Mammogram Take 2

I have had an interesting week this week. I thought I was ready to return to work but I am glad I didn’t. I took my son to school on Monday and as kids do he picked up gastroenteritis so he was sick Tuesday night till 330am! Not much sleep for mummy. Kept him home Wednesday then took him to school Thursday.  Then I had to go get him cause he has diarrhea and the nursery said there’s an epidemic going round.  So I brought him home, and after lunch I felt sick myself. Low and behold by the evening time I was really sick. Possessed kind of sick, the kind you see in horror movies sick. Not pleasant. Felt better after.  Today is Friday and now my husband thinks he’s got it, my son still has the runs and I feel like shit too. So much for the Friday feeling eh!

On the up side though I managed to get my mammogram yesterday in the morning.  The same lady was there so my boobs already knew her. She pulled and stretched them so the flattening machine could get as much boob on the plate as possible and first she did one, then the other and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then she said “we aren’t finished yet, we have to do them sideways too”  Well let me tell you sideways flattening hurts even more. My right boob is more sore due to recent operation so having that flattened did actually make my eyes water.. so I kept saying to myself, I’m not gonna cry, I’m not gonna cry..  (sad or what)  she was very sympathetic and said as long as the pain is just this then its a small price to pay. I agreed painfully. lol

After that she said you have to have an ultrasound! Why would I need an ultrasound? I panicked. So I waited around whilst some curly haired chap asked me various questions and went into a dark room with the same man who appears to be the ultrasound man’s assistant.  The ultrasound man said take of your clothes and lie down.. lol really?   I was wearing the kind of top that I could pull off my shoulders thank god so I did not take off my clothes.  He proceeded to grope and squash and grope some more asking me if I have had any op done to my right boob.  Then he got the ultrasound out and run it all over my right armpit, my right boob which tickled (so inappropriate) and I felt really vulnerable. A strange man I have never met before who said was a doctor was having unlimited access to my breasts. He quickly did my right boob and said “well your breasts appear to be clear but I’m concerned about your right armpit”  After two operations so am I, I thought!

Anyway the whole process took about 20mins and apart from my dodgy right armpit looking dodgy cause of two operations he said my breasts are fine! YAY  My husband could have told him that. 🙂  All in all a painful and rather embarrassing experience with great results.

I spoke to my oncologist’s secretary today.  I am now waiting for a phone call to tell me when I start radiotherapy. Guess who’s gonna jump each time the phone rings! lol

Here are the images from my boob scan.. clear boob scan.. yay for my boobs..now you get to see my boobs too! lol

Left Boob

Right Boob

Tuesday’s Ramble

So since I found out the bad news as such that I may be loosing all my hair, feritility and dignity I have been pretty much ok.  No nervous breakdowns as of yet however I’m thinking perhaps I ought to get some anxiety tablets or something. Might take the edge of and stop me yelling at my poor husband. Bless him.

I’ve been looking at head scarves and wigs and reading up on care during and after chemo and all that.  But apparently I may not loose all my hair. It all depends on the type of chemo I’m going to get.  So I have to wait. That’s all I do these days is wait lol

Still no news from the Oncology department in Nicosia so I will give them a call tomorrow.  Its not like I have the rest of my life to hang around without any worry. I need to start this treatment soon.  If only I was more careful when I sunbathed.  And I don’t even have pale white skin! My dad is Cypriot. I always thought my skin could handle the sun..

I’ve been off work what seems like ages and I want my life back to normal.. which means returning to work. Bills don’t pay themselves and Social Security of Cyprus is rather slow in making payments considering I’ve received nothing from them since my application in May.  Joy!  Plus it be nice to see my colleagues as I haven’t since I finished work on the 21st of May! We only leave 10-15 mins within each other.. These days people are just so busy with life.

Going to see if they have fixed the darn boob machine tomorrow too.  lol  They haven’t called me yet.. but thats Cyprus for ya.  lol  I cant fault them though they have looked after me quite well so far. 🙂

Have been doing all my exercises and my arm although hurts a little bit finally feels back to normal. I can lift it and everything and getting undressed isn’t so painful anymore.

Its important to stick to those exercises specially the squesshy ball one as that pumps fluid out of your arm and can prevent lymphoedema or lymphedema. Or whatever its actually called.  But you all know what I mean.

Apart from that not much else to report.  I’m looking forward to waking up not tired one day.. but I guess with whats ahead of me it will be a while.

Keep smiling cause life could be worse, no matter how bad you think things are!

Post doc visit

what a mammogram machine looks like or can look like!

