6 weeks after last chemo…

Wow can’t believe it’s 6 weeks since my last chemo, that’s gone quick! But then I have had 2 holidays, a hospital appointment and spoken to GP during those 6 weeks.

This week started with me feeling unsure and unsettled. This week my sick note ran out, so a decision needed to be made of when to return to work. I had sort of thought about looking at a phase return after 4 weeks, but I had started to feel unsure if this was realistic. My GP was ringing me Monday afternoon to discuss sick note and tamoxifen, so needed to think about it.

Monday morning I rang my breast care nurse to book myself on their course, moving forward after treatment in November, I left her a message – luckily she returned my call later, we talked for quite awhile, she explained that tamoxifen can take up to 2 months to get into your system, so any side affects my not show for another month (Oh great!!) And that with my fatigue I may struggle going back to work so soon, she felt a month was too soon, and that 2 months with phased return after was more realistic. I mentioned I had been struggling with my bowels, she didn’t think it was left from chemo or as a result from tamoxifen, she was unsure what could be causing it. It felt good to talk to someone who knew what I was going through even if not first hand (in some ways that’s better as she is non-judgemental, where as if you’ve experienced it yourself you kind of have an opinion, based on what worked or didn’t work for you etc) she made me rethink, so another 2 months it needs to be, especially with the driving as concentration can be an issue πŸ€” (maybe always be a bit of an issues πŸ˜‚) 

GP rang as agreed, and was great he said straight away a month not enough, he wants to sort issues out first ie bowels. He prescribed buscapan as he said that tamoxifen can be an irritant and this may have affected my IBS – yay if its not one thing its another πŸ˜‰ (the problem is that these things I have lived with – but now I can’t help but think is it cancer, has the chemo not worked, then I have to pull myself together. But I am going to have these thoughts because I am actually pretty normal!! ). I feel so much better that I don’t go back to work till end Oct – this gives me time to build my energy back up – I will say at this point, doesn’t mean I’ll be running 5k or eating organic veg food – NO cancer has taken a bit of my personality but it’s not changed me that much, I will still eat cake and drink alcohol  (when I can) – I will try to be fitter ie more walking, perhaps the gym too – please don’t judge me, I am still me and life too short not to enjoy cake πŸ˜‰

Monday also showed me how this has affected my boy πŸ˜”. Apart from worrying about what I eat, he just seems to worry about me quietly. I decided I needed to do something “normal” so whilst he was still asleep I thought I’d nip to Tesco fancied having a mooch (not been in Tesco for months – as not had energy to get round). My boy woke whilst I was out, promptly rang me to find out where I was – later I asked him why he rang, he said because he was worried, as he thought his sister had said I’d been sick, so thought I’d been taken back into hospital πŸ˜”. I’ve made a mental note to just let him know when I am going out – bless him. 

This week ends with so many positives, my hair is growing, visited my amazing hairdresser, she has dyed it, so no more grey!! And wow it felt fab to visit the hairdressers again, and have my hair washed by someone else… it’s so true it’s the little things that are important and that we take for granted. I went out for the day with my cheeky but lovely niece – who I don’t see enough of! I am happy…..yes happy I have been smiling more, feeling more settled and that I am doing well, I do have aches and pains but I just feel so much better. I received a thank you card this week too, that made me realise that there is always hope ….. 

On the mend, slowly but surely …..

