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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.