It’s official – I am now ‘moving on’ from living with breast cancer…..

Who’d have thought it.

Last week was my second annual checkup to make sure that the dreaded boob rot hadn’t got it’s claws into my remaining boobie, and that my bionic boobie wasn’t about to break it’s bonds and threaten to take over the world.

The few days leading up to the appointment always make me anxious.  There is a big difference between knowing the consequences of them finding something wrong, and blithely going along the first time around, convinced you are perfectly fine, only to find you are completely buggered.

As I am getting more & more active, I have more ‘ouch’ moments as the surgery still settles down and the bionic boobie integrates with the rest of me.  Of course, I fretted and worried about those niggles and twinges before the appointment, worried in case they were a sign of ghastliness.  I nearly convinced myself that the remaining boobie looked ‘a bit odd’ until I had a word with myself and just concentrated on waiting for the appointment on Thursday.

I was, of course, massively early.

Just under a year had passed since I had been in the cancer unit at York Hospital, not much had changed, apart from some funky new murals on the walls (sorry to tell you this York PCT, but painting the walls a pretty purple colour really doesn’t make you less worried about your mammogram/histology/chemotherapy/surgery/radiology/hair loss), but it felt the same.  A bit forced on the cheeriness side of things, and a bit depressing on the rest.  Walking up those stairs as a returnee and not an active patient felt pretty good.  Looking in the eyes of the three ladies coming down the stairs as I went up just reminded me of how awful it all is.  I sent a little prayer after them to accompany my best ‘it will be OK, hopefully?’ smile.

Miracle of miracles – although I was 30 minutes early, they could see me straight away – so off we went, and I sat in a consulting room on my own again with only half my clothes on for 15 minutes.

When the consultant finally did arrive to do the consulting bit, I had almost convinced myself they had forgotten about me, and wondered what the protocol was for reminding them.

Did I:

A – poke my head out of the consulting room door and yell?

B – put all my top half clothing back on, retrieve my shoes, go back to the front desk and ask what was going on?

C – risk the potential mental trauma to my fellow cancer centre attendees by risking a quick peek down the corridor without putting my top half clothes on, thereby risking flashing the entire corridor with my one & a half boobies?

D – rip the privacy curtain down and use it as a toga before carrying out any one of the above?

E – get a grip.

You’ll be glad to know I went with E.

And it all went swimmingly – consultation duly done – no changes from last year, and all my niggley aches and pains perfectly normal for a woman with one & a half boobs, a recovering liver that had been poisoned for 6 months, significant steroid induced weight gain and drug induced early menopausal symptoms.

Result.

As we are about to move to Lincolnshire they also arranged for me to have my mammogram on the same day to save me a return trip.  Which was great.  So, I toddled off down the corridor to the next changing room, but thankfully kept all my clothes on for that bit.

The clothes come off when you go in the treatment room.  I am now well versed in this and always make sure I have things that slip on and off easily – it is very uncool to be thrashing about with complicated buttons/straps/zips or whathaveyou.  So – top half clothes off again and then it is time for the mammogram of the remaining boobie.

Oh lordy.  Now I know why it is a year between appointments.

Not only do you have to contort yourself into positions not even Beth Tweddle would find easy, but you also have to hold your breath whilst a nice smilely lady is crushing your boob in a vice.  Twice.  Apparently it was my fault it hurt as ‘you are a bit too young for this and your boobs aren’t floppy enough’.  A backhanded compliment if I ever heard one!!!

And that was that.

Done.

Well actually not quite.  As I went back to the front desk to make next years appointment, the cancer care nurse came out with something for me.  It was a folder of information she thought I might find useful to help with dealing with the night sweats & weight gain that is currently my happy lot.

I’ve got to admit, I didn’t really look at it then – I was on my way to the car park and was running close to going over an hour in the pay and display – I didn’t want to have to take out a bank loan for paying for over an hour, so popped it in my bag and just hustled to the car.  I texted TDB to tell him everything had gone well, threw my stuff in the car and headed home.

I grabbed the folder with my handbag and put them on the kitchen table, where I promptly forgot about them for a little while whilst I had a conference call with a client and arranged a booking for one of my trainers.

When I did pick it up to look at it, I did a little jig.

You see, all the way up until this point, the information I had been given has been about living with cancer.  Right there, on the front of the folder, in nice big capital letters, it said ‘Moving Forward – a life beyond cancer’ instead.

And that is exactly what I intend to do.

In a few weeks time I will retire this blog – it is time to move forward.  I have a plan to make it available in a different format and raise money to help fight this thing, so do keep your eyes peeled for more information on that.

