So its been quite some time since I last updated my progress. You may think this has been because not much is really going on now that chemotherapy is over and my hair is now growing outrageously. You are wrong. A lot has been happening and I am about to share it with you all.
I hope everyone had a happy christmas and a nice break. I am back at work already with about 5% of my fellow staff members! Its really strange having an empty work space. My christmas felt loving and special because I was so unwell last year and didn’t get to enjoy much of the day.
A week from today I will be admitted to hospital for my lattissimus dorsi breast reconstruction/second mastectomy/IV port removed. I have been a very patient girl all year putting up both with evening out my left side and just going out in public with the fact I have one breast, very obvious. I am so used to it now but also really, really excited to get this slow process started and become a new woman! For the past couple of months I have been either really loking forward to surgery but then also extremely scared. I am going from being happily pain-free full time worker, gym junkie Rachel to bed ridden with a morphine pump (hell yeah!), 6 drains, a catheta and pooing into a pan – for 7-10 days whilst in hospital. I have to keep telling myself that this is going to be so worth it and thinking out the final outcome. I will update more on this once I have some more details!
I also mentioned in my last post back in mid October that I was going to tell you about my Aunt Patricia from Ireland who we lost back in early September. Patricia was suddenly diagnosed with late stages of stomach cancer. Twelve weeks from diagnosis – she passed away. If you are interested in reading a little bit more about this wonderful, inspiring women please click on the following link. She was a very talented and accomplished women and we were all very proud of her.
I’m sure you can all understand how that made me feel. I had just jumped over a massive hurdle in my life (well close to) as I was just finishing my last couple of chemo treatments when we received the horrific news. I think inside somewhere, I could vibe her strength whilst also sending so much of my positive energy her way.
I have had a lot of thinking time over the past couple of months, I purposely didn’t want to update my blog because I felt I needed some time to leave my writing and slot myself back into my place in life. From the last time I had been into the cancer center at the hospital and being told by my Oncologist that it was the last time I had to come in until April 2012 – I was in shock. I felt almost lost? This place felt like a second home to me! As I left to approach the reception before leaving – the receptionists were so excited to hear I didn’t have to come back for six months! At this time, in my head I had to keep telling myself, ‘wow its over – I have so much to look forward to.’ It took me a long time to grasp this feeling and really start to move on from what I, we (my family) had just been through, mentally and physically..
This was until late November I was about 10 minutes off from finishing up at work. I keep my mobile in clear vision at my computer incase of any urgent calls I need to take and I saw my phone light up. It was my Oncologist. My heart skipped a beat, of course – because why would she be calling me?! Was something wrong?!.. I grabbed my belongings and shut down my computer without even saving my work, just so I could run out and take the call in time. She told me I needed to come in that week to discuss something. As you know, doctors can’t tell you things over the phone, she gave me a small insight on the matter and told me I didn’t need to worry. What did I do? I worried. Adam was away that week for a photo shoot without very good phone reception though that didn’t matter because I couldn’t just call him stressing or upset because it would just worry him even more being away, so I decided to just wait till I spoke to her – I mean, she said it was nothing to worry about?
Three days later I had my mum and dad sitting with me waiting to go in and speak to her. Mum and dad insisted it was going to be fine but I could tell by the stressful look on both of their faces that there would have to be some kind of doubt inside of them. To make things worse, every other patient in the waiting room was seen before me, I was last – this just made me more nervous because I knew she needed more time to talk to us.
We sat down and she began to tell us that she was overlooking my tumor results from my mastectomy and wanted a second opinion on a couple of things which sat slightly in a ‘grey’ area. It turns out, that my cancer was misdiagnosed. Sorry, hold on… MISDIAGNOSED?! I was not estrogen/progesterone negative, but estrogen/progesterone positive. After telling myself its over, treatment is done – I am now going to move on from this, I get told I was misdiagnosed and should be having further treatment. Well, should have been having further treatment SINCE FEBRUARY. Surely you can think of how my parents felt, and how I FELT thinking I had missed out on something that is supposedly going to stop me from relapsing? My Oncologist was just as unimpressed as we were. So where does that leave me now? I should have been on a drug called Tamoxifen since February. Though, it is my choice to decide whether I want to take this drug or not. It is of oral form but once we had talked all the side effects and details about it through, it turns out that for me there is no proven fact that it will help me in the future. Age, tumor size, tumor type… its all very confusing. She told me the course of this drug was for FIVE years. Though I could take it for 2-3 years if I wanted to to, or try it and if I don’t like it/have bad side effects come off it. This drug would put me back into menopause again and yes, again, decrease my chances of having children. Why would I do this to myself? If there is no proven fact that this is going to one day save my life, then why would I go through the horrible side effects of this? Rewinding a little bit now, what does this mean? how does it effect me? Well, it means my cancer fed off estrogen/progesterone. That scares me because I was pumping my body full of estrogen when I went through IVF… Thank god I refuse to take the contraceptive pill, because that would of also been a lovely snack for my cancer to grow on.. and the medication I took whilst going through menopause? that was estrogen based too. It makes me angry because pathologist have no room for mistake. Yes, everyone makes mistakes but for this, I don’t think so. I have made my decision and will be calling her this week to tell her.
On a much more cheerful note, last week I was walking home from work feeling tired and crappy whilst on the phone to my mum. I opened the letterbox and pulled out an A3 envelope which Adam seemed excited about – though I was too busy talking to mum. When I finally listened to him he said I had been nominated for Australian of the Year?! Thats crazy! I have no idea who nominated me but I received a certificate and wonderful letter from Australian Cricketer Adam Gilchrist. This is something I am very proud of and will be framing in my house. It reminds me of my strength and to keep my head up. Funnily enough, that morning I woke up feeling blank and didn’t feel very good. But I stepped outside, took a big breathe of fresh air and actually tweeted that ‘Today is going to be good’. Positivity does amazing things.
Even though I have had a bit of a break from writing, I have noticed when I have checked my blog stats, I am still getting around 100 views a DAY! Its so great to see people are interested in what I have to say/show. I will be updating a lot more again whilst going through my reconstruction with lots of photos, so keep checking in, plus some updates with my hair situation which is pretty cool these days.