In June 2012 I was diagnosed with Stage 2, ER+8, HER2 breast cancer.
During my treatment I blogged and below is a selection of the posts.
My good diet and lifestyle helped me throughout.
Well, here I am having fun at a wig fitting
This bob grew on me but on reflection I think not and I rather like the blonde colour of this but not the style…
…but this I love because it’s the same style as my real hair but a few inches longer.
“And why so, are you playing with wigs?” I hear you ask? It’s a Good News Bad News thing.
The Bad News is I have Breast Cancer. The Good News is it’s treatable and we are very optimistic. I have a fantastic care team and I have my wonderful husband, so I consider myself to be very lucky.
So far I have had a biopsy (very ouchy because I have very small boobs..I had to have double the dose of aneasthetic) and a bone scan.
This is the bruising five days later…it got darker and smaller. I still have it nearly two weeks later!
This is the Bone Scanner…it’s quite a beast. I wonder how much such a thing costs and I’m grateful for the health care which is unquestioningly available to me. Tomorrow I have an appointment with the oncologist (The Chemo Guy) and next week I have appointments for a CT Scan and a Heart Echo. Then I have to have a Coil Marker fitted against the tumour (double the dose planned) so my surgeon can gauge the extent of shrinkage during chemotherapy. Then the treatment begins!
The plan is to start with chemo in order to shrink the little bugger, which is currently 2.9cm. Then my surgeon is hoping I will only need a lumpectomy rather than a total mastectomy. Either way I will lose the nipple. I will be able to have reconstructive surgery but as I am tiny there isn’t enough of my tissue to use so I will need an implant (he says I can have both boobs done and go up a cup size or two..woohoo!) and he will make me a new nipple. I will need radiotherapy so I’m not sure when I get the new boobs but in the great scheme of things, they can wait.
My Bone Scan results are fine :o)
Today I saw The Chemo Guy. He copped a feel and had a squidge…I started a bit when, as he was measuring with his measuring thing, he said out loud “5cm”. “Um…it was only 3cm before”, I said. “Swelling”, he said, “from the biopsy” “Phew!”
He told us the procedure for the treatment, which drugs he’ll be using and the 5842 side effects. You wouldn’t believe some of that stuff. So, yikes! It seems I have to stay as healthy as I can because my immune system will be compromised. I have to take my temperature twice a day and if it reaches 37.5 I have to call the clinic. So I shall be avoiding hotness and steaminess. In my favour I have the health and fitness of a thirty year old, a diet which is as good as it gets and a pretty darn healthy lifestyle.
I have an appointment booked to have a coil marker inserted next week (I googled images…SO wish I hadn’t!) along with the already booked CT Scan and Heart Echo and chemotherapy will start in about two weeks.
All good news so far, apart from the obvious crap stuff and I’m hoping the CT Scan keeps it good.
This morning I had a Computed Tomography Scan on one of these babies!
I had to arrive an hour early so I could be given six cups of water (six wees ensued) as this somehow helps with the scans. After the first one I was hooked up via a needle to some dye which helps my inside bits show up. What a crazy job some people have…scanning bits of people. That said, I’m extremely glad they do.
I was allowed to wear Lincoln County Hospital’s best designer number…I could see the passion in TB’s eyes ;o)
Next was an EchoCardioGram. Nothing much to report really except it’s rather awesome seeing my heart…we take far too much for granted.
I have a wig fitting on Monday afternoon and I’m sure the best thing to do is have my hair cropped on Monday morning. If I do that the wigs will sit better, I’ll be able to put them on more easily and it’s only one cut away from shaved. And if I’m honest, my hair is in a pretty bad state of abuse at the moment so even under usual circumstances a bloody good shortening (that’s 4 or 5 inches in my world) would be in order.
There’s a hairdresser next door to the wig shop (I like the idea of dashing from one door to the next under a hoodie) but it doesn’t open on Mondays and I don’t possess enough celebrity sway to make it happen. There’s another hairdresser a few doors away (a dash of a few doors will be just about acceptable) but I just can’t make the ‘phone call. I have the number, I have my ‘phone, I have tears streaming down my face.
I know to all you people with hair, long or short or shaved through choice this may seem ridiculous. Bald or dead? Um…that’s a no brainer. But I’m a girl (albeit an old one) and girls are meant to have hair and this girl always has long hair. And having lovely, long hair makes me feel lovely and having no hair and no eyelashes and no eyebrows and no left breast and a sore mouth and sore eyes and aching joints and numbness and so many other rubbish chemo side effects is going to make me feel like absolute f**king sh*t.
But it’s better than being dead and without treatment that’s what I’ll be. So, the sensible thing to do is make the call to the hairdresser. I have the number, I have my ‘phone, I have tears streaming down my face…
This afternoon I am having a coil marker placed against the tumour. I googled “coil marker in breast”…silly, silly me.
“You’re going to put THAT in my boob?! Pffft! Over my de… Ah, yes, that would be the other option. Go ahead…put it in.”
I will post later, if I’m not too busy being self-indulgent and wimpy and ouchy.
Yesterday TB called the salon for me…it seems they all close on a Monday so we’ll collect the wigs and see how it goes. I’m thinking at the first sign of hair loss he’ll whip it all off for me.
Jesus Christ On A Bike!!!!!
I had taken two “prescription only” strength co-codamol and the injection for the anaesthetic still had me on the ceiling. I was however given a double dose and told I could leave it for now and try again another day but I stayed and had the coil marker thingy put it.
The actual putting in wasn’t so painful, mostly because the lignocaine did its job; it’s getting a needle in so deep to get the lignocaine to where it has to be that has me uttering foul words. My care team seem to be in agreement that the problem is the density of my breast tissue (that’s how come they’re so pert and I have no need to wear a bra!)
I had to have a mammogram afterwards; painful at the best of times but dear lord…! It was amazing to see the coil so clearly in place though. I’m hoping to get a print out to post on here soon.
Throughout the whole procedure, TB held my hand, kissed my shoulder and made it all possible. Thank you, darling…”rock” doesn’t come close.
July 7, 2012
I went Chemo Shopping this morning (any excuse!)…possibly a little early but I wanted to get it done while I was feeling up to it and clear headed and financially sound enough to get it right.
So, I bought:
Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter (as raved about all over the press for the past year and three for two)…very pure and pure is a good thing during chemo
Six pairs of false eyelashes (probably an excessive amount but it was all buy one get one free)…for when my eyelashes go AWOL
Two child’s toothbrushes and paste…gentle on a sore mouth and gums
Crystal deodorant…I already use this but need a spare for my emergency bag
I couldn’t get the recommended eye drops (for when the sore eyes kick in) so will try next time.
