2nd cycle down!

Well, this is feeling a bit different than last time….

Today is day 5 since #cycle2 on Wednesday, now I did not throw up and I believe that is now thanks to the Emend anti sickness tablet and the Metoclopramide (yes, I know the side effects and was like getting sign off from the Queen for this one but oh so worth it!)

Thing is, now that I have not been sick, the drugs are in me, working, so it’s pure nausea. Of course, I am very thankful that I have not had to speak into the great white telephone and even more thankful that I made it to the SA vs England rugby yesterday! I KNOW right!? If you were a fly on the wall, you would have seen me flopped out on the couch at 6:30pm!

A week after my first chemo, I developed cording omg….the FEC is a pretty strong treatment and damaged the vein, that’s why #cycle2 needed to be through my hand – OUCH!

Week 8 after op (we are in week 10 this coming week), I went to the gym for some gentle exercise – that night, I had a temperature of 38.5 and I have since developed an infection. My surgeon/consultant thinks that yes, it may have been a little soon to be doing the X trainer but is also monitoring to see if the body is rejecting the balloon implant. Currently, the breast is not looking as normal as she would have expected, it’s rather like a really shrivelled Yorkshire pudding when you have opened the oven during the bake..and was purple/red!

Captain Kirk administered the first dose of Lenograstim to the tummy (my tummy that is!), under hospital supervision. He now has to do it for 5 days of the cycle. This increases the white blood cell count. I can feel that it is starting to hurt my larger bones.

Everything tastes rubbish! Only hot Nando’s and chilli on scrambled eggs is my friend!

I am starting to feel like I have been diagnosed cancer. I am starting to feel tired. Very tired at times. My concentration span is not the same, nor is my cognitive response. I need people to read my mind now and not ask too many questions or too much of me. Even me responding a ‘yes’, takes effort as I am probably thinking of something else anyway.

I have a week of things planned then I am distancing myself for a while, this is a conscious decision so that I can focus on what the children, Captain Kirk and myself need, first and foremost. I love everyone who has shown me the warmest, truest affection since my diagnosis and I know they will understand.

Thank goodness we opted for the Animal Dyson, between the dog and myself shedding hair….there is LOADS!

Much love to all of you who are taking time to read this and keep sending me those positive vibes, I sure can feel them!

*mwahs* to you all

Nic

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Chemotherapy : They said it’s rare that you get sick immediately after….

I got sick…immediately after!

I am good now though, a week after my first cycle. On the day though, different story. It went something like this :

4 hours of the session as I am trying the cold cap. I am on FEC for first 3 cycles and T for the last 3. The E in the FEC is just blady awful! *This part of the treatment is manually administered and I believe the T is via the drip.

Apart from the lady next to me – (who happened to be my buddy in the Nil by mouth room on the day of the op) and the older lady across from me, everyone seemed a bit low. Ok, so, granted, there are other better ways to spend your day than in chemo and I don’t know the ins and outs of their diagnosis but you got to work with what you’ve got! That said, they played really bad music in there….Ronan Keating….nuff said. *Bless Ronan though, he lost his mother to cancer and does a lot of work for the charity but my personal opinion is that his music is not suitable for chemo, can’t actually think of when you would listen to Ronan Keating? Louis Walsh may be able to help with that….

Chemo : Nails looked great, left arm produced a beautiful vein (can’t use right arm due to lymph nodes removed) and the cold cap was put on, making me look like a cross between a Mario Kart mushroom and a ninja turtle….you decide..or as my husband suggested, Fortuna from Star Wars!

Got home at 3pm, started feeling nauseous at 4pm. From 5-8pm, I was sick on the hour, then every 30 minutes until 10pm when I got to A&E. I was put on a drip of Metaclopramide (Maxalon) and that took the edge off. They also did an x ray to check. Got home 00:30 and had a great sleep.

I have not been sick since, thank goodness (just nausea but nothing is as bad as that first day)! Captain Kirk went back to the hospital to collect different anti sickness pills and an increased dosage. These have really helped me.

For those going through similar, I will be on Emend for my next cycle (I had requested this in the beginning, based on my uncle who is my second opinion), I am also taking Ondansetron (try and get as much of this as you can, not just the 2 they send you home with), Dexamethasone and Metacloppromide vs the Domperidone (they will supply this but since understanding the difference and personally feeling the effects, the D doesn’t send the message to the brain like the M does in terms of the nausea, so the M is superior to the D).

I stayed in bed for the first 3 days, really needed to – except to collect my late night craving 2 days later, for the hottest Nando’s! Worth it!

