I forgot to put this in my last blog. I have heard so many friends tell me about other people losing there hair. Their hair has grown back thicker, stronger, a different colour and in a lot of cases even curly! I hear this is called the 'chemo curl'.
Friday, 28 November 2008
I forgot to put this in my last blog. I have heard so many friends tell me about other people losing there hair. Their hair has grown back thicker, stronger, a different colour and in a lot of cases even curly! I hear this is called the 'chemo curl'.
Well I can tell you now that it is SO worth losing my hair if it grows back wavy. I have always wanted wavy hair. A different colour would be good too! I have dyed my hair since I was 15. It started off with the dreaded Sun In spray which turned my hair orange. I have natural brown hair but a rubbish in between shade of brown. I like dramatic colours, so red, dark brown or blonde would do me just fine!
I heard this lovely story from a girl who has been ringing me through the breast care website. She had heard that this old man in his 70's or 80's lost his hair from chemo. When it grew back it was his original colour before he went grey which was ginger. How lovely is that!!
I have always loved and been jealous of my partners hair. I nickname him shirley as he has gorgeous blonde girls! I am going to visualize myself having wavy hair and see what happens!
Thursday, 27 November 2008
I had short hair from the age of 16 up until a year ago. I always loved to experiment with my hair. I was a snip happy hairdressers dream! I have had my hair cut in a pixie cut before so It won't be too much of a shock when I have to cut it really short.
It IS slightly a kick in the teeth though when I had only just grown it really long to be losing it now. It has not been that long since I was 15. I always found long hair boring when I was younger but when I grew it back I loved it!!
I have had my hair cut by the wonderful Jenny Chase. Its shoulder length, she did a fab job but was not over the moon about it as it was not through choice. I thought it would be hard work with having the chemo so decided not to have a fringe put in but after a few days having a normal hair cut that didn't say anything about me was annoying me so decided to cut my fringe back in. Did a slightly bad job of it but it does make me feel more me again.
Its silly moaning about a normal hair cut as I will soon have no hair what so ever. But while I've got it it has to be perfect.
I'm having the cold cap which freezes you hair follicles when having chemo. It will help save my hair for now but when I have my second lot of chemo my hair will fall out. I know its going to be a huge thing to deal with. I think shaving my hair off will be quite a distressing moment. I know its only hair and it WILL grown back but its a pretty big thing to go through I think.
It will certainly be an experience to have no hair. I think in the long run it will actually do my confidence the world of good. If I can go out in public with no hair, (it'll take a while to pluck up the courage but I'm going to do it) then what will I be like when it grows back? It'll feel fantastic!!!
My beautiful little sister, Liz has always had long hair. She is being brave and having her hair cut quiet short. She wanted a dramatic change anyway but thought it would be a nice thing to do for me too. Well Liz... you are actually the last person I thought would do that so thank you SO much! Don't chicken out! You know you'll look gorgeous too! You will be another little miss pixie!
Joe is also going to shave his hair off when I have to. He has beautiful goldie locks so I will miss them too! I'm sure there will be tears and laughter!!!
I was not really sure whether to be a little scared or not about today. I must say though I AM sick of being prodded and poked, so was not exactly ecstatic about having a line shoved up my vein and into my chest.
The PICC line is to make it easier for me to have my chemo and blood tests. It can get infected which is the down side but generally if its flushed out every week and you cover it up in the shower it should be fine.
I had some local anesthetic cream put on my invisible veins and went off for an hour.
Back at the hospital and the nurse started the preparation. My arm was numb.. ish, but I could still feel enough to not find the experience very pleasant. I would like to just say.. I have no pain thresh hold and get woozy very easily. It might be a piece of cake for some people, so if any one reading this has one of these done remember it might be better for you.
It took three attempts to put the cannula in. I was getting impatient as it was hurting . Joe sat behind my head while I was lying there. He was great, trying to distract me by talking to me and holding my arm so that I could dig my finger nails into his arm. Finally she managed to get the cannula in. I was not really sure what she was doing next as I was not looking. I thought she was putting the PICC line up as I felt something go up my vein. She said I would not feel a thing so was worried. It in fact was a wire to help push the line up. I did not like this one bit and this is what started to make me feel woozy.
I really thought I was going to pass out but I managed not to some how. I would be so embarrassed more then anything if I had! The worst was over and she pushed the line up. While this was happening Joe had noticed my chest and said "Jesus look at the size of your tit!" We all laughed, it did look huge when I was lying down but it actually is not big at all. It was obviously the first time he had really noticed it.
I had to go to X-ray to check the line had been placed correctly. It had not, much to my dismay. I just kept thinking there was NO way I was going through that again. I looked at the X-ray, it had looped round right at the top of my chest. The nurse said without having to pull it all out she could pull it out a little and It should JUST be OK. So she started pulling it out. Not handling the pain very well, it brought tears to my eyes.
Once again I had to go for an X-ray. Praying it was going to be OK this time. The X-ray nurse went off to check it. She came back with an expression I was not sure how to take and said to go back to the cancer department. I thought that was a bad sign and was expecting the worst. There really was NO way I could do this again.
After a little wait the chemo nurse came and told me it was OK, but JUST. Phew!!! I was so relieved. A simple procedure turned out to be one of the worst things I had experience so far. However It will be worth it as it means no more needles for the blood tests, chemo and antibiotics. She dressed my arm and I got up. My arm still very sore and still feeling light headed.
We were both happy to get out of there. It had been a horrible 5 hours. I really do not want to scare anyone that might have this done. Like I said I am an absolute wimp with a very low pain threshold. For example I used to faint when ever I hit my knee on something. I mean COME ON! My family used to find this quite amazing.
So we had some of the afternoon left so Joe treated us to lunch at my favourite tea rooms in Hove, Ethel's kitchen. After stuffing our faces and enjoying drinking fresh loose tea out of bone china tea cups we headed off to the charity shops. I LOVE charity shops! Joe is obsessed with VHS and bought 10 videos for under a fiver.... He's just asked me to tell you that he has an extensive archive of VHS...... what a GEEK! I however was excited at my brilliant find..... The best of Jackie for just £3.95!!! Bargain! This made my day! The 70's illustrations have to my fav!
Its my lovely friend Lou Lou the Elvin princess's birthday tomorrow. I am very excited that I am going to be going out for the first time since my birthday! I can not wait to dress up...... and don't worry mum I wont be drinking the equivalent to a whole bottle of Vodka.
A night of 90's and 80's flicks are on the agenda tonight me thinks!
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
The dreaded day arrived. I woke up feeling OK actually. I had managed to sleep too. I had dreamt about my Gran the night before. She died of lung cancer when I was 8. She was the best Gran you could ever have! The type that spoilt you rotten. I have only ever dreamt about her once before. The night before I went traveling for the first time. I was worried about going because of something awful had happened in the family and was unsure whether that going was the right thing to do. She told me that everything was going to be OK. It comforted me. She said the same words to me in this dream too. I believe when someone has passed away and you dream about them it is them visiting you through your dream. Strangely enough I had gone to see a medium a few weeks ago. She said that my Gran was with me and she said every thing was going to be OK. The exact same words.
