Cancer…..

I said to myself a few weeks ago I wasn’t going to keep writing about cancer and feelings and being one of those emotional bloggers.

I was going to become one of those popular bloggers that write reviews about the multitude of products they use, and how to apply make up to look like a Kardashian. But here I am again, writing about cancer.

! And I suppose I am not giving much hope to all those out there about to embark on the journey, that it is doable (please note it is doable and I am just having a ‘fear’ day, and that any lady reading this who has survived, or is going through treatment will know is normal).

I spent my day yesterday, my mother’s birthday (whom I did not tell)in hospital waiting to be seen by a doctor, a man who effectively poisoned me and radiated me with beams of light to rid me of a disease that could of killed me. I waited 2 hours, due to him running late, to be told I need bone scans.

No, don’t worry or I’m sure it isn’t anything, or no it isn’t the bone the GP has it wrong. A chat, another appointment with him in 6 weeks, blood tests and a bone scan request. Since chemo and radiotherapy have finished I have already had my first ever filling, chronic pain in my left breast and numb finger tips (further investigation pending – it’s either carpel tunnel – common apparently after chemo or nerve damage again thanks to chemo!)

Best case scenario from this bone scan is I have weak bones due to radiotherapy, worst case scenario secondary cancer, and somewhere in between lies the potential that I have a broken rib due to weakness from a treatment for a disease that invaded my body and wont seem to fully leave me alone!

To be told this, whilst you see all the leap year Meme’s on facebook, stating use your extra day wisely, get engaged, blah blah blah, and knowing that if you hadn’t been in the hospital you would have visited your mom on her 60th Birthday, well F*&ked me right off.

This time last year, I got diagnosed with cancer, I didnt really beleive the concerns, I was too fit, to healthy, but the day I got diagnosed (my sister’s birthday) whilst i was in the waiting room, I felt that wind blow across my body, you know the one you see in the films, that means something is about to happen. I felt that all knowing feeling and knew before they even told me, that I had cancer. In my lifetime I never want to feel that again!

yesterday, and today I have felt scared. What if I am designing a help system for women out of recovery and I have it again? I feel sick at the thought of how to tell my mom. I honestly can’t cope with the emotions it makes others feel around me.

Will I live to see my 40th Birthday? Will I be here? what am i going to be remembered as if I die? Do I want to die? Am I ok with it? Have I achieved enough? Why am I not getting up earlier, and making the most of each day? why haven’t I created a bucket list? Why am I not doing all the things I say I will do and want to do… why am I coasting at the moment?

Am, I going to have to go through this every year? every time there is a check up, or something doesn’t feel right? Am I going to type a yearly blog of how scared I am? Or how I am underachieving?

What if it isn’t cancer, and I have weak bones… am I mean’t to be thankful for that? because I don’t think I will be! I don’t want to forever more be in pain when I lie on my left side. I don’t want to be fragile. I don’t want to feel like I could break a bone through sneezing.

I am not a fragile person. I am robust. I have survived car crashes that should have killed me, repaired my body after countless running injuries,been thrown across rooms and not even so much as got a bruise. I just survive. I always have, and now I have this niggle in the back of my head thinking, what if….what if I don’t, what if i used up my 7 lives?

I am writing this, thinking I don’t even want to publish it, as my mom will get upset, and worry and i honestly can’t even cope with the burden of her feelings, but i know I need to vent and get this of my chest because otherwise I am probably going to cry. And F*&K if I am giving cancer anymore tears!

This disease is crap, the treatment is traumatic and the after care is well non-existent. My doctors, my breast care nurse and everyone have said no mental health support for me, as breast cancer isn’t allowed to have it. So i write, I write about how f*&king scared I am that 1) I could get breast cancer again, 2) I could get secondary cancer, that is basically un-treatable, 3) that i get ovarian cancer – from the pills i take to keep breast cancer away 4) that my life feels a total mess right now. And that I am not in control.

Not quite the blog of a positive young woman, striving to be calm and have toxin free thoughts.

