I have been diagnosed with breast cancer!!! I’m only 42?! Luckily I have a fantastic family and group of friends around me and I am trying to stay as positive as possible and take it one step at a time.
Finished work today in order to focus on getting myself better. I saw the oncologist this week and what with the fitting of a Hickman line, having an ECG, meeting the chemo nurses, going for a wig appointment (tempted to go blonde!) and starting the chemo I appear to have a busy time ahead of me!
Had a busy week last week, finishing with an overnight stay in hospital on Friday due to my blood pressure not settling down after surgery (Hickman line insertion). I was discharged on Saturday although needed to pop back on Sunday as I had an allergic reaction to the dressing resulting in my skin blistering!! The surgeon has assured me that the Hickman line will become my new best friend, the jury is out on that one at the moment!! Had my first chemo session yesterday where the Hickman line did score some brownie points as meant that I didn’t need to be prodded about with injections unlike some of the others around me. My diary is full of appointment re line flushing, blood tests, heart monitoring, chemo etc.
My admiration for the medical staff, in particular the breast cancer nurses, keeps on growing and I feel very ‘safe’ in their hands.
OMG I had to have open heart surgery last Wednesday night due to a blood clot on my line travelling into my heart…..extremely rare I’ve been informed but very scarey!!!
I was in intensive care for a couple of days and am now on a ward with a plan to come home today!! Feels very early but I suppose they know best and to be honest it will be nice to get home and get some decent sleep without having nurses waking you up throughout the night to take your blood pressure or having one of the older patients walking around the corridors looking for blue horses at 3am!!
I have had procedures done to me that I didn’t even know existed and my body has been through hell but it’s amazing how quickly your body starts to recover. I am walking about now and all devices, tubes, wires etc. have been removed. I am in some discomfort still but I suppose that’s to be expected seeing as though they chilled me to 15 degrees, broke my sternum in half and opened up my heart!! I’ve got a great scar to show the grand kids!! My admiration and gratitude for the medical staff at the QE hospital is huge and when I met the heart surgeon back on the ward the words ‘thank you’ just didn’t seem to be enough no matter how many times I said it!
I am having district nurses coming out morning and evening to give me blood thinning injections and have an appointment next Monday with the breast surgeon as the revised plan is to move to surgery next and put the chemo on hold for the time being. My mobility is improving each day and I am now able to move about the house and garden a bit in between day time TV shows!
I had my pre-op last week and am due to have further surgery next Tuesday where they will be removing the tumour, via a lumpectomy, and all of the lymph nodes from under my one armpit. While I am not looking forward to it my surgeon has reassured me that in comparison to my last surgery this will be a breeze! Following on from this I will be meeting with my consultant to discuss the ‘findings’ from the surgery and agree the next steps. One option is to move straight to radiotherapy and Herceptin for 12 months. However, if I do have more chemo, which is my preferred option as I want everything they can give me to beat this, they will continue with the blood thinning injections and keep a close eye on me. I will continue to put my trust in the medical team at the QE and stay positive with the help of friends and family.
Well what’s happened since I last wrote….
I had my surgery just over 3 weeks ago where they removed the tumour and the lymph nodes from under my armpit. On the whole the operation went well although ended up having to stay in overnight for observation as the pain blocker had seeped into my arm resulting in me losing all movement and feeling in my arm and hand… what a strange feeling a bit like when you sleep on your arm and it feels like it isn’t yours anymore! Had my follow up appointment today and was told that the operation was a success and that they had removed the tumour with clear margins (size had reduced from 2.7 cms to 1.5 cms due to the two bits of chemo I did manage to have before the clot incident). Therefore no further surgery is required…. phew!! I was also told that they had removed 17 lymph glands of which two were cancerous, supposedly anything under four is considered to be positive.
So what next…. Well I now need to see my consultant to see what the plan is, it will certainly involve radiotherapy, Herceptin and hormone tablets but there is a bit of a question mark over whether I will go back and finish off my chemo treatment or not. I think it’s a question of weighing up the risks of further clotting with the potential benefits.
My life seems like it is taken up with hospital appointments and visits from the district nurses at the moment but in between all of this I enjoy visits from friends and family and being chauffeured around!
After seeing my consultant it was decided that I would go back to chemo which I had last Thursday. While I am feeling a bit rough at the moment I am sure that it is the right decision. Chemo and Herceptin were given via a cannula this time as I was extremely reluctant to have another line installed, luckily my consultant agreed with me and the chemo nurses are very experienced at fitting cannulas. The day after chemo I had an injection to boost my bone marrow in order to reduce the risk of infection, however, the down side of this is that my legs and hips are aching like mad! My next chemo is on 4th December, with my final chemo session being on 24 December. I can think of lots of other places I would rather be on Christmas Eve but at least it will be the last one and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. Managed to do a bit of shopping before chemo started and all I can say is thank goodness for online shopping!! I have three weeks of radiotherapy at the end of January, attending every week day, however, I’ve been told that this is really quick and it takes longer to find a parking space than it does to do the procedure!
Happy New Year
Well this round of chemo has really knocked me about and I was admitted into hospital for a few days after my second chemo session as my temperature went up to 39 degrees and I was put on intravenous anti-biotics. As a result of this my chemo on Christmas Eve was postponed until 30 December in order to give me time to recover and gain some strength. The upshot of this was that I actually felt quite well on Christmas day and had a lovely day with family and friends. I am pleased to say that I have now completed chemotherapy and with each day’s side effects I can think at least I don’t have to do that day again!
So what next…
Well I have a radiotherapy planning appointment a week tomorrow where I have a CT scan and three carefully placed tattoos given in order that they can line me up properly each time. I’ve been told that the tattoo artist isn’t very good and only does blue dots, not even roses or dolphins!! I am then going to be having 23 days of radiotherapy, weekdays only.
For the next 10 months I will continue with herceptin but this will change from being given via an infusion to a subcutaneous injection every three weeks. I am also going to start hormone injections to bring on the menopause…oh joy!!!
I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are planning on marking the end of this journey with a party in order to raise money for a local charity linked to the QE hospital called Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer. I feel that it’s the least I can do to say thanks to all of the people who have supported me and given me such fantastic medical treatment.
I have now finished my radiotherapy and other than some skin damage it was fairly incident free! 23 days of visiting the QE Hospital for my radiotherapy sessions was like Groundhog Day but the medical team were very nice and felt like my best friends by the end!!
I had my first hormone implant two weeks ago which a nurse at the hospital put in to my tummy with a device that closely resembled a screwdriver!! This is something that is going to be repeated every four weeks for the next two years so is something that I am going to have to get used to! I’m also continuing with the Herceptin injections every three weeks until November. Luckily the Clexane injections have now finished as I was starting to resemble a pin cushion!!
I am pleased to say that I am beginning to feel like myself again and thankfully the chemo haze is lifting.