Friday, February 18, 2011

My story so far..........

2010 has been a huge year for me, full of ups and downs........... had a baby, got married, turned 30 and found out I've got cancer, yup!!!  So, on the 1st October 2010I found out that I've got breast cancer. 
Will backtrack a bit to fill in the gaps....
Had a baby in January and breastfed for about 5 weeks.  Found a lump in my right breast around the first week in June (a couple of days before I got married) and went to the doctor to get it checked out.  Was sent to the hospital for an appointment in July and the doctor said that she wanted me to get an ultrasound.  Had to wait a couple of months to get the ultrasound done between work and stuff and went on Wednesday 29th September to get it done.  While having the ultrasound the doctor said that I'd have to come up in about 10 days for results.  Then she said that she had spotted something and that I was to have a mammogram and biopsy.  Had those done and she had the sample brought up to the lab before I had even gotten up off the table so I kinda thought there was something wrong.  While I was getting dressed the doctor came in and told me she wanted me up 2 days later for the results of the biopsy and that I was to bring somebody with me..........
 *****Alarm Bells!!******
Went to work on the Thursday, mainly to keep myself distracted.
I won't forget Friday 1st October in a hurry anyway! G came to the hospital with me on the Friday for the results and in the back of both our minds I think we knew what was coming.  My doctor Ms Rothwell told me that they had tested the biopsy and it showed that I had cancer.  Myself and G just felt like the world was ending.... we grabbed each others hand and I just started crying.  To be honest I didn't hear much of what was said after that, only that I was to come up in a week to get some tests done but it had been caught early and I had a very good chance of being fine.
We both cried the whole way home and phoning our families and friends was one of the worst things we ever had to do. How do you tell people that you're 30 years old and you've got cancer?? It just doesn't seem real!!

A Week Later...
 I'm cool, calm and ready for battle.
I had to have loads of tests done, a liver scan, chest x ray and a bone scan.  All painless thank god!!  The bone scan was so relaxing that i actually fell asleep!  I had to be injected with radio active stuff and go off for a couple of hours to let it spread around my body.  I could leave the hospital while it spread so G brought me to a lovely Italian restaurant for lunch while we were waiting and the 2 hours were up before we knew it.  Went back to the hospital and lay down in a machine which would be able to detect the radioactive material in my body.  It took 33 minutes for the machine to pass over my body and seeing as I hadn't slept a wink the night before with the nerves, I had a little snooze on the table!
The worst part was not being able to go near Aaron and Ryan when I got home.  I had been advised to stay away from them for 24 hours so I had to sleep in the spare room and it was horrible not being able to kiss them goodnight or goodbye the next morning so I had to make up for it big time the next evening!
So, my lovely breast care nurse Gillian phoned me the next day to tell me that the bone scan was clear but there was a sign of trauma in my left knee which is probably the start of arthritis.  Kinda knew it was something like that as I've had nothing but problems with my knee over the years and have had to give up countless sports because of it.  And the doctors and specialists telling me there was nothing wrong with it...... Liars!!!

Another Week Later...
Well, another day spent in hosptial....
Friday 15th October I had my sentinel node biopsy.  Got to the hospital about 9.30am and spent about 45 mins talking through paperwork with a doctor and getting blood taken.  Upstairs then to be injected with radio active stuff again and then a 40 minute wait to get scans taken so they can pinpoint the location of the glands.
My bed in the ward is ready at this stage so we wait a couple of hours to be called for surgery.  My doctor calls in on me to see how I am and tells me she'll see me in surgery (She might have seen me but I didn't see her cos I was unconscious!!).  Go up to theatre about 1pm, get that awful drip in my hand (although I'm well used to that now!!) and last I remember on the clock is 1.15pm. Wake up about 2.45pm and am brought back down to the ward about half an hour later.  I see G sitting outside the wards and being all doped up, say to the nurse "there's my husband!" and I wave over to him and say "i'm still alive!".  He comes in to make sure I'm ok and then the nurse runs him to let me get some sleep.  About 20 minutes later I'm lying there half doped up looking at Sky News when I realise that I'm itchy.  I look at my wrist and there's a huge hive type thing on it.  Looking at my other arm I see the same thing and on my shoulders too.  I call the nurse and at first they look at me arm and say its from the blood pressure machine (???) but then they look at my shoulders and realise that I'm covered in hive type things and huge blue patches.  They tell me they'll get someone down to look at me and I lie there panicking for half an hour til my doctor comes in.  She asks me how I am and I reply "Itchy!" Mainly because I thought it was her that the nurses had called, but they hadn't!  She had a quick look at me then called the nurse in and an anaesthesist was down checking me out 2 minutes later.
He ran through everything that I'd been given and the blue dye was the only thing I'd never had before.  I had agreed to take part in a trial for the hospital you see and was given a blue dye as they're looking for an alternative to the radio active stuff for finding the gland. 
But, typical me, had an allergic reaction to it and the rash spread all down my body.  I looked a bit like smurfette!!  They had also told me that if I got the dye I'd have blue wee, which was kinda cool!!
They gave me an injection in my shoulder to flush out the dye and at this stage G came in.  He hadn't been told anything until my doctor stopped on her way out and told him what was happening so he was a bit pissed off that he wasn't told about my reaction.  An hour or so later most of the rash had gone so they gave me some toast and told me I could go home.  It was almost 6pm at this stage and we were both wrecked!
We took a detour to Pings on the way home for a takeaway and I ate it in bed when I came home, seeing as I couldn't go near my 2 little men again!!
Had blue wee for 24 hours or so, it was like having a blue loo on tap!!
A week later we had the results....

