48mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16th August 2012

So here’s the thing, on the 3rd of July 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer, a 48mm grade three invasive tumour was sitting quite happily in my left breast. On the 10th it was removed! Lots of hospital visits and tests later I’m delighted to report that the cancer is now sitting in a pathology lab. Now I am undertaking the next part of this journey – chemotherapy. My first session of preventative chemo starts tomorrow and I’m pretty scared. However as my wonderful wonderful hubby puts it we are now on the second lap of our race. The reason I want to share is with you is because I’m going on a journey and quite frankly I would like to share it with my Facebook family. The best thing I did was talk to other cancer survivors as it lifted the sheer terror I was feeling and gave me lots of hope. So think of me tomorrow as I’m sitting there with my glamorous chemo outfit on and my funky short haircut (as I will loose my hair at some point). See you on the other side xxxxxx

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Eastenders couldn’t have a better plot line….

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So much has happened in the last five years I don’t know where to start. I will say that on the 2nd of July it is five years since my initial diagnosis for my Grade 3, Stage 1 Invasive Tumor.

 

I’m doing well.

 

I still have the occasional lump or bump scanned (only last week I had my neck scanned) but in the main I feel well.

 

My mum passed away in February 2016, I wanted to blog about it at the time but it was too painful. I’ve never seen anyone die before. The hardest part for me was that my mum was in denial right up to her last breath. I couldn’t understand how we had spent so many months and years keeping my mum alive and then all of a sudden the nurses where saying, “don’t feed her”, “that gurgling is normal” how can listening to another human being gurgle and have sporadic breathing be normal? It was all too much and my reaction to my mums death was very primal. I sobbed, I sobbed A LOT. There was one day where I just lay in bed crying over a teddy bear that I couldn’t find, my hero husband went into our loft and found it. May be at some point I will blog in depth about my mums passing but needless to say that at the moment I am passionate about death and about how we should plan our deaths. Write it down people please, I have written my death plan and it states that I want all the drugs, I want to be in a hospice and unless they are insistent I don’t want my family there when I pass.

 

In November 2016 my husband decided that he had enough and he left Team Warne. It wasn’t a great time as I felt like I had just lost my mum and then I was coping with loosing my partner, my rock, my husband. It was tough as I was facing life as a single parent. I think he was just tired, tired of being part of such sadness and drama and was also in a bout of severe depression. He wanted to escape. Any marriage would have to be rock solid to survive the last five years and ours had a major wobble. Only a matter of weeks ago my husband and I decided that this marriage was worth fighting for and we decided to tentatively work together on bringing Team Warne back.

 

Then two weeks after we made the decision to come back together my husband was passing blood and couldn’t make it up the stairs as he was so breathless. He has suspected cancer in in kidney and potentially his bladder…

Really? What on earth is going on?

So here we are, Team Warne, together again to face another cancer experience. I don’t want to call it a battle as I believe that’s why my mum was defiant till the end as she was battling. I think language is so important and I believe that my husband and I will go on this journey together. I feel for our children as really they shouldn’t have to go through this. When I facetimed my wonderful step children to tell them the news about their Dad they really couldn’t believe it.

That’s how life is sometimes. Its not about ‘fairness’ or ‘karma’ it’s just life. My cancer journey made me appreciate the basics and the simplest parts of life, such as my morning walk with my dog through the woods or hearing my son laughing in the garden. I am now so grateful to be alive, every day is a blessing. Yes the mundane stuff can get in the way but I’m so grateful to be here.

 

I can only hope that my husbands cancer experience will enlighten him in the same way. I will say that it’s a different experience having a rare kidney cancer as opposed to breast cancer. The process hasn’t been quite as fast. We are still waiting for an investigative procedure (whereas I was operated on within a week). I’ve also learnt to appreciate that I can’t change or control any of this I can only stand by his side on this journey.

 

He is shocked and has the waves of anxiety that all cancer patients experience. However he is here and we’re together and we’re grateful to be together. It’s my turn to be his rock now.

