Wednesday, December 30, 2009

FEC #4 and a rant

Had my 4th and final FEC today. As I said yesterday, my bloods were a bit low, so I arrived at 9am for another blood test and had to hang around for the results of that. The neutrophil count hadn't changed (still 0.9) but my overall white cell count had, so the oncologist approved me getting my chemo. This is good - we don't want any more delays that we have to!! But then he had to prescribe it and wait for the pharmacy to prepare and deliver it, so I didn't get my treatment delivered until 1pm, so 4 hours of hanging about. I was feeling tired before chemo, nodding off in the waiting room, probably because I've had a few early mornings and late nights!!

But all done within the hour. The nurse tried and failed once with the canula in the back of the hand so I have a small bruise in the main vein, but she got in on the vein just above the knuckle of the forefinger, so that was OK. Arm doesn't seem to hurt too much, so lets hope I don't get any ache. Also had a chat with another lady in the clinic, who was having her 16th (out of 18) Herceptin. It is delivered via a drip, every 3 weeks, so I will be visiting this clinic for another year yet for that! I have always shied away from talking to other patients - can't really explain why - but it was actually nice to have short chat with her and know that you don't have to explain everything. She knows. She said she has a CT scan to do due to some hip problems (once diagnosed, you become aware of every ache and pain and can't help but wonder if it is a secondary cancer - most hospitals will take this seriously and give you scans to get things checked out, so it isn't just paranoia), and reconstruction, so even though her Herceptin is nearly done, it isn't over for her yet, by a long shot. Couldn't help look at her boobs (obviously, clothed!!) and thought her prosthesis was excellent. I couldn't tell if she'd had a full mastectomy or a lumpectomy!

I slept a bit this afternoon - probably had 1.5 hours with Mary Poppins on the telly, until Greg came home from work - and have felt mildly nauseous and headachy, but nothing a couple of paracetamol doesn't sort out. Certainly well enough for us to take a jaunt to the 24 hour Tesco in Chepstow to buy some beer to take to tomorrow night's party!! (not for me to drink, I hasten to add!). It was something to do on a bad TV night!!

So, tomorrows task is to sort out our fancy dress outfits, and to wait for the District Nurse who will come sometime after 2pm and give me the Neulasta injection.


Various additional things to add this time, that I forgot to mention yesterday:

#1: You may remember I mentioned another lady, and her 'mastectomy was a doddle' post that caused a bit of a furore on one of the online forums I chat on? This lady is 35, has had chemo (to reduce size of tumour) and then a mastectomy and has inflammatory breast cancer. She started getting migraines after her surgery. It turns out she has brain metastasis and has been given a prognosis of 1-5 years. She is having radiotherapy to try to help. I am so, so, so sad. I generally stay away from discussions about further cancers, as I don't want to scare myself (one step at a time, eh?), but she was someone I identified with. Please don't think her diagnosis has frightened me - it hasn't. She has a different kind of cancer to mine (mine is invasive ductal, not inflammatory - inflammatory is worse), I am just so sad for her. She is going to fight and to enjoy every day she has, so she won't be giving up just yet!! Good for her!

#2: Also referring back to the 'In denial' thread, the lady who particularly got my back up is still doing it, although none of it is aimed directly at me. Her general posts annoy me (I don't reply, it's not worth the argument and I don't want to upset her further). Firstly, I really do feel for her, as she is in a dark place right now, but I do not understand her. Here is one of her posts:

"I still wish I'd never had treatment and if I had to do it all again I would ignore the symptoms and meet death earlier rather than this awful, protracted waiting for the axe to fall. Life is not the same - I thought I'd get through it all and back to normal but it isnt so at all.

I would never encourage anyone to get treatment. This gets worse the longer I live with it. I wish I had never got treatment. They should warn you, I feel it's better to be scared and make informed choices about treatment rather than pushed into living because your family want to see you live at any price, even if you are not or never can feel like yourself.

My apologies to anyone who feels differently - for me it just gets worse."

I don't believe she has secondaries or a recurrence, but she is living in fear that she will get them. I am very sad that she feels that way, and I know she is not the only one. But I also know there are plenty of people out there who do not feel like this.

The thing she posts that annoy me, is stuff like the following:

"This may sound odd though and I hope it doesn't but I've noticed that those women who are really upset in the beginning seem to do better in the long run."

She has the view that those of us not upset about everything early on will come crashing down harder, later - because she did. That we are pretending to be strong, like she pretended. That we're not facing up to things soon enough and asking for support when it is there, like she wished she had. I just don't like that she is posting that kind of stuff to those who have been newly diagnosed. Be supportive where they are scared, but this feels like the wrong kind of support to me. I am leaving well alone, and having my rant here instead!!

And seriously, I am not all that upset to have lost a boob (I accept others are/would be), I am dealing with that fine. I am not upset to lose my hair, it will grow back. I am not upset about the chemo, I have been lucky and stayed well and it is just an inconvenience (so far, I know it may get harder). I do worry about the future and I am sad that this has happened, I do cry, but I do not obsess about it or think the worst. I have faith (and am more grateful than I can express) that we are doing everything we can about this, that I have amazing support from the hospital and my family and friends, and what will be will be. In the meantime, life goes on.

#3: A friend noted in a Christmas card (and I don't know if you are reading, hello if you are!!), that they had another baby last year but hadn't wanted to say. I do want to say again, that hearing of other people having babies, being pregnant, anything baby related - does not need to be hidden from me. I am happy for you and your babies, truly, truly thrilled. I WANT to share in your joy. Not jealous or upset or anything negative.

I can also cope with the news of other people with cancer (or other illnesses) and empathise and understand, without feeling scared for me. They are them, they are not me. It's shit, but it is shit for them, and my shit is shit for me. Its not the same experience, even if the word cancer is a commonality. Does that make sense???

I want you to be able to share stuff with me just the same as you always would. I can still listen. This blog may be all about me, me, me, but the rest of my life isn't!! :-)

Rant over. xxx

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

From Christmas to New Year

Well, Christmas is done, and thank you so much to everyone who sent me cards, notes and of course, lovely gifts.

I've been a very lucky girl and had a nice briefcase/laptop case and a new iPhone case from Greg, lots of alcohol, some DVDs, a lovely handbag and lots of other bits and pieces. Thank you all.

Christmas itself was quite relaxed. G's parents shared it with us, so we got up leisurely, had bacon sandwiches for brekkie, a visit from Luke - and a huge thanks to his mum for making me another chocolate roulade - opened presents, a salad lunch, and later, our venison dinner. G was a bit stressed about the cooking as he wasn't feeling 100%, but it was still lovely, even without the red wine reduction or any alternative gravy!!

On Boxing Day we took advantage of the quiet roads and went for a drive. Just a small one... (see here for the route: Google MyMaps)!!

Today, I had my pre-chemo clinic and was surprised to find my bloods are low!!! 0.9 on the scale, and I need to be a 1 at least. I am really shocked as I feel fine, not low or tired at all (in fact, have been awake since 5.20am this morning!). So, I have to be re-tested tomorrow to see if they have gone up, and if not, no chemo for another week. I really don't want to prolong this any longer than necessary, so keep it all crossed for me, eh?

If I do get my chemo tomorrow (or next week), they have decided to give me an injection of neulasta, which boosts your white cells. This is given 24 hours after the chemo, by the district nurse, so I may be getting it on new years eve! The side effects can be flu-like aches and pains. Brilliant!!! Not. Let's hope I don't get them!!!

We are off to H&P's New Year's Eve party on Thursday, and I had already decided I wouldn't be drinking, and needing an extra jab means I definitely won't!! But I AM still going to the party, no stopping me there!! There will be too many lovely people I know there, and I would like to see them all.

And the snow came down here a short while ago, but doesn't seem to be lasting. G will be most disappointed. But I want to get to the hospital tomorrow and get this next session done and dusted. Halfway through the chemo then....

PS. Got my car back shortly after my previous blog entry!! They didn't bother cleaning it as the power washer froze up!!! Ha ha ha! I love my car, did I mention??? xxxx

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Busy Birthday week

Had a hectic few days last week, but it is starting to feel calmer now...

Thursday (day 14) - worked until 6.15pm, then G wanted to go to Cribbs Causeway, which we did. Due to having separate cars and needing them both in Monmouth next day, ended up going from Gloucester to Bristol, to Frampton (for some dinner in favourite pub), to Gloucester, to MOnmouth, so a longish day! Was slightly hyper and chatty, so didn't mind. Didn't feel tired/go to sleep until 1am, woke at 4.45am, not tired.

Friday (day 15) - went to Cardiff to do Xmas shopping - 5 hours, 3 trips to and from the car, 2 food & drink pit stops and £550 later, most of it is done. Not managed to get everything though. Car still not ready from the garage, should be monday or tuesday at the latest... Spent the evening wrapping presents. TBH, started to feel a bit tired/wobbly at about 3pm, but not enough to need to stop. Went to bed when G got back from his office Xmas party, about midnight.

Saturday (day 16) - had a list of things that need doing before sunday, but always knew they wouldn't get done... Woke at 8.15am by postman, back to bed for a short while, then up again to meet the Adams family in the Forest at 10am for Penny's day of birthday treats - ice skating, Santa's Grotto at Clearwell Caves and lunch at the pub.

It was worth it, as we had a really lovely day catching up with the Adams' and the Wilson-Hardinges! Feeling quite tired today, but well enough to watch the kids, play with Theo (who is a cutie) and Chloe (who has very rosy cheeks this week!) and, of course, Penny. Left at 5.30pm thinking i'd have a snooze, but haven't needed to so far.

Don't feel 100%, but it is tiredness, hungry and being stuffed (I know, contrary!), thirsty and not, woozyish without being sleepy... Very hard to describe. OK, but not.