I have returned from my second holiday – this one was so much more me πŸ˜‰ a lovely lodge in Dorset – so beach holiday. The weather was good too, this week away I realised the difference a couple of weeks can make. I still get tired but I managed to do so much more, and no afternoon granny naps πŸ˜‚. My brain is still on a 3 week cycle, I still seem to measure things by chemo, I guess as time goes by I’ll stop thinking this way, for example this week to me is “5 weeks since chemo”. Whilst away last time I remember waking up on the Thursday thinking I should be having chemo today, and strangely enough I actually missed going for it – why ? I guess my life has revolved around chemo for so many months and a 3 week cycle, now suddenly it doesn’t, suddenly I don’t have any structure, very strange feeling. Whilst on my holiday I managed to get back to paddling – ok not in a kayak, but on our sit on top, bit more stable. But a paddle and I loved it, was concerned how my back would be, as the reconstruction I had, removed a muscle and tissue from my back to build a new breast. But was ok, next few days I did feel it, but it was worth it, I am on the mend πŸ˜€. On our last day we visited a RSPB reserve and we had a long walk, I am not going to lie it was a bit too far, and I struggled towards the end, which made me a bit grumpy πŸ˜‰, however once completed I did feel good, proud of myself. My daughter’s fitbit said 7500 steps but my phone said 9500 steps (so going with my phone πŸ˜‚) with 5500 steps at a healthy pace. I am tired still 2 days later, my body wasn’t happy after I was actually sick that night, so it was too much, but felt normal. Whilst on the beach I rocked the head scarf, floppy hat and large sunglasses and factor 50, so not much of a tan, which is unusual for me, but at least looked glam πŸ˜‚

Tamoxifen – well I’ve been on it now for over a week, not sure if had any side effects as such, am I more irritable ?? Best ask the family πŸ˜‚ I am spotty, every morning I wake up to a new spot 😀. I am itchy not sure if this is the tamoxifen or not, I am also warm all the time, not hot flushes as such just feel warm, when others aren’t. I am more thirsty so drinking lots of water (still not able to drink much alcohol πŸ˜” a small Pimms or glass of wine – or I am ill.  Took a bottle of champagne with me, and returned with it, it’ll have to wait – hubby happy as means I drive πŸ˜‚) 

This holiday did me a world of good and sad to be home, I did things with the kids again, I am on the mend, slowly but definitely on the mend – in the post on my return was an invite to a course moving forward in November, breast cancer care run it, so on Monday I will book myself onto it, not too sure need it, but if it helps me a little then worth it, I need to start giving myself the best opportunity to move on positively as I am well aware of the statistics of anxiety/depression after treatment. 53% of people said they struggle with anxiety after treatment and 31% with depression. And I can relate to 80% of people who said they were concerned that the cancer will return – any ache or pain or change you think twice about – these are from a survey conducted by breast cancer care of 800 people who had a diagnosis. I hope the course will reassure me and give me the tools to move on without cancer over shadowing it πŸ˜€. 

7th yes 7th oncology appointmentΒ 

This is something for all my nearest and dearest to now look forward to πŸ€” I have just returned from (I can’t believe it is actually 7th) my 7th oncology appointment. I saw Sam again who is an “Advanced Pharmaceutical Practitioner” ?!? Anyway he is very nice and easy to talk to, he seems to also know his stuff, so not worried he isn’t an oncologist. He has given me my new daily tablets “tamoxifen” – I will be on these for at least 5 years, but because of my age he thinks it’ll be 10 years. My breast cancer was oestrogen receptor-positive which means it relied on the hormone oestrogen to grow, tamoxifen blocks oestrogen from reaching cancer cells, this means the cancer either grows more slowly or stops growing although. It is used, in my case to reduce the risk of breast cancer returning. There is a lovely long list of side effects πŸ˜‘ but mainly I will go through the menopause, there is a little good news if the hot flushes don’t calm down after a few weeks they maybe able to help with that! Sam mentioned forgetfulness and mood yeah to that, god help you all πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ 

Today I am feeling good, managed to shower and get ready to leave the house by 8.30am, doesn’t sound much but a huge improvement for me. I have been showering or bathing the night before to help with my breathlessness and fatigue in the morning. I also walked from the car park to the department and back, which is quite a distance. I am resting now. My funny tummy and my hip pain are due to the chemo, but need to keep an eye on it, if it doesn’t improve need it let them know. My taste buds are slowly improving as is my appetite.