 

Like I said Eastenders couldn’t have a better plot line….. watch this space.

The last falling away….

I’m having my last ever period of this lifetime. This is a big deal. If your squeamish then please don’t read on. I want to sit in this place of menstruation. At this moment in time I have the ability to create a life. Amazing.

In the next few weeks I will be knocked out, cut open and my ovaries and fallopian tubes will be removed. This makes me incredibly sad.

Loosing my breasts – whatever…. Loosing my ability to create life….devastating.

I don’t think I’m really processing it but tonight I’ve had some wine and painted a few paintings (oh and I’m on my period) so I’m VERY emotional.

Cancer is shit. In reality I’ve been through the worst of it but this feels like a final big kick in the guts.

To make sure I don’t die sooner I have to have another part of my body cut off or out.

My son is the best thing I have ever achieved and next to that is the love I have with my husband. I have no desire for any more children – actually that’s a lie. I would love lots and lots of children but in reality we can’t do it. My body has been pumped with so many drugs over the last few years that a life would really have to fight to survive and I’m at the other side of 40 so my energy isn’t quite as high as it used to be.

That doesn’t matter – what makes me a women is being cut out.

There is so much to bloody deal with for gods sake…. Like today at the swimming pool my costume would slip and show my huge red breast scars.

However I’m sat here enjoying the pulling, enjoying the sensation of the wall falling away. My body is strong and healthy and my monthly cycle has always give me me that sensation of health and renewal.

Interestingly tonight I have painted trees, trees representing strength, beauty and life. Strong and vibrant trees.

That’s me. I’m a strong and vibrant.

I’ll grieve my ovaries and my fallopian tubes and then eventually get on with a long and fruitful, fulfilling life.

Tonight I’ll just sit here and be.

Cancer cancer cancer cancer

What an emotive and evocative word.

Today was a straightforward appointment to arrange my next operation, which is to have my ovaries and tubes removed. This reduces the risk of my developing ovarian cancer (from 40% to 3% today as the Registrar told me over and over again).

It’s never easy to hear the word cancer or to hear that you’re at high risk. I keep thinking I will get used to it but here after two years plus it still shocks me. Me? Cancer? Noooooooo. It feels like I’m being punched every time I hear the word.

As I’m sat here at my kitchen table I am holding the tears back. I don’t know whether these tears are for all the body parts that have been or will be removed, or are they for how tired I am of hearing the bloody word ‘cancer’, or is it because I’m scared that I will die of cancer and these appointments just bring that home. Am I crying (couldn’t hold back anymore) because sometimes I feel that I talk too much about cancer and I should keep my problems to myself (as all my friends and family know I’ve never been good at that)? Are the tears an accumulation for the last two years of drugs, surgery, hospital appointments, pain, twinges, worries about my heart, worries about irregular lumps and bumps. I don’t know what the tears are for.

Hubby and I went for a debrief coffee after the appointment and in all honesty this is probably one of the minor procedures I will have had. I couldn’t help reflect that we were sat there together in our own private hells. He is sat, helpless, watching me go through this. I am sat with all those statistics and risks (heart disease, osteoporosis, ruptured bowel, ruptured bladder) – and this is just from the minor operation I’m booked in for not the risk of future cancer.

Now as I sit here with mascara running down my cheeks I have no idea what I’m so upset about. It’s that ugly sobbing type of crying that I’m doing.

Words are so, so powerful and we underestimate their impact. There were so many powerful words thrown at us today. The Registrar started by saying ‘I believe you’ve been struggling with breast cancer over the last couple of years’. Those of you that know me well will completely understand why that statement would instantly rub me up the wrong way. How dare she assume that I’ve been ‘struggling’! Where in my notes does it make reference to a ‘struggle’? Now the rational Janet would contextualize this and appreciate that these people have a tough job. But that wasn’t a rational Janet sat in that room today, that was a tired little girl who wants to be cuddled and told everything is going to be alright.

Where am I?

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So where am I?

 

The two-year anniversary of my diagnosis is rapidly coming around the corner. It’s only been two bloody years? Can you believe it? It feels like ten.