I woke up feeling calm, a little nervous perhaps but calm. I was trying not to think about it too much anyway. Joe and my parents came with me. We arrived at eleven and was taken in to the ward. I wasn't sure at first if it was just for cancer patients. There was a lot of older ladies in there. My surgeon popped over and put his hand on my arm and very compassionately said "Don't you worry, we will get that cancer out of you."
It just so happened to be breast cancer awareness month so it was every where! I couldn't read a magazine without seeing articles about it. Fortunately the articles were all positive stories. We waited till about 3 O'clock. It was a long wait! Just before I went, a lady was brought in from surgery. She was groaning and moaning like no tomorrow! That instantly made me feel scared.
As they took me down I started to cry. This was really happening now. I was petrified. I still had a bit of a wait when I got down there. I was put in a big room at first, there was a huge Oak tree painting directly in front of me that was painted up onto the ceiling too. I always loved oak trees. Oak tree symbolises courage and strength as well as other things.
I said goodbye to Joe and my parents and went it. The anesthetist proceeded to put the cannula's in. He was finding it hard to find my vein, and had to take it out and put it in another one. I was not liking this at all. As he was putting the second one in I could feel myself go all woozy. I wasn't sure if I should have been feeling like this already as he hadn't put the anesthetic in yet. I didn't say anything. I must have passed out because the next thing I knew I was waking up from the surgery. I knew I had a low pain threshold but that was just ridiculous!
It was so surreal. If you have ever watched a film or programme where you have the view of the person waking up from an operation, then that's what it was like. Bright lights, nurses saying my name and telling you where you are. I was shivering, my throat was dry and I couldn't keep my eyes open at first. I saw my mum and Joe in the corridor. I felt like absolute shit!
I was pumped full of morphine so wasn't feeling any pain.. I was looking forward to the morphine actually but it was not as great as I thought it would have been. I'm sure I would have been in a an awful lot of pain without it but I was expecting to at least feel slightly high too! My chest felt kind of numb. Which I guess was a good thing but the sensation was not comfortable. I remember my mum trying to talk to me. I couldn't talk, I didn't want to talk. She walked out crying. It must of been horrible seeing one of her little girl in this state.
My parents left and Joe stayed with me for a while longer. It was so uncomfortable. I wanted to lie on my side but when I tried to my wound felt really heavy like someone was pushing down on it. I didn't know how I was going to sleep as I love to sleep on my front. I thought I'd be so out of it from the morphine that I'd be OK. I could not sleep. Not only was the morphine making my face itch like crazy but the women in the ward were snoring like a herd of walruses, if that is at all possible! The nurses were in and out all the time checking my blood pressure and giving me pain killers. I made sure I clicked that morphine button every time the light showed up!
The woman next to me was having a hard time. There was so much noise coming from her bay, as well as throwing up. She had obviously over done it on the morphine but kept giving herself more anyway! By the time it was morning I was in a terrible state. A nurse came over and asked if I wanted toast. I told her I was on a special diet from having a yeast infection. She looked at me with a slight scowl and said "What?" in an not so sympathetic tone. She didn't know what I was going on about and didn't care. I burst into tears. I was just left to cry. I felt the whole ward looking at me. No one saying a word.
I told the nurse I wanted to see my boyfriend. She said he'd called and was coming in early. I was so relieved. I laid there crying until he arrived. He couldn't stay for long as had to go to work. My parents came for the rest of the day.
The woman next to me just wouldn't shut up! It was driving me crazy. I'm sure she was in a great deal of pain but she was the type of person that moaned and groaned for attention. She would have a right groan and then look round to see if anyone was looking. I think the whole ward was fed up of her. I just thought shut up and get on with it. I still had no idea what any of these ladies were in for. I guessed one lady on the other side had had a mastectomy because she had 2 drains coming of her side like me. She was very quiet and looked very sad. I knew how she felt. It got to the point where I could not bare the woman's moaning anymore. I asked for a private room but there weren't any. Luckily a lady by the window was leaving. I asked to be moved to over there.
I was finally moved. It was nice not to be stuck in the middle of the ward anymore. I found out that the rest of the women had had hysterectomy's. I do hope I never have to have one! I felt bad at complaining about that woman as she was probably in so much pain but she WAS the only one making a big deal out of it.
She later asked me what I was in for. I told her, she felt terrible and apologised for all the noise she was making. She was very nice to me. No one else had spoken to me in there. I was opposite a little old lady, she was so sweet. I got out of bed one day to help her up. I couldn't just lay there watching her struggle but I knew I shouldn't have done this. Even the lady told me to lie back down but I had to help her.
The nurses were generally really nice in there apart from a couple. The nicest ones were the Filipino women. They were so adorable and really cared about you. It was a shame they only did the night shifts.
Emotionally it was very hard in hospital. One day all I wanted to do was cry. I tried to have some privacy by shutting the curtains but the nurses would come along and open them again. If any of them saw me crying they would assume I was in physical pain. I wasn't and could kind of cope with that. I know they are only there for your physical health but when they kept turning around saying well at least the cancer has gone, or you'll be OK, I felt like I had to be grateful.
The emotional pain was so much worse. I didn't feel I really had enough emotional support in there. A breast care nurse did casually walk over to me and speak to me for 5 minutes at the most but that was it. So when a nurse asked me if I had met the breast care nurse and was going on about how lovely she was I thought, well its all very well her being lovely but where the hell is she. I then saw her on few occasions but it wasn't to talk to me. She would be sitting in the staff room drinking tea and munching on biscuits..... not really any use to me is it!
I'd had such a horrible day. I asked the night nurses if there was a private room. Thankfully there was and they moved me. Having my own space was just what I needed. It had been four days and I was so desperate to get out. I have never understood how your suppose to recover in such an unrelaxing, depressing place.
I had 2 drains coming out form my side. These were draining the fluid and blood from my wound. The drains had to be below 40 before they could discharge me. It took a week in the end. I was told probably 4 days so was hoping I could leave.
The week I had been in hospital we probably had the best weather we'd had in October. I managed to get out into the hospital grounds one day. That felt amazing. I wanted to leave for the day but my drains kept on leaking and I was having my dressing changed so often. My spirits were so low. I just wanted to get out of that place, go outside and feel the sun on my face, listen to the leaves rustling and watch the beautiful golden autumn leaves fall.
I plucked up the courage one day and looked down at my chest. It still had the dressing on so couldn't really tell what it looked like but it looked pretty good from what I could see. It felt thigh and was really strapped down which bothered me. It was the drains that actually hurt the most though. They were pulling down and felt very sore.
I was having to take sleeping pills because I just could not sleep. They soon wore off though. The nurses would wake you up at about 7.30 to give you your painkillers and take your blood pressure. I just wanted to be left alone. Breakfast would come soon after. It was the last thing I wanted to do at that time in the morning. The hospital food was awful! I hardly I ate but did try. Everyone that visited did bring me lots to eat and I ended up with a bag full of goodies but couldn't bring myself to eat much of it. The nurses were all jealous when Joe brought me in load of Marks & Sparks food.
The day was to arrive when I had at least my first drain taken out. I felt better already. On the seventh day they have to take the other one no matter what. It was such a relief not to have them hanging down me side and pulling anymore.
