So I can’t do a Cartwheel

Well I am certainly glad that week is over.  I could hardly get off the lounge I was so tired.  Allan dragged me to my GP who said it is just my body going into stress after the whole Cancer Diagnosis, surgery HRT withdrawal adrenaline period and so now my poor old body had crashed.  She gave me some pills to help with the HRT withdrawal and said they may make you tired, which seemed a bit of an oxy-moron since I was there because I was tired.  Anyway, I did catch up on the whole series of ‘Daring Buds Of May’ over the week, and now am feeling pretty much back to normal. Bodies are funny things like that, your mind thinks, ‘Gee, I am pretty sure I could do a cartwheel on Fremantle oval’ (true story, it was many years ago) and your body with a mind of its own says ‘I don’t think so stupid, you are too old’ and your mind was right, gravity strikes mid cartwheel and you nearly do yourself an injury.

This isn't me by the way

This isn’t me by the way

Like most people diagnosed with cancer, you can’t help wondering why your body suddenly decided to go feral and make a big tumour in your breast or wherever.  Mine had grown quite quickly, so I naturally wanted to try and change whatever situation may have contributed to it.  The cancer experts give you a list of facts they know from cancer survivors, one of which was  that low vitamin D levels may make it more likely that cancer will come back.  Years ago, I had gone to my same GP because I was tired, she had run tests and found I was low in vitamin D and so I began a course of them and felt better.  Not realising the importance of things, I didn’t bother with the follow up blood tests to see how they were going and as I was ok, stopped taking them of course.  Fast forward to this past year, where I was tired all the time to the point where I thought I had caught Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from Allan, and had only just started to think, ‘maybe I am low in Vitamin D again’ when I was diagnosed with the breast cancer.

green bag not a plastic bag

During all this exploration of facts and figures, I have discovered how at the mercy of the Food Industry we are.  We have gone from don’t eat butter to eat margarine, then margarine is bad for you, don’t eat eggs because of cholesterol to now we should have them because of the Iron and vitamin D, Don’t eat red meat, only eat organic as well as don’t drink tap water causing a huge increase in people drinking bottled water, only now they are saying plastic leaches into our food and drinks when heated (plastic bottles and containers  often sit around on hot supermarket back docks where pallets of drinks and bottled products are dropped off or heat up in hot trucks) are messing with our hormones and causing cancer.  Hence the change to BPA free, only the chemical they are using instead of BPA is a mystery which the manufacturers are not prepared to divulge.  So, now we don’t know whether or not the new ingredient is any better than the BPA.  I really latched on to the plastic thing, even though my cancer was not a hormone related cancer, and was shocked to find it almost impossible to break away from plastic.  It is used everywhere.  Our meat is wrapped in it, I cook veggies in the microwave in freeze bags, we give our kids BPA free plastic drink containers, lunch boxes, forks and plates and freeze food for reheating in plastic.  Now, it is recommended that we wrap food in foil instead, after years of being told aluminium can give you Alzheimers.  Really, what are we to do.  Maybe, we should believe the biblical view, that moderation is the best policy, and ignore whatever new food fad or wrap fact the industry is throwing at us. Anyone, got any ideas on how to break free from plastic, I think it is almost impossible in this day we are living in.  Some studies are saying plastics are safe, I would like to err on the side of caution so, am trying to minimise my use of plastic at least, and plan not to ever heat anything in it again.  What are your thoughts on the subject?

This isn't me either!

This isn’t me either!

Meanwhile, back at the Chemo lead up, I have bought some cute hats and scarves and ordered a couple of cheap wigs for fun.  I will get a good one as well, but, can always use the others as swimming caps.

A Big Day Out

Sorry this blog is so long coming, but, I forgot to save it and had to start again.  We went into RPH on Friday to have a Heart Scan and see the Radiation Oncologist.  Had my third Radio Active injection in three weeks, and when I asked if that was ok, was told that the benefits outway the risks.  We had two hours to be back for the Scan to give the heart time to take up the ink, so we headed off into the City to have coffee with Scott who was waiting to start work.  Scott told us all about the plot of the script he is writing.  We felt like producers being spun a movie treatment.  I can’t wait for it to be made into a movie.  Scott is a Cinematographer and at the recent WA and SA ACS Awards in Adelaide received the Chris Ellis Award for active member showing the most potential, and the Gold for the Video Clip category he shot underwater for the ‘Willowbeats’ you can check it out here:-http://youtu.be/CV5tHLt0hDk Hopefully he will do well at the Nationals in Tasmania.  Like many parents we are overly proud of our children’s achievements, when usually they have nothing to do with us.  Anyway, I haven’t been in the city for a while so it was nice to stroll around it again, shopping and looking at some very weird stuff, as well as remembering what a great little City Perth is to live in.

