I’ve been dealt ANOTHER curved ball after my breast cancer diagnosis….

What could be worse?

In the last 48 hours, it has been discovered that I have a blood clot on my lung.

I was due to start my 10 year medication, Tamoxifen on Wednesday evening and was in bed reading the leaflet – I am last minute with everything in my life but I still get everything done, like reading the leaflet! How many people read medicine leaflets really?

It explained that if you are experiencing breathlessness or have an immediate relative with clots in veins, do not start this medication. I chose not to start it and see my GP the next day.

The last 3-4 weeks, my breathlessness has become worse. I finished my chemotherapy 2.5 weeks ago and breathlessness is a side effect of chemotherapy so I was trying to weigh up is it a side effect or something more?

I had been walking Coco (almost 3 yr old lab) up the hill and my kidneys felt like I was being stabbed and my breathlessness had me HEAVING! I was then walking my son to school, up our usual path, again, HEAVING. I also started getting on/off pains exactly where my heart is at random times. I then found it a lot of effort to talk and explain anything to anyone, without taking another breath.

I usually take 10 days post chemotherapy to recover…well, I have been feeling completely shattered and floored for a few weeks now!

The doctor reviewed my blood pressure and heart was pumping as normal though he could tell I was struggling when talking to him like I had been rushing, I had not. He decided to refer me, also based on my father’s poor heart history, throughout his family and my father himself suffering dv’ts, clots in veins, on Warafin for life and recent double by passes.

Drove my son to a play date then straight on to the hospital. My bloods came back with elevated levels so they carried out an Xray, then CT scan with dye, which immediately showed a ‘sizeable’ clot.

2 doctors came to see me and said that I was very clever to read the leaflet and act on my symptoms. I was not showing any obvious signs of being ill or the clot travelling from the leg. They said that although my father has a poor heart history, they believe this is cancer related/caused. Having an operation increases the risks of blood clots, having cancer increases it even more. Post op, your body is recovering and you are spending more time recovering than being mobile, same as going through chemotherapy but it’s very dangerous as it happens very quickly.

What now?

I was immediately made to self administer my first injection of Dalteparin whilst at the hospital and this is what I am injecting myself with, twice a day, 12 hours apart…for the next 6 months! The clot should reduce within 3 months then dissolve by 6 months. In the meantime, I will be monitored through Ecg’s and blood tests to check the levels.

It all makes sense now, together with the tiredness and ‘roid rage’ ( I just LOVE that description from my BC group because of the amount of steroids you take on this journey, messes with you!), I was beginning to have all sorts of thoughts of ‘how the heck am I going to cope with the rest of this journey when I have 6 weeks of radiotherapy coming up which is meant to also floor you half way through!?’

So, as completely SHYTE as it is, I am happy to have ‘caught it in time’ (everything crossed please!) and happy (?) to be on a plan to get attempt to get rid of it this way.

Emotionally, physically and mentally drained right now.

Nic

x

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What going through chemotherapy is REALLY like….

I will warn you now, there will be TMI further down in this post.

A few weeks ago, whilst chatting to a friend, it struck me that not many REALLY know what it is like to go through chemotherapy – I mean, why would you unless you have been through it yourself or physically helped someone through it. My friend’s expression made me realise that, although everyone can only imagine what it is like, you (and I before I had to go through this myself), would think OMW, it must be so tiring and draining, not to mention the nausea.

Well, yes, the first 3 cycles of treatment of FEC was exactly that, all of the above, tiring, draining and awful nausea. Then there was the constipation. My friend had to come to the rescue with that one night, I was alone at home. She brought over prunes, Germaloids and Movicol, which were to become me chemo staples throughout.

Straight after FEC, for 3 days, there would be no need for the loo as the mixture of the Ondansetron, Dexamethastone, Metaclopromide and Co codamol, buggered things up.

Nature then couldn’t hold in after 3 days – I would SCREAM. I would have Germaloids cream SMOTHERED IN AND OUT in preparation.There were tips on my Breast Cancer support group of holding the basin and crouching to all other positions. I managed to work out a method that best suited my ‘situation’ – my ‘situation’ was one that meant that ‘things’ were favouring the right side of ‘exit’.

I would take many deep, slow breaths, just like I have taught the kids when I am removing a splinter with a needle from their feet! I would then be leaning only half way on the loo seat, with 4 squares of loo roll in my hand, then pressing on the ‘favoured side’ to divert things for an even spread, because the PRESSURE….OMW.

Probably used about 15-20 breaths for each ‘attempt’….halfway through…guess what? Wee squirted on my hand which was still firmly in place! This got me by surprise so I managed to ‘clench’ and paused for a moment to think. Didn’t take too long for me to decide….OH FUCK IT. JUST FUCK IT! I let it all go, WITH my hand still firmly in place and it just continued to flow, like NIAGARA FALLS! Thankfully the window was open, for my dignity to fly out freely….

