Category Archives: Treatment

Last stage of active treatment – Radiotherapy

Exactly 3 weeks after chemo ended I started radiotherapy (rads). It’s not like you just turn up and have it done, there’s a lot of prep before hand.

First you meet your consultant, they explain how rads work, what to expect and explain the important things like how long your treatment will last, how many sessions prescribed for you and paperwork like singing the consent form and checking the area being zapped. The consent form can sound scary, but in my opinion if you’ve had chemo before you will probably find the side effects discussion a breeze!

So after this appointment you get booked in for a CT scan so they can plan your radiotherapy, they are extremely precise to the millimetre of what parts of your body need treating. Someone from their physics department plans out your radiotherapy and passes it over to the radiographers who are treating you – In my case my Cousins wife Katie planned mine, she has years of experience as a radiographer and now she works in physics planning everyone’s treatment. Thank you Katie 😍

So once all that’s done, you get your appointment sheet with the times of your sessions. My local hospital is very good at trying to plan your sessions the same time everyday and working with you to achieve the best time to suit, so early am, late pm etc. I had rads everyday for 3 weeks except weekends usually around 9ish each day. Perfect for me 🙂

The first session I found particularly hard, I was laid on the couch for over an hour whilst they took images of my chest to ensure they were treating the right bit, my good arm ached so bad and the pins and needles were unbearable. But apart from that initial day I found the positioning quite comfortable. I’m the type of person at home and around family and friends to walk through the front door and just take my wig off like you would your shoes or coat, the same for rads – I left my wig with my shoes, I can’t stand lying down with the wig on it feels very weird.

Once on the couch the radiographers, usually 3 of them read out lots of numbers and words I’ve never heard of before, like gantry and imph ( I think that’s how you spell it) there’s these bright green lasers that go across the room to line you up (I forgot to mention they give you pin prick tattoos on your planning scan) if you imagine the matrix film with the green lasers but on a smaller scale that’s what it’s kind of like! They then all agree your in the correct position and off they go. The first time they rush out of the room to deliver the radiotherapy an alarm goes off, I think it’s to ensure everyone’s out the room in time, it’s very scary the first time as they are all rushing off and your laying on the couch very still, thinking your all legging it and im still here!! By day 3 you get used to it and it’s quite laughable looking back!

So apart from being slightly sore and these weird brown spots appearing on my skin, rads was very bearable, it went super quick and I had hardly any symptoms at all. Even fatigue wasn’t an issue.

Like anything health related, new procedures, a change in treatment etc can all be so scary, every experience is so different, but I would say whole heartedly, if you’ve had breast cancer chemo (usually FEC-T or similar) then rads is super duper easy! The only thing I’m so gutted the department didn’t have was a big bell to ring like they do in America! I wanted to ring that bell so bad, to mark the end of my cancer treatment!!

Ding ding!!

#5 Chemo

Number 5! Whoa…… The end is in sight.

I remember before I even started chemotherapy, reading other people’s blogs having chemo and some of them documenting number 5 with just one more to go and thinking that will be me in the summer. Well here it is! I’ve actually done 5 chemos!!

So this one, pretty similar to the last, pain was not as bad as number 4, I just find with the docataxel that the side effects seem to last longer. I’m now day 10 and still feel really fatigued, where as on the FEC I felt right as rain by now. One side effect I’ve had with this one is nose bleeds. My platelets must be on the low side, luckily they’ve not lasted very long, so no intervention… Just annoying more than anything.

so number 6 is on its way. I’m not sure wether to crack the Moët open after chemo or after I’ve finished radiotherapy? My parents and aunties and uncles are away on my official last day of radio and really wanted them to raise a glass with me, oh sod it we will do both!

Well as you can probably tell I am very upbeat about the whole thing. I think chemo number 4 is the worst for feeling low, emotional and generally rubbish, number 5 is much much better I promise!

For now I’m going to be shopping thank you cards for everyone at the chemo unit, I may even put together a large fruit hamper for them as a little thank you for looking after me!

