The Britney Effect

Remember this?

britney-shaving-2
Britney Spears Shaving Head during Breakdown

 

Well, didn’t I laugh and judge and gossip about it. Although, I did admit, and still do, that she rocks the shaved head but I am honest in saying I was one of the many who judged this poor girl. I had no idea that something can happen in your life, in your brain, to create such a self destructive act, a cry for help.

Until now.

Everyone, including myself, thought that my life was just plodding along fine and dandy. What could be wrong now that I was now a ‘cancer survivor’, I wasn’t having any further cancer treatment. I had hair again, hair I could even style. Surgery was on the cards for a new boob, weight was being lost….. wedding plans were happening.

Now……… well,  here I am after MY Britney Breakdown.

 

britneyeffect
Photograph courtesy of Dora Stergiou – November  2016

It turns out that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a real thing following cancer treatment. PTSD symptoms are different for each person and apparently, they usually develop within three months of a traumatic event but can also occur several months, even years later. For me, it was six months following the end of the cancer treatment. One would expect, after that amount of time, me to be happy ‘its over’ and on the road to ‘getting back to normal’ now that I don’t have to have any further cancer treatment. These expectations are not the case. Here is how it all unfolded…..

MEDICATIONS

  • Aropax (Anti-Depressant and Anti-Anxiety Medication) 60mg
  • Tamoxifen (a synthetic drug used to treat breast cancer)  20mg
  • Avymys (works to decrease inflammation caused by allergy) 55 micrograms
  • Fish Oil (Helps to maintain strong bones)  1000mg
  • Duromine (Appetite Suppressant) 30 mg
  • Panadene Forte (Pain Killers)
    • Paracetamol 500 mg
    • Codeine phosphate 30 mg
  • Telfast (relieve the symptoms of hayfever) 180mg
  • Vitamin D Liquid (Strengthen Bones) 1000IU
  • Caltrate Calcium (Strengthen Bones)

 

Expectations (Beyond the normal day to day ones)

  • Lose a lot of weight in preparation for surgery – Breast Surgeon
  • Increase heart rate for a mininum of 30 days to prevent cancer returning – Oncologist
  • Stop smoking to prevent cancer coming back or developing a new one – Everyone (I did this one!)
  • Reduce or stop drinking alcohol to prevent cancer coming back – A lot of people
  • Reduce or stop sugar to prevent cancer coming back and to assist in losing weight – Some People
  • Continue to be strong – Me
  • Move on from cancer – Many people and myself
  • Stop talking about cancer – A few people
  • Have life return to pre cancer normal – A lot of people/myself

 

Upcoming Events Needing Thought and Action

  • Christmas gift buying
  • Surgery
  • Wedding

 

It seems I wasn’t coping with post cancer as well as I thought I was. I saw myself as a cancer patient, not a cancer survivor. I think I still do as a matter of fact but anyway, I was on a path of self destruction. Drinking too much, taking all of the above medication, I took up smoking (as previously discussed) and I wonder, did I do all of this to block out the self chatter in my head or to gain the attention some people feel I was seeking? I don’t know that answer but hopefully in time, I will find out.

The Day of my Britney Effect

I had a cold. No big deal right but it seems that it actually was a big deal. On top of all of the medications listed above, I was now about to add in 10 mls of cough medicine which would turn out to be the straw that broke the camels back (I am the camel).

My memory is vivid when I recall taking the small amount of medicine and within about 10 minutes or so, I became obsessed, almost manic in my thoughts. All I could think about was getting home from work, enjoying some sparkling wine (I had booked the following day off from work for some R&R) and not having to go to bed early. I knew I was meeting up with a lovely friend Nicole who was going to give my lovely locks a trim and then catching up with my 30+ year friend Tracey for a long overdue lunch.

I was only successful in one of my thoughts becoming an action and that was buying a bottle of my favourite Jacobs Creek Trilogy sparkling wine on the way home from work. I must say, that bottle disappeared real bloody quick and before I knew it, I was off to the bottleshop for another bottle.

This is where things get a little hazy. I vaguely remember saying goodnight to Sam when he went to bed. I vaguely remember playing some of my favourite games on facebook but then my memory is blank.

Before I know it, I am waking the next day and my hair is gone. I feel sick to my stomach and wonder what on earth happened. Where is my hair!? Somewhere deep in my brain I know it was myself that had cut it but why? How much did I cut.

Yep, all of it. Looking in the mirror when I got up was like a punch to the stomach. I could barely breathe, my hair had been cut in a drunken, manic manner. Some cuts were to the scalp and cuts were not so short and left tufts sticking out.

Me at the Lobethal Hair Studio 28/10/2016 - Thank you Lisa Grapentin for 'fixing it up' best you could. Sorry for the constant stream of tears....
Me at the Lobethal Hair Studio 28/10/2016 – Thank you Lisa Grapentin for ‘fixing it up’ best you could. Sorry for the constant stream of tears…. thank you for your amazing words of wisdom

 

Enter tears.

These tears continued for two days! TWO DAYS! I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t eat, decisions were impossible…..I couldn’t cope. And it really wasn’t even about the hair to be honest. I was so lost, confused.

