The hard part for me

Everyone deals with cancer differently.
I’m finding it hard dealing with the loss of me. Cause even though I am of course still me what I see in the mirror isn’t me. It’s another version. A rounder, fatter, hairier faced, sick version of me. Last time I had melanoma in my lymph nodes and I needed surgery I was still me. I coped with the pain, the radiotherapy burns and the leftover scars cause the whole time I still looked like me!
You will say hair will grow back. The cortisone effects will wear off. Mobility back when Charlie dies. People loose far more during their battles with serious illness. Its only hair. Its silly but every morning now my hair is everywhere and its depressing. I cannot wash it, brush it or touch it without it coming out in clumps. And no matter how brave you are and how many jokes you can make about pulling off the Telly Savallas look at the end of the day you don’t want to look like him. You want to look like you. Wigs and experiments can give you a temporary fix but what you see in the mirror isn’t you.
Its very hard for me to accept the new me. I am Alethea. I don’t look like Alethea (in my eyes that is) but I am still Alethea. . I am strong and fighting every day, believing in the zapping and before long I will be better. In the meantime one has to try fight depression stop it from taking over your whole body cause you cant help feeling sad cause your body is going through so many changes.
People know you have cancer when you have no hair on your head. And then its like a huge sign saying hey everyone l’ve had or have cancer. And then everyone looks at you differently. They cant help it. Its something humans do. We look at people differently when they are sick. People whisper. Hug you gently cause they think you may break.
So you see cancer is a horrible disease cause it makes you different, people see you differently and all you want to be is yourself.

And all this cause I spent so much time sunbathing without the proper protection. How annoying is THAT!

Life after cancer

Christmas has come and gone and the new year is here at last! Happy New Year!

The lead up to Christmas for me was very exciting. I was so happy as last year was so bad for me I was worried I may not be here for Christmas. I know many people have it worse than me but when you are given a diagnosis like cancer you think you are going to die.. No one really associates cancer with long life even though many do live long after cancer.  So it was a very emotional time for me as I was so grateful to have made it. Not necessarily in one piece but who cares, I made it 🙂

Life since I got the all clear has been weird. I’ve been so tired so my body must have been needing the rest, but depression has set in as losing my job was the final strike.  Some days getting the energy together to even smile is hard.  But I fight it and get on with it.

I’ve been having headaches and dizziness a lot recently which has made me paranoid. It’s probably all the rich food and glasses of wine but I am going to get a head x-ray soon just to be sure.  Why wait and see. I’m not a wait and see kinda girl really. I’m a go out and get it sorted kinda girl.

Last appointment went well with the oncologist, they are pleased with me and I am booked in for a routine full body scan in February. More aniseed water, I can’t wait.. not. lol 

I don’t have much feeling yet at the back of my right arm so anytime my hubby touches it I cringe. It’s a strange feeling I can’t describe it.  My right boob and scar area is still very sore especially when my son jumps on me and lands there. Not sure he understands why I scream bless him.  My right boob is perkier than the other one. Think the scar tissue in it has made it bigger.. I’m now known as one hang low. haha  I guess when they sewed me back up they gave my right boob a lift too.. bonus.. ha

2010 will be a good year.  Lots of all clears, a holiday or two with my husband and son and happy moments lie ahead. 

I wish you all well. May a cure for melanoma finally be found.

Having the right attitude is the key

Since I got the news, every day I got up it took an effort for me to smile, walk even breathe as I just couldn’t be bothered.  Even my son couldn’t help as I was afraid of what could be and wasn’t embracing the what is.

I have never felt so upset in my life, it was like the biggest heartbreak ever, the kind you feel as a teenager when “the love of your life” dumps you during school break time! I thought my world was over, I thought I was going to die, I thought the worst. And I couldn’t snap out of it. I said to my hubby “whats the point of being optimistic? I was optimistic last time and where did that get me? What have I got to smile about? I got fired, now my cancer is back and although I am grateful for my son and you I may not be here to enjoy it anyway, so what have I got to be optimistic about?”

Then a friend of mine from England sent me flowers via her mum who has a flower shop in Cyprus.  They really cheered me up. I’m a sucker for flowers, always have been.   So that’s when I found my smile again! I realised its ok to smile even though my cancer came back and that its not the end of the world and that I am strong and healthy and I can still fight it and I have many years left in me yet. It could still be a lot worse.

So today I went to see my old oncologist at the Paphos hospital. He already seen me prior to my radiotherapy.  He was clearly concerned that my melanoma came back but after a good feel, and I mean a really good feel of shoulders, neck back, armpit and of course out came my over exposed right boob he said that he’s pretty sure my CT scan on Monday will come up clear. I asked about treatmenat and  I told him I don’t really want to have interferon, I want something stronger, something that will really help me. Chemo.  He said to have my CT scan on Monday, see my other doctors in Nicosia and then speak to them after as there is this drug that is meant to be quite good for melanomas. (He didn’t specify what).  I also got to see a friend from the bus journey, Lady B. She always makes me feel happy and makes me laugh too.

