Posted in Living with cancer

Update (The one where WeeGee has a sense of humour by-pass)

Hello there, you lovely lot! It’s been a while since my last post hasn’t it? I swear to God I’ve been meaning to sit down and write an update but you know how it goes…. Somehow, the time and inclination just haven’t been willing to show up together and besides, I’ve been pretty busy watching Stranger Things 3….

The last time I wrote I was gearing up for my final chemotherapy session, a milestone that I am pleased to report has now been achieved. In the end, the last session was an unceremonious affair, partly because I didn’t want to make a fuss and partly because I was K.N.A.C.K.E.R.E.D. True to form, I cried as we left the chemo suite for the last time* but apart from that, I haven’t really looked back. I don’t miss it and, if I never have to see another IV chemo pump again that’ll be all right with me. Please and thank you to the powers that be.

chemo over.jpg

Whilst it’s fair to say that I’m finished with chemo, I am under no illusions because chemo is not quite finished with me. Towards the end of the treatment I started to appreciate the toll it was taking on me and my body and now, more than six weeks later, the lasting effects of what I have been through are ever present. Unfortunately, the chemo has caused some nerve damage, which is painful in a way I can’t even begin to describe to you. That, together with some further, equally excruciating pain caused by the tumour dying, is making things pretty unbearable for me at times. Add to that the fatigue, the fun and games of the instant menopause, the raging insomnia, the chronic indigestion, the extra stone and a half I’m carrying around courtesy of the steroids (it shouldn’t matter, I know it shouldn’t, but somehow it just does) and the ever present worry about the forthcoming surgery, and it would be fair to say that I haven’t exactly been my usual chirpy, hilarious self of late…. It’s the post-chemo sense of humour by-pass, I guess.

My surgery is scheduled for next Thursday. I’m having a right side mastectomy and axillary node clearance with delayed reconstruction. The delayed reconstruction is in part to allow for radiotherapy and in part to avoid an overly long operation in light of the DVT I developed back in April. The surgery should take no longer than a couple of hours and I expect to be discharged the following day. Those are the facts and between you and I I’m feeling quite calm and pragmatic about the whole thing. Sure, I wish the circumstance were different but at the end of the day my right breast is trying to kill me, and accordingly, I will be glad to see the back of it. Perhaps I will feel differently after the surgery but for now, I’m quite matter of fact about it all. The operation is the next thing I have to do to get myself better. The plan, as far as it goes, is to turn up and put myself in the capable hands of the NHS once more.

I suppose it’s all sounding a bit low key and miserable here in WeeGee land but FEAR NOT. All is not lost and I PROMISE that I am absolutely fine in spite of being a bit quiet and a minor misery guts. Sometimes, when crappy things are going on you have to find a way to power through them but then other times you have to sit with them and let them pass. Right now I’m at the sitting waiting for things to pass stage and I don’t really have too much to say for myself. Plus, if you really want to know the truth, the doctor has prescribed some seriously strong painkillers so I’m quietly and contentedly OFF MY TITS** for a significant portion of the time anyway.

Perhaps now I’ve managed to write something the wordy-block curse that has striken me will lift and I’ll start spamming you with blog posts again – time will tell. In the meantime, keep me in your thoughts or prayers (or whatever you keep folks going through shit in) next Thursday.

I’ll leave you with a song, inspired by Stranger Things, and a promise to be back,

Love you all lots like jelly tots,

WeeGee

*What can I say? I always cry at endings

** There is a tasteless joke in there somewhere but it’s still a bit soon, no?

Posted in Living with cancer

A bit of a disaster

The last time we spoke I was busy boasting about how it had been plain sailing weather here in WeeGee land for three whole days. In the end, I think I got about a week of calm before I hit choppy waters again which I suppose is better than if I hadn’t got a week of calm at all.

To be quite honest with you, it was a lot like Frank Turner’s mohawk in Fathers Day – that is, a bit of a disaster.

As an aside, I’ve wanted to share that song with you for AGES and I’m sure you’ll agree that I haven’t shoe-horned it in at all.