Chowe for now,

xx

#4 chemo

It’s only 5 days until I recieve chemo number 5! So I apologise for taking so long with the number 4 update.

So number 4 was a new chemo, it’s always been scheduled to be given on number 4,5 and 6 but it’s a totally different chemo to my previous ones. This one is called Docataxel. The side effects I was told was bone and joint pain, fatigue, hair loss and possibly loose stools. I can totally relate to the first two!!

My chemo is a Wednesday, I was given the treatment in the morning and was sick before I could even leave the hospital grounds, getting john to pull over in a busy stream of hospital traffic was not the best move – but it had to be done! When I got home I felt fine for the rest of the day and pretty much the next day. I never had the chemo ‘fog’ that I’ve had with previous chemos – my mind felt clear and well.

By Friday of that week the side effects started kicking in, I had horrendous pain in my hips and downwards, it was a deep bone pain and regular painkillers wouldn’t shift it, I then had bad pins and needles in my feet especially after a bath, which seemed to be worse at night time. This was unbearable. I had to start the GCSF injections 2 days earlier with this chemo too so the bone pain from them also added to the list! My tongue was so sore and my gums felt like they were going to break out in ulcers at anytime. I kept up a really good oral hygiene regime, cleaning my teeth three times a day, using difflam mouthwash 4 times a day and chlorhexadine mouthwash twice a day (this one leaves a funny reside in your mouth) For pain wise, I had regular paracetamol and ibuprofen and added in codeine when I needed it. I’ve been given Gabapentin for the nerve pain in my feet for next time, but will hold off on that for as long as possible as I HATE taking medications full stop.

So this chemo was pretty horrendous… I had a hospital admission too for an infection (mild, so lucky) I’m back on the chemo train next week, but counting my lucky stars that I have only two more to go!!

in the meantime I’ve met my radiotherapy consultant, he’s explained everything about the radiotherapy treatment. I’ve got my planning appointment the day before my last chemo!

for now I’m going to enjoy the rest of the half term, my little Freddie has had a bad virus since Monday so it’s been up and down with him all week to the GP. Hopefully he is on the mend soon!

Michelle x

P.S my hair is kind of growing back! I’ve got this weird peach fuzz all over my scalp. It may fall out again, but il keep you updated

#3 Chemo

Sorry I’ve taken so long with the 3rd chemo update, I’ve kind of lost myself in my own garden. I’ve taken up gardening as a new hobby, it’s so therapeutic and seeing the little seedlings grow into beautiful plants makes my day. Yes I am probably talking like I am in my 60’s, I know, but maybe it’s because I’ve got some time on my hands – just like someone of retirement age does? Well I’m not 60, I had a birthday this chemo, I am 31 now. I kind of wished that I could of had my 31st birthday after all this interruption had passed, so I can write 30 off, but it’s not panned out that way. At least when I hit 32 it can be a fresh milestone.

So talking of birthdays, my birthday happened 2 days after chemo was given. Now usually I am fine for the first 3 or 4 days but this time round it hit me like a ton of bricks on day 1! Just my luck…… So I had family and friends dropping my pressies off either to my hubby or they would come up and say hello. Quite depressing really. But what goes down must come up right? (I know it’s the other way round 😂) I started feeling better by about day 5, but the weariness and fatigued lingered this time round, even now on day 16 I still don’t feel 100% right.

So this weekend is my ‘good’ weekend, we’ve planned a little trip to Weymouth bay with some family, I love doing things like this as it gives me a little something to look forward too. The kids are mega excited too…..

so amongst the midst of things, the end is in sight, I am over halfway through now. This chemo (number 4) will make me two thirds of the way through. I am slightly nervous about this one though as it’s totally different to my FEC. This is Docataxel. However I found FEC very hard to cope with, so hopefully this one is a breeze! Another thing to add, is I have my first radiotherapy appointment on Monday, it’s probably just a generalised chat with my new consultant, it’s a weird feeling as I am slightly excited about this! I think it’s because that grey cloud is finally starting to break and I can see a glimmer of sunshine finally starting to burn through. Roll on the end of August when I should be (touch wood) competed with both. I can then focus my energies on rebuilding myself and try and get back to normality.

