Results are in….Good? Bad? You decide…

Had my post op appointment today. I’m beginning to be a good face reader…I could tell by the look on my consultant’s face, there was a lot to discuss.

Here’s a summary and some facts :

* Breast cancer is graded 1-3. My results have come back as a Grade 3. ‘The cancer cells look most changed and are usually fast growing’.
* Type of cancer – Invasive – Ductal with Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
* In addition to the tumours in the 2 ducts (1 invasive and 1 non invasive), 13 lymph nodes were removed, of which 8 were cancerous.
* Even though I had the most advanced scans, involving dye, the cancerous nodes were not picked up. It was only because my consultant (who is also my surgeon), used her expertise and felt them during surgery and took the decision to remove them and send to the lab. Had she not done this, I would be having surgery again next week!
* If more than 4 nodes are affected, next step is to have a bone and CT scan. This is routine and to determine if the cancer has spread to your organs or bones…yes.

What now?

* On Monday I have an appointment with my GP for some sleeping pills. I’ve been sleeping upright since 9th September. I’m usually awake 2/3am every morning.
* It’s advised to have a flu vaccine pre chemo so will discuss with GP as ideally, it will happen next week or early part of the following week.
* Wednesday I will be having a hair cut. Nothing to do with today’s appointment but I’ve decided to get a shorter version of my current hairstyle so that I can get used to things this way…ie. shorter, partial or no hair, who knows!?
* I’ll be receiving a letter next week of a date for my bone and ct scan – this is likely to happen week commencing 29th September 2014.
* I meet my Oncology team on Monday 6th October 2014. The team will by then, have the results of the scans of the previous week and I will know if the cancer is in any organ or bones….yes, I’ve just said that….
* Chemotherapy usually starts a week after this meeting. Currently, I’m down for 6 cycles of chemo. By my calculation (1 day every 3 weeks), this takes me to February 2015. We know that radiotherapy is also needed but until I have the meeting on 6 October with my Oncology team, I won’t know if I’m doing 6-8 cycles, won’t know radiotherapy date and I’ll only know on this day if the cancer has spread.
* If the cancer has spread…….STOP! I don’t know the answer as it will be specific to what and where it’s spread to and I cannot worry about this right now.
* 31st October, after my first but before my second chemo treatment, I have an appointment to see my consultant to review the implant and to increase the fluid via the port that’s currently inserted in my breast muscle.

How am I feeling?

* Let’s just say that up until yesterday, I was a different person. I’ve been mechanical up until now and emotions are setting in. I’m not a complete mess….yet…that will come during chemo. I did cry today and it felt good. It was a mixture of release but also, ‘yet more scans and more potential bad news and more waiting’. This release happened in my special room that I go to after the consultant- it’s our safe place to talk to the nurse, over a cup of tea….and always a full box of tissues in the room…
* I was convinced that they would drain the breast today as it is looking and feeling swollen….but she didn’t. Earlier in the week, it felt like mastitis! She explained that the fluid is moving around in the implant and there will be an element of lymph fluid too but she won’t drain it now. I’m only to be concerned if it turns red.
* Not sure why I thought this was a 3 week recovery but it’s 6-8weeks for full recovery! My breast bone still hurts ALOT.
* I’m very scared of lymphoedema – that’s getting a fat arm for the rest of your life! 30 % of people who have their nodes removed, get it. That’s a rather high %. At the breast cancer group this week, my first one, 3 ladies had it and wore what looked like a cast/bandage.
* I CAN go to the gym but only gentle stuff and no lifting.

Eating healthy is going to be vital now, more than ever. Juicing has started.

X
Nic

‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’

Yup, I felt like Neil Armstrong yesterday for my first walk out the house, exactly one week after surgery…I was BUZZING!

Don’t remember reading about Neil needing an ice pack though…but that’s what I was doing at 9pm, holding an ice pack against my chest!

Yes, I overdone things. I went from feeling super upbeat and excited in the morning, to laying in bed feeling swollen and like I had mastitis!

The redness and hotness was similar to that of a Baywatch swimsuit and in fact, the size of the swelling, I reckon I could have given Pammie a run for her money! I was MUCH less glamorous looking though, my ‘ice pack’ … was ice in a Tesco plastic bag…..

A few days before, the nurse removed my drain as the fluid was 35 ml, so I was good to be released. The swelling I believe is a combination of me maybe walking around, moving around too much on my first day out, might have gotten things flowing, hence the swelling. I have spoken to my McMillan nurse and have my post op appointment on Friday morning.