There are some other bits and bobs to get but they can wait. Was wondering if new shoes and bags might help ;o)
There’s also a lot of stuff which I could buy but I will be able to get from the doctors. (Drugs to make me poo, drugs too stop me pooing, drugs to make me eat, drugs to make me hang on to what I’ve eaten. Are we having fun yet?)
I’ve also packed my emergency bag, ready in case of…emergency!
Again, I’ve done this before it needs doing (which may be never) as it makes it easier for us.
soon I shall be collecting another rather different one…watch this space!
This is my serious face….good, no?
I still have all my own hair (I’m 95 you know!) which is pinned up under the wig…
…and it makes it a little hard to wear the wig.
So I think as soon as I have my other wig, I shall have my hair cropped to make everything easier. I don’t feel so bad about that now and I want to be adept at this wig lark before it becomes a necessity (for me, anyway)
TB and I were so excited/shocked/upset about buying/needing a wig that we forgot about the VAT exemption on hairpieces for cancer patients.
I shall call the shop today to see if it’s too late.
(I’d quite like £40 back!)
So far I’ve worn this for a couple of hours last night and about three hours today and already it makes my own hair look rubbish! I’m thinking Cheryl Cole, Kelly Rowlands, Raquel Welch, Beyonce…maybe I’ll always wear a wig. This is how my hair was to look in a couple of years and I have my eye on a wig which is a style I used to have but haven’t been able to find a hairdresser able to cut it like the wonderful Darren used to. So mmmmmmaybe…
I have been contemplating the recommended diet for chemotherapy patients (I’d like to say the elite few but it seems that is not the case…it’s all too prevalent) and luckily for me, no adjustments are necessary although the addition of chips will be essential in a “I’ve had a sh*t day and I WANT chips NOW” situation.
It is nice to have my vegan diet endorsed.
Here is a little snackerooni I had this evening.
There are a couple of snaps here of some of my meals…there’s a photograph of my home-made chips, too.
I have a date next week with The Chemo Guy (maybe a movie, dinner, FEC Cocktails) followed by
my first chemo session.
I’ve ordered a duplicate wig (one on my head, one in the wash).
I’m still waiting for my prescription charge exemption certificate so I can collect my groooooovy sunburst finish wig.
I have no need for a merkin (google it!)…it’ll be one less hassle in the shower ;o)
Things are getting closer now.
It’s what I was getting a little impatient for but now I don’t want it because what I really want is not to have cancer.
(I’d also like a pony and Jack Bauer’s ‘phone number but hey…)
Yesterday evening I sat at the kitchen table while TB cooked dinner (nothing fancy, just a simple pasta dish) and this was going through my head:
No, you’ve chopped the onion on the wrong board…now anything else chopped on there will taste of onions.
You’ve put the green pepper in too late.
Don’t leave a wooden spoon in the washing up water…the wood will expand.
No…you’ve salted the water before it’s boiling and that can pit the pan.
Oh God…you’ve put a hot pan on the chopping board and that will open the grain.
Etc etc etc…
All this when I’m feeling fine.
How on earth will I relax after chemotherapy when there are people in my kitchen abusing my knives?
(Knives which get a little sharpening action each time I use them)
I have a plan…Post-It notes:
“The pink towels do not belong here!”
“This drawer is for table cutlery…scissors are kept in the one below”
“I love you with all my heart”
TB and I have very traditional roles…he does the boys’ jobs, I do the girls’ stuff. I take care of him and he provides for me. It is going to be very hard not to feel like I am letting him down. He tells me that for now he will look after me and when I’m better I can look after him…and put everything back in its rightful place ;o)
Today I collected another wig…from one of the best shops you could wish to find. The lady who has been helping me
is patient, super efficient and trimmed this baby for me just how I like it, so Doreen, thank you xx
It’s actually quite a bit more orange (ginger) than the photograph shows.
It’s a prescription wig so for me it was free. It isn’t such good quality as my other ones but I do love it.
I love how it fades to dark brown
It’s quite a bit shorter than the first wig and is a lot easier to wear so I may get a second one like this
(though in just dark brown) which I will have to pay for but daaaahling, I’m worth it xx
I’m trying to think what else has happened in the last day or so but really nothing more than the plumber safety checking the old boiler (I passed!), the landlord replacing the water pump and the plumber calling to arrange replacing the hot water cylinder. Jack Bauer has saved the world from destruction a few times (boxed set of 24…135 hours of it!) and I have painted my nails red this week. Apparently, keeping them a dark colour helps with damage during chemotherapy so no more delicate pinks, I shall stick to red and deep, deep plum…I love them both.
Tomorrow I have a very important date so I shall post about that in a a day or two and tomorrow the car is having the exhaust fixed…la di da…the excitement of it all!
Right then…first chemo session (I’m having FEC-T, four sessions of FEC then four sessions of T, but you’d worked that last bit out, hadn’t you?) was ok. It was a long day…we arrived at 8.30am and left at 3.30pm but were told that was partly because I saw The Chemo Guy on the day of the chemo rather than the day before. For us, it is actually better that way as it saves losing another day’s work.
Here I am, prepped and waiting to be attached.
The first two drugs, Epirubicin (it’s red and makes your wee pink for two or three days…I like pink but usually go for it in a nail colour or pink sapphire way) and 5 Fluorouacil (5FU) are injected slowly into the cannula by a nurse and takes about an hour and a half. It’s a great time to ask all sorts of questions. Actually, that pink wee thing applies to all body fluids so there’s a chance my contact lenses may turn pink…bring it on!
It was during this that I was told I mustn’t have Take Aways as the risk of infection is too high. I was aware that chemo will supress bone marrow so my white cell count is low thus my immunity is low but I hadn’t realised just HOW LOW. Apparently, week two of the three week cycle is when it’s at its lowest. To help boost it, on Day 5 a nurse will come to my house and give me an injection. On days 6 – 9 TB will give me the injection…the nurse will show him how!
I was also told I absolutely, no messing, no resisting MUST HAVE a bar of chocolate a day to increase my sugar intake.
So if Green & Black would like to sponsor me I’m happy to endorse their vegan chocolate.
The next drug, Cyclophosphamide, is in a bag and fed through a tube to my cannula. It hangs on a thing with wheels so I can wheel it to the loo with me. (You know what I mean, the type of thing Jack Bauer could drag around with him for a whole 24 hours while he saves humanity.) Ah, but I need the drugs in my right hand as my cancer is in my left breast…and of course, the loo paper is on the right hand side of the loo. Luckily, I’m pretty flexible :o)
We passed some time after prepping playing chess but abandoned the game to talk to my nurse. We may carry on from this position at the next session I’m playing as white…email me any hints you may have!
Other bummer related news (I won’t only blog about cancer I promise, but at the moment it’s a bit full on)
I knew I had Stage2, Grade2, ER+ cancer but now know it’s also HER2+. You can google but sod that!
