Tuesday, 28 February 2012


I can't remember having this much soreness the last time I had a lumpectomy. I am sore all over, sore to the touch and its really getting me down.

I went out in the car for the first time yesterday and that was a mistake because I ended up with an achey arm and now I can feel the swelling just under there.

Phoned the Breast Care nurses for advice and they said that the heat in the breast and heaviness could be down to an internal bleed. I did have a massive haematoma with my last op but because it was higher up on my chest it wasn't the same.

Have bought some cotton vests with internal support which help but being a 32G I do need a bit more than that.

I am going in to see the nurses on Thursday just to make sure all is ok. I just want to make sure that I havent got an infection.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Land of my Fathers

Moving away from my operation and cancer for this post I have been inspired by the Wales V England Rugby match being played right now. My mind has been focusing on my country of Wales.

I am from North Wales, a town called Wrecsam which is a border town. I have a lineage going back hundreds and hundreds of years in fact one of my ancestors was the first recorded vicar of Wrexham Parish Church and Gresford Parish Church where I was married in 1994.

On my maternal side my family can be traced back to the time of the industrial revolution and many of my ancestors worked down pit regardless of age or gender.

I am proud of my heritage and proud of my history and the colourful and interesting family that I am lucky to have been born into.

I have many interesting discussions with my mam about our history and family and its my intention to record these discussions so that I can keep many of these stories which will die with her. Its so good to have living history of decades of growth.

It has always perplexed me from a very young age as to why in school we were always taught English history and not Welsh. All of my knowledge of Welsh history has come down via word of mouth from relatives or my own research. I firmly believe that this is wrong, Welsh history should be on the curriculum of all welsh schools as is the language.

I should have gone to a Welsh school when I was little but my older brother was discriminated against by our own. He was held back a year because he came from a "mixed" background, meaning my mam spoke welsh but my dad didn't. My parents withdrew him from the school because in their view we would be subjected to racism soon enough but not at the age of 4 and not by our own people.

My mams first language is welsh. She could read and write in welsh before she could speak a word of English. Despite this, when she was in school she was forbidden to speak her native tongue and if caught doing so was punished and made to wear a badge saying "Welsh Not" for the rest of the day.

I used to speak welsh and write it too but I have lost the ability in recent years with the death of welsh speaking relatives. When I was in school I used to write and write and write then my mam would go through my work and make any necessary corrections. You can imagine how down trodden I was made to feel when my work came back covered in red ink. I couldn't understand it! Until I found out that the curriculum was based on the language of South Wales.

Looking back at welsh history you can see clearly that we were a tribal nation ruled by Princes this has led to the language changing from region to region. Interestingly the only place in Wales which uses "maen odi" for its snowing is Rhos where my mam is from, the term is Nordic......

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Jason went back to work today but has arranged for mum to come over. "what time?" I asked him "morning" he said......................

My mum knows me like I know her, I am her daughter and I am like her in many many ways. It is 12.30 as I type and I know that mum will get here in her time but she is giving me the beathing space that I have so desperately needed. Thanks mum for being understanding without me having to ask or explain.

I had a lovely visit from my best friend JD who livened up my day, how good it was to chat and catch up and think about normal things.

Then I decided to go out for that fresh air I have been promising myself all week. The wind was bracing and it was threatening rain but it woke me up and blew away those cobwebs.

Now I am chilling here contemplating a cup of coffee.....

I had a day off painkillers which wasn't a good move on my part as the pain returned yesterday quite badly and through the night. I took the diclofenix this morning and its eased the pain considerably but left me feeling a little woozy.

Tomorrow will be one week after the operation! Onwards and Upwards!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

In Recovery

I am still in awe at how "good" I feel following my operation! Last time was so different, I couldn't move for weeks and my arm movement was impaired for a long time. I must admit, it was the dread of this incapacity that made the thought of the operation awful.

