Monday, 30 March 2009

Chemo Session 1 - Running

I haven't updated my blog for a few days because we have been away to the caravan in Pwllheli. We had a lovely weekend break, the weather wasn't fantastic but theres something theraputic about lieing in your bed listening to the rain thud off the caravan roof.

Cancer makes you see life in a different light. The things you take for granted, simple pleasures previously ignored. I loved walking along Llanbedrog beach, a different scene with each new day. Looking for skeletons of small crabs, pretending to sail an old beaten up rowing boat stranded on the beach, saving shell creatures by throwing them back into the sea and examining rock pools. We had fun. Lots of fun. I missed bringing the dogs though so perhaps next time we come for a weekend break we will bring them too.

The side effects of chemotherapy are catching up on me; sore gums, constipation, poor circulation, dry mouth, inflamed nasal passages. The poor circulation thing bothers me the most because my skin has taken on a rather "purple" hue at times. This would be fine if it just affected my body but my face goes a funny shade too and I can see it through my make up!

Anyway; TODAY I did an important thing! I took control of the cancer! Yes, I ran!

I haven't been able to run since the biopsy because of the bruising and associated pain. I tried to run a couple of weeks ago but the bruising was still bad and it was too painful. I have surfed the net searching for other cancer sufferers who may have run through their treatment but have not been successful. I decided that the days I feel up to it, I will run. I have a short training circuit which is a pretty route around the country lanes. It is quiet and free from attacking dogs! Rather than measure my pace and distance etc which is what I was doing before the cancer struck me, I decided to take it easy and run for the pleasure.

I really enjoyed my run. The sun was shining but there was a fresh breeze, the lanes were quiet and I was sensible. I ran most of the 2 miles but when I found my heart rate was too raised, I walked then resumed the running - this is me being sensible. I returned home on a high. Not only did I have the high of running which other runners will understand but I had made a major achievement. I had run, I had run!

Sadly; I then went on to "over do" it. I cycled to my friends house for a coffee then after a hot bath to stimulate my circulation and reduce my purple hue, J and I took the dogs for a walk. It was during the dog walk I felt as though I really needed my bed. As soon as I got home..... I went to bed!

However, today was a good day - cancer hasn't beaten me and it aint gonna beat me!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Chemo 1 - Choosing a Wig

My appointment had been made to see the NHS "hairdresser" after my chemo session. I wasn't sure that I wanted a wig, I had spent by youth "wig spotting" and I didn't want youngsters doing the same to me! I decided that as it was free, I might as well have a consultation, take a wig and then the option is there. I still prefer the idea of au natrale or a bandana!

I am not vain about my hair loss. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to lose it, it will bring vattention to my "big ears" and it will be cold but I don't mind the "look". What I do mind is being obvious to everyone as "the person with cancer". I don't want to be pitied, I just want to beat this disease and get on with my life.

However, alot of time has passed since my diagnosis. I have watched videos on YOUTUBE of brave women who have shaved their hair off rather than allow cancer to kill it off first. I have practiced my bandanas. My friends and WW NCU users have created the Bandana Brigade on face book..... I am ready.

I decided to take my mum with me to the hospital to see the hairdresser. I was doing this for her more than me because she is having a hard time dealing with my breast cancer, the fact that her little girl is having to go through all of this. I can empathise because it would be like a knife going through my heart if my boys had to endure this.

I was a bit put out by the hairdresser herself. I didn't know what to expect but a bedside manner would have been nice. I have come to terms with hair loss but what about women who haven't? I was shocked that it was quite a clinical affair. No beauty treatment here! I had to ask all of the questions and wasn't even given advice. What a disappointment!

However, mum and I had quite a giggle and mum was put at ease by getting the whole ordeal over with. Me? I didn't really care.

There was a young Irish girl in the hospital at the same time as me. We had our tests the same day and the poor thing was frightened out of her mind. We got talking to her and her mother and found that they had their own struggles to deal with aside from finding a breast lump. Our stories were the same until then because whereas mine turned out to be cancer, hers was a fatty lump. I saw her the day our test results came through, I left crying and she left relieved. On each occasion her and her mother assured me that they would pray for me.

