I cycled into St Bartholomew’s this morning and the street opposite the main entrance was lined with paparazzi – I presume waiting to catch a glimpse of me and desperate to hear how I’ve been getting on…Continue reading “02/03/2021”
I slept badly the night before surgery and was glad when the alarm went off. After a shower, Tom made me a big breakfast and I tried to drink as much tea and juice and water as possible, only adding to my feeling of nausea.
I arrived at Barts early to check in to the surgical ward. They took my height, weight, blood pressure etc and asked a few questions before sending me down to nuclear medicine for an injection. When I checked in at the reception, the lady couldn’t find my name anywhere. My nerves were already through the roof. I knew if I didn’t have the injection done it would probably mean delaying surgery. She asked me to take a seat whilst she tried to find the booking. After some searching, she eventually found a piece of paper with my name on but no booking and no date for surgery.
Someone came to explain to me that the surgical team had not made the booking properly and they had to check if I was actually having my surgery today then they had to check if they could fit me in for the injection. I felt like I could really do without this extra stress the morning before surgery. Thankfully they managed to sort it all out and I had the injection of blue radioactive dye followed by a scan.
I checked back in at the surgical ward briefly then they sent me to the King Edward VII hospital in Marylebone – apparently where the Royal Family frequent in times of illness! If only I hadn’t been going in for some major, probably life-saving surgery then I really would have enjoyed the following experience a lot more. A doorman in full suit and top hat welcomed me, then I was checked into my room where my coat was hung up in the wardrobe whilst I was told about the number for room service, how to order food for post-surgery and I looked at the toiletries that were better than I have at home.
The anaesthetist came in to see me before surgery and spent a total of about ten seconds in the room asking if I had any breathing problems or loose teeth before disappearing again. I wasn’t sure if this made me more nervous that he wanted so little information or relieved that he was so confident. Laura then popped in and checked that I still wanted to go ahead with it all, which I did. Luckily I was the first patient seen that afternoon and it wasn’t long for me to wait before going to theatre.
I woke up at about half past four in recovery, feeling very heavily sedated and nauseous. Laura told me that it had gone well and she phoned Tom to let him know. I spent the next few hours snoozing. I tried to drink water but kept throwing up and sadly felt too sick to order any fancy food from the menu. I was quite surprised to see that the blue dye injection made my boob bright blue, as well as my vomit, and when I eventually went to the toilet everything that came out was also bright blue! At around half past nine I managed to get dressed, drag myself downstairs and get into the car that Tom had waiting outside. When we arrived home I went straight to bed.
I’ve been feeling surprisingly good since surgery, not too sore or sick. In my head I had been so focused on working towards surgery that I hadn’t given much thought to recovery and so have been frustrated that I am not instantly better. I realise now that I still have a long way to go until I feel completely back to myself. I have to wait for a couple of weeks to get the results back from surgery that will determine whether I need more surgery or chemotherapy.
We had a nice quiet Christmas in the flat, Tom & Philippa made a delicious dinner. Frank has had his first puppy training lesson today so I have my hopes up that he will return as a good boy.