Sunday - aged 37!! It sounds so old!!! (I know, everyone says that on their birthday!) - the Derbyshire contingent arrived at 11am as planned, and after a cuppa, we dragged them out for a walk at the RSPB place near Newport. Some miscommunication had happened in that Mat & Claire hadn't been told I'd booked a table at 4pm, and I hadn't been told that Claire needed to be back in Derby as she was going out at 7.30pm that night, but some hastily rearranged bookings and a bit of rushing about sorted that out, and a walk, mini picnic and dinner at Pizza Express ensued. It was great to see everyone, even if I was left feeling a bit rushed! I think part of it was just that I like to know how a day is going to pan out, and this one was chaotic. A bath and a glass of wine later and all was calm again.

And for the rest of this week - house is cleaned, bedding changed, cooking preparation has started, so everything is now under control. I am being a bit moody, so G is getting the brunt of that, poor love.

G's dad arrives today (Wednesday) and his mum tomorrow for a few days.

My car is STILL not ready for collection. I was told yesterday that the body work had been done, but it is now in queue to be cleaned... with 25 cars ahead of it! No guarantee that we will get it back before Christmas.

I told them that wasn't good enough as we are going out on Boxing Day with 5 adults (a small white lie, we are probably going out for a drive around the Brecons/Wales on Boxing Day or Sunday, with 4 adults, but I wanted to make a point!).

It has been added to the 'urgent' list, as I am sure there are lots of people wanting to travel in their own car for Christmas and not in rubbish Toyota Yaris's or Fiestas!!! They are having a meeting today and I'll apparently get a call back about progress, but I don't hold out much hope and am seriously pee'd off about it. They've clearly booked in more work than they have the people to work on it, so it is poor planning on their part.

Weather Report: just in case you wondered, we had a very light smattering of snow here on Sunday night, which then froze over, so it is icy/slippery but nothing is impassable, and all the main roads are clear. Not stranded like other parts of the country, or like we were here last February! I WANT MY CAR BACK BEFORE IT GETS WORSE!!!! GGGrrrr.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No MRI after all

Wednesday (day 6 of this chemo session) - a fraught day.

Ran out of fuel this morning on the way to work - I entirely blame the Yaris courtesy car as it does not make any noise when the fuel is low, it just randomly flashes the last block of digital colour in the fuel guage light. There is no dial, just a crappy digital display, so you don't really have any clue whether it just started flashing, or had been flashing for ages without you noticing. It's crap. I hate the car.

Luckily, G rescued me and I made it work on time, just, for the training we were having. Had training (all good), brief check of emails and nothing that needs doing, so that's good, then had to cut and run to get to the hospital for the MRI scan. Got there just in time, so finally found time to take a deep breath and start to relax. Was reading my book as I waited for my turn (the sign said they were running 30 mins late), when I heard my breast cancer nurse (Michelle)'s voice. Said hello, and took the opportunity to ask if she could find out WHAT they were going to scan and WHY. Adrenal glands, apparently... why? They are linked to oestrogen production... However, she was also a bit unsure about it, so bless her, called the oncologist to ask for more information. And he changed his mind! So he doesn't want an MRI scan at all, is happy that we have clear bone and CT scans, and just wants to continue with the treatment as it is!!

She apologised profusely for having wasted my time and any anxiety I may have had running up to this, as she is well aware many people on chemo feel so tired so all this haring about isn't helpful! I am fine, so just feel like I got a couple of hours back from a fraught day, so it could have been worse!

I think we have to take from this that Dr Iqbal was not fully up to speed on me or what he needed for my case when he initially ordered the scan, and has since decided he has enough information for now. I don't think it is a bad thing, and I'd rather save the NHS's money if it isn't going to add anything new.

As for side effects this week, I have felt normal again. Not too tired, still OK to drive (although I cannot wait to get rid of this poxy Yaris and get my proper car back. Friday, I am told. It better bluddy had be!!!!!).

Off to the doctors now to get my Zoladex injection. Does it ever stop?

PS. I still haven't bought hardly any Christmas presents, but if you're getting a card, you'll have it by now (close family excepted!)!!! lol xxxx

Saturday, December 12, 2009

FEC #3

Treatment yesterday went well. Nurse seemed a bit 'tentative' when inserting the needle, but she tried one on the side of my wrist instead of the back of my hand, which probably gave my 'usual' vein a bit of a rest. I mentioned that my arm had hurt (like a bruise, a bit tender) after last time, so she flushed with the saline drip more than last time and it seems OK so far.

Had a little snooze in the afternoon while watching a DVD of Love Actually - I do love a nice sentimental film every now and then!!

Tis now Saturday afternoon - woke at 7.15am (courtesy of Olive looking for cuddles), and read/surfed for a few hours, then got up and tidied and did my nails. Am now waiting for G to get in the shower and we're planning on popping down to Exeter to see his dad before Christmas.

So far feel absolutely fine, as usual, so although I am prepared for tiredness (do I take steroids for more than 3 days, I wonder?) I should be OK otherwise. Will update this thread with any further symptoms, as I like to keep a log or i'll forget.

Asked for the result of my MUGA heart scan, and the result was apparently 60%. This is a measure of the blood going through the left ventricle, I believe, and was told that is slap bang in the middle of the 'normal' range. Hopefully, that means I can have my 4th FEC and my herceptin, so all should be fine.

Got another letter yesterday regarding my appointment for an MRI scan - it has been moved to Abergavenny (Nevil Hall) on the same date and time, and this time they remembered to include the checklist on the back (it was missing on the first appointment letter!).

And had my swine flu jab on Thursday - I have to have two, as an immuno-suppressed person, so the first one is done (just feels like a sore arm/bruise on my shoulder) and the second will be done just before my next chemo.

Monday (day 4) - bad constipation again! Didn't take the lactulose over the weekend and paid the price this morning. Ouch. Next time, small doses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Otherwise, was awake by 5am and apart from a little doze while my tummy was aching, I have been on the go all day. House is decorated, a few more Christmas presents bought (the rest get done on Friday and next Monday), and I have made enquiries at Severn & Wye Smokery to see if we can get some venison for Christmas dinner. I am expecting a call to confirm tomorrow....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Occupational Health meeting

Today, I had a meeting with my employers Occupational Health nurse. She was very nice, and just wanted to have a chat about what was happening with me, what treatments I would be getting, and try to assess what time off I should have and what work I should do.

She has advised that I take the Monday off after each Friday chemo, and possibly the Tuesday as well if I need it, plus hospital appointments and this is more or less what I was planning on doing anyway. My team have already arranged my work to keep me away from germ-ridden students as much as possible, and taken me off all rotas so that they don't have to rely on me!! I don't do any heavy lifting, and anyway, my arm is back and fully fit again (although numb under the arm, so I do have to be careful not to damage it and not notice cos I don't feel it!).

She also warned me that my hair may fall out while undergoing chemotherapy... !!!! I honestly think she wasn't just humouring me, as she genuinely looked shocked and slightly embarrassed when I told her it was already gone!!! She didn't realise it happened so quickly. I am wearing my wig today, so it can't be too bad, can it, what with J's daughter offering to curl it for me last week too!!!!

On the less positive side, I did go into work this morning looking like a puffy-eyed monster. I had a moment last night where I felt very sad, down and angry at everything, particularly the having to wait until I am probably 40 to even start to see if I can get pregnant again. Had a bit of a cry just after I went up to bed, and I went downstairs again to get cuddles from G and we had a cry together. It's just crap. I am telling this here, so you see that I am not impossibly strong at every moment, I do cry, I am sad, I am angry and frustrated. I do ask for help (cuddles, particularly) when I need them. But at the same time, I know that I just have to press on and hope for the best, and try to maintain a level of normality.

I think the week running up to chemo is always going to be the worst for me. It reminds you of what you are going through and there is always a level of dread of what the effect of the treatment will be like this week. Saying that, I still know and am ever, ever thankful that I have had so very few side effects, but part of me wonders whether 'this time' will be when it hits me, so I never take it for granted that I will stay so well throughout.

I won't even tell you about having forgotten to take my purse with me today, getting the courtesy car clamped (my fault, double yellows on campus), and nearly running out of fuel....

Just wish me luck for my swine flu jab in just over an hour's time!! xxx

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My 'Year' just got a bit longer

Hmmm, it seems my hopes of the title of this blog being an over-estimation may not come true.

Saw the oncologist today for my usual pre-chemo checks. Bloods are all good, as expected and my cough is more or less over, so those things are great.

However, he has now had a proper good look at my records and is recommending that I have 4 sessions of FEC and 4 sessions of Taxotere. So that's another 2 sessions and 6 weeks added to my treatments. Bummer. I am pissed off, but accepting that we have to do everything we can to try and kick the arse of this cancer. I have to admit that the fact he thinks it needs it, does scare me too. I don't think I have fully realised quite how aggressive this cancer really is and it is just starting to sink in. The reasons he gave are that his recommendation is largely based on how many lymph nodes had cancerous cells in them: 20 out of the 23 removed, including the one furthest away.

Earlier this week, I also received an appointment for an MRI scan on 16th December. I wasn't expecting it, so I asked why that had been ordered. Frustratingly, he couldn't recall why he had but it was on the system under his name but without the notes he says he usually puts on them. He said he does usually order them 'as a caution' and 'to clear any doubt' - presumably doubt about this being the right course of treatment.