Im off now to enjoy the sunshine,

much love

Michelle xx

#2 Chemo

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It’s been 122 days since diagnosed (officially) with the big C. I have to look at it that way so I can see how far I’ve already come. Having chemotherapy is like living in a time capsule each day. You can almost hear the clock ticking, each second hand slowly moves to the next point, every minute feels like an hour has passed and each day feels like a week of hell.

Chemotherapy, for me on the whole isn’t horrendous, I mean I imagined me to be laying in bed a quivering mess, vomiting through my nose, waxy skin, not being able to wash myself, eating food through a straw and generally not living. For me it is pretty rough, but a managed rough.

Im writing this blog on day 8 post chemo (FEC 100) number 2. I would say day 1-3 when your taking the steroids and anti sickness tablets you feel ok. I can stil function my normal activities and feel alright. I spoke about a feeling of jet lagg before, this is exactly it. You feel weary and a bit lagged, but nothing horrendous. Then day 4-7 I feel like shit. Not going to deny it, it’s more like an overwhelming tiredness, light headed, slightly nauseated, dizzy and basically not being able to function as you normally would. Having a demanding 5 year old boy and a 9 year old girl that just wants the best hairstyles each day can be tough. My husband John is at home caring for me and to be honest I wouldn’t be able to do it without him. He’s turned into the ultimate domestic goddess!

I kind of wish the minutes/hours/days away when I’m feeling like this. I get sick of seeing the same stuff in my bedroom day in day out. I’m sick of the daytime television that I used to love. Even drinking cold bottled water takes like thick gunge! I’m just sick of being sick!

well enough of all the negativity Michelle! Slapped wrists all round……

This is why I have kind of written this post over a few days, I knew I would feel much better in days to come and those days have come! It reflects chemo 1 when by day 8-9 I start to feel back to the old me. It’s now the weekend and I’m just about to prepare pulled pork for tonight and we have a family party tomorrow at my brothers, I’m really looking forward to that to celebrate my nephews birthdays.

Ive got a whole week next week and a few days the following to get back to normal, hubby and I are going to really go to town with our back garden, plant new plants, put our new garden furniture together and really enjoy the garden before the next dose.

Hope to blog about something other than chemo 3 in between!

Michelle xx

Loosing your hair

Cancer.   Hair loss.

Cancer.   Hair loss.

Cancer.   Hair loss.

Gulp! Yes it happens. Pretty quickly too. I’ve blogged before about my feelings of loosing my hair and trying to save my hair.

I knew once the cold cap didn’t work for me that I would loose my hair. At first I was thinking I would get it shaved off straight after the chemo, but then I read on the net that it would probably take 2 weeks or so before it started shedding. I still had meals out, meeting with friends and hospital appointments. I wanted to keep my hair as long as possible, but didn’t want to get to that stage of it coming out in huge clumps.  This would be distressing for me and definetly my children.

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This is my normal hair. I’ve been told it’s not ‘thick’ but I have a lot of it. I always have highlights usually and generally it was in pretty healthy condition.

 

By day 17 my hair started falling out, not noticeable to anyone else, just to me. I decided to wash my hair normally and use products as I normally would. I had gotten past that whole stage of trying to save it, so thought why not go the whole hog and style it as I usually would. So this Thursday morning I washed it as normal and brushed it through. I had two hairbrushes full of my blonde hair and realised the ‘process’ had started happening. I run my fingers through my hair and roughly 10 or so strands came out. I tugged on my hair and it hurt, so I knew it wasn’t imminent but that I had to start planning soon. I had already had my hair cut a few weeks before from medium lengthy to a long choppy Bob.

