Sunday, 29 November 2015

Stirrups - Yee Ha!

It's been 6 weeks since my final Chemo and 3 weeks since having a Herceptin injection on its own for the first time. Did anything happen to me after my jab? Sure did! After I got home my feet blew up like balloons!!! I did the right thing and elevated them and slept with them on pillows and then just hoped it would go away. Which if course it did not. Phone call to the hospital and the Doc assures me that it is not Herceptin but the Chemo which has caused it. Three weeks on and my feet are still swelling up whenever I sit down. Walking and lying down are fine! I can also produce a rather lovely “cankle” look when my ankles decide to join in the swelling! Will see what they say on the ward next week when I have my next Herceptin jab. Just to moan a bit more, I have joint pain and stiffness too at times and it can be extremely difficult to get out of a chair if I’ve been in it for a while. I'm assured this will start to ease. But if you were to see me without my wig on and just my fuzzy bit of grey hair fluff, I seriously look like a 90 year man slowly creaking out of a chair!!! Yes man, not woman!! My hair is growing in a weird baby fine fuzz, male pattern baldness kind of way, also my nails look like they may be falling off soon, the joy of after-effects of Chemo!! Meanwhile I have been for another Echocardiogram, it was disappointingly ordinary, even the chap doing it was gentle and not like Cruella who attacked my ribs last time! More excitingly I have been for the set up appointment for my Radiotherapy treatment. Lee and I met a lovely lady in the waiting room who was unfortunately metastatic (got secondaries), but she was a joy to talk to. Lee was nattering away to her, while I got changed into the hospital blue gown, which had velcro all over the place and once on, couldn't quite contain my boobs, which I feared would break open the velcro at any point! I sat back down next to Lee rather gingerly for fear of exposing the Mitchell Brothers to our lovely lady, not the done thing really. They called me in and asked me to lie down on the scanning bed. 
There are attachments on there which look like stirrups, ladies you'll know what I mean (not the horsey type), but they are above where my head will go! Oh no, I can feel an inappropriate comment just waiting to escape from my mouth, regarding getting my ankles over my head, but thankfully I managed to refrain. Turns out the stirrups are for my arms so they are out of the way when the x-ray beams start to hit my boob. The very handsome young male radiographer tells me he is going to place my arms in the stirrups, then he takes hold of my sexy blue gown and rips open the velcro on my shoulders, takes my arms and places them above my head then rips open the front of my gown exposing my bosom. All I can say is I'm glad it was a very cold room!! He was a very nice young man!!! Ha ha!! His female colleague then set about my boobs with a marker pen, I think they wrote “stupid old trout” on my left one, but it was upside down so I couldn't really tell. I was slid in and out of the machine a few times and zapped at some point. When the lovely young man re-appeared he asked if I had any questions so I asked about my heart, as my Oncologist had said the Radiographers need to ensure they don't zap my heart, now my lump had been directly above my heart so…? He reassured me that the direction of the beam comes in at an angle and so misses my heart, it will catch a couple of my ribs and a bit of my lungs but that's all. Great, I think?!!! Now it was time to get tattooed. Oh yes, all ladies in the BC club get three free tattoos when undergoing radiotherapy. One in the centre of your chest and one down each side, so they can line you up to the machinery correctly. I steadied myself for this, as I have got “ink” already so I knew about the pain, but it was just one quick scratch at each site, nowhere near as bad as other stuff I've had done over the past six months!! It's just a boring black dot, a bit like the schoolboy thing on a knuckle. It's not big enough to even turn it into a flower!! That was it, all set up and done. They just needed to give me my start date, which is 8th Dec, which means I will be having Radiotherapy all over Christmas! Ding dong merrily on high!!! But yet again how can I complain? It's a tiny inconvenience compared to what it is doing for me. As I walked out of the room, they told me I can keep my sexy blue gown for the duration. How lucky am I? Now why has that young man run away?????