One of the nurses took off my dressing. I was nervous about looking down. They left the strips over my stitches so it was not completely visible. I had a look down at my chest, I was pleasantly surprised. It did not look half as bad as I thought it would be. I showed my friend, Vanessa. She made me laugh by saying, "God its better then my boob!"
The surgeon had done an amazing job. It was very neat and even the nurses said how good it looked. I went to the bathroom and had a look in the mirror. It actually looked better looking down at it then straight on. I did have a little cry, after all I had lost one of my breasts.
The day came that I could leave. A nurse helped me wash my hair for the first time in a week. It felt so good having clean hair again The nurses did help me wash every day but I couldn't wait for a proper wash. I was given this big elastic support band which I was told to wear over my chest. It did not feel right at all as I thought it was crushing my reconstruction. I wore it anyway. It wasn't until I spoke to the nurse at East Grinsted that I was told I was wearing in wrong. It had to sit on top of your chest. This still wasn't comfortable. I was told to wear it 24/7 for 6 weeks!
My friend Paolo came down from Leicester to pick me up. It was great to get home. I was very tired and still very sore. It was lovely to see Paolo, we caught up and talked about all the crazy things we always talk about. I swear, if anyone heard us talking they would put us in a mental asylum! We would have been burnt at the stake for being witches many years ago!
I had my expander (my temporary reconstruction) filled up with saline today. I have had it done once before, a few weeks ago. Its is to expand and stretch the skin. It can not be filled up to your size when it is put in. So I was not balanced out straight away. They initially told me that it would need to be filled up about 7 times. Seven times seemed an awful lot. They said that it needs to be slightly bigger, but I thought I would end up lob sided if I had it done 7 times.
The good news is that might have been the last time they do it. Im looking pretty big on that side now.
It is already looking bigger then my real breast and is rock hard and very round. I feel like Jordan on one side! Its not very comfortable for a few days and I can not sleep on my front anymore. I often find myself waking up on my front and freaking out thinking I could crush it. Apparently you can't. I guess its a little like when your pregnant only not such a big bump.
Its quite amazing how they do it actually. I have a port underneath my skin. They use a magnet to find the port and then stick a needle in and fill it up. It doesn't hurt but you can feel it getting larger and then its a little uncomfortable for a few days.
I stupidly watched Peter and Katie (Jordan) in hospital. Jordan was having her breasts done AGAIN. She said she wanted them rock hard and very round. IS SHE MAD?!! There seriously has to be something wrong with that girl. All I can thing is she must be incredibly insecure and addicted to surgey. I have never understood why any woman would go under the knife for something that extreme. I only understand if its because a girl was so insecure about something it really effected her life. Jordan was perfectly fine before if you ask me.
I'm sure I'll be very happy with my breasts when they are done. But I would give anything to have my own breast back. I actually got really riled at a flippant comment Kate Moss made. She said in so many words that fake breasts were absolutely disgusting. Well its OK for her to say that when she has the perfect body. Yes I would agree when it gets as extreme as Jordan you do start to wonder. But she has obviously has not thought why some people might have implants.
I don't wear many baggy tops. In fact I had to buy one for when I got out of hospital. I'm not sure you can really tell unless you stare at my chest, but all my tops are tight and I'll be damned if I'm going out and buying a load of baggy ones!
Its a good job its winter, that's all I can say!!
I'm having my PICC line put in tomorrow morning. Im dreading it! When the nurse described it to be I felt myself going woozy!
Instead of having a cannula put in every time and ruining your veins, there is a thing called a PICC line which they insert into a vein in your arm and goes up into your chest. Doesn't sound too pleasant but at least it'll save my veins, and put it this way I'd be a hopeless smack addict!
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
I sat on the train on my way back to Brighton today with a huge smile on my face. I was sad to leave my mum and dreading going back because of my treatment. However, the last few days have been very uplifting. Since writing these blogs, not only is it very therapeutic for me but it is already helping people.
I have had an abundance of positive and kind words from people, some of whom I do not know. For friends, its helping them understand what I am going through and they now feel like they can be more supportive. For others it has made them realise that they have issues from the past that they have buried and really need to confront before its too late. Amazingly I have heard its already reached someone with who has recently been diagnosed with cancer and found my blog comforting. Some people have lost loved once and those dear to them to the big 'C', and it is now helping them understand what they might have gone through.
I have had friends open up to me who might have not done so before, which I know is a huge thing for some people to do. Up until about 4 years ago I found it impossible to open up. I am not sure what or how things changed but I am now very open and am not ashamed of that.
My homeopath and and wonderful friend, Paolo made me realise why I had certain physical illness's. They explained to me that your emotional well being had a huge impact on your physical. Louise Hays' book, How to heal your life also explains this theory and lists every illness with the emotional cause.
I never really had too many health problems and thought I was quite lucky. I did however seem to suffer with a lot of emotional problems. The first illness I suffered from at high school was streptococci, a throat infection. I suffered with swollen glands for many years. It would make me feel so ill but the doctors kept giving me antibiotics and said I would grow out of it. The last time I remember having it was 4 years ago. (notice how the 4 years fit in with when I started to open up)
I remember a guy I was going out with (who was slightly deluded) would never listen to me. One night we'd had a huge argument and he would not listen to what I was saying. I cried with the pain my throat was in. Paolo told me that I suffered with sore throats because I could not express myself to other people and when I tried to no body listened to me. I felt invisible to some people at some point in my life or other. What Paolo had told me made absolute sense.
My sore throats seemed to disappear about 4 years ago and I then started to get urine infections, not too bad until 2 years ago when I started traveling though. When I spoke to my homeopath about my life she noticed that I kept saying the words 'pissed off' and that wasn't it strange that I was suffering from urine infections and I was always pissed off. She was right, I WAS still 'pissed off' with so many thing about my life.
A naturapath I spoke to in New Zealand who was amazing, but have sadly lost touch with also explained to me why I seemed to suffer with the throat infections and then the UTI's. She explained that because of my introverted nature I may have been attempting to swallow down my true feelings and that sore throats were connected with not saying something to someone. She wondered if this had since been swallowed so deep down that it was now buried in my digestion and causing the yeast infection, candida.
It all made so much sense to me. To be honest I feel like it is no surprise that I now have breast cancer. Looking back on my life I have noticed a pattern occurring. I kept trying to run away from my problems without realising it. How strange that every time I went away traveling my trips were always cut short, when all I wanted to do was to stay away and travel the world. I always hated Leicester and was so desperate to leave and find somewhere I was happy and accepted. Where ever I went things seemed to go wrong and not work out. I would end up right back where I started in Leicester again. It drove me mad!! Why did this keep happening to me, I kept thinking.
It is not until now that I realise all I was doing my whole life was running away from my problems. Well as we all know its impossible to run away from issues you have as they are in your own head. You can't just dump them and say "Toodle Ooh" and hope they don't follow you. If only it WERE that simple!
I must of been in total denial. I thought I WAS OK with my past and the way I was. Like the naturapath said I must have buried them deep down and hoped they'd disappear. I also used to try and find happiness in other things rather then in myself. I pretty much hated myself for a long time. I thought I would find happiness in Love, places, career etc. I was not to find it in any of those places. I thought I was destined to be unhappy for the rest of my life.
