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First radiation appointment

I searched the internet for days. I could not find anything about the very first radiation appointment. I didn’t want information on the first radiation session but on the first appointment.

What happens when they say they measure you? What do you wear. Do you have to get undressed (you know, for matching underwear’s sake)

So, for the sake of keeping record and someone else searching for the same answer, here goes.

It is not the same as getting radiation on your face. This I know from when Tommie had skin cancer and got radiation for that. There they make a mask that you will wear with every session. The mask gets fixed to the table so that you can’t move. Since I am claustrophobic, I am hugely thankful I don’t have to do that.

I met up with one of the nurses, who went through the treatment with me. How many sessions and what it will cost. Let’s just say that I am thankful that we have medical aid. I signed many a form and got some advice on ointment I could use. I was also told that I could not get any water on the radiation site, which basically means I won’t have a proper bath for that seven weeks and four weeks after radiation stops. Here’s to hoping that we have a long winter.

After that I went to radiology for a scan. Well, they gave me a little piece of cloth that is supposed to go around my chest. I will wear this at every session. I found it hilarious. There I was lying with said boob cloth and they pull it up to take measurements and put it back. Over and over again. I mean really….were they trying to hide my breast from me because clearly they needed to see. (Yes, I know most people feel more comfortable having it covered) Also, once radiation actually starts I will feel more comfortable being covered too).

My arms were up in some contraction and off I went into the machine. Lights were used to make sure I was correctly positioned. Once they were happy, I got my very first tattoo ever. Then three more. Just four tiny dots to make sure I lie in the same position every time.

Four tiny dots that will a permanent reminder of what I have been through…


End of an era

I remember his very first rugby match.  Passionate from the very start.  I remember one little player of the opposing team running through all the players on the field.  It was Quintus’s turn to sit next to the side-line.  He looked on, shouted and when that player came past him, he ran onto the field and tackled him.  He couldn’t just stand by and watch.  That feels like yesterday.

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Then I blinked and he played his very last hockey match.  With the same passion and love for sport as when he started as a little boy.

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I’m going to miss watching him play.  I’m going to miss seeing him do what he loves.  I’m going to miss the passion.

Don’t blink.  It’s all it takes for them to grow up.


16 May 2018 – A happy day!

This day will forever be etched in my mind.

I sat there, on my favourite chair, with a smile on my face the entire time. The four hours flew by, no time for Netflix or music. We celebrated with the most divine muffin and coffee that my mom and dad bought.

I know it’s not over just yet but this part of my journey is.

I remember that first day. I did not know what to expect. I was trying to be so brave. I was so nervous. Seeing that red chemo slowly move through the IV and into my chest was scary. I remember my mom taking a video of it.

Did I leave scared? No! The nurses are amazing. Actually, no words can describe them. Fellow patients become friends. Chemo day feels like a visit with friends. No-one feels sick on chemo day. It’s just a day to catch up on news with fellow patients. Patients who are going through such a tough time in their lives, yet no-one complains. If you have to go back on a day that you are not doing well, they gather around you and give you support and advice.

It’s been an up and down road. Two hospitalizations (talked myself out of a third hahaha), extra fluid and nausea drips at oncology. A change in chemo because I’m allergic to the second type I got. They prefer not to give the chemo I ended up on but since they had no choice, I had to put of with the side effects of this drug. It was horrific and I can already feel it starting after yesterday’s chemo. It was the first time that I felt I would rather just die. I truly do not wish that on anyone. This is the final stretch. My body just has to make it through the next two/three weeks.

“Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not muscles.”

I could not have made this without my parents. They’ve been amazing. Right from late night talks, medication when I’m not well, shopping, driving the children up and down, just everything.

My children. Every single on of them. I’ve had to do nothing at home. They took over completely. They made sure we had what we needed at home, they cooked, took care of me. Took care of the dogs. Themselves. I am blessed.

Tommie, for coming home on chemo days to help with the children. Liesl, who cooked every single chemo day. You were a life-saver in more ways than you know. Natalie, who spoiled us with food and sweets.