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I finished active treatment.  

So it’s approaching Halloween and last week I finished active treatment. And nothing feels any different apart from I don’t have to go to hospital. It’s one of those things you wait for and think the world is going to be amazing the day I finish treatment but it isn’t. The world hasn’t changed but over 2015 I have. 

A magic grey cloud has not been lifted from me and I wonder if my body’s functionality (weight is a totally seperate issue) will ever actually return. My brain is useless my aches and pains from simple things are ridiculous, my fingernails appear to be starting to fall off! (Yes fall off now 7-8 weeks after my last chemo!) and well will my periods and womanhood ever return who knows. 

On a day to day basis I’m generally happy, but I have to admit since I finished treatment I have flat out ugly cried twice (that’s in the space of a week). It’s a funny old time where I sort of want recognition for battling on, for smiling, for getting through it and you want to recognise and give thanks to those who were there but you don’t have the words or the ideas (as your brain doesn’t work) and on top of that you know you have to start picking the pieces up of life and move forward but there is a fear that you can’t. Or I suppose there is the lack of motivation to want too. 

I am very grateful for all my flowers, cards  and well wishes I have received!  

 
It may only take 10 seconds to post a well done/ hooray on Facebook but it is a great boost and I appreciate it. I even had a surprise meal organised for me by Cassie which was lovely and a total surprise! And the food and company was lovely! And I’ve never had a surprise meal or a party before! I know 31 and no big parties but I was always worried no one would come if I had one so best to avoid the disappointment! So a meal for me, with balloons (I love balloons) was brilliant! Thank you Cass. 

  
So now it is time to stop the little random moments of upset that creep up on me. 

Next step… Appointment for hormone pills ( can’t wait for that one!) 

I’m definitely in a mehhh state for breast cancer awareness month (October) and wonder if I will be like this every October when people are throwing tea parties and walking with pink tutus on, especially after reading an article today from a lady with similar thoughts. 

But on the other hand I know my life through my cancer-year has been a happy one emotionally, I barely got upset, I relaxed more than I normally would even when I was aching my mind wasn’t stressed, and I had amazing people around me so why  am I feeling a bit off now I have finished? 

Oh well, by this afternoon I probably won’t even remember I felt like this (chemo brain) ! And as soon as this red patch from the radiotherapy is finished I’m going on a sunbed to get warm to my bones! 

  

Radioactive Secret Agent

So I’ve been quiet lately, only because I’ve been in hospital everyday (Monday to Friday) and just chilling out.

I’m feeling more like myself at the moment, singing along in the car to my old favourite tunes and just being me … A complete geek! I do unfortunately now have an abscess that can’t be treated until radiotherapy is finished and they assess my ability to heal so until then I get to have a face that is a bit swollen. But I am on antibiotics which is helping to take down the swelling.

I’m also nearly done with radiotherapy now! Two more sessions to go (I’ve had 13) it’s really nice in the Worcester oncology centre, the receptionists are two lovely ladies who are really friendly and check me in each day before I even get to the desk and the radiology team are brilliant.

They call me the ‘secret agent’, as I have a different look everyday and today was no different I rocked up in my new wig that I got yesterday, thanks to my mom and dad! Stourbridge now has a wig shop! And when we we’re walking to get a Sunday lunch I darted in and tried on a few wigs and got this baby! Excuse the terrible photo it was taken in the hospital changing room early this morning! But 26inches of gingery / brown / golden hair let’s call it strawberry ash-blonde/ brown 😂.

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So, anyway radiotherapy is going well, I was a little sore from the position my arms have to be in for the beams to zap me. But I’ve been using twice daily pure Aloe Vera gel which is totally natural and organic. And for me has kept the red and soreness at bay which is a common side effect of radiotherapy.

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The new building at Worcester hospital is amazing and the radioactive room as I call it, is friendly, I know friendly is a weird thing to say, but all the staff are friendly and the lights have clouds over them and music is playing for you the whole time the beeps go off and you get zapped.

