Love me do.

 

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Love. It’s a beautiful thing. I have never felt so loved in all my life these past few weeks. I often read about people doing random acts of kindness and complete strangers donating thousands of pounds to small charities and I can really see why. I have always seen myself as a bit of a loner. Well a true introvert. My typical day would be going to work, doing the school run and then shutting the door behind me and visiting family and friends just at the weekend. My best friend of 16 years will tell you, I can literally see her twice a year and never would we bat an eyelid that our company wasn’t enough. So when I became ill (well I say ill, I’m not actually ill with like the flu or chronic breathing problems or anything) So when I had this viscous cancer grow on my tit I found out that people that I know, truly are the most wonderful people and I am absolutely privileged to be apart of their lives. Now this sounds really cheesy I know it does, I can hear you saying it in your heads as your reading this, but I just can’t believe how many friends, family, neighbours and colleagues  (who most I call friends) have rallied round me and made sure that I have had the best possible care I could ever ask for.

My recent hospital admission was obviously quite scary, I’ve never really had anything wrong with me before so being a patient was a big deal, being a patient in my own workplace is even a bigger deal.

The biggest deal though is being such a young mum to my children, my 9 year old daughter who typically is a moody, gobby, (always does the opposite to what you ask her) has become the most wonderful, caring little girl and her maturity has really shown everyone around us how wonderful she really is. This makes me sad. It makes me sad because I don’t want her to grow up before her time or feel she has any pressure to look after me. Luckily for us all by the time the autumn comes we will all be back to normal, but it makes me think about all those parents out there that have chronic debilitating illnesses and their children are their carers.

So this post is dedicated to my amazing daughter, in years to come I will be teaching her about the importance of checking her breasts and il be using this blog as evidence of how kind she was and what a beautiful nature she has.

Much love,

Mummy xx

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10 Breast cancer positives.

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No I’m not crazy. I never would want to get breast cancer and wouldn’t actually wish it upon my worse enemy. But I have it, I can’t do anything about it, so I aim to embrace the positives of living with it, so here goes:

