Moving on

Its been eight days since I last updated. I didn’t particularly feel like writing over the long weekend so that is why I haven’t! I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend as much as I did.. I had a big thursday night at a big Toga party – Yes, I dressed up! Friday evening two of our good friends from Melbourne came to see/stay with us for Easter, Saturday night we went out and had an awesome dinner with drinks then as there wasn’t much open, we came back to our place and got drunk. Sunday was obviously Easter so we had a big meal at Adam’s parents, then a big dinner at my mums place. We then all headed out and got extremely drunk. I can barely remember my night but I know I heard I was acting crazy so I am glad I had such a good time. Apparently we went to bed at 5am. Good effort for me, I think things are starting to go back to normal!

Gem & I

I went to see a doctor on thursday as I needed a new referral for this problem with my trigger thumbs (again). Last time I saw this hand specialist guy he said if the symptoms come back we will act on surgery as soon as possible. So I guess thats what will be happening. I am seeing him later in May and can’t wait because I am in a lot of pain every day thanks to this condition. I also asked the doctor about my scalp. Its really sensitive, itchy and lumpy. This is bad because I fidgit a lot when I watch tv and don’t realise I am picking/scratching at it. She said it looked like Folliculitis, infected hair follicles from the hair trying to grow back. I have a course of anti-biotics to get onto now – Although, I did put it off over the weekend because I knew I wanted to have a few drinks! A nice man at the chemist also told me to use lavender oil on my scalp to heal it and it also promotes hair growth (maybe I was wrong with using rosemary oil!? I suppose any stimulation is good though..) Also a natural tea tree oil shampoo. So far so good!

Speaking of hair, I have secretly been updating another website with my stages of hair growth. I was going to put the link on here but I think I will wait longer so there is more of a progression for you all to observe! I have selected an image from the 11th of April and one from today sitting in the same position to show you the difference in how much my hair has grown! Its pretty cool 🙂

11.04.11
27.04.11

And there you go! You can see how much thicker it has become. I am getting more excited every day and cannot wait to be able to style it a little bit with some wax. I never thought I would be saying that..

I don’t think I have mentioned that last Tuesday night Mum organised my ‘celebration for finishing Radiotherapy’ dinner. It was Jess, mum, mum’s partner John, my dad, Adam and I. It felt great making a toast to finishing the heaviest parts of my treatment and really made me feel like it was OVER! We unfortunately did not take any photos that night so I don’t have one to post.

I have been going out in public heaps without a scarf/hat just my short hair. I hate to generalise but I have noticed that certain areas I go out, stare more than others. Also its more of the real Aussie 35-45 year old guy that seems almost disgusted by it. Its made me really angry some times because its not just a quick glance, its a 3-take look as if I am a freak. I have seen lots of young girls with short/shaved hair around lately whether its for fashion or sickness, I think they have all looked amazing so I am trying my hardest to get used to it and just not care and ignore them.

Today I am going to pick up a prescription drug called ‘Catapress’. I have put it off for a while now because I am silly and read into the side effects too much and worry. Now its time though as I cannot handle this menopausal crap any more.

What is Catapres (Catapress)?

Catapres (Catapress) is an alpha agonist and is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension ). It is effective when used alone or with other high blood pressure medications. Catapres (Catapress) lowers blood pressure by decreasing the levels of certain chemicals in your blood. This allows your blood vessels (veins and arteries) to relax (widen) and your heart to beat more slowly and easily.

Catapres (Catapress) is also used for alcohol, nicotine, or benzodiazepine (tranquilizer) withdrawal; migraine headaches; smoking cessation programs; Tourette’s syndrome (tics and uncontrollable utterances); narcotic/methadone detoxification; premenstrual tension; to treat diabetic diarrhea; to treat ulcerative colitis, and to diagnose pheochromocytoma.

Catapres (Catapress) may also be used for purposes other than those listed here.

Catapres (Catapress) side effects may include dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, fast/slow/irregular heartbeat, mental/mood changes (e.g., depression) and cold hands/feet.

Not much else to say really, today I called up my breast recon surgeon’s office to let them know the date I finish Herceptin which will mean it will be time to reconstruct my boobies. I felt pretty exciting telling the receptionist because this means they will be now looking for an appropriate time and date for my surgery. I am so scared of this huge procedure but at least it will be working toward something life changing for me.