This proves girls are better looking than boys

This proves girls are better looking than boys

I think this old tree has been in Murray street since the beginning of time,  who needs a patio?

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Had some lunch at Enex, then did some shopping.  I had a bit of a shoe haul as the shop was closing down and their sandals were all $20, so I let my hair down (while I can I might add) and bought three pairs.  My last pair was brand new but $3 from the Op Shop, so this was a big lash out for me.  I don’t know if I am alone, but since being diagnosed with cancer, the budget just doesn’t seem important.

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Anyway, we headed back to the Hospital for my Heart Scan which was painless and gave me a nice lay down after my walk. I was looking at other patients in wheel chairs waiting for Scans and one older gentleman who looked in bad shape and thought, there is always someone worse off than you, so you can’t feel sorry for yourself.

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After Nuclear Medicine, we headed to the Radiation Oncologist, to talk to him about Radiation treatment after the Chemo.  He was really nice and went through all the side effects and statistics, telling us that even though the tissue doesn’t get hot you may get some sun burn like effect and even blistering.  Also, your breast tissue may get harder which will not go away.  So, I said ‘contrary to what you are saying, my boob may in all likelihood get cooked and go hard’  ‘Yes’, he said and laughed..

It was a good day, and fun in-between the hospital appointments.  Now I only have a blood test to go before Chemo starts.  I am starting to feel a little like a pin cushion.

Sleeping Beauty

Ah fairy tales! aren’t they lovely, but they are just that, fairy tales. Prince Charming thought sleeping beauty was lovely laying there sleeping peacefully.  He didn’t realise that really he wandering through the forest, after getting up early (had to be early there were birds twittering and little animals out for breakfast) that his beautiful damsel wasn’t poisoned at all, but just liked to sleep late.  They say opposites attract, so if you like our beautiful princess like sleeping in, your mate probably likes to get up early.  It’s like shift work, then when kids come along, there is always someone on duty.  When we had our first baby, I would put him in bed with us and start gooing and garring till we were asked not too politely by the sleeping male to go and play somewhere else. Truthfully, I have found sleeping in boring, and traditionally only slept in on Boxing Day, or New Years Day after a late night.  Other than that people having naps in the afternoon and staying in bed till 11 am perplexed me.  I have always fired on early to bed, early to rise, so finding myself over the past few months sleeping in whenever possible, a big change.  I presume that once I get over Breast Surgery and Chemo I will return to normal and be up with the larks once again.  Meanwhile, I will try to be good to myself, and not expect perfection.

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I always felt sleeping a waste of good productivity time but it turns out we all need around 6 hours sleep a night to function properly.  It is not good to have too much or too little for optimum health.

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20459221,00.html

and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep have some interesting facts on sleep.  Did you know more run off the road car accidents are due to fatigue than Alcohol.  I guess this is why we see ‘Don’t drive Tired’ signs everywhere.

Where-do-you-live

We all know the elderly are often up before dawn and then have the customary Nanny Nap in their chair come afternoon, but, even though I am a great granny I am certainly not up at dawn.  If I want to play the glad game, all this sleeping must mean I am not old yet. Sleep is suppose to improve memory.  I’ve heard comedians say, when you are old write the Prime Ministers name on a piece of paper and put it in your handbag, then if someone asks you who the Prime Minister of Australia is, you can whip it out and answer – If you can’t they will put you in the Old Peoples Home.  Unfortunately, for Allan’s mum, she did know the Prime Ministers name (really I thought that was a joke, but the doctor asked her) yet she has still ended up in the home because she needs full time nursing care.

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Enough of the gab, I am off for my nap, so don’t wake me unless you are a handsome prince and prepared to kiss a nearly old great granny.

