The Big C

Posted 20/11/2016

I have been absent. There are some things that even magic can not block. After a bad start to the year, things took a turn for the worst. If you follow my Twitter of Facebook page, you probably have a clue. In May 2016 I was diagnosed with Breast cancer. Today I had my final injection. Tomorrow I start my recovery. I have seen the adverts that say it is the hardest battle you will face. Until now, I never really comprehended how much of a battle it is. It is also a battle you will never ever stop fighting. It stays with you. I was lucky, I had a very very supportive son and a very strong faith. I am still here.

Real life often gets in the way of our plans, hopes and dreams. I, for one, had never EVER thought I would get Cancer. Its nowhere that I know of in our family. I thought that kept me safe. I didn't like the sun, didn't smoke or drink. I was pretty healthy (without being a health nut!). Even my Dr commented on how healthy I was, pointing to my reluctance to take medicines unless I absolutely had too which was rare!

But all that changed this year. The last six months have been something that I would not even wish on my worst enemy. Unless you have had first hand experience of cancer and its treatment, you really are in the dark. Things start out as a bombshell and slowly turn into a nuclear explosion! Being told you have cancer is devastating. After that you only take in half what anyone tells you and you even forget that.

My cancer was a lump in my left breast which, when removed was a whopping 5.5cm!! My problem was, even at that size, you could not even feel a lump. A biopsy had to be taken to confirm it was cancer. Three weeks later I was under the knife, and my left breast was removed in a mastectomy operation. I was lucky, the operation was relatively pain free (Guess I was used to pain after my back and leg pain!).

Then I had another scare. There was a small lump in my right breast! The clinic was 99% positive it was a cyst. It was OK, no it wasn't, yes it was, no it wasn't.... After 3 weeks of back and forth, the surgeon decided he wanted it removed "just in case". This was to delay my starting chemo. Little did I know at the time, that this was to be the easy part.

Chemotherapy added a whole new dimension to battling cancer. First I was told I was to go onto Fec-T. Second I was told, I would loose my hair. At that point I felt heartbroken. I had spent the last 18 months growing my hair after having it chopped off and it was just long enough, only just, but was, just long enough to start adding in my clip in ponytails that I had amassed off eBay...

So my chemo regime started. 18 weeks in 3 week cycles. Each cycle includes 7 days of injections after the chemo. I had at that point no idea in any way how devastating the treatment would be to me physically and mentally. Fec was not too bad the first two cycles, I had a week of being down, then what I referred to as my "gallivanting" week where I had a lot of energy then the last week where you prepared yourself for chemo again.

The 3rd chemo, it was bad. No it was horrendous! The procedure was rushed, I was not hydrated properly and it led to the worst reaction you could imagine and then some. I Did not recover from that Fec treatment I now think. It was not really the fault of the nurse I guess, they were short staffed, every time I went in they were short staffed. I was lucky though in the fact that I had a most fantastic brilliant district nurse called Helen. She told me to complain, which I did, which led to the next problem.

The Chemo Oncologist, the person who is in charge of your chemo treatment, I discovered, was not only rude, off-hand, inconsiderate, cold, abrupt and generally not someone I felt I coud converse with about my treatment. She went on to admit she had no idea even how chemo was administered! Things went downhill from there.

I started then the second phase of the chemo. Docetaxel (Taxotere). The Chemo Onco told me I would have a bit of joint pain. She negated to tell me anything else. Talk about being knocked into the air by a stream roller that then went on to roll over you a few times does not even come close to describing the devastating side effects. The first was hard. the second was unbearable. I really came close to giving up at this point. Only the passionate plea from my son saying the next was the last convinced me to continue. TBH the final chemo was not as bad as the second. By this time I was taking medication like a junkie before the aside effects kicked in that I did manage to negate some but others remained stubbornly there.

At this point I have finished the injections, having the last one this morning (sadly a day late, the second error from the hospital, my injections should have commenced on the Sunday after chemo as always, this one was booked to commence from the Monday so I had to go a day longer than I had hoped).

It has lifted a weight off me. Besides a visit to my lovely GP at the end of the month, I do not have to go back to the hospital until the end of January 2017.

So here I am, finally feeling that I finally have some semblance of life ahead of me. It can take 6-9 months to get the chemo out of your system and to make some full sort of recovery but many effects stay with you longer, for years, even the rest of your life.

But there are many other things you take for granted. I had to chuck out most of my bras (some brand new) as they no longer fit the falsie correctly. All my tops and dresses with cleavage cuts, its sewing needle out or, sadly, charity shops. Nothing fits like it used to. Steroids piled on the weight, and a new battle begins to get that sorted.

But there is one important thing to remember. I am alive.


Those who don't believe in Magic will never find it...

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