  1. School runs. I get to pick my children up from school. EVERYDAY. Well almost everyday, except clinic appointments that fall around the school pick up time and the days when I physically can’t, but on the whole everyday. Freddie started school in September, he found it really difficult going to after school club most nights, so to him this is great. Macey has always been used to going to after school club or my sister or sister in laws house, so to her it’s no big deal either way. Before all this I would work 5 days out of 7, so the majority of the time the poor mites wouldn’t go through their own front door until at least 5pm.
  2. Friends. I have spoke to friends that I haven’t spoke to for years. Sad right? It’s a bit like funerals, everyone comes out of the woodwork to pay their respects and say goodbye, but why does it have to happen that way? But we are all human, it’s not natural to pick up the phone or Facebook message someone after not seeing them for 15 years and ask how they are doing…….but maybe we all should?
  3. Kindness. A few months before diagnosis, lots of evil things were going on, some in my own country, others just across the water. It baffled me how evil some human beings can be, I know it’s only a tiny minority of groups, but when it’s in the media everyday it feels heightened. So when people, friends, family, colleagues, johns friends, neighbours and even complete strangers found out about my diagnosis everyone was so so kind. Any cancer is cruel, but I suppose my age (30) and having two young kids kind of exaggerated the turmoil we were and still are going through. People have been so kind, thoughtful and it’s really touched my heart.
  4. Food. Sounds mental. But, I have struggled with my weight for a good few years now, slowly been gaining the weight since my daughter was born 9 years ago. All of a sudden one day you look in the mirror and bam! You don’t recognise who’s staring back at you. I have great willpower and excellent organisational skills, so you would think that healthy eating would come naturally. It does in a way, but when your a shift worker with a young family, grabbing the takeaway menu rather than chopping up fresh veggies was an easier option for a long time. I have been warned by other breast cancer ladies that the chemo/steroid combination does make you put on weight. I don’t think it’s a fat kind of weight, but more fluid retention etc. So now I’m panicking (a bit) but I have all the time in the world whilst I’m well to cook nutritious meals and eat smart. I’ve already purchased a nutri bullet and love making kale based smoothies for lunch. I will loose weight, I will loose Weight!
  5. Hair. I’m definitely going to be a baldy lala. Which to be honest at first didn’t bother me, but now the time is coming nearer for the chemo to start I’m starting to panick slightly. My sister has been fundraising to make this process as smooth as possible. She has raised enough money for me to buy a real hair wig. Now to some this is a massive negative, but think of all the time il save in the mornings doing my hair? Bingo!
  6. Lunch dates. I have always been secretly envious of millionaires that don’t need to work and Mums that are lucky enough not to work. I love my job don’t get me wrong, but when your annual leave comes around, it’s a lovely feeling having nothing planned but to meet up with friends. I mean I’m only putting a fork to mouth, it’s nothing too strenuous,but it does feel weird meeting up for lunch as I have been signed off sick from work. You’ve probably all been there, signed off a week for Flu or bad back, your not quite well enough to go back to work, but your well enough to nip to Asda to get dinner in that night. You kind of always look around to make sure you don’t see any of your work colleagues as you should be at work. That’s what I feel like. Except from I haven’t got flu or a bad back, I’ve got this shitty C word. Anyhow, it’s been lovely meeting up with you all. I particularly like a good old breakfast or high tea if anyone is free this week?
  7. Catch up TV. Before all this occurred, John put a box in our bedroom so I could watch catch up TV in our bed. It’s like the sky box downstairs where you can record, pause, rewind. You know the score. To be honest, I never really used it, but now it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I’ve just started watching ‘Stella’ from series one. John recommends ‘Being human’ so that’s on my next to watch list.
  8. New bras. Not quite there yet with these, but they are coming. I’ve always been a t shirt bra kind of girl, only wearing pretty frilly ones on nights out, now I have to have special bras until I get the reconstruction, so it’s going to be nice shopping for these pretty little numbers.
  9. Blogging. If you read my first ever post, you would already know that I have always wanted to write a blog. My blog is about being a mummy, nurse and a cancer patient all in one, but hopefully this time next year I can drop the cancer part. It’s opened a world to me that I never really knew existed. I’ve made cyber friends that I know I can literally ask anything, anytime of the day. There is also a support group I log into everyday on Facebook, for younger patients living with breast cancer. It’s a secret group, so you can literally ask anything. It’s fab!
  10. Nursing. This has been left until last for a particular reason. To me it’s the most important. Throughout university, preceptorship and then onto mentoring student nurses and moving into management, one thing that is always drummed into you right from the word go is Patient Experience. As health care professionals we all strive to give our patients the best possible care we can. Quality of care, patient safety and patient experience is always top of the agenda for all trusts. But how do you ensure the staff are giving their patient the best experience possible? There’s the usual, feedback, surveys, complaints, plaudits and learning from them. But for me actually being in the patients shoes is the best training you can ever get and I am truly grabbing my own patient experience with both hands and will use this for my future when nursing my patients. One of the biggest aspects of my experience so far is fear. My breast care nurse said to me on day one ‘it’s ok not to be ok’. I didn’t care too much about the analgesia I was receiving or that my food was served in a correct manner. To me, I just wanted my hair washed. That would have been the best medicine for ME. Person centred care is the key, and I am proud of the nurses that cared for me on the ward post op of how difficult it must have been looking after an ex colleague but also ensuring that all the care I received was about me. So yes this is a massive positive for me, as its a life long experience I have now gained and I can always try and put myself in my patients shoes. I always knew it wasn’t always about the drug rounds, observations and writing notes, I always did ask ‘are you ok?’ I always did try and sit and have a chat to the patient and Their family, but now I will truly understand how scary and worrying it is being a patient and remember my experience. It’s quite frankly terrifying.

So there it is, my 10 positives of having breast cancer. I hope it doesn’t come across as a ‘Yes we should all get breast cancer so then we can all do the school run’ These are just little perks that I have had since diagnosis. I’m yet to go through the chemo stage, I will probably be trying to find the edit or delete button when I’m actually laying in bed with the chemo flu, thinking how the heck can there be any positives? But I am definitely an optimist, so for all you pessimists out there, I’m sorry if your reading this through gritted teeth.

Much love,

Michelle xx

Under the knife

image.png Sat in bed with a cup of tea. My iPad pro is so big it’s lighting up the room, it’s only 8am, but still darkish outside and the weather is crap today. I am now day 10 post op and feeling good, really good.

I had a radical mastectomy and axillary node clearance on the 12th Jan. I found out my surgical date on the 7th Jan, so as you can imagine I started to go into panic mode. John couldn’t quite work out that I wasnt panicking about the surgery, or the fact that I was going to be one titted, but that I hadn’t organised my hospital bag, found comfortable matching pyjamas yet and my slippers were too expensive to wear in hospital. Yes that’s right, I am one spoilt cow, and not only did John buy me an iPad pro for crimbo, he also got me some real ugg slippers. I know hospitals are super clean nowadays, but I am a nurse and I still kick my shoes off at the front door even now after walking about on the floors of the superhospital after an 8 hour shift. I don’t really want to be taking my new fluffy slippers there. So I just purchased a bog standard set from Matalan, grey slip ons from the men’s section for £3.50, half price in the sale. Job done.