Then we move on to the last 3 cycles of Tax, the chemo that would see me through to the end. This got more difficult as body was weaker now from all the poison. The only good thing was, there was no nausea. The ONLY good thing.

Constipation gets confused on Tax, because whilst the drugs are still causing you to be constipated, the actual Tax drugs, cause the OPPOSITE effect! Try dealing with THAT! I got to the point where I was so exhausted of trying to figure it out without being able to get up from the bed quick enough, what was to be, was to be. Again, the loo window was left open for my dignity to fly out freely….

With Tax, I felt ok..until day 3. It’s referred to as The Tax train in the BC world. Then the aches started. From the waist down. Tummy CRAMPS, worse than giving birth naturally without drugs (I’ve done it so yes, I do know!). Leg pains that go through your bones like you have been hit with a baseball bat. Felt like I had 2 hearts in my feet as they THROB and BURN so much.

And if you think that was bad, I was SHAKING uncontrollably for hours under the covers, like someone who was going cold turkey.

It would take 10 days from day 3 to feel like a human being again…then would have a few days before the cycle started again. Oh and I have been working on my good days. Thank goodness being self employed for me, means that I am able to look rotten but get the work done, in my pj’s!

So, for all of the above reasons, that is why I stopped making plans during the second phase of my chemo, which started in December. My head has been FUZZY, plans stress me out since phase 2 of chemo and the ones I have made like my father in laws 80th, well, I crossed everything on the day that I was able to make it and did not need to cancel!

Now, whilst my chemo is all done and dusted, HIP, HIP HOORAY…..but I’m still very tired! This is where I have time to now look back at the last 7 months (WTF!!!?) and say, right, THAT happened, I have now put on this weight (after being at my fittest pre diagnosis), eyebrows are barely there, eyelashes are mere stubs and hair, well, it’s neither here nor there, boob, it’s had it’s maximum inflation allowed until June post rads – still 200 ml to go….I need to prepare for my daily radiotherapy which is over 6 weeks, commencing on 11th March.

x

Nic

Ps : How did my husband cope with all of this you may ask….easy, every chemo, he would move out the room for at least 10 days…#chemo smell is leathal stuff too!

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NO, MO, CHEMO!

What a GREAT day this was, 4th February 2015,  my last ever (I hope) chemo!

I was literally doing the dance of joy – remember BALKI from the tv series in the 80’s, Perfect Strangers? He did that ridiculous dance, yup, that was me 🙂

My lovely friend Jane, made me ‘chemo cupcakes’ to celebrate with on the day and it also happened to be World Cancer Awareness Day on the 4th as well!

Time seemed to have whizzed by for the last session, that is because I was just HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!  In fact, the last 7 months seems to have whizzed by….what a journey!

Thing is, after the last session, you still need to through the motions of the effects of the chemo and this took a full 2 weeks before I even started feeling half human, was a downer from the HIGH that I was on.

My head is still trying to piece everything that has happened since first finding the lump, not given it too much thought as I have been mainly consumed by the side effects most of the time.

Never had to draw on eyebrows until now and eyelashes are just stubs. Hair is about 40-50% there, can’t wait for a pixie cut! At times, I forget to draw on eyebrows (they are very fine right now) and even forget to put in prosthesis, the only time I am grateful for rubbish weather as I have been using a winter coat and headband a lot, can’t help it with the eyebrows though when I forget!

Finito with the chemo. Hallelujah!

lastchemo chemograd

Tax time…no, not HMRC, #Chemotherapy has Tax too!

Thepiccline XmasChemo chemosupport NYE

I’ve not written since my last chemo which was my first Docetaxel (Tax) part of the last 3 sessions. Boy oh boy, was given this on Christmas eve and stayed in bed until NYE! The Side Effects (SE) are completely different to the the FEC which was the first 3 chemo sessions. As I have cording (severe vein damage AND A FAT ARM, which can take up to 1 year to heal), as painful at the PICC line looks in the picture, it is heavenly having your chemo and blood tests through this – if ever you find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to decide this, GO FOR IT!

Tax hits you DAY 3. Day 2 started with stomach cramps, Day 3, from waist down, really painful back, legs and feet..this lasted for DAYS! I could barely swing my legs off the bed to go to the bathroom and I NEEDED to get to the bathroom because the delights of THIS cycle, was unlike the constipation of the previous one…….

I also have the Lenograstim injections in my tummy Day 3-5 and I get my husband to do this. I had to do it once myself and I vowed to never again! (damn you football fixtures!)

