Part 17. Bullet Point Lumpdate.
One of the initial reasons for this blog was to give an update in one place as there’s always so much new info to share with those who care. I realise I’ve mainly banged on about shizzle to do with the ripple effect of my jooouuurney to date, which is also important, but here’s a snapshot (autocorrect wanted that to say snapshit which I like) of where I’m at today, May 30th:
- The cumulative effect of the new regime starting with a double dose of paclitaxel and carboplatin followed by 2 weeks of mini doses of paclitaxel had me floored 3 weeks ago, as I navigated dropping some meds to balance some of the side effects. And insomnia reigned (still does) as a result of steroids, hormones and chemo. When I say floored, I napped more, felt weak and sore, and felt lower than I have so far. But I still dragged myself through parenting and work when I could because it simply ain’t over til the fat lady sings. My throat is too sore for proper singing right now.
- I met with my oncologist on May 16th and she confirmed my blood levels had dropped significantly and I need to be back on the cell stimulating G-CSF injections daily for 10 days after each big dose. They’d reached a critical ‘you could end up in hospital’ point. Fun.
- Dr Patel also talked through the next steps which were hard to hear as they differ to what was discussed at our last appointment, and mum and I had just spent the day together following the death of one of her very best friends, to cancer, of course. FUCK you cancer. So we were already pretty ruined emotionally.
- The multidisciplinary team had met the day before and determined that the initial size of my tumour and it’s triple negative status mean that it may not be completely blitzed by the end of chemo and has a higher risk of moving to my chest wall. That’s what TNBC likes to do. Insert another, ruder swear here. Talking about chest walls scared the shit out of me.
- They are suggesting surgery to the right breast only very soon after my final chemo removing all offending and surrounding tissue, and taking samples from the chest wall to be analysed, then inserting a temporary implant.
- I’ll go on to have radiotherapy soon after, targeting the breast area and the chest wall for just-in-casies (medical terminology). Chest wall mentions still scaring me despite Dr Patel at one point actually stating I don’t have cancer on my chest wall.
- Full, permanent surgery will likely be next year, as will preventative ovarian surgery.
- Bullet point just for head fuckery. All of this took a lot of processing in the 24 hours following that appointment, as there are lots of physical, emotional and life implications.
- I meet the surgeon on June 6th and have a list of questions.
- I’m going to be put forward for an international clinical trial, based at Guys, for BRCA carriers called the Olympia Study. It’s testing a drug called olaparib which is a PARP inhibitor. It blocks an enzyme called PARP that cancer cells need to repair themselves. If proven effective it offers the chance to reduce the risk of cancer returning after finishing standard treatment. I may get the drug I may get a placebo. Either way I’m potentially helping myself, definitely helping others like me.
- June 19th, my final chemo, is now in touching distance. I need my bloods to stay up; my liver to stay down as last week it was on the edge of being OK to continue; my nose needs to stop bleeding due to platelets being screwed…at this rate I’ll end up looking like Daniella Westbrook; my picc needs to run the course – it’s just started getting fed up; and all the other side effects that show up when they like and aren’t very nice just need to remain manageable. It’s so close and my body knows it.
- The best bullet point! Most of the not-so-fun guests have left the party (see Part 6)! In January I found what felt like a peach stone, which progressed to an angry mass that measured 6x5cm and in March a very swollen, sore, discoloured right boob. I now find it very hard to feel any lump in my breast. It’s there but I can only find it because I’m really trying.
T-shirt of choice for treatment yesterday.
I’ve been told, by my medical team, that chemo is the hardest part and that surgery and radio will be nothing like this. One of these encouraging talks came from a not-very-anonymous Oncology Sister just yesterday following treatment and acupuncture (she does that too such is her expertise):
“You are totally smashing this Chemo malarkey! … it’s nearly done. It’s down to the whole amazing way you’ve approached it – with humour, brutal honesty, determination and kick ass spirit – strong in body and mind!!”
It’s also down to The Army saying and doing stuff as encouraging as that!
I think I’ve comparatively lucky, and/or the measures I’ve taken to compliment the drugs and counteract the side effects have helped me stay strong. I’ve heard hideous stories about these particular chemo drugs. Jeeez just reading the side effects of the bone marrow boosting injections of G-CSF is frightening. I know my body is reaching a point where it’s had enough though. Mentally I’m good, I have it in me for 3 more weeks – 1 more cycle involving a biggie and 2 smalls (Biggie Smalls!), but physically I am feeling and seeing the effects of a body that’s been/is being fully attacked. The fabulous irony is being told how well I look.
Hearing that is great as when I wake up I genuinely look like a sack of shit, and when I go to bed I sometimes feel like one too. So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing to hold out mentally and physically and still manage to look and feel relatively good most of the time. It’s ALL relative!
3 is the Magic Number.
Just 1 more cycle, 3 more treatments, the next 3 Tuesday’s. The head persists, I just need the body to follow. Just for a bit please body! Can I ask then please reader, if you do praying, can you? If you manifest, can you? If you speak to the moon, can you? If you have a line to Buddha, can you? Push me to the final bell and then I’ll get my head in the game for the next challenge! 👊🙏🤜🙏💪
I’m simply giving myself a Balboa/Creed talk pretty much every day: One step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time. Persist.
My little (but really quite tall) bro Harry at treatment number 9 yesterday. Chemo gave us perhaps the most time on our own without other family since he was little. Another plus, thanks lumpy.