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This wasn’t too much of an issue for me as I’m always growing it long then having the big chop. For some I imagine can be quite distressing if your used to having long hair all of the time. But I would recommend it. I would probably say if your not feeling very brave about the whole hair loss thing, maybe have it cut 3 or 4 times, so eventually it’s quite a shortish style.

So day 18 I opted for the shave. My hairdresser Said we could go for a short pixie cut to break me in, but I just wanted it off. I’ve heard other cancer patients say they feel quite a bit of pain when their hair starts shedding and it’s  relief once off. But for me I didn’t feel pain, it was more like a cold feeling in my roots. Almost like I could feel every follicle. I decided to do a grade 1 all over.

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I’ve never had a shave before (on my head!) so when the clippers went on it felt odd. I can see why toddlers freak out when they first have it done. After a few seconds it was quite relaxing. I shed a few tears before the shave, probably sounds weird but almost like a grieving for my hair. It’s one of them moments I spoke about in a previous blog about what it’s like having cancer, I describe jumping in the deep sea and just swimming. You don’t want to do it but you have to. This is one of them moments. It felt unnatural, it probably did too my for hairdresser Toni. But you’ve just got to do it. My husband, mum and sister was with me and I have no regrets. Well actually one small teeny regret. In hindsight I should of had it done in the evening, that way I could of cracked open a bottle of bubbly to lessen the blow when I looked in the mirror!

imageI must admit, when I first looked in the mirror it was a shock. I think too because I’m so used to having really blonde hair and all of a sudden I have a mousy skin head. I did get used to it very quickly and felt I could rock it outside, I had the school run at 3 so didn’t want to shock the kids faces, I wore a scarf to the school and to be honest I had it off once in the car. I couldn’t stop touching it all weekend. Every time I looked in the mirror (we’ve got a huge one in lounge) I would let out a little scream as a joke. At first people found it hilarious but after a few hours it wasn’t funny anymore 🙈

So a week on, my hair (even though a grade 1) has been shedding likes there’s no tomorrow. My pillowcase is full of the tiny little shavings and every time I touch it its all over my hands. I’ve probably lost about 70% off hair now but there is still quite a lot of hair on my head. Bald patches are appearing so can’t really rock the punk look anymore! The hair follicles look very tiny almost the same as the hair itself, so you can see why it falls out. I know from previous waxing when you look at a strand of hair the follicle almost looks like a bulb. You can tell that the chemo has well and truly blasted the follicle. It does look dead!

So apart from feeling a bit cold and sometimes still being shocked in the mirror I would say the process isn’t that bad. Emotionally it’s hard. But there are people out there that are going through a thousand times more than I am, cancer or no cancer. My hair will grow back. I’m quite looking forward to having virgin hair again and exploring new shades and hairstyles!

For now I’m going to say ta ta, I’m off to a reiki session courtesy of Macmillan.

Much love,

Michelle xx

Love your body

(Picture taken from Google 2016)

For those that have been following my blog and journey since diagnosis would have caught on by now that I usually do all my blogging laying in bed, I usually describe the weather and what the day will bring and most of the time I ‘feel’ a blog post coming on.

This morning, yes I am laying in bed but not at home, I’m in hospital with an infection. The chemo army only know to well that this can be quite common, quite frankly it’s a pain in the butt, but I don’t want to dwell on the negatives.

The thing that spured me on this morning to blog about loving your body and I mean really loving your body, is a clip I see on Lorraine this morning. A lady with a young daughter had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and at one point was completely riddled with it, her thinking about death made her body start dying. She decided to love her body and take her cancer by the hand and walk with it. She has had treatment now and has just one small tumour in her lung, everywhere else is clear. Her motto is that she is not battling with cancer, she is not fighting the disease. Yes eventually she will die, but she doesn’t want to be branded with ‘lost her battle’. It’s not a fight. It’s merely cells that have mutated and all the other technical stuff. I truly believe your fate is destined and to fight your way along your journey and battle cancer will be truly exhausting!

