Friday, 31 August 2012

#StillGotMoreHairThanMy Dad

This week has been pretty busy which is good, each day that passes is a day closer to getting through chemo.
On Tuesday I had my LGFB course in the afternoon and then in evening I went to Book Club. I'm trying to think but I don't recall actually talking about the book once! We did have fab chats, takeaway (well I had vegetable noodles - yawn), played with Mary's beautiful kids (Mary has a fab blog - see here), looked at Pinterest and played with bead craft.
On Wednesday my dad came over for dinner and bought some fab pressies with him, some lovely coasters and this picture which is already up in the kitchen as it matches perfectly with our colours:
It was really good to have a catch up, he brought "the world's best quiche" for dinner which was scrummy and we watched the Paralympics Opening Ceremony. I still have more hair than him too which made us both laugh :)
This week I received some flowers from one of my work suppliers which was really kind:
Grazie Enoitalia :)
Yesterday I FINALLY (after a fortnight of stress and worrying about it) got through my new date for chemo (as next week I'll be changing drugs to Docetaxel - hereafter T or Tax). I'm meeting with the Guildford Chemo nurses on Wednesday next week and then starting chemo on Friday. It's the same routine, 3 chemo sessions, 1 every 3 weeks. To be honest I'm pretty scared about moving onto T as people talk about getting hit by the Tax Truck. Where FEC makes you feel sick, tired and hurts your veins, Tax is more joint pain and neuralgia and it can make you lose your nails, eyelashes and eyebrows :( You can read more about it here I've just got to remember that the SEs are all temporary and it's for the greater good (doesn't stop me feeling frightened though).

Freedom of Speech :)

A few people have said to me they would like to be able to comment on my blog posts but didn't want to become Blogger members (so they were unable to comment). 

I've now changed the settings so if you'd like to stop just reading & actually comment, say hi, give advice or anything at all, please go ahead :)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Look Good Feel Better

Yesterday, I attended a wonderful course at Brighton Hospital called Look Good Feel Better. LGFB is a fantastic charity that helps women cancer patients in a really practical and positive way. They offer free skincare and make-up workshops, to help combat the visible side effects of cancer treatment, the idea of which is to boost confidence and wellbeing.
There are no two ways about it; finding out you have cancer is daunting and life-changing. The added stress of the appearance related side effects of treatment is bloody demoralising and very hard to cope with. It has serious effects on your self-esteem and confidence, at a time when having a PMA is very important, so the fact that LGFB exists is absolutely brilliant.
I turned up at the hospital, was shown into a room with 8 other ladies, and was given a gift bag (suited to my skin type and shade) filled with products donated by companies like Lancôme, Estée Lauder, Clinique, Max Factor, Dior, Rimmel & Boots No 7.  We were then taken through, (by 4 lovely volunteers) the LGFBs specially designed 12-Step Programme which covered skincare and make-up. The volunteers taught us how to cleanse, tone and moisturise properly (using the products in our gift bag), and then how to apply make up, from foundation all the way through to lipstick. At the end of workshop you get to take away your gift bag.
Picture of my wonderful bag of tricks

The above picture isn't that great so here's a list of the LOVELY things I got in my bag:
·        Garnier Face wipes
·        L'Oreal Cleanser
·        Rimmel Eye Make Up Remover
·        L'Oreal Toner
·        Clinique Moisturising Lotion
·        Lancôme Eye Gel
·        No 7 Primer
·        Clinique Concealer
·        No 7 Brush Foundation
·        No 7 Loose Powder
·        Max Factor Blusher
·        Lancôme Eye Make Up Brush
·        No 7 Eye Shadow Trio
·        Lancôme Eye Liner Pencil
·        Lancôme Eyebrow Pencil
·        Estée Lauder Projectionist VolumeMascara
·        Clinique Lip Liner
·        Max Factor Lipsticks x 2
·        L'Oreal Glam Shine Lip Gloss
·        50ml Dior "Miss Dior"Perfume

The 2 hours spent at the LGFB workshop were fantastic, I felt free to show my balding head (as other ladies in the group took off their wigs and head coverings) and came away feeling truly pampered. If anyone reading this is going through something similar to what I am, I would urge you to get in touch with LGFB and book onto one of their sessions. You can do so via this link.