 

In two years I have been through so much? 24 months doesn’t seem long enough for diagnosis, mastectomy, chemo, radiotherapy, Herceptin and reconstruction. Throw in echocardiograms, portacaths, neutropenic episode and my toddlers young, young life.

 

I went to the schools ‘open day’ today. My little boy will move up to reception class in September. I had to physically stop myself from sobbing. This little bundle of joy has been through so much in the last twenty-four months. My wonderful, wonderful son has watched the most horrific things. He has watched his Daddy shave off his mammy’s hair, his mum suddenly stopped breast-feeding and then disappeared ‘shopping’ for four days (whilst she had her breast cut off). He giggled in the kitchen as Daddy shaved Mammies hair off (Daddy had tears rolling down his cheeks), he played with Auntie Suzanne as Mammy went off for stinky medicine every three weeks, he sang nursery rhymes to mammy after she had had stinky medicine…the list could go on.

 

My heart is filled with tears.

So where are we? Thomas will start reception class in September and he has changed from this shy, unassuming angelic boy to a wonderfully assertive and vocal toddler. We visited the school last year before my major surgery and his playgroup friend Harry walked over and took hold of Thomas’s hand and it’s fair to say that he hasn’t let go since. Thomas and Harry are now besties and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

I have started painting…. and I can’t stop. Something has been unleashed. I love it! It’s wonderful and it’s a huge chunk of creative joy that has come out of this experience.

 

I am tired, very tired at the moment.   I don’t know whether it’s a hangover from chemotherapy/Herceptin or whether I’m just doing way, way too much? My surgery was in January and everything still hurts. I took a painkiller last week so I could do the housework. I’m sure it will ease and I do now have two breasts so that’s a plus (isn’t it?).

 

I meditate every day and regularly use crystals to heal. I have cleansing baths and have reflexology to balance my energy.

 

I have launched three businesses.

 

My husband is still a rock although he doesn’t necessarily like the waves of post-cancer treatment splashing against him! I believe he would like to return to a normal status quo – however the new normal is very very different. We sat last Saturday watching a film and sharing a bottle of wine, holding hands. We plan to do that more often.

There is a wonderful new little soul in my life, my nephew!  He is a little, inquisitive soul and I cherish every second with him.  He is full of non-verbal questions about what is going on.  We have spent a lot of time lying on the bed looking up at rainbow mobile – he is a contented soul,  

I would love to leave you with a happy (post cancer) picture however there are two lumps I will discuss with my consultant this month, one on my arm and one on my left calf.

 

We’ll see what happens but life is all so very different now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAT

Relief Relief Relief! My results are in and it was fat necrosis probably as a result of the surgery.  The week has been ok, tolerable.  I have had fleeting fearful moments where death was standing right near me. But I turned around and laughed in his face.  Who wants a huge, and I mean HUGE, lump under their skin just by their left armpit.  It did feel like some sick joke.

This is the future, every lump and bump will be checked out.  Biopsies, scans, x-rays will be the normal.

Checking for Cancer is our new normal.

 

 

Lump

There is another lump at the top of my new left breast. I noticed it the last time I met the surgeon and he wasn’t concerned. However at last weeks visit it was harder and more prominent. You can see it now. Could it be a lymph node of another cancerous tumour? My consultant thinks it may be a fat necrosis so he sent me for an ultrasound.

The ultrasound room was the same one where just under seventeen months ago they said ‘yes we think it’s cancer’. The tiny waiting room of four chairs was were I sobbed onto my sisters shoulder. So to say it was slightly disconcerting to be back here to get another lump ultra sounded is an understatement.

I stripped to the waist and the nurse looked, and looked and looked. She then said she wanted her friend to take a look. So the other radiologist came in. She said there doesn’t appear to be any flow and it could be attached. It could be a fat necrosis but they weren’t definite. I’m sorry but after the last two years I don’t want any uncertainties.  I asked them if they could biopsy it to get more clarity and they explained how if it is my body healing post surgery and a fat necrosis then a biopsy would make it worse.  They said they could talk about it at their team meeting and get back to me.

