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

1 down 19 to go!

I’m shattered. Its only my first day and I’m shattered. That’s partly my own fault as I didn’t get to bed till near enough midnight last night even though I knew I had to get up at 6:15am this morning! Note to self.. go to bed early tonight. lol

When I got to the pick up point it was really odd. Everyone was looking rather gloomy. But it was early and well we all have or have had cancer recently. Our mini bus driver must be an ex formula 1 driver! I’ve never seen a mini bus go so fast in my life! We set off at 710am. I was the youngest person on the bus. It wasn’t an unpleasant journey apart from the bounciness as I sat right at the back where the wheel was!

We arrived at the Oncology Clinic in Nicosia at around 910am as we had to do a pickup in Limassol first and they delayed us around 20 min.  My session was at 11:10 (I watched eastenders ombnibus on a portable care of hubby’s collegue) and when it was finally my turn the machine I was going to use broke.  A slight delay. I waited till about 11:30 and they squeezed me in another one 🙂

They gave me this massive blue gown thingy to keep and to change into for my top half as you aren’t allowed to wear any clothes where treatment is and explained some details.  The radiotherapy room is a big dark room with a huge machine in it. Off came the top and there I lied whilst they all studied where I had to lie as they have to be precise right down to the last cm! My poor boobs were pulled and pushed and taped to my chin practically so they don’t get zapped. Then they did the whole thing again! Imagine tape being put on and taken of your boobs and nipples more than once by someone else.. cringe worthy!  By 12pm they told me that they couldn’t zap me and had to get my doctor.  So off came the tape again and on went the clothes lol

I had to run upstairs to ask the bus driver to wait for me as they can only wait until 1pm.  Found my doctor in the lift and he wondered why I wasn’t on the table waiting!  So down I went again, off came the top on went the tape after yet more boob squishing by my doctor this time and within 15 mins I was done.  All in all about 4 female nurses and my doctor had their hands on me today and I had for lots of tape go on and off my poor sensitive bits.  So much for modesty eh! They must be so used to it, but I still get so embarrassed and I hate that they don’t really recognize that.

I didn’t feel a thing and I’ve had no side effects. I didn’t get back home till 230 though and from 645 from when I left is quite a long day!

They said tomorrow will run more smoothly and will take less time.  I wont update this every day.. cause it will be the same thing every day! Not really an interesting blog then is it!

More on Radiotherapy..Treatment of cancer with high-energy radiation. Radiation therapy may be used to reduce the size of a cancer before surgery, or to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery. Radiotherapy can be helpful in shrinking recurrent cancers to relieve symptoms. ..Radiotherapy uses X-rays for treatment. You must have had a chest X-ray taken one or more times. The X-rays used in radiotherapy are just the same, except that they are of much higher energy.

Thanks for reading. Stay positive and keep smiling. 🙂

Radiotherapy machine that rotates around your body

Getting measured up for radiotherapy

Got up far too early this morning.  Both hubby and I are knackered cause our little son isn’t very well at the moment. He has lots of teeth coming through and a cough and a temperature.  So he woke up plenty of times last night just to remind us bless him.

We left Paphos at around 7am and got to Nicosia for about 9 at the actual clinic. Traffic is manic up there.  Upon arrival I registered and went downstairs and signed in.   There was an elderly Cypriot woman wailing rather loudly saying she was in pain. I wasn’t ready for that.    I sat down and looked around and you could see that most people there were sick or recovering.  No hair, short hair, fluffy hair.. all different stages of treatment.  I wondered if that will be me anytime soon..

I got taken into a large room that had a large machine in the middle of it.  The nurses or assistants radiotherapists were very nice.  I had to strip off from the waist up and was grateful for a while as I was allowed to keep on my bra.. but low and behold that soon was off too.  They did cover me with a piece of this large blue medical tissue type thing.  Then I lied there whilst they went off to the room with the glass window safe from the xray machine and came out and said “we have to tape your breasts together” lol  this was to stop them from falling to the side and also to protect my right nipple from any side effects. Do your tits hang low comes to mind…  So the proceeded to duct tape my boobs together two nurses and my male doctor.   Then I lied there again with duct tape boobs. (I will have to have my boobs strapped in like that every time!) I was wondering how many more people will see my boobs before the year is out and how many more people will have to move them, tape them up or draw all over them.

Meanwhile I was drawn on and my arms got tucked in, got told off for wriggling, listened to them talking about numbers and centimeters and all doctors stuff, got told off for wriggling again, felt myself start to shiver as the aircon is on pretty high due to machine, got drawn on some more by another doctor all over my right boob and yes he was another man doctor..  After that I had 5 very small permanent tattoos.  This is to mark something important!l but its painful as its done with some kind of needle type thing.  I have one on my right shoulder, right armpit, right arm and right side and one on my left side.  Considering I have two tattoos on my body I don’t remember them being that painful. lol  I also have four drawings on my right boob covered with waterproof sticker thingies.  These have to stay on at all times.  They advised I cover up during treatment.  Its not like I’ll be going out in an evening dress with blue marker pen all over me now is it.. but of course they mean from the sun.. You should not let the treated area in view of the sun apparently. FYI all.

The whole process took quite a while and I was quite low by the end of it. Then when I went for a pee that Cypriot lady was crying in the toilets.  I tried to console her, but she told me she’s suffering and she has a child. I said don’t worry, in here we all have a fight to fight and I also have a child who is only 15 months old!  Poor woman.  Its a shame to see how hard people find it and are inconsolable. 😦

I’m still hanging in there and brave.  I can shower but I cant swim and I cant use soap. I get more instructions next visit which I will of course add here. So far its 20 shots a day till the 4th of August..with a side effect of pain, tiredness and some skin flaking..  nice.. oh well at least I’ll keep the bed mites fed.. ha

My healing scar and my three out of 4 drawings..

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

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