Sick of Tired

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Tuesday was best forgotten, I was tired all day and only got a few things done. One of which wasn’t to cook Poppy our dog her food. I did make more dog biscuits for her and as we buy expensive dental bits for her as dry food, I thought she would just have to be happy with that for one night. By about seven o’clock she was fed up with waiting for her dinner which hadn’t arrived, so she jumped up on the lounge where I was lying watching telly, barked and jumped up and down, and without saying one word conveyed the clear message that she had been patient, but, now it was getting late and where was her homemade food. I did explain that there were children in the world worse off than her but I caved in and went and put her food on to cook. It really only took five minutes, and today now that I am a bit better than yesterday, I will pop cupfuls into sandwich bags to freeze. I make enough for about ten days at a time. We could actually eat it for dinner, it is just mince, brown or white rice, potatoes, carrots, pasta, and some sort of green vegetable with a spoon of vegemite stirred in. Her favourite is broccoli. We know this because the first time she had it with broccoli, she pulled the green chunks out and popped them on the mat, I thought she was removing them, turns out she was saving the best till last, and gobbled the green treasures down at the end. Weird little dog!
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For Christmas Sarah bought me gorgeous rose gold earrings, which I have worn a lot. One night I pulled them off in the dark and popped them on the night stand. In the morning they had disappeared. This was a couple of months back. We hunted high and low, pulled out draws, moved bedside tables – no earrings. Till last week, when I was rearranging the fancy pillows that are for decoration, I was thinking of washing them and as I flipped one over to pull the stuffing out, there at the bottom was the imprint of two earrings. I was sure I had checked in the cases at the beginning. Anyway, I knew they couldn’t just disappear, so it is nice to have my earrings back.
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While flicking through my photos, I found this picture of my foot, I was meant to be taking a photo of my friend Glenys while she was preaching, and accidentally took my foot. It made me miss my manicured nails. They are gradually growing back and although a bit rough, I may be able to paint my fingernails soon, and my hair is growing and quite dark. I was hoping for curls, but, I think it is just going to be short and dark grey, yuk! I can fix that with a trip to the hairdresser though, and will do when it is long enough. There is no medical reason to not dye your hair after Chemo, you are advised to wait because the hair is new, and a bit weak. Consequently, it may snap off!

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Chemo Day One

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Like everything in life, the leading up to it is often worse than the thing itself.  Chemo was painless.  They arrive with a big tray of stuff, all suited up with gloves to push all these files of chemicals into you, anti-nausea medication, followed by the ‘Red Devil’ Epirubicin, and two others for my cocktail.  Allan was there stroking my leg, I think it hurt him more than me.  They were flat-out at Medical Oncology yesterday as they are moving to Fiona Stanley Hospital in a few days and trying to get everyone through, so I didn’t see my own doctor.  The older doctor who saw me before Chemo, said ‘with what they are giving you, I would be surprised if you didn’t get side effects’  I thought you don’t know how many people are praying for me or sending good wishes buddy, I will be fine.  There are some side effects that are normal because of how the chemo works, it kills off cells that are fast multiplying like cancer cells and along with that, healthy cells that are fast growing like hair, nails, skin.  This can all affect your mouth and digestive tract because it has, you guessed it, skin.  Therefore, as the Chemo works more bits and pieces may develop.  On about the tenth day blood counts are low and can make you tired.  The good news is when treatment is over, all the good cells like hair regenerate and everything comes back (lovely curly locks this time thank you) bad news for the cancer cells though, they can’t regenerate.  This sums up the theory behind the drastic chemical attack on the bodies of Chemo patients.

My tray of goodies

My tray of goodies

I left my shoe in this picture, because shortly after it broke and I had to walk around with one shoe on and one shoe off, I only bought it last week in my shoe haul.  They are closing down so I can’t even take it back!

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 On the way home I suddenly felt the craving for Scotch finger Shortbread biscuits and jelly lollies, the brochures had said to eat healthy, but, my nurse said to listen to your body (I think she meant if I needed to lay down) anyway, I decided to take her advice and we stopped on the way home, to get a thermometer so I can take my temperature all the time, and while Allan did that I got my supplies of bikkies and killer python snakes.  Hayley was in the shop doing her thing for Coca-Cola, so I had a little visit with her.  By this time I was starting to feel a little woozy, and even though we had home-made biscuits in the pantry I will blame my crazy need for shop bought sugar on being off my nut on drugs.

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Still, I have pulled up quite well, I just felt like I had a weird flu last night, so slept quite a bit.  Even though I probably wouldn’t  go off shopping today, I am not non-compos. If I want to play the glad game I have gotten cancer at a good place in time, years ago people had to mortgage their homes to have Chemo treatments especially for targeted therapies. Chemo sessions come in at about $3000 a pop, so with targeted therapy Herceptin for example, every three weeks for a year – $60,000.  They gave me a pill before we began (I don’t know what it was, presumably to help with side effects) and the nurse said, you just swallowed $400.  We were given sandwiches and cups of tea or coffee with biscuits.  Although, the lovely tea lady kept missing me with the biscuits, which is why I think my craving started, it took me back to a happy time when I was having babies, and the hospital staff would wake you up with a cuppa and cookies at 5am ready for your first breast feed.  They have stopped this since then to save money.  Which will presumably prevent some Mum from going on a happy memory driven biscuit haul later in life if she is going through Chemo and save her body which is already, trying to cope with all that poison to process from a pile of sugar added to the mix.  Presumably that’s why I have a headache this morning.   Will keep you posted.  My thanks and Love to you all, for the prayer and good wishes.

Chemo ready or not

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I felt very spoilt today, Hayley came with a pre chemo present for me from her and Sarah and their guys.  Really cute, with little tags of encouragement on everything.  I feel so blessed to have the support of my family and so many friends.  I have my first Chemo therapy session tomorrow, and although I am not looking forward to it, I guess the quicker I get started, the quicker it will be over.

One of the wigs I ordered arrived this morning which was a bit of a laugh, I have named this one ‘Lucille’ for obvious red-headed reasons, and think this one will end up as my beach wig.

Hayley rocking my 'lucille' wig

Hayley rocking my ‘lucille’ wig

Chemo can have so many side effects, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, hair loss, nail loss, and mouth ulcers to name a few.   Just as three women delivering a baby may have different stories,  one may have a short labour deliver a medium-sized baby naturally with no stitches, another have a long labour, deliver a large breach baby with lots of stitches, and the third needing a caesarean after complications and a long labour.  Each person has a different experience.  Everyone’s delivery story is not the same, even if all scenarios result in a baby.  Likewise, Breast Cancers are not all the same, depending on what type of  tumour, how aggressive it is, whether it is hormone sensitive, size, what stage it is at, whether it has spread to the lymph nodes are factors determining the treatment, you will be recommended, and the cocktail of chemicals that will include.   Not everyone will get the same, and not everyone’s body will respond the same.  .  While it is very encouraging to hear that Mary’s neighbour Sue has had no ill effects from their treatment, the problem comes if you are expected to have the same result as Mary’s neighbour Sue and you can’t get off the bed after your treatment.

I won’t know what my reaction to Chemo will be until I get underway.  I would appreciate those of you who are prayers, to pray for minimal side effects, for the Chemo to do its job and for those of you who are not praying people, I still appreciate all your good wishes and encouraging comments.  Lots of Love…I will be back soon

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.

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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.

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.

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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.