My Lumpectomy Operation

Crikey, it’s been a while since I gave you an update, hasn’t it?! Sorry about that. No excuses… Er, maybe one actually – it’s definitely much easier to spread the news on social media than it is to write a long blog post, when you’ve got a sore boob.

Since last we met, I’ve had my lumpectomy and I’m recovering well. It does hurt, but that’s to be expected for a while, and it’s not unbearable, just frustratingly inconvenient. The good news is that I was told on the day of the operation that the cancer has definitely not spread to any other parts of my body. They only had to remove two lymph nodes, and now the tumour has been removed I’m effectively cancer free. Hurrah! Bottoms up… Drinks all round. Your round I believe.

When I look back on the day of the operation, I can only shake my head and once again curse the hospital that I’ve been attending. I was asked to arrive at the day surgery at 7 am, ready for my operation process to start at 7.30am. Alex dropped me off (I wouldn’t let him hang around), and I headed to the doors only to find they weren’t open. Fifteen minutes later and I was at the front of a queue waiting to get in. Finally, at 7.25am the doors opened and it turned out the receptionist was running late. The last thing I expected to be doing before my breast surgery was forming a queue in the freezing cold for 25 minutes. You can only laugh! Har. Har.

I’m not sure if any of you have had day surgery, but it’s most definitely no movie premiere. No red carpet, that’s for sure. The room I was in had ten beds on one side and ten on the other, with lots of staff buzzing around asking me the same questions over and over again. How lucky was I to get the nurse with verbal diarrhea? She just went on and on about her schooling, Lidl and God knows what else… I do love a bit of Lidl banter before a boob op at 8am in the morning! ;)

DaySurgeryWard

Yes, they are paper knickers on the top of that pile there, and I did have to wear them. In fact, I forgot to take them off and wore them home. Glam.

After my lumpectomy, I came round to a nurse offering me tea… It seems we Brits will drink tea on any occasion. I didn’t. I was lying (no doubt catching flies), trying to come round in some sort of graceful manner with all the other patients watching me from the other side. I was then hurried along, told to get dressed, given paperwork and eventually kicked out by 12.30pm, so the staff could prep for the next round of patients. Ah, at least it’s free healthcare. Mustn’t grumble. I’m just very thankful I had an amazing surgical team, which after all, is the most important part of the process.

Unfortunately, I had to return to the day surgery at 6 pm that evening and it seems we kept the whole surgical team waiting before they could finish work for the weekend. I had slept for most of the afternoon, only to wake up with blue dye all over my t-shirt and lovely white bedding. It had to be checked out as that was not obviously meant to happen, but it seems I was simply one of the very rare cases where the dye used to locate the tumour had leaked back out of my wound instead of passing through me. In fact, my surgeon said he’d never seen it happen before. Typical.

After the op…

My Lumpectomy Operation

After the discharge nurses got hold of me… Easy on the padding!

Breast Cancer Lumpectomy

Anyway, I’ve come out much better off and am now on the road to recovery with just four and a half weeks of radiotherapy to go when my wound has healed. As for the scars, I’ll probably barely notice them over time –  The surgeon went in through the nipple (eek!) and seems to have done a pretty good job of sewing it back on. Thank God for that!

I hope no one is offended by my pictures. I want to share as much as I can about my cancer journey as possible to help raise awareness, and hopefully help those going through the same thing. Close your eyes now if you don’t want to see my boob five days  after the lumpectomy. I was searching for info before I had my tumour removed, but couldn’t find a lot of what I wanted to know. So here it is for those that are curious. Nipples… We’ve all got them until something like cancer takes some away. 

 

 

 

 

Lumpectomy

Until next time x

 

 

A Rant About My Chemo Care

Oops! Another month has gone by and I’ve been a naughty blogger because I haven’t been back to fill you in on all the news. Since my last update, I’ve actually been pretty busy and the time between my last chemo and tomorrow’s session has dragged a bit. I’m just willing the days to fly by and can’t wait for my final treatment on September 11th – then it’s onto the op and radiotherapy. Hurrah!