I also could not get the results of my MUGA heart scan as the online system crashed again while I was there. This happened last time too!!! Is it me??? He wasn't quite so distracted by it this time, though! He said to ask again on Friday, when hopefully the system will be back up again. I think I said before, I am not too worried about that, as I think my heart is fine. Apparently, if it is on the weaker side, he will stick with only 3 sessions of FEC as FEC is more likely to have an effect on the heart - but either way, it will still be 4 x Taxotere. On the plus side, if I have 4 x FEC, at least I know how I am likely to feel on New Year's Eve and that I'll be OK going to H&P's party!!! Otherwise, I was due to have Tax on the 30th Dec, and that could have given me a bad effect and ruined my partying!!! ha ha ha!

I also asked about why have I been recommended for 10 years of Tamoxifen, as it seems uncommon. He said that he has prescribed it for 18 years before, but that was by the by!! He actually thinks I should stay on the Zoladex to suppress the hormones and that will give me options on what other drugs to have instead of Tamoxifen - but that we would discuss all of that at a later time. One step at a time.

We also got into a discussion about when/if I might be able to consider trying to get pregnant again. I completely accept that isn't going to happen for the whole of 2010, but would just like to have an idea of how far ahead we are really looking. I didn't ask about this, but the conversation went there anyway. He thinks I should wait for 2-3 years from diagnosis before trying, as the chances of recurrence are at their highest during this time. I have read this elsewhere, so I am not surprised - BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE 40 BEFORE I TRY AGAIN!!!! This is the thing I was most afraid of at the start. . He absolutely assured me that he is 100% behind trying to retain my fertility and give me every chance, but it is not a straightforward path. He said decisions in this matter would be taken in conjunction with all the relevant specialists, and that he had already fought my corner on this (before I met him) in discussions about treatments. He was as reassuring as he could be, but I am still not happy. Gggrrrrrr...

And I also asked about when I might be able to consider a reconstruction - after herceptin, apparently, which I worked out today will take just over a year to be delivered (18 injections at 3 weekly intervals). That starts when Taxotere starts, which obviously has now been put back by 3 weeks, to the end of January 2010.

Student Sophie was with me again, so we sat and chatted after I had my bloods taken and before seeing Dr Iqbal, and she sat in with my appointment with him. He was very happy that she was there, so obviously feels that this way of training med students is a worthwhile one. He gave her full access to my records - Sophie, if you see anything I don't know and ought to, send me a text!!!! I want to know!! The project they are doing means they have to keep a diary of their time with their patient, and then choose an aspect of the experience to focus an essay on. She said she is going to do her final report on the fertility aspects, which sounds sensible to me.

Finally, Mr Iqbal said to let him know if my periods don't stop because he needs them to stop. I guess, needs me to stop producing oestrogen. I thought a 2nd period had started a few days ago, but it appears just to be spotting, so it does look like things are drying up in that department....

So, A Year in my Life? It will be more than a year of treatments, and it is something I am always going to be looking over my shoulder for. I have to learn to live with this now, and wouldn't want to 'forget' in any case. Hhmmmm, feels all a bit shit this evening.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Finally got around to uploading the photos that G took of my extreme hair cut. Click on the link below to see them in a slideshow:

Extreme Haircut Slideshow

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas starts here!!

It is saturday morning and this week Christmas has officially begun.

Last night was our work team's Christmas meal. We went to Zizzi's in Cheltenham, which is housed in an old church and has been very sympathetically converted. It was a nice meal - more about the company and spirit than the food (after all, pizza is pizza is pizza!). Thanks to J for asking me to her house to get ready first, and to her 15 year old daughter for wondering if I wanted my hair curled and saying I was cute!!! I left most of the team after the meal to go on for further drinks, but was glad I left when I did simply as I was feeling a bit tired and it was an hour's drive home in the dark and rain, with strange drivers ahead who put their indicators on every time they tried to put their full beam on or off!! But I was impressed with myself when I had managed to parallel park my huge car while it was full of people, first time, perfectly!!! G reckons that will only happen when it is damaged and psychologically I am not so worried. As soon as it is fixed, I will become incapable again!!!!

On Thursday, I started with a few bits of Christmas shopping and met up with my old AC (workplace) pals for lunch (helloooo C, C & E!!), and today we are off to get the Christmas tree from the reindeer farm up the road (near Llanishen) - last year they were giving away mulled wine and sausages on sticks while you bought your tree, and you could pet the deer. This year we're hoping to buy some venison for Christmas day dinner!!! I will also get the decorations out and dress the house up. It may be too soon, but I am unlikely to feel like doing it next weekend!

I have been further debating the denial thing on an online forum (I continued the debate on a non-cancer forum as I didn't further want to stoke any fires amongst those suffering), and another matter has arisen... I am being seen as unique/brave/different and an 'inspiration' because of how I am coping with this disease.

Can I make it clear (again) that I am not being brave, I am not 'flying a flag' for cancer sufferers or doing anything to keep up appearances in any way. Just because I am going through stuff does not diminish anyone elses stresses or worries or life events, and please don't ever think it does. I am starting to feel a little uncomfortable with feeling responsible for other people thinking they should be coping with their stuff 'better' just because of how I am right now. Each problem is still a problem, still something hard for each person concerned, still valid to be upset about and deal with in your own way. I am just a certain type of personality that 'gets on with' stuff, that's me. It may not be you. Don't feel you have to be me and are any less of a person because you are not. I love YOU for exactly who YOU are, so don't change!!!!

I still occasionally cry about everything that has happened, I have my moments which I may sometimes forget to mention on here, I am not fearless. I just cope by not focussing as much on the down times, and getting on with the good stuff as much as I can.

And on that note, I am off to watch some catch up TV on iPlayer while G snores beside me, bless him. xxxx

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In Denial?

Tuesday (Day 12) - G took another day off to fully recover from his cold/flu, though he is looking better today than yesterday.

My cough is still there. I sound husky (40 a day smoker kinda sound), and have done for a few days. My team at work and G were a bit worried so I thought I would call the chemo centre to see if I should be worried, and they asked me to go to the hospital to have my bloods and chest checked. Skipped out of work to do so (nothing urgent needed doing, so it was a 'good' day for it!!) and my bloods were ok: found out that they check your neutrophil (white cell) count and mine was 1.9. Between 2 and 7 is 'normal', under 1 is a cause for concern, so seeing as I am only half way through chemo #2, 1.9 isn't too bad. Doc has given me another course of antibiotics to try and shake it off - amoxycillin this time.

Today, I have been debating on an online forum about positivity - some people see it as denial, which will hit us sooner or later. Some are offended by posts about positive experiences. I see my positive posts not as insults to those who haven't been so fortunate, but as hope to those starting this journey that it might not all be horrific. Maybe I will get some bad reaction, particularly when the Taxotere starts, but maybe I won't. We will wait and see and take nothing for granted. Be grateful for small mercies.

This lady started the debate off by posting that her mastectomy had been a 'doddle' (possibly not the word I would have used, but she was essentially saying it was a lot less painful than she thought it would be): - a lot of her posts remind me of me!! But it does make me think that Taxotere (docetaxel) is going to be a lot tougher... that starts on 30th December.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fuzzy head

I need to record what has been happening this week, otherwise I will forget...

Friday 20th (day 1) - chemo delivered
Saturday - shopping and pub
Sunday - visited C & MJ
Monday - MUGA scan, afternoon sleep and headache (as already reported)

Tuesday - work as normal although did snooze in the car on way home from work (G driving, obviously). Didn't feel too tired or fuzzy during the day, just annoying myself with this non-stop cough and getting headaches in the afternoon.

Wednesday - slept well last night, discovered cocodamol tablets which are helping with headaches and act as a cough suppressant, so although the cough is still there, it feels a bit better managed. Was fine all day, but got tired at about 3.30pm. Snoozed in car on way home from work, had a couple of hours nap when I got home.

Thursday (day 7) - didn't sleep so well, cough seems a little better, feel 85%: in other words, I'm not quite firing on all cylinders and am happy to pootle along, but don't ask for any tricky decisions as it may take me a while to get my head into gear. Feel a bit fuzzy-headed. If I wasn't at work, I would be wasting my day, so work is a good focus and I can do the things I need to... but not much more! No emergencies please!

Friday - got a days holiday to take. Desperately need to hoover the house and clean bathrooms, so that will be my target for the day. Otherwise, I'll only waste the day watching TV and internet surfing. Achieving something (even if it is only cleaning!) will make me feel a more worthwhile member of society (well, of the household, anyway!).

Friday - felt like I was back online and awake, finally. Slept OK - woke at 6am, awake for 45 mins or so and then back to sleep. Woke properly when G went to work, but decided to stay in bed until 11am, just because I could. Walked into town, cleaned bathrooms, hoovered house, sorted bins, cooked lamb shanks. Cough still annoying, cocodamol still working. 10.30pm now, tired and think I'll sleep well. Period started, only 16 days since the start of my last one, but am not surprised that my cycles are a little buggered!

Sunday - had a lovely weekend with Matthew, Claire and the kids, and mum and dad. Feel like my energy is coming back in spades! Still coughing, but feeling good in myself. I would go for a run tomorrow if my cough wasn't there. Drank lots of cheap prosecco with Claire and had a good catch up. Tonight, G has shaved off the rest of my hair so I am properly bald now. I'll post a picture tomorrow, when I have some make up on!!

Monday - G had the day off work - bad cough, headaches, aches and pains in his body, high temp. I left him to it! He did look bad though...

Monday, November 23, 2009

MUGA Heart scan

Had my scan this morning at the Velindre Cancer Clinic in Cardiff. It took a while - you get an injection on arrival (which the nurse/technician nearly managed to mess up - she missed the vein, but luckily didn't go right through it so could try again and found it 2nd time!!) and then a wait for a while, then back for the 2nd injection (this one is radioactive, but only a tiny dose - and she nearly messed up again - I have two tiny bruises on my arm now!) and straight into the room with the scanner. They attached 3 wires to an ECG machine, position the camera over the heart, and then I lay back and dozed for about an hour!!! I was definitely falling asleep... twitched a couple of times and woke myself up!!! lol The scan shows how much blood is pumping through the left ventricle (should be 50-80%, I think).

