Wednesday 7th October 2015

Every morning I open my eyes and I say thank you. I met an elderly man when I worked in the pharmacy last year. He walked in and I greeted him with my best ‘disney’ smile (I used to pretend I worked in Disneyland and my job was to make everyone happy – crazy I know but it really helps!), anyway, he greeted me back and was actually happy! Believe me this didn’t happen in the pharmacy much! I asked him why he was so happy (because he was also very poorly) and he replied “because I woke up this morning!” It was so lovely to meet someone else who felt the same way as I did and this was before my diagnosis. Now I am even more happy that I wake up every morning! So I am sure there are many people out there that can understand this.

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I’ve also been noticing so much that you wouldn’t really pay much attention to, and this week on a dog walk with Phil it was the beautiful leaves – so pretty. And the acorns are nearly ready too. I think we’re going to pick some and paint them gold for Christmas! Yes, I’m actually thinking of Christmas and allowing myself to get excited! Freya and I have also been making lots more Christmas fairies – £3.50 each if anyone is interested.  She will be selling them at our Quilt Exhibition at the Con Club on 17th October as we need to raise some funds for her school trip!  One of my best friends lent me the money to pay for it and we need to repay her – my friends continue to overwhelm me with their kindness.

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So today has been my 6th Herceptin. This means I’m a third done! Woohoo! It’s going fast which is great. I saw my dear chemo buddy, Ella – such a beautiful girl inside and out – I feel privilledged to have met her. We had a good chat and a cuddle. She brightened my day so much! Good luck tomorrow beautiful!

I have Herceptin by injection in my leg.  We’ve worked out that if I hold a chunk of fat tightly and my nurse injects very slowly then it cuts down the swelling and bruising.  Takes about 10 minutes to administer.  Stings but it’s ok. It’s been a long day!

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I also saw my oncologist, Dr Vivien Loo. My hormones seem to have been all over the place with hot flushes, a super surprise extremely heavy period (worse than after babies!), body aches, cramps, the list goes on.  It’s really important to tell the medical team every single side effect – even if I don’t think it important.

She thinks it could be both the Herceptin and the Tamoxifen – but the tamoxifen more so that’s making me feel so bad.

I think my body is getting tolerant of the pain though as I had my flu jab on Saturday.  Usually my arm kills for a few days afterwards.  This time, it didn’t hurt at all.  I think other pain overroad it! At least I shouldn’t get the flu!

Anyway, back to Dr Loo, I had done a little research on the internet and read about a different drug I could have.  I thought Tamoxifen made me go through menopause early but all it does in suppress the hormones to make it feel like menopause.  If I was to stop Tamoxifen after 10 years and hadn’t naturally gone through the menopause I would then have all the side effects again.  As every woman is different it’s difficult to tell.

There is another drug call Exemestane, which is an aromatase inhibitor – which means it reduces the production of oestrogen in the body (taken by tablet every day). It is mainly used with post menopausal women, but more recent trials have shown that if used with an ovary suppressant (Zoladex, which is given by injection monthly for 2 years to shut down my ovaries permanently) then it has had better results at keeping cancer away and treating any cancer that has spread and can be used in premenopausal women.  It could be an option to have my ovaries removed if I wanted too – especially if I didn’t get on with the monthly implant injection – the good point of this is it would reduce cancer spreading to my ovaries too, bad point is yet another op! So this would work in my case as the cancer I have is hormone (ER) positive.  It wouldn’t work on someone who has a cancer that is not responsive to hormones (negative)! I know it’s complicated and I still get confused!

So basically, Dr Loo thinks it’s worth me giving it a try.  I may feel better, I may feel worse.  Exemestane seems to have less side effects than tamoxifen, but they could actually make me feel worse.  So it depends on how it affects my quality of life.  Luckily I can switch back to tamoxifen at any time with no bad affects and from what I’ve read, if Tamoxifen is combined with zoladex it will improve my chances of keeping the cancer away and as I have had my children then menopause isn’t a problem either – in fact it could be a positive to get it out of the way early.

The absolute best news today is that I chased my gene results and they have just come in.  As my treatment depends on the results the lady I spoke to was very helpful.  She phoned me back to tell me that there are no signs of BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes at all.  This means the cancer in me is not hereditary.  We had already been told that being HER2+ made it very doubtful that it was but I can’t tell you how good it is to know this for sure.  Most importantly for Freya, but also for all the girls in my family.  As it’s a trial they will still test for other genes but it’s early days and very experimental so she said I probably wouldn’t hear any more.  So happy!

Also means that the non-killer left boob may stay with an uplift.  Still to be discussed.  If it stays I will have yearly mammograms to keep a check on any changes.  I think this could be a positive.  Because if it goes there are no yearly scans, just reliant on how I feel and any symptoms that would need checking out.  Pros and Cons to both.  Plus I know I would then be in constant pain with another new boob – decisions decisions.  Not going to think about this one yet.

More positive news, is that I made some homemade Cornish pasties and the kids loved them!!!! Yaaaaayyy! Really hope we can go back to Cornwall next year to eat the real thing! Been looking at going further down to St Ives next summer.  Just got to stay well to go!

More good news is that little car is back from the garage so will be much cheaper to travel to work.

More good news is, check out the hair!

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Even more good news is that I’ve had a wonderful week with my students at college – I am lucky to work with amazingly talented tutors – my art tutor especially is just brilliant – she has such a good connection with the students and really understands them.  She’s a little bit crazy too which helps – love her!  And the students are really trying hard – it’s so rewarding to see them actually enjoying education.  Love my job and love being back!

And lastly, can you keep a secret? I’ve just started making Freya a mermaid quilt for Christmas! Exciting!  I hope I can get it finished in time! Shhhhhhhh, don’t tell her, it’s a surprise!

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