Apart from some pretty heavy duty insomnia, memory loss and impaired mental function I'm actually doing OK for someone who is approaching their 'expire by' date. So I thought I might try to apply some logic to my current situation, partly for my peace of mind, and partly for some clarity for those who read this blog.
So from November 2013, the sequence of events has been as follows:
10th November 2013: Find lump
12th December 2013: The glamorously named 'Lumpectomy' takes place
24th January to 7th March 2014: Chemo one to three - FEC (what felt like interminable sessions of intravenous poison administered via giant syringes)
28th March to 9th May 2014: Chemo four to six - Docetaxel (as above but with added baldness and agonising muscle pain)
21st June 2014: End of three weeks of radiotherapy - like water off a duck's back
15th May 2015: Diagnosis of secondary breast cancer to the brain (although I knew it could happen, this did completely knock me for six - tough times indeed)
End May 2015: First brain surgery (apart from a vicious twenty four hours after surgery, I was walking round a local beauty spot twenty four hours after that and felt great)
Mid July 2015: End of intensive three week period of whole brain radiotherapy (unspeakably painful and seemingly unending,the worst treatment of all)
August 2015: After all this, the tumour came back at exactly the same size as it was before although now I am completely bald, weak as a kitten and constantly vomiting (feeling a bit sorry for myself at this stage)
August 2015: The pugnacious growth is then removed again and although there is some impairment, I am OK
13th October 2015: Discovery of pulmonary embolisms due to inactivity (the irony!)
21st October 2015: Terminal diagnosis received but as of my last scan my tumour had not returned
So this brings us right up to date.
I'm feeling OK. And as it's hard to believe that my health could deteriorate quickly, I'm cautiously making the most of things even more than ever. I recently watched a TV programme featuring Rowena Kincaid, one of my cancer contemporaries and although she's not in the best of health, she is still with us and living life to the full (as much as constant treatment will allow). (programme available to view until mid-March 2015 via this link >>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b071fb66/before-i-kick-the-bucket-the-whole-story )
Like her, I feel like this really can't be the end. So I've done some calculations. According to my oncologist, my diagnosis from 21st October 2015 was "months, not years", however according to Cancer Research UK, for someone like me who is healthy (comparatively), young with a single site tumour and no metastasis, (all comparative bonuses) this could be up to 13 and a half months as a best case scenario. So all this number crunching would bring me to the 4th December 2016. I just need to make the most of my time until then and who knows, maybe even push it further to sneak in an extra Christmas. Now doesn't that sound like a beatable target?
Transcribed by Dean for Amanda.
This is today...
On reading this today I feel an odd combination of elation and sadness. Rowena Kincaid is sadly no longer with us. That's also the case for my wonderful Mum and my lovely friend Shelly. Christmas is fast approaching and so is my 'death date', 4th December 2016. So is the end nigh? It certainly doesn't look like it to me. My 'months, not years' prognosis has been reversed, and I now 'only' have secondary cancer. I am a lot fitter than in February and go running three or four times a week (albeit super slowly). I still have no metastasis (my cancer hasn't spread from my brain as far as we know) and with the help of a very patient hairdresser, I now have long, blonde hair again. I'm enjoying working part-time from home and I've bought and wrapped all my Christmas presents. Amazingly I haven't had a migraine in months and my recent mammogram was clear.
I personally feel like this is a sure-fire miracle. In just nine months my life has been completely transformed and I get to spend an uneventful (roughly translated as 'wonderful') Christmas at home with my amazing Dad and husband. I feel completely uplifted and blessed beyond words. I know that others have been less fortunate than myself and I pray for them daily. But for now I want to sail past the 4th December and celebrate Christmas with my nearest and absolute dearest hoping and praying that it's the first of many, many more.