As you can see from the photo’s, I managed to get out NYE, had lovely evening and then stayed in bed for another 3 days! My 7yo son is my #1 headband supporter 😉

Feeling WIPED OUT is NOT something I am used to. I have given in though, you can’t fight it and you shouldn’t…just ride with it.

I have a strategy for tomorrow’s session – let’s see if it is any better. I have started with painkillers today, even though it all kicks in Day 3 and I am going to try and walk outside everyday – something I could not do for the last cycle.

I still have hair as I am using the cold cap, very thin, patchy hair but I have a strategy for that too as you can see! Eyebrows thin and don’t have many eyelashes left but am using a wonderful 3D Fiber lash mascara from my friend Debbie O’Connor.

I have had my second round of the expander inflated – soon won’t need to wear a prosthesis! Found out that once I am clear of radiotherapy – up to a year, will have fat removed from tummy (thank you volunteers, I have enough of my own fat to sort myself out some double G’s!) to get a natural reconstruction – this is an 8 hour surgical procedure but can’t worry about that right now.

I guess it is to be expected that I am feeling weaker now towards the end of it….just 1 more cycle to go after tomorrow, really cannot wait!

Being diagnosed and going through what I am going through, has opened my eyes to a whole new meaning of LIFE…the people I want in my life and the people I want to surround myself with.

Chemo brain is a real thing! This is why I am very specific and to the point very quickly into the conversation – if ever you find yourself talking to me! Chemo brain apparently doesn’t go away straight away either…it hangs around….

I joined a FABULOUS ‘secret’ Breast cancer group on Facebook for ladies under 45 years old – you will be amazed at how many new members unfortunately find themselves joining, daily – but I can say this, it is a FANTASTIC group with LOTS of support, sharing and tips – a really good laugh too 🙂

I’m in a really weird place right now and only those who are going through his themselves or are supporting people through it will understand. I will resume to some form of normality in the near future, I promise!

PS : You can bet that I WON’T be doing DRY JANUARY either 😛

Thank you for the lovely messages of support!

X

Nic

Halfway there……..yup, I’m living on a prayer…and lots of Bolly darrrrhhhhhling!

Well, tomorrow has come around quickly – if you know what I mean! Yup, it’s Fekkin FEC time again!

I have had the best 10 days EVER! Sorted out heaps at home, ok, I had a lovely lady help me and I’ll give her a shout out here as she travelled out of her zone to do so and what a FABULOUS job she has done! http://www.organise-your-house.co.uk/ (I’ll come clean, mine is the blue kitchen – when she puts the photo’s up)

I have worked 10 hours flat! I am self employed and wouldn’t have it any other way but it’s at times like this, I feel that this chemotherapy and cancer *stuff*, is just plain down inconvenient!

So, tomorrow marks my ‘half way mark’ – not one to count but I find myself counting now. I also heard that when my next phase starts (I am on FEC-T), which is the T for 3 more cycles from Christmas eve – this is where things go downhill…..steroids are needed the day prior to chemo and they keep you in for a a while under observation, due to the side effects…swelling of the legs (!?), back pain and sore throat…

Thankfully, I am re-reading the book The Secret which my dear friend bought me 6/7 years ago. If you have read this book, you will know that what you think is very powerful and that sends out a message to the universe. So, if I think this is going to be worse, it WILL be worse. I am not thinking that 😉 Also from The Secret, see below :

quote1

I have realised that the further you get away from your last treatment, the more your taste buds come back! I still need VERY STRONG things…I’m talking GORGONZOLA or nothing!

I went to the gym about 10 days ago…I have now frozen my membership until March! Dog walks instead. A combination of things I believe but yeah, even ‘light’ movement on the Xtrainer for only 9 minutes, wasn’t the brightest of ideas! I ended up with an infection, on anti biotics for a week and a temperature of 38.5 for 2 days!

To my surgeons surprise, my breast has puckered, so on my last visit to her, she did not inflate the implant as it was purple/red and she decided to let the ani biotics do the work. I am due back on 12/12 for her to review. It has mostly been uncomfortable and slightly painful – the implant may just not be agreeing with me but we will review it.

The cording is back and OH Sooooo painful! yesterday had bloods done, injected into vein used for chemo – no blood! More vein damage – let’s hope they have one to use tomorrow because my arm is now BATTERED and I can’t use the other arm for blood pressure or bloods as have had my nodes removed.

Sing a long with me….to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas….’1 bad boob, 2 dodgy arms and hair … almost GONE!’ 😛

I have lost 40% hair now, using the cold cap. I am ok about it but when more falls out, will need to make some decisions. Here’s a picture to update you of my hair and my sudden love and need for Bolly! I feel on top of the world when I drink it….forget the flowers, bring on the Bolly! <said in my best Patsy voice>

Much love,

Nic

xbubbly

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

x

‘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