It means the cancer is more aggressive than I thought and I will need a further 18 sessions for the drug Herceptin (that’s about a year!). The first four sessions will be at the hospital then we’re hoping
the rest can be administered by a nurse at home.
I’m also very anaemic due to a “girls’ issue” ;o) and this means extra weekly blood tests to monitor my iron levels because if I drop too much (and the bone marrow thing makes this worse) treatment has to wait. So I have iron tablets to bring it up and keep it up…funny, ’cause normally they tell me they’re going to help me keep things down.
Yet again, I’m completely in awe of the NHS. The treatment, care and consideration I’m receiving are what’s making me cry the most…but crying a good way. Also, your messages are fantastic and make me do that crying-in-a-good-way thing, too…so thank you to all of you and please don’t stop…and Messrs Green & Black, if you really want to make me cry… xx
I was too FECed (geddit?) last night to do anything other than sleep so we didn’t watch “24″. I can’t remember what precarious predicament we’ve left Jack Bauer to face without us…
Ha ha…yesterday morning (Day 3) as I was ironing, my nose dripped onto TB’s shirt.
Half my nose hair has gone already! I knew it was good for keeping stuff out (titchy flies, pepper, feathers)
but I’d never thought about it’s usefulness at keeping stuff in.
I’ve heard/read plenty about hair re-growth after chemo being curly (very curly) but curly nose hair? Really? Yikes!
Well that wasn’t very nice!
Yesterday afternoon I emerged from the horizontal position in which I had been for the previous 63 hours. I was so dizzy and nauseous I couldn’t stand, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t focus, couldn’t think and 5 migraines in 5 days. It began with needing assistance and a wheel chair at the local surgery (there for my weekly ferritin blood test) and went downhill from there. I think the elderly gentleman sat next to me may have thought his luck was in when I put my hand on his arm…
but then I asked him to get me a nurse!
So I guess days 8-10 are the baaaaaaad ones for me. I shall make the most of my time till the next mid-cycle.
But guess what? I’m still smiling :o)
And TB, I love you xx
When you see my wigs on the shelf, do not snigger, nudge your friend and say,
“Go on, you put it on; it’ll be funny”…you insensitive oaf.
Is it funny when I put it on? Is it a laugh? Um…no.
Don’t make me throw away the wig you have tainted with your ridicule.
Don’t make me hide until I’m certain you’ve forgotten how I used to look.
A couple of weeks ago TB cut five inches off my hair, making it just about shoulder length. It looked rubbish, neither short nor long and just not me. A couple of days ago he cropped it to about an inch/inch and a half and it looks great. My wigs now fit so much better, feel and (to me) look less “wiggy”. They are more comfortable and it only takes me minutes to do my hair!
My hair was in poor condition having been abused by colour, hair driers, straighteners, tongs but ladies, if you have to do this and your hair is good, please consider Little Princess Trust which
“provides real hair wigs to children suffering hair loss due to cancer treatment. We supply and fully fund the best wigs available from all over the world, especially designed for children. We also provide personal fitting and styling to ensure the wig is as close as possible to the original hair.”
This morning more of it is starting to fall and it has become obvious that I will lose it all. I think while I still have hair, albeit very short, I still don’t quite believe it will all fall out. Every morning I peer warily in the mirror, not certain of what I’ll see. (Same old bird so far!) When I shower, I gingerly check the plug hole…so in some ways, once it has all gone it will be a relief.
TB finishes work at lunchtime today. It’s a beautiful day so he may get on his bike or put on his running shoes. When he’s done his fitness bit and I’ve taken shameful advantage of his breathless state (I love his tri-suits), I think we may get the clippers out…yikes!
Emily’s Little Princess drawing
This morning, I signed for 58 assorted bars of Green & Black’s chocolate. I have great big bars and those delightful “too cute to eat” bars. (I shall eat them; my ethos of preserving cute things does not extend to chocolate) Thank you, SheilaRose for contacting Green & Black’s PR people. Also, today, I received yet more G&B direct from Cadbury, thank you Jonathan for getting in touch with them. So far, one way or another, I have been sent 91 bars!
I’m receiving the best medical care there is and I have complete faith in it and my care team, who are wonderful. But, what makes the biggest difference is your thoughtfulness and kindness. I’m getting daily virtual feline head-butts which I love. I’m getting daily “what I did at work” emails which are making me smile. I’m getting simple “Hello” messages which are like a virtual hug. I’m getting through this with your help. Thank you xx
And thank you Messrs Green & Black for your generosity
The Dull Facty Bit
Chemo number 2 on Thursday was ok in as much as having chemo can be ok. It was delayed by two hours, partly because I’d had my pre-chemo blood test a day too early and had to have another one but also, having spoken to others, a lengthy delay seems to be the norm. Thursday evening and night I felt uber sick and Friday I was shattered but today, I feel good again…I get tired easily but I know that will pass.
I was rather upset that TB couldn’t come in with me this time; we hadn’t realised that only happens for the first session. I have a few issues which make doing anything on my own very difficult for me.
The Daft Laughy Bit
My hair is doing its best to drop out. This morning it was a ceaseless task trying to rinse it off my shoulders in the shower and I’d left it too late for TB to shave it before he had to leave for work for a few hours. As I was trying to do my make-up I got so angry with it falling on my face that I had a bright idea! The vacuum cleaner was still upstairs so I put the brush attachment on the hose and gave my head the once, twice, thrice over. It worked and felt quite nice.
(I don’t understand why the dog won’t let me do it to him.)
TB will shave it all off for me later today.
The Thank You Bit
Thank you very much to “Anonymous” who gave to Macmillan Support through my Just Giving page.
And one more thing…
My under arms and lady bits are nicely bald but why the heck aren’t my legs?
I’ve heard about Chemo Fog…a term which describes a slight befuddling of the brain.
I’m thinking this was responsible for me running the shower then stepping in without taking of my PJs.
At least I’m giving TB a few good laughs ;o)
EDIT: Spot the Chemo Fog typo!
I’ve realised it’s not anger I feel, nor injustice, nor even WTF? but resentment.
A couple of months ago I was unaware that I had breast cancer. I was fit and healthy, stupidly happy, had reached a very good turning point in my work and was loving it. Finances had been tight but TB and I were just getting it all sorted.
Life was blooming good!
I think a lot of us keep quiet about feeling like this because we should just be grateful for our treatment (and I am) but I hate that my life has been changed FOREVER. I loved it just the way it was, thank you very much xx
On a lighter note, I won’t be out of bed for long today but the sun is shining on the tree outside the bedroom window and it is full of birds. Life IS good, just different now and that’s going to take a little getting used to.
Oh and TB is gorgeous and I do enjoy a shallow moment…phwoar!!!!