My dear soulmate, Wenchy who drove through to support me after my op and to spend a chemo day with me.

My friends Wenchy, Sarah, Shireen and Heather who went on a girl’s weekend away to take my mind of things. All of them and Jax who continued to walk this road with me every day.

My brothers and sisters (because they aren’t in-laws) thank you for all you did and your love and support every day. Thank you Douglas for being here to drive the kids around when I could not.

My clients, who understood and did not put any pressure on me. I know I’m going to forget people and that’s why I should not start with names, so to every single person who dropped by, sent a message, prayed for me and took extra care of my children when I wasn’t at their sport event THANK YOU. Every tiny deed made a huge difference to me and did not go without notice.

To my oncology nurses. Thank you for the laughs we shared. You put a smile on my face the moment I walked into oncology from that very first day. Even when battling to get the needle into the port, we could share a joke (or swear at the doctor) Thank you for being my “call a friend”. Thank you for caring about ME and not just the cancer patient. I’m actually going to miss you! It takes a very special person to do what you do

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My very last chemo day.

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On that first day you walk past this bell and know that’s what you want to do. You WANT to ring that bell. When fellow patients friends hear it’s your last day, they say with a smile in their eyes “You get to ring the bell today!”. It’s what you look forward to.

16 May 2018 was MY day to do just that.

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So much to say but …

So much has happened since my last blog post(s). I’ve had so much to say but yet no words to do so.

I’ve been admitted to hospital twice.

Once with chest pains. My blood levels for blood clots were very high and I was treated for that as well as a lung infection. I had a CT scan done (for blood clots) and thankfully no blood clots were detected. However, the did see a 8 cm growth in my throat. I had a biopsy done and I was so scared. The biopsy I had for my breast cancer was definitely up there with one of the most painful things ever and I did not look forward to having one done in my throat! However it wasn’t too bad and they didn’t find any cancer cells! The doctor is still worried though and it will be removed between finishing my chemo and starting radiation.

I was then admitted two weeks later because it seems I’m allergic to the chemo. I got four sessions of AC chemo, which was fine and then I would have had 12 sessions Taxol. Halfway through the Taxol treatment, I got the worst rash. It actually started after about three sessions but got progressively worse. After the 6th treatment, my hands were so swollen and covered with painful red blisters and marks. I was to be admitted for a week but thanks to the needle that pulled out of the port and me having to go to a different hospital to have it fixed, my oncologist decided I could get my medication at oncology throughout the day. That way I could sleep at home, which is WAY better. My mom was also in hospital that same week and I spent my days between her and oncology. Thankfully at the same hospital. Even though I walked around with a needle inserted to my port for the rest of that week, I had no problems with it. HUGELY thankful because I would have hated getting IV treatments three times a day. Getting poked to access the port is no fun either. That would definitely count as my worst week yet. I was tired, couldn’t sleep. It was just bad all around.

Tomorrow I start on a different chemo. One we hope I won’t be allergic to. Instead of 6 more sessions (which would be 6 weeks), I will still have a six-week treatment cycle but only two chemo sessions. They prefer not to give this to patients, as it is hectic on the body. I’m not looking forward to it but I do hope that my body will cope with it as it has with the previous two. Okay, except for the allergy thing. I’ve been doing okay really.

I feel like I have going through life on auto-pilot. Not really thinking about what I’m going through and how it is affecting my life and those around me. I fear the day that it will all hit me. When I truly realize that I actually have cancer and I’m fighting a horrible disease. I’ve not been angry, upset, depressed. Just taking it day by day. It could be because I have such great support. I could never thank my parents enough. Even though my mom is going through this as well, she has been tremendous support. My father…I could not put into words what he has done and how much he has taken on since our cancer diagnoses. He is an angel in disguise. I could NEVER thank my children enough. They have been my rock.

Here’s to hoping that tomorrow will go well. Second last one then!

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon

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Why you should stop telling cancer patients to be positive.

