Saturday, 18 May 2013

So, one of the most annoying things about cancer....

or, having had cancer, is that there is almost precisely zero chance of me working out what I did "wrong" to make me get it. The only reason I say almost is because some crazy part of me wants to be able to work it out, solve the puzzle, the riddle, whatever you want to call it. In a way it's my rubix cube, but one I am never likely to be able to complete. I also want to know when it started to develop, but there's sod all chance of being able to work that out either.

I've been wondering today what came first - mastitis or cancer? I didn't have mastitis at all when breastfeeding Isobel and she was born nearly 5 years ago. I bf'd her for 14 months which takes us up to November 2009 with no incidences of mastitis, or any noticeable lumps (that I can remember, but bear in mind I never really checked myself properly until last July). I got pregnant with Jack in Jan/Feb 2010 and he was born 21st October that year, and (from memory) I had mastitis when he was quite little, so probably before that Christmas, certainly before the February as I seem to remember it being v dark and cold at the same time - I thought it was flu to start with. He was certainly under 6mths old let's put it that way. 

So, assuming that there is a link between the cancer and the mastitis, I could well have had it growing inside me for about 2 yrs, which I find quite scary.

Why do I think there might be a link? Well, for no other reason than the lump and the mastitis were in exactly the same place, which makes me extremely cross that I never worked out that there was a lump there back in 2010/early 2011. (Assuming that it was there......) Lots of assumptions tonight, aren't there?

Having googled fairly extensively there doesn't seem to be a link between mastitis and cancer, i.e. mastitis doesn't seem to cause it, although it can be a symptom of the rare "inflammatory breast cancer", which, fortunately for me, isn't what I have/had. 

So, did my cancer cause the mastitis, and if so, does it really matter anyway? Well no, it doesn't really matter, other than perhaps if I'd had a scan at the time of having mastitis (as is very common in America) we might have known about it sooner..... it "might" also have remained within the ducts rather than breaking out and spreading, growing, getting into my lymphatic system......

It's amazing how one's brain rattles on when it is spurred on by fear. And Prosecco.

The fear? Well, I don't want it back. Ever, which is why I've been trying to figure out what caused it in the first place - diet, lifestyle, mastitis........dumb luck.

There's so much research to look through regarding diet I feel swamped. Everything seems to contradict itself too, which is really annoying. Perhaps I'm focusing too much on avoiding foods that might contain oestrogen? 

I've no idea whether seeing a dietician will help, but it might be a conversation worth having with my oncologist next time I see him. If any of you reading this have any thoughts I'd be grateful to hear them. 

The only option I suppose is to get as much as I can removed isn't it? 

And pray. A lot. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

So, the Moon Walk!

I did it!! 26.2 miles in 6hrs 45mins, which I am over the moon with. Literally.

I know that the time isn't important in the grand scheme of things but you know me by now - I'm competitive, and beating the time of 7hrs 30mins that I set myself to do the walk in has given me a huge boost. I think that marathons might be addictive actually, as I am considering signing up for the Edinburgh Moon Walk in a few weeks as they have some spaces left. Totally crazy? Only time will tell.....

In honesty, I think that the real stars of the night were the volunteers - it was soooo freezing cold I was glad to be walking at speed. How they managed to stand in one spot, cheering us on for hours on end I don't know. Amazing.

I also set myself the target of getting back to Norfolk for a Christening on Sunday, which gave me just over 2 hrs from finishing the walk to catch a train from Liverpool Street back to Diss, and I'm relieved to say I managed that too, and even had time for breakfast. 

The baptism service was beautiful and very life affirming. I feel rather lost at the moment, and the chance to sit down in church and think about God and all that religion offers was much needed, which is one of the main reasons for trying so hard to get back in time. That, and, of course, not wanting to let friends down.

I don't know how I feel about God at the moment, in honesty. Much of me hasn't gotten over the anger at being diagnosed with cancer in the first place. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I'm not a bad person. I don't understand though how or why really nasty people (sex offenders, murderers etc) are allowed to walk around and not suffer with illness, when some of us have to go endure a cancer diagnosis and all that entails.

I suppose that, at the moment, the thing that I am really searching for is hope, and perhaps it is religion as well as science that can offer it to me? Who knows. All I know is that Sunday's service has soothed my soul a little for now.

I also met with my consultant on Monday to discuss Herceptin. Everything looks to be going ahead as planned. I had a blood test last week which has come back with normal cell counts etc, and the heart scan I had on the same day has shown that my ejection fraction is slightly lower than it was at 57%, but much better than before I started chemo, so the Ace Inhibitors are doing their stuff quite nicely.

We went through the list of side effects which was fun. I think that my biggest worries are regarding my heart, and the possibility of joint pain - having managed to get over the Taxotere hangover quite quickly, I don't want to be as sore as I was in March - well, not if I can possibly help it anyway.

So, I should get my start date through in the next week, and it's likely that I'll start the Herceptin in May/June and probably get two sessions in before we go to France in July.

Tonight I went to a Keeping Abreast meeting which was very interesting, and also got to see results of breast reconstruction, which was fascinating. The results are amazing, but I'm still in so many many minds about whether it is what I want to do it feels like I'm in a whirlpool. 

I definitely want another mastectomy, and I'm almost 100% sure I'd like my ovaries out too, but whether I can find the time (which probably sounds daft) to have such a major operation(s) I don't know. 

All in all I'm okay. Just a bit over wrought at times, and stressed about starting the new treatment.

The Moon Walk was such a thrilling and exhilerating thing to do - I can highly, highly, highly recommend it. We have raised £1,767 so far - I think there's a bit more that has been pledged but not yet donated, and judging by the number of times I got my name in the paper/was interviewed on the radio, we have raised a lot of awareness too.

Angelina Jolie made the headlines this week by announcing that she has had a double mastectomy and reconstruction in order to reduce her risk of having breast cancer, which has raised the profile of the disease significantly, and hopefully, will encourage people to check themselves more often, and go to their GP, even if they think they are too embarassed to talke about their breasts.

After all, no one has ever actually died from embarassment, right?