I want people to embrace their bodies, regardless of diagnosis. Take cancer by the hand and walk with it. Yes it’s bloody scary, terrifying infact. Yes you will think about death probably 100 times a day. But don’t battle with it, accept it and try to learn from it.

My life has changed now forever, my husband and children’s lives have changed forever. But I am not going to let it change us for the worse. We are going to use this experience and embrace life, really live for the day.

My body has changed forever. Yes I will get reconstruction and my hair will grow back, but it will never be the same. Why would I want to dwell on that? Why make sad days even sadder? I will use these scars I have as a reminder of how strong I am and how proud I am of my family. I will never use the term battle scars as I don’t want to fight…..

Since diagnosis the air feels fresher, the grass seems greener, the sky bluer. I look at my children that extra minute longer when they are sleeping and smile that little bit more. My vision is more clearer.

My life before was tainted with things that didn’t really matter. Now it is injected with pure love and hope.

Love your bodies, it’s your shell to protect your souls.

Much love

Michelle xx

Chemotherapy fears and worries

The time comes when you hear them words “Chemotherapy”. You usually think about it straight away after you’ve been told you have cancer and if like me, ask the question almost instantly after hearing them words ‘cancer’ “Will I need Chemo?”

For most patients with breast cancer, chemotherapy is part of the treatment process. I have been told my chemo is to mop up any stray cancer cells that have slipped through the net. Back in December I had a full body CT scan and thankfully for me this was normal, so my tumour has gone. It’s been cut out. But i have a high risk of it coming back, chemotherapy will hopefully minimize this risk. I am having 6 sessions of chemo, 1 every 3 weeks. My regime is FEC-T.

Most ladies (and men) I imagine think about hair loss mostly. I certainly did. At first I was like ‘I won’t wear a wig’ ‘I don’t really mind that my hair will fall out’ ‘I’m going to embrace the look’ you know the drift, but as the time is drawing near, I’m actually terrified about hair loss.

My daughter (9) has said she feels really anxious that her school friends will take the Micky out of my bald head and the fact that I will be wearing scarfs and wigs, this made me really sad as it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was in the same boat as her at school, I only left school in 2001, so I really know how she feels. With this in mind I have really looked into scalp cooling or cold capping to preserve my hair.

I know this doesn’t work for everyone and patients with hematology cancers aren’t allowed to try, but I am going to give it ago. If it fails it fails, but at least I tried.

You get given many leaflets from the oncology clinic and Macmillan about hair loss which is great, but I’ve also done my own research about cold capping and how effective it is. Some real success stories have been really inspiring to read, they have used products and techniques to try and minimize their own hair loss. I am writing another blog with all these products and a bit about them and eagerly waiting to try them out to see if it works!!

Ive been told I will know wether cold capping has been successful by the third treatment. Normal hair loss usually occurs at a very quick rate by about day 21, but again, everyone is different.

In regards to the other side effects of treatment, I don’t want to scare people out there just starting on their journey. In a nutshell, it’s nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and generally feeling very hungover (my own consultant used these words) however I have been told if you stick to your medication such as anti sickness meds, steroids etc, then you should be ok. I will blog about each chemo session I have and give an honest account of how I feel.

This is just a snippet of worries and fears of having chemo, with hair loss being my main one I thought I’d touch upon this the most, please check out my next post ‘Chemo Must haves’ where I will be exploring all the products I have been advised to have whilst on the chemo train.

My first session of chemotherapy is on the 25th of Feb, Picc line being inserted on the 24th Feb, it will soon be here?!?!

Much love,

Michelle x

 

Clinics, updates and Chemo planning

My diary has been jam packed this last two weeks with clinic appointments and appointments indirectly related to chemo planning. You will be surprised to hear that only ONE lunch date was booked in amongst all that raff, this one lunch date I was so looking forward to I had to cancel as I was struck down with a terrible chest infection. I’ve been in bed the best part of a week and to be honest it dampened my spirits of the whole positivity thing with chemo coming up. I think when your starting a new journey, good or bad, you read up, take advice and try to picture yourself going through the mill. I thought with me chemo side effects  will be what they’ve said it will be , like a bad hangover. But if it is a smidgen like what I’ve felt this week then I am dreading it.

