When I was diagnosed in 2016, I was grateful that in England, all cancer patients were exempt from prescription charges for 5years (it's slightly different in Scotland, Wales and Ireland). However, I was then really surprised to learn that there was no such exemption for dental care. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can have a severe impact on teeth and gums and many cancer patients suffer with crumbling or loss of teeth.
Yesterday, I started an online campaign (via change.org) to petition Parliament to consider making changes. Please could I ask that you sign the petition? It's absolutely free and the only thing you have to do is leave your name and email address. If you could share the petition to any cancer groups or anywhere on social media that would be amazing!
It's now almost 2.5 years on from my original double mastectomy with implants and so I thought I’d show you what implants look like down the line. Now to be fair I’ve put on over two stone since having them so my op on Tuesday is to remove extra flab around the boob area, make my nipples symmetrical again and hopefully remove my lumpectomy scar which is causing the problem to one of the nipples. Also the nips will be moved higher so I should get perkier looking boobs.
Surely this is vanity? Well, not quite. A few months ago I started to get a dull ache in the middle of my chest area. Of course panic set it - could it be the return of cancer? After 2.5 hours in an MRI scanner and another 10 minutes having an ultrasound done, have been given a clean bill of health. So what's causing the problem?
Currently when I lay down my boobs go a little towards my sides (which is what normal boobs do - I could tuck my old ones under my arms!) but with implants this can pull on the muscles attaching to the chest wall in the middle so tightening them up and pushing together should help to keep them pointing to the sky when I lie down and stop the aching of the muscles pulling. That’s the plan anyway.
The nipples (which are my own nipples that were put back on during my original surgery) have been pulled out of shape because of the lumpectomy scar which makes one higher and looking oval and the other looking more rounded. The original lumpectomy scar couldn't be completely taken away because there wasn't enough fat at the time - so putting on weight has had its advantages.
Anyway, here they are. I'll post the revised version once I've healed so you can compare.BL
Every 19 seconds somebody is diagnosed with breast cancer. Funding for research is desperately needed and you can help without it costing you anything! All you have to do is post on Instagram with two hashtags #timetoendbreastcancer and #elcdonates. ELC stands for Estee Lauder Cosmetics and for every post containing these hashtags, they are donating $25. This funds half an hour of research. So with just four posts you could contribute $100 to research. You've got nothing to lose - get posting!
My wonderful surgeon, James Harvey, constantly fund raises for the Charity Prevent Breast Cancer who do exactly as their name suggests. They actively look at ways of preventing breast cancer and of course one of those ways is to fund research. James and his friend Tom are attempting to raise £125,000 for a research project by cycling across America! Yes, I did just say CYCLING ACROSS AMERICA!!!!! I'm guessing that they will have VERY padded bike seats! Anyway, if you can donate anything at all I know James and Tom would be incredibly grateful.
I can't quite believe that it's just over a year since my double mastectomy! If I had remembered I think I would have celebrated with a boobie cake - but I forgot!!!! I'm guessing that's a good sign because they are now just part of my body and I don't give them a second thought!
I thought it might be an idea to update my blog with how they're doing and my feelings a year down the line.
So, in terms of what they look like now, they've settled in well and look very natural. Not quite symmetrical (which if I'm honest does bother me a bit because I love symmetry) but then in the real world boobs don't tend to be identical so I'm probably not being realistic. I may mention it to my surgeon and see if he can tweak anything but I suspect he'll just tell me to stop nit picking :) They honestly look incredibly natural - remarkably so!
After the mastectomy I was so surprised at how quickly I adapted to the implants. Most of the time I'm not aware of them at all and not having to wear a bra is brilliant! The only time I'm really aware of them is when I turn over in bed and perhaps lay on my side a bit too aggressively. I can then feel the implant but it's not uncomfortable and when I first had them, it was far more noticeable. It's only every now and again. The only other thing that has happened is that I've developed a small fatty lump to the side of one breast. I don't think anybody would notice it unless I pointed it out and I think it can be removed with a bit of liposuction or something but it's so small that I think it's best left alone!
