Sunday 6th March 2016

Herceptin number 13 went well this week – it is so brilliant that I am able to have this. Still feel pretty rough afterwards as usual and the drippy nose is especially bad this time – even with 2 antihistamines – nearly dripped on a student’s work this week! oops!

I’m feeling extremely tired and it doesn’t help that I don’t sleep well – ever – I don’t know how I manage to get out of bed some days – will power I suppose, and having a family to look after, and a job, it helps to have a purpose.  Must be hard going through this on your own with nothing to keep you going or to make you carry on!  A friend recommended Chakra Relaxation Meditation so Phil and I are going to try this and see it if helps – will let you know!

Good news is the pain from my boob actually seems to be easing -a bit – I think and I hope! Difficult to tell sometimes when so much hurts.  Interestingly, the bone in my foot that I broke (smashed!) a couple of years ago has been really painful.  The drugs are definitely affecting my bones!  Really trying to ‘think’ that I feel better and work through the pain as the pain killers don’t really touch it and just zone me out – just something I’ve got to get on with – other people deal with worse.  I can continue to do this!

It’s a fine line we walk with all the side effects – I try to ‘look’ ok as it helps me stay focused and positive and helps the family as it would be so hard for the children if I ‘looked’ how I actually felt, but some days I really feel like curling up into a little ball and hibernating like a little dormouse until all this is over – but don’t worry I won’t do that honest – it’s just a thought some days!

I see this whole cancer thing as balancing along a tightrope attached with a safety rope (which is your brain’s failsafe!) but one slip can drop you down into a spiralling black hole so hard to climb out of – and it worries me that some of my friends are suffering at the moment.  Sometimes while walking you slip but manage to grab on to the rope and haul yourself back up and carry on walking step by step.  Keep looking up to the blue sunny sky and forward towards your family and friends egging you onwards. One step at a time. I wish I knew the answer to help my friends get back on the rope and keep going, but at the moment I can only manage keeping myself on.  Please keep going girls x

So I’m continuing to keep warm – I’ve been sunbathing in the Caribbean (the sauna), India (the steam room), I’ve been swimming in the Maldives (the pool) and I’ve been a star fish in Thailand (jacuzzi)  – he he! It helps to keep me happy and to relax – I’ve always been good at visualising and dreaming! – I really don’t think I’m on this planet sometimes and I don’t even need the medication to help me! One poor guy I met in the sauna actually thought I was a real mermaid! bless him – maybe one day in another world.

This week has been so busy with appointments – every day I’ve had something! Dentist for all of us on Monday – poor dentist was shocked I’d been ill, tried to play it down but he still looked gobsmacked – lucky I have hair now, can you imagine if I’d walked in bald looking like a cancer victim!

Then Tuesday was bloods – all ok, a little down but still fine – we are managing to take from my hand at the moment which is a bit fiddly to do but better for me.  Lately my veins in my arm are very sensitive and they’ve been hitting a nerve which kills for days afterwards – I’m getting brilliant care from my local surgery – thank you.

Wednesday was Number 13 Herceptin – which went ok and such a relief as I’m beginning to dread these – but resting and plenty of fluids seem to help. Plus I have some fat on my legs thanks to the hormones – but positive is that it doesn’t seem to sting so much. Yay to fat! Not sure I’m liking the look of the fat deposits on thighs, stomach and bingo wings – will have to sort this out once injections stop and tone up more. I’ve been working on gradually strengthening my arms again – very gently though.

Thursday I met my wonderful Dr Chakravorty to start discussions regarding the ‘other’ boob – the one that hasn’t tried to kill me yet!  Dr Loo (my oncologist) suggested we needed to get the ball rolling and get a plan together.

Dr C feels I need to have a mammogram and ultrasound first so that should be next week, then with those results we can discuss further.  It’s either reduce and uplift which will be straight forward surgery.  Or I may be able to have a full mastectomy and recon which would have to be discussed at the management meeting and agreed higher up.  Although this is probably my preferred option as it would look and more importantly feel even, it may not be the best or safest option due to risks.  We will see. I can see both sides pros and cons. Although the BRCA gene tests were negative (which is great) we were told it still could be a gene related breast cancer given our family  history – they just don’t know the genes yet!  They will use our data on the trial to discover more but unfortunately I won’t hear any further results. This plays on my mind a little too.

But at the end of the day I totally trust Dr C – as I told him, he is like the firefighter who pulled me out of the rubble. He’s like part of our family now.  I don’t think he realises just how much us BC ladies think of him and value his opinion.  I asked him what he would do if I was his wife (I hope I haven’t insulted his wife!) so to be discussed again in a few weeks.

I was devastated last month when I found out that Dr C is leaving Colchester to go to Hillingdon (which is north west London – miles away!!!).  North Essex NHS must be crazy to be letting him go! He is amazing in his field and one of the few surgeons in the UK that do this surgery – I’ve done loads of research – I may write to them as I think he wants to stay if he can work more suitable hours – it may help, who knows?