I often found myself very depressed and feeling sorry for myself. I felt like I was trying so hard in relationships (where I thought I would find ultimate happiness) The relationships never worked out and I'd end up even more lost then ever. When people say to you, "You can not love someone else until you love yourself", listen to them! I used to hate that saying. I knew deep down it was the truth but I never like listening to the truth.
I think as a British nation we are quite a miserable and sarcastic bunch! We are too proud, don't like to open up and sweep all our problems under the carpet. Well it drives me insane! OK I used to be like this but I feel so much better for being a more open. Why are we so ashamed of our problems. After all, we all have them don't we?
I feel this country has so many things wrong. Why do have so many teenage pregnancy's for example, compared to a country like The Netherlands? Perhaps it is because we don't like to talk about sex so openly. Like a lot of things is this country its a taboo subject. We shy away and are too afraid and embarrassed to talk about subjects so openly. Why can't we see that we are damaging our younger generations to come. We need to learn from our mistakes and change the way we think. Why we are we so afraid to teach our children sex education. Look at what the world is turning into.
Global warming, violence, child abuse, poverty, war, animal cruelty and even vanity and this ridiculous obsession with celebrities, some who are famous for what? apart from appearing on a reality TV show or getting their kit off for some sleazy magazine, NOTHING!! So many things (as you can see) frustrate me about the world I live in and there is only so much I can do about it.
I have always said I love animals more then people. I guess this is because so many people are cruel to animals and there is nothing they can do. We are destroying their natural habitat and causing many beautiful creatures to become extinct. People kill them no matter if they are becoming extinct or not so that some stinking rich and ignorant person can enjoy wearing a beautiful fur coat. It makes me sick to the teeth. We are killing animals every day without even realising it. How would we like it if aliens came down from space and did this to us? We could fight back with our 'weapons of mass destruction' and defend and protect ourselves. Animals can not.
Phew..... I really am going off on a tangent now, maybe that's all for another blog for another time!! I ll get back to the point shall I.
So where was I? Oh yes, British people! We seem to sweep our problems under the carpet. My family like a lot of families have also done this. Maybe that's why I found it hard to open up to them and tell them how I was really feeling, and made me feel distant from them all. I am not saying it is there fault one bit, if anything I'm as much to blame to.
I never opened up to them and they are probably getting to know me a lot better then they ever have now. I have led a completely different life outside that I kept separate from them and that's why they have never really got to know me. I don't feel like I have given them a chance to get to know me but being quiet and having very outspoken sisters I thought by just blending into the background, getting on with it and not bothering to do anything about it I would be OK with this.
I am however not OK with this. I would like nothing more to feel just as close to my sisters as I do to my best friends. To be just as loud as they are at our family gatherings and voice my crazy hippy ideas and opinions without feeling like a weirdo and most of all to BE myself!
I do feel things already changing between me and my family. I feel closer to them. It feels wonderful and makes me so much happier. I'd almost resigned to the fact that I would always feel a slight distance from them and that would be that. I'm so happy that isn't going to be the case.
Writing these blogs are an amazing way of expressing how you feel with out having to tell people face to face. I don't think I could ever have sat down with them and told them how I felt all these years.I did do that with my brother in law and I had him in tears. He was sad that I couldn't feel like I could talk to any of them and had no idea this was what I was feeling.
I love my family dearly and I know that despite having a horrible disease and that times are going to be tough, this is the best thing that will come out of it. It's a pretty horrible way for me to have to go through but I do know things probably wouldn't have changed otherwise.
I realised all this quite early on. Not only was it going to bring me closer to my family but it was going to make me a stronger person and give the confidence I have always needed to achieve what I want out of life. Most importantly of all I will learn how to love myself.
I told my McMillan nurse that in some weird way I was glad this was happening to me. She looked at me like I was mad and said "Yes, that is weird."
Monday, 24 November 2008
My surgery was to be on the 8th October. It came around so quickly. I tried to enjoy the 2 weeks I had leading up to it as much as I could. I had so much time to think so instead of thinking of the worst all the time which I do, I tried starting to think more positively about the whole thing. I had to break everything down and not think about the whole thing in one huge chunk, as it seemed too much to bear. Taking each step as it comes is a lot easier and not looking into all the different types of therapy I was going to have.
The reason I want to write a brief outline about my life is because I feel it is relevant to whats going on now. I have not gone into too much detail as its perhaps a bit too personal. I believe I have cancer because of stress and issues I have that I have never confronted and just let it manifest into something toxic inside of me. I read a book that my mum gave me called How to heal your life, by Louise Hay. It made a lot of sense and I already knew a lot of the things she was writing about.
I have always blamed so many of my problems on things that have happened in the past and I know I have to stop doing this. I have to forgive and let go of all the issues and bad things that have happened to me. I have always known this but never really knew how to do it. Reading Louise Hay's book made it clearer and easier for me to do this.
I do think you need to change your mind set when you have a disease like cancer. If you don't then the cancer can return. I can already feel me changing as a person and becoming closer to my family. I used to feel like I didn't belong to my family, like an outsider looking in. It has nothing to do with my family at all as they have always been very loving. Its just something I felt and could never explain why.
Like most people I have had problems and issues within the family, that I've never managed to deal with. I also have had some boyfriends that were either very draining or abusive. I never seemed to pick men very well.
I started to realize that what I was about to go through was going to turn me into an even stronger and more confident woman. I have always lacked confidence and was painfully shy as a young girl. I still don't think I have enough confidence and self esteem now. I am the middle child of 5 girls. I have a wonderful family who love me very much and would do anything for each other. I would say I was a typical middle child growing up. As you can imagine you had to fight to get attention in such a big family but for some reason I didn't. I was quite a placid kid anyway and was happy to sit back and observe. This then become my role in the family. I was the quiet one but as I got older I realized I didn't like being the quiet one, but for some reason I felt like I could not be myself with my family. I guess I started to open up to my friends and I was able to be more myself with them. Although that didn't really start happening till I was in my mid 20's.
It was hard being one of five girls especially, when I was quite different from them. I decided to be a vegetarian at such a young age and wasn't interested in the same things. I liked boys toys when growing up and hated dolls. I thought It was stupid to want to have a baby when you were only a baby yourself and boys toys were much more fun! The only girly things I was into were fairies and Cindy's because I loved fashion. Mum always said I was a perfectionist and my hair and clothes always had to be just right. I loved to colour coordinate my clothes and would go mad if my socks didn't match. I can't say I'm still like that now but I do still love fashion.
It felt like I would be compared to my other sisters and was very down on myself because I wasn't as clever as them or didn't want the same things in life as them. I thought my parents would love me less or wish I was more like the rest of my sisters. However, it didn't make me want to conform. I was the way I was and I liked being different even though I struggled with it.