The phone call came yesterday and the doctor who runs the unit would like me to go back in. They want to do another ultrasound and a biopsy too.

It is what it is….

It’s another lump on the same side as my original cancer.  How do I feel? Well anger is a good start. I’m not fearful or frightened – it’s another cancer as if it is then we’ll deal with it.

BUT COULD WE PLEASE HAVE A BREAK.

Surgery was less then two months ago…..  So I’m a bit angry. 

Hopefully it will turn out to just be healing. But, out of the patchwork quit of my torso, why on the left hand side undernearth my armpit on the remaining ‘breast’ tissue??? Well I can answer that, it’s because the left hand side has had radiotherapy. The surgeon did say that this compromises the skin and the healing will be different (I did have an open two inch wound after surgery for a long time),

My biopsy is on Tuesday – I will get the results shortly after.

I don’t feel like we are walking around with a cloud over a head but it has hit my Husband hard. He was quite upset and I think it’s because the original appointment where I was told it was cancer he wasn’t with me and this time he wasn’t with me.  God love my husband he has been at my side for virtually every moment, 95% of the time but the 5% has been unfortunate moments like when my heart function had dropped at the echocardiogram.

Talking of my heart, there’s the good news!  My heart function has improved. The last echocardiogram was a good one. So the bike rides and the walks are building up my strength.

I’ll keep you posted….

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Broken Heart

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There are different types of broken hearts.  Do you ever listen to a song and it takes you right back to when you first had your heart broken or you had your first kiss? This morning whilst making lunch ‘a hard habit to break’ came on the radio and I was right back there. I was eighteen or nineteen years old and my heart was in pieces. I can feel it, I was young, free, liberated, healthy and so so naive. I will never ever have that time back. I will never be that young again.

Now I’m 43 and last week I had my heart scanned to check that it’s working properly. What the hell happened? Where did the last 25 years go?Singing along to the song almost took my breath away because I was right there in the 80s, lots of make-up, big hair and widly widly in love.

Now I have a patchwork quilt for a torso. I have some open wounds from my stitches and I have regular checks to see if my cancer has returned. Wow…What would I say to that arrogant (and believe you me I was arrogant) young woman. I don’t think cancer was ever on my radar. I smoked and I drank but just like every normal teenager in those days. I drove around with my first boyfriend listening to Fleetwood Mac (he was a little bit older than me). Oh my god life was so different.

In all honesty I don’t think I would do anything different. I’ve learnt some valuable lessons and every now and then, like the echocardiogram last week, I am given a gentle reminder about how ill I was or how ill I could become again.  Lying on the cardiologist table as I listened to my heart through her machine. I whispered ‘I’m so so sorry for what I’ve put you through and I promise I will work to make you strong again’ my poor poor heart has been through the mill. Not only did my ejection fraction wobble because of herceptin but we had the tachycardia episode in hospital a few weeks ago.

So I make no apologies for my mid-morning mumblings, I assume you read my blog because you either care for me or are interested in what a cancer patient goes through. There are constant epiphanies of which this mornings music has been one.  

There are different types of broken hearts.

Remind me to tell you about the artist, bunny rabbit and angels – now that’s a hilarious story and it happened last Sunday. ;o)

William

Today I watched a baby being born. William Walter Clancy was born today at 8:59. I have never experienced anything quite like it. Now I know babies are born every minute in the UK but this was profound. For a kick off it is the most joyous thing to happen to this family in the last couple of years. As I was sat in my taxi last night on the way to the hospital tears were rolling down my cheeks – how wonderful to be going to a hospital for a happy occasion! A life was going to born and I was blessed that I was going to be part of it.