THANK YOU for all your support.

Dr Dylan (and Turtle) standing down from beating cancer with cuddles

Happy Birthday Bionic Boobie

This time last year I had my final bit of surgery and my new bionic boobie was installed.

We’ve been on a bit of a journey since then…

A year on and it is definitely time to reflect – getting over being systematically poisoned every 3 weeks for 5 months of my life has been much harder to move on from than I ever really thought it would.

Now don’t misunderstand me – I didn’t expect the Wellness Fairy to appear, wave her wand and cure me instantly, but I wasn’t expecting this to be such a struggle.  Chemo really does bugger you about.  Getting over that buggeration is difficult.

Of course, TDB has been my rock & harbour when things got tough.  He has also been my ‘pull yourself together and man up’ coach when I have felt a bit sorry for myself and needed a kick up the proverbial too.   Sometimes I have been a bit overwhelmed by the ‘poor me’s’, and he has helped me realise I am being a wuss pants.

The daily struggle is lack of sleep.  I haven’t had a full night since starting tamoxifen, and I still have 4 years drug therapy to go.  This does, occasionally make me ratty, irritable & generally not very pleasant to be around.  TDB keeps a carefully orchestrated silence on those points😉

I’ve also put on about a stone in drug induced weight, which is not exactly the end of the world, but does make my wardrobe somewhat restricted, especially on a seriously fat day.

However – the bionic boobie has settled beautifully, I look good with my clothes on (!) and my hair is now a luscious, wavy blonde (helped by the bottle admittedly).  Of all the things I was expecting with hair regrowth, a reverse strip of dark brown through the blonde wasn’t it.  Hair dye is a wonderful thing.

My sweet tooth did disappear after chemo – and my cheese eating is back with a vengeance.  Each time I sink my teeth into a divinely ripe bit of Colston Bassett, I am so appreciative of the sensuality of food.

Despite the best efforts of the ferocious night sweats, my energy levels are so much better – I have my mojo pretty much 98% back.

This has such a positive effect on the rest of it that a bit of broken sleep seems a price well worth paying.

During the past year my business has grown and thrive, I have won another award for being a great trainer, got my gardening mojo back, re-embraced my love (obsession actually) for food, and generally found a good path towards the sunlit uplands.

Every step I take along it, I give thanks – and I remember all those who are no longer walking it with me.

So – happy birthday Bionic Boobie – here’s to a happy and long relationship between us🙂

 

April 2011

February 2012

It’s time to get off the cancer bus….

Wow.

This time last year I was getting ready for the IITT awards and wondering how to fit a thermal vest under evening wear.

This Thursday, I am going again as a finalist for Trainer of the Year.

No issues with baldness, lack of eyebrows/lashes, inability to keep warm or, indeed, having to go for a chemotherapy treatment the next day.

Nope.  Not me.  This year, I shall be meeting TDB in London and we are both looking forward to the evening immensely.

What have I learnt then over the past year?  Has cancer changed me?  Do I feel differently about myself and others?  Have I had a major life turnaround?

Well – yes, and no.

I have learned who my friends & support network really are, and who was just in it for the short game.

I have learned not to waste emotional energy on friendships that don’t repay my investment.

I have learned not to feel guilty about this.

I have learned to focus on what I can achieve, and not what I think I should achieve.

I have recognised that I need to look after myself emotionally as well as physically.

I have bought a Zumba Wii game (see second part of previous comment).

I don’t work 12 hour days just because I run my own business and external influences think I should.

I value time with my family & friends, and I make sure I get lots of it.

I take throwing each empty packet of tamoxifen in the bin as a little victory against cancer.

I recognise that not everyone I know realises I have had cancer.

I recognise that not everyone is comfortable with my head on approach to talking about it and dealing with it.

I don’t feel I am a ‘victim’ of cancer.

I don’t feel there is anything I could have done to avoid getting it either.

I don’t want it again thanks.

I realise this is not up to me.

And I am good with all of the above.

I plan to put a bit back.  I am going to put together my award winning cancer blogs into a Kindle book and use it to raise money for Breast Cancer awareness.  I’ll let you know when that is available for you to buy and your purchase will help other women in the fight against this horrid thing.

This blog won’t go away, but will then focus on other things.

It’s been fun, but it’s time to get off the cancer bus now and focus on the broad sunlit uplands.

Living IT, Learning IT, Loving IT – 2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Playing with the big girls

Well, it’s done. Wonder how I got on? Should I have taken more ‘stuff’? Should I have done a different topic? Who cares! I made it to the finals of Trainer of the Year, TRAINER OF THE YEAR!!!!! and I’m utterly thrilled to have got there.

