I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Thursday January 15 2009. This is my journey with cancer and other musings as surveyed - initially temporarily hairless - from under my hats.
Just when I was starting to feel ok - don't have to see The Tango Man for another five months, arm is ok and settling down again - woke up with swollen gland(s) below my jaw.
This means no manual lymph drainage massage, cos it's likely I have some infection and the massage would just make it worse, and it also means a visit to the oncology centre tomorrow to check it out.
Hopefully it will go away, but will go see doctor tomorrow just in case.
I have been on tamoxifen for nearly three years, having started in about June 2009. Have managed to keep the two major side-effects at bay, namely weight gain and hot flushes, but now there is a change.
Weightwise, I am, today, 1.7kg more than I weighed when I was diagnosed but am on the way down again, and in fact saw the dietician again today who was most helpful re protein portions. Last time she told me to cut protein at lunch but I found I became tired at about 9pm, and not having enough energy 'cos I wasn't eating enough, seemed crazy.
Today we worked out that I have been eating way too little protein, so am glad I can eat more now. And for the first time I understand how to read the protein component on food labels: I need to eat a yield of 60g of protein per day. That is maximum. 100g of smoked salmon yields 22g of protein, for example, and one egg yields 8g.
And as for hot flushes, until now have just dressed a bit cooler and, as I am often freezing when others aren't (I had a huge thyroid problem in the past and my temperature is still out of sync with everyone else's), it never bothered me much.
Now I walk around saying: "It's hot, hey" and sit in the office, feeling myself going red and wondering if the aircon is working, but of course I say nothing.
Chemo took my periods away. I would then have thought that took me into early menopause. Huh? Or is this now menopause?
Either way, it's all copable, nothing serious, but rather intriguing. Not seeing The Tango Man till about August, so a long time to wait to hear why this sudden heat. Or is it just humid in Joburg? I think so.....lol!
I follow a number of blogs on breast cancer - others too, although perhaps not as intensely - and this one, www.uneasypink.com,
has an interesting post on mammograms.
A comment on the posting, led me to this article which has a long, long intro I merely glossed over, well skipped, to be honest, but the body of the piece is interesting: interesting article, if old, from the new yorker re mammograms
I would never not go for an annual mammogram but do know they are not the be-all and end-all; I found a lump on the side of my chest (later found to be a lymph node, plus there was another I didn't feel in the shower that morning innocently washing myself) - and that was under two months of having a mammogram and been given the "all clear, come back in a year" schpiel.
I always wondered if the doctor was negligent, if the ultrasound scan post the mammogram was done properly, and had two surgeons check out my entire file from the radiologist (I walked in and demanded it, as the one surgeon advised me to do, saying he might have a problem getting it) but in the end, it didn't seem anyone was negligent and even if they were, well, I had cancer and I had to deal with it, didn't I?
Much much later I asked the oncologist if the cancer had developed within that time period. He said no, that it had been in my body probably for six to nine months but undetected. Plus I felt fabulous at the time.
Still feel shocked about it all when I think about it, and it's three years later and I am fine thank goodness.
After my suiciidal rant last night, arm ok. Lymph Lady says it has changed shape, can see the difference, but she thinks its from the weights I am doing at gym. Seeing her again next week to be sure. But no sleeve for now!! Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!
My arm is fakked. Totally. I have worked so hard to avoid getting lymphedema and now it looks like it has swelled by centimetres, rather than the usual millimetres when it got bad in the past.
The Lymph Lady was away this week - was meant to see her on Monday but she changed it to tomorrow - and saw no point in seeing anyone else for treatment because what I need is sane advice from someone who knows where my arm is - well, it's progression over the last three years.
I am extremely upset. That is putting it mildly. I am horrified. And I am still ok 'cos not wearing compression sleeve. Pretty sure I will be after tomorrow but it has been driving me insane with itchiness so haven't worn it this week.
I feel that if I have to wear a compression sleeve it will be the end of my life as I know it. Yes, I am alive. Yes, I don't have cancer. But wearing a sleeve every day? I won't go to gym with longsleeved tops, not in this heat, I don't want to go out being compromised in what I can and cannot wear, I don't wanna do anything except maybe move to the North or South Pole where it is freezing and I can wear warm clothes and gloves all day and night and nobody can see the damn compression sleeve.
Got home latish from work today and decided to change outta my priss little pleated skirt and top into cotton pajama pants and a cami. Then looked at my arm. Faaaak. Thick above the elbow. So put on the compression sleeve thinking I will stay up till midnight or later so it will be on for a few hours and should help.
Now going crazy. The sleeve is sucking up all the air, well, maybe my arm is so swollen that it is so tight, that it is so damn itchy that I am taking it off.
It's only 22.40pm. I cannot wear this thing.
Aah, have just ripped it off. Much much better. Gonna do lymph massage, put on cream, then get into bed with a book. Don't know what I am going to do if I have to wear a compression sleeve. Have no tolerance for it.
Posting this from my phone so it might come out strangely - which it shouldn't, but does - but want to document that my arm hasn't been great lately. It just got thicker. Still slightly thicker but I am aware of it. So wearing a compression sleeve. Just for today.
Seeing The Lymph Lady on Thursday, just a standard appointment. Been thinking: either it's the heat and higher-than-normal humidity, or else it is the weights at the gym (been doing more than usual but still just 1kg on. Or else it just is. Grrrr...
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!
Dunno what it is but I am exhausted. Well, guess I know why but am still battling with it. First it started cos went back to the dietician cos my weight was creeping up again (tamoxifen) and I gained 2kg. She cut my protein down further ie no protein at lunch and at supper, say 125g white fish.
I became wrecked so added a little bit of protein at lunch and then had minimal at supper. Sometimes felt so hungry that just one biteful more of protein helped.
But I have mostly lost the weight I gained. Well, up 04kg from my usual maximum. I first lost it all, then was tired so ate more, then gained again, and now it's been creeping down again.
Now I think I am tired because I don't have one second of quiet/down time. I am on a major campaign to change one aspect of my life (not related to health, or my weight for that matter, although on a big campaign to not only keep my weight down but to lose 10kg - (ha! ha! ha!). Anyway, what this means is that when I get home at night, and this is usually after going somewhere, so it can be anywhere from 8pm to 10.30pm or later, I then sit down to tackle working on that. Been going to bed at 1am and waking up at 6am to do lymph massage, then dealing with a busy, crisis-driven day at work where I have to make frequent quick decisions, then rushing off at 6pm to go to some or other function, then home and .... oh I forgot about pre-work gym 3X a week.
Plus I agreed to interview this author and haven't finished reading the book, which I HAVE to do this weekend as the interview is on Wednesday, plus I tried to start another blog, unrelated to cancer but linked to my frequent going-out to shows and exhibitions and restaurants.... (eg this week did the theatre awards, the symphony concert, fashion week followed by dinner, and then dinner tonight) but have done two feeble posts to learn the formatting (it's a different template to this one....) . Oh, no wonder I am wrecked. Must take a deep breath, which in a way is what this blog posting is about... this is my deep breath.