This has been bothering me for a while.  Telling a cancer patient to be positive.  Be positive that you will get violently sick?  Be positive that you will be constantly nauseous?  Be positive that you will have a headache that no pill helps for?  Be positive that you lose feeling in your fingers, which makes working difficult?  Be positive that you will be so tired that waking up and staying awake feels impossible? Be positive that you have had surgery that leaves you feeling less than a woman? Be positive that you will lose your hair?  That same hair that YOU spend so much time on washing and styling? The hair that makes you want to hide at home when you have a bad hair day?

All that must make a cancer patient feel positive?

Do you sit back and think how much pressure you put on a cancer patient when you say that?  It makes it difficult for a cancer patient to admit that she is having a tough day.  That she is not feeling so good.  It makes that patient feel she has to smile so that no-one tells her to be positive.  Even healthy people feel down some days right?

I can tell you that I appreciate it when someone says I am so positive.  I am.  I mostly feel this is a page in my book and not even worthy of a chapter.  I have days where I feel it is a separate book though.  I story on it’s own.  Where I’m strong, fearful, thankful, angry … all at the same time.

This “be positive” thing didn’t bother me so much when it was just me.  Now it’s my mom though.  My mom having to go through what I’m going through.  My mom having to get chemo to fight a horrible disease.  Not flu.  Not bronchitis or a broken leg.  Cancer.  Cancer where you feel so darn well but then end up making yourself sick by going for chemo.  No, I don’t expect her to feel positive.

Yes, I get where everyone is coming from.  It is always from a good and caring place. Should I see my mom lying in bed for days on end because emotionally she can’t cope, I will get a professional person to help her.  I would not tell her to feel positive.  I would tell her to be strong.

Yes, being positive makes it easier to cope.  It does!  If I had to sit in a corner and cry it would kill my kids.  It would hurt my parents and Tommie.  It would not be good for our family.  It would make working difficult and generally life would suck.  I know this is why people tell you to be positive.  I get that.  Please don’t think that I’m not thankful.  Again, I know it comes from such a good and caring place.

Just sit back and think how it affects a cancer patient though.  Someone who normally does feel positive and thankful for what they have and how “healthy” they actually are.  It makes it so difficult to admit that some days are just really crap.  That emotionally it feels too much.

I am thankful.  Hugely thankful.  It could have been so much worse.

Today though, today feels crap.  I didn’t want my mom to go through this.  I’m proud of her for choosing to give herself every possible chance there is to fight this.  She is one strong woman.  It’s okay when she’s not as well.

I’m not a hero.  Just a normal person, fighting for my life.

#fuckcancer #bestrong

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Birthdays are special

Happy 12th birthday Zander. I am so very proud of the person you are. You are compassionate beyond your age. You love so deeply. You have trust in people and see the good in everything. You have a sweet, pure heart. I hope that regardless what life throws at you, you will always choose to see the good.

I’m sorry for not being able to give you the best birthday ever. You deserve the best, every year. Maybe tomorrow we can have the Wimpy breakfast you are supposed to have on your birthday. Maybe I feel better tomorrow.

For now though, sorry that you had to walk into our room and see me sleeping most of your birthday. I found the photo on your phone and I wonder how many times did you walk in to check on me.

Happy birthday sweet boy.

Next year, I promise.


3rd chemo today

I have said from the start that I want to write about my experience as something to read back on but also to just maybe help someone who has to go through this unknown.

I’ve been strong. I am still strong. I’m not falling into the depths of despair. No need to send help. I am feeling down though. It’s only the start but I just feel robbed.

I feel robbed of time. I can’t remember when last I’ve been able to just watch the kids swim. Zander used to insist. Now he doesn’t even ask. I don’t do things for the children anymore. They do things for me. I have so much work to do. I need time to work and time to rest at the same time. I don’t know how I am going to cope with added school activities. So thankful we live close to school.

My body is giving me a little f#ck you today. I don’t blame it. I mean it’s putting up a good fight and all.

Tomorrow will be better.


2017

I could say it was a crap year because let’s face it, it wasn’t perfect.