I am up and about and resting when I am feeling tired. I am craving anything salty and need hot and spicy – all my favourite things! Salt and black pepper crackers are helping with the nausea and juicing in between with lots of ginger.

I am off to the hospital this morning for my first ‘inflation’ of the breast post op, it’s been 7 weeks already! I am also popping in to see my nurse who I spoke to yesterday as my arm has suddenly started hurting A LOT where the drugs were administered – he said it’s likely to be the E of the FEC….nasty bit that.

It’s all blady ‘Fek’ lol but there are people much worse off than me!

Nic

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Today’s the day….

Phase 2 begins…..

I start chemotherapy  in under 2 hours – Just painted my nails, no, I am not vain…hospital orders! Gloss apparently protects the nails….who am I to argue?

I am not nervous – spending an hour in the chemo suite last week helped as I had my bloods done and fitted for cold cap. I had big plans today of starting my learning Spanish, downloading all my favourite music, writing, etc….the way I am feeling now, I may just read and sleep for 4 hours! I am starting to feel tired and I am not even on the drugs yet!

I had a moment yesterday when I wondered if I should look into a Dallas Buyers Club of sorts…here in Surrey….more about that another time!

Need to get my sh*t together….

I’ll update you in the next few days, provided I can keep the keyboard clear of vomit.

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Reality is sinking in…

I’m sitting here, putting together my hospital file of all my letters, appointments, booklets that get given at each stage of diagnosis and update and what to expect at each different treatment….

I’m looking at consent forms, mastectomy information, reading about my stage of cancer, the highest you can get if you’ve got it, grade 3, aggressive, fast growing…

Like what the hell just happened this summer 2014!?

Found a lump, had it checked out and life will never be the same again. It won’t.

I’m not talking about the impact of the mastectomy itself – well yes, sitting here thinking about it, it’s really suddenly hit me, holy shit, how the heck did you manage to breeze through THAT and not have a nervous breakdown!?

Just today I was thinking of how I explain my ‘situation’ to people…Do I have cancer? Did I have cancer? Well, technically speaking, I believe it should go something like this : I was diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer, had a mastectomy and 13 lymph nodes removed, 8 were cancerous and I’m about to start chemotherapy and radiotherapy will happen after that. The process is to kill off/zap any stray cells they may not have got during the ‘clearance’ and to try and prevent them from growing again.

It’s definitely helped with those annoying calls esp on my mobile just today, do I have time for a survey? Erm, no I don’t sorry, I’m just about to nap as need my energy for chemotherapy…..

I say things will never be the same again because they won’t! This ‘experience’, ‘situation’..has given me the edge I need. You see, before this had all happened, I was finally getting direction and learning to live according to the Law of Attraction….heck, I’ve even got a vision board, with stuff on!
But one thing, I/we, were working very, very, hard at getting to where life’s journey had taken us. For the last 5 years, the pressure has been immense and only on reflection can you see just what you put yourself through in order to get what we wanted as a family.

This was my wake up call. No more. It can’t happen like this anymore. It’s got to be done differently.

We will now STOP and enjoy LIFE! The hard work is DONE!

I’m still very set on achieving my goals and business/life plans but I’m learning to do things differently.

Anyways, I’ve drifted.

I’m sitting here with my hospital book as I’ve got my heart cardiogram tomorrow and I’m looking for my letter, which confirms the appointment time…

#differentisgood

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Results are in and results are GOOD!

I should have updated that on Monday 6th October, the Bone and CT scan came back GOOD! The Grade 3 Cancer has NOT spread to my bones or organs…wooohhhooo…I celebrated with champagne!

SUCH a relief! It made the 1.5 hr wait, SO worth it! The oncologist had been away on a sabbatical and this was his first day back! My nerves were well and truly UP, not to mention Captain Kirk pacing up and down the corridor, switching between playing Candy Crush and reading a 2011 hospital magazine of House and Home. Thankfully, my bag was stashed with magazines and he flicked through Grazia.

When the oncologist delivered the news, I said right, I can go now, nothing else matters! That’s how I honestly felt…yes, I have to go through this chemo malarkey but it seems like a walk in the park, compared to what the news ‘could have been!’.

Now, I’m not saying that chemo IS going to be a walk in the park because I know it’s going to be tough, but honestly, for me, it’s easier to deal with than the thought of other things that were possibly going to be affected.

This week, I am back in on Wednesday for a heart echocardiogram, which takes around 45minutes and they put pressure on your…CHEST…wtf!? I’m going to assume that they will do their best to minimise the discomfort for me as when I lay flat, it still feels like there is a spear in me post the mastectomy!