Friday 22nd October
Ms Rothwell was smiling when she called us in so we were delighted to hear that the results were all clear.  So no radiation but I was told I needed a full mastectomy and reconstruction on November 5th.  Ms Rothwell said that they would take a muscle from my back and put it round the front.  I would be losing my nipple and they would use a patch of skin from my back to cover where my nipple had been.  I would be left with a 6 inch scar on my back and because the muscle would be missing from my back I would not have full use of my arm from now on.

7 Days Post Op...
We arrived up at the hospital about 7.10am on Friday 5th November.  Ms Rothwell (who is my hero now!!) came in and drew on me with a marker and explained that the operation would be at least 5 hours or so...... the first stage where they would have me flat on my back and remove the breast tissue, then they would turn me sideways and take the muscle from my back, then sit me up so they could see how the other breast lies and match it as close as possible.  I went down to theatre about quarter to 9 and wasn't brought back to the ward til about half 4 or so!! My doctor had phoned G about 2pm to tell him that it went well and I was just coming around.
Was doped up on morphine and had a pump on my wrist which was great! Looked like crap though and got himself to take a photo to remember it by! He said it was the LONGEST day of his life!!! 
They took the morphine pump off me on Saturday (maybe I had used too much of it, I don't know!!!!) and I wasn't in an awful amount of pain or anything.  Worst part was not being able to stretch or reach for anything!!
By Sunday I was wearing make up again and starting to crack up due to the lack of sleep caused by my octogenerian roomates (nothing against old people, it was just my luck to end up with the moaners, groaners and snorers!!!!).  I had thought I'd be home around Tuesday but there was still too much fliud coming from the 2 drains in my side.  By Wednesday I had started begging to go home where I could be in my own bed and rest as much as I wanted and that I'd come back to get the drains out!  Thursday morning Ms Rothwell came around and she said that I could get the smaller drain out and go home, coming back the next day to get the other one out and to get all my results.  That was the best news I had heard in a long long LONG time!!  I had missed my 2 little men sooo much, never been away from them for longer than a night or 2 so it was music to my ears to hear I could go home to them!!
Getting the drain out was disgusting!!!!  The only way I can describe it is to compare it to pulling on a wet garden hose........ this was the one in my bionic right boob.  While the nurse was pulling it out I lay there shuddering to myself and while it didn't hurt me, it felt absolutely disgusting and can only describe it as one of the worst feelings ever!  But, it meant I could go home and that got me through it!
Was really glad to get home to my little men and while Ryan gave me huge smiles every time I looked at him, Aaron was more interested in playing my DS than being glad to have his mammy home!
Went back up to the hospital the following morning (Friday 12th Nov - 6 weeks to the day I was diagnosed with  breast cancer) and Ms Rothwell explained that they had gotten in all out and the tumour was about 34mm in size - the centre of it was 16mm and it spread out from there and was a grade 3.  She also said that they are still going to give me chemo after christmas to doubly make sure that its all gone, she said that because I'm so young I'd be well able to handle it!!!

21 Days Post Op...

3 weeks after my operation I was doing well, not in an awful lot of pain and doing most things I could do before. Couldn''t lift my arm much higher than my shoulder but was getting better by the day!
Went back up to hospital a week later to get the fluid drained from my back............ uuuugh!!!! It wasn't painful but horrible all the same! Yucky, horrible feeling and as for the sound of the fluid getting sucked out........ Eeeew!!
Was back up again then to meet my oncologist (not sure if I spelled that right!) who's name is Janice Walshe and she filled me in on the size of the tumour, that it had been feeding on my estrogen since my periods had started at 15 and that I would have to take tablets for the next 5 years that will shut down my ovaries and  advised me that I would need to get 4 rounds of chemo, once every 3 weeks just to make sure that they had gotten all the tumour.  She said that my hair would start to fall out a couple of weeks after my first treatment which would be on Dec 17th so myself and Josephine decided to organise a sponsored headshave!! I had said from the start that if I needed chemo I didn't want to wait for my hair to fall out and I would shave it off! I said that I would split the money between the local Cancer Support Group here in Arklow and my Camogie team!! Decided to tell Aaron that my hair was going to be falling out and he got very upset........ he's just like me though, he's able to deal with things if you explain it to him!! Now he tells me that I'm beautiful bald, he's such a little lick!!!!!

So, I started chemo a week before Christmas.  Chemo itself took over 7 hours because I had a reaction to it!  Couldn't breathe, sharp pains in my back, got all dizzy and went beetroot!! When I got home I felt like I had been hit by a bus then to make it worse Ryan was very sick and ended up in hospital with pneumonia so it was just me and Aaron, I couldn't go to the hospital because of all the infections I could pick up so G had to go with him, I never felt so useless in my life!!  Thank god he was let home after 2 days but it was nearly 3 because it took so long for them to get home from the hospital in the snow!!  I never felt worse than I did for 5 or 6 days, could hardly get off the sofa or do anything for myself....... food tasted like cardboard and the only things that tasted normal were Romantica, Chocolate Kimberleys and Coke!!  You have to get an injection 24 hours after chemo which builds white blood cells but it causes awful bone pain so that was horrible too!! Takes about a week to have any energy and I wouldn't wish it on anyone!!
Chemo took 4 hours.  Afterwards was the same as first time more or less minus Ryan's hospital trip!!  Stuck to the sofa for the best part of a week with mammy looking after me, Aaron and Ryan!
Flew it this time...only 2 and a half hours! Was actually very surprised that I was ok, a bit tired but no lying around on the sofa and even managed to get out for a walks to Tesco!  Not as much pain from the bone shaker as I now call it but still a few pains here and there!
2 and a half hours again yesterday!!  Felt fairly tired but had a good sleep and even brought Aaron to school this morning!!

Thanks for reading!!

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