Sunday, January 29, 2012

Two and half years since radiation

Was trying to find out when I finished radiotherapy or radiation as everyone tends to call it, when I discovered this blog didn't have a search function. So have now added it.
I now know my last radiation was on June 22 2009, which makes it two and a half years ago.
Why I wanted to know is that about three months ago, I noticed these broken veins below my collarbone on the left side, where I had radiation. They have increased a little since I first noticed them but aren't a big deal. When I pointed this out to The Tango Man at my last visit, which was three months ago so this must have been about three and a half to four months ago that I first noticed them, he said that about 10 years or so ago this was how all radiation patients reacted, and all over the radiated area. He said patients would be amazed when he could tell them during which period they had had radiation.
That part of my chest, well really the neck area above it, is still a little itchy at times and I still use the cream the radiation oncologist recommended at the time, after I had used a cortisone-enriched cream (the pharmacist made it according to her precription).
And then of course I have borderline lymphedema from the radiation which really flares up badly if I travel long distance and which is often a hassle but is mostly ok. But it does mean I do manual lymph drainage massage twice a day, about 40-50 minutes in the morning, and 10 minutes at night. So guess radiation has impacted on my life in a big way but it is all manageable provided I don't have to wear the compression sleeve which I don't like at all, not least cos it means I can't just wear the clothes I wish to.
This is a pic taken today of my broken capillaries - is that the best way to describe them? Not sure...
Then this pic is of my general chest area on the left. It looks far worse in the pic than in real life. It looks so pink and with so many marks. The radiation oncologist did tell me that those marks were latent sun damage that the radiotherapy brought to the fore. I hardly ever go into the sun so that just brought it out as it was unblemished before. But really it's not a big deal. Just wanted to document it, not moan or alarm people, and really this pic seems to have done the opposite. Oh dear! Maybe click onto it to enlarge it; then it doesn't look so bad!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"I don't have an option"

I am planning a change in my life. Nothing to do with my health, nothing I can write about at this stage. But I am making it my focus: reading an expert book on the topic, going to see a life coach to help me achieve my goal (a bit dubious re whether or not I will actually go through with the appointment as I am not sure I believe in life coaches, preferring psychotherapy for solving problems) and so on.
A friend congratulated me today on making the effort (she has a motivation problem, period...) and I heard myself say: "I don't have an option".
I remember saying that before, I said smiling.
When I was having treatment for cancer, many people said to be how brave I was, how whatever I was, how ... I used to get a little annoyed as I wasn't being brave, wasn't having a good attitude or blah-blah-blah. "I don't have an option," I'd say. And mean it. "I am just doing what I have to do."
Same with this.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cheryl Radford of Indigo Dreaming has died

Just read in alli-lifeintransition's  
blog that Cheryl Radford of Indigo Dreaming 
blog had died. Breast cancer. Cheryl has always been very sweet and very kind and very concerned and we often communicated via our respective blogs.
She lived in New South Wales, Australia.

At this moment there is nothing about her death on her blog but Alli of lifeintransition
wrote yesterday:
Today a very special friend  Cheryl Radford  lost her fight to Secondary Breast Cancer.  Cheryl suffered a great deal towards the end of her life. Haydn her husband called me this afternoon. He was very specific in his words. He said "Please feel Happy for our Cheryl, she is finally at Peace, she has no more pain and hopefully she is now another Angel"! He went on to say she never lost her spirit, everyday no matter how difficult she never complained! He was amazed at her courage...Most of all her dignity She died peacefully.
I will truly miss her. Cheryl was an outstanding woman.
Damn this bloody Cancer. It steals, takes lives  like a thief in the night. Creates havoc and chaos in families. Leaves children motherless.
Rest in Peace Dear Cheryl You left us far too soon! 
Love Always Alli........XXX

Mystery of the swollen ankle resolved

The Lymph Lady 2 whom I saw today - and really, too scared to talk but my arm seems fine now, at last, weeks and weeks and weeks post-mytrip - is a phsyiotherapist and she asked about my ankle (it has a gauze bandage wrapped around it, as per the doctor's actions as he said the compression would help the swelling). Well, she redid the bandage (my own attempts were clearly a bit pathetic plus she said the entire heel had to be covered too - the doctor had not done that), and felt the ankle. It is a sprained ligament, she said.
Now, whether that is from the fall or from yoga or gym, who knows (think it must be the fall), but at least it's not gout so I can continue to eat my sardines and anchovies without a second thought!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Today is 3 years since I was diagnosed

