Cancer Returns

Posted 23/9/2018

No one ever makes a 100% recovery from cancer. No one, once they have had cancer, are cancer free. There is always something hidden. It is still in you, waiting, watching, biding its time until it decides to wake up and attack again. It can be weeks, months or years. You MAY be lucky and it never returns but that is rare. I think being told you are cancer free is wrong. You should be told that the current cancer has been dealt with but we must keep on our guard just in case. I never believed I was cancer free. I always believed I would get it back (well a 5.5cm lump plus it was in 15/16 lymph nodes, I was under no illusion.)

Now, after this battle, after nearly 2 years of being cancer free, 8-9 weeks of nearly every kind of scan you can have at my local hospital, I have just found out that my cancer has returned in my bones. I now have bone cancer in my sternum, back, hip and pelvis. It is NOT curable. It is now a point of managing it. I am about to have 2 new medications added to my routine.

The most frightening thing about my cancer return is the fact is was by pure chnace it was found. I had a few weeks of some chest pain after a chest infection. the infection was cleared with anti-biotics but the pain persisted. A chest x-ray came back clear. I had just had my medication changed so put it down to that. It was when I went to see my surgeon for a routine appointment (plus prepping for a hernoia op) that he noticed my pain when I sat up. He decided to send me for a bone scan.A week after my bone scan, the pain finally went. It was a huge relief. I went back for the results as I was also seeing the surgeon for the last time before being admitted for my hernia. I was in high spirits as the pain was gone, I was in the clear. But... it was not clear... there was a shadow... My weeks of scan after scan began.

It took weeks to finally get the result that my cancer had returned. I now had secondary breast cancer in the bone. My back is covered. Its is on one side of my hip and pelvis (which side I already can not remember!) as well as where the original pain was, in my chest. But was that original pain related to the new cancer? There is no way to tell.

The upside of all this is that I have no cancer is any organs, and I have NO symptoms what so ever at this time. The hope is we have found it early enough to manage it and give me a better chance of life.

Cancer changes you. It leaves you with scars both visible and hidden. There is also a longer consequence, an after effect, of the cancer, treatment or medication. Some things can last months, years, even the rest of your life. Even though I recovered from cancer, I never really made a full recovery from the treatment. I was lucky in some ways and some long lasting effects can be devastating but mine are more subtle.

The first and major effect is tiredness. A long lasting, never ending tiredness. Even though I went back to work, life and family, the tiredness never ever receded. Every day I go back to bed at lunch time to enable me to get through the day. The days I do not manage that, I am on my knees by the end of the day, physically, mentally and emotionally. Another lasting effect is to my nails, they are just damaged to the point they peel, bend and break constantly. I never had this problem before.

I, like many others, have tried the supplements etc, and like others, sometimes the nails just never recover. Then there are the side effects of the medications you are on for years afterwards. After my hair started to grow, I was hit by even more hair loss. I have lost nearly 40% of my hair. First I was prescribed Tamoxifen, I then went onto Letrozole. Both are described as “chemo” drugs. My hair loss now is due to the medication I am on. My hair has grown back but is so thin. It is so noticeable on my crown that even now I still continue to use a wig. Every time I look in the mirror, the woman I see has changed. It is not me.

One thing that was really brought home to me was the elemnt of luck! I found out later that some of the specialists had discussed cancelling the original bone scan as they were sure it was not cancer. I am so very thankful and lucky that the scan had gone ahead. One week later, the pain had gone. I would be here now with bone cancer and no idea at all. Bedtime I got symptoms I would have greatly reduced my chance of survival.

I think right now I was very luck…

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

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