Just another blog

Faith, fiction and cancer stuff.


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Autumn

Most of the TV that you watch,

websites that you visit,

and even books that you read

will be soon forgotten.

But walking in the woods

on a warm Autumn day,

jumping in the leaves,

feeling the crunch of

red, orange, yellow

beneath your feet,

watching your kids play,

this is what memories are made of.

autumn leaves


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Patterns

I saw my surgeon last week and he talked me through more of the detail of my surgery, now that I have decided to have a double mastectomy. He told me that it’s a good decision to have a double, as I am young and probably have an increased risk of getting breast cancer again.

Although none of my blood relatives have had breast cancer, there is a chance that I have the gene. If so, I’m not sure why no other family members have had it. I guess that there is a lot that they don’t know about cancer still. I have been referred for gene testing. Hopefully this is not hereditary and I am just a one off!

Anyway, the surgeon got out his red pen (luckily not a permament marker) and drew some lines and numbers all over my chest. He explained where the cuts would be, and how they would do the reconstructions. It felt like we were talking about a dress pattern, and so I really wasn’t bothered. It’s quite interesting, actually. He would be great on the Great British Sewing Bee. sewing

He showed me the two types of implants that I will be having. The first is an expander, which is used to grow more skin (because some will be removed during the procedure). This stays in for a few months, and then the proper silicone implant goes in. This one should last 15 years or more. As with all surgery, there is a risk of infection.

I could still choose to have the stomach fat reconstruction whenever I want it in future, but I do not have enough for two breasts, just the one. He said that I should try to keep my stomach fat ‘just in case’ the implant failed. I said that it would be difficult eating cake every day, but needs must. Ok, I didn’t really say that. I did tell him that I have cleverly added some during chemo (thanks to the steroids and lack of energy/ activity.)

They won’t know if I need radiation until the lab results come back post-op. Hopefully I won’t. It will be a pain having to travel out of town, every day for three weeks. Childcare, schoolruns etc will become much more difficult. Also there is a 10% chance of the rads damaging the implant. That would mean more surgery: not something I really fancy.

I am waiting for a date for surgery, but it will be within the next four weeks. Yay. I am not looking forward to it, but at least once it’s over, it’s over.


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The cancer trail

Warning! Extreme use of metaphor and simile ahead.

Having chemo is a bit like going on a hike- you just have to keep going no matter how tired you get. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes the path feels relatively easy, sometimes there is rough terrain and sometimes it is just too difficult and you want to give up. Thankfully I’ve done it now, and I don’t plan to ever hike that trail again.

I am going to have surgery soon, and that feels like a mountain. When I was having chemo it was far away, but now that it’s the next obstacle that I have to face, it is much scarier. It’s a looming barrier, right in the middle of my path. The mountain of surgery – I can’t go under it, I can’t go around it. I have to go over it.Surgery mountain

If I had the choice, I would get off the cancer trail now. Take the boots off my aching feet and go home.

  • – – – – – – –

I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago and didn’t get round to posting it. I am pleased to say that I don’t feel nearly so worried about my surgery now. I think that, with time, you can get used to pretty much anything. I’m glad that the doctors warned me that I would need a mastectomy right at the very start, when I was diagnosed. The idea, of course, it to get rid of as much breast tissue as possible so that the cancer can’t spread. Some lymph nodes (in my armpit) will also be removed for this reason. So, if the chemo hasn’t zapped all of the cancer, cutting it out should finish it off. I very much hope that it does.

I do trust God to keep me safe and it is possible that all the cancer has gone anyway- but it seems ridiculous to me to not use the amazing medical knowledge and skills of the NHS to my advantage.

My surgeon suggested that I think about having a double mastectomy. He was the first doctor to mention this to me – a cancer patient did the other week, because she had one earlier this year and is happy with the results.

The main advantage of the double is that I won’t need anymore mammograms – they remove 97% of all breast tissue so the chance of getting cancer there again is tiny. The other important thing is that it means I will have matching breasts; in size, shape and feel. Rather than one perky reconstruction and one natural that is subject to the ravages of time. I’m not an especially vain person, but this is a big plus. Also I will need extra follow-up surgeries if I have the single mastectomy.

I can’t say that I am looking forward to surgery – especially not the pain, hospital stay, and not being able to pick anything up, including my daughter, for a month. But the mountain seems much smaller now. I will hopefully be cancer-free afterwards, and so it will be worth all of the effort.

It’s nice to have a break between treatments and I am enjoying going out and doing normal things (and eating Chinese takeaway) again. But soon I will be strapping those boots on and climbing up that mountain. I’m tired and achey (and have lost a lot of fitness thanks to chemo) but am ready as I’ll ever be.


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7 things

There are a few things that I haven’t been able to do since starting chemo. Things that I mostly took for granted in my pre-cancer life. So, once my white blood cells are healthy again, there are a few things that I *can’t wait* to do again.

  1. Chinese take-away

I haven’t been allowed to have any take-aways for months! I know, how did I survive this long? Also, I haven’t been able to go to Chinese restaurants. Therefore my Chinese levels are dangerously low right now.

Chinese yummy

2. Being sociable

I haven’t been able to go to parties or even larger gatherings for such a long time that it’s a wonder that anyone remembers who I am. My doctor advised against going to church too, but I did go, on 2 weeks out of 3 (missing the week where my white blood cell count was at its lowest.) Even then we hid at the back of the building, barricaded ourselves off with the pushchair and didn’t go into the coffee area to chat. So I haven’t spoken to many people at all and certainly haven’t met any new people in what feels like ages. I am not used to being unsociable. Thankfully. I still have met up with a few people, but it’s not the same when you have to be OCD about germs all the time. It’s boring.

3. Brogan’s

I used to be a fully paid-up member of the Brogan’s fan club. But because it is situated in the germ-full wild west that is town centre, I have been banned. They are probably wondering where I am right now and sobbing into their decaff caramel lattes .

4. Cinema

I don’t usually go to the cinema that often, but not being able to go has made it all the more attractive. I usually take Connor to see at least one movie in the school holidays, and I’ve not been able to for the last two. I have told him that when I can go again, we will go and watch a film and he can have all the popcorn and hotdogs that he wants. It will be awesome.

5. Swimming

When I had the PICC line in, swimming was a complete no-no. No it’s out I can’t wait to go swimming. I realise that I won’t be able to wear a headscarf or hat in the pool, so will probably have to endure much staring, which is tiresome. But it will be worth it. Splash splash.

Swimming pool drawing

6. Soft serve ice-cream

Ice-cream vans have been on the banned list too. When I am well enough, there’s a 99 with my name on it. 🙂 (Not literally with my name on it, unless the ice-cream guy is talented with the chocolate sauce.)

99

7. Brie

Soft cheeses have been off the menu too. How is a vegetarian supposed to cope without a brie and cranberry panini for half a year? Ok, I did it when I was pregnant, but that’s a bit different.

Then I was expecting the arrival of a small screaming bundle of joy. Now the only thing that is popping out is some fatty tissue laced with cancer: not quite the same.