Today, January 15 2012, is three years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the day clearly. Remember the days before, waiting for the biopsy results and The Yoga Man saying that he was sure if it was anything serious the doctor would ask me to come in. Hruumph! Bloody hell. (Sjoe, I am still angry, I see.)
I eventually phoned him, from my desk, in the open-plan office, and he told me: "Abormal cells". "Abormal cells?" I repeated. What does that mean? Cancer? "Oh, we don't like to use that word," he said.
Then I remember going to my GP later that day and phoning my sister from my car outside the rooms afterwards, crying. Sobbing.
Was at that same doctor yesterday, for my swollen ankle. Not deep-vein thrombosis and not heart disease, he said. Could be from when I fell (slipped on loose chiffon trousers as I was stepping onto a pavement and cut my knee badly - oh, and tore the trousers - and twisted this ankle but it was sore only for a day.....and that was about two weeks ago. Could be gout, he said, which seemed crazy to me. We never really persued that discussion but hell, I hardly ever eat red meat but when I looked up the list of foods that can cause gout, I eat loads of things which contain purines, such as sardines and anchovies.
Ja, three years. The other day I remember is February 5, the first day I started chemo. The date I finished hasn't stuck in my head (could look it up in this blog, I guess) even though that goes together with the day I was told I had no more cancer in my body. It's the 15th and the 5th that I remember.
I am glad that I am ok now. Grateful. And pray that I am ok. Seeing The Tango Man at the end of February, and have to have a load of tests before I do: mammogram, chest x-ray, abdominal scan. Oh, and blood tests too.
Actually feel quite emotional when I think of it all. Three years ago. Scary.

Friday, January 13, 2012

and now for a swollen ankle

Damn. Yesterday at work dunno why but looked down and saw that my ankle was swollen. Very swollen. This morning it seemed down but then went up again. I was able to put on my trainers for gym and this, coupled with The Yoga Man telling me I was a hypochondriac, made me decide not to go to the doctor.
However, I am now going tomorrow. Just to put my mind at rest. It's my right ankle. Been on websites and it seems I am not alone in having a swollen ankle that is painless - it is slightly tender if I touch it but really, would not know it was swollen if I hadn't seen it.
Had reflexology on Monday - been wanting to write about that ever since and will soon - but doubt that played a role.
I know looking up medical things on the internet is dangerous but really it musn't be a blood clot or heart problems. Doctor tomorrow morning.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

feeling better now

Been chatting to The Yoga Man and feeling much better. He said I am more dutiful than I realise and that I generally am quite obliging. So I no longer feel like I am a walking firecracker.

I am a bit fiery

I am not so happy with myself today. Kinda exploded earlier. I don't take instruction well. I don't take any instruction in fact. I like to do what I want to do. And unfortunately inefficiency drives me dilly. Be that as it may, I am ok now and I don't like to linger on things. But sitting here quietly has helped. It is in fact hours since I 'lost it' and it was only momentary anyway. And then an hour later, after I was sent an email saying my outburst was uncalled-for, I did apologise, also by email, not because I meant it but to keep the peace for the foreseable future.
Anyway, started my day at the oncology centre. Was so uptight about the visit, an unscheduled one, that when I arrived at work realised I had forgotten to wash the conditioner out of my hair which was now lined with this film of soapy solution. So stuck my head under the tap and walked into the office with soaking wet hair.....
I had had a pain below my collar bone since Tuesday. Was pretty sure it was just from gym cos it started on Tuesday a  fter I had been to gym and the firm lymph massage I get from The Lymph Lady2 later that morning made it hurt. But did I really know it was just that? And when I spoke to my biokineticist on Wednesday and went though the exercises I had done the day before, she didn't think that had caused it....
To be on the safe side, I went to the oncology centre this morning. I long ago gave up on phoning. All their staff who were there when I had treatment have left, with the one dying shortly after, and they don't know me and I don't know them. In fact, am grateful that this year didn't give them Christmas presents. Have fortunately spent so little time there that it didn't even enter my consciousness.
Anyway, I just pitched. I explained I was a patient of The Tango Man, and two nurses examined me right there in the reception area. Look, in the past when I have pitched with a problem, they have called The Tango Man but that was when they knew me. Mmm.. that is maybe worrying that I am not getting that attention.
They did offer to bring my appointment forward (going at end of February) but I declined. Both said it was muscular/ligaments. Nothing there, they said.
Relief. That would be an understatement.
I had decided that if the pain meant the cancer was in my bones, would have resigned from work, borrowed some money that I would get from my pension fund and go somewhere for a week at least before starting treatment.
Luckily I am fine. And in retrospect, resigning would have perhaps not been the right thing to do as work can keep one "normal" and sane.....
My arm is unfortunately not great. Hasn't stabilised. Was up 1 and a half cm in more places this week but down in others. Might wear the compression sleeve but tomorrow is a gym day and the thought of wearing it for gym.... either with my arm and sleeve exposed (it is a heatwave here) or gyming in long sleeves.....think I can manage another day without it.
Going to do lymph massage now. This constant routine, dedication, discipline, whatever.... can be a bit painful but damn better than wearing the sleeve all the time.