I hit rock bottom.

I was suddenly aware that life wasn’t what I thought it would be after cancer. In fact, it was so much harder coping with life after cancer than it was during cancer. Do you think that is weird?

During cancer my life was taken care of by everyone but me.

  • GP – Tells me I have cancer and proceeds to book me in to see a surgeon immediately
  • Surgeon – Tells me he is the captain of the ship and it is his job to save my life. Then provides me with an Oncologist for the next step
  • Sam – Takes on all responsibilities of getting me too and from all appointments, provides my medications, fluids, foods, hugs and kisses. Cleans house, ensures I shower, sleep, wake, rest, laugh, changes linen on regular basis….
  • Mum – delivers flowers to my house weekly upon her visits
  • Nurses – Provide all of the compassion, caring and patience needed during hospital stays, chemotherapy treatments, radiation treatments, scans, blood tests,
  • Oncologist – Prepares a schedule of chemotherapy treatments, blood tests, herceptin treatments and provides me with a Radiologist
  • Radiologist – Schedules all of my radiation treatments, sees me on a weekly basis to check my radiation wounds, provide input on creams and treatments for healing
  • Radiographers – Tell me where and how to lay on the bed in preparation for treatment, count down via speakers for holding my breath when the radiation occurs, help me off the bed and have lovely chats with me about my dogs and life
  • Friends and Family – These amazing people do all of the visiting me, calling and texting and emailing me to check up to see I am doing ok, to fill me in on their lives, to make me smile and fill my house with flowers and cards and gifts
  • Private Health Insurance – Pays many of the bills received from having this disease
  • Income Insurance – Pays me 75% of my wage each month
  • The Bank – reduces the mortgage payments to assist in our treatment costs

 

After cancer – Where is everyone?

  • I was hugged and waved goodbye by the beautiful and amazing nurses at oncology on my last day of Herceptin
  • Hair grows back and I no longer look ill therefore, am expected to get on with life as normal
  • Normal doesn’t come along as easy as I thought
  • Banks and other billing companies are no longer so accommodating if bills are late due to ongoing financial burdens because, cancer treatment has finished
  • There are no more cards and flowers
  • No more nurses to make you smile and compare stories of the weekends with
  • There is nothing very interesting to talk about anymore
  • Fatigue and vagueness are still in my life
  • Surgeon is no longer so cuddly and caring but is now demanding and stern
  • I’m not skinny from cancer treatment like those in movies and TV shows
  • I am not needed by the cancer community anymore
  • People aren’t contacting me about their friends or family who have been diagnosed with this illness for me to help them, to talk to them, provide advice and friendship…..

Step 1 – Phone the Cancer Council day Friday 28/10/2016, 1 day after beginning of break down, and receive emergency counselling over the phone and book a face to face session. Confirm there is no risk of self harm and be unable to manage any part of a conversation without crying. Find out about PTSD, Survivor Guilt, Fear of Further Cancer, Loss of Identity…….. there are so many issues, mental heath problems, that can occur after cancer treatment has finished. It isn’t always easy to become a cancer survivor and ‘just get on with things’.

Step 2 – Phone Lisa at the Lobethal Hair Studio to fix the mess and destruction on my head. Find it impossible to stop crying the whole time I’m there. Listen to words of wisdom and good advice. Having someone who knows me so well that knows, it isn’t really about the hair……….. it is more than that.

Step 3 – Attend GP for further emergency assistance. GP proceeds to take away ALL medications and alcohol except 20mg of Tamoxifen (1 tablet for assistance in preventing further cancer) each night and 10mg of Lexipro (Anti Anxiety Medication) each  morning. If I develop a headache at anytime, I am to take nothing stronger than panadol. GP books fortnightly catch ups but advises me to attend the surgery anytime between appointments if I fall apart or it gets too much again. The reason for the alcohol being stopped is because now I have no more hair, what happens if I ‘blackout’ again? I have no more hair to chop off and next time could be a lot more dangerous eg: getting in to a car, walking the streets (there are a few lakes and dams around Meadows) etc….

So, it has now been two weeks since this ‘all went down’. Some days I cruise through and other days, I am fighting to swim against my current of tears…… Nothing sets me off into the spiral of sadness and it is hard to find something to drag me out of it, try as I might.

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I am thankful for some incredibly amazing people who have made it their priority to ensure I know they’re there for me. I want to thank