I loved experimenting and had all the colours and hair cuts under the sun. I started to go through a tom boy stage because at the time I felt like it was the only way to be different from other girls. I was still so self conscious though which doesn't make sense I know. I am still like this. I love wearing different clothes, especially vintage stuff from the 60's and 70's, but hate people looking at me and thinking I'm weird. I always wanted not to care about what other people thought of me, but for some reason I do. I remember going to a disco when I was about 14. I put on a crop top with a star on it, mini skirt, knee high socks and platform shoes. I walked down stairs and my sister's boyfriend at the time said to me "What the hell are you wearing, you look ridiculous". I ran upstairs and got changed.
I knew that I never wanted to do the norm, which to me was to finish school, go to uni, get a degree, get a career, meet a nice man, get married and have children. The thought of that just scared the hell out of me. I didn't feel I was put on this planet just to do all that... well not so soon anyway.
I knew I wanted to do lots of things before I settled down. I knew from a young age that I wanted to travel and even not want to stay in this country. I had thoughts at such a young age like 'Do I really want to bring children into this world with the way its going. I used to say to myself: ' Why would I think things like that?'
I was not brought up as a socialist or to be liberal yet I had all these alternative views about life that I didn't know where they were coming from. We all used to joke saying that I was the milkman's. Obviously I wasn't as I look very much like the rest of my family.
I pretty much rebelled against everything when I was growing up but I wouldn't say I was a handful. I felt like I was constantly in my parents bad books though. I hated conforming and had different ideas and views about life that nobody else seemed to have, so I thought I was weird and didn't talk to anyone about them. I think this is what made me so shy and not very open when I was young. I was always so desperate to leave school as I hated that too. I was diagnosed with dyslexia at a very young age, but the school I went to at the time didn't seem to recognise and understand it, so really I struggled and I felt that I was made to feel stupid. That also did my confidence no good at all.
I remember hitting puberty at the age of 13 and my young fresh looking skin started to suffer from acne. It might not be as bad as people remember but it was bad enough to me. I always had a lot of spots and this made me even more self conscious. I started wearing tonnes of foundation. I remember a friend saying "What has happened to your skin?" I thought people must be noticing how terrible my skin looked. I would cry in the morning before going to school from not being able to cover them up. This then made my face look red and swollen and look worse. I did not want to wear make-up at such a young age, but I thought people would think I was ugly.
I had a group of friends at school but was always better at one to one and hated being part of a big group, as I would shy away. I had a lot of different best friends and I think that's how people got to know me best. Eventually some of them ended up being very two faced and bitchy and I didn't understand why. I was quiet and never said boo to a goose. I was verbally bullied at school too and would come home crying so many times. My parents had had enough so went to the head mistress. We were shocked at her response. All she could say to me was that I was bigger than the other girl. What the hell has that got to do with anything. I wasn't being physically bullied which I probably would have preferred, if I am honest. I was not going to punch her just because she was smaller then me. My Mum would tell me that some of my friends were probably bitchy because they were jealous, but I still did not understand why.I thought by being loud I would have made thing worse so I stayed quiet. I was and still am a very sensitive person anyway which doesn't help.
I had heard one day that my best friend at the time had slagged me off behind my back. I remember my friend telling me that she had said, "She's just all looks and nothing in between." I was so upset by this. How could she say this when were best friends. It was obviously rubbish I thought, why would you be best friends with someone that wasn't interesting. She then later proceeded to steal my boyfriend off me.
So I knuckled down and worked really hard and got good grades. I was glad to leave school and move on. I'll never forget the leaving ceremony we had. My best friend at the time looked around at all the girls crying. We looked at each other and I remember saying to her how funny I thought it was because I was so glad to leave and that I was more upset that England had lost to Germany in the World cup. She laughed in agreement and instead of crying we both had a chuckle!
So I left school at 16 and went to college to do my 'A' levels. I again struggled with these. I was more creative and loved Art so choose more creative subjects but was being pushed into more academic subjects because everyone thought it was best to keep my options open so I chose Business studies which was totally not what I wanted to do and I hated it. I gave that up and started psychology which I found fascinating but struggled with as essays which were never my forte and there was a lot of essay writing.
I thought bugger this I'm going to do what I originally wanted to do - photography.
I loved it!
I found something apart from art that I was really good at, and passionate about. I don't think the other students were too impressed though, as I started in the 2nd year and my lecturer would praise me so much because I'd never done it before and I was the best in the class. This was great for my self esteem though as I'd never really excelled at anything before.
I decided to go to Uni and do photography. I really wanted to do Art Foundation but for some reason my art teacher told me I wasn't good enough so I didn't do it. I really do now regret listening to her because looking back at it I WAS good enough. I hated everything about Uni. I felt old before my time. It was like all these 18 year old kids had been let out for the first time and were going wild. I'd already done a bit of that so found it quite boring. I just liked to go where I would enjoy the music and dance to my hearts content. I wasn't interested in all these silly nights nights to see who could get the most drunk, be the loudest and snog as many guys as possible. The whole thing bored me.
I didn't like the course I was on either. It was creative enough and it was the sort of course you did if you wanted to do wedding photography or portraits. Very commercial, which wasn't me.
So I quit and didn't know what the hell to do.
I bumped into an old friend who worked at her Dad's designer fashion shop in town and she said she could get me a job. I'd never had a job before, apart from working part time at a supermarket while I was at college.
I loved earning more money and working in fashion quite suited me. It gave me lots of confidence too as I was having to help people on more of a personal level, it being an independent shop. I met some great people working there and got a good social life from it too, but I ended up realising the nights out I was going on weren't really me. I still couldn't seem to find enough people who were into the same thing as me. I was still quite shy and thought I was weird. However, it was nice meeting lots of people who hadn't been to private school. They seemed so much more different.
It wasn't until I started to have my hair cut with a guy called Paolo that things started to change. He is very spiritual (not religiously) and into alternative thinking. We got on so well and started talking lots and became very close friends. He made me realise that I wasn't weird and wasn't alone in the way I thought. This made me feel so much better but I still wasn't open about what my thoughts and beliefs were, and I was still frustrated that I wasn't meeting lots of people like him. I'd always had too many guy friends and was desperate to meet some really good girlfriends who were on my wavelength.
I worked there for a while but getting cheap designer clothes was a bit of a trap and I soon got bored.
I'd just got out of a bad relationship which had left me with no self esteem so I decided finally to do what I'd always wanted to do - go travelling.
I had a friend in Australia at the time so rang her up and said I was coming over. I was planning on staying for a year but came back after 3 months for my sisters wedding. I had the best 3 months of my life! It was just what I needed to boost my confidence. I went travelling around on my own which I was scared of doing at first but became to realise that this was the best way of doing it. I met two American girls along the way who were crazy and so lovely, so we decided to travel around with them. It was an unforgettable experience. I came back a different person but it had given me the travel bug and I wanted to do more. I also found it even harder being back in the UK and felt like I had nothing in common with anyone anymore and lost touch with some of my friends.
Six months later I saved enough money to go away again. A friend of mine was in Whistler, Canada snowboarding. Having done a little bit before I thought this would be fantastic. It was, but I broke my wrist half way through the trip and ran out of money so had to come home. I was starting to think that I wasn't meant to travel as my trips were being cut short. Not sure what to do I got a job working in a skate shop and met some really cool people, more on my wavelength.
