My Lumpectomy

Yesterday February 21st I had my Lumpectomy. I am not sure if it’s normal or not because I still have a long way to go, but I feel on quite a high and have since yesterday when I came out of the anesthetic. How weird is that experience whatever the situation? No idea where I was or why ! I thought at first I was on a school camp in a huge dorm with everyone in white gowns and blue blankets and then my lovely nurse began to chat and listen to my slumbery mutterings and I felt safe and immensely relieved.

So it all began at 8.30 am with a visit to Nuclear Medicine for blue radioactive dye to be injected into my nipple. I had to lie on my hands for that as apparently it can make some lash out as it can be like a sudden bee sting. I found it fine but I do have breast implants that have dulled the sensation around my nipples. After eighteen years with them , I have got used to that. Bit of a silver lining for this procedure though! Turns out it was up to me to massage it around !! Thank god. Chris was in with me and was given the option too 😉 . Then I spent about 30 minutes having my left boob videoed and photographed as the blue dye highlighted my sentinel lymph nodes for removal along with the lump itself.

Actually very comfortable!

From here it was up to Day Surgery and a bit of a wait , an injection in my tummy to prevent clotting and these beauties on my legs . The “Santa Socks” were put on so I didn’t slip over 🙂 . I wanted to keep moving while we were waiting.

So yes a bit of a wait which I always find good in the end so you move from nervous into an impatient, lets do this, frame of mind. Shortly after the next photo with my wonderful supportive hubby documenting away, I went into theater. Unfortunately I have terrible veins but after 15 hrs nil by mouth, and extremely dehydrated , things were looking hopeless. But with the help of a super dooper anesthetist, it took 10 minutes prodding and poking to get my cannula in. It went in my left hand in the end. It was noon exactly the last time I saw the clock. Then I was wheeled awake into theatre, treated like a princess and had a very nice sleep.

Surgery took an hour and then I spent an hour in recovery. The cup of tea and sandwich I had at 2 pm was both terrible and amazing at the same time !! Then I was taken downstairs to a very handsome emotional man standing by the car with these

And then it was home to my daughter and granddaughter here from England and my other two daughters for cuddles and to relieve their nerves. It really is the ones waiting that have it tough.

I did have a couple of surprises that night. I now have a very blue boob for a while and only just stopped weeing bright blue !! I felt like a Smurf 😂😂. We did laugh. It’s only the radioactive dye coming out but no one mentioned that yesterday.

I am fairly pain free surprisingly, a little numb in the area and feel nice and rested. My results are on the 1st March. Until then I am going to enjoy my post op high while it lasts 🙂

Until the next time

H xx

Looming Lumpectomy

This isn’t my usual lengthy post but I just wanted to blog how I still feel about Thursday and everything in general and that is …not very much !

How odd is that ? I would expect to feel edgy, apprehensive, tearful and so many emotions. But no, not really. And I am sleeping like a log ! It’s actually quite a nice state to be in. I wonder if I am in some sort of shock maybe ? Certainly not denial. I wonder if my mind and body has thrown me into this hazy state to cope. Because none of it is going to be much fun.

I wonder if I will still be blogging this state of mind next week ?

I had a wonderful morning with two fab friends from playgroup days yesterday. We talk about everything. The funny. The nitty gritty. The painful. Great girlie stuff. So yesterday was a bit dominated by my breast cancer but not in a negative way. It always feels good to talk about it with the right people.And then it was on to our usual chatter. It was just the tonic I needed. Thank you to those two wonderful friends.

But s I promised myself , I do want to share light-hearted and funny moments of this journey and here is one that you can only really laugh at and we howled yesterday. At 8.30am on Thursday I am heading into Nuclear medicine for a radioactive blue dye to be injected into the areola. This will highlight my lymph nodes. Anyway, and I will leave you with this thought….the leaflet then states..” Someone will then massage your nipple for 5 minutes” 😯🥺!!

I mean how long is that 5 minutes going to seem !!!! And who will it be ???? The mind boggles and what a way to start the journey🤣🤣

xx

My Husband and his “Toolbox”

I thought I would share on my blog,to remember the early days of my journey fighting Breast Cancer, a piece that my husband wrote the morning after my diagnosis, so last Tuesday.