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Statistics, Damned Statistics and Pies

I've nearly reached the end of the very last Chemo cycle and it was time to discuss the next lot of treatments with the Oncologist.  I'd got through the worse days of this cycle and started to feel a little optimistic about getting back to normality as the last couple days have each been an improvement and the only way is up from now. In my head I am only a few days away from being in work each day, whizzing round the shops, catching up with friends, a normal mad paced life.  So my smile was quite big as I sat down in the Oncologist’s office.  She proceeded to tell me all the possible side effects of Radiotherapy, which they have to do and I signed my piece of paper to give consent to the treatment. She then told me I was still susceptible to infection for a while longer and my energy levels would not start to increase until after Rads, probably the new year.  My upbeat optimism came crashing down. I knew in my heart it would take time (plus my friends with experience have told me), I suppose I just didn't want to hear it. Chemo over, that's it, fixed, back to normal, crack on my son!  I suppose I've run out of patience with it all.  It's the mental battle of balancing not actually being ill with feeling so ill you can't function normally.  The cancer hadn't given me any symptoms but the systematic poisoning from Chemotherapy has destroyed my body.  Yet I know it is all for a mighty good purpose, keeping me alive.  I'm just so fed up of it. So I felt a little deflated. I want to run before I can walk! I want to stand before I can sit. Socialise before I can be social. Have a 10 minute conversation instead of a breathless one sentence.  All in good time my friend, rest, rest, rest. (I can hear Juliet’s voice saying this!).  We also need to see what effect the Herceptin injections have and won't know this until the next visit to the Chemo ward for just Herceptin. Humph!  I'm hanging on to my optimism but I can feel it dripping through my fingers like gloopy treacle slowly pooling in a dark brown puddle on the floor.  The other thing the Oncologist discussed was the Hormone suppressing therapy.  If your cancer is Hormone Receptive (this means it is fuelled by hormones) you need to have tablets, to help prevent that type of cancer recurring, most commonly known as Tamoxifen, but mine is a different one.  The receptive levels are assessed and if high enough, the treatment is prescribed. Mine were borderline.  Here lies a conundrum. I asked the Oncologist what percentage difference the treatment would make to my risk of recurrence, she worked it out and it was 2% at 5 years and 4% at 10 years.  It seems nothing does it? 2%??? There are many side effects with this drug and I will have to take it for the next 5 years. So how does one compare the element of side effect risk versus the 2% improval offered?  Weirdly to me it was no contest, I'll take the 2%.  I think this is because Chemotherapy has similar small percentages, I think it was 5% for me, so having been through that, why stop now? Percentages are an odd thing. I had a 20% chance of getting a particular aggressive type of tumour, which I did. That shocked me, I never thought I’d be in that 20%. Let alone that the 12% risk of any woman getting breast cancer would apply to me. But it did.  Perhaps that's why 2% means a lot? It just doesn't seem like something you should dismiss and refuse.  If someone told you that there is a 2% chance that you would be shot and killed tomorrow morning when you left for work, would you go out the door? I bet you would throw a sickie and wait until the next day when you knew it was safe!  Perhaps it depends on your circumstances, how lucky you are feeling.  Maybe I don't feel very lucky, so 2% means a lot? Feeling unlucky and pessimistic, I scrape up as much of my gloopy optimism off the floor as I can and leave the Oncologist’s office.  Never one to dwell in the land of the pessimist, I decide such feelings need to be addressed so it was Fish 'n' Chips for tea washed down with a can of lager and Blackcurrant & Apple Pie with Ice Cream for pudding. Mood instantly lifted. Statistics? What statistics? Pass the pie.

Brows Lashes Make Up

My new make up has arrived to create an illusion of eyebrows and eyelashes. Not sure how long it's going take before they start to grow back, so I need to learn how to make myself look a little less Uncle Fester like!! I have had a lesson from a MAC consultant so I reckon I have the technique down! It is so seriously difficult sticking eyelashes on without a line of lashes to press against! Got myself an eyelash tweezer holder thing, but still difficult! Lots of practice this weekend.