The scars have healed nicely and also faded quite a bit. I reckon in another year they'll be invisible. The scars are the same as somebody who's had a breast uplift and I think that's what somebody would think if they saw me naked and didn't know my story.
The loss of sensation was something I was prepared for and sometimes I am sad about it BUT not having killer boobs really does balance that out and although it was a price to pay, it was a small price to pay.
I was so concerned about having implants but I'm really glad that this was the choice I went for.
On 1st April 2017 I started a JustGiving page to fundraise to pay for treatment for a young Mum, Claire Graham, who had Triple Negative Breast Cancer and who couldn’t access certain drugs because of where she lived. If you are not familiar with her story and want to read about it, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpingClaireGraham In just a month, the page raised an astonishing £86,465 - this was due to the incredible generosity of not only Claire’s family and friends but also businesses and strangers who heard her story.
When I originally asked Claire if she minded if I tried to fundraise, she was delighted but just before the page became active, I had to broach the horrible subject of “what if we don’t get enough money for your treatment?” and “what if you can’t use it for any reason?”. Claire was pragmatic and said she wanted the money to go to organisations that helped others in a similar situation if, for any reason, she couldn’t use it. She didn’t hesitate - that was what she wanted and so we had an agreement that we hoped we would never have to use.
The JustGiving page was active for 30 days and during that time Claire was receiving chemotherapy. This was a “holding” type of treatment that we hoped would keep the cancer at bay until the page closed and we could access the money to pay for the drugs that would give her the best possible chance. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy made Claire ill and, despite the treatment, the cancer continued to advance. Shortly after the page closed and we had the money ready to purchase the drugs, Claire’s Consultant advised the family that she was now too ill to undergo further treatment. This was a devastating blow. None of us had anticipated that so much would change in just 6 weeks.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I find myself in a position where the money isn’t going to fund Claire’s treatment. In the past few days, with Declan (Claire’s husband) and the family’s agreement, the money has been distributed in accordance with Claire’s wishes but with an amount reserved to pay for Claire’s funeral and a modest fund set aside for her young son, Harley. The remainder (and bulk) of her legacy has therefore been donated as follows:-
- Team Verrico (Registered charity number 1158126) - Team Verrico helped Claire with not only advice but also support from the day she contacted them until the day she passed away. Among other services, Team Verrico take pride that not only do they help a patient suffering with cancer but their families are equally important and to that end, they source counselling and/or other specialist services even after a loved one has died. For the last 6 months of Claire’s illness, Jackie McHale from Team Verrico (who works for them on a volunteer basis) was always on the end of a phone/email/text and despite working full time, she always had time to listen and support. That’s just an example of the work that Team Verrico do behind the scenes. They look after and become part of the family and will remain a support for Claire’s family should it be needed in the future. For more information, please visit http://www.teamverrico.org/about/
- Prevent Breast Cancer (Registered Charity Number: 1109839- The money donated will specifically fund research into Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Unlike other breast cancers, there are no preventative treatments and this is an area of research that desperately needs funding. Prevent Breast Cancer’s main focus is to prevent this disease through research to eradicate it for future generations. For anybody who visits the Nightingale Centre in Manchester in the near future, (Europe’s first purpose built breast cancer prevention centre) you will be able to see Claire’s name added to the beautiful Wall of Dedication in the foyer. For more informaton please visit https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/about-us/
- Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services, Harold’s Cross, Dublin (CHY reference number is CHY1144) - Claire spent her final weeks at this Hospice that she described as safe and comfortable. The staff and care she received were second to none. The Hospice is only partially Government funded and therefore all donations are used specifically to improve the comfort of those using their facilities – for example fans in rooms, garden furniture etc.
It was my privilege to be part of this fundraising campaign for Claire, and whilst it was too late to help her, the money donated to the various causes are her legacy and I know she would be proud of what we achieved.