Talking of shopping for the big day, I also purchased a set of loose pjs, I didn’t go for the button up pjs, it’s winter and most of them in the shops are fleecy type ones, hospitals are hot. So I opted for a vest type and 3/4 length bottoms, with a matching dressing gown, the summer type, Just cotton and light. I also bought a new flannel (I’ve got loads in the cupboard, but remember packing your bag for labour? Same thing right?) new toiletries, including toothbrush, oh and a paper white kindle. Which was a big rush the day before the op, but I actually never read it. I do now though.

So I had my pre op assessment on the Friday before the big day, to be honest I was in and out. I have absolutely nothing wrong with me what so ever, except Mr Cancer (Or Mrs Cancer, as its Tit related?) so that was a relief, usually we are down the hospital for hours and leaving the kids with other people at first is fun for them, but after a while it’s horrible. So we were in and out, another blood test done and home.

The weekend before the op was pretty normal, I tried to show as many people (obv not strangers) the said tit. 1.because for the females out there it gave some real facts of what breast cancer can look like and 2. Because it was coming off and it’s only had a mere 30 years in this life, I felt it needed to be seen.  One of my aunties never got to see it in the flesh before the big chop, but I already had that covered. We took a few pics on my iPhone. Oh don’t worry I’m not the kind of girl to upload on my blog or any other social media platforms.

The night before my surgery I re read the letters given to me, fretted over waking up mid op, re packed my bag and organised when I would eat dinner. We always eat between 6pm-7.30pm most nights, which is average I expect for everyone else. But I couldn’t eat anything after midnight and couldn’t drink anything after 6am. So we planned a massive dinner for about 9.30pm and I downed a pint of water before bed, this was quite a clever thing to do as this meant by 5am I was up for a massive wee, so I could then nip downstairs and have another pint.

We had to be at the hospital for 10am, the surgical list started at 11am and I was told I should be out within 2-3 hours back to the ward. I got my gown on, made sure I had the brightest knickers, mine had Elmo on and put on my surgical socks. We walked down to the theatre, I walked with my Ex manger Tracy, this made things a thousand times easier as we were just generally chatting and catching up, before I knew it my name was called and I walked into theatre. It’s very strange actually walking into the theatre room where your having your op. There is a small team getting everything ready. You hear sterile packs being ripped open and metal instruments clanging around, all going on while the anaesthetist is trying to find a vein to stick a massive grey cannula in the back of my hand.

I remember him giving me an injection and I felt really woozy, then the mask went over my face, the next minute I wake up in recovery. This wasn’t pleasant. One word. Well four words. I couldn’t stop puking.

The recovery was pretty good, overnight stay in hospital. Then home by lunchtime. By day 6 I felt completely back to normal. The kids think it’s hilarious that I’ve only got one boob, Macey my daughter said I look like half a child, half a woman. Bless her, she’s only saying what she sees. Freddie my 5 year old is still a bit cautious. He would rather not talk about any of it and just pretend it never happened. I’m doing the school run again which is lovely and hopefully I should be back to proper driving next week.

I get all the results of the tumour and the lymph node involvement on the 28th, I will keep you all updated.

For now, I’m getting used to wearing my softie in my bra (you would never know) and trying to think of a name for her, il think il let the kids decide.

Much love

Michelle x

Diaries and Thingymebobs

image.pngSo my younger sister Becky has purchased a diary. This is a big deal.

Anyone who knows Becky, knows she doesn’t own a diary, she uses her phone to put dates in and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her with a pen.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a complete stationary freak. I’m that much of a stationary freak that my last two jobs at the hospital, my leaving presents were stationary (but luxury high end of course). You see my diaries (not being a snob) are of course Filofax, ( I had to get a second mortgage out for my most recent purchase) I own two at the moment, not that I use two, that would be too confusing. I’m on sick leave at the moment from my job 😪 So I’ve reverted back to my smaller more handbag friendly Filofax for the time being. That said, I am extremely organised. All the inset days are already tattooed in my diary, any school affairs, family Do’s, dentists,bills, it’s all in there.

So when all this cancer crap came along, it was pretty worrying. All of a sudden I have to rely on other people. Don’t get me wrong, these people I trust with my life, but it’s hard when I’m the one who has all the Shiz together usually. Everyone has offered help and I mean everyone. It’s quite overwhelming at times. So when my beautiful sister bought herself a diary, I smiled on the inside. She specifically came around mine to write down all the dates of everything. I even thought she was going to ask me when my next period was due (OK, OK, I know that’s going too far now)

So between us, she’s written down all the dates of the surgerys, hospital appointments, chemo, radiotherapy, you name it, it’s down. Huge relief. I have such a huge support network (I’m talking Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, in laws, friends, colleagues, neighbours, you name it) but my biggest backbone naturally is my husband, he can’t go a miss. He just can’t do the diary thing, I buy him one every year, the first week of January is usually filled in, then it’s blank the whole year. By July time my daughter has pinched it and is using it as a  classroom diary when she pretends to play schools (that was my favourite when I was a kid too!) she too, like me, dotes on stationary. Then there’s my little brother, he’s pretty organised ( I think) but I think he’s more of a gadget organised, I don’t think he owns a pen. Peter is the quickest responder I know when it comes to texting, which in my situation is great. I’m usually pretty quick at getting back to people, the only delay I have is if I’ve left my phone on silent and I don’t realise a text came through. I think the only time I’ve had a 30 minute delay with Pete is when he’s been flying, as soon as he’s landed he’s on it. Peters like a mini version of our dad, with my dad I know literally he will and can do anything. Peters so the same, it’s fab.

