautiful memory to check off of your list. Wanton can be good. 😉 XOXO


  11. Astrid says:

    What a wonderful idea, and so good you had the strength to go to Paris for one day with such nice friends.


  12. Amy says:

    Happy happy day!! Congratulations and I love how you took us on the trip with you. Thank you! Made me smile big.


  13. Sharpy Sharpster says:

    An Jet, I really enjoyed reading this – it brought a tear to my eye! X


  14. Mavis Nevill says:

    Hi Jet,

    How your posts encourage me. Happy Anniversary! I feel certain there will be many, many more.

    So pleased you got to Paris! What an achievement. I hope you are well on with the other 49. It has inspired me to start my list this very day. For some reason I have been putting it off.

    Lots of love.

    Mavis xx


    • Jet Black says:

      That’s great, Mavis! Do it! Maybe begin it with an “easy win” to get you started. I’ve already ticked off another two or three. Just haven’t had time to write about them yet. And in the middle of planning for one of the biggies right now. So exciting! The thing that spurs me on is “If not now…?” Good luck with yours and do share if you want to. x


  15. Jane says:

    Hi Jet

    Belated congratulations on reaching your first post transplant anniversary. Sounds like you had a fab time in Paris.
    Enjoy your trip to Italy


    • Jet Black says:

      Hi Jane. Thanks for the congratulations… at any time! Paris was great and Italy will be too. I can feel it in my bones. (Written from my first night’s stopover near Troyes). 🙂


  16. Pingback: List for Living review | jet black living…

  17. Pingback: Happy Birthday | jet black living…

  18. Pingback: Happy Birthday | jet black living…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s