Last MRI done and done

I find myself in a random Pizza Express in Eastbourne after what will, hopefully, be the last MRI of this process. I endured it like a pro and could even be seen handing out advice in the waiting room to nervous first timers ; p

So the results go to my team later today and the hundreds of images are magically transformed by a human brain into a final size for the evil lump. I don’t have my next appointment until June 17th so a little while to wait. I’m undecided about whether or not to phone and ask for the results before. If I do that I risk getting big news in a cack handed way. If I wait for the appointment then it will delivered carefully and sensitively by my surgeon. Hm…

Anyway one big milestone reached and easily vaulted. I’m off to find roadside cherries and water the allotment.

The drugs so work

Thank you all SO much for your messages and love. The new drug is working so far although the real test will be tomorrow. It does make me sleepy but better napping than vomiting. And sleep works well for healing my poor body as well. Feeling OK peeps, love you all : )

No. 5 done

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These are my lovely chemo-buds, Kerrie and Rachel who did perfectly timed shift changes for me at short notice. They filled my day with wonderful conversation, hand and foot waiting upon, handmade pressies and distracting questions when being poked. Thank you awesome womenfolk.

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Here is the incredible handmade hot water bottle cover to bring those veins up. And the wonderful periodic table notepad. Perfect, thank you Kerrie.

For once my veins cooperated and the genius nurse, buoyed from her previous success, confidently located a juicy one within a few minutes so there was no long drawn out cannula drama. Unfortunately my platelets (the bits in blood that glue you together when you get a cut) were low from my blood test yesterday. So they did another test and we had to wait on the results. There was an anxious half hour until the test came back fine.

Then I took my new and shiny antiemetic and that had to be popped an hour before chemo goes in. So another extra hour. It turned out to be a full day again and I’m feeling pooped now. Hubby is here and now I’m being chauffered to the beach for some fresh and free hypnotherapy therapy courtesy of the ever busy waves.

Fingers crossed this new drug does the trick and works magic on the nausea. I may not be in touch for a few days if it doesn’t. Again feel free to contact me or send me silly/cute videos. Love to you all. xxx

Today’s meeting

A quick post to update you all from today’s meeting with my oncologist. After an hour wait and the nurse encouraging Lilah to use the furniture as a jungle gym, we got to see the doc.

The main news is she thinks the lump is even more flat. This is good. She did mention though that it’s still undecided if I have to have a mastectomy or not. I’ll be having the final MRI in two weeks to check the lump size and then in 5 weeks a meeting with the surgeon to decide if the boob is a goner.

I was a bit thrown by this conversation, having had it in my head that the boob would be saved. So I’m feeling a little adrift in these new more hardcore possibilities.

The nature of this whole process has been one of uncertainty and change. I just think I’ve got a handle on things and then there’s a cancer curve ball.

Anyway so I’ve had a good cry, grieved a little for the potential loss. Now it’s time for pizza, Buffy and a lot of cuddling.

Chemo Buddy Anyone?

So a gap has opened up for a chemo buddy next cycle. Does anyone fancy sitting with me next Wednesday 13th May from 9am-3/4pm? You don’t have to stay the whole time. It mostly consists of gibbering at me and occasionally making me cups of tea.

Home

I’m OUT! Neutrophils are at an excellent level of 6 as opposed to 0.1 before. An overnight recovery which even the medical types were surprised by. I’m gonna chill now but I just wanted to say huge thanks to the bosomers for keeping me busy and happy with texts, calls and philosophising. I also just saw this on Facebook and found myself in tears at the chemo card.

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I would heartily recommend these Empathy Cards to send to anyone with a serious illness. These cards really get it.

Still here

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This is the sign on my door. I’m reverse quarantined. My nice, marginally bossy nurse told me off sternly for leaving my room to seek out ibuprofen. She also won’t let me eat any fruit or veg with the peel on. I asked her to peel my blueberries to which she laughed mightily. So it’s bananas and tinned fruit for today. I’m looking forward to the tinned fruit, a little blast from an unhealthy childhood. I was too quick with my praise for the vegan menu here yesterday. It seemed no matter what I ordered I got lentil stew. The food lady blames the ‘main kitchen’ where they are all “lazy”.

I should get my bloods taken any minute and know by lunch if I’m in again tonight. I was really into staying last night but I’m getting a bit lonely in my hygienic bubble. I had my immune system booster yesterday and am feeling the dreaded bone ache today so I think it’s doing its magic.

The wind is blowing outside and the sea is peppered with white waves. I’ve been pondering death. Being in isolation has been like being on a mini retreat. My nurse is German and says half the people here are elderly and death is handled badly in this setting. She told me the story of a young Syrian lad who died here recently and his family couldn’t be with him. But he had joined a Coptic church and people came to see him every day. I guess the loss of religion, albeit liberating on lots of levels, means a vacuum exists for dealing with these big life and death events.

I’ve been thinking that acceptance of death might be a good process for me to go through. I’m not saying I’m giving up on positive thinking. I actually think it might be an extension of that. To fully accept the thing we can’t change and be free of the anxiety related to it. Not that I intend to die soon. But we all die. So it could be a good investment for my healing now as well as for the inevitable future event.

