Wednesday, October 24, 2012

To sum up...

It's finished. At least the hard slog, daily time consuming, life consuming part is over. Now we can finally try to feel our way toward whatever the new normal is. There will be some tablets for the next five years, some regular check ups with doctors and weighing up the pros and cons of reconstruction or further preventative surgery. There will also be the unknown. Am I cured? Did it work? We'll just assume yes. What else can you do?


 Best of all I can concentrate on healing for the first time without the onslaught of the treatment to deal with. How did treatment for illness become so horrific? Hopefully one of our children will deviate from the generation that wants to be models and celebrities and find a kinder cure for this ghastly disease.

My sister went to a good bye party for the mother of a friend who was diagnosed six years ago and chose not to have treatment. I never understood how you could do that before I had the treatment myself. Now I feel differently and can see her point of view too. It may depend on what or who you want to live for. In my case it's mainly who.


I am off for my final radiation zap today. It has become less tolerable over the last two weeks and I am feeling very scorched. It will be a relief to stop doing it. There is the strangest feeling of walking the green mile when you passively walk into these rooms to have bits chopped or irradiated or poisoned. It is a bit like jumping off a cliff to bungy jump. Your brain tells you it's okay and you have to do it but every defensive instinct in your body is screaming," Nooo!"


Yet you smile and make small talk with the lovely technicians and doze off to the music while the machine goes about its merry way decapitating the DNA of any straggler cancer cells. Because in all of this, I am still a mother and lying down still for a few minutes inevitably warrants a nanna nap. (I have been known to nod off during a leg wax!) Ha! Hair removal! Remember that!

I remember somebody telling me it's like using a bomb to kill a  flea. I just hope they have bombed the right spot!


It has been quite the experience, a lot of which I haven't shared with you, but for the record, I am going to put some of it down here now for me and mine, should they ever be curious, to be able to refer to.

Mammogram
Ultrasound 1
Four core biopsies
Four fine needle biopsies (unanaesthetised and failed to get material)
Four more fine needle biopsies from another doctor (anaesthetised, thank you very much, and successful!)
MRI of breasts
Ultrasound 2
Radial mastectomy of the left breast and axillary nodes. (22)
Full body scan
CT scan
MRI of liver
needle aspiration of seroma  under healed wound site (the first of seventeen- so far)
Chemotherapy protocol, three weekly, six times on T.A.C. treatment.
Readmitted once with dehydration for IV fluids and IV maxalon
Ongoing physiotherapy for lymphodoema treatment and lymphatic drainage of seroma
Mapping for radiotherapy
Daily radiotherapy for six weeks for twenty five sessions. Fourteen beams per session to four areas.
Listening to instrumental Andrew Lloyd Webber musak whilst remaining immobile.

Who is this person? I NEVER listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

It feels like the end of a long, arduous path. Now there is a wide open place in front of me and the opportunity to step through and find the rest of what life has to offer.


I still had to go see the honkologist again yesterday. It's a bit later than I should have because it took me eight weeks to summon the resolve to walk back into that bloody chemo unit again and make the appointment. It still gives me a very bad feeling passing those doors, even that floor on the elevator.

Then there is the bone density test, a bit more drainage, five years of Tamoxifen tablets, instant menopause, burn healing, visits every few months, annual scans, check ups,  yada, yada... It will hopefully wind down into a new easier life with a different viewpoint and priorities. I just want to get back to being the same person I used to be but don't know if that will ever happen.

There are so many ways to describe all this- journey, experience, battle, ordeal, passage, illness, enlightenment. For now I will just call it 2012, my annus horribilis, and try to move on to resume life beyond the 'C' word.



Thank you all so much for your support and ongoing kindness throughout.
See you in the great beyond.












45 comments:

  1. Gosh. Annus Horribilus indeed. I'm hoping that your great beyond is amazing and that you can now start the healing process.

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    1. Thanks for Blogtober. The daily posts kept me looking around and made the radiotherapy go much faster!