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That round bit on the top moves to a few different positions and zaps you for around 15 seconds or 7 seconds at a time 6 times in total it’s about 60 seconds of radiotherapy.

And I keep my wigs on each time! And smile, and stare at the clouds! And get zapped!

2 days time I will have finished active treatment 😁 and then to discuss the long term plan! But I am super excited to be coming to an end of daily treatment.

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It’s true, you probably aren’t meant to say it. I am good, I am a winner, I am strong… But I am! I know I’m not meant to, but I find myself tonight watching a film that made me cry, AGAIN, seriously how can every film seem to have cancer in it, seem to have family and friends and seem to make me cry. It’s not normal. Or maybe, just maybe it is.

I am scared of chemo 6. Tax 2. I admit tax 1 got me, it had me in bed for what felt like a week but was probably more like 5 days. Not straight away but as the oncologist said on Monday just gone, when the steroids wear off the pain starts, “can you do this?” Of course my answer is “YES”. My answer has always been yes to hard questions, I’ve had my fair share of pain in the past. And I’ve always gone at it, I’ve always dealt with it, quietly and appropriately.

God, I would loose a race (I used to run fast on the track) I’d spend the next two days in bed sobbing I hadn’t run to my potential and by Tuesday, my first track session, I would get up and arrive at the track for 6.30pm I would take the banter of the group (God how I miss them all!) and I would warm up and coach (Rog) would say to me “a technique session or a speed endurance session” the answer… Always….. A speed endurance session, I would train so hard I would be sick half way through, or have an asthma attack and have to be helped to breathe and I would stop being sick or regain my breathe and be back on that track. That’s me……. That’s melinda….. That is an athlete….. That is a fighter…. ( all athletes respond this way, well I’d say most, a tear shed, then a training session to make you feel pain so hard in your legs only an athlete can understand ….. Or so you think….. Chemo is a deeper pain, it hits your bones your muscles, teeth, cheeks, finger nails, but all my life I prepared myself for pain.

Running isn’t just it, I remember being told my sister was the pretty one, my sister was the clever one, I was the sporty one…. When probably she was all of them but God I tried, I studied I would be up until 3-4am studying to get my psychology degree, my masters in marketing, I then went on to do bikini competitions (blatantly to get some sort of recognition for being pretty) and never placed out the top 2 except once I came 5th and once I came second call out in nationals (with a home made bikini, and I knew no one p, I had no influence, I just worked my ass off) so I beat all the things people told me I wasn’t, with obviously my battles along the way!

What does this have to do with crying at movies and being scared about my next chemo and how much it hurts, well deep down I know. I know that I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m the fighter, I can take the battle, and emotionally I couldn’t cope seeing someone I love, someone close to me go through it.

I applaud every single person that lets me tell them I’m having a crap day, that I’m in pain, stressed, upset, that lets me cry to them because 90% of people I know, don’t see the fear, or the pain, they don’t need to see it, because what do I gain from telling them, pity, yeah I do want it sometimes, attention, yeah i do want that sometimes too, but I wasn’t raised that way. And good old British working class values stick with you.

My good old British response to most people “I’m fine/ I’m good, thanks” some times I say “I’m a bit tired” but that’s as far as it gets to most, because I’m a fighter and a winner and winners and fighters don’t moan, they get on with it and in the words of Nike they ‘just do it’.

I have had so many battles in my life, not just on the running track, not just studying, but I am too much of a winner to give a blog all my pain, all my suffering and all my joy too, as let’s be honest probably if I’m lucky 12 people read it, that’s if I’m lucky read!

One day I’ll write a book, one day I’ll get 100 comments on a blog, or 1000 likes on my Facebook page and Instagram, who knows! Crazier things have happened! But while I write this, and I live through this, at least I know I’m the right girl for the job, scared …..f&£k yeah! A quitter….. NEVER!

