Category Archives: The early days pre treatment.

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

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.

The big ‘C’ Word

At 30 years old and living in 2015, I’ve always wanted to write a blog. I wanted to document my children’s milestones, share parenting tips, have discussions about my children’s first day at school and life as a full time nurse. But life got in the way, I was always too busy with work, family life and housework. I really enjoy reading other people’s blogs and relating to their concerns, fears and excitement of being a parent and a working mum. I loved nothing more than getting in from a busy day at work, pouring myself a cold glass of wine and looking online at everyone’s posts.

I never thought my first blog post would be talking about being diagnosed with grade 3 invasive breast cancer at the age of 30. But who would?

So, yes I am 30 years old, completely healthy, a bit overweight, but generally pretty active. I am a mum to two beautiful children, Macey who is 9 tomorrow and Freddie who is 4. I have been in a relationship with my childhood sweetheart John for almost 12 years and we have been blessed to be married for 6. I am a nurse and have worked at the same local hospital for 11 years, a job I absolutely love.

Being that I am a woman and a nurse you would think I would naturally check my boobs for the dreaded cancer, like they tell us to on ITV “This Morning” and health promotion articles/leaflets/TV ads. But I just never did. I don’t know why, it just didn’t occur to me that I would be at risk of developing cancer. After all we have no family history of this and to be quite honest I didn’t really know how?     Sounds silly right?     But post children, most breasts are pretty lumpy in between cycles, would I know what to look for?

So my story begins with a trigger that made me check my breasts that night in the bath.

I was driving along going to visit my next patient, I was working a Friday late shift, when I had a pinching pain in my right armpit. It was really niggling me and I actually felt the area when the traffic lights went red, I could feel a lump in my upper right breast, but the lights quickly changed green and off I went.

That night In the bath, I had a feel and could definitely feel a lump. I did not tell anyone until Monday morning when I realised it had been there all weekend and had not reduced in size. So I told my hubby, parents and sister. I was due in work at 10am , so made a quick phone call to my GP who saw me straight away. She was a locum GP and so very kind, she assured me it was more than likely to be related to my menstrual cycle, but referred me to the breast clinic to be seen in 2 weeks time. She found 2 lumps in my breast, at this point though I still wasn’t that concerned.

I attended the breast clinic with just my mum, my hubby was away in Birmingham that day, he offered to come, but I genuinely thought it was a cyst or something benign.

The breast care nurse examined me and didn’t seem too worried. The local hospital offer a ‘one stop breast clinic’ so you can be there for approx 3 hours. I assumed I would be in and out, being that it was nothing serious.

I had an ultrasound of my breast with a consultant radiologist. (This is a very experienced doctor at consultant level, that just specialises in imaging) She asked me if I had any other symptoms or abnormalities in my breast.  I had no other symptoms, no discharge, no skin changes. Nothing. The doctor asked me whilst she was still examining me with the ultrasound probe if I had anyone with me?     Being in the medical profession myself, I knew that question all too well. I knew bad news was going to follow.

The radiologist had found a lump at the bottom of my breast and showed me on the ultrasound screen. She said she thought it was cancer and was highly suspicious that it was. She then proceeded to examine the rest of my breast and went onto say that my lymph nodes at the top of my breast was very enlarged and the ones in my armpit.    So the original lump I found, was not the cancer it was the lymph node. My body went into shock, adrenaline kicked in and I was shaking from head to toe, I remember looking up at the ceiling, still laying on the couch and it felt like the ceiling was coming towards me, I had to keep blinking to make it go back all the while I’m still shaking with fear.

In the meantime, my poor mum was still sat in the waiting room reading an ‘OK’ Magazine, completely oblivious to what was going on. They took a core needle biopsy straight away and I was told to come back in a  few days for biopsies of my lymph nodes.

The radiology assistant arranged for a quiet room for us to stay for a while and let the news sink in. All I kept thinking was that it was suspicious and we could be wrong. This could be benign; how wrong could I be…….

On the 17th December the cancer diagnosis was confirmed. I have grade 3 invasive  Estrogen receptor positive cancer in my right breast. The cancer has already spread to my lymph nodes (intra mammory and Axilla) and now I have to live with this news over the Christmas period and see the suffering from everyone around me. I feel like I’ve ruined everyone’s Christmas and shattered their hopes, we all knew it was cancer but ultimately we needed that final diagnosis from the pathologist to tick that box to say it definitely was.   It was like someone had sucked the air from my lungs and I found it difficult to re fill them. I looked around and see the  fear in my parents eyes and saw my husbands heart crumble. Why was this happening to me?

Ultimately the next step is to have a CT staging scan to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else in my body.  I had this done on the 21st December. I have taken many patients for a CT scan before, I have always been by their side and held their hands on the way in if they were anxious, but until you lay on that cold hard slip with nothing on but  hospital gown you realise how scary it is, I could feel everything as if it were magnified, things I usually do on daily basis, the cannula as it was inserted into my vein, the sting of the flush to test to see if it works. The contrast going through my veins and making me feel like I had wet myself, the embarrassment of sitting on a chair with just a gown on and seeing a hospital porter that you used to say hello to when normally at work.

I finally get the results of the rest of the scan tomorrow, New Year’s Eve. My daughters birthday.

We have decided to make her day really special until 3pm, then we will make our way to the hospital and hope and pray that the news is the best it can be. I have already prepared myself for bad news though, you see naturally I am very organised and feel like my life has been Interupted enough already. I will hopefully have my mastectomy in the next two weeks and start chemotherapy and radiotherapy shortly after. I have already prepared myself for hair loss, but I will do another post as I realise this one is already very long.

I will keep you all updated throughout my journey. Hopefully this will help others concerned and others at the very early stages gather their own thoughts, although I appreciate I am still in the very early stages in regards to treatment. Hopefully this time next year I will have a whole year of documentation of the highs and lows of beating this terrible disease and will be back to do the job I love and being a proper mummy again.

Thank you for reading.

Much love,

Michelle xx