Moving on

Raising of funds

I have some beautiful friends who have gone out of their way to organise some fundraising events for breast cancer on my accounts. Lyndsay has taken part in fundraising for the ‘Mother’s Day Classic’ event which is a fun run/walk raising money for breast cancer research. It is one of Australia’s largest charity events and takes place in seven capital cities and more than 25 metropolitan and regional locations across the country. Families, friends and colleagues come together at each event to do something fun, healthy and memorable on Mother’s Day. So far she has raised $250! If you would like to also contribute anything the link to the site is…

http://sponsor.eventarc.com/sponsor/view/32530/lyndsay-pekin

Thank you to everyone who has put something towards that. I have a few other friends who are currently organising a couple of events but it is all still in the making so I will be posting about those events very soon. Its all so exciting and I am so proud and thankful for these people to go to such effort.

Speaking of fundraising, I attended the Toy Box Lunch on friday morning with my mum. If you haven’t heard of it before, here is a little insite on it.

TOYBOX – THE LUXURY OF GIVING

TOYBOX MISSION
To light up the faces of Australia’s sick and underprivileged children.

TOYBOX VISION
To create Australia’s most successful fundraising organisation aimed at raising funds for children in need through providing a high quality communication platform that engages the Australian community.

CHARITABLE PURPOSE
To encourage and facilitate Australia’s luxury sector to support sick and disadvantaged children. With their support we strive to light up the faces and lives of as many of these less fortunate children as possible.

To do this we will purchase needy children vital equipment and therapy to conquer the challenges life has brought them, fund incredible escapes so they can enjoy welcome distractions and inspiration to make their journeys easier, fill essential grants that support their family and allow them to be by their child’s side for comfort and fund necessary research so that future generations will not face these challenges.

We will raise these funds with ToyBox’s fresh and unique fundraising models that appeal to the luxury sector, including distinctive balls and fundraising events, exclusive donation drives by our Ambassador, Board and Committee members and the support we receive from 100% of the profits from Box Magazine subscription sales. ToyBox plans to excite its supporters with a fresh look at charity fundraising events, raise significant money and direct these funds to specific grants to give Australia’s sick and disadvantaged children a very bright present and future.

So I felt like I was helping out and doing my bit by taking part in this event for the children and buying raffle tickets etc. to raise more money.

Friday afternoon I decided it was time to get some more vitamins. I went into a health food shop and purchased Biotin. Thanks Emily for recommending this as Biotin is not absorbed well through the skin. It is a hair supplement which will aid my eyelashes, eyebrows and hair on my hair to grow back stronger and faster. I have been taking Hair, Skin and Nails for a while but that only has 1.3mg of Biotin, where as Biotin ITSELF has 150mg. Yeah – Go figure. I am taking both. I read up on Biotin too, only to find even more reasons to be taking it…

‘Diabetics may also benefit from biotin supplementation. In both insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetics, supplementation with biotin can improve blood sugar control and help lower fasting blood glucose levels, in some studies the reduction in fasting glucose exceeded 50 percent. Biotin can also play a role in preventing the neuropathy often associated with diabetes, reducing both the numbness and tingling associated with poor glucose control.’

I also wanted some kind of detox. I feel as if my body needs to be cleansed after all those harsh chemo drugs have been floating through my system. I got some ‘EnduraCell’ which is 100% pure whole broccoli sprout functional food powder. I like this one as it is all natural. It tastes and absolutely foul but I found a low sugar orange juice which I can have it in each day which doesn’t make it too horrible.

Next was odorless fish oil capsules. Unfortunately, the benefits I need these for mean I have to take NINE a day. I refuse to take the liquid as I have tried that before and couldn’t stomach it. Along with all my other meds and vitamins this is crazy. But I need to get my health better than average because I don’t believe that I deserve to ever get sick again. I not only need these capsules for my hair, skin and nails but more so joint funtioning/lubrication. I now not only have trigger thumb in one hand but the second thumb is starting to play up. I cannot sms properly, pick anything up, cannot open cans of drink or jars of spreads/foods. Do you realise how much you need your thumbs? I bet you never thought of that before! I have already had the cortizone injection last year to try fix it, which it did temporarily but it has come back worse. It feels like you are dislocating your thumbs every time you use them and you have to snap them back in place. Its very, very painful and I am booked in to discuss surgery next month.

My chest wall has rapidly lost its red colour and has turned into a tan. Though there is one area, in the middle next to my other breast that went very, very, verrrry red. It also has been peeling, blistered and now scabby, yellowish and extremely sensitive even against my t-shirts as it is healing.