  • my amazing managers for letting me blubber my way through some attempt at explaining what was wrong with me,
  • for my Bulldog Veronica for fielding all queries about me, shuffling people away from me, standing up for me, protecting me,
  • Vanessa who sends the loveliest words which are so genuine and kind, caring and thoughtful,
  • TK for becoming my ‘stalker’ by sending texts filled with ridiculous world laws, funny photos of her little man Zander, memes of feelings, all while struggling with her own illness and sadness’
  • Tamara, my amazing friend and cousin who has been there before, during and after all of the cancer bizzo sending me her ‘minimum of three things to be grateful/thankful for’ each day and for accepting mine.
  • My Mum for bringing flowers and smiles yet again for this new event in her eldest daughters life.
  • My incredible in laws to be for their hugs and understanding in a certain matter (they know what I am talking about) and for their constant undying love for me
  • John and Clare Mannion for listening and offering lovely words
  • My work colleagues for putting up with me shuffling around from floor to floor to hide from the world for a while
  • The Cancer Council of South Australia on Greenhill Road
  • My friends and family who have, and are, allowing me to cancel all dinner, party and catch up confirmations to deal with this issue
  • That incredible, amazing, loving, supportive, cuddly, funny, compassionate man of mine Sam. Yes, he was angry initially not knowing what on earth was going on with me and thinking  I’d gone on a bender looking for attention. That thought didn’t last long, he realised pretty quickly there was more to it. Sam was there for me taking me to the GP for emergency help and also joined me for counselling at the Cancer Council.

 

I will leave you with some bullshit comments that some people felt the need to say (weather to me or someone else)

  • What on earth did you do to your beautiful hair? It was looking really good! It really was so lovely and curly (my note: it was not curly ok!?) and so pretty. Why would you get rid of that?
    • My side note on this comment – This comment was made to my face by someone who is an associate, not a friend, not a family member but they felt they had the right and need to tell me that my hair looked terrible. I wonder, how would they feel if someone went to them and told them their recent hair cut looked terrible and why didn’t they just leave their hair as it was?
  • She is obviously just wanting more attention
    • My side note on this comment – Um, really? Thanks! I think most people would understand it goes a little deeper than this
  • Why on earth would she have ‘issues’? Isn’t her cancer finished? What is her problem now?
    • My side note on this comment – Firstly, cancer doesn’t FINISH. Secondly, unless you have had such a horrible, emotional, physical event such as this, do not assume you know what it is like ‘once the cancer has finished’ as you put it

The comments I LOVED and heard from a few people were

  • I’m not sure why you cut your hair but I LOVE IT! It really suits you
    • This comment was awesome because I didn’t have to explain why I cut my hair, I wasn’t made to feel ugly, stupid, crazy or weird.
  • I don’t meant to overstep any boundaries but I want to ask because I’m worried…. you don’t have cancer again/you haven’t started chemo again have you?
    • These questions were honest, real, true and there was no other meaning to them other than what was said.

To be continued ………………………..

brit

 

 

 

 

The Bright Side of Fat

 

thekidandi

Facebook kinda shits me here and there as to how commercial and whatnot it is but, there are times, when I get that ‘Facebook Memory’ as to what I posted a while ago and, this came up today. I remember so clearly this photo being taken and even though my gorgeous daughter was being silly, I still felt an amazing sense of pride for being her Mum. Nine years ago this photo was taken at my cousin Christine’s 40th Birthday party! OMG, that means my cousin Christine is going to be….. 50 oh so soon. Anyhoo, this photo of ‘the kid and I’ is very special to me. It is before I became a Coeliac and before I knew I had stage 3 breast cancer.

Moving On.

So, this was the week for me to meet with my surgeon to discuss the surgery I want/need early next year. The reason I would like this surgery early next year is because

  1.      I would like to be done with Breast Cancer
  2.      My wedding is in November 2017 and I would like 2 boobs for it
  3.      What does it matter? Just give me another boob please!

So, off to Mr Jim Kollias on Wednesday to discuss my upcoming surgery and to have my 6th monthly Breast Cancer check. Actually, from here on in, I am thinking I wont bother with writing breast cancer with capitals. I recall from school that capital letters were for proper words and those of being ‘important’. Well, you know what Oh Serious Breast Cancer? I have demoted you to lower case from now on!

Right, now we have that straight, let me continue…..

Mr Kollias has many names throughout South Australia and most of them good. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to BAG the SHIT out of him in this post but know this, he is the best in the business ok? Anyhoo… this is how it happened….

Into the lovely little office I went, went through the formalities of me looking great and me saying thank you blah blah and, off to the back room I go to rid myself of my tops and bras and sit on the bed to wait…

Now, keep in mind that Mr James Kollias, being the best in the Breast Cancer field in South Australia, keeps you protected, safe and bubble wrapped the entire time you are dealing with breast cancer. He will do everything humanly possible to rid your body of the cancer and make you feel A OK. You only have to do as you are told and he will make everything happen for you.

Once your breast cancer has been cut out, chemotherapied, radiologied, blitzed with drugs and sleep and some more drugs and more surgery, then comes along the true to life, the honest and IN YOUR FACE Mr Kollias.

There are no more warm snugly cuddly hugs of comfort, no more Mr Nice Guy.

He has always told us how it is when it came to my Stage 3 Breast Cancer but, I always felt safe and snuggly within his words. He was the Captain of our Ship. He would ensure everything happened correctly and his way. My only job on this ship was to follow his orders.

And I did feel all safe and snugly and protected and loved. Until NOW.

Now, I am FAT and ROUND!

On Wednesday the 5th of October 2015 (311 Days Since Mr Kollias and I met) I was meeting him again but this time to discuss my Reconstruction Left Breast Surgery.