He has this theory that in a crisis men get their toolbox out and try and fix things the best they can rather than get emotional. He definitely does this and this is a perfect example of how. He isn’t a writer and boy did we have a few proof reads 🤣🤣, but he got researching and put together the following for friends and family if I got too tired explaining over and over what we are going through. At the time I told him he didn’t need to do it but it has proved invaluable. Also at work to stop the Chinese whispers ( or I’ll be losing both boobs by next week and be terminal 🙄!!)and keep management in the loop.

So here’s a read ..and it’s out there and I can blog about all the other stuff…

Dear All,

Some of you are aware and some are not, so this is the current health situation with my wife Helen.

I`ve done my own research plus asked the surgeon many questions.

I`ve decided to give you all a detailed run down and explain as much as I can in simple terms so everyone knows all the details. Google is great for understanding medical terminology. This will hopefully save a lot of repeat questions, from well meaning friends and family.

A couple of weeks ago Helen felt an unusual lump in her breast. She went to the doctors to for a check up.

The doctor was concerned and sent her for an ultrasound at IRG, Wollongong.

The result from the ultrasound was the finding of a 1.5cm x 1cm “Suspicious Nodule”

She was then referred for a biopsy, both fine needle and core needle.

They put a needle into the centre of the tumour and extract a sample from the cells nucleus. This allows them to see if it`s benign (dead) or cancerous (alive)

It also identifies the exact strain and type of cancer cells, as there are 5 or 6 common ones and also rarer types.

The results came back from biopsy and read as follows:

1.”The core biopsy of breast tissue contains “Invasive Ductal Carcinoma” Grade 2.

2.”Oestrogen receptor +ve (100% of cells show moderate to strong nuclear staining)

3.”Progesterone receptor +ve (100% of cell show strong nuclear staining)

We were then referred to a specialist surgeon in Wollongong the next day, Dr.Allan Mekisic, who explained what it all meant, and what the treatment plan will be.

Helen has been officially diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Strangely, good news a there are 4 stages.

It`s an Invasive Ductile Carcinoma (IDC) which is one of most common types, good news.

Its Oestrogen and Progesterone receptor positive, which means it can be controlled by hormone medication, Nolvadex or Arimidex. Again good news.

There is no sign at “present” that it has spread to the lymph nodes, also good news.

So, we have caught it early, it`s a common type, easy to remove, treatable, with no signs it has spread, the best we could hope for.

Just FYI, the lymph nodes are part of the immune system, they are small structures that work as “filters” for foreign particles, bacteria and cancer cells.

A large supply of lymph nodes are located in the armpit, very close to breast tissue and the tumour, so can easily spread through the whole lymph / immune system.

The tumour will be removed by Dr. Mekisic on Thursday 21st February via a “Lumpectomy”, which is the removal of a cancerous tumour and a small amount of surrounding tissue. He will also take the two closest lymph nodes.

The removed tumour & surrounding tissue plus two lymph nodes will then be sent away for further tests. (including lymph node biopsy.)

We want to see no cancer cells in the tissue surrounding the tumour and lymph nodes. This will mean it has not spread and no further surgery or chemo will be needed.

Following recovery from surgery she will then have “Radiation Therapy”. A beam of rays on the tumour area only, not the whole body, which is also good news.

This will be 5 days a week (Mon – Fri) for 5 weeks. She “must” complete all 25 sessions. This is to kill any possible remaining cancer cells around the tumour site.

This does have some side effects, most common is fatigue, sunburn effect on skin, pink / redness, sensitive to warm water, swelling / soreness & itching.

This part will be the hardest of the whole process as Helen runs around all day like Wonder Woman doing a million jobs looking after us all, cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping, school, homework, Millie`s Acrobatics, walking the dog, paying the bills and doing her current job as a Support Worker.

She is going to have very low energy levels and get frustrated that she cant do what she wants or used to do. And after listing all that I have realised that I will have to up my game massively!

The last part of the treatment is hormonal, this is an oestrogen blocking medication.

In short oestrogen and progesterone are fuel for the cancer cells, like throwing petrol on a fire.

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) attaches to the hormone receptor in cancer cells and blocks the oestrogen molecule, starving cancer cells of the fuel they need to grow.