So I felt more optimistic when I left his office. I felt cared for and concerned for and he gave me hope.

So the next time your friend feels really down send them flowers. Cause you will be surprised how much it can effect their whole outlook on life and if nothing else it helps them find their smile again, which for me gave me the right attidute.

Thanks Elena for helping me find my smile again. I cant wait to see you soon. xx

🙂 <– me smiling!

Results

I finally got a call today from my doctor, he said that its not good, he said that I will need treatment.  I asked if its radiotherapy and he said as that hasn’t worked they will need to find another way of treating it. 

Its bollocks isn’t it. After all the bus rides, the burns, getting fired and now I still have cancer.  How sucky sucky sucky sucky is that.

I want to shout obscenities, I feel like I’ve been punched in my stomach and my whole world has collapsed again. The whole world is happening around me and I just want to shout stop. I want to get off now. I don’t like this ride I want to go on another one please.

So I guess you can say that my melanoma is putting up a fight.  I wont give up though and I have more fight in me, and I refuse to let this beat me.

But for now I’m gonna walk around in a  haze, feel sorry for myself, be really really really pissed off and perhaps shout a few obscenities at the world. 

😦

Dignity? What dignity?

As the world at the moment seems to revolve around my boobs and armpit I have put my dignity to one side.. so far away aside that I’m hoping I’ll still be able to find it when I’m done with radiotherapy.   The poor radiotherapy nurse was so embarrassed as she literally has to grab by wobbly from breastfeeding boobs them push them as close together as possible whilst the other nurse tapes them together..  I make them laugh so it makes things easier on all of us.

I’ve made some new friends on the bus, I wont give their full names just in case they don’t want me too.  Lady B a 77 year old lady who has had breast cancer. Its the second time she’s had it. 22 years ago she had last time.  She said that the two cases are different and this is a brand new case. How crap is that! She is having radiotherapy after having chemo.  She is a funny lady who forgets peoples names but she blames it on age.. I have no excuse she says! Which is very true indeed. She makes cookies and shares them so anyone who shares food is a friend of mine!!

Lady H another lady who has had breast cancer, and has had chemotherapy and lost all her hair but wears a lovely wig so you cant actually tell, and is having radiotherapy too.  She has a catheter in her upper right chest for the chemo as all her veins collapsed.  She had no side effects from chemo other than things tasting bad, and some of her nails fell out. She needs to have an infusion when she finishes radiotherapy of chemo every three weeks. She has been very helpful with sharing all her experience.

Sir W a big old English man with a good sense of humour. He has had prostate cancer, twice. Each morning we go to the clinic he has to drink 4 glasses of water, hold it in for half an hour then he goes for radiotherapy. He has to go a total of 36 times.  He always sits with lady B on the bus and I have helped them learn a a new Greek word panikos.. 🙂

Sir D has just finished radiotherapy. He had prostate cancer too. He’s a lovely old chap who was very friendly and talked very fast.

Lady R is a 64 year old woman who has had cervical cancer. No surgery required mind but chemotherapy that made her loose all her hair which is now growing back, but no other side effects apart from bad taste,  and also has a catheter in her right upper chest for infusions.  She has only just started radiotherapy and has 25 sessions.  I find her very nice and also helpful with regards to story sharing.

Lady C is a Cypriot lady who has had chemo, lost all her hair and was very sick with it too she said. She is undergoing radiotherapy. She wears a wig now too.

Then there is Lady L, breast cancer who has lost her hair after chemo and has had a full mastectomy, Lady F, breast cancer who doesn’t need chemo, Lady J breast cancer who lost all her hair who has now finished treatment and a few other locals that I am yet to meet.

I was told that I have 150 monitor units or radiotherapy a day, front and then back but I haven’t worked out if that’s a high does or not..

Everyone on the buss is very social when they aren’t dozing off but thankfully no one sings cumbaya. (can you imagine that?) its amazing to see how upbeat everyone is.  The bus driver is highly amusing and and most of the time everyone is laughing at him taking the piss out of me, or me taking the piss out of him!  I’m trouble where ever I go!  He said he is going to hire me to work as a bus hostess to offer drinks and help him with the translations of English to Greek and so on haha  Must be my cheeky manner.

I am lucky to have met such lovely people under awful circumstances who are all fighting the same disease as me and in good spirits too.  It really does put life in to perspective.  Its amazing how things don’t bother me anymore. Not everything though.  Bad drivers and a messy house still pisses me off..    I’m working very hard on not being a stress head though.