Now I feel empowered, I don't feel vulnerable, I am in control....... mostly!!!!! My husband and mum and caring friends have other ideas I am afraid. Yes I have a 100mph dog in my life and yes I am a 100mph person. Normally I sometimes press the brakes lightly but now everyone has put the handbrake on and locked it aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh!!! I am NOT a good patient.

I am allowing myself this week and then the brakes are off. Don't worry though I will limit my speed to within normal parameters (with the odd sneaky blast of speed). Ssssshhhhhhh don't tell Jason!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Second Lumpectomy part 2

When I got back onto Bonny Ward the one thing that struck me was how much better I felt after the anaesthetic this time around, coupled with the fact that I wasn't hooked up to a morphine drip - this was good news.

It was a small ward with just a few other ladies on it so that was nice. The staff on that afternoon were amazing including a trainee nurse Roisin who was spending her last day there. Such a shame, she was a natural nurse, thorough and caring and yet there was no job for her having completed her training.

I was over the moon to be greeted by my friend PBW at 9pm who came on shift. So lovely to see a friendly, kind and caring face which made all of the difference. The night is always long in hospital and I was woken by doctors caring for one of the ladies on the end beds who was having difficulties with her heart. Thank goodness I brought my eye pad with me and so I shut the light and sound out. I didn't want to intrude on her privacy anymore than I had too poor lady. That night she was taken to the cardiac unit, the doctors were so good with her and gave her the best care.

PBW tucked me in during the night and not only that at 6am she brought me a lovely cup of tea!

I felt much better and decided to wash and put some makeup on before the consultant did his rounds. This was fueled by the fact that Harry couldnt take his eyes off me the night before and Joe told me I looked like a corpse. I felt much better with a bit of lippy on!

My consultant came onto the ward with a host of other registrars, breast care nurses etc and said "is that lipstick?" to which I replied "yes" and with that he said "ah you can definately go home today".

He told me that the operation had been a good one, he had removed about 3oz of breast tissue and got good clearance on the cancer site, he had removed some lymph nodes to sample and things were looking good.

He told me that my treatment would be radiotherapy but that would depend on what the oncologists decided. They are new on the scene and have new ideas so he couldnt be certain what my treatment plan would entail. Lets just hope its not chemo hey, I don't think I could stand to lose my hair again.

I just could not get my head around how much better I felt after this operation than the last one. I know my last tumour was large and alot of tissue was removed but I was left unable to move for many weeks and in the most excrutiating pain.

Day 4 after the operation now and my bandages have been removed only the pads remain in place over the surgical areas. I don't have much feeling in my breast and upper arm due to nerve damage but I know from experience that over time some but not all of the feeling will return.

I feel as though I am being fussed over and thats an alien concept to me, I am used to being totally independant, standing on my own two feet and being self sufficient.

I will let this continue until the week is out and then watch out!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

My Second Lumpectomy

My operation was scheduled for Thursday 16th February. Although my operation wasn't until the afternoon I had to be in the arrivals lounge (sounds just like a flight) for 8.30am because I had to have a couple of procedures prior to the operation taking place.

They have changed admissions somewhat since my last operation and rather than sit in rows all tense and naggy we were sitting in comfy chairs positioned in circles.

Many of the patients there weren't able to say for sure that they would be having their ops that day because of the bed situation but mine had been secured for me.

I was booked in and tagged so there was no getting away for me from then on then I was taken to the Shooting Star Unit to have the wire inserted into my breast using an ultra sound scanner.

It wasn't a pleasant experience although they did numb my breast considerably. The pushing and prodding is quite an alien feeling and so I focused on switching off and took my mind to another plain which helped. They wound the remaining wire around and fitted it to my breast.

Then for a mammogram - thank goodness my boob was numb.

Following that I was taken to nuclear medicine for my isotope radioative dye injection right into my nipple. Sadly, that area was not numb. However it wasnt any worse than a piercing and was over alot quicker. The staff in that department know me oh so well now what with a CT scan a few weeks ago, a dye CT scan Monday, MRI scan Weds and now this.

