The Panic

I’ve realised a lot of this blog has been dedicated to my rollercoaster style mental health issues.
Here’s another one (sorry).
The past few weeks have thrown another volcano of bad news, anxiety and fear at me and I have to tell you, I did not handle it well at all.
Firstly, I heard the sad news that a lady I liked very much, passed away from metastatic breast cancer. She was a bit of a hero of mine. She dealt with her primary diagnosis with such style, bravery and a resolute attitude that cancer would not get in the way of her doing things that made her happy.
When I was diagnosed, she offered me advice and support. She sent me little care packages that cheered me up and talked me through some of the parts of treatment and surgery I was most frightened of. I’ll be eternally grateful for the compassion and understanding she shared with me.

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Alisa. She was brilliant.

Secondly, I had a couple of pretty awful appointments with the gynaecology/fertility team and I’m no further forward on the ‘will I ever be able to have a baby’ question. I did however, get a pretty stern talking to about my weight. The weight I gained during treatment and haven’t been able to lose because of the combination of tamoxifen, zoladex, gabapentin and antidepressants I’ve been taking since I was diagnosed (my love of cakes might have contributed a little too). I need to lose 2 stone before I can have my ovaries removed to reduce my risk of developing ovarian cancer. ‘Need to’. No suggestions as to how! My problem I guess. So now I’m not only nervous about the cancer side of things, I feel ashamed that I’ve allowed my weight to escalate to this level. Cue, lots of hiding in my room, having unexpected bouts of sobbing.

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Looking happier than I felt.

I also got my letter confirming my pre op assessment and my mastectomy surgery. I don’t know why this got to me so much. I’ve known about it for a few weeks but reading it on that weird beige NHS paper just hurtled me 2 years into my past and the crippling fear of what I’m about to go through grabbed me and shook me by the shoulders.
After the epic screw up with my antidepressants, I’m still waiting for my body to catch up and get back onto an even-ish keel.
The grand finale of stress happened last Tuesday morning. I got up, got showered, dressed and set up for work. I hadn’t driven for more than a few minutes and I began to feel frightened, this was quickly followed by an inability to get a breath. My hands started shaking and I felt out of control. I pulled my car over and had a giant sob/wheeze attack. This was too much for me to style out at work so I turned the car around and went home. I saw my doctor again and he insisted I take a few weeks off to ‘regroup’. I’m not a fan of being off but had to admit, I needed it.
So, in summary, life has been hard. My wonderful, amazing fiance knows that I react to stress by needing a project and agreed to help me completely redecorate our bedroom. I want it to look really different than it did during my treatment. When I get out of hospital, I want a lovely, cosy place to recover. To get ready to move on. Be well. Get happy.
Fuck cancer!

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Going to need entertainment!


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A very cosy bed

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The one about the eggs

This post is about the fertility treatment I had just after my cancer diagnosis.
After I’d had the scans to determine my stage/grade and treatment plan, I was asked a question. “Did you plan on having any children?”. Another crushing blow was dealt. If I wanted to save my own life, it would be at the sacrifice of my fertility.
We had planned to start a family but had put it off for years to get my business off the ground. Ironically, the decision to stop working was very easy. I no longer cared about being a success or having money, I just wanted to be well and have all the things I’d assumed
I could have without worrying. I wanted to get married, have a baby, grow old…
My cancer, as far as they knew, had not spread to my lymph nodes and my surgeon was prepared to wait for one week to allow me a very small chance at IVF.
We attended a few appointments at Ninewells fertility department in Dundee and started an excelled course of hormone treatment to encourage egg production. This meant injecting myself a couple of times a day and becoming even more hormonal and insane than I already was. I recall a particular crazy lady incident where I screamed at Steph in the middle of a busy shopping centre then promptly burst into tears for all to see.
Once the week was up, I went for my first (of many) operations. This was to remove all of my eggs and ‘introduce’ them to Steph’s little swimmers, leave them to party and hope for the best!
It was a quick operation and I was on my way home the same day. It was very emotional and felt so rushed and frightening. Luckily, we got a call the next day telling us it had been very successful and that 12 out of the 14 eggs that had been retrieved had been fertilised and would go into the freezer until we were ready for them.
Phew! Phase one complete.
Sort of.

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Lots of things have changed since then (which I’ll get to) but, at the beginning, when there is so much on front of you, it’s very important to be able to ‘tick off’ things on your cancer to do list.
It felt like a positive step and that maybe, a normal life would still be within my grasp. I just had to get through a mastectomy, chemo and radiotherapy first….