Some Days are Diamonds

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Sorry I haven’t posted anything for a couple of days, but, I had a cruddy weekend.  I was getting cranky cause I was so tired, and wondered if I would ever feel better.  Turned out I was brewing a Gastro Bug.  I dragged myself off to Church on Sunday as I was to do the Prayer and Praise report.  Turns out the timing was great, I became a prayer request before my surgery, a few weeks ago, then a praise report for the clear margins after surgery when I got up this week. I know that sounds a bit self-centred but people want to know this stuff, I can’t help it if they love me and giving them the information in one hit, saves me a lot of one on one question and answers after the service.  I did pray for other people as well, one of the prayer requests was for a friend of one of our families who is going through Breast Cancer surgery and chemo as well.  It is becoming epidemic.  I was shocked to find out this week that in Australia alone there are around 15,000 new breast cancer diagnosis every year.  There has to be a reason it is on the increase.  Years ago you didn’t even give mammograms a thought until you were at least 40, now girls younger and younger are being diagnosed.  Anyway, back to Sunday, thank goodness when I sent everyone off to meet and greet after Prayer and Praise, I decided not to go hug everyone as last week a few people had been a little over enthusiastic and to protect my still healing boob, I gave it a miss.  On the way home I called in to see how Hayley was doing selling her beautiful Sweetesscentials candles at Baldivis Markets.  She had our granddaughter Hannah helping her.  I did however, hug them, got them a coffee and as I was starting to feel really tired I went home to crash on the lounge.  By Sunday night the toilet bowl and I were having an intimate affair.  If I want to play the glad game, I can’t remember the last time I threw up, so in case I do get sick with Chemo, I have had a practice run.  Turns out I need to have more frozen meals, and paper plates so there is no dishes or cooking required in case I have days when I have zero energy and enthusiasm.  The man of the house has been going on about a Thermo mix thing, so maybe after 43 years he is going to get into cooking, one can only hope.  Still not feeling 100% since surgery, and coping with HRT withdrawal, getting Gastro was the straw that broke the camels back.  I have only had a couple of weeks of this, I can only imagine how much despair it causes people dealing with long term pain and illness, the sort that goes on and on and feels like there is no hope of it coming to an end.  I was suddenly more sympathetic to Allan who has been suffering with Chronic Fatigue Sydrome for many years, and who I am constantly making do more than he probably feels like doing.

 rosietheriveter_youcandoit

Today was a good day, I was back to my positive self, pottering about, catching up on some jobs, then this evening I took a book to read on the beach while Allan fished. We stayed down there till the sun had set.  I never get tired of living by the beach, its like being on holiday all the time.

This is Madora Bay Beach at Sunset - Ah Beautiful

This is Madora Bay Beach at Sunset – Ah Beautiful

If hope is taken away, people want to give up.  One of my favourite bible versus is ‘Without a vision the people perish’ we all need something to look forward to and work towards, the holiday, the new home, the new lamp or motorbike, maybe having a broken relationship repaired or like me a return to good health.  Depression experts know this is true, they encourage patients to make a plan, for the year ahead, the month or week ahead and if you are really in a bad way and that is too long, just plan for the hour ahead.  John Denver had a song Some Days are Diamonds, Some Days are Stone.  Good words, and true, we all have Stone days sometimes, but just remember there are always, always Diamond days to come.

This is for you Bob and anyone else to sway to if your legs are tired from walking like an Egyptian. (you will need to read ‘hair to day gone tomorrow’ to get this)

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

I am usually a glass half full type of person, and prefer to live my life by faith rather than fear. However, the glass half empty people have been bombarding me with depressing statistics, how many died, how many had cancers come back, as well as you may have heart problems from the chemo, lose your hair, experience tingling in the fingers, vomiting, diarrhoea etc. etc.

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Consequently I woke up this morning a bit down in the dumps, not because I could die, but because I am one of those, vanity thy name is women species and my hair may fall out.  Allan stumbled bleary eyed into the kitchen, to be greeted by a chorus of I’m going to go bald and lose my eyebrows, I will look like a boiled egg with eyes, I’ll be really ugly.  He gave me a big cuddle and said ‘how could your ever look ugly’ This gave him a big tick in his brownie point book that has seen a significant increase in entries since this cancer thing all started.  He nearly lost that point when he was helping me in with the shopping later on.  I was squeezing past the very tightly parked cars that only just fit because of the French Doors and other building paraphernalia  waiting to go into our new house, when I heard the Mission Impossible music being hummed loudly.

This is a T Shirt.  Isn't that awesome. Should have fixed the eyebrows, but they will be falling out anyway

This is a T Shirt. Isn’t that awesome. Should have fixed the eyebrows, but they will be falling out anyway

Anyway, I got onto You Tube, my favourite thing, and started watching Vlog’s on how to tie head scarves post Chemo.  There are some very innovative ladies out there, who do amazing things with old T Shirts and pant legs.  I loved Kristy Greenwood’s Video and Esther Grabow’s Video especially, so will link it for you.

Wig at The Met New York

Wig at The Met New York

When I go for treatment, I will get a voucher towards a wig.  It’s funny really that more of us don’t shave our head in this hot climate the way the Egyptians used to do.  I found this out when Homeschooling Hayley and Sarah years ago and studying Ancient Egypt.  Apparently because of the heat many of them went bald then often wore a wig the same Bob style as 60’s Pops star Sandy Shaw when they went out.  Some of the Pharaohs never let anyone paint them as fat, or they would get short shift to the dungeon.  Hence beautifully groomed perfectly proportioned Royalty on every etching.  I think some of the Social Media nuts who put up terrible pictures of celebrities they have caught troughing into pancakes when they thought no one was looking, or even pictures of their Mother or wife when she doesn’t look her best (no names mentioned) should be careful.  They may bring the dungeon rule back in especially if I have anything to do with it.

