First attempt at blogging. I’m new to all this. But hey ho, will give it a go. My aim is to write about life, right now.
A bit about me : Aged 43, wife, mum of two boys, charity worker and all round busy person. All very mundane.
Why I’m writing this? Well it’s a type of journal. A place to whinge and feel better. Whinge a little. Not too much. Promise.
To set the scene….
On my birthday I felt a lump. Yes, a lump. Bit of a rubbish birthday present. Didn’t tell anyone as my folks were over visiting. Plus nothing was actually wrong. Really.
After a few days it disappeared with some bruising, but I went to my Doctor anyway. He said to come back if in a few weeks, if needed, which luckily I did as I wasn’t happy. He suggested I go to my local cancer charity who do mammograms as there was nothing he could refer me on for as ‘urgent’ . It would mean I wouldn’t get a scan til March 2015 at least , given the pressures on our NHS.
Totally had forgotten the decent health insurance we have via my husbands work which would have done it sooner, but I was seen within two weeks at the charity.
My mammogram was easy enough but something on this got me referred to the one stop breast clinic at the Regional Cancer Centre. The letter said four out of five such referrals were fine. I assumed I’d be one of the four.
I spent a morning getting poked and prodded, more scans, an ultrasound and a biopsy. In between which I accidentally saw WAY too many elderly lady boobs in the waiting room, due to the ill-fitting gowns.
Then a meeting with the Consultant. The waiting room emptied. Husband kept saying ‘ it’ll be fine’. Last patient of the day. Consultant came in, I saw her expression….and I just knew.
I’m not ill I thought.
JANUARY 30 2015
As surgery approached I began to panic about the general anaesthetic. Silly I know but I was convinced I wouldn’t wake up. Ridiculous anxiety .
Anyway, got to the day ward for 7am. On my own in a taxi, so the kids wouldn’t be disturbed or know anything was awry.
Anyway met 2 chatty wonderful women , we collectively rallied each other’s spirits and moaned about being hungry.
There was no surgery in the morning due to theatres being inspected. While inconvenient, it was good as I knew they would be spotless and everyone would be on their toes.
9am. A trip for me and an older lady up to radiography to receive a tracer isotope. This was to enable the surgeon to locate and remove sentinel nodes -lead lymph nodes that can show if cancer has begun to spread.
How they do it it is, in hindsight pretty funny. But at the time it was excruciating.
A portly bow tied gent introduced himself with a radiographer.
After which , he injected the side of my nipple with radioactive gunge.
That wasn’t the worst. The worst bit was then having to massage my own boob, for a couple of minutes , under the watchful eye of said Doctor.
The scan after that , was pretty easy.
Got back to the ward and the other lady came and sat on my bed. She was a bit out of sorts bless her. She said “I’ve never done anything like that in front of a man. Never in all my puff” .
Time rolled on. We could smell the nurses lunch. Even the magazines we had between showed page after page of food. Humour got us through.
Then one by one people were wheeled off. I was the only one left. It was 4 p.m. I knew I had to recover enough by 8p.m. or I’d have to be admitted as the ward was only a day ward.
4.20p.m.. Finally wheeled down. Pretty panicky and my heart rate went up to 140. Last thing I remember is the rapid ‘ping ping ping’ of the monitor.
Woke up crying at 7p.m.. Has happened before with anaesthetic. But partly relief too. Made it down to the ward and forced the mandatory tea and toast down. Walked out the door, 8p.m. on the dot, having put a bit of make up on.
We picked up the kids from MILs, and that was that. Almost normality.
Day 11: Had scalp tingling on day 11 after chemo. Having looked it up I knew it was a sign that the epirubicin (part of the FEC treatment) was working to blast all the fast dividing cells. Unfortunately some of the fastest cells are in your hair follicles.
Day 13: Ran my hands through my hair. About 20 strands came out. Ran them through some more. More came out.
This happened through the day. Was surprised at how low I felt about it.
I know it’s temporary. I know I am choosing to have the treatment to ensure I have another 40 years hopefully.
Day 14: A lot more. Going to have to arrange to collect the wig.
Going to have to tell the kids too.
Mood isn’t great tbh. But I’ll get there once I get my head round it. No pun intended.
Day 15: Run my fingers through and loads comes out. I definitely have less all over. Ordered a spare wig online. Hopefully will arrive in time.
Sunday: Out in absolute handfuls. Looks straggly. Pony tailed it all day to hide from the kids. This resulted into a third of said ponytail coming out when I took out the bobble.
Wishing I’d taken the plunge and got it short before it came to this. But that would have meant explaining things at school gates. I.e. Drastic haircut. Then sudden long hair lol.
Monday: Went to get my wig fitted. Booked myself into a Look Good Feel Better thing run at the Macmillan Centre. And a makeup demo. Mainly because you get freebie products but also shown how to draw on eyebrows. Which will be useful.
As I was collecting the wig, a teenage girl was coming out, with her mum and wigs. I will never complain about having to wear it. Imagine being 14 or so and having to wear one. Doesn’t bear thinking about.
So..kept it on from the fitting. Nipped round Sainsburys. Did school run. Nobody even noticed. Not even the kids. My spare cheaply wig from Annabelle”s Wigs online arrived today too. Only £26 and actually looks like the posh one.
Wednesday: Not much left. Straggly long bits and handfuls and handfuls out. I got a hairdresser to cut it v short. He says clippers would be too traumatic. After this I looked pretty good. Patchy but good . Wigs fitted better too.
Couple of days of jumping out of bed to put my hair on before my boys saw. Took it’s toll though. I had to tell them so they wouldn’t be upset if they came into our bed for cuddle. I said ” Mummy’s had some medicine like strong antibiotics. It’s made my hair fall out a lot, but it will grow back in May’. They accepted all this, didn’t ask why. No further questions. Told them their teachers knew, if they ever wanted to talk about it, but that it was just a side effect. Phew!
To be continued