Or, even if you didn't watch it & you just looked at the very moving photographs on the www.thescarproject.org website, thanks for that too cos, I'm on my own little mission here, just trying to get you all - & I do mean ALL; men & women - to regularly self examine so that hopefully, you never have to go through what I've been through.
So many people have thanked me for bringing the project & the website to their attention.
I know it came as quite a shock to some of you to see the pictures but this is the reality of breast cancer.
Indeed, 'SCAR' is an acronym that stands for 'Surviving Cancer: Absolute Reality'. I think that the documentary & the photographs on The Scar Project website, definitely portrayed the 'absolute reality'.
My body now resembles that of some of the women on that site. It's a reality that I myself am faced with every single day & it's obviously going to stay with me for a very long time.
I'm not a Doctor, nutritionist, health & fitness adviser etc etc so, I'm very much aware that I'm in no position to offer advice as to what you can do to avoid breast cancer or, any kind of cancer for that matter but, what I can do is, share my thoughts & feelings through this blog & just hope that it helps you to understand that this can happen to anyone so you should be vigilant about self examination.
Since I started this blog, I personally know of at least five people who have been worried about lumps or changes to their breast(s) & have been to their GP to arrange to have them checked out. THANKFULLY, they've all been ok & the lumps/changes have been nothing to worry about.
Yeah, it's really crap that these people have had to do these things but, doesn't it just show that the message is getting through? And isn't it better to just go & be examined for your own peace of mind? And in quite a lot of cases, early detection is life saving.
I'm really, really happy that they are all ok & I'm quite proud of the fact that this blog prompted these people to have an examination.
I said in my post 'And not forgetting the....' (cancer), that I've been really caught up with my impending move back to Liverpool so, cancer hasn't constantly been on my mind but, in all truth, it scares the shit outta me on a regular basis & fearful thoughts & paranoia often creep in.
|Living with 'the fear'|
Well - no, actually.
In real terms, I am still a cancer patient & will be for the next five years at least &, my actual 'status' in my medical records is 'NED'. Which means 'no evidence of disease'. At the moment. Hopefully my status will remain as 'NED'.
I think we all forget sometimes that, there is no cure for cancer!
Only last week when I spoke to Carol, my breast care nurse, I bombarded her with questions:
How do we know it hasn't spread anywhere else & is slowly killing me?
How do we know if the hormone treatments are working?
What's gonna happen when I stop the hormone treatments?
What if they've left a little bit of breast tissue on the right side of my chest & cancer is 'growing' again?
Why have I got to wait until next year before I have another mammogram?
Why can't I have a blood test or body scan right now just so that I know for definite it's gone?
And she replied:
"We can't give anyone a 100% guarantee that their cancer won't come back or in some cases, that it has actually all gone. You had no spread to the lymph nodes which is a good indication that it hasn't spread anywhere else. Yes, there are people who've had a similar diagnosis to yourself & months later they're diagnosed with secondary cancer but, what you need to do now is be vigilant in self examination &, if you have any aches or pains that are getting worse & don't go away after a couple of weeks then you need to see your GP in the first instance. We've taken all of the breast tissue away & the fact that you've suffered quite badly with side effects from the hormone treatments suggests that they are working. We don't routinely blood test or order scans for someone with a diagnosis like yours & yes, you will have to wait until your next mammogram to be entirely sure that the other breast is free of disease & that there has been no recurrence.....unless of course something happens in the meantime to suggest otherwise."
Her answer didn't really pacify me one little bit. (And now that I've actually written it on this blog & read it back to myself, I'm thinking, shit! What the f*ck?!) I'm trying so hard not to dwell on it.
Quite simply, there are no guarantees & the only thing that I can do in the meantime is as she said: be vigilant about self examination & listen to my body.
And try not to let it rule my life in the meantime.
So, that's my 'absolute reality' laid bare. This is my 'new normal'.
I'm still in the early stages of my treatment! I had my 5th, four weekly, Zoladex injection yesterday. My stomach is bloated, very sore at the injection site (it's an implant that goes in so the needle is quite thick - it really hurts!) & I've felt nauseous all day. Every time I have one of these painful injections, I have an upset tummy for the next 48 hours. These are pretty standard side effects to be honest but I don't like them! (As if you didn't know that already & if you didn't, where the hell have you been?!)
I'm still struggling like mad with insomnia, then night sweats that wake me up when I do finally get to sleep &, I'm having numerous hot flushes throughout the day.
I'm still feeling quite emotional too in fact, the electrician who's been working on my house came back to finish the job today, I'd met him a few times before he started the work & don't get me wrong, he's a lovely guy but, I don't really know him &, when he said "Best of luck Cheryl, I really hope everything works out for you", I started to cry!! I got really choked up! How embarrassing! I had to slam the front door shut & wipe away some tears!
God knows what I'm gonna be like on Friday when I go out for one last time with my work friends! And the week after, I'm having a small 'get together' at my house so I can see some of my other friends.....it's gonna be like Niagra Falls! (But please don't let this put you off if you were planning on coming to my 'party'!!)
Anyway, enough of my paranoid nonsense & talking about stuff that will make me cry again! It's getting late, I'm really tired so I need to go to bed.
Once again, 'thanks' people, the support you show is just amazing & thanks to all the people that have voted for my blog in the 'Cosmo Blog Award' competition! I still find it hard to get my head around the fact that people want to read my ramblings! But I do know that there are many people out there that wish me well & genuinely want to know how I am.
Thank you for that.
Love Chez. xx
P.S: If you want to vote for my blog (please!), you just need to click on the pink Cosmo 'button' (top right) & the URL (that it asks you for) is: http://chez-diaryofadramaqueen.blogspot.com/