I won't get the results today as they have to tidy up the images, get a proper radiologist to review and report on it, and then they send that report to my consultant, so I guess I will find out when I next see him on 8th December.

After that, I was really tired - only got about 5 hours sleep last night and the night before, plus all the driving to and from Cardiff in fairly heavy rain and wind - so came home, sent a couple of emails and went to bed. Slept for 1.5-2 hours, so not massively long, but it all helps. I've also had a headache all afternoon & evening, which two Hedex dented slightly, but didn't fix like they normally do.

However, this time around I have had no: mouth ulcers, constipation, shakes, no sickness, no change in taste, so I still consider myself very lucky. It is entirely possible the headache is more due to the Zoladex injection than anything else.

I won't be having any more steroids now (I've had half the recommended dose for only 3 days, instead of what I had last time - the full dose for just under 5 days), so I am hoping this will help my sleeping patterns, which seem to have me tired but not sleepy and staying awake until 1-2am, waking at 6am.

Greg and I may shave my head properly tomorrow, if we are both not feeling to tired to do it!! I think it'll look better with no hair than the patchy/wispy bits that are now left. It may itch less too.... lets hope!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

FEC #2

Well, had my 2nd dose of FEC chemo on Friday 20th. After having a good reaction to it last time I drove myself there and back again, which was fine. "My" medical student, Sophie, was with me during this one, to gather more research on my experience for her project/report so by chatting to her and the nurses throughout, it went very quickly! Appt was at 9.30am and I was heading out by 11am. Went via Waitrose afterwards to treat myself to something nice for lunch!!

Spent the afternoon cleaning the kitchen, cooking a beef stew, and upgrading my laptop to Windows 7 as the discs had arrived.

Side effects from the chemo so far this time:
-My vein aches a little bit, but that is clearing a little bit each day;
-Felt a tiny bit nauseous on Friday evening, which passed when I ate;
-I had a small dose of lactulose on Saturday and that has kept things moving (with a nice bit of extra wind, lovely!!)
-I have a cold which came on late Saturday night - my tickly cough from last week has turned into a snotty nose. As immunity is usually suppressed 7-10 days after a dose, I think this is just a usual winter cold. I have checked my temperature (pre-paracetamol, as that lowers your temp) and I am normal, so I'm not worried - just annoyed!!

It may not have helped that I spent yesterday afternoon in the pub with drunken boys (well, to be fair it was only Luke that was properly drunk (he's become a lightweight since he lost 3 stone in prep to go in the Army!!! ha ha) and he is a very friendly and happy drunk, and shopping for hats!! Some people on chemo really avoid going out during their treatment, but I couldn't bear to spend months inside so I want to carry on as normally as possible.

I bought this hat: Tweed Bakerboy and I wore a nice grey beanie hat with a flower on that Claire bought for me (thanks Claire!) all day. If I could wear hats inside all day, I might do that instead of wigs, but they're a bit warm and it looks a bit odd....

I can't decide what to do with my head - almost too many choices, none of which is right!!! I washed it yesterday and rubbed half of the hair that is left out, so it is much more patchy than the earlier picture now. I wonder if it would be better completely bald? It'll probably be there in another day or two. Hats are more comfy and most people seem to prefer me in those, and the wig feels too big (as in 'big hair' not 'it doesn't fit') for me. Maybe I shouldn't have got one with a long style... I'm just not used to it. It also comes down further over my face than I really like so I want to keep hooking it behind my ears, which I can just about do, but it makes you feel a bit self conscious about the edges showing!!! Oh well, I shall work it out...

I am also getting slightly horrified at my weight gain. I have to confess I ate a fair old bit just after my first chemo dose (they say its the steroids that increase your appetite) but it had a delayed effect and the weight only showed up last week! I have since eaten fairly normally, but the weight is still piling on! It feels silly to go on a diet at this point (plus, I am back on the steroids, but a much lower dose - I am going to only have half the recommended daily dose and for only 3 days, not 5 as last time they made me shaky and I don't seem to have the sickness that many people get and they are designed to protect you from) but I am now starting to feel pretty unattractive and don't want to make the weight loss harder than it has to be at the end of all this. So, more fruit and veg to fill me up and I must stay away from the chocolate and too many carbs!!! If I didn't have a cold, I'd go on the treadmill for a bit, but exercise and a cold do not mix!

Tomorrow brings a 'MUGA scan' (heart scan) which takes a baseline of your heart function pre-Herceptin, which may or may not cause heart complications, so I shall not be back at work properly until tuesday, which gives some time for my cold to pass a little!

Have a lovely sunday all xxx

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A short hair day

Here is the evidence, today I had a 'grade 3' hair cut!

Without wig:

With wig:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Strong" bloods

Just a short update to say that my pre-chemo clinic went well today. My bloods have come back as "strong" (which I guess means I have a high white cell blood count), which seeing as I feel fine isn't too surprising.

Finally met the proper oncologist instead of his locum and registrar. I don't think he had fully read up on me before I arrived, as he looked surprised by my bloods, and even more so by my pathology report (when he saw how many lymph nodes were involved, he asked about the family history... any sisters, aunts, female cousins? Nope, none on mum's side). He said that next time we would go through my treatment in more detail. I think he wants to check that what has been prescribed is what he would recommend. He was on a trip (not sure if holiday or conference or what) on the previous times I've been there. He asked about side effects from the last FEC and I mentioned the constipation and mouth ulcers, and even though they weren't too bad, he has prescribed lactulose and Difflam oral rinse, as well as antibiotics which I think is to ensure the tickly cough I have doesn't turn into anything more serious. He was a bit distracted by computer problems, so it was a little bit chaotic. The online system they use to order the chemo, which they usually do at the time they see each patient, was offline, so there was a bit of a backlog of online prescriptions to do and he was getting very frustrated!!

He also prescribed my latest dose of the ovary suppression drugs. I had mentioned this last time I was there, but probably didn't make it clear that it was due today... oops. My fault - I had meant to phone ahead of today and remind them so they could get prepared, and time ran away from me... Anyway, he wondered why I was on gonapeptyl depot instead of the more well known Zoladex and phoned the fertility clinic in Cardiff to ask. Not sure what they said, but he did try and get the gonapeptyl but the Nevill Hall pharmacy doesn't stock it, so he gave me Zoladex instead. I hope changing doesn't cause a problem. They are different drugs, but do the same job from what I have read, so fingers crossed.... He did say that the FEC-T treatment isn't the harshest from a fertility point of view, so that is also good news. Still, would rather try the ovary suppression just in case!

So all set for Friday. Got an all day planning meeting at a hotel tomorrow, then a normal day at work (plus getting my filling fixed again!!) so plenty to keep me busy!!

P.S. hair still coming out. I can pull it out without pain, but it isn't leaving clumps on my pillow in the morning and I don't have any bald patches yet, so I am keeping it for now!!!

P.P.S. not on steroids now, but keep staying up late. Nearly the same hours as G now! Weird. I'm normally asleep by 11pm...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hair loss has begun....

Had a lovely weekend with G's friends in Cheshire/Liverpool. We started by driving around Wales on Friday, just to find some new roads and places and have a nose about. We aimed for Aberaeron after criss-crossing the Brecons after I saw a short video on the Welsh tourist board's website showing that it was a pretty fishing village. Indeed it was, and if we had more time and it wasn't peeing down with rain, we might have stopped and had a proper look around!!! As it was, we were then a bit late getting to D&L's but we got there before 7pm and they'd cooked a lovely butternut squash risotto for us.

A few glasses of wine ensued, and we got to bed about 1am I think! Not bad considering D had been on a night shift the night before and only had a few hours nap that day.

Next day was a bit of shopping at Cheshire Oaks and a nice curry in Liverpool, and then today we had sunday lunch and came home. Back now, just in time for an evening with the Doctor (Who) and Top Gear. Sorted.

However, over the last few days my hair had only been coming out in single strands, which is more or less normal. I've probably only noticed it as I am avidly waiting to see when it'll start to come out quicker and I'm still getting used to having long hair so I do notice it more anyway. Today, though, and I woke up to be able to pull 5 or 6 hairs out at once each time I just run my fingers gently through. Definitely more than is normal, so I think I will count today (day 17 after my first chemo) as the day it really started. I don't know how quickly it will come now, but I am not going to be pulling it out on purpose - I'll be gentle in the hope it will get me through to at least Thursday, as that would be the best day for getting it sorted out - if I have to this week.

I spoke to my usual hairdresser last week and she said that I am to call anytime I need her and she will fit me in. She's happy to shave it off for me and to fit my wig properly and style/trim it if needed. Bless her, she's a really sweet girl and most of all, an exellent hairdresser, so I know I will be in safe hands. I think I will probably find it a more emotional experience than I am expecting, but once I am past it, it will be fine. At the moment I have what a lot of the ladies on the BC forum I chat on are calling "pony tail ache": the ache in your scalp when you've had your hair up in a tight pony tail for too long. It hasn't been in one, but the feeling is the same!

This week, I am back to hospital for pre-chemo blood test on Tuesday, and then 2nd chemo treatment on Friday. I have a slight tickly cough, but can't honestly say I wouldn't have got that at this time of year anyway, so I don't think it is unusual or caused by lowered immunity or anything. Lets hope this next week all goes smoothly. xxx

Monday, November 9, 2009

I didn't expect to be running...

Yes, I admit it, I thought I would go for a run today. Glad I bought that treadmill now!