Prevent Breast Cancer are a charity specifically looking at ways of predicting and preventing breast cancer - so it's incredibly important for our children and grandchildren. My surgeon, James Harvey, is taking part in an event to raise awareness and fund research. If you could, please donate to this very worthy cause. Here's some more info:
"Shout out to James Harvey and Cliona Kirwan, breast surgeons and long term supporters of Prevent Breast Cancer, who will be getting on their bikes in September to tackle The Italian Job - a tough 320 mile cycling challenge around the Italian lakes!
The pair are no strangers to a challenge - In 2016 James took on the iconic London to Paris cycling challenge, whilst Cliona tackled the Coniston marathon in the Lake District.
If you're as inspired as we are by James and Cliona, click below to make a donation to their fundraising page and help us, and them, create a future free from breast cancer."
If you read my previous blog post, you'll know that I decided to open a crowdfunding page to help fund a drug called Pembrozulimab for a lady I met online, Claire Graham. Claire and I were both diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in March 2016. Our journeys and treatment followed a very similar path but in August 2016 she had the devastating news that Harley, her one year old son, had retinoblastoma - cancer of the eye. He had to have his eye removed (within 3 days of diagnosis) but thankfully the tumour was all contained and hadn't spread. He was fitted with a prosthetic but it hasn't been easy for him or his parents.
Claire carried on with her own chemotherapy and at the end of 2016 it should have been the end of her treatment - as it was for me. She was just waiting for radiotherapy when she started to have headaches. A CT scan revealed the cancer had spread to her brain and back to her breast and there were also lesions on her back.
During my chemotherapy and writing this website, I had contacted Team Verrico, a registered UK charity, specialising in helping families who were suffering from rare cancers. Despite being a UK charity, they agreed to help Claire who lives in Dublin with a second opinion. Professor Justin Stebbing told Claire she would best be treated with a drug called Pembrozulimab.
On her return to Dublin, she investigated the drug but to her horror found that it wasn't licenced for breast cancer use - only lung cancers - in Ireland. In order to be treated by it, she needed to pay 8,000 Euro per treatment and she needed a treatment every 3 weeks.
When I heard that I couldn't believe it. To me this was a post code lottery at its worst. It seemed so unfair and I knew my drive to beat cancer was to be alive to see my daughter grow. How could I let Harley not have the same chances to be there with his Mum???? I didn't know what to do but thought maybe crowdfunding might get enough to fund one or, at best, two treatments. So I asked Claire if she would mind if I started a page. She agreed and allowed me to use a photo of her and Harley. I told her not to get her hopes up but she had so much faith it would work. She was so convinced it would work that it frightened me. What if we didn't get anything? How would she feel? How would I feel?
Knowing I had to do something, on 1st April 2017 I set up a JustGiving page for 30 days. To my utter surprise, money just kept pouring in! I had put the target as £85,000 because Claire told me she needed about 100,000 Euro. I was so hesitant to put this as a target because it just seemed so unattainable.
Claire's utter faith in the page was right. On 30th April the page closed and it had raised an astonishing £86,465. 101% of target!
People have said I should be proud of myself but you know what? It's not me that should be proud - it's each and every one of the fantastic people who donated. The success of the page is a testament to humanity and how good the world can be. I am still stunned by how kind everyone was and how much this money will mean to Claire.
On 30th April (quite by chance) I was in Ireland at a dance competition with my daughter and so had the opportunity to meet my online friend. Claire, Declan (Claire's husband) and a very lively Harley all popped in to see us and have some photos taken. Harley had us all in stitches by dancing on the stage wearing a top hat that one of the tap dancers dropped! We also had the opportunity for my daughter's dance school, Flixton Academy of Performing Arts (FAPA), to have a group photo wearing Team Verrico t-shirts.
Claire is still very poorly but she has an internal light and strength that is clear to see. She's a devoted Mum and wife and a very special person.
I thought you might like to see some photos from our meeting and without further ado, here they are!
(Me on the left and Claire on the right)
Harley showing us that he has a future on the stage!