I am requiring, wanting and possibly even needing a particular surgery called a TRAM Flap. TRAM stands for transverse rectus abdominis, a muscle in your lower abdomen between your waist and your pubic bone. A flap of this skin, fat, and all or part of the underlying rectus abdominus (“6-pack”) muscle are used to reconstruct the breast in a TRAM flap procedure.

While it’s the most popular flap reconstruction procedure, a TRAM flap isn’t for everyone. It’s not a good choice for:

  • thin women who don’t have enough extra belly tissue
  • women who already have had multiple abdominal surgeries
  • women who plan on getting pregnant
  • women who are concerned about losing strength in their lower abdomen

So, my big belly and myself are thinking, HOOK ME UP BIG BOY, because I am none of the above and more than that, HOOK ME UP TO THOSE SKINNY BITCHES THAT DON’T HAVE ENOUGH EXTRA BELLY TISSUE, I HAVE ENOUGH FOR EVERYBOOOOOODY.

Mr Kollias does not find this helpful OR amusing. Sometimes I wonder how Mr Kollias and I even get along!

Right, back to it….

I am now laying on the medical bed which is not comfortable nor relaxing and Mr Kollias starts the examination. I would have assumed he would have started with Ms Rightie, my lonely breast that stands alone… but no, he starts with my belly. He GRABS a big fist full of the belly area and wibbles and wobbles it up and down as though it isn’t actually attached to me (BUT IT IS)  and says,

“Wow, this is very large. YOU are incredibly ROUND’. This is a lot of FAT”.

I kid you not!

I am laying on this bed, with my one amazing but sagging boobie and my big gutses hanging out, feeling oh so vulnerable while he, the amazing Mr K, proceeds to tell me how round and fat I am.

I KNOW I AM FAT FFS!

No, I do not say this out loud.

So, as I lay on that oh so uncomfortable bed, with my gutses hanging out, trying to think of something else, he, Mr Kollias, is grabbing handfulls of flab (yep, that’s my stomach) wibbling and wobbling up and down, still saying the words ROUND and FAT and I CAN’T WORK WITH THIS, I sink deeper and deeper into some daze like meditation.

Ok, I am no fool. I know I am fat. But for f*cks sake. Give me a break! I can’t use the ‘cancer card’ with Mr Kollias because he has been there with me from start til now. He is trying to tell me that

  1. The more fat I have, the more likely I will be to get cancer, especially breast cancer, again
  2. He can not operate on a fat person due to the risks involved
  3. He can not operate on a fat person for a TRANS Flap thingy without putting them ‘at risk’

Right then, after four rounds of him grabbing my gutses, told I am ever so ROUND, and that he can’t operate the way I want without a risk, It is thankfully now time for me to dress and smash his face in.

Ok fine, I didn’t smash his face in but I really wanted too!

Anyhoo, I dressed and went back to his ‘meeting room’ and sat in front of him while he proceeded to tell me that he can not do the surgery I wanted because I was EVER SO ROUND.

ARGH!

Right, he says to me that in order to do the operation the he and I want to have done he wants me to lose 10 kilos by January 10th.

I’m not sure if you remember he wanted me to lose over 20 Kilos previously but I would be dead if I tried to do that so, we are negotiating now like a car buyer v’s a car salesman. Mr Kollias is the Salesman ok?

We go back and forth for a while and agree on a 7.5 Kilo weight loss for him to do the surgery. That means I have to be below 75 kilos by January 10th, 2017.

Oh so easy I hear you say. IT IS NOT EASY I SCREAM BACK AT YOU!

Ok fine, I’ll try to calm down but let me finish with the conversation with the ever so amazing Mr K.

I tell him that I tried to lose weight for him from our previous catch up which resulted in breaking two bones in my ankle.

He says, hmmm, that’s really just an excuse.

I say, well, I am a coealiac and don’t eat any junk food… and he just glares at me.

I then tell him I have lost 2 kilos recently and he says, two kilos is not a weight loss, it is a poo! and then proceeds to blow a raspberry at me!

Then, I tell him I have started taking duromine and he tells me that chemicals are NOT the answer.

Right about now I should be receiving a bloody award for ‘not murdering’ someone.

There are no awards coming my way, no cameras and bunches of flowers or miracle weight loss fairy dust, just Mr K looking at me.

So, I say to the ever so amazing Mr Kollias, “What do you suggest I do?” and his reply, (get ready to inhale a big disgusted gasp”

“stop eating”

OMG, is that even legal? Are you aloud to say that to me?

Well, I think yes. BUT, the problem is, now that I am taking this Duromine (appetite suppressant which I think is broken) my meal sizes have reduced, I’m not snacking anywhere near as much as before blah blah blah….. and then I quietly, under my breath, say….. Do you think I should stop drinking alcohol?

Well, doesn’t that open the bloody flood gates?! Out it all comes from the Breast Cancer God of South Australia telling me if I stop drinking today, I’ll lose 3 Kilos in a week and then I’ll lose another 3 kilos in the next three weeks which is almost at my goal weight for the surgery!

He is looking at me like I am some very backward hick born child!