I know it isn't what you would usually expect someone on week 2 of chemo treatment to do, but I am feeling 100% fit, so I thought I would see how I did. I did a mix of running and walking for the first 20 minutes, and managed 1.5 miles, had a little break and a drink, and then got back on for another 12 minutes and managed to run constantly for another mile. I was rather pleased with that!

Back to work again today, and was joking with the team that I am a big fraud and i'm not really ill or having treatment at all!!! It is certainly how I feel today.

This week is supposed to be lower immunity, so I will keep an eye out for germs and bugs, but I certainly don't feel in any danger, and if I was allowed to have another treatment and get them done quicker, I would do!!

Had a lovely weekend - saturday was sorting out presents for a certain boyfriend's birthday this wednesday, and doing a bit of shopping at our new favourite garden centre/cafe in Raglan. Then Matthew brought the children down for a visit on Sunday, which was really lovely. Sadly, Claire's lovely Nanna was at the end of her cancer journey so Claire stayed at home. Gloria passed away today. RIP to a lovely, characterful lady. She will be missed.

And finally, I have a confession: I had friday off work, pootled about in the morning and was quite content. Decided to pop to the new Cabot Circus shopping centre in Bristol to have a look about so took myself off.... only to completely misjudge the entrance to the car park and mangle the rear passenger side of the car. The panels can be resprayed, but I've managed to bend the metal on a plastic bollard, so that'll be trickier to fix. Feel stupid as it is years since I have damaged a car in that way, but I suppose it is more likely to happen with a much bigger car and in the first few weeks of ownership.... Doh!! Totally shook me up at the time and ruined my shopping trip. I bought nothing and won't be going back. I'll get over the embarrasment eventually, I suppose...

Monday, November 2, 2009

FEC 1, Day by Day

For my own records...

Day 1 of chemo (Friday) - slept a little in the afternoon, funny tasting mouth, ate too much even though I wasn't hungry. Interrupted sleep - went to bed when tired, but didn't really fall to sleep for a while (until G came up, which is often between 1-2am on a weekend).

Day 2 (Saturday) - awake at 6.30am (possibly excitement of impending laptop delivery). Cleaned 3 bathrooms, did two loads of washing, hoovered & dusted house, changed bed clothes. Went out for 1 (non-alcoholic) drink with the boys. Stayed up until 1.20am to fetch G from Ross, stayed up chatting with G until about 3am. Slept well.

Day 3 (Sunday) - awake at 8.30am and aware I needed breakfast and next dose of steroids so had brekkie in bed while net surfing on lovely new laptop. Got restless, so got up and cleaned kitchen, moved all downstairs furniture on hard floor, hoovered it and mopped it. Desperately needed doing! 2 more loads of washing including clean bedding from day before that cat (bloody Hobbes!) had sprayed. Walked into town at 3.30pm to get a few veg to have with dinner, which G cooked (having finally recovered from his hangover). Roast chicken - couldn't quite finish it. Had forgotten to start milder anti-sickness tablets in the morning, so started with an evening dose. Was a bit more tired towards the end of the day, went to bed at 10pm and more-or-less slept through until alarms at 6am.

Day 4 (Monday) - woke at 6, stared at ceiling and cuddled cats until 6.30am then got up to get brekkie to give something in my stomach for steroids to land on. Smoothie with linseeds (to try and get things moving down below) and grapefruit. Got showered, dressed etc. Ironically am having some fabulous hair days now and skin looks good too. Tidied kitchen from last night's dinner/cooking, fed cats, put recycling out for collection, ironed a shirt for G and made him a coffee. Drove TO WORK!! Spent the day at work. 2.30pm now, and not flagging.... Need to do shopping later as we have no food in the house except gin-flavoured lime jelly. Don't ask! Had chicken and chips for dinner and went to bed about 10.30pm.

Day 5 (Tuesday) - woke at 6 again, got brekkie etc. Beetled about tidying the kitchen, hanging up wet washing and putting a new load on etc etc. G looked much more exhausted than me, but he was up until the wee hours as usual, watching TV. Got the shakes a little bit, so G had to drive in. Maybe too many drugs now? Oh well, only one more day's worth left! Had a scare as tried to move the Freelander and I only got the seat into position before it just stopped - couldn't even get the key out! I called the RAC while G had a look, but he found it was just a loose connection the battery so the RAC were called off, the car was moved and G drove like hellfire to get us to work (not that we were in a hurry, its just how he drives!). Had a good day at work, all feels remarkably under control!

Day 6 (Wednesday) - woke at 4am this time, my earliest yet! Was a bit peckish so got up about 4.30/4.45am and got myself a cuppa and a bowl of shreddies. Better than staring at the ceiling any longer. Went back to bed and slept again for a bit, but declined an early start with G so sent him off at 7am-ish and got up normal time-ish, in for work at 9am. OK day again, although decided not to take the afternoon dose of steroids as my voice was going shaky today. It does seem to have calmed down now, so I suspect I have overdone these particular drugs and won't take so many next time. It's all an experiment, I guess!! Have also decided to take Friday off as holiday to start some Xmas shopping or just sleep, depending how I feel. A quiet day. All is so in control at work that I can easily afford it (after all, I thought I'd be off all this week!!) and I have quite a few days to take and don't need to use them instead of sick leave now I have been given a decent sick leave entitlement. G is now cooking dinner, and I am looking forward to bonfire night tomorrow: cava already in the fridge, and G will go fetch his chiminea from his house and we'll have a burn up in the back garden (weather prevailing).

Day 7 (Thursday) - Work, done. All feeling remarkably under control, which I have decided to put down to my amazing management and team building skills (and the fact I have an brilliant, capable, supportive and motivated team!). Slept better last night, so I definitely think less steroids next time. Looking forward to my day off tomorrow - a day off without having to go to a hospital! Just christmas shopping/planning instead, methinks. Had a quiet evening - chilli con carne for dins, G lighting his bonfire in our BBQ/fire pit, and Luke visiting and playing Forza on the XBox. Too chilly for me outside - trembling in the cold makes my chest feel funny!!

Won't update this anymore unless something happens. I thought I would have some amazingly spectacular crash/sickness etc during this first week but I feel so really normal. A little shaky maybe, but nothing that stops me carrying on with everyday life, so it has all been good.

Lets keep fingers crossed that future treatments are this good. xxxx

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Anyone for a jog?

OK, you may not believe this, but I have felt like I could happily go for a run today. I am sure it won't last, but I am enjoying it while I can!!

Chemo yesterday was fine. It took a while to do, but the majority of that was hanging around waiting for the nurses to get themselves sorted out - from canula going into my hand (they were a lot more gentle with that than anaesthetists ever have been!!) to the last of the 3 drugs (FEC - 5Fluorouracil, Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide) being pushed through it (a nurse uses giant syringes to do this, along with a drip which helps dilute it), probably only took 30-45 minutes. I did feel some immediate side effects: cold arm from the cold fluids going up it (they popped a heated pad on my arm to help, which it did); a tingly nose and a fuzzy head from another one, which didn't last very long at all; and red pee from one which goes in a red colour. That only lasted for the rest of the day.

After the chemo was delivered, I then met with a 3rd year Medical Student (Sophie - hiya, if you're reading!!) who needs to follow me for 6 months to get the patients side of what it is like being a chemotherapy patient. She'll have to write up a report at the end. We chatted for a while about what had happened to me so far, and how I felt about it, and we'll meet again at future chemo sessions so she can see how things develop. She was very sweet and polite, but I'd like to let her know that a bottle of wine is probably 9-10 units, and not approx.6 which is what we guessed at! Whoops!!).

After Sophie, I grabbed Michelle, the Breast Cancer Nurse, and she fitted me for my proper breast prosthesis. I have been given a fairly full C cup to match my other boob, and it does look better than the smaller 'softee' I had before. As long as I wear high enough tops, only an expert would be able to spot it! Michelle confessed she 'boob spots' everywhere she goes and can tell which ones have had surgery - but in her line of work, no wonder!

While I was doing all of this G had been sent away, so he took the Freelander and its sat nav for a drive around the Brecons, and then went to the camping shop at Raglan to buy fire-making equipment! He's such a boy! He noticed that garden centre (by the camping shop) had a nice cafe, so we went back there for lunch and I ate tons. We then had KFC for dinner. Oops!!!! I have eaten a little better today (except for snacking on the chocolates that the trick or treaters didn't eat!!).

Yesterday, after the chemo, I had a little sleep in the afternoon, but not sure if that was more caused by lack of sleep and anxiety the night before rather than the chemo, although I did also have a nasty taste in my mouth which seems to have gone now.

Had some trouble getting to sleep last night too, and woke reasonably early (6.30am? on a weekend!) and I think this is the steroids (dexamethasone)taking effect - oh, and impatience because I was waiting for a new laptop to be delivered - I ordered one this week, since my Mac died a few months ago and I want one I can link in to work from in case I work from home a lot more over the next few weeks. The steroids are probably also to blame for me feeling very awake and active. I have cleaned the house today (and will have to hoover downstairs again tomorrow seeings as G has managed to walk mud in everywhere already!! Grrrr) and went out for a quick drink with G and his mates tonight before leaving them to it (I'd only cramp their style!).

I have posted on an online forum asking about my good reaction to the chemo and I think it is more common than you realise, caused by the steroids (I have been given 5 days worth, marvellous!!). But I will probably fall on Monday or just after....if I do at all. Apparently, I have been given a good quality anti-sickness tablet too (ondansetron), which I had yesterday and today, and I have another milder one for the rest of the week if I need it.

Hair loss is likely to start in about 2 weeks time (so, today is day 2 and we expect loss around day 14), but here is a photo of my wig, and one of me today, so you can compare!!
Wig, all ready to go:

Me, today:

So, so far, so good. I am amazed.