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  2. A shiver went up my spine when I was reading your treatment. Life can only get better, surely? Wishing you only good things in the next chapter. xx

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    1. It is creepy but good to consolidate it. It feels less unwieldy there in a neat paragraph.

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  3. I was thinking of you this morning as I walked home from the yards with my brimming milk bucket and that how this year would have started for you with such different plans to what unfolded. And that you would probably think of 2012 as indeed your Annus Horribilus. Thirteen happens to be my very lucky number and I hope a little of that luck heads your way for 2013 and beyond.

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    1. I accept your offer of luck and hold on hard. Roll on 2013. Fresh and new!

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  4. Painful reading, powerful memories - it certainly is a tough journey. Our rainbow thoughts are with you still - it seems the perfect image as you step into that wide open space ahead of you now. All love, Axxx

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    1. That rainbow image is most relevant now. The calm after the storm, hope of new beginnings and promises of it never happening again.

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  5. I'm so glad this punishing part of the treatment has finished, wishing you a full recovering. It was difficult reading this. Ada :) x

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    1. Sorry Ada. It was never meant to burden anyone. It just needed to be packaged neatly, all the easier to handle into the archives.

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  6. I'm so glad the daily treatment is over. I have been following your posts but you really illustrated the enormity of the whole testing and treatment experience in your summary. My gosh. I admire you for sharing some of your story here and for keeping your sense of humor throughout. Thinking of you for the next part.

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    1. A friend of mine told me she'd rather not know if she had it. I love her a lot and told her it's better if you know earlier so you can go through less of the above. Hopefully it will be seen as a cautionary tale.

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  7. Sounds unbelievably horrible and yet u have remained humorous and positive and yet honest throughout. So glad the radiotherapy is over for you.

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    1. It has been easier to express a lot of this on here than to people close by a lot of the time. This blog has been such a wonderful vent. It is all so bizarre that there had to be some humour in it to counter the ugly bits.

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  8. Well, Ill be honest, Ive just cried reading through this....I did not follow your blog before all of this, but was so glad to find you as you started your journey and to be able to leave a comment or two to let you know that their were mums out here reading and following and wishing that it was not happening to you.............
    I wish you all the best with your healing process now...to hold those kids to your heart and let them heal the bits that need it, cos they are so good for that....
    Im not going anywhere...I love to read about your funny kids, and Im going to love reading about the next part of this healing journey you are on, Suzanne, Adelaide....x

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    1. I think it was more fun before all this happened but the experience of blogging through the treatment has been so rewarding and surprising to me. Im shocked to have made you cry. So sorry. Once again the empathy and support I have experienced are so heartening.

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  9. Well, what truly marvellous news that the treatment is finished and you can start to regain your life again! I am amazed at how you remained so positive and I am sure this is part of why the treatment is over... Good Luck to you, may you heal really fast now, and I hope that life in all its glory will be part of living for you.. God Bless and hugs from across the pond.Janzi

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    1. You have all been a big part of staying positive. Thank you.

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  10. So so pleased for you that this period of prolonged Andrew Lloyd Webber is over. Now you can just focus on the gratitude that it wasn't Michael Bolton and move onwards. You are a complete inspiration in how you have managed to blog through this with such colour, optimism and positivity. May the force be with you. mel x

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    1. Dont worry Mel. The force is strong in this one!

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  11. Thank you for being so honest through all of it, and letting us really know what's it's like. Your positivity is amazing and inspiring. And the relief that I am not the only one who naps when being waxed (during a Brazilian once!) has made me feel better!

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    1. I can sleep anywhere. In fact there could be a post in that. Perhaps that's where the self bedded gets it from!

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  12. Oh Annie... tears here also...I wish I could give you a soft squishy hug.

    xxx

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    1. Virtual hugs are just fine, Kimmie. In fact they hurt less right now and mean just as much. X

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  13. Hugs from here too. You are ace. Your creativity and good humour throughout is amazing. Go Wonder Woman!

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    1. Its a wonder. Still waiting for the creativity to return. Soon...

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  14. The summation is mind blowing.
    Having skimmed along with you during this time, I truly believe that you have now experienced the death. And you are now in the resurrection of the new you.
    One could never go through this horror and remain the same.