I am one of the lucky ones. I've got a chance at life after breast cancer. I had access to the drugs I needed but for some, it's a post code lottery. At the same time as I was diagnosed, I met a lady called Claire Graham who lives in Ireland. She has triple negative breast cancer as well and during her treatment, it was discovered her young son, Harley (who is now 2 years old), had cancer of his eye. She's now battling secondary cancers and the drugs she needs aren't available in Ireland. Please, if you can, make a small donation to help fund her treatment. Please also share this page so we get as much coverage as possible. Thank you xxx
To all my lovely friends, both male and female, today is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
Before I was diagnosed, I thought breast cancer was just "breast cancer". It's not. There are several types. Triple Negative Breast Cancer, is the most aggressive and deadly of all breast cancers - the one you don't want to get. And yes, this is the one that I got but, if found early, you may be able to chemo the heck out of it and give yourself a chance at living your life to the full.
So, all my lovely friends, if you do nothing else today, please cop a feel of your boobies. It takes 5-10 minutes of your life to check and that's a small price to pay for giving yourself, 5, 10, 15, 20 years or more! Finding lumps and bumps and getting them looked at can save your life. 75% of lumps turn out to be nothing more than a cyst or a fatty lump BUT if you're one of the 25%, getting treatment early could definitely save your life.
Grab your boobs today and have a good feel around!
I was REALLY surprised to know that Oncologists typically say that you should wait 6 months until you dye your hair! WHAT? Apparently the thinking behind this is that your body has been assaulted by the chemo and so your new hair may not be as strong as it could be. Also, most hair dyes contain lots of nasty chemicals (some that MAY encourage cancer). So, the general thinking is that you should wait.
I've researched alternatives to normal dyes because the thought of 6 months with white/grey hair is NOT something I want to do! There are natural hair dyes (such as Henna) but these typically only colour your hair red. I found that the totally natural products were aimed specifically to colour hair red or brown which is no good when you want to be blonde! The ones I found are:
I've also found (and this is the product that I'm going to try) Daniel Field's watercolour range. This is a dye that is free of some of the nasty chemicals - the more aggressive ones - but it does contain some chemicals so it's not as natural as the herbal dyes. You can use this dye either as a semi or a permanent - depending on how you apply it.
Of course, using any type of dye before the 6 months recommended by Oncologists must be done totally at your own risk. I know of people who have waited just 4 weeks but others have waited 6 months. If you have dyed your hair after chemo and can recommend a good product please can you put it as a comment on this bog?
Bisphosphonates are usually given to post menopausal women rather than pre-menopausal and help bones to strengthen and reduce the likelihood of cancer spreading to the bones. Unfortunately, bisphosphonates are not available everywhere in the country and it appears to be a post code lottery which is awful. I know there are campaigns under way to ensure that everybody who needs it gets it so I do consider myself fortunate.
The plan for me is to have 6 monthly infusions for 5 years. There was a trial (in China I think) that lasted for 5 years and it showed that there were definite benefits but strangely, from that, it appears that when people are given this, it's usually for 3 years. I questionned my oncologist about it and he agreed that it was strange so we've decided to try it for 5 years.
So I had my first infusion on Thursday. It's given via a drip and lasts about 15 minutes so it's not onerous and if you've been through chemo then it's a walk in the park. I was told that I might feel a bit like I had flu afterwards but just to take paracetamol.
I went home and felt absolutely fine. Cooked dinner, watched telly and was feeling completely well until ........ 4am I woke up freezing. I was so cold that I couldn't move under the duvet in case any cold air hit me so I woke up hubby who put 3 dressing gowns on top of the duvet and put some socks on my feet. My temperature had shot up to 39 degrees. Also, if I moved I had really horrible pains in my bones - particularly in my legs - and my legs felt restless. I was also really thirsty.
The day after I felt really achy and struggled to get my temperature down and generally felt quite unwell so I text my breast care nurse who said that this was normal for the first round of treatment but did get better for each one after that :( Oh great! Anyway, today (day 3) I'm feeling much brighter. A bit achy but my temperature is almost normal so hopefully by tomorrow I'll be fighting fit!
I thought this stuff was supposed to be good for you! Hahahahahaha!
I drive my daughter absolutely potty with weekly "hair watch" where she has to take photos of my hair and scalp so I can zoom in and be disappointed OR be happy! :)
So here's a catch up and a bit of a look back at how I got here.