As usual I’ll do away with the long, boring details and put it in a nutshell for you – when I turned up for chemo on Friday with pins and needles (which had been previously deemed ‘just a side effect of the paclitaxel’) and a swollen arm (which had been previously deemed ‘just an allergic reaction to the PICC line dressing’) ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. Turns out it wasn’t a chemo side effect, or an allergic reaction at all. No! It was that blood clot I didn’t have a couple of weeks ago but actually quite probably did have all along. Fan Dabbie Dozzie…..

Blot clots (or deep vein thrombosis – DVT) are an occupational hazard for cancer patients. The fact of your cancer puts you at increased risk of developing them, and then the way chemotherapy drugs interact with your blood increase your risk slightly further, and then if you have PICC line – as plenty of chemo patients do – you get another layer of risk on top of that. When I think of it now it seems INEVITABLE that I was going to develop one!

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING ANNOUNCEMENT

There’s a more medical run down of blood clots on the NHS website if you want to check it out because, and this is important boys and girls – blood clots are not just for cancer patients. In the meantime, if you get any of the following:

  • throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in a leg or arm
  • sudden breathlessness, sharp chest pain (may be worse when you breathe in) and a cough or coughing up blood

You need to seek medical advice pretty sharpish (in the UK by dialling 111).

END OF PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING ANNOUNCEMENT

I was lucky. A very vigilant nurse decided that she wasn’t happy to accept the previous diagnosis and sought a second opinion from a doctor who also wasn’t happy to leave things as they were. So off I went for an ultrasound which detected a nasty little clot hiding out right next to the PICC line site. It’s impossible to know whether the clot was there when I was examined last week or whether it had developed since and at this stage, I don’t suppose it matters. The main thing is it was spotted and we’re now treating it with daily injections which I’d rather not talk about thank you very much because TRAUMA.

Alas, the dramatic interlude did not put paid to my weekly dose of Paclitaxel which I ended up having via an old fashioned cannula because the PICC line, which I resisted, and slated and hated with all my might (but secretly came to love) is GONE. As soon as the clot was confirmed they whipped that out in seconds flat, and I do really mean that they whipped it out in seconds flat. Which is all I’ve got to say about that because TRAUMA.

DNUse C78D457C-F5B1-4086-B2E4-FAD29B8CA553
DO NOT USE

We’ll wait to see how my veins cope with the Carbo/Taxol chemo and weekly blood tests. The thinking at present is that we’ll give it a go for the next two weeks, see what happens and then consider an alternative plan of action if the veins are starting to put up a fight. The Carbo/Taxol chemo is ALLEGEDLY kinder and gentler than the EC chemo that caused my veins so much grief earlier in the year but between you and I, I’m not altogether convinced they are up to it, particularly given we’ve only got the non-clotted arm to play with. Time will tell I guess…..

By the time all was said and done we were on the chemo suite for a full eight hours yesterday, rather than the two hours we’d budgeted for. The day was made slightly better than it could have been with a visit from a LOVELY former patient who had held a bake-off event with her friends so she could put together little gifts for everyone on the suite. It was such a genuinely gorgeous gesture and yet another reminder – as if I needed one really – that people in general, are generally nice.

Gift A5CEB013-7995-4ED5-9DB6-32E1C373F216

It was a long and frustrating day and by the time we got home I was completely, utterly and well and truly wrung out. I made it as far as 8pm before the steroids wore off and it all caught up with me, manifesting in what shall henceforth be known as the Marks and Spencer’s Chocolate Cake Incident. But I’m not ready to talk about that yet, because – you guessed it – TRAUMA.

So, yeah. That’s the story of the blood clot I didn’t have last week but probably did have all along and the rather unceremonious end to the much-maligned-but-not-as-bad-as-all -that PICC line. The fun never stops….

Meanwhile in other news I am continuing to sprout an impressive little fuzz of hair on my head but alas, the eyebrows are not yet ready to return. Nothing else to report today save that I hope you are well and that those of you in the UK are coping with the ravages of Storm Hannah. Stay strong…..

Look – I know we’ve already had a song but it’s tradition to have one at the end. So here is a song. At the end.

Love you all lots, like all the jelly tots

WeeGee xoxox