After a while I got bored again and knew I had to go and do something different. I had looked at going back to Uni again and came across a wildlife photography course which looked amazing. It was in Blackpool and that put me off. After a few months I realised I really did want to do this course so I applied. It's the only degree course in Europe and that had students from a ll over the world applying so knew it would be hard to get on. I made a portfolio up and went for my interview. I was so nervous. Expecting to hear 'You'll hear from us by post.' There and then they told me that they liked my work and they wanted me on the course. I was over the moon!
I started the next year and enjoyed the course. For the first time I loved my lecturers and was very passionate about the subject. It was a fascinating course as it wasn't all about photography. We had science lessons, and art history which I was really enjoying. I can't say I enjoyed being in Blackpool though and going back as a mature student was really tough. The people on my course were the nicest people but a lot younger then me so I found it hard to socialise. I did, but I think they thought I was mad as all I did was dance like crazy! I also broke the mould of the typical wildlife photography student. We were named by the 'normal' photography students as 'Squirrel snappers.'
I was doing really well and getting good grades and my tutors were really pleased with me. It soon changed when I had to start writing rationals and essays. I started to feel like I was back at school again and couldn't cope with feeling frustrated by my dyslexia. I was annoyed that I was getting judged on my writing and it was letting my marks down. I started to realize though that I didn't actually need this degree and I could go off and be a photographer without having a qualification in it. I was so scared about telling my parents I was going to quit. It was a hard decision to make, I think if it wasn't in Blackpool and I had closer friendships with people I might have stayed.
I moved back home to Leicester. I was always trying to get away from Leicester but seemed to end up back there again. I think I was constantly running away from problems and issues I had about things I had in my head. My friend Paolo knew a couple of people in Hastings and I'd meet two girls on Myspace from there too so I went down there with Paolo to the Jack of the Green festival.
I fell in love with the Old Town and the fact Hastings still celebrated Pagan festivals really appealed to me. It felt like stepping back in time and I love that. So I decided to moved down there.
I had great summer and met some amazing people who are now my closest friends. I had never met so many accepting people who were really interested in you and were on the same wavelength. I felt like I really could be me! I had got into the 60's/70's scene while going out with a guy from Leeds and love wearing vintage clothes but didn't have the confidence to do that in Leicester. I would but I got so many stares and weird looks from people it bothered me. So being in Hastings where there were more people like me was fab!
I met a guy Joe, who I am with now in Hastings who is actually the complete opposite to my previous boyfriend and at first I didn't think we were right for each other because he wasn't into the same thing. I looked like a a full on 60's chick and Joe was very relaxed in his look, so at first I don't think anyone would of put us together. We did, however, have the same views, opinions and morals and we wanted the same out of life. I had never come across I guy who wanted these things, so we instantly connected.
He was about to go travelling 2 months later, so we decided just to have some fun while he was still about. I ended up moving back home to Leicester as things weren't working out in Hastings in then end. When I left I realised how much I wanted to be with this guy. I thought, I'm not letting this one go without a fight. When I want something I do my god damn hardest to get it! So I asked him if I could eventually come out to see him in Australia. He eventually agreed and I saved up and went out just before Christmas.
So for the last 2 years we had been traveling and had an amazing time. I did get ill while I was traveling and suffered from really bad urine infections. I went to the doctors on several occasions and was given antibiotics each time. The urine infections kept coming back. I got it so frequently that it seemed like there was something else wrong. I went back to the doctors and asked if we could find out what was wrong. I had tests and all showed up OK. One doctor told that because I was a girl it was normal and had to put up with it. I was not happy with this.
It got to the point where I was feeling infections every day. I knew this was not normal and was so distressed as it was ruining my trip. I went to see a naturapath who tested me for the yeast infection, candida. I had never heard of candida before and also had no idea how much food can cause different things. I've always eaten what I want because I've been fortunate to get away with it.
The naturapath looked as me as a whole and we talked about my whole life. I never realised that your emotional health could effect your physical health. It made sense why I had this yeast infection. I was not happy though when I was told to give up, sugar, yeast, wheat and alcohol. What did that leave!! I am such a foody so found this difficult but managed to do it for 2 months until I gave up.
I had to cut my travels short once again. I guess when I think about it now it was a blessing in disguise. I would not have like to been half way across the world and found the lump in my breast. I'm still suffering with it now. Its a pain but at least I am having to eat very healthy.
We got back this year and it took ages to try and adapt back to normal life. We both hated it! We tried living in Leicester and Hastings but it wasn't working. I always wanted to live in Brighton but Joe was never keen. Luckily fate was on my side and the only job Joe could find was in Brighton so we ended up there. I love Brighton, its an exciting place to live. You can be whoever you want to be and feel comfortable.
I started a dressmaking course as I lost my passion a little for photography. I still love it but didn't think I could make a career out of it. Again, this was purely because I didn't have any confidence. I feel like I'm a typical creative type with lots of talent but not any confidence to do anything with it. The dressmaking, I was very passionate about and felt like this was where I was going to take my career. I started temping just to help pay the bills and the rent. I had only been working for 2 weeks when I found out I'd got breast cancer.
It has turned my life upside down and was angry for a while, but I do believe I know why I have it. So instead of letting it get to me and bringing me down I am trying to be as positive as I can. I feel like I will finally sort out a lot of my issues that I never sorted out and will be a stronger more confident women. I believe good always comes out of bad and I can already feel it happening.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
The Miriam Charitable Trust was set up in honour of Miriam Eaton by her family and friends. Miriam died of lung cancer in August 2001, aged 26.The Miriam Trust provide financial assistance for a variety of practical needs for people with cancer from the age 18 - 35.
Please donate to this local cancer charity.
Please donate to this local cancer charity.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
The 18th of September. That date will stay with me forever. I was getting my results in the afternoon so I took the day off work and went into town and went shopping for a belt to go with an outfit for my friends 30th birthday which was the next night. I bought a belt, hair slides and even some hair dye, that's how convinced I was that I'd be OK.
I met my mum from the train station and headed to the hospital. Joe met us there from work. I walked up to the hospital and a white feather fell from the sky right in front of me. It was comforting but worrying at the same time. I believe in guardian angels and I knew this was a way of mine saying I'm around you right now. I thought this could either mean things are OK or there not but it will all be OK.
I was called in very quickly considering I was so used to waiting around for ages. The doctor was a very cheerful character and greeted me like he knew me. He examined me again felt around my shoulders and then gave me a little sympathetic rub on the arm and said you can get dressed now. I wasn't sure how to take that. We went into "the quiet room" with the doctor and the nurse. The doctor had a beaming smile and was so jolly I was really expecting him to say every things fine, its just a cyst. He said the results showed the lump to be suspicious, a word I'd heard so many times now.
I now started to feel nervous. He told me the bad news still smiling. It was so surreal, I felt like I was dreaming or that he was joking and that he was going to turn around to me and say "Only jokin!" The news hit me like nothing I have ever felt before. I felt sick, I thought now I know what its like to hear that someone close to you has passed away. It was gut wrenching! Immediately mum and I started to cry.