However it wasn’t all bad and that’s what I prefer to focus on. Bad things tend to bring people together. I connected with family that I haven’t really spoken to in years. I got to see my soul mate for the first time in years. My relationship with Tommie is better than it has been for a long time. I have received such special care and love from family and friends. My children have always been helpful but now they have stepped up in an awesome way.

Cancer has taken a lot but has also given appreciation, love and thankfulness. I am still here. I still get to say, I love you.

This year has not just been about cancer though.

Quintus and his 1st hockey team did exceptionally well, making it through to the north west finals. Jason and Zander has impressed me at every gala. The hard work they put in is something I appreciate. Kyla enjoyed her hockey season and seems to enjoy swimming now as well. School has gone well. Good friendships were made. My children are happy and proper and for that I am thankful.

I have amazing parents that have walked every step of my cancer journey with me, even with my mom having been diagnosed with cancer as well. Come to think of this, I am thankful that my cancer helped with early diagnosis of my mom’s cancer.

I am hugely thankful that my Bella is still with us.

Many things to be thankful for. It has not been a bad year. We are still blessed and together.

Happy new year to all my friends and family.


2nd Chemo

I knew what to expect. Which made the thought of the second chemo much easier. It’s just that it takes so long!

We drive into the parking lot, when Tommie said “There is Dion.” Now, Tommie knows everyone in town, or so it feels. Dion, could be any one of the many people he knows. As I was focused on getting everything in the bag for chemo, I didn’t really listen. Then he said “There’s Christel!”, that’s when I listened.

I got out of the car and there was Stel and Dion. How? We live 200km away… Here just to keep me company during chemo? I was sooo happy!

We just sat down and caught up with news from their new Northern Cape friends, when Liesl came in with coffee! More of us! By the time I was settled with drips and all, my mom, Dad and Jason also joined us.

There was not a moment that I was alone. Not a moment to think how much longer it will take the poisen to flow through my veins.

We laughed, entertained nurses and hopefully put a smile on some patients faces.

Stel, Dion… Thank you. Your support and the visit all day. You kept me smiling. Thank you for that.

Stel, thank you for being my person.


So my hair is falling out

I cut my hair a couple of days before I started chemo. I like to have enough knowledge when something unexpected happens in life, so I read a lot. Almost all cancer patients that gets (got) the same chemo as I do advised cutting your hair short.

No-one mentioned that your scalp will hurt when your hair starts falling out. Nobody. Not my oncologist, the nurses… I thought that maybe somehow I got sunburned at the gala without realizing. That’s how painful it is.

I turned to Google and I am not alone. In different degrees, it hurts when your hair falls out. I cannot even lie on my back because the back of my head is the worst. Not that the rest isn’t painful, it is just not as bad.

Also, it is starting to look horrible. I suppose by this weekend it will all have fallen out.

#cancersucks

Some days are better than others though. Today might turn into a great one. Who knows.
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I’m gonna love you through it

I remember when I went for my mammogram and sonar thereafter. I was waiting in the doctor’s office. Alone. I didn’t have to be alone. My mom badly wanted to go with me but I wanted to face it alone. I remember sending my mom a message “The doctor thinks it is cancer”

I cannot image what she must have thought. She wanted to drive to the doctor’s office but I said that I was fine.

I remember going for the biopsy. Alone. I didn’t want anyone else to worry or go through that.

I went back to the doctor when he got the results. Alone.

Again, not because I had to but because I handle tough situations like that.

I was alone when the doctor said he had bad news. That it was cancer. I was calm. Listened to his thoughts and what we needed to do next.

I walked out of his office and saw my dad in the waiting room. We know that lady who works there and he phoned her to hear what the results were.

All of a sudden I wasn’t alone and I didn’t want to be. My daddy was there.

I’m a proud person and I don’t think that is such a good personality trait to have. I needed to see my dad there.

I have since learned that so many people want to be there. So many people want to love me through this.