So it a nutshell, I have seen my lovely breast care nurses, more seroma drains, oncologist for official diagnosis, twice. Breast surgeon. Macmillan. Specialist bra fitter. Genetic consultant, Ear, Nose and throat specialists and Chemo nurses.

I’ve spoke about in previous blogs how I felt 4 weeks post Mastecomy and being under the knife, but kind of left out all the clinical stuff so I can relate it all to one post. Now, although I am nurse, I have never worked in breast services or oncology, or Head and neck, so my writing is purely on what I have been told. I’m not an expert in these areas so please bear with.

Seems like ages ago now, but on the 28th Jan I met again with my breast consultant to discuss how the operation went and the pathology of the breast tissue taken away. I had two tumours in my right breast, they call this multi focal. One was 4cm and one was 6cm. They removed 33 lymph nodes (huge amount, but went quite high up near collar bone) of these 33, 16 had cancer in. The highest one was marked and this was clear (phew!) Next up, they wanted to check my left breast with ultrasound to see if there were any tiny tiny tumours growing, this came back clear too! I then sat around waiting for the first time to meet my oncologist.

We met my oncologist, it was a scary time actually. The thing will oncology doctors is, although they are very compassionate, they aren’t the type to fluff things up. Everything they deal with is cancer related, it’s not the brightest subject. I know you can have better cancers and worse cancers, but it’s all cancer at the end  of the day, so they have to be quite blunt.

My oncologist gave me my official diagnosis. It’s a bit like having a stamp on your forehead that you can’t wash off when you get in from the hospital. You kind of go to sleep knowing its there, forget about it for a while and then look in the mirror in the morning and the stamp is staring back at you in the face. I originally thought my cancer was ER+ which in my first post mentions about hormones called Oestregen basically feeding it, which is why I had my contraceptive implant removed to try and slow any hormone involvement down. This was all from a biopsy though. The actual diagnosis is a bit different.

She told me I have a breast cancer that is called ‘triple negative’. This means that it’s not caused or helped along by Oestregen, progesterone or HER2 which I think is a protein. What it could be caused by though is a genetic mutation called BRCa 1 or BRCa 2, but with no family history of breast cancer, they are still not sure. I was staged at stage 3 T3 N3 M0. T- meaning tumour status, N- meaning node involvement and M- meaning metastatic spread, it ranges from 0-3. I was told that I am a high risk of this cancer returning, and that chemo would be used to mop up any cells hanging around and radiotherapy for that final blast. We all came out of that consultation completely flat, energy drained from every cell and felt like shit.

But anyway! That was January, moving forward I have so much more to tell you!!

In the meantime, I’ve seen the breast care nurses every week to have this Seroma drained, they are still taking off huge amounts of fluid, which has now unfortunately delayed my chemo by another week. I have been to a session held at the local hospital called ‘demystifying chemotherapy’ and it’s put on for patients who are about to start chemo and what to expect, to eliminate myths and see the day unit where we will be having it done. It was really interesting, well worth going to, by the end of it though I was so exhausted from information overload and I think that was the start of this chest infection developing. We got given a little goody bag, there is a Macmillan organizer in there and a cd called ‘a ball of light’.

On Monday this week I had to have the pneumonia jab. I arrived at the doctors surgery and was told I was a week early! The look on my face must of been a picture as before I even opened my mouth the receptionists said “but il see if they can see you now”. So I had that done, it wasn’t painful at the time, but boy was it the next day. I couldn’t move my arm for two days and 5 days on its only starting to settle down, I’ve had a raised red rash on the site of injection – by far the worse jab yet.