This really affected me, more than I thought it would. He makes us feel like people that matter – not just another cancer patient, even when he’s so busy.   I think he realised my distress as he reassured me that he will still be able to continue to see me and do my surgery if that is what I wanted – I made him promise!  Apparently things are changing in the NHS and soon we will be able to request a surgeon.  He said I could still see him at the Oaks (for free!) and he’d fit me in if it come to it! Now that’s a good consultant for you.

Don’t even get me on to the point of people moaning about our NHS – anything to do with my cancer treatment has been truly amazing at Colchester and the people I’ve met along the way quite inspirational – both fellow patients and medical staff.  The downfall is the pressure on A&E and organisation of actually getting a bed on the right ward. And of course funding for enough staff – they all work so hard.

For those of you interested I have uploaded some pictures of the new boob and how it’s healed as it’s been 9 months after surgery now.  Dr C is very impressed with his work and he said my skin has healed amazingly as if I didn’t even have radiotherapy! I’ve put all the photos under the Medical Picturimagees so you have a choice to look. But here you can see it looks pretty good with a bra on.  As you look at this pic the left is the new side – the right is my natural boob – which needs tweaking to match. Without a bra I look horrible so I just avoid mirrors – I feel odd and look odd.  But I’m alive and that’s what counts isn’t it?

So back to my week, Friday was my monthly Zoladex – that’s the huge implant injection into my stomach to shut down my ovaries – ouch! – but ok. Was a bit poorly on Friday so didn’t go to work – just hurt a lot and needed to rest. I just pottered like Miss Daisy to keep me occupied – better than sitting around and feeling sorry for myself.

So what a week eh? And on top of that working, trying to be a good mum and keep some normality for the kids.  I’m not such a good wife at the moment I’m afraid, poor Phil is doing so much and he’s hurt his arm too – we think it’s in sympathy with my arm so we’re matching now but it means we’re both not sleeping!

I’ve been a bit fed up this last month – Dr C leaving, difficult to see an end to all the treatment, dealing with the pain and tiredness, the cold weather etc etc and the need for a break – so tricky to sort out between work/treatment/school/exams/cost etc etc. But not long and we hope to get a few days in our caravan at Easter to Norfolk broads – can’t wait! Just need to keep well to get there. Also looking forward to meeting my fellow March Marvel girls next weekend – will fill you in next update.

So in the meantime I’ve been focusing on what makes me happy to raise my spirits…… thought you may like to see what we’ve been up to.

Firstly, sunshine! look at the beautiful blue sky – I love our conservatory – with the doors shut it’s like living in Spain! I like Spain and I like lemons! If we don’t get to Florida next year we may go to Spain instead.

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Also thanks to some lovely friends, flowers and cakes and lovely little gift packages continue to keep me smiling. Thank you so much.

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I even received a package of flower seeds for me and freya to plant in the garden from Jenny – thank you – so very thoughtful and original x

We’ve  continued to try and go out with friends and family too – it’s great to catch up with everyone and it’s really helped Phil but I must admit that I’m exhausted.

So this weekend is a rest weekend after m treatment.  Freya and I have been making our own hair and body conditioner…..

A mix of coconut oil, shea butter, aloe vera, caster oil and some essential oils (I used lavender, rosemary, thyme and camomile) – all whisked together. Ta da! checkout http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com for some amazing recipes and ideas – my new favourite website! We’re going to make some shampoo, hair rinse and natural deodorant next!

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We’ve also done some baking….. Lots of people ask me about the healthy flapjacks I’m always eating.  So easy – melt some coconut oil and maple syrup (or honey) in a pan.  Add whatever you like – we put in porridge oats, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, cranberries, dates, apricots, raisins – you can put in whatever you have in the cupboard.  Stir together to a sticky consistency, pat into baking tray and bake for about 20mins til golden.  Cool and cut. Yum and so healthy!

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I am also addicted to pomegranites at the moment – been making smoothies – bit gritty so you need to floss afterwards! But really delicious and so good for you.  Pomegranite, baby spinach and berries (especially blackcurrants! which I was delighted to find in our co-op).  Great boost for the immune system.

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I’ve I have also been sewing – trying to get on with the boys quilts in secret – ssshhhhh! – not making much progress but done some.  I’ve also made this sewn book cover for Freya for her birthday – hope she likes it!

And I’ve had my hair cut.  It had got long and image
was just growing up and out – dye it blue, paint me yellow and you’d have Marge Simpson!  So had a good trim around the back and sides and evened up on top.  My normal hairdressers were closed so went to the boys hairdresser – feels better and he’s done good.  He’d been on a course so knew loads about post chemo hair. Still makes me look old but we’ve been experimenting with scarfs and headbands to help with that look!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Freya and I started the day with a lovely swim and an aqua class.

Then we came home and prepared dinner as my mum, Michelle and Paul and girls came for lunch…..

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I was also spoilt with more flowers from mum and Shell, chocolates and some beautiful cards from the kids.  Nathan had extra shifts at work so couldn’t join us but Freya, Lewis and Phil all helped loads and that was the best present ever as I’ve had a lovely relaxing day with my favourite people. Perfect day! Love my family so much x

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Kids bought me (themselves!) a big box of chocolates – they lasted about a day!!!

 

 

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