So, Chemo 6 tomorrow, a steroid induced hot flush….. A dread in my belly, a tear in my eye, and a fight in my soul….. So here goes the next 7 days. To my rock – cassie, to my mom and dad, sister, bro -in -law, nephews , to my amazing friends – you know who you are…. I’ll make a list when it isn’t midnight and I need to sleep ( but needed to write this blog off my head, that’s been spinning inside for the last hour of the film) , to my chemo buddy, to my pink sisters, to my well wishers, to the good people of the world…. Let’s just keep fighting and winning our battles, doing the right thing, and being water (Taoism).

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Monday = Game Face.

Soooooo….. This weekend I went a bit AWOL (absent without leave), the plans I made I chickened out from, so I didn’t drive to London to see all the GALAXY GIRLS pull cars, sprint and then strut their stuff on stage. I desperately wanted to go but was also scared stiff to stray to far from home by myself and drive for that long. I think this first time round I am questioning myself all the time as to what I can and can’t do. I feel like I let friends down and I’m really sorry about that.

It’s all a bit of a testing ground. My second round will definitely be easier to judge as I will have done it once. So I’m trying to let myself off for not going and supporting all the girls as I know I will be there next time and it was just too soon for me.

So I was a bit upset with myself all weekend and was a grump but agreed to go out for a bite to eat Saturday night with Cassie to cheer me up and ended up staying out until sunrise! Seriously I haven’t done that since before Christmas.

And I know, I know I’m on treatment and I shouldn’t party! But actually why not? I drank, I danced, I laughed, I had a good time. And the nurses say you can have a drink just most people don’t want to due to the metallic taste, but I don’t have that this time round so I drank while I can!! It was great to let my hair down and meet new people and chat old athletics stories to a fellow former athlete!

So Sunday was spent recovering and eating a disgraceful veggie pizza, but Monday morning I woke up, early, and headed to Hereford to the Haven, an amazing charity who offer support to women with Breast Cancer. I had a hypnotherapy session followed by yoga.

The hypnotherapy isn’t someone making me do a chicken dance it is a lovely lady called Laura, who talks to me about what I want to achieve from the session, and makes me realise I have all the skills to tackle everything but I just need to apply them. She was talking to me whilst I visualised today about snakes and ladders. And you know what, it stuck with me, life is just like snakes and ladders you get an opportunity and you climb up and feel totally in control, and sometimes a set back comes along and you feel out of control on the slippery snake then you balance, plod along and another ladder is set out I front of you. It was a great analogy for life.

And in Yoga I have really progressed.,I actually managed to touch my hands at my back today and did downward dog, which I haven’t done since my operation. It’s hard when you go from being super fit to super crap at everything but I felt like I made progress and that is great for me.

So today I have game face on, I’ve got back in the kitchen since my first chemo and cooked some simple food, done yoga, worked on my head, and I feel great for it! It really is the simple things that keep you happy and just well …. YOU! I am post chemo day 10 and feeling good. I might have thought at times I couldn’t do this but today I feel like I can!

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A Proud Day. The Fight Was Worth It.

So sometimes life can feel like a constant battle, yep, I testify to that statement! It can feel like everything and everyone is against you, and nothing goes in your favour. But it isn’t and they aren’t!
Fact is, whatever it concerns, if you know what you want, you will get it by using positive affirmations. Drown yourself in negativity and you will get bad results, and then when you wonder why that didn’t work for me, why don’t I get the cash, the relationship, the car I want? Well, you would if you just know what you want, believe you deserve it and ask for it and you will receive it. If you haven’t read the secret, or watched the movie, go check it out on netflics tonight.
So I have plenty of things I want, but the most crucial at the moment, is to do with my decision making, I have constantly said to everyone, I need a percentage, I need facts and figures to make my decision. I can’t go ahead with chemotherapy on the basis that I’m young, it just isn’t enough for me.
But I have asked, pushed, fought my corner all the way along with the NHS. And honourably ever request and argument I have given they have conceded too, they probably see my name on paper now and get as anxious as I do about going in to see them. I might be scared on the inside but I do my best to act fierce to them and I am so pleased to say they have put me forward for the genomic cancer test. It is expensive, a whopping £2,800 and is normally privately funded, but I am pleased to say, I am the first person in the country to get it paid for by the NHS, since its introduction into the system on the 30th March. So as this is now part of the system, if you are struggling with a chemotherapy decision, please ask your consultant if you are eligible for the test and if you can have it. Put your foot down, make them understand it is your life and you need to know! If like me you struggle to say it in person, the emotion gets to you, take a few days and compose an email, or letter to the consultant and team.
Knowledge is power! And doing my research has paid off! I find out in 2 weeks how effective chemotherapy will be for me in reducing my risk of getting cancer again.
Life is a funny thing, and I have learned through this that you have to respect and love yourself, I just wish I had sooner!