I return to oncology department in 6 weeks to see how I am getting on with the tamoxifen and its side effects. 6 weeks is the 19th September, the day before my next sick note will run out, so the day before thinking about returning to work. Very mixed feelings about this, it’s a scary thought, I know it will be a phased return, and I can’t wait to see my work family but how will I manage…. (still 6 weeks is a while away, can get plenty of drinking practice in before then πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ ) 6 weeks is a long time to build my strength up, especially when I am improving each day, but it’s still a daunting thought after so long off….i am sure these are natural feelings and as it gets closer I’ll be ready to get into it. 

Baby steps

I have been quiet for a while, so much so some kind friends asked if I was alright πŸ˜€. Such a thoughtful act made me feel good, and reminded me that lots of people care. 

The reason for being quiet is that the last few weeks have been hard, after the 6th chemo it’s taken a while to pick myself back up, I’ve had a silly cough that some of you have experienced when I’ve tried to talk to you πŸ˜‚ I know I should listen more and speak less! This cough has got me down as it made me a little breathless too,mix that with fatigue and it makes me not a happy person to be around. However this didn’t stop me from being whisked away on holiday – owww somewhere nice and warm with blue sky and blue sea, I hear you say. Nope camping in a tent in North Norfolk…..mmmmmm. I have to admit I was very unsure about sleeping in a tent for 8 nights. And with my energy levels so low, but my family needed this holiday too. Sleeping wasn’t a problem due to the new camp bed with air mattress, in fact I think I’ll miss it now i am home. It wasn’t the same kind of holiday as before cancer, as I didn’t have the energy to do the walks, bike rides or eating out. But the kids and hubby did, which is what they needed and I rested when I needed. I managed to actually read a book, which is more than a baby step, as my concentration has been shockingly bad with my chemo brain πŸ˜‚. We went crabbing and had fish and chips at the beach, which was fab, it’s the little things that mean so much. The small children dancing to the band on site (Not my children), the kids messing about in the pool, just puts a smile on your face. Oh yes and we went bird watching briefly, something I have enjoyed doing at home whilst resting, so stopped at a visitor centre near salthouse 😁

I did walk and do a little more each day, it’s slow and fatigue kicks in quickly, not too sure my boy gets it, he just gets frustrated with me πŸ˜” mind you he didn’t have his Xbox or Wi-Fi whilst we were away so that maybe didn’t help πŸ˜‚….. I have now started to eat more although my tastes seem to have changed, rather eat savoury than sweet, sure it’ll not last though. I managed a Pimms or 2 (Not one after the other – on different days) and a glass of wine…..so it seems that my baby steps are all going in the right direction….. 

Ps my cough has nearly gone, fresh air best medicine! My hair is growing, grey and straight, although uneven so think it will need shaving again – who knows what it’ll end up like πŸ€” 

Day 6 after last chemo ….

Today is classed as day 6 after chemo as they count the day you have chemo as day 1. I’ve made it, made it past Monday and I am still at home……. this was a huge emotional rock to get past, as Monday was the day I went down hill last time and ended up in hospital for a week. But this time I’ve got past it πŸ˜€

That’s not to say it’s been plain sailing or driving (rocky road πŸ˜‰) . Friday was a reasonably good day, Saturday I started to feel very tired again, this then saw the return of my cough  (although no tena ladies in sight – band them πŸ˜‚) . Saturday over night was rough, even with all my anti sickness tablets I was sick, up most of the night. Sunday brought aching joints, not as bad as last time but not being able to get comfy in bed or sat up, bath was the place to be. My mouth is bad this time round I have sores and everything tastes awful, which makes it hard to eat and drink. My ears ache again too, need to keep eye on that as this was a sign I was going down hill last time. I decided Sunday night to take sleeping tablets and I believe that was the best decision I’ve made in a while, as I slept well for 6 hours, and I felt a lot better …… not brill but a lot better. 

