Third time…yucky

It’s all sinking in … quite literally! This cycle saw me in bed for 6 days….6 days! Could not even try and fight it, I now understand FATIGUE!

The cycle itself was SEVERELY painful due to the cording (vein damage), so much so that they had to stop and start chemo as I was in tears – pure pain and SPASMS through the hand and arm. To this day, it is very, very sore…

It has been decided that for my next cycle, I will be fitted with a PICC line, which will be threaded to sit on top of the heart. I will receive chemo this way for the last 3 cycles. I am being fitted with this on 22/12, then will have an Xray done to ensure that it is in the correct position.

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I was completely WIPED out by this last cycle…..my body has recognised the chemo now and trying to deal with it. I feel a lot weaker and out of breath now, so need to do things at a different pace than I am used it. Yesterday I was clearing some paperwork, just tearing the paper was painful for my arm and I was so tired. *I got Gingko Biloba for the fatigue, should have had it from day one but at least I have it ready for the next cycle.

Oh, I also forgot to take the laxatives for the first 2 days, OMG…NEVER will I EVER forget that. I won’t go into detail about that….just know that I have been eating LOTS and LOTS of prunes!

My dog is very confused – one minute, I am taking her for 2 hour daily walks, 1hr in the morning and 1 hr in the evening, then my cycle happens and BOOM….she has to pace the floor to get anyone’s attention that she needs to go out!

I had 50ml fluid inserted into my inflatable yesterday.Consultant said that she has never seen a reaction to the breast in her career like mine has had since I had the infection a few weeks ago. She was hoping that the mastectomy would just be a smooth shape and the fluid would be gradually inserted to give me the clevage and symmetry that I am used to. She is still unsure if we will keep the inflatable in but will review again on the 9/01. Having woke up this morning after the 50ml from yesterday, everything seems *ok*.

I need to get back on track with my juicing. I have now bought http://www.crazysexydiet.com produced by a cancer survivor, so that is my mission for the next week, getting back on track!

My next chemo is on 24/12…..<insert cries here!>…though, I am looking at it this way, it’s my Christmas present to be one step closer to finishing!

I continue to meet the most amazing people through this journey, going through similar, if not WORSE. These women are so inspiring, makes me feel humbled and grateful for my life and this chance I have of getting through this.

Right, I have a parents Christmas event to attend tonight, Winter Wonderland theme….perfect timing as I am in the ‘good zone’ and I have one hand that works, one hand is all you need to hold a glass of delicious bubbly! 😉

*mwahs* to you all reading this….I appreciate it!

xxxxxxxxxxxx

Nic

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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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‘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!
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Nic

Decision time…..

Must mention this first. I was SO nervous about putting my blog OUT THERE, to the extent that I was shaking like a leaf before pressing the publish button and once I hit publish, I went to pour a large glass of wine! Well, I searched and searched for the blog as I connected it to my Facebook page but it did not connect. OMG, the next 20 minutes was awful! I pressed publish a few times, went in and changed my settings and checked, even texted a friend, ‘can you see it?’, she couldn’t!

I eventually sorted it and then stayed offline for a few hours. I felt sick, not anything to do with my diagnosis, just tummy turning sick and shaky! When I did pop back online, I burst into tears at the comments. Rob was next to me and asked what was wrong – told him I had just published the blog and I read just *some* of the comments as I was just crying. These were tears of RELIEF and gratitude, so THANK YOU to every single one of you who read my first ever blog about my journey, thank you to every single one of you who shared a story, commented on both the blog and Facebook, thank you to everyone who called and left me a message, sent me a text, a what’s app and a private message too. Each of these messages, be it a simple ‘x’, has meant the world to me.

I have truly been mechanical throughout this, once I had a few RANDOM crying sessions. Not more than 4 times to date. It’s happened at bed time, once I have taken NYTOL (thank goodness for that), I lie there and just feel terribly sad. It’s on my mind 24/7 but for the most of it, I have been fine, just taking it one step at a time and trusting my wonderful consultant and her team.

