Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Rads Recap - Week 4

Got back from my fab hen weekend, totally shattered but haven't laughed so much in ages - Thanks girls!

Monday - Anyway, back to normality of sorts today. Mid-afternoon appointment so wfh'd around it which was good as meant I could be a bit dozy! Am starting to really feel the fatigue now with lots of travelling every day. Luckily today's appointment was only 15 minutes late. It's also the last of the DIBH rads today as tomorrow I move onto the boosts.

Tuesday - Today I had my first of the boost sessions. Was an early appointment & I was actually seen earlier than my appointment time! As I don't have to do the DIBH on the boosts (the rads machine is just aimed at my scar instead of the whole breast) it was a much easier and quicker process. I got in, laid on the bed with my arms behind my head, had a few dots drawn around my scar and then the rads machine came close to my scar, made a noise for about a minute and I was done. 4 to go!!
After my appointment I had a catch up with Dr Zap's Registrar who had a look at my skin. She was very pleased with how it looked and said that as long as I keep moisturising with my Aqueous Cream(this is the cream that is recommended as a moisturiser to use during and after your treatment. It does not react with the radiotherapy. It is available to purchase from all chemists and some supermarkets - I got mine from Boots) then I should be lucky in that my skin won't break. Fingers crossed!

What the new machine I'm being treated on looks like:

Wednesday - Nice and quick today, no breath holding, just zapping the boost on my scar area. 3 to go!

Thursday - My skin is definitely more pink now & I'm super tired. It's good to have the long Easter weekend as a rest :-) Only 1/2 hour delay today. 2 to go!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Rads Recap - Week 3

So the magazines in the rads waiting area are kinda old.....

Yes that does say August 1996!!

Monday - Delayed by 50 minutes today. I've started to go a bit pink and sore now. I'm half way through though (Hooray!) so have expected this. I'm using Aqueous Cream 3 times a day so fingers crossed my skin doesn't break.

Tuesday - An hour and a bit delayed today - the waiting is SO boring because once you have the treatment, it's done within 10 minutes. Am really, really tired today as well, think it's starting to catch up with me. 

Wednesday - Massive delays again but at least I can see the end in sight! Fatigue is really catching up  with me now. So tired I had to have a nap when I got in!

Thursday - Feel more refreshed today but going to work, to radio & then home is really tiring. Rads perfectly on time today

Friday - Early one today as am off to airport in an hours' time to go on my hen weekend :-)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Guest Blog Post

Back in February I was contacted via this blog by a man called Cameron who asked if he could write a guest post for my blog:

Hi Joanna,
Thank you so much for your response! I came across your blog and really identified with some of your writing. My name is Cameron Von St. James and my wife was diagnosed with an extremely rare and deadly cancer called mesothelioma. Normally when diagnosed with mesothelioma, a person has a life expectancy of about 3-12 months, but after intense treatment and recovery she is still here over 7 years later. There are many steps to take as a caregiver when dealing with any type of harmful disease. Would you allow me to write an article for your blog about my personal experience as a caregiver to my wife? We struggled through so many hardships during this tough time, but found a way to make it through. I'd love to share our story of hope with your readers who might take something away from it. This is an important message to get out there so please let me know if you would be interested in seeing it and sharing it with your readers.
Thank you for all you do in making a difference,

I know that what he is writing about is not about Breast Cancer but as I have such a strong readership base & number of pageviews, if I can help spread his message then why the heck not!

Please see below for Cameron's post:

Being a Caregiver to My Wife Strengthened Me

I will remember November 21, 2005 for as long as I live.  This was the day that my beautiful wife Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma.  This cancer shook our small family to the core when we received the news of Heather’s diagnosis.  It came at such an unexpected time because everything had been going great.  We were just celebrating the arrival of our daughter Lily three months earlier.  Whatever joy we had at the birth of our daughter was cut short by this tragic news.

At a time when we had planned to be preparing for the holidays, we were seeking out treatment options for Heather.  We could go to a local university hospital, an excellent regional hospital, or to a mesothelioma expert in Boston.  We chose the expert in Boston, Dr. David Sugarbaker, because we wanted someone who had extensive experience in treating this form of cancer.  All we could do is pray that he would be able to help Heather.

Heather was struggling with worry and I also was trying not to fall apart.  I had a few moments where I nearly gave in to panic, but I mustered up as much courage as possible and made a determined commitment to be the best caregiver for her.  By becoming her primary caregiver, I had taken on a huge responsibility, and I never could have done it without invaluable support from wonderful family members and numerous caring friends in the community.