I haven’t even told him how much I drink (Thank Goodness!)

So, There we have it peeps.

As I sit here, looking at my lovely glass of sparkling wine, I know that it is one of the last as I HAVE TO LOSE THIS WEIGHT. Not just for Mr Kollias but for myself to have the surgery I want.

There is an alternative surgery involving using my back fat with expanders and then silicon blah blah but no, that isn’t what I want.

I want the stomach one, where there will be no artificial products in my body.

After all of the chemo and radiation, I am thinking I would like to repair my body with my body.

So, There we have it.

I have been angry, sad, angry again and everything in between since my appointment with Mr James Kollias on Wednesday but, at the end of the day, he is only doing what is best for me.

What really shits me through all of this is, I forgot to tell my amazing and incredible surgeon about the lump I was worried about! Thankfully he had done a thorough examination while I was there of good ol’ rightie and obviously didn’t find anything to be worried about.

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. Thank you for all of the ‘behind the scenes’ messages and in my face messages.

Love to you all. Stick with me. I am doing this ok? I am going to give it my all to lose that darn 7.5 kilos.

A thank you to the Encore Program for taking me in. I am going to fill you all in about this Encore Program from the YWCA soon.  Hopefully, work works with me on this one 🙂

I don’t do shout out’s very often do I?  I am going to today.

My shout outs are…

Veronica Stanbridge : for listening to me sook and cry and worry about the stupid lump that turned out to be nothing. I know how hard this is for you to relive this horrible disease after your amazing sister Maggie passed away from it. Veronica ‘Amazing’ Stanbridge is in the black 🙂

bez

Mandy Azzam: Yep, I might know when you are not coping with things but you give it back knowing when I am not doing so well. I love that you leave me be until our lunch dates when I let it all out.

Tamara Martin: You always know when I’m having a bad day. Not through my actual voice but through the voice of our emails. Thankyou for knowing when I don’t want to talk but really want to talk. You know me too well.

Uniden Digital Camera
My bestie Tam

Everyone in my life means so much to me. Please don’t be displeased to not find your name here but it is Friday night after a huge week at work and, it has been a tough week for me. Everyone who is in my life, with true honesty and love (eg: no backstabbing or bullshit) means so much to me.

xx

Soon to be ‘two boobed bailey’

 

 

The $10,000 Bill

As I sit here in my little home office trying to waste time until my ankle surgery today, I thought I might pop in here and say HI!

I am fasting so as you can imagine, I am not in the greatest of moods AND my surgery isn’t until about 3:30pm today. I had to start fasting at 7:30am so that is a huuuuuge gap between meals.

It is just a quick day surgery today to take out two pins from my ankle. Apparently the surgeon is going to leave the plates and screws in and ‘if I want’, they can be removed in about three years or so. I forget what I had for breakfast this morning so how on earth am I going to remember about the plates and screws in my ankle in three years time?

Anyhoo, onto the TAX MAN.

I am going to have a whinge and whine about this so if you are like me and like to be around only positive things, then stop reading.  But if you wonder how you would cope when unable to work and think you have it all sorted, then read on.

Sooooo, I pay for income insurance each month which covers me for such times as when I am unable to work due to illness.

Enter Breast Cancer.

This is a perfect reason to have income insurance because, it is very difficult to hold down a full time job while having treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy, mastectomy and radiation to name a few.

Another thing I have, and pay a lot of money for, is Private Health Insurance. This ensures I can get treatment very quickly, receive very good private health care and rebates (of sorts) for some treatments.

Therefore, I feel, I am a very small burden on the government.

I am not using the public hospitals, therefore freeing it up for people who are unable to afford Private Health Insurance.

Nor am I asking the government to fund me while I am not working with Sickness Benefits because my income insurance, whilst it doesn’t pay my full wage, assists me in getting by during this time.

So, I knew that the income insurance wasn’t having tax taken out of it while I was receiving 75% of my wage but given that was quite a reduction in payment, we found it very difficult to find the extra money to pay the tax. So, in my wisdom, I ‘assumed’ that the $4,800.00 tax payment made while working (which was due to be refunded to me because I had earnt under the threshold) would cover the tax cost of income insurance.

You can imagine my absolute disgust and disappointment when finding out that that my tax bill was just under ten thousand dollars.

This is the thanks I get for having Private Health Insurance and Income Insurance.

If I had chosen to take on sickness benefits (which I am completely entitled to do so) and used the public system, I would have had no tax bill, would have more than likely even received a tax return with $$ involved, be better off each fortnight not having to pay for income insurance or health insurance and become a burden on the public system and government.

It really pissed me off.

Yes, I am very thankful to have my life, to have come out the other side and yes, I know that $10,000 is a small price to pay but geez, when do I get a break here?

Oh thats right, I got a break on the 3rd of May, 2 breaks in fact. In my leg and ankle!

Thats it. Whinge complete.

It is now time to head down to the hospital for a lovely little sleep under an anesthetic, have some pins removed, hopefully be fed when I wake up and come home some time tonight.

There is a lovely photo of my boy, fresh from his shower because I didn’t have time to find any related photos to this post. Oh, I could have taken a photo of my empty bank account and purse!