Tommie takes time of from work to go to appointments with me. The children go way and beyond. My brothers, sisters (in-law). My friends. People who I hardly knew have fast become close friends. People want to help.

They want to love me through this.

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I heard this song and cried. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer about two weeks ago.

I want to love her through this. I understand now how important it is for me to allow others to love me through this.

Mom, I can’t fix this. I can’t make it better. I can’t take it away but I can love you through this.


First chemo session

Honestly? I was nervous. Nervous because I couldn’t feel the chemo port and thought they wouldn’t be able to use it. Nervous of the unknown.

I handle such situations with humor. I had that oncology in giggles most of the time. Except when someone was asleep and there was this one old Oom that snored. That calm snore. I wanted to sleep with him!

First they put a plaster over the port that numbs the area. Takes 40 minutes and gave us time to visit family in hospital. I went back and felt close to zero pain when she put needle in. Felt absolutely nothing when she flused it and nothing while getting the chemo. I had my hands available and comfortable without an IV. It was great.

My body handled it like a pro. So far, so good. Little bit nauseous but I can cope with it.

I was so worried that I made a mistake by getting the port. I thankfully did not. It worked so well.


I took control

I have a sweet but also very honest oncologist. She told me exactly how I will feel during chemo and what will happen. For example that my hair will fall out. 10-14 days and my hair will start falling out. I have had long hair for ages. Last time I had short hair was in matric. The boys only know me with long hair. I always joke that “I may be fat but at least I have great hair”. Well, soon, no more. So I made the decision to cut it short and donate my hair to cancer..ironic I know. So today was the day. A day I thought would be emotional though, turned out special. Our hairdresser (aka friend aka angel) has supported and helped me non-stop throughout this while thing. Finally the day came that I was going to cut my hair. We got there and it turned into such a beautiful, emotional, special morning. My mom and I were treated with gifts, flowers, cupcakes, shampagne. The whole works. A toast to us, our path ahead. I wish I had thought of taking a photo. To all our friends there, this meant so much to us. You have no idea. Thank you for your support and prayers. You are amazing.


Chemo scheduled

Everything has happened in slow motion. Too slow. More than a month after surgery, I will start chemo.

Next week Wednesday.

29 November 2017.

I feel like saying finally it will start but that feels wrong. I don’t want it to start. I also don’t want to wait any longer.

This weekend we have a family photoshoot. Will be nice to have those photos to look at as I go bald and feel sick. That sounds really negative but I’m just realistic. It is a fact.

I am thankful though that I could finish off the individual tax season without being on Chemo!

See..always a positive.


Chemo port

I was very unsure if this was the route I wanted to go. My cousin who has just finished her chemo advised me against it. I Googled, read up, spoke to family and friends and eventually decided to get chemo port.

Firstly when I went for one of my tests the doctor mentioned that she would have to look for a vein. Mine tends to hide. Then during a visit with my oncologist I saw a lady get chemo through her port and how quick and easy it was. So decision was made.

I feel I am doing what I can to make this road a little easier. Cancer a tough, horrible thing to go through. If a port can make it a bit easier, I am all for it.


Thankful

My Aunt phoned me (for which I am very thankful) and mentioned that getting a thankful journal might be helpful.  One where I just write five or ten things that were positive that day.  Little things, like someone opening the door or a smile from a random person.

I have yet to buy a journal but I am thankful for some little things.

