Kicked its a#@e again!

So I am happy as happy can be as you can imagine.  Sitting in the waiting area listening to Creed of all things at 8am and reading a horror story book by Martina Cole is not the best way to relax but I have to say it kept the noise out.  My left armpit seems to be over compensating now my right armpit doesnt sweat and sweats for both of them.. not nice. But I was nervous.  So the doctor called me in and she said “Alethea, you can go home you are fine, the CT was clear which means you do not need treatment”  She also said I may have recurrence again in the same place and that they would treat it with special kind of radiotherapy next time if it does and that she will see me again in December for follow up.

I just wanted to whoop whoop all the way out the hospital but I think they would have locked me up in the crazy ward so I wated till I got in the car. And then I was yes yessing and whoop whooping and yihaing and everything. I’ve been acting silly all day. I’m knackered now lol I also got the all clear from my down there doctor. Enough said on that. 🙂

So I’ve had a busy week organising the event for tonight which I am really excited about. Looks like a great turn out and all for a great cause.

So everyone thank you again for reading and a big hug to all of you for your support..keep fighting. Remeber, healthy, whole and complete is the mantra you must say to yourself at least once day.

WHOOP WHOOP 🙂

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To interferon or not to interferon, that is the question

Yesterday I had another doctors visit in Nicosia oncology center.  First I visited the radiotherapist doctor and showed her my burns.. she was shocked. Both her and the nurse felt for me bless them and couldn’t believe the state of me.  They quickly said I had to be monitored closely from now on till I am healed properly. I have to say that if you suffer from them that the only thing that works are melolin patches from UK. They don’t stick to your skin.  Unfortunately they don’t have them in Cyprus and what they gave me ripped my skin off today.

Then I had a meeting with the oncologist, he went on to tell me all about interferon and what I would need to do.   I would have to be admitted into hospital for the first week and have it intravenously, then for three weeks I would need to travel up by bus again every day and have it intravenously. So that would be September out of the window.  Then I would have to have injections 3 times a week for a whole year.  Side effects include, flu like symptoms fever, chills, headache, muscle ache, nausea, vomiting that can last about 1 to 12 hours after receiving a dose. So that would be a whole year out the window.  This is for a drug that does boost your immune system to help slow down the recurrence of melanoma but does not stop it from recurrence.

He said I am at high risk. Chances are it will come back. Because thats what statistics say.  So I said OK, I’ll do it.    Then I spent all night thinking about it and researching it and talking with family about whether or not I should do it.   I can boost my own immune system myself, by eating properly, treating my body better by joining an exercise class and not filling it  up with toxins.

So today I called the doctor and said I do not wish to have the interferon.

This means I get to have my life back. This means I can return to work in September and start being part of society again.

All I hope is that my melanoma doesn’t come back.  That I am able to keep it at bay by having a brand new lifestyle. Away from stress, bad things and bad people.  Fill my life with real friends, my family and my gorgeous son.

Here is the progress of my armpit, I have to say its getting much better and all my new pink skin is coming through quite nicely 🙂

Taken 17/08

Taken 19/08

20 down and treatment finished!

Yipeeeee I’m finished! I never imagined that it would go so quickly!

Everyone on the bus celebrated today and they even got me a card to wish me well. Its like we were all part of some summer holiday and even though each person leaving meant they are getting better we all will miss each other!

I am exhausted. Struggling to keep my eyes open as all that travelling and zapping has finally caught up with me.   My armpit is so red, so sore and the skin has cracked too so I cant really do much at all.    My doctor has recommended I take it easy for a while as it will take a while for me to heal. So no swimming or partying for me just yet..

He also confirmed I will not be needing chemotherapy! YAY!!  He said that chemo is only given to stage 4 metastatic melanomas and that I am stage 3. He said it was from my original melanoma on my back that it transferred to my lymph nodes.  He said I could choose to have interferon drugs however this would be over the period of a whole year and it will decrease my quality of life quite a lot so I will have to seriously consider this.   He also said I have a 50% chance of reacurrence too.  This is scary but I try too look at it as though my cup is half full as opposed to half empty!  I will be monitored every 3 months for a year, every six months for two years after that and then once a year for 10 years after that! He said melanoma is more likely to return in the same place where it appeared already which is why they treat it with radiotherapy as this reduces the chance of this happening by 40%.    He also said that I need to hold off having more kids for now. This is cause pregnancy reduces the immune system and if melanoma will come back its normally within 2-3 years.  I am never to go in the sun again.  I am to wear a hat and SPF 50 minimum and must keep my body covered with long sleeves especially my back that is covered with moles.  So no waltzing around in the sun for me.   This doesn’t mean Ill be wearing jumpers in the summer, it just means I’ll be extra careful from now on.   I think I will be investing on an SPF top from http://www.lioninthesun.com/ as they have adult sized ones too!

All in all he was very helpful and I am very very satisfied by the Bank of Cyprus Oncology unit as well as the Pasykaf in Paphos.

Thank you to all my friends on the bus, all my friends on facebook, my husband and family and to all of you who prayed for me and wished for me and thought of me these past few months. God bless you.

From melanoma free Alethea 🙂

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..

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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