🙂

Still Here :)

 

I have had so many lovely emails and conversations with people wanting me to ‘come back to blogging’. Wow, I can’t tell you how much of a lift that gives me. Thank you to everyone who has enjoyed, laughed, cried, worried and read my blog through my Unscheduled Journey with Stage 3 Breast Cancer.

Let me tell you about………………

The Ankle Incident 3rd of May, 2016

So, it seems that after chemotherapy and radiation, your bones can become quite brittle.

My oncologist and surgeon had both told me repeatedly I needed to lose weight as a cancer prevention because carrying extra weight can cause the cancer to return. Therefore, I came up with a plan.

My energy levels were still very low so there was no way a cardio or aerobic exercise was on the agenda but I thought, if I drive to the city from home (45 kilometres) and park on Fullarton Road in South Australia, I could then walk the 2 kilometres to work. As there is no bus that goes to where my car was parked, it meant that I couldn’t ‘cheat’ and get a lift after work but had to walk back.  That meant I was walking over 4 kilometres a day!

My weight was starting to come off and even though the mornings were very cold, I felt great for all of the fresh air and walking until I rolled my ankle.

There was a section of my walk that was dirt and there was a teeny tiny pothole that I lost my footing in and over I went. As I went down, I heard to very loud noises which turned out to be two broken bones. But, get this….. there I am, dressed in my work clothes, lanyard around my neck with my security pass, backpack on the ground, sitting in the dirt crying and holding my ankle and NOT ONE PERSON HELPED ME.

There were people everywhere too. People were cycling on the track behind me, others walking their dogs, people parking their cars five meters in front of me and walking to work. How on earth have we become such a selfish or scared society that we won’t approach someone who is obviously in distress?

I called the ambulance myself and waited half an hour (the emergency department is five streets away) and then spent three days in hospital following surgery where there were plates and screws put in to my tibia and fibular. I was in a Cast for three weeks with a walking frame, then a ‘moon boot’ for five weeks with a walking frame and am having my second surgery on the 7th of September 2016.

THE BREAK AND SCAR

 

So, my weight loss adventures obviously came to a halt. I was off work for 8 weeks and am only now just starting to walk properly again so am hoping my surgery next week doesn’t set me back any more. The surgeon did say that I will be fine after a few days rest following this surgery so am not too worried.

THE X-RAYS OF THE PLATES AND PINS

xrays

A further 8 weeks off work was certainly not what I had in mind seeing as though I had returned to work only three months previously. 10 months off work with Cancer was enough I had thought but the universe had other ideas hehe.

THE CAST AND MOON BOOT

As I was unable to put any weight on my left leg for 6 weeks, Sam (Dr Hands) made a makeshift kitchen in the living room and even had a car fridge with treats, drinks and lunch options.

THE ‘KITCHEN’, DAISIES FROM MUM AND FLOWERS FROM WORK

So, this is the update on the ankle business.

Are you a suspicious person? I haven’t been known to worry about black cats, walking under ladders etc but for some reason, after I broke my ankle, I kept worrying that there was once more really bad thing left to happen to me.

I couldn’t get rid of the feeling even though people would tell me that there were 2 breaks in my bones so that adds up to three things with the breast cancer. I was also told that as I had breast cancer surgery and nodes removed, that could count as two and the third was my ankle.

Well, I had my third one which I’ll tell you about later but here is the short version.

My tax bill for 2015/2016 is a whopping $9,800.00!

That, right there, is my third thing.

Anyhoo, thank you to all who had messaged me with well wishes and worries of the cancer returning but be assured, all is well for the time being.

My current focus is a reconstruction (which I am sure to tell you all about when it is done) and, my wedding to Dr Sam the Hands himself.

Lots of Love from me

me

Xx Talk soon

My New Head

This is a photo of me on December 31 2015, as previously posted on ‘The Year That Was’

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Here is my photo today, 18th of January 2016.

Photo on 18-01-2016 at 9.20 am

CHECK OUT MY HAIR AND EYEBROWS!! They came back woot woot.

Now, just waiting for my eyelashes to come through nice and long and luxurious (dreaming here but a girl can hope).

Bits of Information

  • The chickens all have names – Steffie Forrester, Caroline and Brooke
  • Brady has been depressed because of Steffie Forrester, Caroline and Brooke because I go into the coop without him and he is jealous
  • It has been 18 days since I have consumed alcohol
  • There are only six days until I will be enjoying a glass or two of bubbles with my girlfriends for our Annual Australia Day catch up which is being held on the 24th of January this year
  • I am still waking up around 6am each morning (not by choice, my eyes just open and body is ready to get moving)
  • I had to pluck my eyebrows two days ago because the little hairs are growing back
  • My cow lick came back with my hair! grrrr
  • I purchased Theracucumin as recommended to help ease the bone and joint pain associated with my new medication Tamoxifen and it is working!

 

The New Normal

Seven days since I have had an alcoholic drink and seven days since I have had a decent sleep. Are they related??