The surgery has honestly not bothered me one bit, it’s just one of those things and the fact that my consultant did such an AMAZING JOB, is it horrible that I am now favouring righty, who is all pert and solid? Don’t worry lefty, I still love you and will pay for you to catch up and match righty when this is all done in the near future!

#firstworldproblems

Post op…I survived!

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Soooooooooo, all done!

I was so busy pre op, by the time I was dropped off at the hospital on the day of surgery, all I wanted to do was curl up under a blanket and sleep! No fear, just exhaustion. (I worked until 9am that morning, tying up loose ends..I needed to be at the hospital by 10am! )

I was allowed water until 11am, my last glug being at 10:57am, as recorded by the nurse. My consultant came to sharpie mark me and I was really happy to know that further down the line, the cleavage part of me that has my mole, was staying…YAY! *Not that MY mole has any effect in my career like Cindy Crawford’s has on hers … I just like mine!

I then moved to the Nil by mouth room. There were a few ladies waiting with their belongings by their side. The recliners were empty so I took the opportunity to plonk myself on one, the nurse gave me a pillow and blanket..and I slept.

I was woken to meet the Anaesthetist. He was rather easy on the eye and I was very conscious of opening my mouth when he checked as I couldn’t eat after 7am so was conscious of my coffee breath! Thing is, when you make yourself aware of something, that’s when you mess up because he asked me to open my mouth again as thought I had something red on my tongue, I did, a coffee burn from days before…

Dozed off again to be woken to say its time. Got changed, said a few prayers and off we went. Pre theatre room was very sterile, bright and FREEZING! Started talking about my recent holiday to Barcelona to the ladies whilst the anaesthetic was put in my left hand, easy on the eye Anaesthetist walked in and the next thing I heard….’Nicole, surgery is over, you are now in recovery’.

Felt the usual post anaesthetic feel, groggy and like I was going to be ill. I managed not to be and 30 minutes later was taken up to Recovery. Met husband as bed was being wheeled upstairs, so that was handy. I felt very happy more than anything that Phase 1 was over, hence the smile and thumbs up I managed an hour after surgery, along with the glazed morphine look….

I won’t lie, the first 2 days were
extremely tough and painful, it felt like there was a spear being turned in the middle of my chest and a screwdriver under my arm. The consultant explained that while she was operating and had taken the lump and sentinel node out, she felt that the lymph nodes looked abnormal and suspicious, so made the decision to remove all. This meant cutting through under the arm and attaching a drain.

*The best (or breast?) way of describing the mastectomy is, picture your nipple. Now picture the shape of your eye being drawn VERY LARGELY over the nipple. The shape of the eye is what they cut out to access inside (bye, bye nipple)….they then scoop it all out, then pull the top and bottom remaining skin together and stitch up, with a long line across. The breast is now empty but in my case, I have an inflatable balloon inserted via a port under the breast muscle. It currently has 100ml of Saline pumped in. This will increase over time.

I see my lovely consultant on Friday for a post op discussion to review how many of the nodes were affected
as she will have the results by then. I do know that Chemotherapy will start 2 weeks after Friday and radiotherapy is also required.

Except for the obvious….I’m all good!
X
Nic

9th September 2014 – D Day…or is that ‘B’ day?

Shit, fsck, fuckity, fuck….

Sorry, had to get that out. 

I’m ok, really I am. I have hardly slept though. It’s 5:30am (been up every 45 minutes), all I want now is some Nytol…but hey, I’ll be getting morphine later so just need to hang in there. I need to eat something ‘light’ before 7am. 

I did not have a bye bye Boobie party, no time! I have been talking to Boobie in the shower though, saying sorry but as the hours get closer, I am feeling slightly less attached to it as who in their right mind would want to hang onto something in there that will kill them? 

That said, it’s not the Boobie’s fault, so today my friends, as I have not been able to toast with you at a leaving party for Boobie, have a minute silence in honour of my right Boobie at around 1pm today. It’s a 3 hour op – I REALLY hope they give me enough morphine. 

Put your sound on later…;)

See you on the other side……hopefully!

Nic

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Alway’s wear matching socks and shave under your arms….and read your hospital notes!

To date, I have yet to read all the information provided to me, regarding my breast cancer appointments and next steps. I have seriously just been taking it one step at a time…for several reasons.

If you know me personally, you will know that I usually go 100 miles and hour, doing all sorts at the same time (pretty much like every #multi-taskingmummy, right?) – I promise that I do plan to stop and slow down after this.

Yesterday, I had my sentinel node mapping. Had not read a thing, I made it to the hospital a few minutes before my appointment and walking through the car park, I started reading the reverse attachment to the appointment letter…..SHIT…

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I was not wearing matching socks AND I hadn’t shaved under my pits!

