Yesterday I went to see the Oncologist (cancer specialist) to hear what he had planned for me next. He was a very nice bloke, explained everything clearly and didn’t was keen to answer any questions I had, he saw my list! The lump in my breast was found to be Grade 3, which means the cells look very different from breast tissue and can spread quickly, it also tested negative for hormone receptors (which means it will not respond at all to hormone therapy treatment) and negative for the protein called HER2 (which means it won’t respond to the treatment called Herceptin), SO chemotherapy is the best treatment for me, giving me the best odds on the cancer never returning to any part of my body. After the chemo I will also have radiotherapy, which focuses on preventing the cancer regrowing in the localized area i.e. my left boob. Surely with these two things combined, I’ve got very good odds on being breast cancer free for the rest of my life – but only time will tell on that one.
I feel so lucky to still have two boobs of my own! Many women suffer a mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction, which is all so invasive with an even longer road to recovery and feeling normal again. So in the coming weeks I will remind myself constantly of how lucky I have been.
The chemotherapy treatment lasts for 18 weeks. I’ll have one treatment then 3 weeks off, for 6 cycles, taking 18 weeks in total. The name of my treatment is called FEC-T. These initials stand for the individual drugs being used. I am a fan of Father Ted and Mrs Browns’ Boys so when I heard this name the words “Ahh Feck It” kept popping into my head! Strange how you think when you’re being bombarded with important, yet depressing information. Depressing because the Oncologist spent most of our time with him talking about the possible side effects of these drugs. There are a lot of them! I’ll list just a few to give you an idea, but hopefully not fill you with too much horror:
Fatigue; infection; nausea; weight gain and of course, HAIR LOSS.
As chemo reduces the production of white blood cells that fight infection, I have to take it very seriously if I feel at all ill. Any headaches, coughs, sore throats, shivers must be reported immediately to the doctor, I’ve even been given this special “Fast Pass” which entitles me to jump the queue at A&E if any of these symptoms come out at night time! I found all this very alarming! OMG do I really have to put myself at risk like this?! I don’t have a choice really do I?
Maybe I do … the Oncologist also spoke about beating cancer and changing your lifestyle to prevent it recurring – he said the single most important thing you can do to help yourself is EXERCISE regularly. He said there is proper research to prove this and in fact it is “almost as effective as having Chemotherapy”!! Now, if I was capable of being persistent and single minded in the pursuit of fitness; if I thought I could be addicted to exercise then I probably would say “stuff your chemotherapy then”. But I am not like that. I do enjoy exercise, but am blessed with “slim genes” (slim not skinny) so have never really given it my all and stuck with it, consistently. Of course, from now on I will have to change my attitude and get my arse in gear! But I am not willing to take the chance and put all that responsibility on my own shoulders – so, Fecking Chemo it is then!
But I would say this to you, if you don’t already exercise on a regular basis, making it part of your life, then you should – you MUST! I am not guaranteeing that if you do you won’t get cancer, but you will be doing what you can to protect yourself.
I will post again next week about how I’m hoping to stop my hair from falling out! It’s the only side effect I have any control over, so will do what I can.
For now though, I want to put all this to the back of my mind as much as possible (I couldn’t sleep last night) and enjoy this weekend. Thanks to some wonderful friends and family, I’ve got cocktails, Chinese food and laughs to look forward to and a family roast on Sunday. You see – I am a very lucky ‘girl’! xx