Here’s to me not being a stress head and getting my dignity back preferably with a full head of hair and no melanoma!

The begining of a very very long journey

On my second day back from treatment, bearing in mind that all of us had to wait 4 hours for one of our companions to get chemo therapy I was over tired, over drained and over being optimistic!

I was like a zombie! I’ve never been so tired in my life. Not even my newborn baby made me THAT tired.I had gone to bed early the previous night and rested too.  I felt sick and extremely emotional. I’m not sure if the nausea is a side effect of the treatment or a side effect from being so tired!

So this weekend I tried to rest as much as possible.  Its now Sunday and I’m still not feeling 100%  and the thought of a whole week of 6:15am wake ups and bus rides and zapping really leaves me in a drained and cant be arsedness mood.

The nurse I actually saw after my first diagnosis last year at the hospital when I was having blood tests and all clear CT scans was there Friday morning. We both couldnt figure out were we knew each other from until she said she’s actually the nurse from the oncology department and remembered me when I first started going.  She said that now she has to take the bus too, due to a recent breast cancer diagnosis. How crap is that. Being on the other side of the fence must be even harder. But we laughed and joked and exchanged notes on how to cope with the treatment and exercises to avoid a stiff arm after lymph node removal.

Cancer is not sexist, ageist or anything. It doesn’t care if you are just born, just married or a just new parent.  Doesn’t care if you are happy or you are sad, if you are rich or you are poor if you are famous or the girl next door, doctors, nurses, bus drivers, children, adults.  You could be anyone.

Live life, enjoy life but respect your surroundings and your body.  Its the only one you’ve got. And should you get anything as serious as this, that may slow you down, don’t give up, keep fighting, remove yourself from negativity and focus on you.

I am trying to focus on me, not care about the hurts and disappointments that have tried to join me in my journey.  My life is more important than anything else. My son, my family. Everything else doesnt really matter does it! Not the new Ipod, the new hairdo, the new car.. just you.

Speaking of me, last week a total of 7 people touched, taped  or drew on my breasts! SEVEN people in 3 days! I’ve never had that much action in a year! haha  Not mentioning the other god knows how many who have seen them.  I wonder if I will ever just lie there and not be embarrassed. (Lie there and think of England comes to mind)  I wish they’d warm up their hands though.. They have prescribed a baby powder for my right armpit where I’m having the treatment. Its called Proderm but I can’t find it online as its actually called Zwitsal baby products Sara Lee products.  The active incredients are: Talc, Zinc Oxide, Hydrated Silica, Paraffinum Liquidum, Parfum.  When I asked if I could use any other powder they said no.  This however may not be something your doctor would prescribe so check with them before using anything for your skin.

Bye for now.. xx

“Time is the coin of your life, It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let others spend it for you” ~ Carl Sandburgh

New Results

So I got my results!  They took out a huge amount of fibrofatty tissue 4x3x3 and then further fatty tissue 10x8x6 .. my scales dont appear to agree as I still weigh the same! Anyway results stated: small rest 2mm in the axillary median wall of the previous diagnosed melanoma and axillary lymph node NEGATIVE for melanoma metastasis!  YAY and super YAY.

A very nice cancer nurse visited me today. I got a bit emotional as its easier to let yourself go when the person doesn’t know you as such.  Even though she has known my family for a long long time.  She very kindly changed my dressings for me as my side had leaked over night and was looking rather ikky.  Rachel is apart of the Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends. She gave me lots of leaflets to help me understand more about Malignant Melanoma and how to avoid getting lymphedema.   I have many dont’s for the rest of my life, like don’t drive the car without sun block and a full arm sleeve to keep the direct sun off my right arm!  I found a great site for that. They are cheap and deliver everywhere too!  I can’t lift heavy objects with that arm. And I when I fly I have to get a special compression sleeve too! Basically I am right handed but I have to teach myself to be left handed! lol   I’ve been given lots of exercises as well to help get the full movement of my arm back.  One involving a squishy ball provided by the Europa Donna Cyprus.

After I called my oncologist who suggested I wait till Friday to see him in Paphos which of course I refused and requested I see them in Limassol tomorrow which he agreed too.  I do not want to wait for my life to happen! I want to see what I have to do to make sure cancer does not knock on my door again. Ever.

So until I speak to him about results I am not quite sure again whats next. A lot of that happens so you have to be patient with that.  Try to keep yourself busy with movies and reading books.  That has helped me along side with friends that have visited too.  Some may not know what to say or do, so ask them round rather than wait for them to show up!  The others that really know you will come anyway but some need an extra push! 🙂

So its been a good day for me.  I was able to release some locked up emotions which is very important and I got good test results.

Next step, get treatment if offerred, get rid of Bob, fix arm and move on with my life!

🙂

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