She will have to take this everyday for at least 10 years or maybe life.

Tamoxifen also has some side effects such as fatigue, nausea, headaches, depression, mood swings etc.

After all this is complete she will also have regular visits, check ups, scans and blood test with the Oncologist. (Cancer Specialist).

So at this stage you know exactly what we do, I`ve learned a lot by writing this. I feel the more you know about it and all the big technical words, it makes you feel more positive about the whole process. I`ve also learned that Australia is the world leader in Breast Cancer research and treatment, we are miles ahead of the rest of the world apparently which is also good news.

She hasn`t got a rare strain of cancer which is the best you can hope for in this situation, the treatment is standard and been proven successful in lots of women around Australia.

So overall we are positive, she is in good hands, we have a very good surgeon and are close to Wollongong Hospital for any treatment, scans and check ups.

For those who have been in touch, thank you for your support and positive thoughts.

Thanks Chris.

Thank you Chris. I ♥️U

PS. Happy Valentines

Until the next time

PP

My Breast Cancer diagnosis and wow what a long ponder that was !

Well hello again! I have been terrible at blogging since starting work in August last year. I haven’t` worked in 12 years and it has just left me so time poor that I completely fell off the blogosphere. I never thought I would and on reflection, I should have just written. Anything. Rather than let my writing fall by the wayside. It didn`t have to be the perfect time and piece of material. What is the saying? Something about “just write!”

Brief update on work. I have spoken about not being able to work in previous blogs and being “Invisible” but went out on a limb and applied for a job in disability as a support worker and got it!! And big bonus, it is on a casual basis, so I can manage my workload! In typical Helen style, I didn`t manage it very well and over worked myself. But now is the time to sit back and well, get myself back to good health. My last shift for a while ended at 7am this morning. I just love that job and shall miss the staff and clients.

The title of this blog post and the change in my title page may be a huge clue as to a big change in my life and a rather big shock! I toyed with fancy, snappy titles like I did with PP, but just ended up thinking I may as well own it from the get-go and write, Breast Cancer. You can`t really sugar coat it. There I wrote it!

I have been advised to journal while I fight this *#%@+ so thought I might do so here on my blog, whilst still talking all things Perimenopause. Until that is, I get thrown into the Menopause very soon, but more on that later. I am a real heart on my sleeve girl. Never quite sure if that is a good or bad thing, but I am. I have had friends who have gone public in their fight on FB or Insta and I always thought that would be me. You know how you find yourself wondering what you would do in a certain circumstance? Well apparently, not. That may change but for me, it`s all about close family and friends knowing and supporting me, or should I say us, and my close little community here in the world of blogging. I hope to write about my journey, as ever warts and all and hopefully keep my humour along the way. I have so far. Bit hard not to, when your left boob is the star of the show!!

Last Monday, the 4th February will be forever engrained in my mind as the day I was told I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 2. My surgeon described it as not a Chihuahua, not a Rottweiler but somewhere in between. Bit different way of explaining it I suppose. 😉 I had found a lump two weeks earlier and had had an ultrasound and a core biopsy. I will talk more about that in the next few posts but now am just putting it in writing for the first time. Baby steps and all that.

My world did not fall apart, I did not cry or wail. “am I going to die?” or anything else one thinks one might do when being given the news that you have the dreaded C word. I didn`t really do anything, except nod and smile at the treatment program and ask a few questions. And I have remained like that ever since. As has my husband. Maybe it hasn`t sunk in yet? Maybe it`s our mind and bodies way of coping, to go into a sort of haze where it doesn`t seem to be happening? Until this feeling passes, I am embracing it as I am not engulfed in tears or any sort of panic. That would be horrendous and may still come.

Next Thursday, 21st February I shall have a lumpectomy, 2 lymph nodes removed and a biopsy. If all goes according to plan, I will have 5 weeks of radiotherapy and avoid chemo but there are a few hurdles on the day of the op to go through.

I never thought this would happen to me, I don`t suppose any of us do, unless it runs in the family and I have no family history to go on. But it has. It`s surreal but we must begin the fight, there is no alternative. I am just hoping it won`t be too long or too gruelling. Writing this today has been good. So much more to say on how this affects us all, most of all our children and parents and partners,

Until tomorrow

PP