I saw this same girl in the hospital the day I went to see the wig lady! She told me how she had been thinking of me and praying for me. She then gave me her St Christopher and holy cross which she had placed next to her lump. This act of Christianity in a cruel and wicked world left me feeling warm and renewed.

I know that my prayers will be answered.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Chemo Session 1 Day 6

At last, I got a bit of sleep last night! I swear it was the Glenn Harold CD that did it!

Had lots of fun on face book and loads of giggles with pictures of the Bandana Brigade, loved the dogs the best! Memo to self: Must, Must, Must get a photo posted of me in my bandana.

My 7 year old asked me if I was going to be bald, did I want to be bald, did the doctor want me to be bald. I explained to him that I didnt want to be but that is what the medicine may do to me. He accepted that and went back to playing with his lego.

I went to my support group "Talk 4 Talk" today for the first time since my surgery and it was wonderful to see everyone again and touch base. Lots of new faces as there always is there but lots of my old faithful friends too! I was able to report on good progress made with my boys in spite of my health worries - very productive! I did find the session quite tiring and my "Chemo Brain" made me feel silly and foolish but everyone understands there.

Managed to make it onto the school yard to pick up the kids today as well, nearly got blown away in the process mind you!

Health wise I am ok, still tired, still bloated and now I have a sore gum with a swelling starting just underneath. I will have to keep an eye on that and make sure it doesnt get worse.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Chemo Session 1 - Day 5

Didn't get much sleep again last night and despite another 3 senokot tablets, no relief!
Wonderful husband got the kids to school and I managed up enough energy to appear normal and do some jobs to help them get ready for school, usual things; help H get dressed, encourage tooth brushing, positive remarks about their new hair cuts.... simple things but until you are hit by something like this, you don't realise how draining they are.
WH sought advice from our local pharmacist in Rossett (wonderful chap) and returned home with a product and advice that I was assured would work, given patience. A fellow friend had recommended this product too, so lets hope it works!
Felt so tired that I just had to go to bed. Didn't want to do my blog, read, write, watch TV or surf the net, I just wanted to sleep! Lay there with my head buzzing and tears of frustrationg rolling down my cheeks, it is awful!
Brain Wave!!!! One of my fad purchases was a hypnosis CD by Glenn Harrold "How to Lose Weight". I remembered that each time I used that CD, I relaxed and fell asleep... I had never heard that CD to the end...!!!!!!! Great!!!!! Scrabble to find earphones (they work better with this CD), managed to scrouge some from sons room and BINGO!
Did it work?..................................................................................................................................................
Result! Didn't get much sleep but enough of a power nap to give me some of the energy back that I needed to have for when my boys get home!
Plan is now to surf the net to find out if this Glenn Harold guy has any positive thought or relax CD's that may put me into a deeper sleep.
So, I have had a bit of sleep, some good advice from my pharmacist. WH tells me he is making chilli tonight and I don't feel sick so my karma is back for a while.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Session 1 Day 4

Well, yet another sleepless night with my "chemo brain" buzzing, funny dreams, drifting in and out..... At one point I was going to get up and make a cup of tea but my bed was so warm, soft and comfortable and my body felt whacked so I decided to stay.

Still got a dicky tummy, 3 senokot have not relieved the situation so more drastic actions will have to be taken this evening! I am drinking herbal teas, hot lemon water like they are going out of fashion!
Cazza and my other friends on Weight Watchers New Community Users (WW NCU's for those in the know) had me in tucks of laughter yesterday evening. Cazza rallied the troops to don their bandanas and unite with me, they are going to upload their photos onto facebook so I am going to try and do that today as well. I suggested starting a new group on face book called "The Bandana Girls" should be fun!

My best friend Jan called this morning, she is amazed at my progress but with friends like her and so much love and support around me then how can I NOT be making good progress.