Genomic test reference:
http://www.cancercenter.com/treatments/genomic-tumor-assessment/

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The First Shower.

So I can shower now! Result. So I am sat here for the first time in 2 weeks feeling properly clean, thanks to my Dr Berry coconut shower gel and moisturiser.
I smell positively tropical, and in true girl style I contemplated MY world for half hour with the water beating over my head.
In short my shower, was where I contemplated life. What I want in life. A bit heavy for a Tuesday morning I know. But yesterday I was delivered the test results from my team: the surgeon, the breast care nurse and the consulting doctor.
In short it’s worse than expected. But, there are positives. It has been upped a grade, from 2 to 3, meaning it is more aggressive than was first thought. The main tumour is a whopping 40mm and there was no ‘safe zone’ so to speak. The tumour hits the chest wall. Which, I am making assumptions here, I’m no doctor, but I assume that probably means a higher risk of spread potential.
There is also something called lypho-vascular invasion. Which means that throughout the left breast the cancer has spread in every ‘block from medial to lateral and including beneath the nipple’. Basically it was summarised to me “wherever cancer could settle it has.”
The good news, yes there is some! It didn’t infiltrate my lymph nodes, which means it hasn’t spread through my lymphatic system which is one of the main risks of breast cancer, the lymph under the arm pit is so close it can spread fast into the system and then becomes harder to treat due to secondary tumours. The second bit of good news, there was no cancer in my right breast, which post MRI Scan there had been a scare that it was present.
So two bad, two good. So I guess we could say Im neutral, but it didn’t and still doesn’t feel like that. I know I am miss positivity and I truly believe a positive head will get me through this, but sometimes you have to ride the wave of emotion and just accept the inner sadness, anger and fear. And then come out fighting with a smile on your face.
Treatment: They are strongly recommending chemotherapy, radiotherapy and 5 years of hormones – tamoxifen. Quite a daunting prospect at 30. Especially when you haven’t been married or had children and have nothing behind you, due to appalling personal circumstances that I may well write about one day. But that won’t be today.
I continue to hold the belief that chemotherapy is not always the be all and end all of treatment, and is one of the ‘standard’ treatments that are dished out to all, without individual thought for a treatment plan as well as that your quality of life at the time and post treatment is reduced.
So the stresses are big and very real and keeping stress free is critical to reducing your acidity in the body. So meditation has become a must for me.
And, my non-traditional research continues, I am in the process of arranging to speak with a doctor in Malaysia who is an expert in cellular medicine used to treat cancer. As well as exploring vitamin c and micronutrients.
I will also explore the traditional methods, I’m not casting aside conventional medicine or what the benefits are, I just want all the information before I make decisions as to if I have chemotherapy or not; or if I combine chemotherapy with alternative treatments such as the vitamin C IV Drips.

I have always hated being pressured into doing things, and I do currently feel like I am being backed into a corner by the medical profession and now my parents, who once supported my choices and now seem to think I am doing things because people are telling me too. Which is not the case. I’m just not comfortable putting my life in peoples hands when I don’t know all the facts and figures, my late running coach, always used to say he had to explain everything to me more than others as I always wanted to understand the reason and the benefits to certain types of training sessions. Ultimately, it’s my body, my life and my future. It’s me it is happening to and responsibility of what course of treatment I go with is on me, I have to own it, believe it and know I’m doing the best for me!

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