Yesterday I went to the local Paphos General Hospital to have a mammogram.  Upon arrival I said I have to be in Nicosia today (two hours away) so its quite urgent.  The first chap I saw told me off for not arranging the appointment another day! I said it was not me that arranged the appointment.  Then when I went to register, the chap there also told me off saying that I wouldn’t have time, and the results wont be ready, and why did I leave it so late.. (nightmare so far) I said I just need to have the test, I don’t need the results.  Miserable sods.

Anyway, I get into this tiny room with a mammogram machine thats older than my dad I expect, and this woman who appeared to not know what she was doing proceeded to prepare this machine!   She then went on to tell me shes so stressed and cause of this she was diagnosed with parkinson disease when she was 50.

I wore something that would not require me to strip down to my pants so ladies do not wear a full dress rather than a top and skirt or something! I wore a strapless dress that just required pulling down! Hows that for preparation!  Anyway, I placed my right brest on this plastic plate, she then pulled and stretched it and then stood on a button that then flattened it. It is rather uncomfortable not too painful but still painful.   she pressed this button and then said it didnt work and wondered why.  She trotted out to get someone else who reset the machine and then proceeded to do the same whole thing with my right boob.  And then she said, sorry the machine is broken. (no shit Sherlock!)  They got the technician, the electrician and finally they all said I could leave an apologized.   Two flat boobs and no results.  It could only happen to me! I did find it all rather amusing..

The Bank Of Cyprus Oncology center in Nicosia is really nice.   They have this massive picture of what looks like heaven or the Elysium my husband said, were heroes and fighters go to die on the wall as you enter. Wasn’t too sure what to make of that one.   Everyone waiting seemed normal every day people but you could see the odd one that had no hair, or scarves on their heads, and someone who had recently had facial surgery.  I wondered if it was melanoma or something else.   I felt bad for them. All of the people were there cause of cancer and couldn’t beleive I was was one of them.

My height, blood pressure, weight were all taken down and a file was created with my photo taken to go in it to avoid any mistakes they said.  I smiled for the photo. I wondered if anyone else did that.    The Doctor that I saw reminded me of House cause he had a limp. So I will now know him as Dr House! He read my file then started talking to me of the seriousness of my condition.   He said that Melanoma is unlinke any other cancer and that diagnoses can depend on mm’s in sizes starting from 0.7! Anything above that is completely different diagnoses.  He said that my 2mm final leftover and my other above normal sized mm skin cancer bits meant my melanoma is aggressive.   He said that the first diagnoses could have been due to my pregnancy and hormones making it so.  In the old days they used to treat women with anti hormone drugs.  I wonder if taking the pill for ten years suppressed it? I must ask him that.

He said that I will need radiotherapy for sure and some other treatment after interferon or Chemotherapy.  However interferon is a drug they like to use in America but not so much in Europe due to its 5% success rate.  Chemo is probably a better choice but he doesn’t know yet.   He said that its good that my cancer is localised and they can target it.

Side effects of Radiotherapy will feel like sunburn.   I wont be able to wash there AT ALL during treatment and they will provide me with some kind of powder. He did say I can only wash it if I feel stinky. Hello? Its roasting sweaty hot in Cyprus..  My right lung will be slightly affected a little during the treatment which will give me a cough but that will go when treatment has stopped.  It can leave scar tissue in my arm which can lead to lymphedema but not on all patients.

He said to be positive, and not to change my lifestyle and that once he has looked through my file with this other doctor, they will decide what the best way is to target my incurable disease to help stop it from coming back.   My right armpit wont be affected again but unfortunately the rest of my body is still at risk.  Thats the thing with melanoma.  It can come back anytime anywhere and there’s not much you can do about it really.

So of course I’m terrified.  I’m so angry.  I just want to be ok and not have to worry.  Im super pissed off that this has happened to me just when my life was falling into place.  for the rest of my life I will have to deal with wondering if the pain in my stomach is just wind, or a headache is just a headache.  And to top it all off, I may even loose all my hair and my fertility and get a really fat right arm.  I know its a small price to pay in the exchange for a long life.  But still. I want my hair, I want my health and perhaps more children and I like my arm just as it is.

So all in all another crap day for me yesterday, from flat boobs to a shit diagnosis.

Saying all that though I didn’t get upset. Or cry. I guess now  I’m going through the angry stage.. watch out for road rage and rudeness when you least expect it. I apologize for my upcoming self!

Alethea is still in here somewhere though and she’s fighting and she’s smiling.. on the outside anyway!

A really rough morning

Well as you all may know yesterday I had to see the oncologist about my second opinion results.

I was nervous about this as she had called me on Thursday to inform me she had my results and she wanted to see me.  When a doctor calls you and says they want to see you it isn’t to tell you that you are fine and you may go home. However I wasn’t expecting what I was told.