This CANCER AIN'T GONNA BEAT ME it is making me a stronger and more confident person and has restored my faith in man-kind. The friendships that has come in so many different ways is amazing.

Jade Goody died yesterday, her strength and will helped it to make it to Mothers Day, a day that will always be symbolic for her sons. I have always liked Jade; funny, down to earth, the ordinary chick that "made it". She has opened the way for cancer sufferers like me, to deal with the treatment and the disease with strength, hope and dignity.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mothers Day - Session 1 Day 3

Don't feel as good today. My energy reserves are getting smaller. I have an upset tummy in that I am blocked up and even though I am drinking alot of fluids, nothing seems to help.

I didn't sleep well last night. I had lots of dreams which means I didn't get much "quality" sleep but I rested this morning.
The picture here makes me smile, a happy memory of last years holiday in Cornwall when all my plans were hatched and when I thought "it could never happen to me"

My little 5 year old friend came to visit me and she helped me feed the animals. She is like a little fairy flitting around the garden with a lovely smile and the sweetest words, she cheered me up. However, I felt my energy draining and here I am, lieing in bed yet unable to sleep with the buzzing in my head.

The boys gave me wonderful Mothers Day gifts today. Harry made a card with a picture of Wilbur on the front, complete with curly tail. He bought me a dark, smooth, crystal heart which he chose for himself. Joe's card was more ornate, with paper flowers glued to the front and diamonds cut into the centre. He said he loves me more than the universe and I believe that too! He gave me a lovely turquoise necklace which is a symbol of my birth sign. I will treasure these gifts forever.

So now the phone is ringing and I just don't want to answer it. It's not that I don't want to communicate but I havent got the energy to relate (yet again) how I am feeling. I am tired.

Everyone is doing wonderfully well without me. Jasons relationship with the boys is blossoming which is one good thing to come out of this pain in the butt of an illness, disease, whatever it is.

Now.... here I am lapsing into gloom and doom and that is what I promised myself I wouldnt "CANCER AINT GONNA BEAT ME"

I have decided today that I am going to start wearing bandanas around the house so that we can all get used to the "look" when and if I need it! I will try to get some pictures downloaded so you can all have a laugh!!!!!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Chemo Session 1 Day 2

I got to the hospital on time with my wonderful husband in tow. We were ushered into a small comfortable room with blue armchairs (poor relatives had hard back chairs!) with each armchair filled with a person receiving treatment of one kind or another.

The staff at the Shooting Star Treatment unit were wonderful, all of them. Cheerful, bright and professionally reassuring. Each aspect of my treatment was explained to me in a kind and positive way which immediately diminished my fear.

I soaked my hand in warm water to bring the veins out then was canulised. I could feel the saline pumping through with tickled and cheered me up in a funny sort of way. I then had a heated pad placed over my arm to stop the veins closing down when the chemo was administered.

My chemo was injected into the tubes by the nurse and it was a really pretty red colour... I knew it was the colour for me!

As the drugs got into my system I started to feel strange, its really hard to discribe with words but the closest description is that I felt hung over and whoozy. Once the chemo was in, the nurse let the saline pump through to help with the strange feeling.

My husband was great throughout this whole process. He was my eyes and ears, I knew I could rely on him to look after me and make sure he remembered all of the details that I knew I would forget. He is my protector!

We left the hospital at 3.15pm and were in time to meet my mum and Auntie bringing my two sons home from school and I was met with a lovely welcome. I chatted and reassured my mum who was quite upset by the whole thing and as they left my best friend arrived and was amazed at how well I looked and was holding up!

One thing this whole cancer thing has shown me is just how many friends I have, true, kind, genuine friends and a tiny minority of those people who just dont matter. Most of my neighbours have been brilliant. We have had parties, coffee chats and always words of support and jokes.

Once every one left I felt tetchy and out of sorts so although my head was buzzing I went to bed to be alone. Thats all I really wanted at the time was to be alone and lick my wounds.

