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.

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Lest we forget how fragile we are

Life is short.

A dear friend of the family past away yesterday. An old man who had lived a long life.  A great friend to my parents. He was supportive throughout my illness, offered assistance during my charity event and gave donations for the raffle. I never got around to calling to say thanks. My mum did, and my husband did but I never got round to it. I kept seeing him on the road and kept saying to myself I must give him a call to say thanks.

Now I wont get that opportunity. Life is short. You can see your best friend on Monday, and by Tuesday life can change dramatically. And that does really happen. You could be celebrating life one minute and the next you are mourning someones life instead.

Dont waste time, say thank you, say I love you, remember to be grateful even if what you have isnt everything you’ve ever wanted, at least you are alive and you have your whole life ahead of you. Make sure you spend yours being grateful and happy. Things could always be a lot worse.

I hope I live till I’m anciently old and I can look back and say WOW that was quite a journey.

Rest in peace dear Edwin.  A man who always had to have the last word, always created our arguments and always had a heart of gold. The world wont be the same without you.. thank you.

I went for a swim

I went to the beach recently. My doctor said the salt water will do my wounds the world of good, so armed with factor 50, our umbrella which is UVP proof, some cold water and a whole other bunch of stuff you need when you have kids off we went.

I got into the water for a total of 5 minutes just to cool off and to salt my armpit up which of course stung as swimming was out of the question as my arm is out of practice and the muscles are still sore. I didn’t expect that.  I am not allowed in the sun my doctor said so I was quick to get out and sit under the brollie.  Everyone else was in the water and I watched alone from the side wishing it was me in the sea with my son, not being able to be in the sun isn’t the end of the world, but its the end of the world as I know it. I hate that I cant play in the water with my son but my melanoma is so high risk that I cant risk ever being in the sun again. How sucky is that!  However, its a small price to pay when I get to live a long and happy life.

I had plenty of time to watch everyone on the beach.  Quite a few had already burned and are in the peeling process, not many under umbrellas and I wondered if they all knew about what they could potentially being doing to themselves.  Some stared at my armpit and my back back and I wondered if I should tell them why I looked the way I did.

I didn’t of course, people on holiday don’t want to know about my fight with skin cancer or anyone elses for that matter. They are on holiday, in Cyprus to get a tan, that’s the whole reason they are here in the first place (well amongst other things of course).

I wish there was something we could do to make people realise how dangerous it is. But the magazines put models that are airbrushed with beautiful tans.  We all think being tanned is beautiful.  We have forgotten to love ourselves as god made us.

We watch arabsat and there are adverts on there for a cream called Fair and Lovely and its for people with dark and blemished skin to look white and pure.   Theres even one when someone turns a model away cause her skin was too dark but it turned out the window was dirty, cause she uses fair and lovely so she gets hired in the end!   I think thats quite racist to be honest, but there they are trying to look fair, and here  we are trying to look brown!

Going on holiday just to fry yourself in baby oil cause thats what you are doing if you use that isn’t the way to do it.  Don’t burn, always use a minimum of 30 in hot countries especially when its 38 degrees out there! You only have one skin. You cant get a skin transplant and once you have skin cancer you have it for life.  Many are lucky to live in remission, many die.

My emotions are still running high. I can be anywhere and start crying because I am so grateful to be alive, to be in remission. Adverts on TV with happy endings make me cry. I’m a blubbering mess… everything makes me emotional at the moment.

All in all I spent about 30 mins on the beach.  Days out on the beach or by the beach are now a thing of the past for me.  Lucky for me though, I do have a very well shaded pool in my garden which I plan to spend time in once my arm is healed as I cant swim in chlorine yet.

I will need follow up visits every three months at the Oncology Clinic for the next 3 years, then every 6 months to year 5 then every year till year 10. After that I don’t know.  But I plan to find out.. cant wait to moan about it when I’m 45! I’m going for another boob scan next week! Just my right one.. I wonder if my left one will feel left out.. ha mind you its rather difficult to keep one in in such circumstances.. lol

Live love and be happy. You only get one life so make the best of it. 🙂

My armpit and its progress!

Taken 22.08

All my new skin coming through.. all my old skin fried off! lol

Someone yelled at me today..