Arriving at 745am I finally got in to see her at 11!  She said the results of my parafin samples (images seen previously) stated that most of my lymph nodes tested positive for Melanoma cancer.   I was in shock.  How on earth can they say I have that when only last week I got the all clear from the other lab?   They said that the second opinion came from an in depth analisis of the samples I gave them.  Does this mean other people are walking around thinking they are fine and they are not? Or do they all get a second opinion? If so whats the point of the first one if its inaccurate?

Dr Filippou then went on to tell me that I have to have localised radiotherapy every day for six weeks in Nicosia.  I was so upset to hear this.   You see even though they have done the surgery and that’s a success as such I’m still poorly enough to need radiotherapy.  I had prepared myself for interferon but not radiotherapy.  Its not a painful experience and there aren’t many side effects other than tiredness and it only lasts a few minutes but its radiotherapy. Its just not a word I ever thought Id need to use for me.

She sent me upstairs to make copies of my results and as I was walking through the corridors I had to really control myself as I found myself getting more and more upset.  I felt like I was watching myself fall apart like in one of those movies when the person gets bad news and they get all upset.. So I took a deep breath and said I’m fine, I’m okay over and over to calm myself down.  It kinda worked.

So on Wednesday after I have my pancake boob test at 9:15am I am off to Nicosia to see Dr katoklitis or something like that at the Bank of Cyprus oncology center in Nicosia. He will explain what happens next, when I will start the treatment, what the side effects are and what I can and cannot do during treatment.

After I got home to my at the time empty house I sat down and wrote an email to my boss to notify them of what was happening.  After I finished reading it its as if a big massive fat hand slapped me in the face and the floodgates opened.  I felt better after it. Its good to cry. Well if you are a chick. Perhaps men punch a wall or something but crying is much better. Its a great stress relief.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with my lovely cousin chatting to me and with my head all over the place.  I found as the day progressed I got better and better and realised that this is not the end I’m on the road to recovery and I will beat this.  With the help of some radiotherapy, possibly some interferon after and maybe some chemo but I’m rather hoping I wont be needing that.. maybe a few vodkas the occasional fag and perhaps even a night out or two.

On the plus side, after they zap my right armpit I wont have to shave it ever again! No hairy right amprit. yay for my hairless to be right armpit.  Less shaving foam so I’m already saving on money. See that’s TWO pluses lol I can always wave with my right arm and never have to worry about looking like a hairy amazon woman.. 🙂

My scars are healing nicely and now Bob has gone my two mini scars are healing nicely too.  I bought some Bio Oil which has worked wonders. Did you know that you can use it for old scars and wrinkles too? I still cant actually feel my right armpit so as I cant reach around the scar I’ve actually plucked the hair out with tweezers. (not for much longer! lol) No I didn’t feel a thing!   My elbow area all the way up my right arm is super sensitive to touch and late at night it hurts to put moisturising cream on.  Remember to keep your lymph node free part of your body moisturised.

I’m still eating healthy and I don’t leave the house without sun protection on anymore.  I’m not putting myself in a bubble or anything I’m just not taking any chances. You only get one life! And I’ve been given a warning danger sign for mine.

Live, love and be happy.  Because life is worth it.

Taken 11/06/10 right armpitBob's exit wounds! Taken one day after removal. 11/06/10

Scan day results

Its so nice when you go down to have tests and everyone recognises you. I mean its not nice cause it means you have been there often cause you are sick but its nice that they treat you like a friend. Its very important to feel comfy around people like that. They deal with terrible news daily so I cant imagine they have an easy job! I always make an effort and laugh and joke with them.

George, as usual told me off for having a nose stud and he insisted that next time he will not allow me to have a scan with it in.  I argued back.  lol I am what I am and I do what I want. Poor George.  The lady that injects me with the warm fuzzy feeling fluid is lovely too. She is from Greece.  They all asked about Bob and she had a good browse at my scar. I think her name is Charoulla, but I’m not sure anymore.

The scan only took 5 or 10 mins and they covered my lower regions with a heavy duty anti x ray blanket thingy.  I assume thats what it was.  As it was heavy duty and he said its in case I want babies..ha

I didn’t have to strip this time and wear a gown.  I was pleased to say this to George, he said why? Aren’t you wearing a bra? lol Kinda strange when a man you dont really want to know, knows that.  But I have one of those nice padded boobed tops that does not require a bra as you cant tell if its cold or not.. lol

The doctor overseeing me said its all clear! We didn’t find anything.  WOW how amazing was it to hear THAT.