On Tuesday this week we were back at the local hospital for more clinic appointments. This time to see the head and neck specialists to rule out cancer of my parotid glands. These were enlarged on my whole body CT scan before, I was very relieved to find out these were not cancerous. I had an ultrasound of my face and neck to check on these beauties. It wasn’t a good look mind you when you sit up off the couch with clear jelly all over your face, in your ears and on your neck. I then met my oncology consultant in the afternoon and briefly discussed chemo planning. My picc line was due to be put in next week with chemo starting on the 22nd feb, but because I keep developing these seromas they’ve put it back another week 😫.

Friday this week I had the pleasure to experience a bra fitting service for ladies who have had surgery, it’s called Nicola Jane, their shops are not based on the high street for obvious reasons. I visited the Chichester shop with my sister. You walk into this little delightful shop and are greeted with your lady to assist you, I was very nervous as didn’t really know what to expect. We were there for about an hour, choosing different  underwear, swim wear (massive no go though whilst on chemo!!) and talking about prothesis’s on the market and all things breast! I’m so pleased I went to this company, I felt I could trust my bra fitter Louise the minute I met her. I have my prothesis fitting next week at the hospital, I can’t wait! Bye bye softie….

And lastly, (oh I’m so glad it’s the weekend!) I had my first genetics appointment yesterday. I met the consultant who had a family tree already typed up of my family, from information already given to the team. Because there is no family history of breast cancer, I have about a 10% chance of carrying this gene called BRCa 1 or BRCa 2, but she was saying that most of my aunties and uncles and both parents are relitively quite young still, so we can’t really rule out the ‘no family history’ part yet. I hope it stays that way though, with no family history and I’m just a one off. If I have the gene, then that gives us a cause of my breast cancer, if I don’t have the gene (90% chance) then it’s just bad luck. I find out the results of this at the end of April, if I have the gene, then my two children have a 50% chance of having it, but won’t be tested unless they want to as a young adult. Also this means that my brother and sister have a 50% chance of having it and that one of my patents must have it. Which ever parent it is, their siblings will be tested if they want to and then if they are positive, their children and the list goes on. We will play that game when the results are back, there’s no point worrying over something that we don’t know yet, I’m very low risk so we will just wait.

So apart from all these clinic appointments and chemo planning and having the heaviest of chests, it’s all been ok so far. I am organizing a holistic approach to chemo planning shortly, I’ve been buying natural products to help with skin, hair and nails but more to come on that!

Have a good weekend everyone,

much love,

Michelle xx

 

4 weeks post masectomy and screaming kids

 

It seems to be a regular occurrence, me laying in bed, writing my next blog. But today is different, the sun is shining and there is a hint of spring in the air! Although I’m full up with a stinking cold, all in all I feel very well.

When I was told I would be having a masectomy and allixary node clearance I would frantically search the web for real life stories of what to expect. Most would say the same, but I never come across any that would juggle the real life into post op recovery with two screaming kids and a hubby that has to go back to work. So I’m going to try and wittle it down into sub categories so you can scroll through the boring bits, well to be fair there’s nothing ‘exciting’ Anyway…

so, I had my operation on the 12th Jan, I’ve already done a post about being under the knife and life a day or so after, but now I am nearly 4 weeks on (Tuesday 9th is the milestone) and things have been on the whole very good.

Pain This was my biggest worry, not because I don’t like pain, I mean we all don’t like pain, but I think I can handle it pretty well, I had visions of me coming home with a whole new pharmacy, full up with opiate based medication, trying to juggle nausea, dizziness and the two kids. I was wrong. I was sent home with good old paracetamol and ibruprofen. For the first few days, you would know that you were due the medication soon, you could feel the niggles. By day 10 I was completely pain killer tablets free!