Today I had a herceptin appointment so I spoke with my oncologist about this and he said it is quite normal, once you have finished with chemotherapy and radiotherapy to be stressed and unable to sleep. Apparently, the reality of it all can hit you when the hard stuff is finished.

What??!!

This just didn’t make sense to me and he said that people like me, who handle ‘breast cancer’ stuff really well, go through the surgery and chemo and radio with little stress or sadness tend to suffer once it has finished. I did remind him that I am not quite finished yet as I still have about 9 more sessions of hercepton and require further surgery later in the year. He reminded me that I am not the person I was last year. I am a different person who has been through quite an ordeal and whilst I ‘apparently’ feel that I have gone through it and come out the other side quite well, he begs to differ.

He discussed counseling or group therapy both of which I shook my head. Geez, all I want is a decent night sleep and he wants me out there talking to strangers. It then occurred to me, YOU GUYS are the ones who often keep me sane and well balanced. Yes, I have the amazing Sam and my wonderful family and friends but often, I don’t even know what I am feeling until I sit down with my keyboard and computer.

My doctor was right about one thing though, I expected to feel amazing and jumping for joy once the chemotherapy had finished. Then it was when the radiation had finished. It didn’t happen either of these times.

There is no magic feeling that comes along and wipes the previous year away.

Each step that is taken, each hurdle achieved does not make it all go away.

The fact still remains, it was a tough journey. I am a different person. My body is different and now, I am expected (mainly by myself) to get my life back to normal.

There is a new kind of normal.

This new me now has to take her body seriously. Look after it and treat it better than I ever have before.

My medication has increased to a new tablet each day for the next ten years.

I must find time to get a new boob at some stage. This can’t happen until after May 2016 and after I have lost a great deal of weight (says my surgeon).

The great news from today is, I can return to work! My oncologist filled in my forms stating my return to work date is 17/2/2016. I hope my manager(s) are as excited as I am.

This gives me five weeks to learn to become more energetic, sleep at decent times, maintain concentration and energy for a whole working day, learn organisation skills again (eg: making lunch, arranging clothes etc) and more than anything, learn to live my life without thinking of cancer.

I am looking forward to my ‘new life’. I am looking forward to the new normal to start.

If you thought you were going to get rid of me now that my new normal starts soon, you thought wrong. I have always got something to say and will still need ‘you’ to help me through.

I still want to be here to help and support or to just listen to others who are having a hard time. I have met some wonderful people through this blog and I don’t want to let them go, so I wont.

Stay tuned. I think this is going to be a fun and exciting year. 🙂

I shall leave you with a before and after photo of my gorgeous Groodle… Brady. Yesterday, he had his summer cut done and boy, is he happy about this 🙂

 

 

Thinking of the year that was….

I started 2015 with a smile on my face. I was so happy and fortunate and loved.

Thankfully, I am ending this year with a smile on my face because I am happy, fortunate and loved.

Ok, there was a bump on the way.

We got over the bump.

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I have been made aware of so many things this year. The first thing being that Sam is there for me, through sickness and in health. He was there for me each and every day to ensure I was loved, fed, clean, medicated and positive. Sam made me laugh, took in all of the medical information, made learning about breast cancer his project and even sang silly songs to me. He drove me to each and every chemotherapy appointment, surgeon appointment, many of the radiation appointments and the endless trips to the chemist.

I have made new friends, been reunited with old friends, lost a couple of friends, felt the love of so many wonderful people. I have seen amazing and selfless sides of many people as well.

Naturally, I can’t name each and every person who has touched my heart this year but please know, you probably are one of them.

I started the year with two boobs, a head of long hair, a little lighter but I am ending this year with more knowledge, empathy, understanding and patience than I had at the beginning. I now know the amazing lengths people go to too help someone facing a very frightening illness. I have been incredibly fortunate to have an amazing group of people surrounding me.

I didn’t get cancer this year. I was diagnosed this year. According to my surgeon, the cancer had been in my body for a couple of years. I will not see 2015 as ‘the year I got cancer’ but it will be the year that Sam and I fought the disease in my body as far as I am concerned, we won.

The biggest standout of the year is pretty obvious to me. It was being told I had breast cancer. Everything that followed those words happened so fast and there was always something going on weather it was surgery, drains, those bloody dreadful and shitty hemorrhoids, nausea, fatigue, chemotherapy, baldness, radiation therapy, burns, blisters, but it was my ultra sound and mammogram appointment that I’ll never forget.

Do you make New Year Resolutions? I am a bit wishy washy when it comes to them but this year I have a long list of health related changes for my new year. Be warned, I am giving up alcohol. Blogs may actually start to make sense hehe.

There will be less processed foods, goodbye to sugar, hello to daily activity (I have the neighbours exersize bike in my lounge room ready and waiting), and I am going to smile a lot! I will continue with my positive attitude, growing salads and vegetables, drinking a lot of water and helping anyone who needs it.

This New Years Eve will be spent with our lovely neighbours at what I am hoping, will be the 1st of many street/neighbourhood parties.

My thoughts this year will be with health of my amazing family and friends, feeling proud of the amazing daughter I have, loving that amazing man of mine, drinking my last drink for a while and enjoying the fact I am here to celebrate another New Year.