 

My sister Suzanne, where do I start. She reached down deep and found her inner goddess. She was amazing. In fact the word amazing doesn’t describe her strength. She spent sixteen hours labouring with minimal painkillers (paracetamol and gas). She was astounding, she made the whole process look easy. Her strength was glowing from within. One contraction at a time, she coped with it with such strength and determination.  When I arrived at 8pm she said ‘I can’t go on’ then she said it again at 1am and then at 6am but she did! She carried on with virtually NO PAINKILLERS. I have never seen this steely determination before. She did make the process seem easy and I am honoured that her and Damian allowed me to be there to support them.  She used the birthing pool, walked around the room, used various positions on the bed – all to help her son down the birth canal. She did it with such grace.

 

It wasn’t easy either – towards the end Suzanne was depleted. She had used all her energy over the last 30 hours (from when her waters broke). Baby and Suzanne were tired. The midwife asked Suzanne to turn on her side and as she did babies pulse dropped dangerously low. The midwife hit the emergency button and the room was filled with doctors and nurses (at least ten I think). They immediately helped Suzanne back onto her back and watched babies pulse. They were both tired and baby needed to arrive quickly. So the doctor explained to Suzanne how he would help her deliver. God bless my sister again, she had had nothing to eat and not much water and somehow she found even more strength to push for her life! So the doctors were ready to gently assist with the forceps and Suzanne pushed for her life. I watched.

 

I watched the head emerge and then it just stayed there whilst they waited for the next contraction. It felt like a lifetime. We waited and then she did it, she pushed with all her strength and her son glided out and was placed on her chest.

 

One of the most uplifting sounds has to be the first sounds a baby makes. Well William certainly made some noise. He let us all know he was here and loud! Brilliant. He was chattering straight away.

 

The birth was not without it’s complications as Suzanne had endured a third degree tear. As the doctors explained to her that she would have to go in for surgery and what the potential complications would be she sat attentive with her new son laying on her bare chest nursing. She encapsulated the strength of a mother and a woman in that one moment. Her son hadn’t been out of her womb for less that five minutes and she was already nurturing and nursing him from her breast. 

 

As mother, father and baby were surrounded by this haze of wonder, love and amazement the team of medical experts worked around them sorting out Suzanne’s wounds, placenta and the general mess that comes with birth.

 

I felt so blessed and this day had filled my soul up to the top with love.

 

Suzanne had to go into theatre to be checked out and sewn back together. The Doctors were kind enough to allow me to be with her. Dad spent some time with baby and I sat next to Suzanne as she was operated on. She had a spinal anesthetic so we were able to chat. Suzanne made a comment about an operating theatre is probably the last place I wanted to be and I said actually it felt wonderful to be here and for it to be for a positive reason. We then both cried and explained to the nursing staff that I had battling cancer for the last two years and my Sister, Suzanne had never left my side, she has been with me every step of the way.  The least I could do was sit with her and comfort her as the doctors sorted her out.

 

This my friends is what life is about. Seeing the strength that comes from a mother as she pushes her child into the world, watching the grace with which she deals with pain, seeing the babies head as he waited for the next contraction, watching him nurse immediately, listening to the wonderful wonderful cries of a new born.

 

I am blessed, honoured and my heart is overflowing.Image

Healing and Forgiveness

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The work of my surgeon is amazing. First class. He has done a superb job of rearranging the front of my body. Effectively I’ve had a huge skin transplant on the front of my torso involving a right mastectomy and then the relocation of large flaps of skin followed by intricate microsurgery where they have reattached blood vessels by cutting into my ribs to give the new skin (breasts) the blood supply.

The surgery went into well over 12 hours as the flaps failed during the surgery.

It was a lot worse than I expected, a lot, lot worse.

The technical term for the procedure I was a prophylactic mastectomy followed by bi-lateral DIEP flap reconstruction.

I checked into hospital the night before and I was in a bubble of calmness. This stayed with me as the anesthetist and surgeon came to see me. My Consultant drew all over the front of my body and kindly explained that I was having three surgeries, which would probably have three different surgeons. He took photographs and said he would see me in surgery. I asked if they would carry out pathology on the right breast and he confirmed they would.

