I have to confess that I'm finding it really difficult to contemplate bringing this blog to a conclusion. It feels like an invisible friend, a place where I can offload my thoughts and feelings and try to make sense of everything that has happened over the last eighteen months. I think the other reason, if I'm honest, is that I don't think of finishing the Herceptin as an end, more of a beginning, a beginning down the road to the 'all clear' at five years post treatment. Don't get me wrong, I am really happy to have finished with needles and nurses, but it doesn't stop the nagging fear of recurrence.
So how do I bring this to a close? Well, firstly I would have to remember where this all began in October 2008 and how thankful I am for my instincts, which took me to the Doctors and subsequently to the 'One Stop Breast Screening Clinic' at York Hospital. That moment when Mr MJ and the cancer support nurse came into the room will stay with me for the rest of my life and those devastating words 'you have cancer' still make my heart beat fast. Every moment of that day is crystal clear in my memory. I think that telling our children, close family and friends was probably the worst time of the whole experience. Everything else, the surgery, the chemotherapy etc, was dreadful, but I knew I just had to get on with it.
Whenever I think back over 'my journey' I begin to see the faces of everyone who put time and effort into supporting me through the ups and downs. Hopefully all of these have at some time
been mentioned in my blog but I honestly don't have the words to adequately express my thanks for the cards, gifts, flowers, e-mails, visits and love that came my way (they still do).
Graham, ah yes, my wonderful husband. How I wish he hadn't had to go through this. I know it's been hell for him too because we are so close. I know that at times he's felt completely useless and unable to help, especially through the chemotherapy treatment when I felt so ill. However, I wouldn't have wanted anyone else and I hope we can get on with life again and look forward to growing old together.
I have been back at work now almost ten months. It hasn't been easy and I still have some very acute ups and downs. Most days however, it's the minor, but very frustrating residual problems which I still have to manage. I hate the unpredictable bowel problems, though I have to say the Merbentyl has worked wonders. I also get annoyed with my reconstruction some days, as it itches inside and the muscle down my back (or lack of muscle) makes it feel very tight and occasionally lumpy. Overall though, when I look in the mirror, I am always thrilled and grateful at the result.
So what happens now? I will still have regular check-ups and mammograms, but I suspect that any worrying changes are more likely to be picked up by self checking and trust me, I will be checking!
So goodbye to my blog and it's faithful followers. Good luck to anyone fighting this dreadful disease and fingers crossed for the coming months and years. Good luck to everyone raising money to support the various cancer support groups - where would we be without them.
The journey continues.
Thursday, 22 April 2010
Finally, the last Herceptin today - hurrah! Unfortunately I didn't feel on top form this morning. I woke up with a headache and as the morning went on felt distinctly grotty. I did say to Graham last night that I felt strange. I was trying to make a chocolate cake last night and couldn't seem to get my act together at all. That feeling continued this morning and the cake nearly ended up being thrown at the window, instead of being filled with jam and cream.
On the bright side, it's a beautiful day. Patty & Mike came bearing gifts and at the same time a fabulous bunch of flowers & some chocolates arrived from Roo. I've also had two or three texts from family and friends wishing me well for this 'milestone'. My Son Joseph came over too, so it felt like a real party when Andrew (my nurse) arrived. I managed to make some lunch for us all as a bit of a celebration, finished off with the cake & cream.
I told Andrew that I was feeling a little unwell and for one awful moment I thought he was going to say we couldn't do the treatment. Fortunately my temperature was normal, so away we went - cannulation was successful first time too.
So that's it, all done, hard to believe it's been nearly a year since I started the Herceptin and it will be a year on Monday since I had my mastectomy & reconstruction. All we can do now is keep fingers crossed and hope for the best. 'Cookie Monster' pictured here, will also be one year old next week - Louis & Colleen brought him to the hospital - I wonder if that's a record for a gas filled balloon?
Friday, 9 April 2010
Two weeks away from the 'finish line' for treatment and counting the days. I'm under no illusion that it changes nothing in relation to the bigger picture, but it's another step forward and one less thing to get anxious about.
Also heading for the finish line (three actually) - my daughter Roo. Running three 10k marathons this year in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. What can I say.... she's a star and we'll be there to cheer her on where possible. The Ilkley Gazette ran a small feature on Ruth's efforts. http://www.ilkleygazette.co.
Thursday, 1 April 2010
Had some great news today - we discovered that I only have one Herceptin left, so my next one will be the last - hurraaaaaay! The two hospital loading doses are counted in the total number, so I was really surprised when my nurse told me the good news. I can't wait to finally finish, however it also means of course that I will finish updating my blog, but I will add a final chapter.
I've felt a little better this week, apart from a painful throat which has finally settled. I did have a really strange experience a few days ago. I developed an intense itch in my blank boob, which of course I coudn't scratch because there's no feeling there. It was really annoying and stayed there all day. It felt as though it was deep inside and even a good 'slap' couldn't get rid of it. Pleased to say my phantom itch has gone now!
Picture of me and Roo on the London Eye (Mother's Day)