The time in bed was lovely. My eldest son came up for a short time and sorted out the TV for me because I couldnt get it to work but he could!!!! Later on that night I felt well enough to join my husband down stairs and help him to sign onto face book - what fun! A packet of crisps and a glass of ginger beer later I was having a wonderful face book chat with one of my customers and one of my weight watcher buddies who is a hoot I hasten to ask. You know who you are JS!

So, here I am today. Expecting to be sick but I am not! Did they give me the chemo?????

I had terrible lower back ache last night which made me want to scream but woke up pain free this morning. I still feel hungover and my head is buzzing as though I have had too many additives...... I have bouts of energy and bouts of tiredness but it is a strange sort of tiredness because although I feel weak and tired, I cant sleep.

Boys have gone out with their Nana and my husband to celebrate their joint birthdays and although I am sad that I cant be with them I am so glad of the rest.

Downstairs, my dogs are subdued. I may have fooled everyone else about how I feel with an tirade of words and smiles but I cant fool them......

Friday, 20 March 2009

Waiting for first chemo session

It is 11.24 am and I am trying to keep myself occupied. I have my first chemo session today at 1.30pm and I am so scared. Here I am, lieing on my bed with my lap top. I have put old underwear on and a black t-shirt because the chemo I am having is red and I have been told that I may "sweat" red and don't want to ruin any nice underwear or clothes.

As I type this, I can feel my heart racing and my tummy is doing butterflies.

My friend gave me a tiny "Pawly Bear" today and its going to be my good luck charm! I have decided that when I have my chemo I am going to keep my mantra going "Cancer Ain't Gonna Beat Me". Everytime I feel low, I am going to keep my mantra going.

I will let you know how I get on.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 4th February 2009 at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. When my consultant gave me the diagnosis I felt as though my whole life had been ripped from under my feet. All the plans I had for 2009, taken away from me, I was devastated.

My first reaction to him telling me I would have a lumpectomy on 13th April was "what about the Take That 2 party I was going to?" the thought of an evening out which had been planned ages ago being cancelled was awful.

The next thing I had to come to terms with was cancelling all of my dog bookings. That was the hardest I can tell you. I love my business and my dogs are not just customers, I bond with them and I treat each and every one as though they were my own. I could only manage a few at a time because I was breaking down constantly.

The realisation that I wouldn't be doing the races I was training for either was hard. My first 10k race was due to take place in Farndon on 1st March 2009 so that was cancelled. I was also going to enter the Wrexham Race for Life 2009 and run the BUPA Manchester 10k for the National Autistic Society, all of these races - cancelled because of CANCER!

However, I decided at this point that "CANCER AINT GONNA BEAT ME" and that is how I feel.

I am NOT going to stop running - even if I only manage a couple of strides
I am NOT going to stop weight watchers because its the only thing that keeps me eating well

I AM going to race in the 2010 Farndon 10K
I AM going to do the 2010 Race for Life
I AM going to stay physically fit throughout my treatment
I AM going to beat cancer

The lumpectomy was done as planned on 13th February 2009 and my results later were clear. The cancer had been removed and the lymph nodes were clear - my friends and I had a party to celebrate and too much wine was drunk!!! It is also interesting to note that at this party I watched the phone video of the Take That 2 tribute to me, looked at the photos and laughed at the stories!

The oncologist has told me that I could lose my hair with the first part of my chemotherapy treatment. I was offered the cold cap but decided that I didn't want to be stuck in hospital having chemo longer than I needed to and anyway, I would be bald for a short space of time anyway so I am opting for the bandana look - very trendy this season, so I am told!

So, tomorrow, I have my first of 12 rounds of chemotherapy and I am scared. I am scared because it is out of my control, I am scared because I dont know how I will react.

However, I am treating this first treatment as a bit of research. I plan to keep a diary of how I feel on each day so that I can find a patern. I will use this research to plan my life around my good and bad days/weeks. CANCER AINT GONNA BEAT ME I am going to beat it and lead as normal a life as I can.