Friday 16 November 2012

So far, so good ...

This week I've managed three days in the office, been to see the boob specialist and had a little haircut.

Going into the office was daunting. But Mr P. met me at the station, armed with an enormous cookie and a gingerbread latte, and that made me feel much better.

Everyone at work has been very sweet; welcoming me back but also recognising that it's going to take me some time to readjust.

I'm taking it slow, just working four hours a day, and having catch up meetings with people to get a flavour of what's been going on.

However, Mr P. and I did have some bad news on Wednesday from the fertility clinic about my test results. And I know you can never say never but, post chemo and with an ovarian function level that barely registers on the bottom of their scale, I've probably got more chance of winning the lottery than ever falling pregnant.

Of course, generally for people, IVF might be an option but (a) I'd have to do it before I'm 40 (on the NHS) and (b) I can't have any hormone related treatments because of my cancer risk. Oh, and Tamoxifen causes birth defects anyway ... Ho hum.

I should point out that at no stage prior to this, or even now, was I planning to have a baby. However, what is upsetting is that it seems that I should have been offered some options to preserve my fertility before/and during chemo and I wasn't. So, of course, I do feel pretty cheated and let down.

Anyhoo ... I've got enough to be getting on with, without crying over spilt milk. So, I had a haircut.
Weller: he may have soul
but he's got shit hair
Post chemo my hair has grown through, as it has always been, very thick and bushy. What doesn't curl or kink stands at right angles to my head. Up until now I've just about managed to keep it in check with a little bit of hair putty but, after blow-drying my hair for an early morning start and seeing what looked like Paul Weller staring back at me in the mirror, I decided that I needed a tidy up.

As for my breast reconstruction, it's going well but I've opted not to have any more saline injected as I think further inflation will (i) be uncomfortable, (ii) look odd, and (iii) probably pop a few cardigan buttons.

Instead I'm having a fat graft, from my belly or thigh, which will soften the overall appearance and add another, more natural looking, bit of volume - particularly in the original lumpectomy area. If I do decide to have more saline, I still can, but - assuming I don't - I'm probably looking to get my 'proper' implants from mid/late April - just in time for summer. Nice.

But for now, I'm tired. Really tired. Normal life is exhausting!

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Turning the page ...

This week a new chapter of my life begins. Today, I start a five year course of Tamoxifen and, tomorrow, I go back to work.

Tamoxifen is what they call 'maintenance chemotherapy'. It suppresses oestrogen and keeps it away from any potential cancer cells which, given my cancer tested 8 out of 8 on hormone responsiveness, is undoubtedly a good thing.

However, all drugs have their side effects and I'm understandably apprehensive. No woman wants to read that she might get fat and grow facial hair!

But needs must ...

I'm also nervous about going back to work. I'm sure that once I get back into the swing of things it will all be fine but I have had a few sleepless nights.

I was chatting about it this morning with my GP. He reassured me that it was natural to feel low, as I have done, since the mainstay of my treatment ended. When you're in the thick of chemo and operations you become overwhelmed by the process. But, when it does end, you can finally 'exhale' and reflect on what you've been through.

And that's the bit that I've found hard. I think I'm doing alright but can then, quite unexpectedly, suddenly get breathless and start to cry. It's quite odd - like all the residual emotion that I've still got bottled up is trying to release itself.

I know some people might think that it would be better to let it all out in one go but, apart from the fact that I don’t think I could, I do think that would be like trying to open a fizzy bottle of lemonade. This way I just release the pressure slowly and a little bit at a time, instead of making an unholy mess!

However, please don't think that everything is glum and that I'm not still able to enjoy myself. Mr P. and I have just come back from a fabulous week in San Francisco and Las Vegas: visiting Alcatraz and the Grand Canyon, playing the slots and doing our best to live up to the name of the 'Big Belly Buffet'!

I even got home from the 10 hour flight back and went out to a pyjama-party-themed Hen do. It was a raucous affair but at least when I finally crashed and needed my bed I was dressed and ready for it ...

And so the next stage of our story begins. I'm sure it will still have its unexpected twists and turns but I'm rather hoping that it will be more 'JK Rowling’ than 'Stephen King'.

Mr P and I are hoping that our luck
might be about to change