I IMMEDIATELY confessed to the guy who gave me my 2 hospital gowns – he laughed and said not to worry…then I felt even sillier because he didn’t need to know THAT – he was only responsible for giving me the gown, not seeing me in it…lawrd!

Confession time again to the lady carrying out the procedure, she laughed and promised not to judge me. I’m no hippy I assured her.

Needle into breast and breast moved around for 10 minutes. I felt so relaxed, almost fell asleep (told you I have been going 100 miles an hour and then some!) It was an MRI type machine and you go under but thankfully, this time facing up and lots of openess and room around you. The machine then covers your chest and pictures/xrays are taken. 

After about 15 minutes, the lady announced, ‘beautiful and clear, I see the node clearly’. I was shown the images after and modern technology is truly amazing!

Had this been back in the day, my understanding is that all your nodes would be removed. I was marked with a pen and taped.

It’s feeling real now….

😦

Mummy’s lump

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The hospital gave me this brilliant book for my son. (Chosen just a few pages here) On Sunday, I laid in his bed and explained what was happening. *He doesn’t know the ins and outs of the mastectomy, he doesn’t need to, he is 7. He know’s that mummy has a bad lump that is being removed.

He is generally a worrier and I could see the concerned look on his face, especially after explaining the most likely effects of chemotherapy – hair loss. I explained that I could wear a bandana or a wig. He said : ‘Not a bandana PLEASE mummy, only people who do karate wear those!’

……

He also asked me why can’t I ‘just say in hospital until your hair grows back?’ Hmmmm, I sensed the embarrassment so I promised him that I will always wear a wig if I need to come to his school! Not taking it personally, he is 7 but I did explain that he shouldn’t worry about the hair loss, he should focus on mummy getting better.

x

Nic

Things are moving quickly…..

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So, it was my birthday on Sunday, my last night in Barcelona. One of the most relaxed and happy evenings I have had in a month, not to mention, my first home cooked meal since the 10th of August (yes, in addition to my diagnosis, we are the middle of doing our kitchen…well, the kitchen WAS planned, not the lump!)

I was genuinely happy and relaxed but right now, it’s 2:40am and I am restless. Mainly because I had a ‘nap’ at 8pm I suppose. I have now informed the children’s schools of the imminent changes at home. Just so that the school can monitor any unusual change in behaviour/school work over the next 6 months – shouldn’t be a problem but maybe it is more forgiving in the future if I send them in school uniform on a mufti day? Apparently, forgetfulness is a side effect…

I had my pre op assessment today (well, yesterday, Thursday). I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was basically like an MOT….just procedure to check if you are in working order. I filled out the forms over coffee at 6am and got to the question : ‘Do you have any concerns about the anaestehtic/procedure?’ – Well, I hadn’t really, up until that point! I wrote that I would just like to come out alive….odds are good that I will, the nurse confirmed.

I learnt 2 things today:

1) By swabbing up your nose and on either side of your groin, MRSA can be detected – as my op is in a few days, they send it away and speed up the growth to detect if I have it. Apparently, people are walking around with MRSA without knowing it.

2) The anaestehtist is going to be seated by my head throughout the 3 hour op. He/She is likely to be at consultant level so will be in very experienced hands.

I had my blood pressure taken, 3 tubes of blood drawn, an ECG, MRSA swab and my airwaves were checked as anaesthetist’s job is easier if it can be easily seen – the nurse commented that my results are all textbook, which made her happy with no concerns. So, I am all good….except for this cancer shit.

We spoke through what is happening next week. Monday I go back for MAPPING. They will mark the affected boob – I am guessing with a sharpie of sorts, all ready for Tuesday. On Tuesday, I am to take minimal things, in a plastic bag – I couldn’t help of thinking of a prison scene.

I will be attached to a few drips and dye injected in me. It may be a blue or green dye – green is my favourite colour, let’s see. Then again, blue could be good luck as Jose Mourinho is BACK!

I am going to turn the colour of the dye and when I need a wee or cry, the liquids produced will be colourful – I bet my son would love me to go to Show and Tell!

A corset type thing is going to be attached to me and I will probably be very sore, groggy and tired afterwards. Oh and I also learnt that they do not start the next patient’s operation until I am fully ok and no complications…comforting to know…I think? If all goes well, I will stay just one night. Nurses will visit me to do the drainage etc…*barf*

Again, the NHS has exceeded my expectations. I was not rushed, all my questions answered, lovely experienced nurse carried out  my assessment…nothing could have made my experience better. If you have lived in another country, you will maybe appreciate a little more, just how wonderful the NHS is.