Thank You LGFB, it was a really lovely treat

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Erika's Debut Outing

Been going a little stir crazy as pretty much been in the flat for a week due to low WBC count risk time, so today I felt determined (despite feeling mank) to do something a little brave. I decided it was time to debut Erika. 

Then I looked out the window and it was like something from Winnie the Pooh & the Blustery Day. Almost chickened out but thought that the mega wind would actually be a good test for how she fitted. Spent a good half hour actually putting it on, taking it off, putting it on, taking it off (for 'taking' it off, read pulling it off my head & throwing it on the floor in frustration child tantrum stylée) before finally fitting it correctly. I popped some sunny-Gs on top of Erika for extra anchorage and then walked out the door up to the local shops to get some supplies.

Yes I was only out of the flat for a maximum of 15 minutes (& the whole time I was convinced people were looking at me thinking WIG WIG WIG) but it's a pretty big step for me & I'm proud of myself for doing it :)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Pick-Me-Up Parcel

Having been feeling pretty crappy, it was a lovely surprise to get a parcel from Laura in the post this morning containing a fab Fat Face headband, Rimmel eyeshadow, a Cath Kidston make-up bag and mirror and a book about wedding flowers - Thank you Laura, cheered me up more than you know :)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Hooray & Up She Rises

Man this one hit me hard :( Have felt pretty crappy for the past few days but at least now the FEC can FEC off :) The heartburn & indigestion I've had on this cycle has been dreadful, despite taking the double dose of the Omprezaole coupled with Gavsicon and mega loads of water; it's felt like I've been burning from the inside out. Yuk. Trouble is there is so much conflicting advice, drink milk coz it soothes it & then don't drink milk as the calcium in it actually can trigger acid production - aaaaahh! Main piece of advice that doesn't change is to drink water but then water tastes mank (sooooo metallic) at the moment which in turn makes me feel sick. So it's heartburn or nausea - great choice!

This morning I've woken up and felt a little better so am hoping the gastric reflux will start to ease now. Got a Doctor Evil style set up in the bedroom at the moment so I can get on with some work. Sounds silly but I actually look forward to doing some work as it takes my mind off things.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

FEC #3

Good old magic honey, bloods back up to 2.5 so chemo 3 is a go. Half way point in chemo!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Magic Honey?

One of the SEs of chemotherapy is that it can deplete your white blood cells and neutrophils meaning that you basically have no immune system and are super prone to infection. As yet I have not been offered Granocyte injections (apparently a full on mega needle that you have to inject yourself with - Rob gets funny with needles so I'd have to do it myself for 5 days - yuk!) as my neutrophil count has been okay.

I'm not sure whether it actually works or if it's a (nice tasting) placebo but I have been taking something called Life Mel Honey every day since I was diagnosed. Now I don't actually even like honey but it's got to be a lot nicer than sticking a needle in your tummy....

My honey - complete with dented lid - thanks Postman!

The Life Mel Story begins with research in the 1970s by Dr Alexander Goroshit (fab surname!), then a student microbiologist, as to why, in a small town in Russia, beekeepers and their families remained healthy despite a local cholera epidemic. This unusual finding fascinated Dr Alexander, and after finishing medical school he went to work as a researcher and teacher in a microbiology faculty where he enlisted the support of his students to undertake further research into bees, honey and the beneficial effects of herbs. Further research showed that over the centuries beekeepers have discovered that the food consumed by the bees affects the properties of the honey they produce. Dr Alexander’s study of herbs showed him that the key properties are sourced from the leaves, roots, stem etc and not the flower. Thus to create a honey product which contained these properties he needed to develop another way to feed the bees. Dr Alexander spent his time working with experts to develop a method to feed the bees with the desired herb parts to facilitate the development of a honey bee product which contained the beneficial properties of a special blend of key herbs. In the 1990s Dr Alexander emigrated to Israel and with the help of state funding there, continued his research into the remarkable results of feeding bees different selections of herbs. In time, he went on to develop different products made by honey bees. As Dr Alexander concludes “the rest is history.”

So basically, the bees are fed on blend of herbs, which are immune enhancing plants. This means that the honey has all the benefits of those plants in it meaning that it works almost like a vaccine which helps to protect your immune system.