Joe had nipped out before to get someone to eat because I said we normally wait around for ages. I just remember my mum saying "I'm so sorry Em, you don't deserve this." I tried to compose myself a little and thought well this might not be as bad as it sounds. The doctor continued to say that the tumour was very big and that it had spread to my lymph nodes in my armpit and that I would lose my breast. I just could not believe what I was hearing. It has to be every woman's worst nightmare. All I could think was that I am so young and this could not happen to me. It does not run in the family and being young and healthy I thought everything was on my side.
No women should lose a breast especially at the age of 29. Ive only ever heard of women in their 50's and older losing a breast. The doctor proceeded to tell me I would have to have all treatments which were chemotherapy, radiology and hormone treatment. He told me it was a grade 3 invasive tumour which didn't mean that much to me but the word invasive didn't sound too good. I was finding this all to hard to take in. I said I needed to see Joe so the McMillan nurse went to get him. I'm pretty sure he was expecting good news and when he saw me crying his face dropped and I could tell he was in shock to.
Joe asked the doctor of lots questions and I felt like I went into a bit of a daze and was shaking. I stared into space and wasn't listening to what they were saying. I couldn't possibly take any more information in. It was too much to take in and I just wanted to get out of there. So we left and arranged to see them again to talk about what was the next step to take and to find out a little more about it.
I went and had my blood test and chest x-ray to get it out the way. I was walking around the hospital in a daze. I started to feel panicky, and by throat and chest felt tight which made it hard to breathe and I started crying.
Still in a state of shock and not really knowing what to do we all went down to the beach. Fortunately it was a beautiful day so we went and sat down near to the sea. I felt like I wanted to be on my own but wasn't sure that was a good idea. My mum went off to try and ring my dad and sisters. It must of been horrible for her. How do you break news like that to everyone especially when every was so convinced it would be OK. I text three of my closest friends as they knew I was getting my results and really wanted to speak to them.
One of my friends who is a nurse and is as open as me so very good to talk to said she would come over straight away to be with me if that's what I wanted and I said yes as I also thought it would be a good distraction.
We sat on the beach all day. We walked home while the sun was setting in front of us, it felt like a long walk but was good as it was a beautiful evening. I always loved being by the sea and found it very therapeutic to sit there looking out at this big open space and let go of your thoughts and fears. I spoke to a few friends and family while walking back, they were all so shocked and really didn't no what to say.
That evening my friend Vanessa came over. Being a nurse she is used to this sort of thing so she was the perfect person to be around straight away. We talked about it and talked about other stuff and for a moment everything felt normal and then I just burst into tears when I realised this was really happening. I knew that this was how it was going to feel for the next couple of weeks. It was going to have to slowly sink in over the next few weeks. I'm not sure it actually ever sinks in though to be honest. I still cant quite believe it now. I don't feel like I have cancer.
The next two weeks my emotions were all over the place. I don't think I have ever cried so much in my whole life! I'm good at crying too and I know its better to let it out then keep it all bottled up. It was very weird, one minute I was watching Flight of the Concords laughing my head off like everything was normal and then it would just suddenly hit me and I would break down.
There was no way of escaping reality, even in my dreams there was no escape! Joe and I tried to keep ourselves as busy as possible. Joe was great, he was being very strong for me and making sure I was OK. It brought us even closer together as it should. Joe took some time off work and we went over to Hastings to his parents house.
The weather was beautiful, a typical autumn day. Autumn is my favourite season. It always feels so magical and there are so many beautiful colours from all the leaves changing colour. Being out in the country and by the sea away from the city and lots of people always made me feel so much better. We went for a long walk on Winchelsea beach and took some photographs.
Telling friends was hard to. I was not sure how to do it first. Some friends new I had been waiting for results so had asked how it went anyway. I didn't want to ring out of the blue to the friends that didn't know. I decided that emailing some was the best way. It would then give them a chance to let it sink in a bit and then call me when they were ready. I hoped they didn't mind me doing it this way.
One of my good friends rang me in tears. She was on holiday and I felt so bad but she was fine and said she was glad she knew. I told people that it was OK to tell other people and would rather them know as it would become obvious anyway at some point. A lot of my friends were amazing and knew exactly how to be and know what to say. Some were a little scared and didn't contact me for a while as they did not know what to say which I understood.
I think when you are in any situation where you have heard terrible news you just want to know that everyone is there for you and cares. Actions speak louder then words after all. Its amazing though when something like this happens and you find out how much people really do care for you and would do anything for you.
Its brought me so much closer to some friends especially ones I'd lost contact with. I have been so lucky and so grateful for all the support i have got already. Even from across the globe! My kiwi friends and an old friend who is in America have been amazing.
I was also worried for my partner as I knew he would need lots of support too. I knew he needed the support not only for himself but so that he could support me too. He's not as open as me and I knew he wouldn't tell anyone for a while so I asked an old friend of his to ring him. His friend has since been amazing and it his brought them closer together after many years.
I was disappointed with some of his friends as a few weren't so forthcoming with the support. I really don't think it takes much even if you don't know what to say just to tell them they are thinking of you and will help out in anyway etc. I really don't know what people are scared of.
On the 23rd I had an appointment to talk to the oncologist to talk about what was going to happen next. I was told on the 18th that I that I could either have chemo first and then the surgery, where I would have a full reconstruction straight away (which didn't seem so bad) or the other way round.
They said having the chemo first was probably the best option but it was up to me. That wasn't to be the case on this day though. I was told I would have to have the surgery first and then the chemo. I asked whether I could have the reconstruction straight away and he told me I couldn't have it until after the radiotherapy because the radiotherapy could ruin it. I did not like hearing that one bit but thought what choice do I have.
I got my blood and chest x-ray results and all was OK. My parents were so relieved as was I but I pretty much knew they would be as did the oncologist, so it did not feel like hearing amazing news. It was not till the end that I asked when I would get a reconstruction and McMillan nurse said 6 months after the radiotherapy. That was a year in total. I broke down in tears, it was more devastating news.
We found out as much as we could for now and we walked out to the car. We walked half way and I broke down and cried like Ive never cried before. It was another huge knock back. This really was my worst nightmare. I didn't think things could be any worse after hearing the news on the 18th but they were. I did not know how I was suppose to cope with not having a breast for a whole year. This did not seem right and did not seem fair. I felt like I had enough to deal with let alone having to emotionally cope with that as well.
I kept imagining having no breast and having a flat left side of my chest with a scar. I thought I would feel like an absolute freak. How would I be able to look at myself in the mirror, how could I ever let Joe see me naked. I would never want him to come near me or touch me. It would destroy our relationship I thought. What would it be like when summer came. I would not be able to go to the beach and wear a bikini or even go down and see other girls in bikinis. I would have to cover myself up and constantly look at over women and probably accuse Joe of looking at other girls.
That's how I really thought I would feel. I'm insecure at the best of times but to have no breast?! There was no way this was happening. I told people and most said to me "Oh its only a year. Its fantastic news about your results though isn't it?" I know they were just trying to be positive but I felt so angry. It was NOT JUST a year! I had good news and bad news that day and the bad news completely took over the good news so I didn't care that my results were good.