  • The waiter at Rustenburg Spur last night that saw that I wasn’t feeling well and when Tommie asked for ice-cold water with lemons, she brought it immediately.  Just as he ordered.  When the boys came back with medicine, she saw that and brought me room temperature water for the pills.
  • I’m thankful for my friend Liesl, who just continuously brings a smile to my face.  From the day she brought the most delicious milktart, to the recent cushion that will help that my safety belt doesn’t irritate my chemo port.
  • I could never mention all the little things my mom and dad does but please know that I see and appreciate every little and big thing.
  • My children.  Your patience with me and the will to help me as soon as I need something.  I am blessed with amazing children.
  • My brothers who cycled the 94.7 with pink hair.  Now that’s showing support if I ever saw it.
  • My mom, who put pink stripes in her hair.  If you know my mom you would know that it is totally out of her comfort zone.  Thanks Mom.
  • To my daughters (both from heart) Kyla and Jeane, who puts breast cancer images as their profile pictures and status on whatsapp.  I’m proud of you.
  • The receptionist at one of the doctor’s I went to last week that also has breast cancer and was extra sweet and friendly.
  • Melanie from The final touch, who has gone way and beyond to help me feel pretty.  Also for helping with my hair after the op.  You don’t know how much I appreciate it.
  • Our coach family that bought me a cancer ribbon necklace and chocolates after the op.
  • Our junior coach who asks and cares about how I’m doing.
  • The pink valve caps Tommie bought for my bus.
  • My soul mate who drove 2 hours to give me a hug.
  • One of my dear friends who put pink stripes in her hair, regardless of what the school headmaster will say.  The fellow teachers love it though 🙂

I could never remember everyone or everything but there are so many little things.  I never thought I would have the kind of support I do.

I am thankful for everyone who has done something to show support or send a message.


How do I feel

I try not to feel.  That is my honest answer.  I don’t know how I feel because I hide it even from myself.  As soon as I try to think about it, I stop myself.  It is what it is and getting all emotional about it won’t help.

I do feel bad that it has affected Zander so much this whole term.  We did all his work but it always seemed rushed or not on schedule.

I feel bad that I was hardly in the office the last month.  It’s stressful times with tax season ending next week and I was not there to do my share.  My dad had to stand in and take a lot of the work on his shoulders.

My parents have done more than can ever be expected of them.  I don’t know how I would have coped without them this past month.

At this stage I just feel it’s unfair towards others.  I feel horrible when I see how upset other people are.

It still feels like people are making a bigger deal out of it than it has to be though.  I know my whole opinion about that will change once I start chemo but that’s how I feel now.  It felt like the operation was bigger than it had to be.  It’s as though in my mind it was just a tiny growth with no chance of it turning into something that anyone has to worry about.  As though it could have been dealt with , without anyone having to know.

Now it’s a big thing that will influence the next 8 months of my life, of my family’s lives.

I’m just writing down thoughts.  It feels so unreal that I feel so healthy now and I have to go make myself sick.  I’m willingly going to walk into oncology and get sick.  It’s just … surreal.


The results are in

All tests done and I saw my oncologist for the 2nd time.  Some interesting facts.  The mark on my back is thankfully just proof that I have a bad back.  I’m very thankful for that and ag shame, my back is stuffed.  Then I went for a sonar and x-ray this morning.  Apparently I have gallstones.  They do not bother me, so I will not bother them!

It’s funny how all of a sudden a bad back and gallstones are something to be thankful for!

I get the chemo port on Tuesday and should start chemo either Wednesday or Thursday.

It’s starting to feel real.


I went radioactive

Today I had a scan to see if the cancer has spread to any bones.

Firstly these early morning doctors appointments aren’t good for my health. Not that 8:00 is early but it’s too early to see a doctor.  I just don’t like going to a doctor.

Although this was a bit different. They are so sweet. They take time to explain what they are doing and how long it will take.

So at 8:30 I get injected with some radioactive liquid. (There is a proper name for that lol) Since it takes about three hours for your bones to absorb it, they could only do the scan at 11:00. So what to do with so much time? Wimpy breakfast of course (thanks Mom!)

The scan took an hour. An hour of lying on a flat hard surface, without moving at all. Do you know how long an hour can be?

She picked up a mark on my spine and did another 3D scan. You can clearly see the mark there. It can either be cancer or it could be degenerative.  Since I so often have backache I shall believe it is just a bad disc until further information says otherwise.

Tomorrow is another early appointment and then I see the oncologist again.


Cardiologist

Way too early for my liking, I saw the cardiologist this morning. (Thanks for going with, Mom)

Interesting fact, there is no damage to my heart from the cardiac arrest I had as a child.