As you may know if you've been reading this website, for the first half of my chemo (ie 4 x EC on a 21 day cycle) I cold capped. I was one of those who unfortunately it didn't work brilliantly for. I lost about 80% of my hair (more so on the top - think male pattern baldness!). So for my second half of chemo (12 x weekly Paclitaxel), I decided to ditch the cold cap. My breast care nurse did tell me that there was a possibility that my hair would grow back during the Paclitaxel and she was right! It grew, very slowly but it did grow although I still had a huge bald patch on the top with a few sprouting hairs!
I'm now 5 weeks post chemo and my hair is really quite long! All over it's about 1.5" but has come back white and grey (OMG!!!!!). The top has also started to grow and although I still have a few patches were it's much thinner, there's quite a lot of evidence of new hair coming through.
Pre chemo, I had very long hair and naturally it was very wavy and thick but I used to straighten the life out of it so it appeared a lot thinner! Just before chemo, I had it cut to shoulder length. Here's a recap:
This is how my hair looked after the first 4 rounds of chemo. Because I looked like a member of Status Quo or Albert Einstein's love child, I thought it best to have it cut so my hairdresser cut it to about 1cm all over with the exception of a few wispy bits of fringe that were clinging on.
Ok so this is what the top of my head looks like now! Check out the chemo curl! Don't get me wrong, I won't go out of the house without my wig still but this is a real improvement on how it was!
So this is what the very top/front looks like - as you can see it's much thinner that the rest of my head:
But look close up! Ooooooooooooooooooooooo new hair! It's black! Ooooooooooooooo!
If you look at photos of chemo patients who haven't cold capped and have lost their hair completely, you'll find that it's at about the 5-6 week stage after chemo that they start to see hair beginning to come through. So the fact that I have so much hair, I can only attribute to having cold capped. So the torture was obviously worth it!
Yesterday, I had my last scheduled chemotherapy treatment! It seems like I've been having it for 100 years but in reality it's only about 9 months. The enforced break of 4 weeks while I got over pneumonia delayed everything and at the time felt like I was on a never ending hamster wheel but the day finally came, yesterday, for my last planned treatment.
I'm hesitating to say "my last chemo ever" because although I'd love for that to be the case, I don't want to tempt fate! When I have my mastectomy in January, if there are any cancer cells discovered, I'll be back on the chemo train again. My surgeon is fairly confident there won't be but ........... I think I'll look on the worst case and then anything better will be a bonus!
So what's next? Well, in 2 weeks, I'm having my dreaded alien (my port-a-cath) removed. It's served its purpose and I've not liked it one bit but it's saved my veins. In all honesty, the only discomfort is where it's attached at the neck and only noticeable when I turn my head so I shouldn't moan! Funnily enough, my port has been really difficult to access and only one of my breast care nurses has been successful on stabbing it first time! Until yesterday of course when she missed first time! We were both astonished as it's the first time she hasn't got it straight away. I've nicknamed her Queen of Ports in any case.
Talking of my breast care nurses - they've been fantastic throughout my treatment. I don't know how they do it because it's a tough job and they work such long hours. They'll always have a piece of my heart though and I gave them both a necklace I had made that I hope represents that.
Well, the title of this page of the blog sounds like I've swallowed a medical dictionary! If you have (or know somebody with) triple negative breast cancer, you'll know there isn't a magic pill or injection you can take to prevent recurrence. With other types of breast cancer there is. So, of course, the race is on to find something that will target triple negative cells.
Currently the buzz words are that Bisphosphonates, Aspirin and PARP Inhibitors may help. These are still being investigated and there are clinical trials at various stages around the UK. It's worth speaking with your Oncologist to see if you are eligible to join a trial or if you can be prescribed any of these drugs.