Since Thursday I have felt great and I blooming love it. I’ve been to Tesco (see? I feel so good even going to Tesco was fun) instead of shopping online and the kitchen is full of fruit and vegetables and grains and olives and capers. I’ve cooked and cooked and cooked and loved every minute of it.
On Wednesday I had an appointment for an ultrasound to check for shrinkage of my tumour. I guess the Chemo Guy will let me know next Thursday. TB had a squidge and to be honest, it doesn’t seem to be any smaller.
I took the opportunity on Wednesday to make an actual appointment with one of the Macmillan Breast Cancer Nurses as we had so many questions which the consultants and surgeons either don’t have the time to discuss fully or don’t quite understand that to them it’s all routine stuff but to us it’s a bag of bollox. Andrea was brilliant. She went through my histology report with us and gave me information on reconstruction.
I saw the Chemo Guy this morning and my ultrasound shows no shrinkage (which we had kind of sussed) and that my tumour isn’t responding to the FEC part of my chemotherapy…which is a real bummer. So, he’s cancelled tomorrow’s FEC chemo session and instead has me starting Herceptin and Docetaxol chemo next week.
It means a fair bit of to and fro frollicks to the hospital again (just when I thought we’d got a routine sorted) and some jiggling about of TB’s diary but when I looked at the nurse and said “Hmmm…we have TB’s children that day and you want me here for six hours and then some” she had a look on her face which said “AND?!” So I shall sit it out on my own while TB has the not-so little ones. Not sure how to occupy myself for six hours in a not overly comfortable chair…Kindle and iPod time, I guess.
I must take a picnic, too :o)
I took a massive dose of steroids last night as instructed and was bouncing off the ceiling. I took another massive dose this morning and will take another this evening. So, if you need your garden landscaping or a kitchen extending overnight, I’m your man. Give me a call and I will be round faster than a fast thing!
Docetaxol incognito because it’s light sensitive.
Interestingly, one of its side effects is me being light sensitive so need sunblock (sun?), shades, dark nails…
Monday was my first infusion of Herceptin…had to spend six hours at the hospital as it’s nasty stuff and they
need to monitor me to make sure I have no adverse reaction, which I didn’t.
Tuesday was an ECG as Herceptin can cause heart damage, even failure, so that will act as a benchmark
for regular checks; also had pre-chemo blood test.
Today. was my first infusion of Docetaxol, my new chemo drug.
At about half past midnight last night, after we’d exhausted all the television options (isn’t there some awful crap on there?) I said we should go to bed as TB needed to sleep even if I didn’t. After about half an hour in bed he asked (with a smile) if I was going to stop talking so he could sleep or should we get up again. Can’t help thinking now that I missed an opportunity for some all night luuuurve…
And a huge Thank You to Captain John and Mrs Captain for helping out with the children on Monday. Being able to have TB with me for a couple of hours made such a difference.
I have to keep my chemo veins stretched which is much easier to do if I warm them first
and now I have this wheat filled chap
Here’s Mr Sheep, about to be zapped!
Thank you, Jonathan…for you kindness and conversion of virtual hugs into the real thing.
For the last few days I’ve felt really bad. This docetaxol is evil stuff but I’m hoping evil is as evil does when it comes to killing of the cancer cells.
September 16, 2012
I haven’t posted for a few days as I was admitted to hospital on Friday when my temperature reached 39.4°C I’m being given intravenous antibiotics and something to increase my white blood cell count and being monitored every few hours…the buggers even wake me up to do all this!
One of the side effects of chemo is a drop in white blood cells, which increases the risk of infection. It seems that an insignificant germ to whom I would normally say “Get thee away, little bug, go forth from my door” has been able to emulate a superhero germ and maraud my body unchallenged…the cad!
My temperature is now closer to normal but my white blood cell count is still too low so I won’t be allowed home yet.
By the way, what I’d really say to that bug is “You, bug…f**k off and when you get there f**k off some more
then keep f**king off!”
I shall soon be posting lovely pictures of hospital food on my food blog…yum!
The pattern of life right now is thus: I have one week of feeling rubbish, followed by one week of feeling uber rubbish then a week of feeling ok…then it all starts again. I can’t fit three weeks of life and cooking into one good week.
I am no longer in control and it pi**es me off. It sucks.
People have stuff going on and I sit here and wait for the next hospital appointment or feel ill or
am too tired or too susceptible to bugs to do anything.
I’m fed up with watching crap TV to pass the time. It’s hard to concentrate on reading. So I sit with my laptop and trawl endless crap websites…and man, is there some crap out there!
But hey ho. When all my treatment and surgery is done maybe I can see what all the fuss is
about the world outside my window.
Yesterday I had my second Herceptin infusion, which I had expected to be a three hour session and we had planned the day accordingly. Not till I was called through was I told I was being “Reloaded” because I’d missed last week (on Chemo Guy’s orders) so I would be there for six hours again.
I’d been told my next session would be two, not three weeks hence, to avoid reloading but apparently that doesn’t work so early on in the Herceptin treatment. I am grateful for my treatment but why can’t these things be made clearer?
“You should have been told” doesn’t help when we’re standing at your desk trying to re-arrange an already re-arranged day.
Not really complaining, I know it’s not your fault but just sayin’
As it happens, all went well and the nurses were brilliant and the six hours passed more quickly than they did before (must have been the packet of HobNobs) and I met a lovely lady from my town.
Just a very quick post to say I’ve been in bed since Friday (had docetaxol on Wednesday); never felt so ill in all my days.
I’ll be back as soon as I can
Here we go then…
My ultrasound last week showed some shrinkage but not enough to save the breast. My boobs are so tiny that even removing a small lump would take away most of the breast tissue and it seems chemo isn’t going to make it anywhere near small enough. So the Chemo Guy has stopped my chemotherapy (hooray, I hated it but eek, I want all the chemo you can throw at me) and organised surgery.
I’m having a mastectomy with an immediate implant (Yay!). I didn’t want flap reconstruction as this leaves too much scarring for me and anyway, I “don’t have enough fat on my abdomen, bum or back to use”
(I’m taking this as a compliment, Mr Surgeon)
And EVEN BETTER…I’m having a Becker implant (Woweee!) which acts as both a stretcher and the permanent implant. The radiotherapy may damage it but if that happens it will be replaced.
And EVEN MORE BETTERER…I’m having both boobs a little bigger than they are now. I’m currently 32A and can’t decide on 32B or 32C. I’m seeing the surgeon again next week and he will advise me so I guess I should take his advice.
All this has been brought forward by three months and I’m not quite prepared for it but I will be.