I gave it my best shot. I did what I do best – delivered a great session I believed in, with passion, humour & energy.

And it got me thinking about WHY I do what I do, and why I love it so much.

I was never what you would call naturally ‘gifted’ at school – clever, yes – but I had to work at it. I responded best to teachers who recognised I needed to ‘get it’ and find relevance in a topic to do well. Sadly not many could be bothered. But the few who did still stick in my mind every time I get up in front of a room of Learners.

As do the many who couldn’t be bothered. Who just went through the motions. Who had no interest in whether I understood what the hell was going on. Who ridiculed me often and with relish.

I often hear trainers in my field of expertise moan – ‘not another Excel intro’, ‘I hate teaching basic level’, ‘apps training is really dull’……

Needless to say they don’t work for me.

I want to be bothered. I want to pass on the passion I feel for learning. I want the Learners I engage with to be energised and excited by the new stuff they can do after a training event.

I get a chance to do that every time I step into the training room, put my headset on to deliver online learning, take a booking from a client and get my butt out out there to make it happen.

I love that moment when it all clicks for a learner and their face lights up with knowledge. Because I know how good that feels.

I work hard to be good at what I do, so – rather than think I’d never be able to rank alongside the really big training companies, that I should rest on last years Freelance Trainer of the Year award, I thought about it, then I gripped it, ripped it, and put a submission together…

How cool is that? To get the chance to stand up and be judged alongside some serious competition was a fantastic opportunity.

Whatever happens now I am so proud of what I have achieved, ably assisted by TDB, chums & the lovely trainers who work with me and share my passion to show people that they can do it. After all, I have.

So – why do I do what I do?

Because learning is fun. Because helping people learn is fun. Because it picks me up every time I see someone’s light bulb come on. Because its wonderful to change someone’s mindset from ‘I can’t do it’ to ‘I bloody well can’.

Now – the awards dinner is in Feb 2012. I have the most fantastic pair of shoes. I’m a winner already on the shoe front. This time I can wear what I want without worrying about chemo related nonsense. This time I wont have to wear a stupid beanie hat. This time I won’t have to have chemo the day after.

This time, I can really, really enjoy it. Bring it on!

Did you miss me?

It’s been a while.

I’m still glowing like I’m a Springfield reject – & as time marches on, am getting better at dealing with it. Mostly.

I haven’t had a full nights sleep since I finished chemo in February. I am more familiar with the middle of the night than I would like to be. My eye bags have their own excess baggage allowance for goodness sake.

My first set of annual mammograms on the remaining boob came back clear.

This time last year I had just about recovered from the mastectomy. What a difference a year makes.

I have thick, blonde curly hair.

I have a fabulous reconstructed cleavage.

I am short listed for Trainer of the Year 2012.

And I get a bit hot. A lot.

Life is good. Very good. Onward, and upward – sunlit highlands x

20111122-223530.jpg

A strange anniversary

This week, on the 28th, two anniversaries take place.

My sister’s 10th wedding anniversary, and a year since I first turned up at York Hospital with what became Boob Rot.

I’m back there again for my first annual check up – basically this is making sure that the other one isn’t rotting, and that the tamoxifen is doing it’s job, etc, etc. I am consoling myself by going out to dinner with friends afterwards.

I feel a bit odd about it all really. It’s been a while now since I was at the hospital – I now have a full head of blonde, curly hair (which it never was before!), bushy eyebrows and luscious eyelashes. I am fully reconciled to the changes in the way I look, and how my body feels, and am pretty damned happy with the results. I could do without the weight gain and hot flushes courtesy of tamoxifen, but it’s all part of the greater good, and I’d rather be doing everything possible to stop any cancerous cells getting the idea that they may be in charge. Step it up there tamoxifen. Stop ’em at the pass.

So going back is just a stark reminder of the fact that I’ve still got a long way to go. The Wellness Fairy is doing a great job – but I have to consciously remind myself that this is a long term game plan, and not a quick fix. On average, they reckon it takes you at least a year to recover from chemotherapy, so I’ve time to do yet.

Having my energy back is fantastic – I’m loving being able to get back into the swing of things – I can do more, and am making sure I do. I’m rebuilding the business, which understandably had gone a little quiet over the chemo period, and have lots of exciting new challenges to look forward to.

So, 28th July had better be a good day. Keep your fingers crossed that the remaining boob has behaved itself – I shall report back.

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