Thank you to everyone for being with me this year either in person or in writing and your thoughts.

I wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

Much love………

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Merry Christmas – I’m Not Done Yet

7th of April I was told I had cancer.

8th of April my breast cancer was confirmed and the fact it had spread.

At this time, I’ll be honest, I did not imagine I would experience such a positive and wonderful Christmas.

Yesterday, I experienced a wonderful Christmas.

I am incredibly fortunate that I  have such a wonderful network of people backing my health and the front runner of this wonderful network is Sam.

He made me promise not to buy gifts for each other this year as we simply couldn’t afford it and naturally, he didn’t stick to his word. I received such wonderful gifts and these were, a Game of Thrones colouring book, a gorgeous breast cancer pandora charm and a women’s health diary.

There is no way on this planet, in this life, that I want to live it without my Samuel Wilkinson.

After my gorgeous Dr Hands surprised me with my wonderful gifts, we then packed up and got ready for a full day of driving and visiting.

First up we traveled to the gorgeous and amazing property of Sam’s cousins’ house at Gummeracha –  Nikki McGrane and Braden Hutt, and wow, what a gorgeous home and setting for Christmas. Thank you so much for having us and I can’t wait to visit again soon.

Here I am with ‘Santa’ Darren!

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There were many laughs and bubbles (Thank you Auntie Susie not only for the bubbles but also for watching you go down the slip and slide heheheheeh) and then we were off to my Auntie Lyn and Uncle Phils house at Gawler.

As you can see, if you know South Australia, we had a bit of driving to do but it was very worth it. Thankfully, Dr Hands did all the driving which left me to drink all of the bubbles out of the Adelaide Hills 🙂

The Poo bit of it all is me. I have finished Radiation. Yay.

I have finished Chemotherapy. Yay.

But my cancer journey hasn’t ended and I do try to be all happy and positive with everyone but it isn’t all happy and wonderful.

Cancer doesn’t really end.

I still have 10 sessions of Herceptin. Ok, so there are no side effects from this and I only have it every three weeks….

Medication needs to be taken for the next ten years.

I have a 1 in 20 chance of getting cancer again somewhere in my body.

I stupidly said I would give up alcohol in January with no end date (I must have been drunk when I made this deal)

But, my point is, whilst the shitty sides are over, it isn’t over.

Another but, I love that I got to see another Christmas.

I Love that I got cuddles from my gorgeous niece Kally and nephew Jordan.

I got to see most of my family at Auntie Lyns house. With lots of laughs and food and drinks.

Many giggles were had at Sam’s family doo this arvo and my goodness, Santa Darren and Auntie Susie on the slip and slide almost had me doing a lady leak in my pants!

I love that I had another Christmas and I have the positive results to see many more to come.

Thankyou to all who have followed my journey so far. There is more to come so stay tuned.

I have loved today as I do with all Christmas celebrations. I can’t wait to celebrate many more.

He is a picture of Sam and I with our lovely neighbour John. (John is in the Middle)

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I do wish that everyone reading this had an equally amazing and happy Christmas as Sam and I had.

I will talk to you all soon, when I get over tomorrows hangover xx

The Nurse

Remember the olden days when a hospitals Matron was a very fussy and old fashioned – do it by the book – kind of person? Well, I think I met one of these people today.

She walks into the waiting room, stands in front of me with one hand on her large hip and says,

“Amanda Bailey?”

I was playing candy crush as I do every time I am in a waiting room and I say “Yup, that would be me”.

With a frown and a very stern manner she asks if she could ‘please interrupt me for an examination’.

The way she said it was like I was doing something wrong but I followed her into her room and she just stared at me again but this time, at my neck and the burn.

She muttered away and looked down my top without asking, looked at my back and continued muttering away. She said I would need this and that and what not and then said she’d see me after my radiation.

I couldn’t understand why I needed to see her again because I had just seen her, she had examined me and told me what to do so, after I’d been zapped, I told my amazing radiation lady that I really didn’t want to see that weird nurse again. She laughed and said she’d tell the nurse I was in a hurry and would grab the cream and padding I needed for me.

Well, I went into the little change room cubicle which barely has room for one person and blow me down but the weird old Matron nurse is banging on the change room door and comes in with me! FFS, there is no room for one of me but to have another large person, lets just say, it was too close for comfort. Talk about being in my personal space!

While I was driving home, my phone rang. I am incredibly well behaved when it comes to phones and cars and refuse to answer or even look at my phone. As I have two more appointments in town this afternoon, I thought it would be best if I checked who had called because I might have gotten earlier times for my other appointments.

The message was from that NURSE! The message went on and on about which creams to use where and how she should have given me a ‘wee container’ to mix two of the creams in. OMG – she had told me all of this in her office and again in that little tiny change room and now again on the voice mail.

Anyway, as I am not getting radiation on my shoulder anymore, I can use zinc which is awesome. It takes away all pain.

Is it noticeable? I figure it looks a lot better than wearing that sanitary pad on my shoulder!

Photo on 17-12-2015 at 11.24 am