Monday arrived and I can safely say it was a scary day for me, kept taking my temperature, tried hard to relax, avoided people, felt a bit like a mind game, slowest day ever. The day started with another rock to climb, Mark had to inject me 😯, these are the injections they give you to encourage your bone marrow to produce white and red blood cells and platelets. I need to have them for 5 days, I am not sure who was more terrified πŸ˜‚ after I wonder if he enjoyed it too much ……… I wasn’t able to sleep during the day, maybe because of the good night’s sleep I had, it was hot so I spent the day on the bed with fan on, but no tennis to watch. I am weak from being sick and struggling to eat and drink but it’s Tuesday and I feel sooooo much better, the only way is up now……. today is the start of a new me, new life and new outlook πŸ€—

“Last Chemo”

Cancer has gone ……. I have also now given it my best shot of it not returning!! Go me I’ve done it, last chemo given – relatively easy too, just cannula in finger which wasn’t pleasant actually let’s be honest it bloody hurt, however it’s the last one – so was ok. I could not have done this alone, all my friends that have suck by me, I can’t thank you enough for your on going support, all showing it in your own unique ways and making my smile and cry – sometimes at the same time – I ❀ you all xx My family what can I say? You’ve grown over this time too, and you’ve made me so happy to be back in touch, and I can’t wait to meet up with you all. To family near, they say that when some one you love gets cancer, you get it too, I have felt that for you too, and you are all brave too – I am so lucky to have you all, and sorry I scared you the other week….. love you all.

Now to the next hump in my rocky road, I am fully aware that life after cancer treatment can be very hard. I need time to mourn many different things, from lost friendships to my different body (losing the boobs that fed my babies) losing who I was, and learning to love the new me – this maybe hard and take awhile. I need to build my fitness back up both mentally and physically, and this will take time and patience – apparently I am not very patient!! 

“I had to find a new normal rather than trying to get my own life back just as it was” quote from Macmillan life after cancer treatment leaflet.

I think the hard part is they don’t offer scans or anything ….. So I will always wonder and analyse every ache and pain, I guess I will need to trust my instincts as I did before and that was a good thing or this rocky road could have be a lot longer and rockier. It’s not over as I will be on hormone tablets for 5-10yrs and I know that the side effects maybe hard, especially the fact it will bring on the menopause and more mood swings (I apologise now while I can πŸ˜‚)

I have slept most of the afternoon since coming home, but feel okay at the moment, I have my tummy injections to start Monday to encourage bone marrow to do it’s job well, fingers crossed that helps if I get an infection. I also have 3 weeks supply of antibiotics for any chest infections, due to infection doing it’s rounds (had these since starting chemo) fingers and toes crossed I sail through this one please xx 

6th oncologist appointmentΒ 

Just returned from my 6th oncology appointment…… yet another professional, he was very nice though.

I wasn’t kept waiting which was really good, we discussed what I had been through, they knew I had been in hospital but didn’t have notes so explained I was in Lincoln hospital. 

So we plan to go ahead with my “LAST” – in case you not aware but it’s my last chemo πŸ˜‰, on Thursday however if my cough cold gets worse it will need to be postponed for a week! As they don’t want to risk me being admitted again. I will have the same drug with self injections to encourage white blood cell production  (I asked about going back on FEC but he said I’d still need the injections, and seeing as I did not reacted to the drug, he felt best to stay with the docetaxel). He checked my cough and it’s clear which is good.

I go back in 4 weeks to talk about next steps – hormone tablets, which is reassuring as thought that was it last chemo and signed over to GP, so good to know I see them once more before the next stage. 

I think I am ok with chemo on Thursday, I know when I was in hospital I was pretty adamant I didn’t want any more chemo, but it’s only 1 more and then I’ve given myself the best possible advantage for it not to return, I know I’ve done all I can, to have an extra 20 yrs.