I posted on the breast cancer forum the article Kat mentioned in a comment on Bursting the Bubble about the use of psychedelics in existential crisis about death. There was a mix of reactions from the women there. One was firmly on the rage against the dying of the light approach to her own death. Another was excited about finding a way to accept death and go with grace. Both have been diagnosed with secondary cancer so death is closer for them. I respected both their positions but I was much more drawn to the second view.

Even though it’s still an abstraction for me, I am wanting to face it. I will have to live with great cancer for the rest of my life. Even if it never comes back there will be monthly breast checks, yearly scans, as well as the constant paranoia about it coming back. A good portion of the anxiety about these things will be connected to fear of dying. I described it as an abyss before. I would like that to change. I don’t want to live with that level of terror at the edge of my vision. A shadow following me around. I believe it would be a relief to let it go leaving me more room for all the good lifey stuff. So anybody got some LSD?

In for the night

Just a quick update to let you know that the doctor has just been around. My neutrophils haven’t changed so I’m not going anywhere today. They gave me the immune booster GCSF injection so hopefully by tomorrow all will be well. I’m feeling tired but OK. I’m now looking forward to my NHS silken tofu stroganoff..

Room with a View

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This view is definitely helping with the being in hospital pantsness. Actually it’s not terrible at all. It’s like being in a Travelodge but with better food. The nice lady who brings me sustenance gave me a menu with 8 vegan options this morning. I sat there stunned and confused while she urged me to pick by fidgeting restlessly. She didn’t understand the depth of my gratitude as only another vegan who has no higher expectations than to be fed dry toast and falafel wherever they go would know.

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This is my room. I’m on the cardiology ward as they had the most free beds.  All the other private rooms here are filled with neutropenic oncology patients. It seems peoples hearts are getting better while cancer is on the up and up.

Even though the room, food and care is awesome, I still only managed two hours sleep. My potassium levels were on the low side so they hooked me up to a drip all night. You can’t give potassium too fast because it will mess with your heart. Although being on the cardiology ward would be the best place for me. Anyway so in true British farce way, every time I bent my arm in a way the machine disapproved of it beeped at me loudly. Hence no sleep.

I am feeling fine otherwise. No signs of infection that I can see. The nice blood taking lady has just been round and if my neutrophils are normal, I think I’ll be home today. The tricky part will be finding an administrator to discharge me on a bank holiday. Although I’m really in no rush. The view is better than from my bedroom.

Bursting the Bubble

stay positiveBreast cancer is in the news a lot lately. A famous British footballer’s wife just died from it last night. Her name was Rebecca Ellison. By strange and horrible coincidence, tomorrow night sees the premiere of a TV adaptation of the book ‘The C-Word”, the account of blogger Lisa Lynch‘s ultimately fatal experience of breast cancer. The forums were already ablaze yesterday with the impending airing of this show. Such a high profile death in the headlines and the forums are exploding in all sorts of directions.

In the discussions about the TV show, we were split fairly evenly into three camps.

The first was enthusiastic, excited to see breast cancer in the media. They were curious at how it would be represented, whether their own experiences would ring true with the moving images. The most powerful post I read was from a woman who was aware that she hadn’t really faced her diagnosis and was hoping the show would act as a catalyst for her to explore, process and talk over some of her feelings and thoughts. This is what art does best. It reflects ourselves back at us and helps us to see things we are too afraid or distracted to look at.

The second camp were interested but nervous. They weren’t sure they were emotionally stable enough to watch it. The general consensus for them was to record it and watch it later, or not at all.

The third, into which I fell, didn’t want to watch it all. Some because they knew for sure they couldn’t take on the emotions it would elicit. For a fair few of us though it was pure self preservation. I have bought wholly into the positive thinking approach which I’ve mentioned in other posts. I have firmly told myself that I am not going to die. I am going to be sick for a while and then I am going to be better. Like any other illness. The statistics back me up and positive thinking is proven to aid in my physical health. The C-Word might have been doable for me if the protagonist didn’t die. Her story ends the way I don’t want mine to end. My story has been carefully constructed. To challenge it is to break down some of the precious little action I can take to save my own life. Even researching this blog post was forcing myself to take a peek into the abyss that always lies in my peripheral vision. I had trouble even typing the search terms into google. Each keystroke felt like a betrayal.

What I’m also worried about is that people will start asking me about the TV show. Did I watch it, what did I think? I talked to hubby about this and he said it was similar to his feeling that as a Jewish person, everyone expected him to have seen Schindler’s List and have an opinion. He would like to reply, “That film is for you all, not for me.” That’s kind of how I feel about The C-Word. Not that everyone who doesn’t watch it is a Cancer Nazi. But maybe it’s an opportunity for those who don’t have breast cancer to get a glimpse into the world of someone who does. Another thing that art does brilliantly, lets us walk in another’s shoes.

Like the many and varied creatures we are as humans, the show and the headlines will effect people in different ways. Just as there are 200 different diseases classed as cancer and fourteen different breast cancers. On top of that there are a variety of gradings, locations and sizes. All adding up to a plethora of experiences as varied as the human reactions to them. So it’s not surprising that there is no one way of handling breast cancer in the media. If you want to watch, you’re right. If you don’t want to watch, you’re right. We must all listen to our gut and make that decision for ourselves. For me though, it’s time to switch off their stories and tune into my own.