Ladies – do a lump check – update!
Thursday, 24 January 2013 | Admin
Michele did a guest post for us a while ago shortly after discovering that she had breast cancer. I wanted to follow up with Michele to remind all you Ladies out there to check your breasts for lumps NOW! This has become even more relevant to me recently which I'll talk about next week, but in the meantime, over to Michele.... And I'd just like to say, Keep beating it Michele!It has been just over 6 months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I can’t believe how fast the time has gone but sometimes it feels like I have had cancer forever.Looking back over the last 6 months, I can honestly say it has not been as bad as I feared it would be. When I was first diagnosed my breast care nurse told me my treatment would take around 7 months, it seemed like forever and yet here we are, nearly at the end of my treatment already and I am still vaguely sane!!I wrote my last blog post just before my surgery so will fill you in with what happened from there.Friday 13th dawned bright and sunny – which I deemed to be a good sign! I had to be at the hospital for 7.30am and I naively thought I would be the only person there – unfortunately there were around 30 other people also waiting for surgery and all clambering for a half decent chair with a view of the TV! Some 5 hours after I arrived they finally called my name and I was led to the operating theatre like a lamb to the slaughter. After hours of muttering under my breath about being kept waiting I was wishing I was back in the waiting room! I’m not sure how long my surgery took but the next thing I knew I was in a little room on the post natal ward (not sure how I ended up there!) and it was 5pm. Ironically the sound of somebody walking up the corridor with 1 squeaky shoe woke me up and to my delight the owner of that squeaky shoe was my husband!Due to the location of my tumour I did not need a mastectomy, they were able to perform a Wide Local Excision which basically just removes the tumour and some of the surrounding tissue. The surgeon came to see me after and told me that they had successfully removed all of the tumour and they had also removed one of my lymph nodes. They tested it while I was in surgery and she told me that although it had tested negative for cancer it did look abnormal and that it could show cancer after further tests which would result in me having more of my lymph nodes removed. Thankfully after further testing it was still negative – phew! I was allowed home the evening of my surgery (after gently persuading the nurses!)and by lunch time the following day I was walking on the beach next to my house – perfect!Initially I was told that my cancer was a grade 2 but after my surgery it was revealed it was in fact a grade 3 which was not great news, luckily because it had been caught very early on my chances of surviving it were still good, it did however mean I would need chemotherapy as well as radiotherapy which I had hoped to avoid. I have 2 major phobias (to the point where I have had extensive therapy for them) – one of them is needles and the other is vomit – probably the worst phobias in the world for somebody with cancer. To avoid having to have endless needles during my treatment I opted to have a PICC line fitted in my arm for the duration of my treatment. This is a pretty substantial bit of tubing which sticks out of your arm and runs through the vein into your chest. All of my medication including chemotherapy is given via this tube and all of my blood tests are taken out of it. It makes bathing and sleeping a bit of a chore but as it saves me having any needles it is so worth it!My first chemotherapy was booked for 31st August. The chemo I had is called FEC and it’s guaranteed to make you lose your hair within 3 weeks. I personally wasn’t too bothered about losing my hair but I was very worried about how my children would react so decided to make it as fun as possible for them. Initially I had my hair cut very short, once they had got used to mummy with short hair we shaved it and my friend shaved some patterns into it.My eldest daughter (who’s 9) wanted the breast cancer symbol shaving in and my almost 4 year old wanted a diamond shape – not the best hair cut I’ve ever had it has to be said but they enjoyed doing it and it definitely made the transition a lot easier for them. Once my treatment started and it began to fall out we shaved it completely bald – there is nothingworse than pulling out your own hair!I had 6 sessions of FEC and although the side effects were not always very pleasant I could live with them and I was very lucky that I was never confined to my bed because of the chemotherapy. I always had my chemo on a Friday so my husband was around for the children at the weekend so I could rest. The anti-sick medication that the hospital gave me was fantastic and throughout my entire treatment I was only sick once much to my delight!I had my last chemo on 21st December which was the best Christmas present I could ever have hoped for.January has seen me start my 17 sessions of radiotherapy – why oh why are all the radiographers young, good looking men? I cringe with embarrassment getting my significantly overweight (I’m blaming the steroids for that!) body out in front of them! Only 10 sessions left to go and then my treatment will be done – yippee!So, the last 6 months have been eventful but to be fair I think they have been harder for my family than for me. I am in awe of the way my children have coped with everything, they have been truly amazing as has my husband. I realised my dream of walking my little girl to school on her first day (complete with her arm in a sling as she broke her collar bone 3 days before she started!) and when they let her out on the first day she shouted (very loudly!) “that’s my mummy over there in the head scarf – she’s got no hair under there you know!”My message remains the same to all you lovely ladies – please check yourselves regularly and remind your friends and family to do so too. The sooner breast cancer is caught the sooner it can be treated and the chances of survival are much better.My journey with cancer has taught me many things but the main one is to live for today. I try not to take things for granted any more and I try to enjoy every moment I have with my children. I’ve also learned that my hair may come back curly so am desperate to win a pairof GHD’s – I have owned several different hair straightness in my time but want to leave this world having owned my very own pair of GHD’s! I have remained positive throughout so am sure I can win this very last battle so I can finally say I won the war!