My story begins in August 2011. I noticed a bump in my right bosom and under my right armpit. Went to see my GP the next morning who promptly referred me to the Breast Unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford.
I have a mammogram, ultra sound and a biopsy on my right bosom. On the 5th September 2011 my husband John and I were told that I had breast cancer, I was then referred to an Oncologist, and the Chemotherapy Macmillan team where we were told that I would have the following treatments. Chemotherapy first to shrink the lump in my bosom, then a complete right mastectomy and Dieppe tummy reconstruction at the same time. This was to be a ten hour operation but once id woke from the op, I knew that I would get stronger every day and fully recover from the massive surgery, which I surly did. Then three weeks of radio therapy, recover from radio, then start on Hercepton (anti-cancer drug, given through a drip every three weeks.) Wow, shit, how was I going to do all this?
I decided that I couldn’t only do one thing at a time and think about one treatment as it come along and ask questions at the beginning of each treatment.
Our minds were completely all over the place, with panic, worry, fear, dread, questions about cancer and our stomachs in knots. I spoke to a friend of ours about it and she said to me. “T you will set the pace for how you want to deal with this.” She was so so right, I though loads, spoke to John, my family and our friends. I also read lots of empowering books that my sister Jannette had given me one in particular. “FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY” (Susan Jeffers) this particular book has been an absolute godsend to me throughout cancer living with me. One quote I love is “THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR, BECAUSE I CAN HANDLE IT.” I reaffirm this every day and believe me it bloody well works. I continued through each of the treatments dealing with and asking questions one at a time. I lost all my hair, my finger and toe nails all peel out. M feet played up badly from one of the Chemo’s where I found walking difficult, fatigue, loss of appetite, but every single day I did my lipstick, powder and paint, dressed up, did my house work (sometimes help with the housework) and continue d going to work (I was then looking after a lady living in her own home with dementia).
I continued enjoying my life. Then in May 2013 I went for a routine CT Scan saw our Oncologist for the results and he told us that it was in my lungs, if I am honest I wasn’t truly shocked, I knew that the disease would go elsewhere in my body as it was in my Lymph nodes from the start. I was to start Chemotherapy again, it was a new target treatment which meant this time I got to keep my hair, which I was really happy about. The side effects from this Chemo weren’t nearly so bad, fatigue and reduced appetite, I could cope with that. I will stay on this Chemo now until the disease starts to move again, which it will. I cope with the cancer in my lungs, I’ve had some time to get my head around it all, and find acceptance of what is happening inside my body.
January 2014 went to see our Oncologist for results of a routine bone and body scan and we were told the “Bastard Cancer” was now in my Pelvis and Sacrum, again. It was no great shock, although we were really stunned that it was on the move so quickly. Again we dealt with it, talked, laughed, cried, but merely and more importantly continued and every single member of the Chemo and Macmillan Team have been second to none. The support, kindness, strength, understanding and care that they have given not just to me but my John and sister Jannette, have been outstanding! Having this team beside you every step of the way is so so reassuring and supportive to all of us.
December 2014 I have this seizure in front of John and my three sisters, I was taking to my youngest sister, I knew what I wanted to say, but when it came out of my mouth, I could hear myself and it was completely muddled, my speech not making any kind of sense at all, then I bit on my tongue badly, my mouth full of blood, then I passed out! I was taken to PAH in Harlow, there I had a Heat CT Scan and needless to say the “Bastard Cancer” had now decided to settle in my brain, dour tumours. I don’t know how or why but I knew it would go to my brain, we were all so very shocked and stunned again at how quickly it was on the move yet again so ten sessions of Radiotherapy to my head at Colchester General Hospitals. I had to have a head mask moulded for head Radio, and it is horrible, a pig, tight, claustrophobic, uncomfortable, but say under my breath “I CAN HANDLE IT” unfortunately I will lose my hair again but not my eyelashes, as the treatment targets above the brow line. Great, I hated losing my eyelashes last time. I can cope with losing my hair again, luckily I have been quite a good shaped head when it’s bald and I enjoy wearing hats, scale’s and sometime one of my wigs.
I have had so-so many medications pumped into my body over the last 3 ½ years. I’m currently having my 6th different type of Chemotherapy, (my bosom, my pelvis and sacrum and my brain) currently still having Herception, Iameta (for my bone cancer). Puriton, steroids, anti-conversant tablets, stomach tablets. I’m currently on all of these except Radiotherapy. How amazing is the body to cope with all of this and your mind, I thank my body regularly for coping and dealing with all of this, I eat a healthy diet, and of course I also have what I want to eat when I fancy it as a treat.
I don’t go to feel and look and deal with cancer the way I do my own, I have the most phenomenal support love, strength, understanding, talking, caring family, friends and Macmillan team right beside me every single day. For me “setting the pace” 3 ½ years ago was the greatest thing I ever did. I’ve always felt that I could be so open and honest and talk about cancer wherever I felt the need to, for me being able to be like this has given me strength, determination, focus, peace, calm and acceptance of cancer living with me, which in turn has enabled me to continue being happy, content and enjoy every single day.
How I decided to deal with cancer was a choice, my choice. I so need and want to remain the woman that I am, I love and enjoy the woman ice become, I chose not to wear pyjamas, lay on the settee or go to bed, feel miserable, angry, cross, why me?! I can honestly say with my and on my heart and wonderful marriage to John I have “NEVER had thoughts like this”. I chose to take, be open, honest, do my lipstick, powder and paint, my house work, turn the music up to a favourite song, laugh, go out, go shopping and make love. All of these positive things help me on a daily basis to have the courage, strength determination, focus, energy and peace in my life to face whatever comes our way, its simple there is nothing to fear because “I CAN HANDLE IT”.
Our life remains happy, fulfilled, joyful and fine. I feel bloody wonderful, I’m in a really good place in my mind and in my heart.