overwhelmed …

… is the perfect word to sum up the past two weeks!!

There just seems to have been so much to deal with …

“scanxiety”;  new evidence of disease; a fractured rib and the news that my right hip and femur could be at risk of doing the same; a stay in hospital;  a completely new chemotherapy regime; radiotherapy;  immobility; enough controlled medication to start a small business and the frustration of having the approval of a very expensive (AED 35k) genomic profiling test, which will indicate which drugs will be most effective in treating my cancer, declined by my health insurance …

that sometimes I have felt like I am barely treading water.

But, the thing that has, once again, overwhelmed me the most, is the love and support I receive on a daily basis …

the messages, phone calls and visits from friends and family; the awesome PINKLadies who are always there for me; my employer who has been so understanding throughout; the fantastic oncology team at City Hospital who take such good care of me; and last, but by no means least, my amazing family who have had to juggle everything they usually do with everything I usually do to make sure that there is food in the fridge, the laundry is done, and I am where I need to be and have everything I need …

that, rather than barely treading water, to quote one very cute fish called Dory, I’ll “keep on swimming”.

So thank you xx

 

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Back on the rollercoaster …

SO, after not having made a post for a while, I’m afraid that this is going to be another one of “those” posts …

Last week, after completing two cycles of chemotherapy, I had a PET CT scan to check how the cancer was reacting to the treatment. Unfortunately, the results were not what we were hoping for!!

It seems that the beast is proving to be even more difficult to tame than we thought and has now set up home in several new locations in my body. These include metastases on my thyroid, a rib, my right hip and the top of my right femur.

Luckily, the bone lesions are fairly small but my rib has already fractured which is a sign that my bones are quite weak. I’ve been in hospital since Monday as a precaution while the doctors decide what to do to protect my hip and femur. The orthopod has decided that no surgical intervention to strengthen the bone is needed yet which is a relief and, for now, they will treat the lesions with five fractions of radiotherapy. This will start on Sunday and I will have one fraction a day for five days.

I am also going to be given an injection of a drug called Xgeva every six weeks which will help strengthen my bones. This will continue indefinitely.

Most importantly, is a change in the chemo regime. Today, we are starting a new regime made up of two drugs. The first, Cisplatin, is a platinum based chemotherapy (of the same family as mustard gas!!!) and is given once a week for two weeks. The second, also a chemotherapy, is a drug called 5FU (5 Fluorouracil) which is administered continuously for 14 days. 5FU is also known as a “suicide inhibitor” as it literally causes the cancer cells to commit suicide, I kind of like that idea!! What I am not too sure about is the thought of having to carry my “suicide inhibitor” around with me for 14 days … never thought I be making best friends with my chemotherapy!!

Each 14 day cycle is followed by a week’s break and I will have between 6 and 8 cycles with another PET CT after the third cycle to check the response.

I have been warned by Dr S. that these drugs are more toxic than the last chemotherapy and that I should expect the side effects to be worse than those I have experienced before. I am hooked up at the moment and my lovely chemo nurse is just about to start the Cisplatin so I will keep you all updated … right down to the last gruesome detail!!

What I will say is that if I don’t develop some kind of X-Men-like super powers after all these drugs and radiotherapy I will be seriously disappointed.

 

 

Chapter 2 …

On the 1st of June 2016 I was celebrating my last Herceptin treatment and the fact that, after 540 difficult days, I was finally finished my treatment.

I was so looking forward to having my trusty port-o-cath removed, only having to see the oncologist once every two months and finally starting to recover from the fatigue that has been with me since I started chemo way back in January 2016.

At my regular check-up with my oncologist on the 8th of June I mentioned that I was feeling a little short of breath and had developed an irritating cough. I put it down to allergies and she agreed but suggested that we do a  CT-scan. “just to be on the safe side”. My last scan on the 15th of February was crystal clear and as my tumour markers had also been stable for months, she said she wasn’t expecting to find anything untoward but just wanted to “be on the safe side”.

Clearly, we were both wrong as the CT showed some nodules in my chest and some very enlarged and unhappy lymph nodes in my sternum. The lymph nodes are the cause of my breathlessness and cough as they constricting the airways from lungs so they are not able to function at full capacity.

Stunned, pretty much sums up how I felt as the oncologist explained what would come next, a PET CT-scan, biopsies of the nodules and lymph nodes and then, a treatment plan.

I had the PET CT on the 3rd of July and the biopsies on the 5th and they both confirmed that the beast, not content with the havoc it had wreaked before, was back and, only 35 days after finishing my initial treatment, I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in my chest and lymph nodes.

To say that I am pissed off that I am right back where I started is an understatement but, I have beaten it once, and am determined to beat it again.

Chemo is due to start on Wednesday, the 20th, but more about that later …

Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come, remember everything you have faced, remember all the battles you have won and all the fears you have overcome.