Guilt

I often think back to last year and my breast cancer journey, especially when I limp more because my knee and feet still suffer from the side-effects of Letrozole (the medication which is supposed to prevent breast cancer from developing again); or when I am too tired to make myself a cup of coffee – luckily that doesn’t happen very often any more and the tiredness seems to be further and further apart. But I also think about the BC journey when I read about other cancer-survivors who are so positive and went through it smiling.

I realise those people struggled as much as I did, but they handled it so much better; or maybe they are simply people who never see a glass half empty. I am a teeny weeny bit jealous of them. And it makes me feel guilty for being such a drama queen and so negative at times. And I feel a bit upset that I didn’t handle it better, coped a bit better, maybe tried a bit harder to at least put up a positive front? Maybe if I was more positive things would have been better at school? Maybe I would have been less stressed all the time and would have healed better and faster?

For a long time, after treatment, I still felt that I had cancer and every ache and pain caused me to worry. My sore knee and feet – maybe bone cancer; my migraines – maybe brain cancer. It was very much in my ‘head’. But I am so grateful to say that I don’t feel like that anymore………..and I know it is thanks to the ovarian cancer scare I had this year. And the fact that the surgery went well. The bone scan also contributed to this because it would have shown ‘hot spots’ where there could be possible cancer spots

So even though I feel so guilty about the way I travelled this journey, it is now behind me and I am feeling good and healthy. Yes, I limp, but even that is now a reminder that I am healthy

It feels to me as if I need to find something to do – a part-time job, maybe volunteer work. And that makes me feel good! Yes, I still have a job to go back to next year, after my year’s leave, but I have so many negative memories of that environment that I definitely don’t want to go back. I am starting to look at job adverts, though this is a very small town and I am not really at an age which counts for me. In the meantime I am looking at volunteering, not sure where yet but it is a definite option for the future

Susan

Not a happy ‘chappy’

By lack of a female word rhyming with ‘happy’ I will just call myself ‘chappy’ today. This was not a good week – I developed an infection in my belly button šŸ˜¦ I knew this was going to happen, I had a gut feeling and luckily (because of this gut feeling) I have been keeping a close eye on my belly button

It all happened when the nurse removed my stitches a week after surgery. She did great and it was a painless procedure. But the next day I noticed she didn’t see the second stitch in my belly button. I went back the next day and asked them to remove it. But I was seen by someone else who told me the stitch will dissolve and not to worry about it. I questioned this as the surgeon told me to get the stitches removed. Was told that permanent stitches are blue and the dissolvable ones brownish (like the one I had). I decided to take her word for it and let it go.

But of course I came home and googled ‘stitches’ and according to what I read stitches can be lots of different colours. And that is when my gut feeling told me we are going to have a potential problem. And yes, it happened. It was stressful when I noticed the infection, because I immediately worried that a bug could get in and cause the infection to spread. So back to the nurse I went two days ago

She managed to remove the stitch and clean up the infection, took a swab to be analysed just in case I needed antibiotics. But I am grateful to say the infection cleared and it seems as if it is under control. I was tempted to take photos of my belly button but decided that could be a bit creepy šŸ™‚

I am seeing my surgeon next week for a follow-up after the surgery and I hope to have a very healthy and healed belly button by then. But this just reminded me again to trust that gut feeling we all have. Say something if you think it needs to be said, stand up for yourself, look after yourself!!!!!

Oh……….and I am knitting again. Saw this lovely little cardigan and just had to give it a try. Downloaded the pattern to my laptop, bought the wool and buttons and ribbon today and started immediately. I have said before that I really don’t like knitting. I still feel the same, but I do it again and again and again. It will be worth the effort though…….it looks so pretty on the pattern

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Recovering mode and needlework

Two weeks after my surgery and I feel so good. I am now at the stage where I have to stop myself from doing things, as I feel so well. It makes me feel guilty not to clean the house and help with the painting, but although the external wounds are healed I have to be conscious of what is going on internally and make sure I give that enough time to heal properly too. So I am still focussing on needlework and resting for the rest of this week

I haven’t work on the Neverending sampler for quite a while and were 9 bands behind. But now I am all caught up again. I didn’t embroider the full last one as designed because I didn’t enjoy doing the little flowers, so did only one row instead of two. Still looks pretty though. (and becoming very hard to photograph)

This is where I was up to ages ago:

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Before

And this is where I am now:

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Now!

