New boobs and new friends

The air bags are out and the implants are in! Too much information — sorry!

It’s now been five weeks since my most recent surgery and hopefully one of my last. This was a pretty involved one although it only meant two days in hospital which was amazing but brilliant.

A 6am hospital admission was followed by a visit from my reconstruction surgeon who drew all over my chest with a permanent marker before I was wheeled down to pre-op where I was met by my general surgeon and the anaesthetist.

The general surgeon had his turn first, removing my ovaries and tubes – a decision we made based on the fact that I have the BRCA2 gene, which increases risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Not that I was aware of the changeover as I was well and truly off with the operating theatre fairies, but the next surgeon then came in to remove my the air expanders that had been in my chest since January and had totally outstayed their welcome.

They were bloody awful things and I was ready for them to find their way into the rubbish bin. The implants are a lot softer and more natural and I can now even sleep on my side – which is sheer bliss!

Purple Brad day June 2016
At Nicola Peachey’s bootcamp with Sharon for Purple Bra Day

 

In the weeks following this, my fourth surgery since my breast cancer diagnosis in October 2014, bootcamp called. I’d never done a class before and the only reason for this attempt was to support fellow breast cancer survivor Nicola Peachey who hosted the event to raise money for Breast Cancer Care WA’s Purple Bra Day.

Nicola and I met in June last year when I spoke at Breast Cancer Network Australia’s Pink Lady luncheon. She came up and introduced herself and I will be forever grateful that she did. She’s been an amazing support over the past few months.

Incredibly, at the bootcamp, I ran into another gorgeous woman who I had met (although she was a lot clearer about our first meeting than I was). Sharon re-introduced herself to me. We were both at a Look Good Feel Better workshop last year. Now we both had a head full of hair (check out mine below) and were coming out the other side of treatment stages of our life battle. People come into your life for many reasons, and these two have certainly entered mine to help with my sanity! They are absolute gems!

July 2016
My hair is getting longer — woohoooo!!

 

From here there may be some ‘minor’ surgeries but they are more for cosmetic purposes.

Most importantly our little family of four is counting down the days until we head off overseas for four weeks. In 82 days, 2 hours, 38 minutes and 22 seconds (the Countdown app on my phone is very specific) we’ll be on our way to the USA. We all need something to focus on and we can’t wait to create some more amazing family memories.

Please – no more icy poles

The everyday, inoffensive icy pole!

If you were playing on Family Feud and asked for a word to describe an icy pole these might be some of the answers (even from those families you can’t believe win through to another night with some of their incredibly mind-numbingly dumb responses)

* cold, sweet, tasty, hydrating, refreshing, yum!

Well six weeks ago I may have agreed with those answers – but not anymore! In fact I may only eat another two for the rest of my life.

My mind has taken control and the simple icy treat once associated with hot days running around the holiday caravan park or running around under the sprinkler in the backyard now reminds me of something much more sinister – chemotherapy.

When I was going through my first course of chemo drugs – Paclitaxel – I wondered why some of the patients around me were getting icy poles and I wasn’t! Had they been better behaved than me – well perhaps their veins were well behaved (something mine have never been)!

No, they were just being given a different drug. So after 12 rounds of not being spoiled with an icy pole I finally got my turn.

Chemo number 13 and over the nurse came with my sweet treat – just after she’d wrestled with my veins and just before she sat down to slowly administer this new, nasty red drug called EC – (epirubicin and cyclophosphamide).

It’s not quite the “red devil” – that is the name given to yet another different drug which I have not had to have – but it’s a bitch of a thing that has certainly seen me act like the devil! 

The icy pole is used as a way of trying to reduce the onset of mouth ulcers by encouraging the chemo drugs away from your mouth by making it cold instead of a nice, attractive, warm place for the chemo to cause havoc!

Ten days – that’s about the time it takes for me to feel human after a dose of EC – and I get another hit of it this Wednesday. So I’ll apologise in advance to everyone and anyone who comes into contact with me for the 10 days afterwards. 

The nausea is a killer. I have very little patience for anyone or anything. My fingers feel numb, my big toenails are bruised, mouth ulcers are an absolute joy and I’m tired beyond belief. I don’t know if it’s just the EC or the “not for suggestion” bucket of anti-nausea drugs my oncologist has prescribed me to take for three days after treatment. There’s some good stuff in there and they knock me for six as well. 

But I’m learning to cope better with each treatment and learn more about my limitations – I have to or my family and friends will start saying the phrase “better the devil you know” is a complete load of crap!

I become the devil you never wish you’d met. But I have an excuse right?

As for those icy poles, they now represent one of the worst periods of my 41 years on this earth and I can’t see how I’ll ever learn to look at them in a loving way ever again.

As for those friends and family – I have “let them in” a little more along the journey.

My beautiful friend Tania came with me to a Look Good Feel Better session which was all about giving you the confidence to use makeup when your skin isn’t feeling the best and you’ve lost your eyebrows and eyelashes! It was brilliant and so good to have a friend there with me! 

And then there’s been Kate – one of my gorgeous high school friends. We have known each other for 26 years and still she’s prepared to come and sit by my side while i battle this demon. How lucky I am to have these women in my life – and they are just two of a band of people who have allowed me to deal with this my way while also being there to support me when I need it (even if I don’t know I need it)! Xxx