Last Wednesday, 23 November 2016, I had my penultimate chemotherapy and my very last one will be next Wednesday! I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of my friends, family and loved ones who have taken the time to hold my hand, wipe away my tears, give me a hug, smile and ask how I’m doing or send me lovely messages of support. For those who have supported my daughter Katya, encouraged her and helped her to deal with this – thank you from the bottom of my heart. Each act of kindness is one I will never forget. You have no idea how, even the smallest things, have meant so much and spurred me on. I’m truly thankful.
This awful journey began in February 2016 with a routine mammogram and has been a way of life for me for all of 2016. Whilst I’m so excited at finishing the horrible poison called chemotherapy, what you may find more surprising is that actually finishing the chemo fills me with dread. Let me explain...........
Whilst you’re having treatment (and for me it’s weekly at the moment), you have a team of medical professionals looking after you. You can talk through weird aches and pains, if you find a lump or something strange, you can have it investigated and, for my type of rare breast cancer, which has a higher rate of recurrence and secondaries than the “normal” types of breast cancer, it’s a comfort having a team around you. For most breast cancer, you can take medication to help prevent a recurrence – with mine, you can’t. There’s no safety net. Chemo is my only weapon and because my cancer was removed in April, there’s no way to know if the chemo has worked. I’ve had it to mop up any cells that may be lurking around my body BUT there’s no way of knowing if the poisonous cocktails I’ve had, have worked – that was a huge shock when I learned that.
However, I’ve been exceptionally lucky. My cancer was caught so early that 3 months earlier, it wouldn’t have shown on a mammogram. Because of how fast it was growing (it doubled in size in 2 weeks), my surgeon said that if my mammogram had been 6 months later, my outcome might have been different. So I’m lucky – really lucky - but that knowledge also fills me with dread. I’ve been lucky once. What if ........... will I be lucky again?
Back in February I never felt a lump. I never felt sick. When I had the mammogram, I left the unit thinking that I wouldn’t be having my boobs squashed for another 3 years! I felt “normal”. I didn’t know I had cancer. That’s what’s scary. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be told you have cancer – well I know now and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Your world stops, shifts and changes. The devastation you feel, the fear you may die is beyond anything I can describe. The world suddenly looks very very very different. I desperately didn’t want to die. Ladies (and men actually), if you find a lump GO AND GET IT CHECKED IMMEDIATELY. Every day you delay is a day you may have to fight for later on. Go for your mammograms. It’s 10 minutes out of your day but could save your life.
So, the actual hard work begins after my mastectomy (in January). I’ve got to try and get on with life. A life that has been clouded with cancer for nearly a whole year and has changed me and my family forever. I don’t think anybody, other than a cancer survivor, can understand how much your life changes. How you have to learn to live with the dark fear of it coming back. Those who have been in a similar position often suffer horrible depression or post traumatic stress. Life has changed forever. Even medical professionals won’t say “you’re cured” or “you’re in remission”. They say “at the moment there’s no evidence of disease”. There’s a long battle ahead and I hope with time it gets easier. Bear with me while I, and my family, pick up the pieces.
What this has taught me is ........... look at what you’ve got in life. Enjoy your health, your family, the sun warming your skin, the sight of a beautiful sunset, the sound of laughter, singing and dancing along to your favourite music, seize every opportunity and go for it and above all, throw the small shit away. Look at what you’ve got to be thankful for. For me, I’m going to have a new set of boobs for 2017 and I fully intend to be on a beach (hopefully the Maldives) showing them off. They may have tried to kill me but I’m getting the last laugh because they’ll be in the bin and my Pamela Anderson’s will be there in their place! Woohoo!
If you haven't been to a "Look Good, Feel Better" workshop then please make sure you do! I went today and it's amazing. There were about 10 ladies there (all of whom are dealing with cancer) and there were about 6 lovely volunteers (make up experts) to help apply the products and show you how to apply them to get the best look. It's amazing because you get a bag that is literally stuffed full of goodies to take home! I was lucky enough to get lots of products by Estee Lauder, L'Oreal, Bare Minerals, Clinique and lots of No.7 make up! Not every bag had the same but we all had similar products and they gave us a bag that had colours suitable for our skin colouring (light/medium/dark). Every lady went home wearing their new make up and it was a real "pick me up". If you're going through chemo or radiotherapy, there's a real danger that you can become reclusive - especially if you're not confident about your new look - and these ladies really enthuse and radiate positivity. Well worth booking on a workshop. If you look at their website, you'll see where the workshops are held and can book yourself on one. (If you want the website address, have a look at the "Links" page).