I stayed by Heather’s side as she went through seemingly endless rounds of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  A few times, I just sank to the floor and cried and gave in to my worries and fears.  But somehow, we managed to make it through even the worst of all these events and Heather is now cancer-free. It has been over seven years since the mesothelioma diagnosis, and she remains happy and healthy to this day.

We are so grateful to people who so generously gave their support and time to help us make it through this terrible ordeal.  I also learned a lot about being a caregiver and about sacrificing for someone else.  My experience in being a caregiver strengthened me and gave me much more confidence about what I could do and what I could handle.

I ended up going back to school once Heather’s recovery was complete.  I studied Information Technology and I even had the privilege to give the graduation speech for my class.  I know that being a caregiver to my wife equipped me to take on other challenges in life, and I shared these lessons with my classmates in that speech.  Now, I hope that by sharing my story with others, I can help them in their own battles today.

Update: 03/07/2013:

Hi Joanna,
How have you been? I just wanted to reconnect and let you know about a project that my wife and I are involved in that I thought might interest you. Heather and I participated in a short video about her cancer experience, and I thought it would make a great follow up to the article of mine that you posted a while back. We’re hoping to use this video to continue to spread hope and awareness to those who need it. If you wouldn’t mind sharing it with your readers, Heather and I would be so grateful. Here is the link to the video: www.mesothelioma.com/heather
Thanks again for your help! I hope all is well.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Rads Recap - Week 2

So by the end of this week I will be half way through - Let's go!

Monday - Yesterday was Mother's Day and as I had an early appointment today it made sense to stay at Mum's overnight and then go on from there. Woke up and overnight it had snowed! Luckily it wasn't too thick and mum had offered to drive me. Got to the appointment in time, delay of only 1/2 an hour today! So confused how they can be late when my appointment was the second of the day! Ah well.

Tuesday - Snowed even more overnight. Horror stories of people stuck on the A23 for 7 hours so today's appointment was cancelled. Means I get one added onto the end on Rob's birthday which is pants but ah well.

Wednesday - Today Michelle had the day off so she kindly offered to drive me in. We left extra time because of the snow and I was actually seen EARLY! Stopped for a bite to eat on the way home and then into work for the afternoon.

Thursday - Work in the morning and then Col kindly drove me in. Running an hour late today & then the journey home was a bit pants as we got stuck in rush hour

Friday - Appointment in the middle of the day today & Rob was able to take me in.

Now for a fun wedding-tastic weekend of final food tasting, groom's party fitting, make-up trial & dress fitting!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Rads Recap Week 1

So I've now completed my first week of radiotherapy. My skin has been holding up okay, although it has gone a little pink and dry. It's bloody tiring going to work and to Guildford every day but needs must.

My first appointment on Monday was a bit of a pain because I turned up ready to go, having arranged all my rads times with work, asked my mum to help me out with some of the driving and fitted the rads times around other appointments (wedding dress fitting, final wedding tasting, hen party & holiday to the Norfolk Broads); so imagine my delight (sarcasm...) when they gave me a new schedule of times, all different & with 3 more added to the end which meant I now have rads on Rob's birthday and fecks up the Norfolk Broads holiday.... Not impressed.

I was nervous anyway and then to have been given that new sheet and then to be told that the machine had broken down earlier that day and therefore was running 2.5 hours late was not a good start :-(

Tuesday was better, they were (only!) running an hour late and they gave me a more concrete timetable and had managed to change the times of the important days. Still was looking at 3 extra sessions though #NotImpressed

On Wednesday it was all okay, had an early appointment (09:06) so they didn't have time to run late! They also changed the time of my wedding dress fitting and wedding tasting appointment back to what they were before which is good. Still have the extra ones at the end though, boo. Still, one more over and done with and then straight onto work.

Thursday I had a booster mark up where they drew on me with permanent pen to get the exact area they need to do extra zapping on when I have my boosts at the end of the 3 weeks. I managed to speak to Dr Zap himself (as he was doing the boosts) and asked him why all my times had been changed and why I had the 3 extra boosts added onto the end. He said that 8 boosts was the new standard but that he was happy for me to have 5 instead so that means I'm back to finishing the day before Rob's birthday - wohoo :-)

On Friday my appointment was perfectly on time but it meant I was out of there at 5pm. 5pm on a Friday in Guildford is not a pretty sight. Took me 2 hours to get home #IHateRushHour

Still I'm now 1/4 done - Huzzah!