I have also discovered that the pain down the inside of my arm, making it difficult to straighten my elbow, is more than likely cording. This is caused when the lymph nodes are removed. I have been gently stretching it (holding it at various stretches while sitting in front of the telly!) and this seems to be helping. Apparently, that is the advised treatment anyway, unless it is really bad in which case massage, and 'popping' the cord might be in order! Gulp! That 'popping' thing sounds painful, so we'll try and avoid that! I am definitely getting a bit better movement every day, so I will keep it up.

On a separate note, I listen to Radio 1 in the mornings and Carrie, the sports news reader announced she was pregnant this week, after having had a few months of scares. I just don't understand the reaction of some women who have miscarried, who are jealous of those who are pregnant. I know it is sometimes only a phase they go through from grief of their own loss, but I am just so, so happy when others manage to have a successful pregnancy. I had a few tears in my eyes of happiness for Carrie (if you think I'm soppy, if you're a regular listener, you do get quite involved in the 'teams' lives!!).

Right, off to see if I can find anything interesting on the web or TV while I wait for a call from G to go and fetch him from his night out in Ross-on-Wye. I am still wide awake and it is now 11.17pm. Love to you all xxxx

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chemo #1 (and off-roading!)

OK, a new entry to cover whatever is going to happen with my first chemotherapy treatment, scheduled for this friday.

I have been to the clinic today, as they like to see you on the Tuesday to check blood and general health before the chemo is given on a Friday clinic. I also haven't seen them for a while, and wanted to know about my CT and bone scans.

The good news is that I am ALL CLEAR on both scans, so that is amazing news. I have a reasonably aggressive cancer, so I was really worried that it may already have spread, but it looks like it has not. Phew.
The Registrar even gave me print outs of the results!!

Last time I went they confirmed that my cancer is Oestrogen and Progesterone receptive. This means something like the cancer cells divide more quickly when they meet an oest or prog cell, and I originally thought this was a bad thing. However, a bit more reading and checked with the doctor today, and apparently it is a GOOD thing, because there is much more they can do about it - hence, this is what Tamoxifen does. I am strongly progesterone receptive (which I think is rarer) and weakly oestrogen receptive.

The bad/good news though, is that my cancer is also receptive to the HER2 protein. This is generally an "aggressive characteristic" but the good news is there is a treatment for it: 18 injections of Herceptin at 3 weekly intervals. These will start halfway through the chemo. It can affect heart function though, but they will do heart scans at regular intervals to monitor this. Apparently the worst diagnosis is what they call triple negative - neither oestrogen, progesterone or HER2 receptive as all they can do is surgery, chemo and radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy will start 4-8 weeks after chemotherapy and will be 3 weeks of daily (weekdays only) treatments to both the chest and an area just under the neck where any lymph nodes might be lurking - ones they didn't find/couldn't reach during surgery.

The tamoxifen starts when the chemo stops, and they have agreed that I can have the gonapeptyl depot injections (the monthly ovary suppression & potential protection drug) at my local hospital instead of having to go to Cardiff for these. Phew. They mentioned they are just about to start a proper clinical trial about this particular therapy, but I can't take part because I have already had the first dose. THANK GOD!!! Otherwise I would have had a chance of receiving a placebo and not the real thing!!!!! I have read too many good things about it to not want to have it!!

I have agreed to help with two other trials though: the first one is simply a new way of training student doctors on their first hospital rotation. They assign a student to you, and this person goes with you on your chemo journey, so will be present at most of the chemo sessions and will want to talk to you about your experience and how it makes you feel. I think it is aimed at ensuring they see things from the patient's perspective. I have no problems with that, anything that can help them understand the range of responses they might come across!!!

The second is a proper trial but also not a medical one. A nurse is doing a Masters degree and doing a trial to see whether telling chemo patients the information they need during their therapy is better delivered on the day of treatment (Friday) or on the day of the pre-clinic (Tuesday). I have signed up and am (randomly, I had to pick a card!) part of the Tuesday gang. I automatically think this will be better as you have time to think about it, formulate questions and then can ask for anything you have thought of or forgotten to be repeated on the Friday. Otherwise you won't see them for another 3 weeks.

So, chemo (FEC) starts at 9am on Friday and will take 1-2 hours. I will be given steroids (protects your tummy/digestive system - but also makes you hungry and therefore fat!!) and anti-sickness tablets to take away with me, but essentially, everyone reacts differently, so we will just have to wait and see. G will be coming with me to that one, but if I don't have a bad reaction, I may be able to take myself in the future. We shall see....!!!!!

On a positive note, anyone who was a bit worried about me because of my last few posts (they are added as comments on the 'Egg Wednesday' entry for anyone who missed them), G and I went ot visit one of his old school friends at the weekend and took the Freelander 'green laning' in East Devon. It was great! These are unmetalled roads, therefore it is legal to drive on them, but they have no tarmac and are generally a bit wet and overgrown. I did the driving to start with, and G sorted out the buttons on which 'terrain mode' we should be in. The car also has a Hill Descent Control function which allows you just to steer it - it will control the speed and braking on its own to get you down a tricky hill safely! The car is amazing, as it totally looks after you. Jay did try and get us to drive through a river, but seeing as he has a modified and raised Jeep Wrangler, and we have an unmodified vehicle that I need for everyday use, we declined that one!!!

You can see photos on Facebook here:

and here:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Egg Wednesday (with 3 'comment' updates and a photo)

Just a quick update to say that egg collection is definitely tomorrow. Monday's scan was looking good, and the consultants have a meeting in the afternoon to confirm when they will do the collection procedure, and agreed on Wednesday. I'm first on the list apparently, so will have a light brekkie before 7am, then nothing for 2 hours. We have to be there at 8.30am to start the procedure at 9am. It is all quite precise as you have to take an injection of HCG hormone exactly 34 hours before - get it wrong and you ovulate and the collection can't be done.

They give you a conscious sedation (woozy, given painkillers, but awake - gulp!) throughout, but I am expecting to be sleepy in the afternoon. Quite looking forward to an afternoon on the sofa...!

Work continuing as usual. Went to Frenchay campus today for a meeting and ended up being 20 minutes late as it took 40 minutes to get through the last junction. I could see the campus from the queue at the lights, but the traffic was crawling along. It's been bad before, but never known it that slow!! Most amusing bit of the meeting was when we were talking about the revised staff appraisal process which is now called the Performance and Development review - one person commented that people might think we were looking at whether they were doing their job! No! Really?!!! I was chuckling to myself. And when another person wasn't impressed the feedback they might give would not be anonymous, in case they get 'attacked' about what they have said. Methinks that person needs to learn how to give feedback constructively!!

G and I are both a bit anxious about tomorrow, and I am feeling on and off sick (usually immediately after eating something), so our response to that is to order a curry!!! Best go and place that phone call..... Will update tomorrow (about the hospital stuff, not the curry! lol) xxx


Friday, October 16, 2009

A mini egg update

Surprised Laughing Be careful where you read the punctuation in that title!! Laughing Surprised

Anyway, what I mean is, here is a small progress update on the growth of my eggs for fertility treatment (it is definitely too early to be talking about Easter!!).

I've been on the fertility drugs for 8 days now (9th dosage will be done later tonight) and haven't had too many side effects - slightly snappy to G on some small occasions, and crying at some silly things (Stacey in Eastenders when she was sectioned, and seeing two little girls today in the hospital - spotted each other in the pharmacy and started blowing friendly raspberries and giggling at each other. One was clearly having/had chemo as she had no hair. They were probably 2 or 3 years old. So, so cute. I had to hide my tears from their mums!).

Had a further scan today (with a Sister, rather than the consultant) and she saw that the follicles had grown a lot and took more time to look for a few of them instead of just the one the consultant bothered to look at. Today, the largest was 15mm and she spotted 5 or 6 on each side. All on target for a collection next Weds, Thursday or Friday. Another scan on Monday morning to check further progress.

G also received his results and all is healthy there too!! Phew! He is relieved, as I am sure all men will understand! Razz

Work has been good this week. It makes me realise how much I really do love my job and the people that I work with. I can see myself working in a university library for life, if they'll have me! My team of senior staff have told me in no uncertain terms that they will not allow me to get too close to germ-ridden students over the next few weeks, and will lock me in my office if they have to!! But they appreciate why I want to work through - it is SO nice to feel normal, I can't tell you.

Had my flu jab this morning so I have a slightly sore arm (like a bruise), but otherwise it was no bother. I asked about the myth that the inoculation gives you a small dose of flu, but apparently that really is just a myth. Those that think it does were probably just coming down with a cold anyway!!!

So next week will be more scans, another wig fitting (of the ones specially ordered for me to try) and hopefully egg collection... another sedative/anaesthetic! Oh, and work. Nice, normal, busy days at work!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Feeling normal again

Have now been back to work for a couple of days, and it has massively helped with making me feel like a normal person and not a 'sick' person. Hurrah!!

Have also been extremely fortunate in that HR have approved an exception regarding my sick leave entitlement and given me 3 months leave entitlement at full pay. I'm only supposed to get 1 month in my first year of employment (which ends in January), and was very likely to go over that before the end of December even if I used all my remaining holiday instead of sick leave, so it is very generous of them. No worries about any days at only half pay now. Phew!!

The team has been coping well at work - which I knew they would - but I also do feel as if there are some things they need me for here and there!! They keep things ticking along well, but my job is to move things forward and help with the decision making, clear up oddities in policy and procedure etc. I managed to delete about 200 emails, and just have a handful now to still read in detail and respond to.

