So it’s been 4 months since I’ve started blogging, and of course 4 months since I waved goodbye to my breast cancer. I’m now at the half way mark of my chemotherapy and I just wanted to take stock.
What started selfishly as a solution to what felt like an all-consuming problem of constantly talking about my cancer diagnosis, has turned into something quite overwhelming. I hadn’t for a moment thought people in the same boat as me might read it, and that it might positively impact on them. I’m just being me: honest, open, realistic. I’m naturally laid back and positive which I think does help both in how I have accepted rather than coped with my diagnosis, and how I also respect my diagnosis rather than pray victim to it.
12K visitors in 4 months is amazing and I am so grateful for all your love and support. Along with the support it has been humbling to hear from young women experiencing the same as me and some going through much worse. I’m incredibly thankful for my amazing family and friends and feel so lucky to have an amazing husband and two beautiful children. Some accounts have been harrowing and what I hadn’t expected (although I don’t mind at all) is for people to be as honest back with me. Let’s just say I’m definitely one of the lucky ones.
Boob progress so far:
- Cancer has gone 😁
- New pair of boobs 😉
- Tops fit much better – especially shirts. No gape in the middle any more 🤣
- They’re still tender on the sides – but this is as a result of the chemo which can (and has for me) reversed some of the healing 😡
- I’m still getting feeling back in my boobs – there are a lot of areas still numb. Our Clare’s boobs (16 month on) are still numb in places. 😏. Nerves do take much longer to reconnect if at all!
- I’m still getting a bit of sloshing when I walk. To try and attempt to draw comparison, when you drink a lot of water on an empty stomach, and you hear and feel the liquid in your stomach splashing around it’s kinda like that, only less fun and can make you feel sick 🤢. Because of this I’ve not been able to get back on the exercise although I’m desperate to do so! For those who can relate I wake up a lot of mornings with an incredible urge to go for a run. This in itself is good that physiologically I’m ready. I just need to be patient. I’m likely to get on my bike before I get back into my running because of the slosh 🚲 .
- I’m now starting to think about further prevention for the future. I’ve done what I can now: double mastectomy and chemo, but my concern is that in order to be fully breast aware you need to be able to check yourself for lumps, bumps, anomalies regularly. I cannot do this to the same extent because I have implants which are pert to say the least 🤣. Because of where my cancer was located (right at the back near my ribs and central) there’s no way I’d have been able to discover it myself. I can’t have regular screenings because I clinically don’t have boobs anymore. Approx 95% of my breast tissue was removed but due to my risk I still would like to know if there are any other options available. I’ve already discussed (not in detail) having regular ultrasounds and blood tests with my oncologist so we’ll see. I’m not going to turn neurotic anytime soon, I’m just too laid back for that, but I want to make sure I’m well informed and doing as much as I can from a preventative perspective.
- I’m still wearing a sports bra in bed. It keeps them in place and is far more comfortable. Also the sloshing as described above is fluid build up, and the fluid can grow into space. So keeping them nicely together and protected is working and helps me sleep much better. The reality is my boobs don’t really move and so the need for a bra is less paramount than before. However: habit, posture, back ache, comfort, warmth, body confidence, sex appeal, etc etc, all make not wearing one a big no no. During the day I tend to wear bralettes – which I’d never even heard of before but I love them! See my boob diary if interested 🙄, with big thanks to the Lingerie team at John Lewis, Leeds who were very patient with me. ❤️
- At 4 months my sutures have stared to soften which I’d been told would happen. As mentioned in my Dropping off the cliff blog, I’d become a bit unnerved by my sutures as the chemo made some of them poke out of the skin 😳. Chemo both thinned the skin where the scarring is, but also new layers of skin form and peel away exposing the sutures. As the sutures start to soften and dissolve it means it’ll be more comfortable. I was able to lie for about 10 minutes on my front the above day in bed. I can’t tell you how exciting this was 😬. Slowly getting there 👍.
And for the next 4 months?:
- Possible nipple tattoos (or tittoos)? I’m on the fence about this. Our Clare’s had hers done and they do look amazing. This is available in some areas for free on the NHS, and there are some amazing permanent makeup artists like Claire Louise Willis for example who create 3D – looking nipples for free! It’s a hugely symbolic thing to do regardless of whether you opt to have a nipple or something else. The thing is I’ve always wanted a tattoo and would rather not get one of a nipple pretending to be a nipple. Obviously from a body confidence perspective it’s hugely important to some, but at the moment it’s not bothering me not having them. It’s something to think about anyway and I can’t have it done until about 8 months post op anyway so we’ll see.
- Regain fitness levels – I haven’t done any (break out into a sweat exercise – the kind I like!) since about Feb! Plus I still haven’t lost my baby weight from having Elsie which is inexcusable given she’s now 14 months. Anywho, I know from after I had Archie that cycling totally worked for me and within 6 weeks my stomach was looking toned. So I’m hoping for more of the same. My last chemo session is the 7th Dec so in the new year I am getting on it – big time!
- Hysterectomy? Another reason for wanting to regain my fitness levels and loose weight is that a hysterectomy is definitely on the horizon. I was going to wait, but at the moment I’m favouring just getting on with it so it’s done and dusted. We don’t want any more children and so from that perspective we’re incredibly lucky. Having a hysterectomy puts you straight into the menopause, which has its own side effects. One of which is difficulty in losing weight, which is why I’m keen to give myself a fighting chance. Just to be clear why I’m having a hysterectomy, I’m also at a high risk of getting ovarian cancer because of the BRCA2 gene as well, which does increase your risk from the age of 40. So from a preventative perspective it’s a no-brainer. Both our Clare and our Yvonne had their ovaries removed just 3 weeks ago for preventative reasons and I’ll be following suit shortly.
- Home improvements? Absolutely. We’ve been in our “new” house since May and due to timings (breast cancer diagnosis 2 weeks before moving) we’ve done nothing. We’re getting excited because things are starting to finally happen. There’s a lot that needs doing but we’re looking forward to working on a blank canvas 😁.
So onward and upwards 👍 and keep watching this space.
Thanks for all the ❤️ and continued support.
Liz Spice, 27 October 2017