Yesterday, I spent two and half hours at the hospital, partly with my breast care nurse (who told me the perils of lymphoedema…yikes) and mostly with my surgeon (known by all as Mr G) who told me his plans (meet a nice girl, settle down, kids, dog, place in the country) for my new breast. I’m not sure what they thought of my excitement about it all…they probably think I’m a little eccentric or barking mad.
Mr G is going to do his very best to minimise the scarring and give me evenly sized boobs…although it will be 6 – 8 months before all is completely finished and a further six months or so before all my treatment is done. Then there’s just a mere five years of Tamoxifen but SO WHAT? I can see light and boobs at the end of the tunnel.
At the Breast Clinic I bought two of Mr G’s preferred post surgery bras…
…actually, I quite like them; I’d happily wear them to the gym or with jeans.
The Breast Care nurse gave me a heart shaped cushion to place between my arm and breast after surgery. Apparently a lot of women have found this very comfortable and so some ladies make these cushions for the clinic to give out. And once again, such kindness had me filling up.
My blood test results from Thursday show that my counts
(neutrophils, white cells, platelets and some other things with strange names)
are currently too low for next week’s surgery. I’m having another test on Monday. So…..
COME ON BLOOD, GET YOUR FLIPPING ACT TOGETHER!!!
Today’s blood test was fine and surgery is tomorrow!
All packed and ready to go. Yikes…
Wehey…back home and out of bed! Time for a catch up, too.
The view from my hospital window…perdy, no?
Right, the more serious stuff…
My surgeon has a neat set of different coloured pens and I assume he simply cut along the dotted lines. Actually, the blue line around the nipple and down and then the one under my arm is where he cut. He was able to cut within the line around the areola so will be able to use it to reconstruct the nipple, lessening the amount of tattooing needed. The red outline is the implant and the little red box is the port for inflating with saline. The blue Xs are where the drains exit and I had a third one but cannot remember where it exited.
Here I am two days after surgery. Two of the drains have been removed. All I can see in this photograph is the tummy which has mysteriously appeared. It can’t possibly be anything to do with Mssrs Green & Black, can it?
Here are the drain bags. I had to take these everywhere with me. It was good to come home with only one left. ToyBoy is emptying it each morning for me as it is quite tricky to do with my numb fingertips.
I also had to wear, and continue to wear, these super sexy surgical stockings…
Trust me…this is a lentil bake with swede and mashed potato. YUM!
I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. There’s a tightness across my chest, which I guess is the muscle being stretched by the implant underneath it and a soreness inside as well as where the incisions have been made. I have antibiotics, iron, paracetamol, tramadol, ibuprofen and in the hospital I also had oramorph and man, do I need it all!
But so far, I’m happy. The shape looks good. The implant has already had saline put in it and will have one or two more inflations. I have a Becker Implant, which acts as a stretcher too so will not need replacing unless my radiotherapy causes the muscle to tighten uncomfortably around it. When all the swelling has gone it will be about twice the size of my other breast so I will need a prosthesis for two or three months until I can have an implant to even them up.
Having an immediate implant has been such a good thing. I wish I’d known this was possible right from the start as it would have saved some anguish…I’d been told it couldn’t be done until after radiotherapy. My one criticism of this whole process is that the members of my team don’t always talk to each other.
Now the only thing playing on my mind is whether or not I should opt for a mastectomy on the other side, too. At the moment, I think it would be easier than maybe having to go through chemotherapy ever again.
Here I am two weeks after my mastectomy. The dressings are off but the steristrips are still on…they will be removed in a couple of days and I will get my first glimpse of my scar and nipple free zone!
Having an immediate implant, although painful and uncomfortable (with more of that to come as it is inflated gradually once the swelling has gone) has, for me, been wonderful. My implant is under the muscle so is causing a fair bit of pain but this will eventually subside. A delay in reconstruction would have made it a longer, more painful process as the skin would need to be stretched and I’m not good with pain.
Hmmm…I’ve mentioned pain four times in the paragraph above.
Lord, I am such a wimp!
Here it is…the moment I’ve been waiting for…the first sight of my scar and I am so pleased.
This is the first time my surgeon has seen it, too and he was very pleased.
There’s no fluid, very little bruising, the implant hasn’t moved. the port hasn’t moved
and the scar is wonderfully smooth. Some of the areola has been saved and this will be used to make the new nipple and a new areola will be tattooed around it. Good, huh?
This photograph was taken after I’d had another 40ml of saline injected into the implant.
The breast will settle in time and look less like a football!
The injection and fill-up didn’t hurt at all; in fact, we were all laughing about it. However, by the evening, the tightness and stretching of the muscle was very painful but this has now eased and the painkillers helped.
Next week, I’m having the final top up…not 40ml, I don’t want to poke TB in the eye.
EDIT: Just in case you were wondering, I will be having the other breast worked on so it will match!
I have a CT Scan next week in preparation for my radiotherapy. (Golly, radiotherapy, another new experience headed my way)
I’ve been told I’ll have 15 sessions over three weeks (but these things have a habit of changing) and then I shall be back in hospital for a hysterectomy. Yep…more surgery. I feel a little steamrollered but hey!
I knew I would need one some day soon due to a large fibroid but the gynaecologist would like me have it as soon as possible so he can remove my ovaries as I am now slightly more at risk of developing ovarian cancer and also to stop the production of estrogen as my cancer is ER+, which means it feeds on the stuff.
Then, I shall have the second mastectomy and reconstruction.
Jeez…it seems like an awful lot but when it’s all done I shall be a new woman!
I’m hoping all will be sorted by next summer and I can put everything behind me and get back to some sort of normality.
I have a wonderful husband who has been working so hard and looking after me and I can’t wait to reverse that.
I had the final top-up to my implant yesterday…another 20ml. My surgeon was pleased again which pleases me. He’s pencilled me in his diary to be seen in three months, after my radiotherapy and hysterectomy, to reconstruct
the nipple and work on the other breast.
I was unable to come home with a prosthesis to wear over the smaller breast as the clinic didn’t have quite the right shape. I shall be collecting it next week. Now I have to shop for bras! Yay!!
Here I am before and after
Again, the muscle feels tight but the pain is far less than last week. Actually, most of the pain is now under and on the inside of my upper arm but I’ve been assured this is normal. I no longer need to wear the compression bra so the implant will begin to drop and look more natural. At the moment, the profile is a little strange!
I feel I’ve put a big part of my treatment behind me now. Radiotherapy, whilst inconvenient isn’t too bad. Then I have two more operations, which again, aren’t too bad…they just take some time for recovery but it’s not gruelling like chemotherapy was. All is still on schedule to be completed and healed by next summer although total healing will take a further year and repairing chemo damage even longer and some not at all. My hair is growing back…I’ve even had to whip it off my legs, underarms and lady bits! Eyebrows and eyelashes are taking their time though…sod’s law, huh?
Look what I’ve got!