The anesthetist then came and I explained to her that I completely understood the huge importance of her role in keeping me alive during surgery and also managing my pain relief. I was concerned that I would be sick when waking up as this had happened first time around. She was taken aback at my show of appreciation as she said most patients undervalue the anesthetist role – I certainly didn’t. A solid connection was formed.

So they put on my calf socks to prevent blood clots and also gave me an injection anti blood clotting drug. I then walked down to theatre with a nurse. I was still feeling very calm. I put this down to all the friends and family who we’re sending me positive vibes as well as the visualisation and relaxation techniques I’ve used.

I walked into the theatre and there were at least 10 people stood around. The Consultant encouraged me to come in and explained that they were discussing my procedure. Then my wonderful anesthetist explained what was going to happen. They started to attach all the stickers to my back to monitor me throughout surgery. They would be putting a large grey cannula in my right hand as well as a spare cannula in the left hand. I would also have a blood pressure monitor on the left wrist, which would leave a lot of bruising. She explained that when I woke up I would be hooked up to a morphine pump that I could self administer and she would ensure there were plenty of anti sickness drugs in there.

The cannulas were in and she gave me the anesthetic. Throughout all of this I was calm and serene unlike in the past where I’ve been fearful and cried. So I thank everyone for their positive thoughts and prayers – they really worked.

Next thing….I woke up. Groggy and I was in the ward (PCU – Progressive care unit) there was a nurse moving me around and getting me comfortable. I vaguely remember her telling me that they had had to send my husband away as I had been in surgery longer than anticipated. I then drifted in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. I slowly figured out that I had an oxygen pipe into my nose, four drains in, two out of groin and one out of each breast. I also had the blood pressure cuff permanently attached to my right arm and out of my left side there was the catheter. Behind me on my left side was the machine monitors all of my vitals. Every hour the nurse would check all my vitals and then place a Doppler machine on three points on my new breasts to monitor the blood flow into the flaps. The wounds weren’t bandaged just a steristrip across so they could get access and I could see all the bruising and scabs. The wound across my abdomen gave me pain. I was placed in a zigzag position on the bed with my knees elevated towards my chest (this is to protect the abdominal wound). I was upright with a heated blanket across my chest and abdomen (it was heated with continuously pumped hot air). On my calf not only did I have the socks on but also there were pads filled with air to provide pressure and massage the calf’s to prevent blood clots. Every day I would receive a huge syringe of antibiotic as well as the anti clotting injection.

Tuesday was a haze and I received very good one to one nursing care for most of the day. Austen visited. I don’t remember much about the visit other than I was comfortable (ish). The consultant visited and told me to take big breath every hour and to try and cough. As I had been under general anesthetic for so long I need to reeducate my lungs but also clear any fluid. I tried to do this but it was extremely painful – also the zigzag position in my bed wasn’t conducive to coughing.

A critically ill lady was also brought onto the ward; she had had a stroke as well as a tracheotomy. Hearing that poor lady clear out her tracheotomy as well as all the bleeps and sounds, the drains, the whooshing of the heated blanket, the hourly prodding and poking was all too much.

I woke at 2am in a panic, there was fluid on my lungs and I couldn’t clear it. I couldn’t get my breath. I tried to sit up and shouted to the nurses for help. Those poor nurses (a little about nurses later). I explained that I needed everything off and out – I had to breath. I thought I was going to die. I have never in my life experienced this feeling. It was utter desolation. I honesty thought this was it and I wasn’t ready to die. I couldn’t get air into my lungs, or enough air into my lungs.

At this stage I had a bright red face as the heated blanket had really heated me up. The nurses were wonderful. They very calmly explained what was happening, why I needed the oxygen pipes in my nose (because the morphine can suppress breathing). Why I was in the zigzag position, why I had the heated blanket on, why I had the pumps on my calfs, why I needed to cough. Any case they slowly took everything off me and got me some ice so I could cool down, they sat me as upright as I could get so I could attempt to cough the fluid up. I was panicky as there appeared to be blood coming out of my mouth as well as my nose but apparently this was all normal. They took the heated blanket away and gently took the pumps and socks off my legs. I calmed down and managed to cough the horrible stuff off my lungs.