It's not the cheapest at around £38 for a pot just bigger than the size of the mini tiptree stylée preserves you get in hotels but as you take 5-10ml per day it should last about 3 weeks per pot (which is the time between each of my chemos.

Having said all of this, I went for my pre-chemo blood test yesterday and got the results back today, neutrophils are low at 0.8 and they won't do chemo unless they're at 1. Bugger. I have a day to get them back up again. But.... who knows what they could have been if I hadn't been on the honey....

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Faith the Bear

A squashy package arrived today containing this little sweetie:

Thanks Kitty :) I won't let Fagin chomp her! x

Monday, 13 August 2012

A³ (Amy, Andy & Airbourne)

Amy & Andy came down for the weekend and it was really awesome to see them. Haven't seen Amy since I was diagnosed so when she walked in the door we had the biggest hug, took a lot for me not to cry! We just chilled out on Friday evening and watched some Planet Earth.

Amy - this is for you... (Salute!) Love Puffin will also understand ;)

On Saturday we went to Airbourne, Eastbourne International Airshow which was fab. We met up with Michelle and Dave and sat on the beach watching the planes. Was great as despite wearing my bandana, I didn't feel like everyone could tell I had cancer as loads of people around me were wearing hats and scarves because of the hot weather. Well, I say because of the hot weather but who's to say there wasn't another cancer patient amongst them and I didn't know....? On Saturday evening we chilled out, had some dinner and watched The Dictator which was pretty silly but good fun.

Sunday we went for a sunny walk on Ditchling Beacon & then Amy & Andy left after lunch. Rob went off go-karting with the boys & Michelle came over for the afternoon. We chilled out, watched The First Wives Club (which is one from my long list of never watched films - thanks for the lend Kate!) and then we watched the Olympics closing ceremony which was great.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Pixie's Happy Bags

Update 26/11/2014 - Pixie has decided to stop producing Happy Bags so she can move away from cancer and start focussing on living :) She has raised an INCREDIBLE £18,500 for Cancer Research with her hard work. Pixie - you're amazing xx
Today the postman brought more goodies :) This time in the shape of some Happy Bags which I am going to give out to a few people - I need to order some more though!

Happy Bags are the brainchild of a lady from the Breast Cancer Care forum who goes by the name of pesteringpixie. Pixie was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in January of this year, underwent surgery and has just completed chemotherapy (YAY Pixie!)

Making the Happy Bags is her fantastic way of raising money for Cancer Research as 100% of all monies goes directly to the charity.

The little organza bags (mine were purple, magenta and baby pink) are very sweet and each bag contains the following:

A Marble - for when you lose all of yours
A Piece of String - for when you can no longer hold it together

An Eraser - so you can rub out your mistakes and start your day over
A Teddy Bear - so you can always have a hug
A Coin - so you will never be broke
A Heart - so you always know someone loves you
A 4 Leaf Clover - to wish you all the luck in the world.

To support Pixie in this fantastic cause, please go here to order. Each bag only costs £2.00 and she charges nothing for postage.

Pixie also has a facebook page!/PixiesHappyBags so please like and share the page.

As of 3rd August Pixie has raised over £2,300 for Cancer Research and as today is the 10th August I'm sure she has in fact raised loads more than this :)

Congratulations Pixie!
Update 16/10/12: Cherie Blair has posted about Pixie's Happy Bags on her blog - That's wicked!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Good Friends & Good News

What a busy (ha mistyped busty then instead of busy - great typo to make on this blog!) week I've had so far :) On Monday Emma popped over with an amazing box of Lush goodies which she's also added some bits too - love it - Thanks Em :) I took the wrapper off before I remembered to photograph it so the below piccy is courtesy of the Lush website

On Tuesday Rob was wfh so was able to collect my parcels that arrived, loads of bandanas as I had been having a bit of a shopping splurge (well I have to have them in colours that match my clothes, can't lose my matching obsession!) and a lovely pressie (fab Suburban Turban) arrived from Glenn, Hayley, Jenny & Zoe - thank you guys, super generous & I love it!

Here it is modelled by Erika (guest starring Fagin)

On Wednesday I spent time with Hannah which was brilliant - I rock at Bananagrams :) Han generously bought me a gorgeous scarf which we practised tying so I look less piratey - Thank you Han, it's so light & lovely.