I collected my prosthesis from the Breast Clinic.
(Again, mine for free…how blooming marvellous is the NHS?)
It’s a “partial”. I place it in my bra over my real breast to make it the same size as my new Becker Boob.
I love it, it’s strangely comforting. I shall probably miss it once I’ve had surgery to even me up.
I had my first meltdown moment on Monday after reading family posts about Christmas preparations…all I could think was I WANT A CHRISTMAS! So, I did something about it. Before TB went swimming he brought the decorations down from the attic and while he was out I filled the house with Christmas.
I feel great again, now.
I’ve had my CT Scan to mark the target for my radiotherapy.
I now have two full-stop sized tattoos to make sure the target and only the target is treated. Two little tiny dots which were a bit of an ouch to have done. How do people have more? Why do people have more?
The logistics of the radiotherapy no longer seem daunting. Fifteen daily treatments were going to be tricky to attend but I’m going to use hospital transport…another big thank you to the NHS.
So far, radiotherapy has been an absolute doddle.
Here’s the beast that zaps me and the bed I lie on in front of it. I took this photograph as it was being set up for me…the green thing is the head rest and blue and white thing supports my arm. I get myself in position, then the radiographers shift me about a bit…literally a tiny, tiny bit…2mm one way, 1.5mm another, using green lasers as a guide. Then they press a button and run out of the room before the beeping stops and the zapping starts. Positioning me for it takes five minutes. The actual zapping takes less than a minute. They do this twice, then I go home.
My journey to the hospital takes an hour or so and I’m lucky enough to be using volunteer provided transport. (TB just can’t take two or three hours off every day for fifteen consecutive days.)
I have 99.9% Aloe Vera gel to use during this treatment as it apparently helps minimise skin damage.
Last night when I got home TB had beaten me to it and turned on the lights and it was cosy and warm. It is very good to come home to find a handsome young man waiting for me!
Well, how surreal. Today I was radiotherapied by elves…I kid you not!
The staff in the oncology unit were dressed as elves and very good ones, too. There were mince pies and chocolate mini rolls.
I was there and back in an hour an a half…fantastic!
And now I’d like to wish you all a Happy Christmas (or a grumpy one if that’s your thing)…I hope all your wishes come true.
And I’d like to thank everyone for the support, gifts, well wishes, terrible jokes, bizarre photographs. All these things have made me feel there is more to my life at the moment than one hospital appointment after another. You’ve made me feel like me and not the poor sick lady.
TB is home now, finished for Christmas, so I’m going to lock the door, draw the curtains, dim the lights and begin the festivities
TB, I love you
I went out today to a vaguely social gathering and I stayed in the car and cried. No amount of TB telling me I looked beautiful made any difference. No amount of knowing people don’t view me as the sick lady in a wig makes any difference.
I do know all this but it makes no difference.
My hair is growing back…it’s about half an inch long. The few people who have seen it love it…they say it’s a great style and does actually suit me. Yet I see someone who a few months ago had long dark waist length hair and doesn’t want to go out until it’s back again. I don’t care if a crop looks good…I don’t want it cropped.
I see a damaged woman, even though I know my hair will grow long again, my nails will recover and my reconstruction, though not entirely natural looking, is quite something to behold! But still, above all, I see a damaged me.
It’s not about how others see me but how I see myself.
I see every bit of damage this cancer treatment has caused and it breaks my f***ing heart.
But fear not, normal service WILL be resumed.
I’m a feisty old bird, don’t you know?
Radiotherapy is progressing well. I’ve now had ten of the fifteen and am beginning to feel the predicted tiredness. I tend to nod off after dinner while TB watches a movie (usually some sort of boys’ film with Jason Statham annihilating half a dozen ninja warriors with only a rubber chicken) and wake up near the end and ask what’s happened so far. Also, the muscle behind which my implant lies is feeling taut and rather sore, again as predicted but that should ease.
This morning I took some photographs to show you the current state of droopage.
There’s five weeks between these “then and now” pictures.
Blimey, I look very lopsided in the top “now” picture! Roll on my match making surgery. I asked about this today and was told both surgeons are happy to combine the surgery so I should be having mastectomy and reconstruction number two and hysterectomy supreme round about March/April.
Today I had the last of my fifteen radiotherapy zappings. My skin is a bit sore and the muscle is now very sore. Although the actual zapping has finished, the radiotherapy still works for a couple more weeks so all this soreness will get a little worse before it gets better. I was told today that I will feel tired and unwell for a few months…pffft to that! I have no desire to feel unwell and will accept only a little tiredness.
I have to wait now to hear form the Chemo Guy who will arrange Herceptin infusions and liaise with my double surgeons to arrange my double surgery.
I’ve been taking Tamoxifen now for about a month. It’s not causing any major problems…I am getting the predicted hot flushes, about four or five a day lasting no more than five minutes each. They are very strange as the heat builds up inside me and literally seems to make me boil. I also have painful knee joints which seize up if I sit still for too long. I shall be taking this drug until I’ve had my hysterectomy when I will be switched to a different hormone treatment for five years.
The chemotherapy side effects are subsiding…hooray!
Up until a couple of weeks ago my nails felt very wobbly and were pulling away from my fingers and I thought I was going to lose some but now they feel much better. They are still black and blue and yucky looking but as I always wear polish, who’s to know?!
I don’t know when my taste buds returned to normal function I was simply aware one day that they had. It’s very unpleasant when everything tastes of soap and feels creamy.
My bones no longer ache, apart from Tamoxifen knees…that stopped about a month ago.
My hair is getting longer as I type…I just can’t see it.
I can’t remember the last time I felt dizzy…it’s big relief as it often made me feel unsafe.
Digestive matters, in and out, are much improved to the extent of being pretty much gone.
So, another corner turned.
February 13, 2013
TB has had eight students pass so far this year (six first timers!) but only one pass has made me fill up! It could be because my treatment has made me fragile and emotional but I think it’s more because the young man who passed yesterday worked so hard, put in so much effort, listened to TB and deservedly sailed through his test. It’s been lovely seeing him gain so much confidence and now, with a full licence, the world is his oyster! Congratulations, young man…you know who you are xx
It’s been a while since I posted, during which time I’ve been in a recovery rut…at a standstill, waiting for the next phase. I feel like I can’t get on with anything until all my treatment and surgery is complete…silly, I know!
Radiotherapy finished a month ago and the side effects from that are slowly subsiding although I’ve been told there are some which haven’t shown up yet, amongst these, damage to my ribs as scars form. But now I’ve seen the Chemo Guy and my Herceptin infusions will begin (another six hour re-load again!) at the end of the month. I need these definite dates to feel as if something is actually being done and remind myself all I’ve been through so far is for a reason.