I was thinking about what I’ve disliked the most about this whole cancer process (prepare for the rant) and it may surprise you to know that it’s hasn’t been the treatment and the side effects themselves. As difficult as they have all been, the thing that has been the hardest for me is actually the standard of care I have received from many of the chemo nurses and hospital staff where I’m being treated… and let’s not forget the time I have had to spend in the waiting rooms!

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom on the care front. When I was first diagnosed, I was really chuffed with my initial oncologist and the attention I received from my breast care nurse, however after my first treatment, things rapidly went downhill. I’ve been having an appointment every three weeks for a little catch up before each chemotherapy session and have so far seen a total of FIVE oncologists. A few have been good and others not so – you get that, but when you’ve been sat in a waiting room for two to three hours, it would be really bloomin’ helpful if they gave you test results without just presuming you know them already, and if they actually knew more about your case, including how far in you are with your treatment. Grrr.

Aside from seeing the oncologists and a few other appointments here and there, I go into hospital every week to have my PICC line flushed and its dressing changed (a process that should take 10-15 minutes). There have only been a handful of occasions where I’ve got out in forty five minutes and all the rest have been over hour-long waits, followed by the actual clean – I appreciate things do run behind from time-to-time, but I’ve been doing a lot of observing in those waiting rooms and I’m pretty sure things could move a little faster, to say the least.

The times I’ve struggled the most with my appointments (and the hospital waiting rooms) has been when I’m in recovery, directly after chemo. There is no special treatment, even if you did have chemo four or five days before – you just sit there in the waiting room with everyone else, counting down the minutes until you can get back home and crawl into bed.

I’m not sure if I’m just one of those patients who blend into the background, but I can’t remember a time when a chemo nurse has asked me how I am, or how my last treatment affected me. There’s no chit-chat; no time to make you feel special. To me it just seems they hook you up and carry on dashing around looking busy, even if the room only has a few patients in it. I’m most disgruntled by the amount of staff that don’t even say hello to me after seeing me for months and on many occasions. It’s like I’m just another file in their system.

I’ve overheard that the nurses don’t get paid overtime in my hospital, the pay is not anything it should be and that they have to spend far too much time entering data into a computer system that doesn’t work very well, but the way I’m being ignored is just not on. I haven’t even seen my main breast care nurse for a good few months and the other one doesn’t even know who I am. It just really angers me because I also see lots of other patients being treated this way and many of them are elderly. Luckily for them, they tend to find that time useful for a little nap. Me, not so much… Some of us are trying to carry on working through this cancer lark because they can’t claim any benefits at all (and to keep themselves sane).

… and breathe.

Anyway, it will all be over soon! I’m going to leave this one there and will hopefully be back soon with a more cheerful post. I just need to get through the last two, and hope that my brain unscrambles itself soon after as writing doesn’t come so easily to me these days. #chemobrain

Until next time x

Here’s s pic of me after I had my eyebrows tattooed in Paris… I’ll blog about the whole process once I get back from my next trip… Yes, I have to return and get them touched up!

Eyebrow Tattoo

My hair has been growing back for a few weeks now. Hurrah! I was expecting not to get any back until chemo was over, but apparently it’s normal on the medication I’m on. Nothing like a head start ;)

Chemo Hairgrowth

Last, but not least. Alex managed to raise £1,126.50 for Macmillan, by taking part in Brave the Shave. Sadly his sister lost her battle to cancer just before we left for Paris. She fought a good fight over many years, but sadly lost. I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked, but we all know the Parsons family are a lovely bunch. Rest in peace xxx

Brave The Shave

 

 

The Evening Before my First Chemo Session

I was just sitting here, wondering if I should be doing something fun on the evening before my first chemo session tomorrow. After what seems like forever, the day is almost here. I’ve decided against heading out for some sort of vegan feast though, as I’ve got an rather annoying sharp pain in my boob, after it was abused at the hospital yesterday – I guess that sometimes, you just need to rest up and get your work done in preparation for the sick days that are about to come. No vegan fun times for me!

