Move away from the cancer lady. There is nothing to see here.........
I haven't posted for a while. Things have been ticking along quite nicely. Nothing sinister to report. Good things have been happening too. So here is a just a little wee blog post. It's incredibly boring. Read at your own leisure. Or don't. It's up to you.
1. WARRIOR PRINCE RIDES AGAIN
I was at the Fountain Centre a few weeks back. Waiting for my acupuncture appointment. Whilst I was in the reception area, Warrior Prince popped in. He needed to book a room for a team meeting and wondered if the lovely ladies at the Fountain Centre could help?Cue fangirl mode. The ladies went wild. Much girly giggling. They all got a bit flustered. I told them he was my consultant. Instantly my qudos was increased. "He's your consultant. Oh, my! Do you not try and see him every week? I would if he was mine!"
He saw me and said Hi and gave me a big hug. We exchanged pleasantries and he took me into a side room for a quick chat and an update. We joked and chatted and I mentioned I was a bit worried about some "lumpy" bits, probably unnecessarily, as they are just necrosis or something. He had a feel around and said he agreed with my medical diagnosis, but would try and see me a bit earlier in clinic (next appointment not until December) and give me a scan and an MOT, because "otherwise he would worry".
And then he thanked the ladies again for sorting him out his room. And the ladies swooned and said "No problem. Plese do come back anytime. For anything. We would love to see you again". And I got a cup of tea and a biscuit.
2. MR BOND - DAMN STRAIGHT
Last week I went back down to East Grinstead for my follow up appointment with the Plastics Team. I met a new doctor, a nice lady with a very URALS twang - I think she must have been Russian. I did not get her name. She examined me and I mentioned the bumpy bits again. She conncurred with me and Warrior Prince. One bit she thought was probably necrosis - it can take up a year to sort out! She said "When you have a mastectomy, everything gets moved about and muscle etc can be felt in places where you would not have noticed it before." She also said the really lumpy bit I could feel was where they took a piece of rib out - I could feel the end jutting through. However, she said a scan would probably be a good idea, just to put everyone's mind at rest. So I am sure that will come through in due course.
Mr Bond then popped in and said hello. We chatted about gigs and music, as usual. He advised he was off to see The Clash. He inspected me and said that the left boob is still slightly bigger than the right. Both Alex and I have agreed, no more surgery, unless its essential, so we both said "No, don't worry. Can live with it being lopsided. Do not want any more operations" He said"But you want a nipple, right?" So I nodded and we filled out the forms and did the MRSA swabs for the nipple recon and now I am on the waiting list for that. Not sure if he will do it but I trust the team, under his stewardship, there and I am sure whoever does it will do a very good job.
Then Alex and I went for lunch. We had McDonalds. See. Romance is not dead. It lives long and prospers in the Richardson house!
3. TAMOXIFEN - GGGGRRRRRR
Well I have been on this a while now. And I have to say, I HATE IT. HATE IT. HATE IT. HATE IT. Chemo was pants. But at least with chemo you could count the sessions off and I knew when I got to Number 6, I was done. Bloody Tamoxifen is a different story. I have to take it for at least FIVE years. Warrior Prince said he would prefer it if I could stay on it for 10. When he said that I felt like banging my head on the desk. Here are the problems I have with it:
(a) Night Sweats and Hot Flushes. These are getting worse. I barely get any sleep before I wake up dripping wet and feeling so hot that I could self-combust. I tried the acupuncture. It doesn't seem to have worked. I walk every day. Eat a sensible and healthy diet. Nothing. No effect. Nada. I googled Side Effects, thinking if they are really bad, perhaps it means the Tamoxifen is working really well? No - there is no scientific evidence on which to base this assumption. Poo. So will just have to get on with it. At least it will save on heating bills when the winter sets in. Ha, bloody, ha!
(b) Weight Gain. I can't shift the pounds I put on during the sodding chemo. If anything, I am eating less (and I am keeping a food diary so I do know what passes these lips) and putting on more. Its doing my head in. Being overweight increases your risk of cancer. So that's really helpful - for someone that has already had/got cancer, give them a drug that makes them put on weight!!!!!! Tamoxifen slows your metabolism down. It also decreases the amount of Oestrogen your ovaries produce, thereby putting you into menopause (I was 10 years off menopause before the sodding cancer!). Menopause slows your metabolism down too. Thanks for that.
(c) Headaches and Nausea. I feel sick on and off pretty much through the day. And the headaches hound me too. This is due to the Tamoxifen - it metabolises in the Liver, putting that under strain, which makes you feel nauseous and also induces stress / anxiety, which can manifest as headaches (as well as axe-man pyscho mood swings!). Lovely.
There have been lots of articles recently about the drug's side effects, its effectiveness and quality of life. Lots of women have chosen to come off the Tamoxifen early. I can understand why. My cancer is very Oestrogen and Progestron positive. It feeds on my hormones. So I don't have much choice really. But even then, Tamoxifen is only 30 - 50% effective. But I'll take those odds. I still don't like the blasted thing though.
4. MOVING ON
I am trying to think about the "Caa-nn-cer" less everyday. I still worry it will come back. Breast Cancer is notorious for that. It's insidious. If you catch it when it is still DCIS, you have over 95% chance you have got all the son-of-a-bitch. I had some DCIS. But I also had the other stuff. The bad stuff. Which had already spread by the time I was diagnosed. Who knows how long it had been there , growing inside me? Five years? Ten Years? So that's why my prognosis isn't so certain. If I can get through the next two years. That's great. I will still not be "cured". If I can get to 5 years, I can go into remission (do I get time off for good behaviour?). But I am still not "cured" . Ultimately, I don't think I can ever say I am "cured" . I can just hope it has gone and does not return. All I can hope for is to be a NED - no evidence of disease.
But if it does come back, it had better run. Because I WILL bloody well kick it in the goolies and punch it in the head. I am determined to stay well and beat the sodding thing. It's just hard. It is always there in the back of your mind.
To quote Ade Edmundson (re: Jennifer Saunder's battle with BC) - 'No one gets the all-clear. 'The treatment lasts five years ........You just get battered with a load of drugs. ... it's a long grind, like a slow car crash that will last five years and then, hopefully, we'll get out.' That kinda sums it up really.
Now this is the most important and epic bit really. As you all know, if you can be bothered to read my blog, I do like my music. In fact this has been what has pretty much kept me going through the last year and a bit. Alex, my poor, long-suffering hubby, says it has given me a new lease on life. I think he may be right. It has certainly given me something to look forward to. And I have had some wonderful news. My friend, Tina, told me about a competition last week on Kerrang Radio, to win tickets to see Fall Out Boy. I entered. I never win anything. Anyway, I got a phone call to tell me I have won two tickets!!!! To see them at Wembley in March 2014! (I have also managed to book tickets for Cardif too - why fangirl once when you can fangirl twice? Once is not enough!!).Big, big thank you to Kerrang Radio and O2 Priority. And also to Tina too! It's really the best news ever. And I am damn well going to look my best for Wembley. Just in case I bump into them. So roll on the diet. And the nipple tattoo. And the other tattoo too. (I have the design in my head, just gotta pluck up the courage to do it!). Come on Patrick - you know you wanna meet me!!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, So Think Pink. Check your boobies. And never, ever give in! No matter how hard or dark things appear, there is always light, there is always hope, and most of all there is always Music!!!