Current image of my chest

I shall upload a photo for you all tomorrow of how my hair is going. Its thickened up heaps over the past week and my eyebrows have started to get really stubbly, so it looks like they will be thickening up very soon! Yay!

On Saturday morning, Adam woke up with a small rash on his lower left tummy. We didn’t think much of it but kept our eyes on it incase it spread or got worse. By sunday it had become quite risen and itchy and to be honest didn’t look too good at all, so I said over and over again to pleaaase go to a doctor ASAP. He agreed and went to an after hours clinic near the hospital and was told he had Shingles. GREAT! When is there GOOD health news for us? Oh thats right, NEVER. He was very lucky to have gone to the doctor when he did as it had been in his body for 48 hours and once you get past 72 hours, its too late to treat with anti-viral medication. He has had flu-ish symptoms over the past week which is also apart of the whole virus. It is now at its worst and extremely itchy, sore and uncomfortable so I am taking good care of him. My poor baby! We learnt our lesson for going straight to the doctor with my lump in my breast so we are now fully on top of things when it comes to health. ANY changes in your body, just go get it checked. I think this will stick to us for life now!

Raising of funds

Hold up..

So tuesday was my last day of radiotherapy – yay.. Thanks to the boys and Jess for coming to dinner with me to celebrate over a large Japanese meal and delicious frozen yoghurt to follow.

Majority of you would see finishing radio treatment as a fantastic thing.. and don’t get me wrong, it is. Although its also put me into a state of depression. I think it would be something hard for anyone to understand unless they have really seen what I have been through, family and close friends possibly. Being diagnosed with cancer obviously has a huge impact on your life. There are so many things you have to change and stop to look after yourself and try fight the battle to live. I did this, I successfully got through chemotherapy and radiotherapy which has been life changing. My world was turned upside down. Well, now its reversed itself and is being turned back around again and its not easy to go back to the life I once had. There are emotional strings attached to a lot to things I do no matter how positive I am. Is this it? AM I cured? Does life just continue on now like nothing happened? My brain is so confused and it hurts to think.. Emotionally and physically.

Today I saw my oncologist for review. Soon I will be contacted by the Menopause Clinic as I am still awaiting my menstrual cycle to return. Its frustrating knowing that this could be it for my fertility. I need to stay positive and I have help for that by keeping in mind that I have always been the kind of girl who was late to develop, my periods have sometimes not come for 5-6 months due to either stress or coming off a contraceptive pill. I am pinning the fact that it hasn’t come back yet, down to my silly, slow body.

I asked her today… ‘So… am I now in ‘remission?’ She replied with ‘No. Remission is a bad word to use. It actually means that you still have cancer, but you are on a ‘break’ from it affecting you at that time. I prefer to say that you are cured.’ Hearing those words ‘You are cured’ was more than music to my ears. I was in shock and didn’t know how to feel. I asked, ‘so I am completely cured!?’ she said ‘well, yes. we have done the top standard treatments to eliminate the tumor and traces so we assume that it is now gone. You will have your 6 month – yearly checkups for 5 years, then if nothing comes up we just keep testing yearly.’ More great news, but still.. this feeling of depression has not budged today.

Next was chemo, my ninth IV Herceptin dose. I talked to one of the friendly nurses about how I was feeling. She made me feel a lot better and that everything I felt was COMPLETELY normal and everyone says the same thing when they get towards the end of intensive treatment. I asked her what other people do when it comes to this? She simply said that it is no rush to get back to normality and you have to take it slow getting back into your old yet new life again. I guess it gave me reassurance that this new life WILL come back to me, just not right now. Its normal to hit a stage of depression and I am not particularly enjoying how I feel at the moment.

My red chest has become more red again and also started to tan, peel and itch/sting even more. It is horrible. I have exercised SO much this week to try focus my mind on bigger and better things but then also finished up each time with my chest doubled in colour and itchiness. I can’t win!

As you can tell, my positive strength is at a bit of a weak point this week. I have said many times in frustration ‘IM OVER IT! I’VE HAD ENOUGH! I WANT TO BE NORMAL’. I have cried over my hair a few times but then I have also got excited by trying to be mathematical by researching how much hair grows daily then multiplying it by so and so to try work out how long my hair will be in a year etc.

To end positively, I have some fantastic friends that have been organising fundraising events for me. I shall go into more detail about this via my next post.

Goodnight. xoxoxo

Hold up..