Yesterday, G and I first of all went back to the hospital in Cardiff: me for a scan and him for, ahem, providing a sample. My bit was easy, but my dosage was increased so it looks like they are a bit concerned things aren't growing as quickly as they want. Biggest egg was 10mm, and they want them to be at 20mm. Another scan on Friday morning to check progress, but I don't know how long they keep going before they decide it isn't growing enough and have to abandon... the consultant is very matter of fact, but perhaps a bit casual about it, so I didn't think to ask everything and she didn't seem bothered either way!!! I felt terribly guilty as well - I had dropped one of the needles on Sunday so it had to be thrown away. I confessed to the consultant and she joked (I hope!) "Oh well, just as well you're not paying for them!". How bad did I feel!?

G's sample had to be given in a different department.... suffice to say he hadn't been looking forward to having to do it in a room where lots of men had done the same thing over the same magazines (yes, apparently the pages were stuck together!!!), but he managed it! At least he only has to do his thing twice - once to be tested for quality, and once for the real thing (if we get to the stage where the eggs are big enough!). They should be fertilizing the eggs and freezing them as embryos, as apparently they freeze better in this state.

Luckily, we had something nice to look forward to after hospital, which was picking up the new car. Took bluddy ages!!! The salesman had forgotten to ask the accountant to prepare the invoice, so he was pee'd off to be doing that at 5pm in the afternoon, and then someone else had to come in and try to persuade me to buy GAP insurance, tyre insurance, special interior scratch resistant insurance, break a fingernail insurance.... etc etc. I am an "insurance averse" kinda person (yeah, yeah, I know. I'd have had my mortgage paid off by now if I had had some kind of life/critical illness cover...) so I wasn't going to sign anything there and then!! We eventually got the car, and it is totally lovely. Cruise control, Bluetooth, 6 speed gear box, 6 cd changer, aux input for ipod, electric windows, chairs, 2 sun roofs... so easy to drive. I just have to learn how to park it now!! It has front and rear sensors, but none on the side. Rubbish!!! ha ha ha!

It is SO nice to have my freedom back, as I can drive this car really easily and am actually more comfortable in the drivers seat due to where the seatbelt falls.

Tuesday has been a normal day. Work, food shopping, and then a visit to friends Hannah & Patrick (to give their daughter her birthday present and meet their new kitten - so lovely - bonkers and friendly, just the way we like them!), and then popped in to see Charlotte & Marcus to see how their house renovations/extension building are going (they found a water main leak and the plumbers still haven't switched the hot water back on - its been off for more than 2 weeks!!). Oh, and to show off the new car!!! Well....

Righto, got to read an article on green laning, apparently, in the Land Rover International magazine that G bought. See ya'll again soon. xxx

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New car to look forward to

So far so good on the injection front. I have done it twice now - Friday and Saturday, and on Saturday the second drug had to start so that was two injections. I'm not finding it too uncomfortable, although the Orgalutran was a bit sore for a while; the Menopur doesn't seem to hurt at all now. However, the side effect of a dodgy tummy is making an appearance.... will keep an eye on that!! I have also lost my appetite which is fairly unheard of!! I am still eating (have no fear!), but just don't fancy anything much.

On Friday afternoon I went to the GP's and got my sick note for work. Another one who thinks going back next week is too soon (except G, who can now see I am more than capable!)!! He nearly signed me off for a bit longer, but could see I fully intended on going back on Monday so gave me the dates I asked for!!! I also asked about having a flu jab. I had been invited as I have very mild asthma, and it is standard for the GP to ask all asthma sufferers to have a flu jab at this time of year, but the clinic dates were during my surgery and first week of recovery, so I didn't go (and never have, to be honest).

I have read that as your immunity is so low during chemo, it is best to get one done before starting - especially at this time of year. He agreed, but neither of us knew whether I should have the jab at the same time as being on the fertility drugs, so he recommended I ask at the hospital on Monday and see what they say. He also advised an extra exercise for my arm (which I am doing and trying to push that little bit more now), and recommended that I take regular paracetamol as after 2 days it builds up to a decent pain relief and will make the exercises much much easier. I haven't had any pain relief since towards the end of week 1 after surgery, and it does get sore, especially when I move it... so maybe I will.

I drove to the doctors surgery (G's car, as it is more comfy than mine) and felt fine driving, so getting that bit of freedom back is a huge relief!!

On Saturday, G and I went back to Cardiff to collect the remaining fertility drugs that they hadn't got enough of on Thursday, and then found the FedEx depot to collect the new cordless phones I had ordered. I want an answerphone to tell callers that the Brakewells don't have this number any more!!! When you're at home, you really notice those annoying wrong numbers! I've had this phone number for 3.5 years, and STILL they call for Mr & Mrs Brakewell!!! I should have asked for another number from BT at the start, but it's too late now!

We then went back to the Land Rover garage that we popped into last saturday, and negotiated to buy a Freelander II. I had intended on getting a fairly basic one, but there was one there with all the added extras at a decent price.... so we went for it. I didn't quite get the price for the Z4 that I wanted, but we did push as far as we could push them and the sales manager approved the last £250 that I wanted even though the salesman was trying to deny me!! G will be happy if he gets a free Land Rover umbrella!! This is the one I'm getting: (not sure how long this link will work for, so look, quick!). I collect it on Monday after our next visit to the hospital in Cardiff. It is so much more comfortable and very easy to drive, so I think I will really enjoy it, especially when we can fit in all our camping gear next Spring!!

So, back to work tomorrow, if only for the morning due to our Cardiff appointment at 3.30pm. I am looking forward to having something else to think about, and am sure my boss won't mind if I work from home some days - she called on Friday and we had a brief chat, so we just need to identify what tasks I can do and see how it goes. Being able to drive (for the time being, anyway - don't know what Chemo will bring!) is a god send.

Let's just hope these extra hormones don't make me a nightmare to work with! I am already being snappy with G regarding his driving (but then, I was prone to this on occasion anyway!!), and was crying my eyes out when Stacey in Eastenders got sectioned the other night!!! ha ha!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A week of injections and scans coming up

Originally written: 9th October 2009.

It has been non-stop this week, or so it feels. The roller coaster trundles along at a decent speed!!

Monday was nice and quiet - I probably overdid things a little, so took things more easily on Tuesday.

Wig fitting was a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for some camp fun, but the chap kinda took over and was all set to give me back the hair I already have!! I don't want this, I was growing it, so I want something nicer and longer!! He got the message eventually, but the ones we tried were too boxy so he has sent off for some nicer ones. I'll have to go back next week to see if these new ones are better.

On Wednesday, I had my filling fixed (no anaesthetic as it wasn't too sensitive and he didn't need to drill it), and then G and I went to the fertility clinic. We really didn't know what to expect. As it was, they were lovely, and after chatting to us to confirm our details and situation, got on with taking blood and giving me a scan to see what stage of my cycle I was at. Normally, they start you on cycle suppressing drugs at day 21 of your cycle, but I am too far along for that so have given me Menopur to stimulate the ovaries and develop the eggs, and Orgalutran to suppress my natural cycle. This second drug starts on Saturday.

I have to inject myself in the stomach. The Menopur is 5 vials of incredibly fine powder that you mix in the syringe with a teeny vial of sterile water, and then inject. The Orgalutran is a ready-loaded syringe. The nurse did the first one, and it was a little sore for about half an hour afterwards, but otherwise not painful. I have been jabbed so much lately that I am quite used to the sensation!! First one done by me will be later today...

I have to have another scan on Monday to see what the hormones are doing to me. It'll all probably only take 7-11 days and then they'll do the egg collection and fertilization, and let us know if we have any embryos worth freezing.

It has all happened so quickly!! We're stunned and amazed. I know we have massively jumped fertility clinic queues, but quite simply, I only get one shot at this and it has to be done soon as we need to get started with chemo! My chemo has only been put back by 1 week, which is amazing.

Oh, and they are also happy to give me ovary suppressing drugs (a monthly injection) during chemo which puts them into hibernation and may protect them and give me a better chance of coming out the other end still fertile. Research in this area isn't very conclusive yet, but they feel it can't hurt to try it.

Also yesterday, and at a different hospital (so we spent the day in various waiting rooms and driving across south east Wales! Thanks to mum and dad for doing the taxi job again!!), I had a CT scan. It was supposed to be last week, but the machine broke down. I had to drink some gastrogrubin or something, a contrast fluid that smells like Sambuca (but doesn't taste as nice!), the night before and an hour before. When I got there, they made me have more, which I drank like it was a shot! Then you lay on the machine's bed, and get whizzed under a doughnut style scanner. At one point, they add a clear dye via an IV in your arm (another stab!) and this makes your whole body feel hot and feel as if you are wee'ing yourself - its a bit like putting the heated seats on full in the car!!!

That's it, all done in about 5 minutes.

I will now wait to hear when I find out the results of this and the bone scan.

Finally, I had been hoping to go back to work and have an uninterrupted week next week, but it looks like the fertility clinic stuff will get in the way, so I may have to rethink it. I may ask if I can work from home on appointment days, as the clinic is in Cardiff when I work near Gloucester! It's a long way! Phew.

Bone scans, wigs and fertility clinics - and teeth

Originally written: 2nd October 2009.

Had ERPC on wednesday. It went without any problems, no bleeding to speak of afterwards, and definitely no pain. Went home and drank champagne. Well, why not!

Thursday 1st Oct was the first day since 20th September that I didn't have to go to the hospital for something, so mum and I went to a local fish and deli shop, bought sea bass and had a nice coffee, and then pootled about during the afternoon.

Today, mum drove me back to the hospital to have a bone scan. Now that I am not pregnant, they can do this - it requires a painless radioactive liquid with no side effects (except they advise you don't go too near small children for a while!!) to be injected so that the bones show in the scan, so that was done at 9.30am (she went straight into the bruise created by the bloods taken on Wednesday; well, might as well!!). We went home and walked about 3 miles around town to get some exercise, and then drove back again for the actual scan at 12.30pm. This entailed me lying on a bed which is electronically forwarded under the scanner, and then very slowly removed. It scans as you move outwards, moving millimetres at a time. You keep your clothes on, and it takes about 17 minutes, so I just lay still, closed my eyes and relaxed. Easy.