This is good, since the chemo might do damage to my heart. I needed a heart sonar to see if my heart is strong enough to handle the chemo.

Actually scary to think that where normally medicine makes you better, chemo makes you sick. Obviously the idea is to kill the cancer that is trying to kill me but still.  Having to check my heart to see if it will cope is just weird.

So WTG heart for being strong enough!

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PS: It was the first time that someone else saw my breast after surgery. I felt embarrassed. I know it is okay, it is just a breast. I know in the bigger scheme of things it is not important. Still felt embarrassed.


First oncologist appointment

We met up with my oncologist on the 6th of November.  It’s the same oncologist that Tommie saw for the cancer he had in his face.  She’s very sweet.  She explained it all.  (Although I Googled it to no end and knew exactly what everything meant)  I listened intently in case I missed something.

Basically the fact that we picked it up quickly, is a good thing.

Bad things:

  • It’s triple negative breast cancer.  This means that it is a bit more difficult to treat.  It does not respond to hormones.
  • It has a worse prognosis than other breast cancer.  Only 10 – 20 % of breast cancer is TNBC (Triple Negative Breast Cancer)·
  • The cancer grade (which is not the same as stage) is grade 3. Grade 1 is the ‘best’ and grade 3 the worst.
  • The Ki67 percentage is very high.  This is the percentage that indicates how quickly the cancer grows, divides and make new cells.  Less than 10% is low and above 20% is high.  Mine? 80 – 90 %…·
  • Not to bore too much, there is a score out of 9.  3/9 would be the best…mine, 9/9.

So it’s not exactly what one would want, but it is what it is.  I have a bunch of tests next week.  One to see if my heart is strong enough to handle the chemo, others to see if it has spread etc.  I’m having a chemo port put in on the 21st of November and I’ll probably start chemo soon after.

I’ll get 4 sessions of chemo three weeks apart.  Then a different kind of chemo, once a week for 12 weeks.  I’ll have a month break and then radiation. So it’s a tough couple of months that lies ahead.

I am very lucky to have fantastic support.  My parents have been amazing.  I cannot thank them enough. Tommie took some time off work to help out.  I have friends who have travelled hours just for a hug and others who makes the best pudding ever. I have had the most flowers ever, since my operation.  One sweet friend who made sure that I looked proper by doing my hair for me.  Fresh pineapple juice from my sister-in-law. People from all over the world praying for me.  I can’t remember everyone and would feel so bad if I left anyone out.  Just know that the simplest of things mean the world to me.

If love alone could beat cancer, I’ll be cancer free.


The operation

I was finally operated on the 24th of October.  Three months after my breast started to hurt and more than a month after going for the sonar.

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I had to get  a flicker test done at a different hospital and arrived back at the hospital just in time for the operation.  They wheeled me out of my room pretty much as I got there.  Then I waited.  Thankfully Tommie, my mom and dad were there with me.  We waited.  Other people were taken through.  We waited.  They realized that the machine they needed to see if the cancer has spread to my lymph nodes, were still at the other hospital.  Wheeled me back and we waited some more.

 

Finally I was taken to the theatre.  I remember how nice the anesthetist and nurses were.  I didn’t see the surgeon before I went to sleep.

I woke up in pain (obviously) and extremely nauseous.  I have never been nauseous like that before.  They actually contacted the  in theatre to find out if they could give me something else.  Nothing worked.  Even the nurse told me the next morning that they felt so bad for me.  I have never had such a bad reaction from anaesthetics.

Recovery was not fun.  The drain was horrible.  I couldn’t wait to have it removed.  I have a high pain threshold but this was sore.  I was allergic to the plasters and even now, two weeks later, my skin is still red and swollen where the plasters were.   What does my breast look like? Let’s just say I will probably eventually get used to it.  I’m would much rather survive than die with proper breasts, you know?  It’s still not nice though.  I do not wish this on anyone.