Then on Thursday, I need to do more bloods and another chemo consultation.

Chemo starts on Wednesday 22nd October. I will be on FEC treatment for the first 3 cycles (that’s 9 weeks of those drugs in my body) then I switch over to ‘T’ drugs for the last 3 cycles ( 9 weeks of those drugs in my body).

This takes me to February where I will have around a 4 week break then start radiotherapy.

Perfectly timed that I have another EFT session on Saturday and a Reiki session on Monday, all before the treatment starts – I’m very pleased about that!

I’m feeling genuinely OK, slight butterflies in my tummy but all in all, mentally, I’m fine. Physically, I do need to remind myself that I need to rest more as am still recovering. I can only do once activity or meeting per day and I’m best in the morning, I then need a few hours nap but not been having it everyday and boy does it catch up!

People in my life have been truly amazing, I’m so, so blessed!

Nic
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Oh, I went back to get my hair cut shorter!

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Let it go, let it go…

I’ve had to force myself to come to terms with ‘the Frozen song’ that has played everywhere you turned your head this summer!

After my unexpected post op results of requiring a further CT and bone scan to check if the Cancer has spread elsewhere….my emotions surfaced. If you know me, I don’t do emotions well. A lot has to do with my upbringing but that’s a whole other blog altogether!

The day after the results, I had complementary therapy at ‘the centre’. ‘The centre’ is near me and where ‘everyone like me’ goes. Everyone is at different stages of their journey.

My first session at the centre was exactly 1 week after my op. I later found out that some choose to attend 1 year after diagnosis or op and some have been there 4 years! I wasn’t sure this was the place for me as the meeting started off with, ‘Unfortunately, on Saturday, we lost ‘*Fran’, please take a moment’….

My honest, natural thoughts were…….Are you fucking kidding me!?

Anyways….thankfully, ‘Fran’, was over 80years old and from what I hear, was an amazing, happy, loved lady. The meeting got better and was an eye opener of everyone’s journeys.

Back to the day after my results … I had an EFT session. In summary, it was 45mn listening to me then 15 minutes of ‘tapping’ a statement/mantra, devised from my fears…chemotherapy. You repeat this mantra as you follow the counsellor who is saying this before tapping above eyebrows, under eyes, under lip, collar bone, sides, each finger except your ring finger the the side of your hands and repeat ….by the second round, I BURST into tears…to be expected…such a great RELEASE! No surprise, turns out that I am a very practical person and use very little emotion, it’s all in my head and thoughts…even blogging…however, apparently, my emotions are tapping me from inside, calling me, ‘yoooohoooooo, remember us? We are your emotions and need some tlc too,’

I felt 50% better. 2 days later, I had a Reiki session. Amazing. My body and thoughts went into total relaxation and this was the prep I needed pre chemo. It’s not just been the fear of chemo but it’s been a build up of my VERY busy life….to the extent, I just *slotted* my mastectomy in and up until the day of the operation, I used that time not to be scared but to relax, I was soooo tired! Reflecting back to the day of my operation, Captain Kirk dropped me off at the main entrance of the hospital….my choice. Even though there were a good few hours pre op, I’m a loner by nature. I enjoy my own company, I enjoy holidays on my own and I don’t do good with fuss.

What has blown me away is the FUSS AND SUPPORT I have received since all this started! I decided to ACCEPT it all….and when I DID…OMW….the LOVE just came flooding in…in all forms! This LOVE has not only been from family and friends but acquaintances too…just amazing!

Flowers have been arriving every other day, visitors have brought gifts and treats (and I’m sure some go into the shops, are unsure of what to bring, so they just buy everything!). I’ve now got a designated ‘chemo cupboard’.

I’ve had coffee, chocolate and cookie deliveries, dinners being cooked, daily text check ups, weekly text check ups, conversations on FB, huge support on Twitter too, from people I’ve networked work, fellow bloggers…let me assure you, every single one of you who has taken the time to check in/up on me, I will *always* be here for you, day, night, whenever.

I had a flu jab 2 days ago, recommended pre chemo for the immune system. It’s now Wednesday and I’m writing from the Nuclear Medicine department as I am here for my bone scan. Had my injection with dye and radioactivity and 3 hours later, the imaging commences.

Back here on Monday to meet my Oncology team who will be with me over the next approximately 6 months.

I’m back at work now and have the wonderful support of a PA who started yesterday…Superwoman has taken her cape off!

Oh, I’ve cut my hair in preparation for the next phase of my journey…

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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.

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Nic