So talking of dates, I finally got my date through for my surgery, I had my pre op assessment yesterday and to be honest I was in and out. I have absolutely nothing wrong with me except this ugly cancer head that keeps appearing, so that was all good. My surgery is 12th Jan. I’m pretty nervous and excited at the same time. Don’t ask me why I’m excited. It’s not like a Christmas Eve going to bed excited, it’s a kind of a ‘can’t wait to get this shit out excited’. It still is quite daunting knowing that I am going to recognise (face wise) most of the people at the hospital on that day, they kind of look at you as if to say ‘I know you, but can’t quite place where from’ I mean after all (huh hum) I’m a natural blonde and so my eyelashes are very light, without my mascara and eyeliner on I kinda look like kermit the frog and that is where I think the confusion comes in of people trying to place the face AND the fact that I haven’t got uniform on. Blimey can you imagine when I’m rocking the Matt Lucas look post chemo? “Yeah I know!” Now that’s going to be challenging, especially as I’m nearly 6 foot tall 🙈.

Anyhow, I will keep you all updated after my surgery, the bummer is this is all on my right side, I’m right handed and so I will probably be tapping away on the iPad with just my left hand soon, I might even practice with my left hand for the rest of this post.

Thanks for reading

Much Love

Michelle x

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What’s it like?

image.pngSo, we all wonder what it’s like? As women we wonder before we have children, what’s it like to be pregnant? What’s labour like?  We hear all the stories and read all the articles, but I think you will all agree with me that you never truly know until you go through it yourself.

so what’s it like living with cancer? To be honest I never asked myself this as a person, I’ve nursed many people with this disease and have been truly compassionate when caring for them, but probably thought this question may arise maybe when I hit my 70’s or probably not at all.

People say to me, I can’t imagine what your going through. Im going to try in story mode to explain a bit about how it is.

Imagine yourself on a boat. It’s a hot sunny day, your sunning yourself in your bikini, cocktails on tap and your family and friends around you, everyone enjoying themselves and not a care in the world. A doctor comes on board and tells you that you have breast cancer. At first it doesn’t sink in but as the holiday draws to end you know you have to do something about it.

We all give consent to  have things done to us, but no one really talks about not having treatment, do they?

so in a nutshell, we are still on the boat, if you refuse to do anything about this disease (I doubt anyone would) then you continue your holiday on the boat,drinking cocktails and trying to enjoy yourself. You will probably come unstuck one day though.

For most people we have to face the treatment route, (sorry I’ve rabbited on about consent blah blah blah, now back to the story) The doctor tells me there is a plank coming off the boat, you know like on the pirate ships? You see I can swim, in a swimming pool, but the deep blue sea, with them gushing waves? Now this is a different kettle of fish.  I walk up to the plank and look down. I can see deep dark waters, fish and other weird things swimming around. I look behind and all my family and friends are on board, this time not drinking or having fun. I kinda feel alone.

I’ve got to walk this plank and jump in the sea and swim to fight this disease.

I know the water is going to be cold. Freezing cold. I know I might get hurt from the jellyfish or sharks even. I know I can swim but can I swim when the storm hits? Who’s going to be with me? What if I drown? Will the doctors help me?

So I jump in, I have to. I have no choice really. I’ve just got to do it.

The water isn’t too cold, it’s tepid. I feel a bit frightened by the buoyancy of the water against me. I’m looking ahead and I can’t see any land, just the horizon which likes miles away. I’m scared. Shit scared.

I feel a tap on my shoulder, it’s John. He’s found some adult arm bands, he blows them up on my arms for me. Ah that’s better. I feel slightly safer now. He soaking wet now, just like me.

I look to my right and my parents and family are there, they’ve got the fun size rubber rings on the go, incase my legs get tired.

I look to my left and my consultant and all the team are there. I kind of imagined they would be after seeing my family on the right, I knew they would have something better than a rubber ring, probably a dingy. Even better than that they have a lifeboat, there are lights and everything.

I keep on swimming, I feel a bit better knowing I’ve got my team by my side.

I still can’t see land yet, but I know it’s coming. The whole world isn’t made of ocean. There is some green to come.