I got my results back on the 30th of October.  This was before I saw the surgeon again.  I know the lady that works there and she sent it to me.  Of course I immediately turned to dr Google to see what it means.  Some things I thought were very positive and others not so much.  I wasn’t 100% sure though.  My cousin very kindly showed the results to her doctor and that’s when I knew it might be worse than I wanted it to be.  Her doctor said that it is an aggressive cancer and I should start chemo ASAP.  I saw my surgeon the 1st of November.  He said that he removed it all however it is not a good thing that it is Triple Negative Cancer.  He removed the drain tube (thank goodness) which did not hurt at all.  They made an appointment for me to see the oncologist on the 6th of November.


Biopsy

I saw the specialist on the 2nd of October.  I knew that he would want to do a biopsy.  I thought that he had a sonar machine that would help him navigate to the lump.  Boy was I wrong.  I don’t think I have ever been that sore, including the c-sections and the lumpectomy I just had.  Thankfully that pain only lasted a couple of days but it was excruciating. The actually needle didn’t hurt.  So I assume that if I went for a biopsy at the radiologist, it wouldn’t be that sore.  He had to insert the needle and then move it around until he felt the lump.  TWICE.

Anyway, I was almost convinced that the results would be negative since there was an outside chance that he didn’t even get tissue from the lump.  I was wrong.  It came back positive.  He gave me an option of lumpectomy (just removing the lump and a clear area around that) or mastectomy.

I have always said that if I had to get breast cancer I would have a double mastectomy without second thought.  When he asked me that, my brain almost stood still.  How do I decide?  What if I make the wrong decision.  What if I will regret getting a lumpectomy?  If it spreads I will be so upset with myself for not getting a mastectomy.  What if I get a mastectomy and I can’t cope with not having my breast (s)  .  I asked my cousin’s opinion (who is also fighting breast cancer).  I asked the kids.  My parents.  Tommie.  The doctor said that lumpectomy with radiation, will have the same result as mastectomy.  So we went with lumpectomy.

Thinking about it and talking about it, never made it real to me.  It was almost as if I didn’t think it was me that we were talking about.  I felt very removed from the situation.


I felt a lump

I’ve been meaning to write a post but everything seemed to take forever.  Getting final results or decisions took weeks.  I didn’t want to write a blog post only to say I think I have cancer or I  might have to get chemo or ….  I’m a black and white person.  Especially when it comes to myself.  I need facts.

During the July holidays, while in Stilbaai, I somehow hurt myself.  Can’t really recall if I walked into something or what happened but my breast was sore.  I couldn’t feel a lump, just that my breast hurt.  The pain came and went.  It bothered me a little but since it wasn’t a permanent pain and I couldn’t feel a lump, I wasn’t too bothered.

I can’t remember when but a while later I did feel a lump.  Obviously I was worried, so I googled.  General consensus …. Breast cancer doesn’t hurt.  If it hurts, it is most probably not cancer.  That was in August.  The pain did not go away though and it felt as though the lump was getting bigger, so I made an appointment to see my GP on the 19th of September.

I explained to him that my breast is sore and he examined me.  He wasn’t worried at all.  He also said that breast cancer does not hurt.  He planned on removing it the next Wednesday himself.  My medical aid though wanted me to get a mammogram before authorizing the op.  Apparently they don’t pay if the lump is benign.

I went for the mammogram on the 20th of September.  I always thought that going for a mammogram would be painful but it was not.  Uncomfortable but not painful.  She immediately asked me if I knew I had a lump.  I was then sent for a sonar.  The doctor didn’t want me to leave and asked me to wait while he contacted my doctor.  He knew it was cancer.  He didn’t say as much but started talking about survival rates and how it is treated.  My doctor was playing golf and I was told that he would phone me the next day.  Which he didn’t do.  I eventually went to his office on the Friday after trying to get hold of him on the phone for two days.

When he saw me he was all … oh gosh I urgently need to see you. He discussed the results with me, that I’ve had for two days and googled anyway.  I asked him if he thought it could be cancer and he said that yes, it looks like cancer to him.  He referred me to a specialist, who was on leave.  I could only see him the 2nd of October.  Another week of wonder and worry.