Since sharing the blog and yesterday’s meeting at the hospital, I admit, it’s hitting home a lot more. It was the release I needed and it will help me in the dark days. I have heard that chemo will be harder than the actual surgery so I have been planning on how I am going to overcome it. I have obviously been through the scenarios of how I am going to look and feel when I lose my hair. I think it’s inevitable that I will lose my hair I believe. There is an option to use a ‘cold cap’ : http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Livingwithandaftercancer/Symptomssideeffects/Hairloss/Scalpcooling.aspx but it has mixed reviews. I am inclined to just ‘let it go’ – and even I, as tired as I am of hearing the Frozen song, you just can’t help but sing it when those words are uttered huh?

I did tell Rob that I don’t think I would make an attractive bald person! He said if it were him, he would rock a mohican…erm, no thanks. There are lots of options out there and this is one highly recommended by a doctor friend of mine : http://www.lucindaellery-hairloss.co.uk/ be sure to watch the video, it’s amazing…..and then see which celebs use her too : http://www.lucindaellery.com/celebrity-gallery.php

I’m really not sure what I am going to do yet – just taking it one step at a time. I think about it like this : You lose a boob, go through a rubbish few months trying to tackle the disease, you lose your hair, you keep your LIFE! Small price to pay…besides, hair grows eventually!

Yesterday, 15th August 2014 – I met with my consultant, who by now, you would have read about her experience in the previous blog and I am sure you are also pleased for me!

Op booked in for 9th September. It’s going to be 6 hours. I have chosen not to have immediate reconstruction. I will have the full mastectomy and an expandable inserted, which is inflated with saline over time. We don’t know at this stage if radiotherapy is needed after chemo. If you DO need radiotherapy, they wait for one year after your treatment is completed before offering any type of reconstruction. So for now, I will have an expandable, inflatable. Further down the line, once I am cleared, I can then choose to have reconstruction using tummy or inner thigh skin – this would the most natural feeling tissue versus the silicone. We are nowhere near that process now so I am not going to talk or think about that any more.

*A part of me is happy to just leave as is and I still have the opportunity to tell them on the day if I were to change my mind and not want the expandable but I also have the option of having the expandable and if I am not happy after 2 months, she will remove it! TOLD YOU I am in good hands!

 

 

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Shit got real….

Thursday 31st July – the day after being officially told that I would need a mastectomy.

I walked into my local Cancer Information Centre and took a deep breath as I pressed the buzzer. I introduced myself to the receptionist, ‘Hello, I’m Nicole and this is my first time here’.

I was given a brown envelope which I did not open (by now you have already gathered that I am not one for opening stuff straight away or even researching it) and I sat next to a lady who also had a brown envelope sticking out of her bag. It was obvious that she had completed her treatment as her hair was very short. She explained that she chose to visit the centre only once her treatment (chemo) was finished as then it would mean that she would not need to worry about changing appointments if she felt unwell.

The chairman collected me from the waiting area and we went into a lovely room. She was very smiley and warm and explained how the centre worked. For a £30 donation, you are entitled to 10 treatments by trained therapists (bargain!), then additional treatments are £10 each (still a bargain!). Treatments are : massage, reiki, eft, reflexology, aromatherapy, tha chi and yoga. The president of this centre, is a well known English actress from my all time favourite sitcom and she and a well known, flamboyant London Mayor, had been there just a few days a few prior, doing a Thai Chi session!

The centre also offers an arts and crafts club, a cinema group, writing workshops and a choir!

She asked me questions from the form regarding my life and diagnosis and then got to the D.O.B details, she laughed and said I looked 12! She said I seemed very ‘together’ at this stage, given what I am about to go through. I explained that I became very mechanical about it but I am sure that I am going to breakdown closer to the time one things REALLY start happening.

We walked through the centre so I know what’s where for next time. A group was gathered around doing all sorts at the table and having a chit chat – I could smell the lunch being prepared. Must make a note of that. Book your treatments in for Thursdays as it’s followed by lunch!

Met a lady who makes a heart shaped object  inspired by her own journey. The best way to describe this is like a travel pillow you would buy for your neck, in a heart shape. This is for ladies who have a mastectomy and find they need something soft in the night if they slept on a particular side and it’s also useful post op, if your seatbelt needs to crossover the affected area. Told you, shit just got real!

Nicole

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