I was told that I was first on the operation list (thank goodness) and at 1pm I was taken away to get prepared for the operation. This meant a gown, getting my tragus piercing and wedding ring taped and yes....... those gorgeous designer sox which stop embolisms. How sexy...... NOT!

Down in theatre the staff were lovely although alarmingly rather young! Bless the anaethetist he let his trainee canulate me despite my small and damaged veins, he remarked that I had "lady like veins" although at that point lieing on a trolly, shoulders exposed and a wire hanging out of my boob I didnt feel particularly lady like!

He asked me to think of a lovely holiday destination which I did but then I promptly gasped...... "oh no the kids are here and they are arguing....."

The next thing I knew, I was coming around asking for a cup of tea!

to be continued................................

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Nearly There

So..... my CT scan yesterday and my MRI scheduled for tomorrow.

I hate all of these tests, I find them invasive of my privacy. All of my intimate secrets revealed for all to see on a piece of film. However without these tests, who knows what could be going on with my body.

I am getting nervous about the operation on Thursday, well, not nervous more like anxious. Until the cancer is removed and studied and until all of the test results are in, I cannot be certain of what I am dealing with.

My last cancer was aggressive this apparently is not as bad so I should be relieved but I'm not. I am angry, frustrated!

I had two years worth of treatment for my last cancer and the last year has been spent getting my life back on track both physically and emotionally. So to be hit with a second cancer diagnosis right now is frankly a low baller!

Monday, 13 February 2012

CT Scan - Again

Had another CT scan today but this one wasn't nuclear it was Iodine and was alot faster to have done although a little fiddlier.

I had a canula fitted in my arm through which the dye was drip fed during the scanning process.

First was the bone density scan with the freaky electronic voice saying "breathe in and hold" then after a few seconds "breathe". The sound of the machine and the fact that I appeared to be in a capsule made me feel like a space traveller going on my special journey.... towards what??? a cancer free world!

When the dye went into my system it was the funniest feeling in the world, I felt a coppery taste in my mouth and I felt as though I was going to suffocate, as it traveled through the veins it was like  fire traveling around my system.

I was relieved to get that over with.

I had a cup of tea in the cafe just to collect my thoughts then decided to go and buy a new collar and lead for Pickles as a distraction. Red with white spots, matching of course!

I can feel the butterflies in my stomach as I think of Thursday which seems to be fast approaching. My thoughts were pinned on this scan but now it is over and done with, there are no more hurdles to cross until the big one.

On a funny note, I turned Cola out early this morning and of all the days I needed him to be a good boy he decided to not go into his field but to turn and run away. I caught him of course and used my arm and hand as a headcollar and led him back to his field telling him all the while what a "naughty boy" he was. As I walked away he stared at me for a long while and I reminded him "he was a naughty boy!"

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Wilful Wilbur the Warrier Dog

We collected Wilbur from Nantwich hospital on Thursday night, to say I was over the moon was an understatement.

Still very weak and in pain, he was walking and holding his own. He had some drains inserted into his side which looked dreadful!

He was so glad to be home but wouldn't sit down until I sat next to him and he put his head on my lap, its as though he needed my reassurance.

Getting his medication down him has been a struggle as the little monster manages to spit them out somehow. If he doesn't start behaving I will be shaving off his Schnauzer beard to make medicating a little easier!

Thursday night I slept downstairs with him and Pickles just to make sure he was ok.

Friday saw more improvements in his mobility and general state of mind.

Today he went to have his drain removed. It was a quick and painless procedure, the stitches were snipped and the tube just pulled away.

I have to keep the holes open so that the fluid can continue to drain away. He will have his stitches out in about a week or so's time.

The vet told me that the consultant was "excited" about Wilburs case as it was highly unusual.

The biopsy results came in today and it was as Mr Mayo expected, it is an infection, not cancer and not a genetic condition for which he would have needed steroids. So we can work with this. He will probably be on antibiotics for 6 weeks now.

He is smelly and horrid at the moment so I cant wait for the time when he is well enough to have a bath. At the moment, the priority is in getting him well again.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

I've Got a Brand New.................................Cancer

Sorry, I am not being flippant with the title but I am hoping to reflect my true feelings on my second cancer diagnosis which I received today.

I am still 3 years in remission for my first cancer which was aggressive and fast growing. This new cancer is indeed just that "new" and is in my other breast. The good thing about this is that the new cancer is not as aggressive and is slow growing. I probably wouldn't have felt anything for a year or two by which time the treatment would have been as radical as my last.

The surgeon told me that I am at more risk from my first cancer than this.

So.... I am booked in for a lumpectomy on 16th February along with a lymph node sweep just to make sure the cancer has not spread. This is highly unlikely as it has been caught right at the start of the little devils life! Thank you for mammograms!!!

As the area is so small, I will be taken in to have a wire inserted into my breast using an ultrasound scan, I will then have some nuclear dye injected into my nipple (which will make me pee like a smurf.... blue) and then the operation will go ahead in the afternoon.

I am having an overnight stay because Mr Cochrane said "otherwise you will be out walking dogs".

I had my pre-op done straight away along with a chest Xray.

It was explained to me that at 1pm today he would be arguing over me with a bunch of other people involved in looking after cancer patients therefore I will have a balanced care and less risk of mistakes. As a result of that meeting I have been booked in for a CT scan on Monday to check bone density and my other organs.

After surgery I will probably only need radiotherapy but the outcome won't be known until the cancer is out and has been investigated further along with my lymph nodes.

I am really relaxed about the whole thing. Cancer isn't something to fear, it breeds off fear..... its something to be challenged and beaten and thats what I will do.

I am being sent for a genetic test to find out if I carry the BC gene and if so I can make a balanced decision on any radical surgery but at this point in time, a lumpectomy only please!

I am anticipating a quick recovery and being back at running, dog walking and horse riding within days following surgery. I might be wrong but if you don't have goals theres no point in it all.

The worse fear I have of cancer is losing my hair again and thats not really a real fear in the whole scheme of things but it looks as though that won't happen.

I have a whole load of great friends and family to get me through this. With messages of love and support to keep me going I can only win this again. I want to thank every one of you who have given me such support, for those who have helped with my kids and my animals. No matter how small the gesture, the impact is enormous - trust me!

I will keep you up to date with my progress on this blog.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Into the Countdown - Wilbur

I received a phone call on Monday offering me an appointment for an MRI scan on Wilbur on Tuesday - the next day. This was such a great weight off my shoulders because I had been told it would be Wednesday and I have an appointment myself first thing for the results of my biopsy.

I discussed Wilbur at length with the vet and scheduled the appointment in Nantwich for 10.10am.

Very nervous not just about the MRI but driving to an unknown place and on my own.

8.50 came and my lovely friend J arrived, telling me she was going to drive me there. My ace neighbour F took Harry to school for me and the star C turned Cola out - such a network of brilliant friends supporting me when I most needed it.

We got to Nantwich in good time despite the fog in Rossett although our first port of call was to an Ostepaths clinic. After considering the place for a few minutes we realised that we were definately in the wrong place only to find the vetinary hospital staring us in the face over the road.

When we met Mr Mayo he was lovely. He was very direct and very open about the matter. Upon examining Wilbur and looking at his Xrays and notes he was 99% certain that he would be dealing with a prolapsed disc. He explained the procedure in such a great way I really could visualise the operation they would carry out.

Mr Mayo gave Wilbur a sedative which contained morphene. The morphene made him a little sick but once the meds worked he relaxed for the first time in weeks.

Mr Mayo took him away and promised to telephone me when the op was over.

So you can imagine my surprise when he phoned me (while I was in Pets at Home) to say that Wilbur had had the MRI scan and it was not a prolapsed disc. He had an area of internal inflammation which was pressing on his spinal cord. He needed to take a biopsy to find out what this was.

Worst case scenario - cancer. If that is the diagnosis then there will be no treatment for my little boy.

However, Mr Mayo was certain that this wasn't cancer, that it was a genetic auto immune disease which caused inflammation. He had seen one other dog with this condition and although he didnt appear to respond to treatment initially, suddenly, he was better and has never looked back.

So now, Wilbur is staying in the hospital overnight so that they can monitor him. Hopefully I will collect him tomorrow and bring him home with some stronger pain killers.

The results of the biopsy come through on Friday and then his steroid treatment can begin.

I must admit that my first reaction to this news was "why me?" Not only am I facing test result myself I now have to wait for them for Wilbur.

I really thought that after today, Wilburs pain would be over and he could start his healing process.

I just have no luck with dogs at all.......

This is Bobbi, she was my rescue dog and my "wish come true" my little soul mate. She died of cancer aged just 5.

Morgan was aged 4 and had to be put to sleep because of a neurological condition.

Poppy although not my dog, she was like my god-daughter dog died age almost 5 in my arms having been run over by a tractor.

Sometimes I really dont know if I can handle any more pain of loss.

Why me though?

Sunday, 5 February 2012


Well here it is, Sunday night and the weekend is over almost. It's been quite a nice weekend, Jason was home on Saturday and today I have spent the entire day deep cleaning my living room. I made a list of all the jobs which needed doing and made a start. I have got through most of the list but will start again tomorrow.

My Nain used to say "The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands" and she always suggested scrubbing floors if you were feeling down. I can tell you that it does work! It kept my mind occupied and probably helped me to burn a few calories.

The funny thing about this last week or so is that my back ache has almost disappeared, I wasnt able to walk at one point and now its (touch wood) gone! All I can think is that Him upstairs must think I have enough on my plate with the dodgy boob and Wilbur.

So.... Monday, Tuesday then D-day Wednesday.....

Oh boy.... Weds is an important day for my family!

I get my results at 9.30am and then I can get on with my life whatever the outcome.

Wilbur goes for an MRI scan to find out the extent of his spinal damage then we decide on what needs to be done.

I am more worried about my little dog than I am about me. I understand what is happening to me but he hasn't got a clue. I can't explain to him that the painkillers he keeps spitting out and hiding in his beard are actually good for him or that come Wednesday we will know how to stop his pain.

I had so many plans for Wilbur. I waited until he was over 1 and I started running with him. I had a special belt around my waist and the line attached to Wilbur was like a bungy rope. I was even considering entering into some CaniX events (running races with your dog) but it looks as though that is over for us now.

My other dog Pickles is a dreadful runner! The only time she runs is if something edable has dropped onto the floor!

Talking about running, as I have had the go ahead from the orthopedic team I am starting running again as from tomorrow. I follow the ZEST Running Made Easy programme and I know that over time I will be ready for a 10K race again. I have to use my posh new Garmin which my dad got me for Christmas!!!

If you are considering running its important that you follow these bits of advice. I have been running for a few years now with my break when I was having treatment and I have researched the subject quite alot.

Your CV system is easier and faster to train than your muscular/skeletol so you might feel you can pound the road for mile after mile but this will lead to injury. Walking is just as important as running and combining the two in a slow build up programme will significantly decrease the risk of injury.

When buying footware, go to a specialist shop and have your gait analysed. I had mine done in Chester. I also chose the shoes there and the size (always go one size up from your normal shoe size) but I didnt buy them from there, I took the details home, googled them and got them for £25 cheaper!

Running shoes have to be replaced regularly!

The other thing I would suggest if you are a lady is - get yourself a decent sports bra even if you are small busted. I feel as though I am suffocating when I am in mine !

So I have a few plans for the week ahead. Mainly housework and dog walking but I am tense about Wednesday for a few reasons.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


I had my routine mammogram at the Shooting Star Unit in Wrexham Hospital just over a week ago so you can imagine how upset I was to receive a phone call the next day calling me in for another mammogram. I had my appointment scheduled for last Thursday when the radiographer was in the unit so if I needed a scan or biopsy it could be done then and there.

I was so glad to have the Gathering 20 that weekend which took my mind off my situation and gave me the posititivy and strength to face the challenge that lay ahead.

When I got to the unit, they explained that they had seen a slight change in my other breast and wanted to do another mammogram, if the area "went away" during the mammo then great, it was just me but if not they needed to take a closer look.

There was no lump palpable and the area in question was quite deep so the Xray team had to mark the area with the X you can see in the picture. The mammogram itself pinched like hell this time because they had to get a tight squeeze.

Unfortunately, the lump didn't "go away" during the mammogram and so I was sent to see the radiographer for a scan.

From what the radiographer could see, he decided he wanted to take a biopsy. So the area of my breast was numbed and a scanner was used in order to locate the area with the biopsy needle (pictured above). The reason they needed to use the scanner was because the area they were looking at was so tiny (good news for me).

It was quite a long drawn out process because he had to "rummage" around in order to get a sample and that was tense.... putting up with the sensations and waiting for the click (rather like an industrial stapler). Two samples were taken.

I had a big sigh of relief when it was over I can tell you!

So this is the dressing they placed over the biopsy site, had to remain in place for 24 hours to avoid any infection.

 A little bit of blood seeping through the dressing.

This is my lumpectomy scar from my last cancer. The lump was the size of a ten pence piece and a stage 3 tumour - not nice! The reason the scar isn't very tidy is because I had a hematoma after the operation, Mr Cochrane offered me the opportunity to go back into theatre to have it drained but I wanted out of there quickly and didnt want any more pain so I gracefully declined. Later on Mr Gates tried to drain it through the scar but it wasn't playing ball. I don't mind apart from the pain it gave me and the scar really doesn't bother me because I see it was a "medal" - proof that I kicked cancers big fat ass!
Not so long ago, if you had a breast tumour all of your lymph nodes were taken out. This left ladies with a disability, with lymphodema, a painful condition and compromised life style. Due to research they now inject into your nipple before the operation and they can trace the lymph nodes directly linked to the cancer lump. I got away with only having three nodes removed and thankfully these were cancer free. The scar under my arm is neat. I haven't regained all of the feeling in that area even after 3 years but it honestly doesn't both me at all. Oh and after surgery you pee blue lol.

I can feel the "pull" of the op sites when I move but I have full mobility so its not an issue for me at all.
So this is what the biopsy site looks like now, bruised but nowhere near as bad as the biopsy taken from my last lump. Last time, even wearing a sports bra I was unable to run for weeks.

I had a brief chat with Mr Cochrane after the procedure and his words were "you can see I am relaxed, you can see I am not concerned". Basically if the area in question does turn out to be cancer, it has been caught right at the very start of its growth, I am totally amazed that they spotted it at all. So the upside of it is, it will mean a small lumpectomy, some nodes taken to be checked and thats it!!

I am very lucky to be living in North Wales and to be treated by such a competant and amazing team of surgeons, nurses and oncologists, I honestly do owe them my life.

NOW: important note here!!! I am not posting this to get sympathy, I am not posting this to get comments like "oh aren't you brave". I am not brave I just get on with the shit life throws at me, I deal with things head on because thats all you can do. I am writing this post so that if it is read, it could put a persons mind at rest, a cancer diagnosis doesn't mean horrendous disfigurement or a death sentence.

When I was originally diagnosed, I searched the net looking for pictures of lumpectomies and the ones I found were severe and very frightening.

Also, breast cancer isnt limited to us ladies, 300 men are diagnosed each year! Also, cancer doesn't have any age boundaries. Keep vigilant!