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I also completed another knitted baby jacket and booties. Going to start on the little hat today. It is a lovely pattern and although it has not been blocked yet I couldn’t resist taking a photo. The little baby girl is arriving in November. It is lovely to knit for a specific baby

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And the fabric for my new project has arrived!!!!!!! Can’t wait to start. I have made a Crochet Fusion quilt before but decided to make another one in blues. I might make this one a little bigger too

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This is the one I have made already:

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Good news and on the way to recovery

This week I had the big surgery planned. Monday was the S-day and I reported at the hospital after the 3-hour drive and a visit to the gyro/oncologist’s rooms. In the afternoon I was wheeled to the theatre and felt very nervous – at that stage I was ready to get of the bed and walk home. Luckily they gave me something good to relax and I woke up some hours alter to very good news

The plan was to do keyhole surgery, send the frozen sample to be analysed while I was still sleeping, and to do open surgery immediately if the results came back positive. The surgeon removed the ovaries and growths with keyhole surgery………….and that was it. The growths were benign and he didn’t have to do open surgery

I am so grateful, so lucky, so blessed!!!!!!!!! Thank you to everyone who kept me in their prayers and thoughts

I am home and recovering quickly. With only four little cuts, after the keyhole surgery, it is easy to forget that I had quite a big operation and I have to remind myself to take things slow. Although my body is quite quick to let me know I have to sit back and relax. I am sleeping a lot and get tired quickly, but I know that is my body’s way to tell me I am recovering

What a wonerdul week with amazing news!

 

 

Surgery on Monday

After the bone scan I had in April, which came out clean with no sign of cancer, my oncologist wanted me to go for an ultrasound and blood tests as they did see something on my right ovary. I went for the ultra-sound last week and yes, there were three suspicious looking growths on the right ovary

While waiting for the final results I made an appointment with the GP for a few days later, to discuss the results. But I also came home and started reading a bit about ovarian cancer. Yes, I know we are always warned to stay away from the internet for health issues, but Mr Google is my friend and there is a lot of good, trustworthy stuff up there. One thing I read is that it is better to have a gynaecological oncologistĀ do the investigative surgery, instead of a normal gynaecologist as the this improves the survival rate – they know what to look for

I looked forĀ gynaecological oncologists closest to me and was pleasantly surprised to see the gyno who did my partial hysterectomy in 2009 was aĀ gynaecological oncologist!!!!!! So I immediately called and ask if I could see him and was very happy to get appointment for Monday (this past Monday). I thought I could always cancel if the results look ok

Long story short – I saw the GP and the cysts were definitely not cysts, but solid growths, possibly cancer

Saw theĀ gynaecological oncologist this week and he immediately came with a plan of action. I am booked in for the operation this coming Monday (I am so grateful that when the C-word is used that everything happens a bit quicker than surgery for other aches and pains). He is going to start off with keyhole surgery to remove the ovaries and growths, send it off to be tested while I am still under, and if the test comes back positive will then immediately proceed with open surgery and remove whatever needs to be removed – which includes lump glands near the spine, the fatty layer which covers the organs and anything else necessary to be removed. But he has also referred me for blood work, which includes a test which can be used to detect ovarian cancer. If this comes back with high levels he will skip the keyhole surgery and start with open surgery

[I was referred for a blood test when the ultra sound was organised, but the young doctor messed up when she requested the test and asked for the wrong one. She had me tested for bowel cancer – which I seem not to have. But after my fun experience with this young doctor to get some anti-inflammatories for my back I had no desire to ask her for a referral for the correct blood test]

We won’t know for sure what is going on until during/after surgery, but all the reports so far indicate they suspect it is ovarian cancer. My gut feeling is also that it is

Now that I know the growths are there I am more conscious of the symptoms of ovarian cancer: the bloating (yes), more trips to the toilet (yes), constipation (yes), pain in the lower back/side (yes, I have this dull pain on a regular basis. I remember googling to find out what sits there in my body). Did I ever speak to a GP about this? No, because it never felt serious enough and as I went through breast cancer and radiation and the dreadful Letrezole last year I simply blamed these symptoms on the fact that my body is a mess and busy recovery, and that these will go away as I get my health back

Whatever the outcome of my surgery, I will be nagging and pestering and do anything I can to get the message to women – don’t be too strong, too busy with everyone else, take yourself off to the doctor when you have these symptoms so that ovarian cancer can be detected EARLY! Because I had these symptoms and I also know that, in the back of my mind, the alarm bells went off – but because of the breast cancer journey I was on I just didn’t want to bring up stuff like bloating/constipation/dull pain with my doctors, it all seemed like too simple, too silly to discuss after going through cancer