I asked if there was any chance of bringing forward the next surgery and was told as it’s not life-saving it won’t be top of the surgeons’ lists…I reminded him that surgeon number two wants my ovaries out pretty sharpish but I fully understand. It’s just me, being impatient, wanting to get back to being me.
…and why oh why is my hair growing sooooooooooo slowly?!
A couple of days ago I had my hair cut….just the back tidied
up a little, so now it looks almost like a deliberate style and not chemo aftermath
I want to mention Laura at Designers Hair Care Centre who did this at no charge.
So Laura, thank you…it’s gestures like this which get me through some dark days and you probably have no idea how much it meant to me
Yesterday I spent six hours at the hospital being re-loaded (for the third time!) with Herceptin. This is the drug I will be given for a year and which will block estrogen to prevent a recurrence of my ER+ cancer.
EDIT: A correction about Herceptin. It finds stray cancer cells and stimulates the body to destroy them. It’s only used for HER2+ cancer and in conjunction with chemptherapy.
Prepped and ready
It left me feeling extremely tired, fighting to stay awake and aching all over so today is a slow
easy, nodding off, taking a nap kind of day :o)
The treatment took 90 minutes but it’s a nasty drug so I have to be monitored for four an a half hours afterwards. I spent the time reading glossy magazines, drooling over shoes, sighing at bags and marvelling at the magic of the Photoshop
Happy Birthdays and Boobage
I’ve taken a couple of pictures of my superduper new breast to show its shape now.
It’s been nearly nineteen weeks since surgery and eleven weeks since the completion of radiotherapy, which had an influence on the shape…hence the wait for making the old breast match…that’s being done in a few days
And look…my hair is growing back. I hate it more than I can politely say but MY HAIR IS GROWING BACK!
All the bollox I’ve been through with still more to come and the thing that’s p*ssed me off the most has been losing my hair. Crazy, huh?
First, TB, I love you. You are my world.
Second, thank you to you all for your messages of well wishes and support. You really do give me strength.
I’ve been home two days and still feel very sleepy and it’s all very painful; but I have vast amounts of painkillers so it’s manageable. It’s a little easier this time as there was no need to remove the axillary nodes on this side.
Some pretty bruising and two drains which will be removed on Tuesday.
I was happy with my small, natural breasts but I’m happy to look like this if it means kicking cancer’s butt.
I’ll post more when I find some oomph!
A couple of days ago I had one drain removed and today I had the other one taken out.
I want to thank Karen, the nurse who made a tricky removal very easy for me.
Here you can see the drain tubes…yukkyn huh?
I’m glad not to have to carry them around with me any more!
I had the last drain out yesterday at 4.00 p.m. and went to A&E at midnight as the drain site
exit wound would not stop bleeding.
They cleaned me up, extra gauze, redressed the wound, crossed all fingers, sent me home at 2.30 a.m.
and told me to stay in bed for a couple of days and then take it easy.
Apparently doing nothing doesn’t allow for doing anything, not even very, very slowly…
it really does mean DOING NOTHING. Oops!
I’ve had my first home Herceptin. Nurse Kathryn was with me last Thursday morning for a little over two hours and all went well. In the afternoon I saw my surgeon who beamed at his handiwork and was very pleased with my progress…but not as pleased as I am with my surgeon. (Did I ever mention he’s young and good looking?) All the exits have healed and the scar on the breast is looking good. The final dressing should come off in a few days.
Four weeks after surgery this is how I look. The dressings are off, drains are out and I’ve had a saline top up.
The scar is still healing but is looking good.
The top up I had makes me almost balanced. I shall have another top up this week then wait until all the swelling has gone and the muscle has dropped to even up these babies!
I don’t seem to be recovering as quickly as last time. With the first operation, four weeks later I was almost pain free and had full movement. This time I still have a lot of pain and movement is there but is very painful. I’m trying to be patient.
I’m stupidly tired, needing two or three or four naps a day and still being ready for bed by 7 o’clock…and not in the same way as a few months ago ;o)
Please click on the ribbon below the video. Please keep giving. I’m getting through this with your help and the love and support of TB. Not everyone has this so we need to find easier treatment, care and most of all a cure for cancer.
My surgeon topped me up today. We forgot to take a camera so TB took a quick snap on his phone…yes the one that’s rattled around in his pocket for four years and has dust under the lens. So, apologies for the poor quality picture.
Here you can see the needles in BOTH ports which are under the skin. A syringe filled with saline is attached to the end of the tube and hey presto…boobage! I will have one or two more tweaks over the next couple of weeks and then wait with bated breath as the newest breast settles. Then, when I’m happy with them both, I will have the ports removed. Some women leave them in but mine show so I’ll let them go. The left breast will always be a little more pronounced at the top as this has been subjected to radiotherapy which has caused the muscle to tighten around the implant. It’s really only noticeable in certain garments, hence wearing a bra today so I could see how it looked as it was being expanded.
My surgeon has given me a new nipple on the latest breast. At the moment it looks a bit iffy but will look better when the wound has completely healed. However, I will have the option to have a nipple constructed on the first side to match or to have the existing one smoothed out instead. Watch this space. (Watch my nipples…ooer)
Oh and see those hands? Those are the HIS hands…the man who has given me two wonderful boobs back. I have no idea how to thank him so I just smile insanely. I will pass on my good fortune to whomever and whenever I can. I am a firm believer in Pay It Forward, the national day of which happens to be today, but I like to do it every day.
So far, I don’t miss my old boobs and I have the fantastic Mr G to thank for that.
I’m kicking cancer’s butt BUT I miss miss miss my hair
I know I shouldn’t dwell on it. I’m alive, I even have breasts. BUT, as I’m sure a lot of you ladies will understand,
I WANT MY HAIR BACK!! It’s so much a part of who I am. I feel I’ve lost my soft girliness. Short hair is too harsh for me.
I find myself making excuses for it. I steer conversations to how I used to have waist length hair. I avoid some occasions because I do not look my best. The treatment for cancer takes its toll and it shows when I look in the mirror. But I can’t keep adding “oh, and I used to look so much younger!”
On Thursday I had my regular visit to cardiology. Herceptin is known to cause heart damage so I have to be monitored every three months. There has been no deterioration so all is well. You know how sometimes you feel so comfortable and relaxed with someone? This is how it is with Joy, the cardio lady, she makes people feel at ease. It’s a wonderful quality to possess.
I also had my regular blood test. I’m not supposed to have needles in my left arm (one of the many recommended precautions because of the lymphodema risk) but this has had to be done twice because the veins in my right arm are now too hard to use. I’m not a happy bunny about this…not happy at all. I’m going to ask my local surgery if the nurse there will take blood from my ankles instead. Some clinics do, some clinics don’t.
And psssst…please keep clicking the pink ribbon…there’s still a lot of butt kicking to be done!