Yesterday was the longest I have gone without receiving chemotherapy for six months now and I feel great! Dealing with the last round of chemo side effects was tough as they had a cumulative effect, but I can gladly say that I feel as though I am over the worst of it now. Tom and I are really enjoying being back in the flat with Frank. We have been exploring the parks of Shadwell and Wapping and meeting lots of other dogs on our adventures.Continue reading “20/12/2020”
Last Tuesday Tom drove me down to London for pre-surgery scans. First I had to go for an MRI with contrast. This is the same scan as I had immediately after I had been given my diagnosis. I remember the first time I went for that scan, I couldn’t stop crying which was a real nightmare when you have to lie face down and keep as still as possible. For them to be able to inject the contrast, a cannula had to be inserted, which was done on both occasions by a lovely man called Neil. I told him that I had met him before and thanked him for being so kind when I was upset the first time. He apologised for not remembering me. I said it was completely understandable considering the amount of patients he must meet, that half my face was covered with a mask and the small detail that I have now lost all of my hair including eyebrows and eyelashes which is not a good look, I can assure you.Continue reading “28/11/2020”
This chemotherapy lark is really catching up with me. I have spent most of the past few days in bed and when I do eventually make it out of bed, I am horizontal. Usually the first day or two post-chemo I feel relatively good. I take a high dose of steroids for the days before, during and after chemotherapy so I probably have those to thank for my feeling of wellness. Last weekend I managed long walks on Saturday and Sunday then the steroids must have worn off and tiredness and sickness kicked in.Continue reading “11/11/2020”
Another round of chemotherapy done, six down two to go! Tom and I drove down on Thursday afternoon, completely forgetting that I was supposed to go in that day to get my bloods done to check that I’m healthy enough to continue treatment. I blame chemo-brain, I’m not sure what excuse Tom wants to use! Fortunately I was able to go in first thing Friday and the results were back in time for my 11am appointment.Continue reading “20/10/2020”
My goodness yesterday was long! It was my first day on the new, more targeted, chemotherapy drugs. Tom very kindly offered to drive me into Barts as it was raining. It should only be a 10 minute journey and we set off a whole hour in advance as I hate being late for anything. I also wanted to pick up a sandwich to avoid having to rely on hospital food to keep me going. Unfortunately due to weather, traffic, road works and wrong turns I ended up having to jump out of the car and rush into the hospital sandwichless.Continue reading “26/09/2020”
Three months in and I’ve made it to the halfway point of my chemotherapy treatment! On Friday I went in for round four of eight. This was also my final round on the drugs doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide. For the final four rounds I will be given different more targeted drugs to the HER2 receptors on my tumor: herceptin, pertuzemab and docetaxel.
I have started to dread going into the hospital. The staff are always lovely and friendly but I find it lonely not being able to have anyone there with me. There are a few patients who are very frail or don’t speak English, who are allowed to have family members sit on the ward with them. I thought to myself that maybe I should pretend that I can’t speak English so that I can bring someone with me to interpret. My preggo friend Rose is a sign language interpreter and she suggested that I pretend that I am now an elective mute and therefore need her there to translate. The only problem being that I don’t know any British Sign Language so would have to fake it, and it might not be that much better an experience if we just had to sit there in silence together making incomprehensible hand gestures.
So far I have always had afternoon appointments and this was my first morning one. As it was near the start of the day, the nurses didn’t have time to get the infusions out of the fridge before I arrived and so all of my IV drugs were cold. An hour and a half of a freezing left arm was not enjoyable – I think next time I will bring a hot water bottle with me to warm the infusions.
On a happier note, since leaving the hospital I have been feeling good. I was met by Tom & Frank and we walked back to the flat. Frank played a great trick on us on the way home, he must have known that Tom only brought one poo bag out with him so Frank decided to stop for two poo’s on our way back – which I found highly entertaining. Luckily Tom is very resourceful and a responsible dog owner and managed to clear both up.
Friday afternoon was spent in the park with Herbie, Luke & Philippa playing a new game called Molkee. I can highly recommend it for anyone looking for a new outdoor game. It involves throwing a wooden cylinder at others and trying to knock certain ones over, similar to bowling. I would not recommend playing Molkee with a dog present, especially one who has just learned to fetch a stick. Frank found it all very confusing that he wasn’t involved in the game.
Since last writing I am please to announce that Tom and I have had two sell-out weeks of running Frank’s! We now have a (very small) profit-making pizza business! It has been so much fun getting it all set up and we have both enjoyed the two Wednesday evenings so far. We have teamed up with one of the pubs in Bakewell, the Joiners Arms, to deliver the pizzas there. They don’t have a kitchen so were happy for us to bring them down. This setup works well for us too that we don’t have people coming round to the house to collect them and that we don’t have to go all over Bakewell delivering them. The pub is only a 30 second cycle away, perfect for quick drop-offs!
For the first week of Frank’s I was cycling to deliver the pizzas. Last week as it was raining and I was having a day of not feeling very well, we recruited our first staff member: Ben, who was a very willing and able delivery man! Sadly in these modern times, as he was on a zero hours contract he will not be returning for a second shift. He has to go back to Newcastle to finish his final year of medicine, fair enough! Good luck with your final year Ben, it will be tough but I know you can do it.
Thank you to all of our friends and family who have supported us in the past two weeks, Tom and I really do appreciate it. It is so great to be able to have this project to keep us busy and we hope that we are spreading some pizza love throughout Bakewell in return!