So yes, Monday is the big day. And the start of a new journey. I do love travelling and going on adventures, but I do prefer the kind where you have to board a plane

Painkillers

I have no idea how painkillers work. It is enough to know you can take a couple and your headache is gone. I also tend to put trust in doctors, simply because they are trained and know their jobs. But last week I started questioning decisions made by doctors. It seems as if the latest here in New Zealand is to ‘manage’ pain. And this concerns me as, in my humble opinion, it is only possible to manage pain AFTER you know what it is caused by

I have had problems with my back for many years, basically the little spaceĀ between two discs are getting thinner and thinner. All these years I have managed the pain by using anti-inflammatory medication, as and when needed. And I think I have done a good job. I also learnt not to sit too long, or stand too long, or do anything too long and to ‘read’ my back – so much so that I haven’t needed anti-inflammatory pills for quite a few years. A job well done in my eyes!

But my back started playing up a few weeks ago and I asked a doctor (new at the clinic and the first time I met her) for a prescription for my normal anti-inflammatory pills. She listened while I talked, but when I received the prescription I realise she didn’t hear what I was saying. She wanted me to take two different type of painkillers every day. 2 of one every 4 hours and 2 of the other each morning. She gave me enough for a month

I questioned it and said that if I take the anti-inflammatory pill for a couple of days my back normally settle and that is it – a couple of pills and I feel better; instead of the tons she wanted me to take the next month

I don’t understand – if there is inflammation in my back isn’t it better to treat the inflammation instead of covering up the root of the problem by ‘hiding’ it because the pain is treated. But not the inflammation? I know the pills are hard on my stomach, but what about painkillers? Are heaps of those ok for my stomach?

And by managing the pain instead of digging deeper to sort the problem – is that not going to cause bigger health issues because something is not diagnosed? You have no pain and therefore you don’t have an issue??????

I won’t be going back to her again

Here we go again?

I was hoping for a year to recover mentally, physically and emotionally. 2017 is my year of refreshment leave (aka unpaid leave). A year for me to become myself again, whoever that person is. To get healthy after breast cancer, the treatment and the dreadful Letrozole which knocked me back in 2016

It is May and I am starting to hear the whispers from my body again. Not all is good, that something is wrong. You know, ‘that feeling’ that something not good is going to happen

I started taking Letrozole in August 2016 and started limping soon after, then my arms became weak, my hands hopeless, I struggled with fatigue. In January I could barely walk because of all the aches and pains in my body. At that stage I emailed my oncologist with the list of side-effects I was experiencing and she told me to stop taking the horrible pill. I was also referred to a new oncologist closer to me

The new oncologist agreed with me and my previous oncologist that I should stop taking this drug, as it had only a 1 – 2% advantage in my case anyways, to prevent the cancer from returning. The side-effects weren’t worth the small advantage. I slowly recovered and became stronger, even the fatigue improved. I still walk with a limp, but otherwise I am feeling really good

Because of the aches and pains my new oncologist ordered a bone scan to double-check that the bones are clear, just to be thorough. Which I appreciate, now more than when she suggested it šŸ™‚

The results came back clean which indicated no cancer spread to the bones. But it picked up a growth on one of my ovaries. She asked my GP to organise a blood test (CA-125 blood test) and an ultra sound. Yesterday I went for an ultra sound and yes, I have several cysts in my right ovary. All of them about 3.7cm in diameter. I don’t have the final results yet but made an appointment to see the GP tomorrow morning, to hear what the results are and where to from here

Whether this is ovarian cancer or not, I will have to go through surgery to remove the ovary (I will definitely be asking for both to be removed). My age and the fact that I am post menopause is counting against me, as these cysts could indicate cancer. No, I am not saying it is ovarian cancer, I am saying it could be. That is my gut feeling

But I am ok, at this stage it has not been confirmed. I am starting to research gynaecological oncologists and will talk to my health insurance company today to make sure I know where I stand with it and which gynaecological oncologist they recommend if I decide to go private, instead of using the public health system. In the end it will depend where I can see a specialist first – in the private or public system

I feel a bit gutted that this is the situation and that 2017 is not going to be that ‘refreshing’ after all. I feel a lot of things, which I would rather not say out loud until I have more facts

But the cysts will have to be removed and at my age they normally suggest the removal of the ovary/ovaries too (I had a partial hysterectomy some years ago) – which potentially means quite a big operation again

So yes, here we go again……………………