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    1. It is a bit like something from Ulysses. Emerging at the other end feeling just a little triumphant and peeling off the old skin and hair to reveal new possibilities.

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  15. So happy your treatments are done. You have the best sense of humor. Hope all stays well by you. you are a beautiful person. I love reading your blog.

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  16. Daylight
    I must wait for the sunrise
    And I mustn't give in.
    When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too
    And a new day will begin

    I was curious to find if Andrew had any messages for you in his show tunes and i thought this one was apt, however the rest of his lyrics seriously lacked anything profound such as the following;

    An unexpected song
    That only we are hearing
    Like an unexpected song
    An unexpected song
    That only we are hearing!

    I am sorry you had to endure any of this.

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    1. Ms Julie, I am impressed with the level of research and pain you went through to write this comment. Indeed the first verses may have provided some comfort had it not been a purely instrumental track. It was the only bad music in 25 sessions though so one must be grateful that "only we are hearing". X

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  17. Annie, so glad the treatments are over. I'm hoping you can move forward now. The "C" is gone, yes it is. You have your little ones to enjoy and life will be wonderful. Sending positive thoughts to you each and every day.

    I'm so sorry you had to go through this.

    Hugs,
    Sharon

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    1. Because you are wise I will believe your prognosis that it is gone! That is the only one I want. Going through it has given me a lot to think about. I'm sure there is good in it too once ere is time to digest it all.

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  18. I have arrived at the end of your journey but I am glad to meet you and look forward to reading your blog as you live the life you have earned by your courage.

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    1. Nice to have you along. It's normally a blog about nothing so well see what happens next!

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  19. Domestic surf god here (love the anonymity) : Oh my GOD, they made you listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Heartless bastards!!
    seriously though, glad to hear the worst is over. was just having a standard Friday night when Julie showed me your blog (which i love by the way) don't know why but all of a sudden,which is scary when you get to our age but also surprising I have a memory, i thought about "walking down the stairs" (you will have to explain this to other blog fans in your own time). Fun times Annie, hope to relive them soon. Happy healing...

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    1. Ahh! The great and mysterious DSG has joined the dialogue and I am well chuffed. The stair walk (if you mean the one in the bat cave) is no longer possible due to a gammy knee and they demolished that house. Can't imagine why? I'm glad that you have such a profound memory of me in younger times. You have jogged my memory too. Polecats anyone?

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    2. Polecats! Sheesh! I couldn't remember it when Iwas doing it. Sorry to hear about the dodgy knee and did they demolish that house or did it just decompose? As for my memory of you in younger times, how could I forget ( substance abuse excluded). We were all so intelligent, brave, sophisticated and naive. But it was fun wasn't it?

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  20. Gosh, when you see your 'treatment' listed like that the word 'torture' more springs to mind.Sending you a big virtual hug, you've been a big inspiration to me (and others). xxx

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    1. The real torture will be going through the paper work and redistributing the hats! I had to change handbags because it was easier than facing all the paper in the old one. Thanks. X

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  21. What a long strange trip. It's wonderful to know that you are on the mend. Your sense of humor through it all is remarkable, but maybe necessary? Your lovely children the most healing and strengthening part of it all , no doubt.
    Love to you!
    Rachel

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    1. Absolutely. Maudlin just doesn't fit in with recovery. Those children kept me going just with their daily upkeep. There was no time to stay sad. Thanks Rachel

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  22. I think you will be the same person, but a wiser, stronger person. You've experienced something awful, and you didn't do it for yourself, you did it because you had to, because you have five children who need you to be their mother. I guess that's what mothers do. Good mothers are willing to be carved up, and burned, and stuck with needles and made to feel nauseous, for the sake of their children. You're a good mother and an inspirational woman.xo

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    1. Back at you Carmel. In fact thanks for encouraging me to start this blog in the first place. The timing was strangely perfect.
      We all try to be good mothers whatever it takes in different ways.
      Here's to all of us mothers struggling with whatever is tricky each day to raise those beloved children of ours as best we can. X

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