Monday, 4 November 2013

Recuperation, reunion and results

I was given 4-6 weeks to recover from the surgery before the onslaught of chemo began.  Time for wounds to heal and for my body, and mind, to get over the trauma of surgery.  But the body never ceases to amaze me by how quickly it fights back. 

So I gradually went from slowly shuffling round the block a couple of times a day, to reaching tescos (5 mins away) before I reached the heady heights of walking into Greenwich itself (10 mins walk).  This has now become my marker of how good I’m feeling, whether I can get to Greenwich and back. 

Sadly I did miss out on going to my 1 year old niece’s naming day down in Bournemouth as I just wasn’t up to sitting in the car for the 3 hour journey down.  This was unfortunate as Will and I had been asked to be godparents.  Not a good look to be missing from the big day.  Oh well, we wrote a little poem for Chloe which was read out at the ceremony, and I’m sure she will understand the reason for our absence when she’s old enough.

With perfect timing, our very good friends from Australia visited as part of a European tour and bloody hell it was good to see them.  We’d been apart for more than 3 years and as they’d more or less been our family during our twelve years in Australia, this was a long time to be apart.  We had 3 great days with them in London, visiting the sights and generally just hanging out.  I was so happy to be feeling well enough to enjoy it and it just felt so normal to have them around.  Thanks Ben, Lou, Alfie and Lola, we love you and miss you xx


Although the doctors had some idea of my type of tumour from the initial biopsy, they needed to test the mass when it was removed in order to fully identify its characteristics.  Also, as they’d found at least one lymph node in my right armpit affected by the cancer, they’d had to remove the whole lot (15) in order to test them and see how far it extended.

The good news was that it was just the one lymph node.  I felt a bit miffed that they’d had to remove all 15 in order to find this out.  It has left me with a numb upper arm which will probably always remain that way, and I will now always be at risk of lymphedema.  This is swelling of the arm due to the lymph fluid no longer being able to drain away, and can be chronic.  Realistically, I know this is a small price to pay for getting rid of the cancer but its just another thing to worry about, amongst the long list of worries.

The doctor didn’t make a big deal of my results as he gave them to us, and I have to admit I did do a bit of googling afterwards just to find out what it all meant.  Forgive me if I get a bit technical for a minute, you can bypass this stuff if you like! 

The tumour was

·       hormone receptive (apparently good as this can be treated with hormones to stop it returning),

·       Herceptin positive (not so good as is fast growing, BUT there is now a wonder drug available which I will take for a year, again, to stop the b**stard coming back

·       3.5mm in size and grade 3 (again, fast growing)

Since finding out about my cancer I have been one of those that has listened to the doctors but not really sought any further information myself.  To my mind it’s just too easy to scare yourself by looking into things out of context, so I just trust that they will tell me what I need to know, in order for me to make the decisions that I need to.  Some may call it blind faith but its just the way I feel happiest dealing with it. 

The doctor laid out the rough details of my treatment plan.  I would have 6 sessions of chemo with 3 weeks in between each to recover.  I would then get a month off before starting daily radiotherapy for 3 weeks.  Then there was just the small matter of 5 years of hormone therapy.  Oh, and not forgetting the Herceptin injections, currently only offered via intravenous injection which need to be given every 3 weeks for a year.  Great.  There went mine and Will’s plans for buggering off on a 3 month trip next spring! 
As I started to feel better, I was keen once again to get on with things.  Everyone has heard the horror stories about chemo and I knew that this was definitely going to be the hardest part of the whole treatment.  I didn’t feel particularly scared of it (ignorance can be a wonderful thing!), but I wanted to get stuck in and get it done.

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