I know, big deal..but it was to me. I had just got off the bus and went to get my car. People on the road where the support office is are a bit difficult when it comes to parking and already I was asked to move my car once. So each day I am careful about where I put it, not outside a front gate, not outside a garage or a garden etc etc. However it was outside someones wall and part of a window. My car is low, and did not block the window’s lovely view of the house opposite.   As I approached the car and old man yelled at me through the window and said “Mrs, do you have a house? Do you have a window? Do you like it when people park their car outside your window”?  I was so tired, my blood just boiled and I yelled back saying “Mr, I’ve just got off the bus from treatment for cancer in Nicosia, people have more important things to worry about then your window”. I saw him flinch when I said that. And I got into my car, slammed the door shut and drove off.   I’ve never really asked someone to give me a break over cancer, cause I don’t have it anymore as such, the radiotherapy is seeing to that.  Had he asked me nicely, I’d have apologised and not put it there again but he was so rude to me. I was upset as there are more important things in life like getting on the bloody bus every day so I can have radiotherapy treatment without having someone yell at me about where I park my stupid car.

What is the matter with people? We have all forgotten about real life and real problems.   Every thing you do effects someone else.  For example pulling out on someone and driving slow, could cause them to go slow, get late to work and perhaps get yelled at by their boss or even get fired!  Or you could laugh at someone and say they are stupid, and then they will go home and kill themselves because that was just once too many.   For every action there is  a reaction.   So next time you feel like yelling at someone, think first, because they may be having a really tough time and don’t always think rationally.

There, rant over. 🙂

haha.. now this would work!

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

The importance of having fun

When you are diagnosed with cancer of any kind you see life differently.  Perhaps things that used to annoy you before, don’t now and perhaps things that didn’t do. You appreciate you friendships more and make more of an effort to stay in touch, you appreciate your family more because without them and their support you wouldn’t be here and you appreciate life more.

Its important to stay calm, and be as stress free as possible.  You cant fight a battle if you are surrounded by negativity and negative people.  Life is too short anyway, but when you have cancer you don’t quite know for sure how short it could be.  Many live through cancer and have a very long life. Sadly many don’t too.  I often wonder which side of the fence I will fall on.  Am I going to die? Will I live a long life and tell the story of how I beat cancer?  Am I always supposed to be afraid of the sun now? Because I am. Especially when driving and especially in Cyprus. The place where everyone runs to party, get laid and get suntan.  Yes I did say get laid.. as in legovered.. lol I see people all the time now with sunburn from mild to quite severe and I want to ask them if they know what they could potentially be doing to themselves.  A friend of mine said she used baby oil recently. I said I used to use that. Look at me now. She promised she wouldn’t do it again. I hope she doesn’t.   You see until this happens to you, you take many things for granted too, like our skin. We pay little or no care to what we subject it to when we spend hours in the sun just to get a tan and laugh and joke about our silly tan lines and our white bottoms afterwards.  I have to say I dont miss the white bottom but I do miss being sun kissed. Now I feel like I’m being sun bashed. lol  You cant get a skin transplant. Once you get melanoma you cant un-get it!

Recently I have tried to make the most of my time enjoyable. Extra extra cuddles with my son, having a laugh and staying in touch with people I lost touch with.  When you get married and have kids that takes over your life. You don’t realise how much time you spend in your own world till something terrible happens unfortunately and I dont want to be the person who one day says I wish I’d called so n so or I wish I went out that night instead of be lazy in my comfy clothes on the couch!  Although the comfy nights in are good but not on a permanent basis, so get of your arse and get yourself out!

So on Saturday I made myself get ready and glammed up and I went out! And I drank and I danced and I sang karaoke and I laughed so hard on stage I almost wet myself.  My version of She Wolf by Shakira sounded like a she dog with rabies.. never mind saucy wolf lol. Thankfully I quickly redeemed myself with another song. lol For those of you who don’t know me I used to sing in the evenings with a band and or guitarists at various hotels in Paphos! I love music and singing is a great way to lift the heart. But Karaoke is a whole different ball game lol  It was my first girls only night out in ages and we had fab fab time.

I have to say the morning after the night before isn’t as pleasant but it was very much worth it. I made an effort to go out because of my upcoming treatment I will be too knackered from the traveling every day and I have no idea how radiotherapy will effect me so I don’t know when the next opportunity to party is.   Plus I need to focus more on the healthy side of living now as opposed to the liver bashing I did on Saturday lol

I will start my treatment with a clear head, memories of a fab night out, with as little stress as possible and with as much of an I don’t give a shit attitude as possible.

Alethea 🙂

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