"I'm afraid you've got a very rare infection" said my Doctor, three weeks ago. I knew it wasn't good as it was 7pm when he rang me! "Oh, what have I got?" I asked and my doc said "It's called Klebsiella Pneumonia". Thinking it was a funny name I responded by saying "But I haven't been clubbing in Ibiza". There was a silence and my doc said "Oh I didn't know you'd been abroad"! lol Whoops - I then had to explain it was my poor attempt at trying to inject some humour.
So, for the past 3 weeks, my chemo has been cancelled :( It's not ideal but the good news is that it doesn't make much of a difference to my treatment plan. If you're feeling poorly and have chemo it can really set you back so you need to be as healthy as you can be to fight off infections.
How did I get this? No idea! It started on a Monday that I woke up with what felt like a waterworks infection. It was a bit uncomfortable so I got an appointment with my GP, duly taking a little sample pot with me (tmi lol)! He dipped the urine and said "yes, there's something there so I'll send it off" but in the meantime, he gave me some antibiotics. On the Wednesday I had my chemo and remembering mentioning to the nurses that I'd felt a bit "off". At the beginning of each chemo session they ask you how you are and make a note so that they can build up a general picture of your health. Anyway, chemo went ahead without a hitch.
Thursday morning I woke up with a temperature of 37.6. That doesn't sound much to worry about, but when you're having chemo, you MUST contact your team if you temperature hits 37.8 or above. My temperature is usually quite low, hovering around 36 so I knew this was "high" for me. Throughout the day I felt myself going downhill and by 2pm I was in agony with an horrendous pain in my chest when I breathed in. Long story short, I phoned my GP and for the first time ever, asked if somebody could come out to see me. GP arrived 30 minutes later (how's that for a fantastic service?) and I was shuffled off to hospital.
Long story short (why have I said that twice lol ?), it was the Friday when my GP phoned with the results of my sample that he'd sent off on Tuesday. Of course I did what I shouldn't (when will I learn) and found that there's a 50% death rate with Klebsiella Pneumonia. OMG. WHAT? I decided to ignore that though and concentrate on taking as many tablets as they could throw at me to beat it.
Although I tried to keep going, I could feel myself going downhill pretty fast and the last 2.5 weeks have been tough. I could hardly speak without coughing and sleeping and coughing don't really go together (!) I've tried to do normal things and not let it beat me and have taken more tablets than a pharmacy dispenses in a day. At my worst, I was struggling to get off the sofa and walk to the kitchen but everyday, I've got a bit better.
Yesterday though I get the new best news ever! I've beaten it and chemo will start again next week! Yeah! Never thought I'd be happy to get back on the chemo wheel! Only another 8 weekly cycles of chemo and then that's done. I can't wait. I'm on official countdown!
So, all I have going round in my head is the theme tune from Rocky - so I don't want to be alone! I hope this invades your brain now too! lol
My changing appearance has created much hilarity with my nearest and dearest (in a kind not cruel way). I thought I'd share some of the comments that I hope will make you smile!
So, I was experimenting with scarves, came downstairs and hubby took one look at me and said "Alright Tupac"! Not quite the look I was going for but ............ he has a point! lol
Then one of my friends stayed over - well, I call her a friend but you judge for yourself! lol It was late in the evening and we were chatting and my head was getting cold so I put on my beanie. She took one look at me and said "you look like Wee Willie Winkie"! Charming lol
Now then, I also have some very short sighted friends who have said such kind (and very untrue things)! lol I've sent them all a voucher for Specsavers but bless them, this is who they've compared to me. I love them all!
Actually I can't wait until my hair starts growing back and thickening up because searching for photos of Brigitte Neilson I found a great haircut and I really hope that I can get mine like this (although I really don't want to be draped round Sylvest Stallone)!: