Thursday, 28 June 2012

Whats Normal Anyway

It's been a tough three years I can tell you.

2009 started so well, my dog grooming business was booming, I was in the best emotional state I had been in for 40 years, my teeth had just come out of braces (something I should have done when I was younger) I was fit, training for my first 10K race on 1st March 2009 when I found a lump in my breast.

So I had breast cancer and 2 years worth of treatment.

Nothing could have prepared me for the "afterwards" though. The fact that when therapy is over you think you are going to pick up where you left off. It was like running 100mph and hitting a brick wall - the impact on me emotionally was phenomenal.

To top it all I had "friend" issues which carried on to the social networks, it was all very intense, totally uncalled for and it came at a time in my life when I was coming to terms with the end of 2 years of cancer treatment.

So I plodded along, in constant pain and wishing that I could get my 5 year all clear FAST and I could get on with my life when at the begining of this year, 2012 I was called back after a routine mammogram and was told that I had another breast cancer in my other breast.

Luck was with me again and this time it was a low grade cancer but still hormone sensitive so the tamoxifen hadn't been doing a good enough job of taking care of me.

I remember waiting for the final results, thank goodness I had the Gathering to go to, meeting up with the Wasting Land folk and all of my other friends made life liveable for those few days and certainly gave me enough strength to get through the rest of the process.

So..... an operation..... radiotherapy..... and hormone treatment which involves a monthly abdominal injection to shut down my ovaries and a new drug called letrozol to stop my body from absorbing the oestrogen it makes.

Sadly the side effects of letrozol have left me with arthritic like pain in my hands, feet, knee joints and my back.

Having discussed the side effects with my onocologist I have found out a combination of painkillers I can take which so far.... day one.... have made a difference. He wants me to stay on the letrozol for as long as I can and if that means chronic pain but no cancer - then on it I will stay!

The good news was the result of my 2nd MRI scan which this time, was conclusive. The crack in my sacral joint is due to an old fracture, wear and tear and NOT cancer! This is the news I needed to boost my spirits.

So now.... after 3 years and 6 months I feel as though I am back to normal or as normal as my life can ever be having survived cancer twice.

I am in constant pain, I am struggling to shift the weight (another side effect of the anti cancer drugs) but the best part is that I am alive and although I am unable to live my life at 100mph as I used too I am learning to adapt and make changes so that eventually I will be back to the old me, a little more scarred and wiser from my journey.

I think that living with cancer or living with having fought cancer more than once can only be done with the right attitude and that is a positive one, and SMILE - smiling is a great way of fighting the fight. I couldn't have done it without my family and my friends old and new who pick me up when I fall and cheer with me when I succeed. You know who you all are if you are reading this and you have helped me in more ways than you can ever know.

Its the little things that friends do to support you, the word, the gesture, the caring.

I feel better than I have felt in three years to be fair. I have my energy back and my zest for life which never really left but it was tested to the point of breaking.

I have a fabulous husband, I am lucky to still have my mum around who worries far too much about this tough old cookie, I have my fabulous sons who have taught me so much about myself and life, my animals who are not only my best friends and family, they are my therapists then there are my friends.............

So without any more clonc and fuss.......... its onwards and upwards we go..........

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Radiotherapy Burn Baby Burn!

Its been a few weeks since I finished radiotherapy but here you can see how it is still affecting my skin. I still have burns which have sores and it fluctuates between itching and being sore. The only thing I can do is carry on with not using any perfumed products and applying E45 cream regularly.

Radiotherapy keeps working in your body for years and even 5 years after your treatment changes can happen. These changes include discolouration of the skin which I will definately have in the area you see here as I have the other side. It can also cause changes in the shape and texture and obviously pain.

Pain is something I am used to in those areas now because of the scarred tissue and nerve damage as well as that caused by rads.

Radiotherapy also kills the hair follicles which I am not too bothered about because I don't have to tend to the old pits as much as I used to have too. Chemo seems to have changed that aspect for the best too.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Nordic Walking and Breast Cancer

I loved running, it gave me something to aim for something to achieve.

When I was diagnosed with stage 3 Breast Cancer in 2009 I was ready to run my first 10K race but with surgery and 12 doses of chemo, I was unable to realise my ambition.

The bruising caused by the biopsy and then the operation which although was a lumpectomy given the size of the lump and breast reconstruction using tissue from my other size left me not only with painful surgery scars but trauma on both breasts. This meant that moving was painful for many weeks.

After my first lot of chemo I felt OK so I gave a short run a go..... I was laid up in bed for days afterwards.

The build up of chemo then made me feel worse and worse each time.

The long and short of it was that after cancer treatment I was the unfittest I have ever been in my entire life.

I wasn't going to let cancer beat me though and I focused on getting my first 10K under my belt which I did at the end of 2010 and raised nearly £800 for a cancer charity Love Hope Strength Foundation.

At that point in my life I had received radiotherapy to my breast, I had received 18 lots of herceptin and had been on tamoxifen for a year. This is when everything went to pieces. My back became incredibly painful and by the end of 2011 I was unable to run - even walking was a problem.

At the start of 2012 I was diagnosed with a new breast cancer in my other side. Surgery, radiotherapy and a change in my hormonal treatment.

Through trial and error with pain relief I eventually found a solution which was workable and last month I began a course of physiotherapy working on strengthening my core.

I realised that running wasn't an option for me at this particular time in my life, I needed to get my core strong first. Also, my CT and MRI scans revealed a crack in my back which although an old injury with the drugs I am taking now - Zolodex to put me into a false menopause and Letrozil to suppress oestrogen give me the risk of osteoporosis.

I became very down, depressed and frustrated. I really really did need to run, I needed something to aim for.

This is when I discovered Nordic walking.

I contacted Nordic Walking UK and found myself a lovely instructor and went on a taster session.

Its amazing!

It makes you walk correctly so it promotes good posture and it really does work your core muscles.

It uses more muscles than running does and can induce the runners high that I so miss.

I feel invigorated and hopeful for a new and fitter future.

I have purchased a "cheap" set of Nordic poles and once the children are back at school I am looking forward to putting a training plan in place.