Mum and I went outside to have a big fat sarnie with everything in it then I went to see my surgeon at the clinic who I also shared the news with and he told me that Bob has to stay with me till Thursday. Darn it.

Then I had to go back and get my results and the same doctor that was overseeing me said I need to have a routine mammogram cause there is a small cyst in one of my boobs.  Nothing to worry about. I’m trying not to worry about it.  But after what I’ve been through I cant help but be a little worried about it.

My second opinion results are not back yet. So I need to wait till Friday for them.   After that I get to experience pancake boobs. They flatten them between two planks of something for an inside view.   This should not be difficult as after my son’s hungry appetite when he was a baby they aren’t quite what they used to be and I’m sure they’ll just lay down flat and save the doctors a job! lol   The joys of motherhood are many.

I’ll leave you with something that made me laugh..

Scan Day

I’m off to get my CT scan today.  I’m currently sat here staring at a dairy milk chocolate bar, my favourite fighting myself not to eat it. lol I’ve had a sip of water though as felt dizzy this morning.  Been feeling dizzy a lot recently and I think its the pain coming out in a different form.

I’ve always been the kind of person that wants to get up and do stuff.  When I had my c section I left the clinic on the 3rd day. Looking back I should have stayed a while longer! But I’ll know for next time instead!! lol  This surgery however has really knocked it out of me.  And my arm is so sensitive to touch that even when someone brushes past me it hurts.  The skin is painful. How odd.   It constantly feels as though there is a string inside my arm that is pulled to tight and I cant outstretch my arm.   I keep doing my exercises but last time it took three weeks before my arm felt a little better and this was a deeper more serious surgery so I expect it will take even longer.

I’ve taken some photos of the progress of my armpit.  It looks rather gross but well the rest of me doesnt look to shabby.  Apart from my face.  I feel I look pale and kn

ackered all the time! lol I had my hair done last week.  A nice bright red to cheer me up. I guess I’ll feel better when they take Bob out.    He’s been in for 2 weeks now. Not draining much fluid though so here’s hoping.

I’m hoping to get a tattoo done soon.  I am having my sons name and perhaps something extra too. Not sure on which part of my body though obviously not on my right arm as you know you can never have anything done to an arm that has no lymph nodes.  I now have an arm with special needs. So I’m nice to it and take extra care of it too.

Well here are my second op photos:

Taken on 26/05/10

Taken on 03/06/10

Taken 07/06/10

Oncologist Visit

I went to Limassol today as you may know to see the oncologist. I thought I’d get there and that they’d be all pleased with all my results and send me home. But life is more complicated than that! The lady Oncologist (the one I usually saw is a chap) asked me to go and get all my sample results from the histopathology clinic from town and take them back to her so they could then be sent to Nicosia for a second opinion.  More driving for mum!

After that I was told I have to go and get a post op CT scan of my chest which has been booked for Monday at 1030 am!  The good thing about this is that I don’t need any new blood tests, and I don’t need to drink that god awful water that tastes like Ouzo and makes me sick, as its just a scan of my chest!  I do get the injection still though.. The bad thing is I cant eat!  No food till 1030am!  Yes I know there are worst things in life.  But me and food are closer than a tick on dogs bottom.

So now I have to wait till the 18th of this month to find out whats next.  I hope the new CT scan is clear again. I hope they are happy with the second opinion and I hope they tell me whether on not there will be offering any treatment.  But most of all I hope I am truly melanoma free.

My surgeon is totally amazed with my results.  He cant believe it went from such a serious diagnosis to the existing clear one.   I think its because of all the great support, all the prayers from three separate churches (two in England, one in Cyprus) my constant chants to the universe and a whole lot of luck.  Thank god, nature and my human body for being strong, the melanoma for not spreading and what ever else as helped me get through this.

I know my journey is not over and my lifestyle has been changed already to help prevent recurrence, from healthy eating to daily sunblock cream and I have even bought a protective sleeve to keep my right arm cool when driving in the sun. I will also do my best to spread awareness of what can happen to some people if they do not protect their skin.  But most of all, I will live, I will love and I will be happy.

Here are some images of what was taken out of my armpit before and after.  They are kept in small blocks called paraffin blocks.  They are a bit fuzzy as I took them whilst my mum was driving. But it gives you an idea of what they look like!

Tomorrow I am hoping to have my drain removed.  Bob can finally move on and help someone else drain their unwanted lymph fluid…

So my advice to you would be live love and be happy!

Here you can clearly see the sample is black, from melanoma! This was inside me!

Bag of samples from first op!

Sample 2 of lymphnodes!

Back of second lot of samples from second surgery, my lymph nodes

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