Finally I felt as I could take a deep (but very painful) breath. Bless those wonderful nurses. I then made the decision not to use the morphine, as I didn’t want the oxygen mask on.

As if that wasn’t enough drama…..so I’m sat without the oxygen, morphine and blankets on and then I start to feel nausea (I have discovered that my bodies immediate reaction to pain is to vomit). As I had stopped the morphine the pain was increasing so the nurse gave me a strong anti-sickness injection. And that’s when the next stage of drama happened. My resting heart rate kept jumping to 176, when they were checking the flaps with the Doppler my blood was racing through. I tried everything to slow my heart down. I could breath now so I wasn’t panicking. The on-call Doctor came and talked through my symptoms – effectively telling me it was all normal and really to try and calm down.

My heart carried on racing. Despite this I was happy that I could now take a breath so I slowly put all the equipment back. I didn’t get any sleep.

The next day my consultant came and checked up. They agreed to do an ECG and keep me under observation until my heart settled. Therefore I would stay on the PCU ward. The also agreed to slowly start and detach me from the all the equipment. I could have one of my drains out as well as come off the morphine and oxygen. My goal with the physio for the day was to try and sit on a chair.

I had no idea how incapacitated I would be after this operation.

Every hour I had a doctor check on me and monitor my heart. It eventually calmed down.

The physio came and with the help of a nurse, we slowly negotiated how to swivel out of the bed and then to standing. I couldn’t stand fully erect (and still can’t really) because if the abdominal wound. Then from standing I had to slowly sit. Success! I could sit!

Now the nurses changed shifts regularly and this was a different nurse with a different demeanor. My goal was to sit for 20 minutes. 40 had passed and I asked the nurse if I could please get back into bed as I was starting to get waves of nausea. “I’ll be with you in a minute Lovie” – she wasn’t and so I vomited – a lot! Can you imagine the pain searing through me as my torso contracted to throw up, I felt as it I had tore open all my wounds. That prompted the “Lovie” nurse to help me back into bed with a hefty does of anti-sickness.

I then spent the rest of the day resting whilst I waited for my first drain to be removed. It was the left breast drain. The student nurse assured me that she had removed a lot and to be fair she did a good job, it was relatively painless and it was a relief to have one less pipe connected to my body.

That night I slept well as I had been moved off hourly observations to three hourly.

The following morning my goal was to walk a few steps and then I would move off the PCU ward onto the normal ward. I was able to do that and had another drain removed! On to the normal ward!

Over the next few days I had all the other pipes gradually removed. I managed to take a few more steps every day. I also managed to get some well-needed rest.

The body’s ability to heal is amazing. Over those next three days I astounded myself with what I could achieve. I could get in and out of the bed myself; I could walk up and down the corridor.

Thomas visited every day on the normal ward and completely charmed the nursing staff. The vulnerability in his little face the first time he saw me broke my heart and what made it worse is that we couldn’t have a huge all encompassing squash able hug – he tentatively put his little arms around my neck, kissed me and then we rubbed cheeks. He is a strong little soul Thomas and he has definitely been here before. He was full of questions “what was the tube sticking out of my arm” (cannula)” why couldn’t mammy stand straight” (big cut in mammy’s tummy that will get better”) he also didn’t hesitate in peeling down my gown to look at my “new boobs” “they’re a bit dirty mammy” (covered in bruises and scabs).

Saturday I was allowed home and what a joy it was to walk through my door.

Now I hope I managed to hold your attention this long, I thought it was important to capture some of those details.

What I have learnt throughout all of this: –

This was a mistake. I woke and realised with a dawning horror the magnitude of what I had done to my poor poor body. I shouldn’t have gone for such huge surgery. I should have just had the right mastectomy and maybe considered reconstruction later. I was staggered with disbelief as what I had chosen to do to my body.