I’ve been to the hospital a few times in the past week. The first visit was to have a PICC line inserted. My veins are playing silly buggers and proving difficult to find, so having a tube attached to my body for the duration of the chemo (that’s eight sessions, once every three weeks), will apparently make things a whole lot easier… Well, that’s if they can get the damned thing in! Turns out there are no visible veins anywhere useful, so I ended up going through a rather traumatic time, only to come away with nothing inserted and just one massive bruise to add to my collection. Grrr. I now have to go back in a few weeks, doing without a PICC line for the first session, but it seems as though I’m getting used to all of this pain, so I’m not too worried.

Without going into too much detail – just imagine the tube being inserted into the top of my arm, and then poof, the vein just disappeared before it makes it to the goal. Who knew that was even possible? Is that possible? Well, that’s the story they told me, and it ruddy hurt. I had my support team with me (Alex), but he unfortunately didn’t bring his A-game and passed out at the sight of it all. Amazing skills! I’m a little upset that I didn’t get to see the grand fall, but the news did perk me up a little. Look, I’ll take anything for a good laugh these days!

My most recent visit to the hospital was yesterday for an MRI scan. Obviously someone needs to have a word with the person that makes the appointments because I was booked in for 7.45am! I mean, do they not know that I like to sleep? And yes, I am still sleeping pretty well, even though I have been diagnosed with cancer. We were there before the staff obviously (because they too were hoping for more sleep), but it wasn’t long before I was face down, with my boobs dangling (well, I say ‘dangling’, but that’s probably an exaggeration) through two holes in an MRI table (TMI?). All pretty easy and twenty minutes of no pain. Hurrah. #glamorous.

Next up, I had to have a coil marker inserted. “This won’t hurt anything like the biopsy”, said the doctor… He lied. It effing killed. He also said that he had found another lump… He was lying about that too. Phew! I guess some people cope with pain better than others, but I don’t want to be going back for one of those anytime soon. No, siree. The coil marker has been placed in my breast to mark where the tumour currently is. If all goes well, the chemo will shrink it right down to nothing and then, ta da! the surgeon can see where the tumour was and just remove the tissue around the area where it used to sit. It had better bloomin’ disappear after all of that – I’m currently sleeping in a bra for added support to help the pain. Sad times. A good tip though – it helps a lot.

As for tonight… Well, I might have a gin and sit on my balcony, contemplating life before I officially become a ‘chemo patient’. Or I might just carry on as usual because tomorrow is just another day that I’ll work my way through, no matter what is thrown at me… That will probably still involve a gin though.

See you on the other side.

x

See… No one was there at 7.45am!

The Evening Before my First Chemo Session

 

And an obligatory cat shot, even though he has nothing to do with this post…

Not So Fat Cat

 

 

 

MOVEMBER

My job is quite satisfying, but I wouldn’t say club promotion is going to change some of the serious issues that we face in the world today! In the past, I have often wondered how I could put my online PR skills to beneficial use and help others – So, when my friend Alice Harold, asked if I could help with a bit of work for the 118 118 Movember campaign the other week, I was more than happy to oblige… My time to give to others, by using my Facebook sharing skills, has finally come. Hurrah!

The original idea for Movember first started out in Melbourne, Australia and now over one million people participate annually to raise awareness and funds for early detection, diagnosis and effective treatment of male prostate and testicular cancer. Let’s face it, most men talk a lot less about their health than women (not quite the case in my house) and it’s definitely time for that to change.

The way Movember normally works is that men get sponsored to grow hideous (in my opinion) facial hair and take daily pictures to show their progress over the month of November (obviously).  The 118 TacheOff app has been lovingly created, so that those of us without facial hair growing abilities, can get in on the action too!

It’s an app that allows everyone to have a bit of fun, whilst raising money for Movember at the same time. You simply select a designer tash to put on images of your kids, cats, dogs, husbands, girlfriends, bit on the side, or err… just about anyone you want to really. From there, the kind folks at 118 will donate £1 to Movember, after you have added your dashing tacheoff picture to your profile. Easy, fun and all for a great cause.

On top of all that, 118 118 are offering an iPad 2 to the person that has the most votes for their submitted picture.
Now, I suggest you go and get creative (like me) and put a tash on it here:
http://www.facebook.com/118TheNumber

Enjoy x

The Movember website is packed full to the brim with all the info you need to know about cancer awareness.

See Alice Harold’s wonderful blog here: http://morethantoast.org/