Tag Archives: breast cancer treatment

a hiatus

egret 2 - 12 Sep 2014 - Worn Pop 4

Now that I’m effectively back wading in the water again, it’s time for a break from this blog.

As it happens, it’s 6 months to the day since the first post when I decided that I would write my way through the deviation and keep a record of moments which I would otherwise have forgotten (chemo brain notwithstanding).

My new normal is in full swing. The departure date for the next big trip, which seemed so distant during my treatment, is just days away.

I’m feeling exceedingly well and will always be grateful for early detection, readily available treatment regimes and the support of family and friends.

A big thank you to everyone who dropped in here with your good wishes.

As and when anything relevant arises (routine check ups and the like), I’ll drop in for occasional updates. In the meantime, you’ll be able find me at Sentio soon, reporting on highlights of the road trip.

 

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settling in

photo wallI think the Tamoxifen is settling in and bringing some friends with it.  I hit the fatigue wall in a big way a couple of days ago and, after a fun day yesterday assisting with the set up of a photo exhibition, today I am, shall we say, knackered.

The solution of course is sleep. Hmmm. The image below is of one of my nocturnal activities last night. Might as well get yourself a drink of water while you’re up.

I also felt the need today to warn Himself not to be too alarmed if I suddenly began shedding tears over apparently nothing. He seemed to take that prospect in his stride.

Next Tuesday I see the oncologist to check how the Tamoxifen is going. It appears to be settling in very well.

Painted in Waterlogue

there are always choices

On Tuesday I had the best conversation I’ve had thus far with my medical oncologist. I walked out of the consulting room feeling that my concerns about aromatase inhibitors (AIs) had been heard. He gave me his rundown on all the options including doing nothing at all. He made it clear that it was my choice, not his, as to how I might proceed from here.

While preparing for the discussion, I had fallen into the trap of assuming what his response would be. Fortunately for the sake of good manners, I had also made the decision to listen to him before launching fervently into my pages of notes.

My highest concerns on the list of side effects related to loss of bone density. Despite the fact that the good doctor would prefer I took the AI route, the options laid out included trying Tamoxifen which, while it has its own list of interesting potential side effects, will leave my bones alone.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do. A suck it and see approach to Tamoxifen knowing that all of the other options are still available should I change my mind.

When I visited the pharmacy to collect my first vat of tablets, they provided me with an information pamphlet. I am pleased to report that I will be totally compliant with this note.

Must not do

In other news, I’m two weeks into my new disciplined eating approach which includes taking care of what and how much. It’s so far so good on the red wine count. I’m allowing myself 2 standard drinks a week. Thus far, two kilograms (or 4.5 pounds) have left the building.

Painted in Waterlogue

And now that I’m almost over a cold which sapped energy levels just as they were starting to rise, the daily walks are up and strolling. It’s almost six months since I discovered the lump in my breast. It feels so good to be at this end of those six months.

 

stepping up to the next stage

flowers - L&G

The radiation treatment may have ended but the effects soldier on to a ‘high’ point a little while afterwards which, for me, includes a small but critically located skin loss. Still, it’s good not to have to make the daily trek to the hospital and great to have the end marked with family members bearing flowers.

This is the week that was and by way of announcement, it’s not appropriate behaviour to grab, scratch or utter curse words when the treated area decides to prickle, stab or itch when you’re out in public.

That said, it’s been seven days of putting some new practices into action. Some of these are easier than others to achieve.

Alcohol and coffee are on the avoid list. I cannot bring myself to totally give up a morning cup of coffee or red wine. So the word ‘avoid’ becomes ‘limit’ on my list. This week that meant reduced strength coffee and two small glasses of wine over the week adding up to five alcohol free days.

Easier asks are:

  • avoiding red meat.
  • consuming no sugar except when it comes in fruit
  • eating smaller portion meals
  • oats for breakfast
  • vegetables, vegetables, vegetables with broccoli as the hero
  • fish
  • exercise that matches capacity – no matter how small each day
  • juicing (with pulp included) as a lunch option
  • water, water, water

Juicing - Waterlogue and FX Colour Comic

So far so good with the exception of a lemon tart.  I’m feeling better for the change already and hopeful that all of the above becomes habit-forming sooner than later. A lot depends on it!

folliculi follicular

This hair loss thing. It happened. I took it in my stride. I am now used to donning headwear when out in public and on cold winter days and nights. 

Things on the follicle front have been pretty stable. Now, seven weeks on from the last chemo dose, there are signs of activity on the top of my head. It’s welcome growth albeit patchy in location and uneven in length.

Hair top - 24 July 2014

What’s not welcome is the all too swift and sudden appearance of a forest sprouting from my chin.  These flourishing follicles are going to require a management strategy!

last zap day

Tuesday 22 July 12.50 pm.  That’s the date and time stamp for the last scheduled radiation zap.  The team of radiotherapists were and are amazing even if they didn’t pick up on my request for cake to mark the occasion.

As an event marker, I had suggested to Himself that we have lunch at Chop Chop Changs. He had greater plans afoot which included packing a bag for an overnight stay in the city.

So it was.  Food,  new books from Avid Reader, a film and more food. These images will remind me of a quiet celebration of the end of one stage and the beginning of another.

As an aside, you’ve got to love a cinema that offers wine with your film AND volume options.  It’s the little things.

Painted in WaterloguePainted in Waterlogue

book shop purchases - Gritty

Wine - Dark Engraving and Posterize - FX Photo Studio Pro

what’s that flapping sound?

Painted in Waterlogue

As I drove into the hospital precinct last night, I could hear a flapping sound. The stretch up the hill and around the corner landed me directly opposite the Radiation Oncology building which was as far as I was prepared to drive with a flat tyre. The car park was several wheel rotations too far to be safe. I pulled up near the short term passenger pick up area and stopped in a no stopping zone.

In the minutes I had to spare before my zap session, I made a phone call home and wrote a note for the windscreen to ensure at least that the car wasn’t towed in my absence. I may have been flapping a little myself as I walked into the building for the first of four targeted booster hits.

By the time I emerged, the roadside assistance had been arranged. I had an estimated 40 minute wait ahead of me.

At the moment, I’m not very steady on my feet if I stand unsupported for too long. So I sat myself on the utility box on the footpath and watched people on their way to visit newborn babies. I listened in on snippets of phone conversations as visitors on their way home reported fractures and post-surgery conditions to friends and loved ones.

I had conversations with the two parking inspectors who eyed off my car as an income generator until I skilfully played two cards – cancer patient AND a flat tyre. I watched other infringers without cards of any sort take their medicine as they returned to their vehicles.

The roadside assistance man reminisced as he worked on the tyre. Fourteen years ago when he first arrived in Australia he worked as a cleaner in the hospital so he could learn English on the job.

I am so grateful that I was right where I needed to be when the tyre expired and grateful for people who do their jobs well and with compassion. Not least I’m grateful that my right hand man at the end of the telephone at home managed the rescue logistics to ensure that my flapping response was short-lived.