The 18th of July.
London in the summer is my favourite. I was down today for the summer reception of the APPG for stem cell transplants at the Houses of Parliament.
I got to New Street about lunchtime, bought myself some food and coffee, and went to sit in the assistance office. They got me on the train nice and swiftly, and I settled down listening to some empowering tunes to get me pumped for talking to MPs. At Euston, of course, they were late to pick me up. They might have been just within the 5 minutes but I was bored and had to pee so got the chair off myself. Had an awkward moment at the disabled toilet where the man with the key tried to stop a woman and her daughter going in only to be told that the daughter was blind. Ergh.
I went to get another coffee, and although it was early, I thought I might as well just get my cab to Westminster, just in case there were delays because of security or whatever. I had a very perky taxi driver, who I educated about stem cells, and he ended up dropping me off quite a way up Whitehall, because otherwise we would have sat in very slow traffic while the meter ran up. So I beetled down the road in my chair, trying to avoid people and not get blinded by the bright sun. When I arrived at the visitor entrance, there were only a couple of people ahead of me, and they just x-rayed my bag and patted me down. No weapons here. I carried on through to the main entrance hall, and it was only quarter past three. The reception didn’t start until 4. Oh well. I texted Cassie from Anthony Nolan to let her know I was there, and proceeded to twiddle my thumbs. I didn’t have to do it for long, as I soon saw Henny and Richard from AN arrive, so then I had people to talk to, and they found someone who could take me to the terrace pavilion an accessible way.
When I got there, I saw Cassie and Simon, and met some other members of the team who I’ve heard of or talked to but not met in person before. They were still setting up, so I just watched and talked people as they arrived. As it got to 4, people began to trickle in, and before we knew it, it was really rather busy. I actually didn’t end up speaking to any MPs, except Mark Tami, the chair of the group, as it happened. I talked to several people from Anthony Nolan, and other patients or supporters. Emma, one of the other young ambassadors, was there, so we talked about what’s been going on with both of us and had our photos taken, then I spoke to a girl with an interesting connection to me and obviously an incredible memory – she met me when I was in YPU with Alice and Vicky back in 2010/11 (I think that’s when it must have been), as she was a friend of Alice’s. She was there today with another of her friends who’d had ALL, so we had a good conversation about relapses and getting leukaemia tumours. Then the last people I really talked to were a girl called Amy and her friend – Amy set up the change.org petition to reverse the decision to not fund second transplants when her friend Sasha had to fundraise to pay for hers. Only after she started paying did the decision change.
Before I knew it, it was 6 o’clock and time for us to go. Cassie found a man to take me back out, and once I’d escaped the labyrinth, it was time to find a cab. Last year, nobody was willing to come to Whitehall, so I decided to drive up the road for a bit until I could find somewhere suitable to get picked up. I ended up getting all the way to Shaftesbury Avenue, and eventually stopped at The Palace theatre. I was bound to get a taxi round there, so I used the mytaxi app and a chap came to pick me up. It didn’t take us long to get to Euston, so when I arrived, I had about an hour before I had to go to assistance. I bought a sandwich and a drink from M&S, a couple of magazines for the train, then in WHSmith’s they were doing buy one get one half price on some books. There were two that I wanted anyway. I am awful.
The 19th of July.
Tired. Took me hours to fall asleep, and I’m a bit floopy today. Got up at half nine, and most of my morning was spent writing about yesterday. It will be a long entry – always is when I go on a trip, so probably another tomorrow.
This afternoon, we caught up on The Handmaid’s Tale from Sunday, then two episodes of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Then I went through to the kitties, as I didn’t really see them at all yesterday. I watched two episodes of Orphan Black, and they slept on opposing windowsills. I got Bree to purr again! She likes what Betty likes – having her chin scratched. I will make her friendly. Or at least not terrified of people. Christine is coming back with us tomorrow, so she’ll meet her and that will be a good test. Hopefully she doesn’t run away.