Today I had a full body massage at the Olive Tree which was total bliss. Then I had a meeting with my oncologist's registrar where they spoke to me about my SEs from my last FEC, gave me some medication to hopefully sort those out and they also measured the lump. Or at least tried to measure it. She couldn't find it for a while! Once she did find it, she could only find one "end" of it and she said that means that it's shrunk significantly so I am super pleased!

Tomorrow Andy and Amy are coming down for the weekend & I can't wait to see them :)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olive & Olympics

I went to the support group in the end, didn't take Erika but rocked the purple pirate bandana instead. The group was defintely worthwhile and although I was the youngest there this time, there are girls who go who are younger than me so it was good to get support from people going through the same thing. I had always been worried about the initial size of my lump as from various forums it seemed to be one of the bigger ones around but I spoke to one girl at the group who's lump was more than double the size of mine and another who's was 2cm bigger so meeting people in real life as opposed to the virtual world has helped me.

The session this time was just about chatting, eating strawberries and asking questions, but future sessions booked in are a lady who runs a salon in Horsham was is linked with My New Hair which is an initiative set up by Trevor Sorbie for those going through hair loss through cancer or alopecia. They offer things like wig cutting and styling, advice on how to treat your scalp whilst losing hair and also, when your hair grows back, how to care for this hair (hence the My New Hair name I assume). I think that session will be worth going to given my baldilock status at the moment and that a salon in Horsham is nice and easy for me to go to. The session after that there will be a nutritionist so that will also be worth going to.

The Olive Tree centre also offers therapies like body massages, indian head massages, reiki, homeopathy, reflexology etc all for free (you make a donation after you have 4 treatments for any further ones you want) which is fantastic. I've got a massage booked in after my Oncology appointment on Thursday which will be lovely. The centre runs solely on donations so I think it is a fantastic place and once that is so worthwhile & beneficial.

At the weekend I spent most of Saturday either in bed or on the sofa (feeling poorly!) but watching the Olympics non-stop - as someone who doesn't really follow sport that much (other than Wimbledon) I (along with most of the rest of the country) am pretty addicted to it! Sunday I felt much better & saw my lovely friend Hayley (who came bearing gifts of magazines and a fab Fiorelli wallet for my bday pressie) for lunch and then we went round to Michelle and Dave's for a BBQ.

How about this for an amazing photo.....

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Pirate Chic

Almost a week has passed since chemo #2 and this one has hit me harder than the first one. Feeling a bit more poorly in terms of SEs and also generally just feeling more miserable.

My head is feeling itchy and hot again like it did around this time on the last session, so I imagine what hair I do have left is going to fall out soon. Some people I have "met" either through the great forums I'm a member of or in real-life have asked me if I've thought about shaving my head so I have control. Part of me really wants to be gutsy enough to do that, but the other part of me thinks that if I can keep even a small amount of hair under a hat I feel more like me. So for now, the mini amount of hair I have left is staying. I took Fagin for a walk the other afternoon and when I put on a bandana I felt I looked like a pirate! My lovely friend Hannah has been experimenting with tying scarves and texting me pictures so when we meet up next week she's going to teach me to look less piratey.

I think the thing that has been affecting me most is that up until recently, the cancer was my secret from Joe Public, and I could tell people when I wanted to tell people. I could walk around as me and no-one would that I had breast cancer. Now that I have to have some sort of head covering when I go out, I feel that I look like a cancer patient. I know that's what I am, but I don't want sympathy looks, or people looking whilst trying not to look. I don't want this cancer to define me. I know it's only vanity etc etc but losing your hair, especially as a woman, hits pretty bloody hard.

Tomorrow evening there's a group being held at The Olive Tree in Crawley which is a once monthly evening for younger women affected by breast cancer. I'm trying to decide if I want to go to it or not. I think I might go tomorrow and then I can decide if I want to go again or not, I might even take Erika for her debut outing....

P.S. As part of setting up this blog, you can see how people have found it, what referral links they used, what words they typed into Google to find it etc etc. It amused me greatly the other night to find out someone had stumbled on my blog because they typed the words "topless sunbathing" (I mentioned being nervous about getting my boobs out sunbathing in an earlier post) into Google - lols.