Yesterday I had my seventh (eleven more to go) Herceptin treatment. Melissa came to my home and kept me entertained for a couple of hours by doing battle with her iPad thing! I also saw the oncologist who said I need no further surgery as chemo and Tamoxifen have induced a chemical menopause. So it seems, apart from port removal and possible nipple reconstruction, both of which only require a local anaesthetic, my main treatment is done.
Wowseroonies! Life can begin to find a pattern again. I wasn’t quite ready for it and it feels like I’ve missed out on a big occassion…the big “end of treatment” moment. But hey, who gives a stuff? It’s done. I can get on with being Mrs TB and paying forward all the support, kindness and generosity I’ve received.
Hey, peoples…I’M BACK!
First of all, I want to thank everyone on the Purrs forum. I hadn’t been there for a long time and when I checked it yesterday evening I was overwhelmed by the comments and concern shown…yep, I cried! Also, I’ve managed to stuff up my account there. I changed my email and user name and now can’t log in. HELP, please, somebody at Purrs!
I saw the Lady Bits Guy today. He poked and prodded.
It seems my 65mm fibroid has shrunk and will not necessitate a hysterectomy, although I am to have another internal ultrasound to make sure. More poking and prodding…my life is weird. I saw the CT Scan pictures of me.
Man, that stuff is awesome!
I will, however, be having an oophorectomy (gotta love that word…it sounds cute and cuddly) but it’s only keyhole surgery, 24 hours in hospital, ten day recovery so I’m not too bothered by it. I’m more scared of having my filler ports removed under LOCAL aneasthetic. WTF?!
Removing my ovaries will mean no oestrogen from them will feed any stray breast cancer cells (my cancer was oestrogen responsive) which may have strayed to other parts of me. (Sneaky little f*ckers!) It will also prevent ovarian cancer and while it’s not thought I have the BRCA gene which causes breast and ovarian cancer, (based on the fact that my cancer showed up at an average age and there’s no family history) it’s still worth doing. Oddly, this is the view of the gynaecologist, not the oncologist but I’m happy to take this precaution, especially as it’s fairly minor surgery these days.
I am so grateful to the NHS. They really do care and are doing all they can to take cancer out of the equation and give me back my carefree life…and I will get it back. I have a beautiful husband who I will not leave.
I had been told docetaxol (one of my chemotherapy drugs) is photosensitive and would make me photosensitive…but I had no idea just HOW photosensitve. I enjoyed the weekend’s sun and I did use SPF30 sun block. I always tan easily and never burn, even without it. BUT…after just ten minutes in the sun TB said “Uh oh.”
I had already tanned sooooo deeply and now I have light patches and stripes.
I’ve asked some other photosensitive ladies about this and it seems we are all tanning with great ease.
So I guess I need to take more care than I had thought necessary.
On a not so good note, I had my twelfth Herceptin treatment today and the cannula had to go in a couple of inches above my wrist. The veins in my hand are pooped. Melissa was able to get a needle in but not well enough to allow anything through it. My arm still has to receive six more treatments, a general anaesthetic sometime soon and countless blood tests and lord know where we shall end up sticking the needles!
But I guess it’s a small price to pay, although the sooner treatments become less damaging the better.
It should be keyhole surgery so I will be home on Friday night.
I am told I will need a couple of weeks to recover so more boredom looms!
I really need a catch up here!
The oopherectomy was simple and recovery time was fleeting…yay for keyhole surgery! However, the removal of my implant filler ports was (in the words of my surgeon) “challenging”. Radiotherapy had caused adhesion of the ports and tubes and these had to be cut out, under local anaesthetic which had to be increased several times before I was brought down from the ceiling.
It’s all done. All surgery is complete. In about ten years the implants will need replacing, or sooner if I wish but I have no plans for further surgery any time soon. I have two more Herceptin treatments…phew, because it’s getting difficult to find a use-able vein. When I had a blood test a few weeks ago it took twenty minutes and four needles…chemo messes up the veins something rotten.
I must and will add to the side-effects on my Cancer Diary; some of the permanent ones are interesting, some niggling, some maddening.
I must also thank all you superb people who read this drivel. It’s a total understatement to say you’ve helped me through this. I can’t repay you all personally so I shall be paying it forward as often and wherever I can. I reached out for support and you guys were there. Thank you xx
I had a dexa-scan, which stands for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and measures my bone density. One of my chemo drugs is known to cause problems in this department and this coupled with the absence of estrogen (surgery and drug induced) and the switch from taking Tamoxifen to Letrozole puts me at high risk…and sure enough, I have early signs of osteoporosis.
I have more drugs to take…one to take once a week and five to take every day.
So cancer, you bastard, I’ve kicked your ass and banished you yet you rear your ugly head at every turn; but I’m alive to see it and for that I am thankful.
This morning I had my final Herceptin treatment. I’ve had eighteen…fourteen of them at home! So that’s me sorted. Letrozole for a further four years and Alendronic Acid with calcium and vitamin D for ever more due to losing bone density (thanks to chemo and the banishing of estrogen) and taking exceptional care of my left arm due to having no axillary lymph nodes.
I know there are horror stories and bad experiences but I’ve had incredible treatment throughout, which would have been beyond my means so thank god for the NHS. Without exception every nurse, doctor, consultant, surgeon, “ographer” and “ologist” has been patient, understanding and reassuring.
I’ve seen equipment I never knew existed. I’ve had treatments I never knew were possible. I am in awe of my surgeon. I’ve been wheeled about by cheerful porters who knew the hospital like the back of their hands. I’ve been served coffee by people who have lifted my mood with a mere touch of my shoulder. I’ve been ferried to and from radiotherapy by volunteer drivers through some dire weather.
Lord knows what the cost of this has been. (I know my Herceptin alone cost £22K). I’ve paid tax and National Insurance for 30 years but I’m sure I’ve had more than my share back.
I have a friend in the US who has struggled to pay for her cancer treatment and was unable to fund the treatment she really wanted. There but for the grace of god…
So, thank you NHS…from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU
A special thank you to Melissa who may never read this but she made the
Herceptin sessions girly, gossipy and fun!
And thank you to everyone on the Macmillan forums…no question too daft, eh?
Thank you to all who have followed my drivel, it helps knowing someone is reading it.
And thank you, thank you, thank you TB, for holding my hand, shaving my head, sticking needles in me, bringing me lunch, bringing me knitting, bringing me back to reality, collecting wigs, collecting prescriptions, being with me at every appointment, being with me whenever I woke, being with me always. Your strength, your devotion, your belief in me, your faith in medicine, your gorgeous bum have all made this bag of bollox bearable.
And my god, it’s been worth it.
2014? Hell, yes…bring it on…I’ve kicked cancer’s butt!