Just another Appointment

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It is a good thing for me that I am used to living by a diary.  Having been a Marriage Celebrant for 8 years as well as being very involved in Church life, I would be lost without a planner in front of me. The appointments keep rolling in Monday was the Breast Surgeon, Wednesday we met with the Medical Oncologist, Friday I have the Physiotherapist and Monday the Dentist.  I lost a chunk of tooth a few months back and didn’t worry about it but before you have Chemo they recommend making sure your teeth are in good order as they take a bit of a beating.  Just in time though because I thought I had at least four weeks to finish healing from breast surgery, but I start Chemo on the 3rd February.  No mucking about here.  A prequel to that means I have blood tests to check everything is in order before I begin and a heart test to make sure I can handle the Epirubicin (the bright red chemo drug) which can sometimes cause heart problems.  I have already done the bone scan and CT scan so saved some time there. Then I see the Radiology Oncology department on Friday.

Dentist

My Oncologist explained if I don’t have Chemo I have a 50% chance cancer coming back.  With the Chemo it drops to under 30%.  He spent an hour with us going over family history and all the things to expect when my treatment starts.  I must have been a bit more stressed than I thought, I was listing off my previous medical history, hysterectomy, endometriosis, poly cystic ovaries and was trying to remember the name of the benign tumours I had in my uterus, I could only come up with hemorrhoids.  He looked at me a little puzzled.  Sounds like hemorrhoids I blundered, sort of snapping my fingers like we were having a game of Charades.  Finally the penny dropped – Oh you mean Fibroids, he nearly jumped with delight. That’s it I squealed, and nearly gave him a prize.

Bradley Cooper Visit "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"

He was very nice and my breast surgeon had assured us the best in his field.  I left with an appointment letter to come back on the 3rd February at 11 am. The letter doesn’t even give a hint as to how horrible that treatment is.  Just to be at Medical Oncology at 11 am on the 3rd Feb.  No fuss or fanfare of trumpets heralding a huge milestone in my life, one I didn’t ever imagine I would be hurdling.

Goodbye 007

Well, we left my Breast Surgeons office relieved.  I had a ten cm chunk of boob taken out to remove the 5.5 cm triple negative breast cancer. not HER2 as first thought The results reported clear margins all around and no spread to my lymph nodes or bones.  Apparently after they remove the tumour it is rolled in inky stuff like a rissole and dissected and examined at the Pathology lab.  If there are no cancerous cells in the inky part, or outside edge of the tumour then it is considered to have clear margins.  So the good news is I don’t need any further surgery, and my tumour or slides of my tumour and data are sent off to the The Breast Cancer quality Audit where it is stored with all the other little offenders for later research and information.  This is to ensure that breast cancer patients throughout Australia and New Zealand are getting and continue to get the best treatment available.  When this happens it is unidentified.  Its name is changed to protect the innocent and given a number instead,  because we don’t know what that number is we will henceforth refer to triple neg as 007.

We've said goodbye to most of these 007's as well

We’ve said goodbye to most of these 007’s as well

I am very glad to live in Western Australia, I am not sure what medical care is like in other parts of the world but this has been a big eye opener for me.  I have an appointment with the Oncologist on Wednesday, and find out when I start Chemo Therapy, a physiotherapy appointment on Friday and the Radiology Oncology on the 29th.  My Surgeon was telling me all the breast surgeons have a team meeting with the oncologists and discuss all the breast cancers being treated.  They all input and run treatment plans by each other, so everyone knows what is happening with each case. Nothing slips through the cracks.  It is reassuring to know you are being managed so professionally.

Poppy supporting with her pink collar

Poppy supporting with her pink collar

I first sent a group text to my kids and the back chat was hilarious as they bounced off one another, with questions about the results and verbal attacks on cancer in general, ‘cancer can go suck it, f#..cancer’ and ending with Troy promising to support me by getting a pink car sticker (he had a hot pink bow tie and cumber bun for his High School ball, so me getting breast cancer will just be a good excuse) and Hayley promising eyeliner tattooing to support Troy.  I think I’ll have a trip to Hawaii in support of my self, thanks guys.  Anyway, with Sarah in another State, it made me feel very close to them all.

sharonosbourne

Saying goodbye to 007 is only the first part of treatment, this aggressive type of cancer needs follow-up therapy, so the next few months will see many changes and more assault on my femininity.  I have already previously lost a womb, half a boob (I shouldn’t complain, for most people losing a 10 cm lump of a breast would leave them flat, thankfully I had an ample bosom so it hardly noticed) but losing my hair may cause some tears. (I always tease mine high to balance out my chunky body)  I will just have to get a Sharon Osborne wig and learn to tie beautiful scarves.  If that fails, I will risk looking deranged and just smile a lot in the hope that no one notices I’m bald.