I was supposed to have a CT scan (similar, but you drink the contrast liquid and it scans the soft tissue and not the bone) today too, but the machine broke down so I am waiting to hear about another appointment when it is fixed!

However, I did get on and call the 'wig man' to make an appointment - "ex-TV star of makeover shows" and "Welsh hairdresser of the year finalist" so his card says!! He sounded lovely (and very camp) and I am due to go for a consultation next Tuesday evening. He says it is very relaxed, almost a party atmosphere, and you should bring one or two friends to give an opinion on what looks right. I have been growing my hair, so I'll probably just get one styled in the way I was trying to grow it - saves the trouble!! I expect my hair will fall out in the first month or two of chemo - mum thinks from the first clump coming out, the rest followed within a week, so you do need to be prepared. Mind you, she hated her wig, so I hope mine will be less itchy and more comfortable!! Otherwise, hats!!

Fertility clinic is next Wednesday, so we each have long forms to complete before we go. We have to take ID and photos too!!! The forms basically ask about your fertility history and whether you are a paedophile, violent or a drug addict! All the way to Cardiff for that...

And finally, as if you didn't think I had enough to deal with - I had a toffee from the selection a friend gave me to help me feel better, and it pulled a huge filling out!!!! So now I have a gap in the back of my tooth. Luckily, it isn't too sensitive, so I can afford to wait until next Wednesday morning to get it sorted it out. Having a dentist 30 miles away and not being able to drive, isn't the easiest thing...


Keep smiling Smile

A sad day

Originally written: 29th September 2009

I'm afraid the news from my scan is bad news. The baby didn't form - again. Another "anembryonic pregnancy", silent miscarriage, blighted ovum or whatever you want to call it.

Obviously, devastated to see the empty gestational sac on the scan, but could see as soon as it came up what it was. Back in for an ERPC tomorrow, just want to get it sorted.

Followed by meeting with the oncologist, chemo starts earlier than expected now (23rd October) and with 'normal' rather than modified drugs - 3 rounds of a treatment called FEC and then 3 more of Taxotere at 3-weekly intervals. Then radiotherapy. Then 10 years of tamoxifen!!

They are making me an appointment to see a fertility specialist to look into harvesting some eggs, which will be my fail-safe reserve. The chemo may or may not make me infertile, but if I've got the eggs then at least I have the option of IVF later on. Apparently, I can take a break in the Tamoxifen to have a baby and then go back on it, so that isn't as bad as I thought it would be - we could be trying again in a year.

On the plus side, the dressing was taken off my scar for good now, so I can have showers! And I can wear a 'normal' bra so therefore more normal clothes - the support bra thing they gave me came up very high and was visible under all but the highest necklines.

We spent the morning in tears, to be honest, but I feel stronger again already. There is only one thing I have control over in all this, and it is positivity and my own health and strength, so that is where the focus is. Lets crack on and get it sorted.

Making progress

Originally written: 28th September 2009

I am surprised how quickly you can recover from fairly major surgery! Today is my first day "home alone", which I was quite looking forward to even though I have loved having my parents here to help out and really needed them last week.

I can now bath, wash and dry my hair and dress on my own (albeit slowly!), and can potter around the house and kitchen. My right arm has much more movement in it, and although far from back to strength, is much more useful now!

I still have my drain in, but it will have been in a week today so it is definitely coming out tonight. Finally there is a lot less fluid in it: it has to be below 40mls to come out, and has been more than that every day so far.

So I went for a walk today, into town and pootled about a few shops. I took it very slow, and did feel a teeny bit wobbly, but was slow and steady and got myself back home again. I had to put a cheque in the bank, buy a few birthday cards and also got myself some new hair clips (might as well enjoy my hair while I can: I've been growing it - ironic that it is likely to all be gone in a few months!) and I bought a mastectomy bra. I am still wearing the support bra/top thing that the hospital gave me but hope that once the drain is out, I can try wearing a proper bra again. The only difference with a mastectomy bra is that they have pockets for a prosthesis, but this seems often to require thick straps and a very high centre, which shows under some clothes. I bought a pretty brown one, where the straps are wider but lacy, and the top of the bra is pretty enough to be on show if my top is a little low!

I've also been busy buying things online: another bra, some higher necked tops (my whole wardrobe is full of lowish V necks!) and I am getting our weekly shop delivered by Tesco to save G a task.

So all in all, I am doing really well. The only down point was last week, with the results of the pathology tests. My cancer is a grade 3 (more different from normal cells that lower grade cancers - there are only 3 grades). It had also affected all of the 23 lymph nodes they removed. This basically means that there is a higher chance of it having spread, but as yet I don't know how you find out whether it has spread or not! A question for my meeting with the oncologist tomorrow, when I'll find out what chemotherapy they are going to recommend. The news knocked me back and I spent the afternoon sleeping and crying, but bounced back the next day, determined to get fit enough to fight it off. Radiotherapy and hormone therapy will follow the birth of my baby (I am feeling more and more sure I will get that far!!)


Originally written: 24th September 2009

I haven't had access to a proper computer for a few days, but it is now time to report back on progress.

I had surgery on Monday which went well. I went into hospital on the sunday afternoon which did feel a little pointless, but got me settled in and I met my "ward-mates" before being too groggy! I went down to surgery at about 8.30am and finally my tears came while I was waiting for the anaesthetist - it felt very scary down there right then, even though logic tells you they are doing everything they can for you and you really don't have any other option.

The anaesthetist was lovely, he was honest when I asked whether he was changing anything he did because of the pregnancy by replying that almost every drug is contra-indicated during pregnancy but he would check with his boss to see if there was anything. I think he said they might not give me the anti-inflammatories for instance, and there were some things that are often down to anaesthetists discretion, but that I'd get all the things I had to have. His wife is 16 weeks pregnant, so I know he understood.

My surgeon was also lovely - for a consultant he is very human! He squeezed my hand a few times before I went under.

I came round a couple of hours later, and then spent the rest of the day in an out of sleep and throwing up in between. The awake periods gradually got more lucid and brighter, and I stopped upchucking at about 7pm. It was just little amounts, water to start with, which became bright green due to the blue dye they had put in me to find the lymph nodes. Turns out they took all the lymph nodes out as they looked a little misshapen and it also saves me going under twice while pregnant, so I am grateful for that.

I was allowed to go home on the Tuesday afternoon, which was marvellous, and my parents have been looking after me well ever since. I hope this has relieved G considerably as he is still going to work through all of this, and is finding it hard to sleep/wake and concentrate as it is, let alone worrying that I am not coping on my own or trying to do too much. Mum has helped me dress, have a bath, wash my hair etc, and dad is cooking up some lovely dinners.

On the pregnancy side, I am feeling fairly nauseous! I have a funny taste in my mouth a lot, and can't decide what I want to eat to stop the nausea! While this is 'good' in that I didn't feel nauseous a lot at all in my last pregnancy, and is hopefully a sign it is clinging on, it is also fairly miserable. I can't exercise much, I can't even lift a kettle or a pint glass with my right hand, so needing to eat will leave me very fat! I feel sick and also hungry at the same time, even if this is about 10 minutes after having eaten my dinner!! Strange.

Back to the hospital this afternoon to have my drain checked - it is under the skin of the armpit and stings if you move wrong, and needs emptying every day. And then to see the consultant to hopefully get the results of the pathology on what was removed. I have no idea what news that will bring, so lets hope it is good.

PS. The obstetrician sent a copy of his consultation last week, which said that on the 15th Sept I was 5+6 according to dates, too early to give a proper gestational date, and due date was 12th May. So according to that I will be 7+1 today, and 7+6 when they do the next scan, next Tuesday.

Confirmed diagnosis

Originally written: 17th September 2009

This has been an interesting week, you could say. Monday brought the confirmation of invasive cancer diagnosis, and a date for a mastectomy of Monday 21st September, a week away from notification. I had all the pre-op checks on Tuesday, including meeting a lovely obstetrician, Mr Dawson, who will keep a close eye on the baby's development. He did a scan and reckoned that I wasn't quite 6 weeks. He could see the gestationasl sac, measuring half a centimetre, and that is what he would have expected to see. Too early to see a heartbeat.

I'll be 7weeks and 3 days when they do the next scan.

Tuesday also brought telling my team at work, and confirming with my boss. Everyone has been very understanding and I feel very loved and looked after without being too overwhelmed by them. I think they can see I am the practical sort and don't want to be molly-coddled.

G's mum came over on Tuesday, and my own mum had been with me on Monday evening (after we got back from the hospital) and Tuesday morning appointments. Although it was lovely to have them here, I was glad when it was just G and me again. That said, I have also had to spend a good part of the evenings on the phone telling friends. I'd quite like a night off from talking about it, but I expect that won't happen any day soon.

I am glad to say work is all under control and up to date. The team are very capable of running things without me, and my boss is coming over tomorrow so we'll sort out any extra cover we might need and she will support the team over the next few weeks while I am away.

I may be being naive/overly optimistic, but I hope only to be off for 2-3 weeks, and not 4 or more. I'll get fed up being at home, reading and watching tv and DVDs, I just know it.

So thats me for now. Still OK, although I think anxiety is starting to build a little bit.

I also wonder if morning sickness is starting to come along too - mouth keeps filling with saliva and has a metallic taste to it a lot of the time; appetite is all over the place. I expect the combination of things going on are probably working together!

That said I am still 'glowing' (I was told that today by someone who didn't know I was preggers!!) and feeling well and happy.