I felt so alone, no one was to know how I could be possibly feeling. I actually wanted everyone to be really empathetic and agree that is was totally awful that I was to have to cope with no breast for a year. I started to feel like I was being really vain or spoilt because I was making such a big deal out of this and no body else seemed to think it was that bad and that I should be happy as my results were good. It felt like I needed at least a temporary reconstruction just to help me get through the months ahead which were going to be tough enough. Everyone I seemed to ask said the same thing, that I could not have any type of reconstruction but I was almost not willing to accept this.
I went back to Leicester to where I was going to see all my family for the first time. I felt really sick about going because I thought it would be so emotional. Ive four sisters and we are all quite emotional people so I was prepared for a blub fest! I arrived and it actually wasn't that bad. In fact it was my brother in law that was the first to nearly cry.
It was a really good weekend with hardly any tears and lots of laughter. Its just what I needed. My youngest sister, Liz told me about a girl she worked with had an older sister who had just gone through what I had a year ago and she was the same age. It was nice to know I wasn't the only one. I emailed her telling her about not being able to have a reconstruction. She replied saying she'd had one with no problems.
I can no begin to tell you how happy hearing that made me feel. I instantly felt so relieved, but I still did not understand why I was not being offered one. Leila rang me and we had a good chat. It was the first person I had spoken to that had gone though what I was about too. She was so lovely to talk to and she understood totally where I was coming from and said there was no way she would of been able to cope without the temporary reconstruction and that it really helped her get through the rest of the treatment. I knew I would be speaking to Leila a lot more and was so grateful to her for sharing with me her experience.
A few days later I had my pre op with the surgeon to talk about the surgery. I was ready to go in there all guns blazing and prepared for a bit of a fight to get this temporary reconstruction. The surgeon was so lovely and a lot more compassionate then I'd imagined a surgeon to be. I told him what I wanted and he immediately said yes that is fine. Now THIS was good news!!
I was so surprised! It was such a relief. So they booked me for an appointment to see a plastic surgeon in East Grinstead who was a surgeon for the burns department so I knew he was going to do a fantastic job.
I saw him a few days later but in between this I'd gone on the Internet to find out some information about how a temporary reconstruction was done. There was a website with some photos on and being the curious cat I am had a look. Oh Man! What a bad idea that was. It was horrific! I would advise if anyone is ever unfortunate to be in this position to never ever go looking for info on the net.
The photos must of been very old or something because the reconstruction on these women looked like bodged jobs. I quickly closed the website, walked out the library and rang my mum very upset. My mum said to me "Oh Em don't go there, the photos could just be there for medical purposes and not for people like you to look at." I was hoping she was right but for the rest of day I felt so down and was still convinced I was going to end up looking like a freak.
Meeting the plastic surgeon made me feel more at ease. He explained everything and showed me photos of some reconstructions he had done. And yes they didn't look as half as bad as the ones Id seen on the net. It is actually amazing what they can do these days and I feel so lucky that I was going to be going through this now and not years ago.
Unfortunately he said I was not fat enough (a good thing normally to hear) to have any tissue taken from anywhere to create a more realistic full reconstruction and that I would need implants. I was quite disappointed but If I had had enough fat I would be left with a huge scar on my back or leg so did not like the thought of that anyway. So I was to end up with fake boobs! Not something I can ever say Ive wanted but I had no choice and I thought well at least I'll still have a great set of breasts when I'm a lot older.
I was left feeling confident that he was going to do an amazing job! I had a chat with the breast care nurse about stuff in more detail. I said I was still worried about how I would emotionally deal with things after the surgery and she asked if I wanted to see a psychologist after the surgery. I thought I would defiantly need this.
I was so worried I would not want to show show Joe and let him near me. I did not want to end up pushing him away and destroying our relationship. I knew he was going be very supportive and tell me that I am beautiful and that having my breast removed would not change a thing but that didn't seem to matter to be because its what goes on inside my own head that would be bothering me.
My surgery date was to be on October the 8th. I tried to not think too much about it but obviously there were times were I would. I was so scared. I had never been in hospital before and the thought of waking up in a ward after having had the surgery with other patients who you did not know and probably hadn't had the same done as you was a terrifying prospect.
I thought It was going to be like waking up from a nightmare to find out that that nightmare was real. How could I possibly cope in hospital after having my breast removed and not having your partner or family around you 24/7. I knew I would want to go home straight away and probably cry for days!
Friday, 21 November 2008
I was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 months ago at the age of 29. I wanted to start writing a blog to create some awareness for other young women and to be an inspiration to young women who are going through this too. I felt like there was not enough emotional support for me when I found out and was so desperate to find other women in their twenty's going through this too. I am now on a new journey, it might not be pleasant but I'm stuck with it and so have to be optimistic and make something good out of it. I feel very strongly about helping other women and giving them the support they deserve.
You hear about women in their 50's going through this but no one as young as in their 20's. This is why it came as such a shock to me. One moment I had just got back from traveling, moved to Brighton to start a new and exciting life and the next thing I know I have cancer!
I found a lump in my breast about 4 months ago. I only found it because I had a sore nipple. Ive never examined my breasts before and like most people in their 20's I thought I was invincible and would never get cancer. It doesn't run in the family, I'm a vegetarian and eat healthy food. Like most people I always thought things like that don't happen to me.
I very stupidly ignored the lump at first mainly because it was so big, the size of a golf ball in fact! My first reaction was "Oh my god it could be cancer." but looking on the Internet and seeing that it was mainly older women that got breast cancer and that the lumps people found were as small as a pine nut and instantly dismissed it thinking it was some fatty tissue or a cyst.
I didn't bother telling anyone apart from my boyfriend and homeopath (who actually told me to go and see a doctor) but I thought I was being silly or even imagining it and didn't want to go. I continued to ignore it for a month but still in the back of my mind knew I should get it checked out. It wasn't until I moved to Brighton at the end of August that I decided to book myself an appointment with the GP. I really didn't want a male doctor examining me as I'm very shy when it comes to my body, so I booked a female doctor but had to wait for a few days. I wasn't working at the time so had a lot of time to think about things and decided to tell one my my sisters.
I really didn't want to tell anyone especially my mum as I didn't want them worrying. My sister and mum made me go back to the doctors to see someone immediately as she thought this was too important to wait around for. Even my sister was convinced it was just a cyst and she told my mum. I think my mum and sister were actually more worried then I was. So I took myself down and got myself checked out. He referred me to the breast care centre and I had to wait 2 weeks for a scan. I really wasn't worried. My mum and sister rang and text me every day to see if I was OK and I was.
My mum came down and went with me to have the scan. I remembered that I noticed a lump under my arm to so they also looked at that. They said both lumps looked suspicious and had to go back that week for a biopsy and mammogram, but i still wasn't worried at all. It is something of course that is in the back of your mind thinking "shit what if it is cancer." I went back for the biopsy and mammogram. Starting to feel a little more nervous this time but that was because I knew they would be sticking needles in my breast and armpit! They told me I had to wait 3 weeks for the results. My mum kicked up a fuss rightly so and she said OK well I ll have to over book you in 2 weeks time then and you ll be waiting around. A few hours is nothing compared to another week.
So for the next 2 weeks i just got on with my life trying not to think about it. I had my 29th birthday in between and had a great night. I even remember telling one of my friends I was more bothered about losing my bag of vintage clothes while moving then I was about whether I had breast cancer or not!