As I have spent the last eighteen months caring and nurturing for my body through chemo, surgery and on-going Herceptin I have increased my sensitivity. This means that I felt everything done to me on a different intense level. I don’t know if this makes sense but in the past I would jump back into action quite quickly. That isn’t going to happen this time. I have to take time to heal. I have huge deep wounds all over the front of my body, which makes mobility difficult. I have to be gentle with myself and allow myself the time to heal.

My bodies reaction to pain is to vomit and cry. When I am weak with the pain my tolerance is zero and I tend to cry. Luckily I’m over the nausea as I’m managing my pain more effectively. Mornings are the worst as I wake in acute raw pain and it takes a good hour for the painkillers to numb it.

I have an amazing support network. From family to friends and the wider community. I am not doing this myself; I have an amazing group of souls around me. Words aren’t enough to express gratitude. I have a bedroom full of flowers, cards and toddler artwork. The prayers, positive thoughts and vibes that have been sent my way definitely help. Thank you.

This has been the hardest part. I know we quickly dismiss pain and our minds negate the effect of the words “you’ve got cancer” otherwise we wouldn’t be able to function. But this has been awful. This has been the hardest part, as I couldn’t rationalise in my mind how I could have CHOSEN to do this to my body. There is no cancer in my body; I have done this as a preventative measure. If I hadn’t removed my right breast there is a good chance the cancer would come back.

The next stage is to remove my ovaries. I want a break from surgery but that will be keyhole and at some later date in the year.

As for now, I can walk a little and the wounds are healing. I wake in the morning in acute pain but then I can manage it through the day. My abdominal wound is the worst. I have to be careful with my painkillers as one of them is giving me nightmares.

Slowly I am starting to forgive myself and heal at the same time.

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Reflection

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Firstly I want to say Thank you.  Thank you for all the support, kind words and outpouring of love that I have felt from friends, family and readers of this blog.  This love and support has lifted me up in some of my darkest moments.

 

I haven’t blogged in a while. I think the reason for this is because I’m going within now to heal and I don’t feel the urge to write like I did.

 

I feel the strong need for a lot of self-reflection.

 

To give an update, my mum has started her new chemotherapy and it is going well. At her last oncology appointment, her oncologist was ‘delighted’ with her progress.  Some days are tough for her and some days are good.

 

I have been well, I seem to have stepped out of the three weekly cycle of taking antibiotics (frantically touching wood). I did have a ‘lung cancer’ scare a few weeks ago where I had some X-rays and bloods taken but it was all clear. There will be other moments like this I’m sure but they will get easier.

 

On a hugely positive note a couple of weeks ago my wonderful oncologist told me to ‘bugger off’, in other words she discharged me – a monumental day.

 

This feels like a gentler journey now and more of a journey of self exploration.

 

The next stage is my operation. I will go in next Sunday and then the following day I will have my right breast removed and then two new breasts modelled at the same time. It’s a big big operation and I’m nervous. Austen and I have both talked about our fears and we are both nervous but I am still very clear that this is the right next step to take. I want peace of mind and I believe removing my remaining breast tissue and eventually my ovaries eliminates some risk.

 

We have some wonderful experiences around the corner too. My sister is due to have a baby in February and that will be a happy joyous moment. My son is very very excited about his new cousin. I can’t wait to welcome this new little life to our family.

 

I manage to meditate every day now and am feeling stronger and stronger. I have a mop of messy shiny hair and it feels wonderful. I’m not as tired and my joints don’t ache as much.

 

In preparation for my surgery I am doing some healing visualisations. I also regularly use crystals and receive reflexology every week. I pray every morning and night.

 

I will say goodbye to my prosthesis, no longer will I strap in a heavy lump of plastic into my bra.  I really cant wait for that.
So I choose to view this surgery as a hugely positive healing experience.  I am so lucky to be given this opportunity to remove potential areas of concern.  Lets be honest I’m getting two new breasts and a tummy tuck at the same time.  If you have a bit of spare time on Monday please offer up a little prayer or blessing for me.  The more positive vibes I can have the quicker I can heal.

 

The next phase is about to begin….