I had some great news back from the genetics team – I do not have any predisposing genes for cancer! This means that is was most likely a case of bad luck that I developed it (and great luck that I found it!) it also means that my chance of developing another tumor in the future is normal (rather than increased) and the genetics team does not recommend that I have a mastectomy. For now I will stick with the original treatment plan and have a wide local excision surgery (or lumpectomy).
I had another letter this week back from PALS, responding to the complaint that I made about that fertility team. The repose was frustrating, it did not address any of my concerns about the team and I was told that only one of the doctors (who wasn’t even really involved in my care) wanted to pass on an apology. Overall very disappointing as all I really wanted was an acknowledgement that I had been mistreated and an apology from the doctors involved. I hope that they at least were forced to discuss the complaint and that it might have a positive impact on future patients being treated in their department.
There is not much else to report apart from that Frank is doing very well and enjoying longer walks. We have had a steady stream of lovely visitors to Bakewell and are looking forward to more over the next couple of weeks! I have my fingers crossed for a dry September as I really do feel robbed of summer this year, I will have to make up for it in 2021 – Tom and I have already started planning our holidays!
It has been a busy week! I started off on Monday by driving Tom & Frank to London for an oncology clinic appointment. Luckily, Margot kindly said that she would look after Frank for the afternoon so that Tom could come in to my appointment with me. We met her at Barts and handed over our puppy. The temperature in London was at least 15 degrees warmer than Derbyshire. After an hour and a half in the warm waiting room I was finally called in to see Melissa. She was looking super glam and as though she must share the same genes as Prince Andrew as she didn’t seem to have one bead of sweat on her.
It was a short and positive appointment. Melissa said that she was very happy with my progress so far and that it was a great sign that I could no longer feel the lump!! I am to continue with treatment as planned, as long as my blood results keep coming back within treatable levels.
Tuesday was a momentous day. After 6 years of dating, Tom and I are officially living together! He moved out of his house in Ashford and into the flat in Shadwell. I think I have been far too kind in letting him have half of the storage space in the bedroom – I may have to reassess that when we move back to London permanently.
On Wednesday, I cycled into Barts to have my bloods checked prior to round 3 of chemotherapy. After that was done, Tom and I drove to visit his grandparents in Goring. Tom’s grandad, Andy, is recently out of hospital and we were so pleased to see that he is doing very well. It was a beautiful day to spend in their garden. Frank enjoyed having the freedom to explore, playing in their dog Flossy’s paddling pool and most of all, visiting the river garden where we went for our first family swim! Frank is now a certified level 3 water doggo!
Thursday was spent seeing friends, I felt as though I had a day of my life-BC (before cancer) back. It was wonderful to see them and catch up, especially as I was feeling so good, being as far away from round two as possible. I have been feeling like a bit of a fraud, as everyone I’ve spoken to has been so lovely and caring and sympathetic towards me, but I really have been feeling fine! After round two, I only had three days of nausea and tiredness, then I was back to feeling normal. Fingers crossed I continue that way for future rounds!
On Friday I went into Barts for round three of chemotherapy, my blood results must have come back within normal ranges as nothing was said about delaying this time around. I had another lovely nurse from the Philippines looking after me. I felt as though I was becoming a regular on the ward as the Spanish nurse from round two remembered me and we had a chat about Ben being in Spain and having to quarantine on his return. I was in and out in two hours, I had high hopes of starting a new book whilst I was in there but instead resorted to snoozing after a late night with the Prince girls & Philippa on Thursday!
Tom and I drove back up to Bakewell on Friday evening. We were very excited as the pizza oven was finished last Sunday and we hadn’t been able to try it out before leaving for London on Monday morning. We had the grand opening pizza party on Saturday evening with mum, dad & John present and it was a huge success!
Tom and I have decided to go into business together. We wanted to make the most of the pizza oven and Tom’s passion for cooking. We (Tom) will be making wood-fired pizzas for collection/delivery around Bakewell every Wednesday! I am in charge of operations, mainly taking orders & delivery! “Frank’s” will be open for business…soon! Watch this space, or follow us on instagram @frankspizzaparty for updates!
I did it!
Or rather, on Thursday evening, Tom made the very brave decision to shave my head. I’m so pleased that I can finally tick that off my bucket list. My head has never felt so cold or so smooth. I’m very happy with the result although I do keep getting confused every time I see my reflection.Continue reading “28/07/2020”