Wound we’ve probably all seen the soaps in the past were the woman has her breast removed, there’s the whole scene of her looking in the mirror and seeing her wound for the first time. I can imagine for most women, this must be very difficult, looking at your wound for the first time and taking in what’s happened. I didn’t want that to happen to me, I mean it might of done, who knows when you first look? But if I was scared and upset, my kids would be too. We are quite an open family in our home, I walk from the bedroom to the bathroom naked, no one blinks an eye, the kids have a poo on the loo with the door open, shouting down the stairs ‘what’s for tea?’ We just have that kind of thing going on in our house. I didn’t want to hide my scar, but I didn’t want to scare them either. I would say when I had the drain in for the first 5 days that was the worse, as my then 4 year old (he had a birthday 2nd feb) wouldn’t go near me with the drain, especially if he could see the tube and the blood stained fluid. So I used the canvas bag they give you in the hospital to cover the majority, then wore cardigans to cover the tube. I always looked down at the wound everyday, you can’t see much when the white op site dressing is on. My dressing was removed day 6, my wound had healed nicely and drains were out. The only trouble I am having with the area it self is I keep getting a Seroma forming, this is because 33 of my lymph nodes were removed and my body needs to learn to deal with the fluid by not relying on the usual route of lymph drainage. I’ve had to have it drained 4 times in 4 weeks, the last volume to come out was a whopping 800mls!! It’s being drained again tomorrow, I’ve got a little B cup going on at the moment!!

Image half of your chest is big, the other half is flat. If I was at slimming world I probably would have got slimmer of the week! I wonder how much a D cup breast weighs? It is weird having one boob and the other side flat, it almost looks like he other one should be off. My daughter said I look like half a child, half a woman! You get given a softie from the hospital, my wonderful breast care nurse gave me all mine before the op, I could then have a play with it and take out the stuffing from the inside to mirror my real breast size, you just pin it to your bra and no one will ever know! I just purchased T Shirt bras from Asda for £4 each, they are nice and comfy and excellent value for money while your still recovering. You usually get a prothesis fitting 6 weeks post op, I’m going bra shopping on Wednesday to buy my pretty little numbers. I will be having a reconstruction but not until the Autumn/winter time. As the weeks go on, you do get used to wearing the softie, I promise it does get easier!!

Excercise Ok so this is a double wammy, there is the usual excercising, you know walking, running, gym and there’s the prescribed physio excercises you get given to do post op. I would 100% recommended you do these, by week 4 I have almost got my arm movements back to what they were before, this would not have happened if I didn’t do my excercises from the physio 4 times a day. You gradually move up from very simple ones to bigger ones, depending on wether you have the drain in. In regards to normal excercising, I would say take it slow for the first 3 weeks, I found walking to the school which Is less than a mile a way ok, I wouldn’t recommend going back to your usual fitness regime until you’ve cleared it with your breast care nurse. Saying that, don’t lay in bed either or stay in the house, It does your mind really good to get some air in your lungs and a slow brisk walk if that’s all you can manage, will do you wonders.

Socializing  I’ve blogged before about all the lunch dates Ive been going on. They are lovely, but know your limits. If one day perhaps you think I don’t fancy wearing a bra today, then don’t. Your friends and family will understand. I must admit for me I do like to get out, even if I am feeling tired, I just compensate by going to bed early that night. The first two weeks I was in bed by 8pm. Things like washing your hair and trying to do the laundry really tired me out, but it does get easier, by week 3, John and I went to London. The picture at the top is me week 3 sipping a Mocktail in a restaurant. We went to see the show Billy Elliot, the Willow foundation payed for us to go to London and stay in a swanky hotel, watch the show and our travel there and back. I will do another blog post on this as the willow foundation deserve so much more than a few lines in the socializing category.

The screaming kids bit, their life still goes on, my son still has his night terrors, my daughter still throws her tantrums and my husband is only human. I can’t expect him to get in from work, do all the things I can’t do (hoovering, ironing) and still sort the kids out. Don’t push yourself….

And lastly but no means least is stop saying ‘No’ or ‘I’m fine’. I’ve had everyone rally round me offering to do housework, watch kids, etc etc. Most of the time I said no thank you and when asked how I was, always said “I’m fine”. Most of the time I was fine, but looking back over the last 4 weeks I probably should had taken everyone’s help when offered. It’s just a pride/mum/30something thing!!

Thanks for reading

Michelle x