Sunday, 18 January 2015

I'm sure this achy ear lobe is cancer...

One thing to be prepared for is assuming that every little ache and pain is the big 'C' on it's way back to steamroller your life. I was determined not to be like this, but I have to admit, I have been. Since Christmas I have had a horrible flu bug that has kept me awake at night with violent coughing and vomiting and made me feel utterly dreadful. Pre-C I was very rarely ill, despite being a chronic migraine sufferer, and this bout of illness sent all sorts of unwelcome thoughts into my mind. I worried that my immune system was so compromised that I would always be ill from now on, and had a nagging fear that this was lung cancer and my time was up. Logically I know that this was nonsense. And, if lung cancer was this easy to treat with cough medicine, millions of sufferers the world over would be partying. But you can't quite eradicate all of these kinds of thoughts from your mind with logic alone. My solution was to talk to other cancer friends. One reckoned her arm pain was bone cancer, another that her headache was brain cancer. Both, fortunately turned out to be false alarms. For some though, similar symptoms were an indication that the cancer has returned and they are in treatment. Again, the majority of people will have lots of moments like this that turn out to be just normal minor illnesses, but when viewed through Cancer Glasses seem to be completely ominous. It's important though to be vigilant about any changes to your body, and anything that lasts over three weeks, get checked out. You can then celebrate when it's 'only' flu!


Mammogram clear (for now)

After the 'five weeks to wait for my mammogram results' debacle, I turned to my breast care nurse for help. I explained that the wait would be agonising and would ruin my Christmas and that of my family and loved ones. She spoke to the oncologist for me and within 48 hours gave me the amazing news that my first mammogram was clear. I was absolutely thrilled, relieved and about a hundred other emotions I couldn't even name and went on to have a wonderful Christmas. I have to say though that a number of the ladies who were diagnosed with primary breast cancer at the same time, or in some cases, secondary breast cancer, have not had the same good news. Many people have the misguided view that it is in your control whether cancer comes back or not. They confidently tell you that staying positive, relaxing more and living healthily will do the trick. Of course, all of these things are great, and may certainly have an impact. But the truth is, those women who now have terminal cancer, or who have died, did all of those things too. They were just horribly unlucky. The majority of us will get through this thing, with the joy and added wisdom that such an experience brings. Others will not, and my thoughts are with them as they face challenging times ahead.


Hair update - seven months on

When my hair started to grow back, I was desperate to know how long it would take to look good again. For a while it was passable (and as Debbie will confirm anyone who loves you will maintain that you have never looked better) and then I hit a hair crisis. Just before Christmas (six months after treatment), I saw an old college tutor of mine who said, "What on earth have you done to your hair?", and a 6-year old friend of the family declared that I looked just like her Grandmother. I stormed to the hairdresser and demanded that she give me extensions there and then. She gently refused but suggested that I go back to blonde and wait until March to have the extensions when my hair would be long enough to cover them. I conceded, and she dyed my hair a light blonde, didn't touch the top at all and cut the sides. She then shaped it into a spikey do so at least it looks now like a bold intention rather than a sneaky aim to get pensioner's rates on the bus. I'm not a huge fan, but I do feel lots better. It's also growing at a real pace now (still vertically and still super curly) but it's about two and a half inches long on top, so hang on in there!

I'm now almost 8mths since the end of chemo and am six weeks hair growth 'short' of Amanda's hair so whenever I see her, I look at her and know that in six weeks time, my hair will be just like hers.
Mine is very curly and dark and also growing upbank but I actually like it and don't think I'll have long hair again. Let's face it, once you've been bald, any sort of hair is welcomed.