I became a bit withdrawn following diagnosis. I was only using Facebook for my Social Media sharing, but I became quite ‘anti’ it. People’s trivial posts were annoying me. Cancer websites seemed to be popping up everywhere and THEY were annoying me. And if I saw one more person running miles and miles WHILST having Cancer, I threatened to disown social media for good.
I was angry about having Cancer, although they didn’t know that of course. And I wasn’t about to announce it on there either.
So I stuck to my guns, concentrating on imminent events. Until the time when I lost my hair.
I say that like ‘one day I was walking around with a head full of lovely locks, turned a corner and they were gone!’ Lost in one gust of wind walking across the work’s car park!
But the first day I went out in public wearing a scarf, I felt everyone was staring. And no one could tell me otherwise. Because some of them were.
That day I decided to put my first post on Facebook, 3½ months after diagnosis. I’d already gone through 2 surgeries and some of my lovely friends had contributed to a collection to get me some lovely flowers. Actually they collected enough to also include chocolates, Gin and a beautiful Pandora charm. I felt so humbled and thankful that people were kind enough to do that. That meant so much.
So the post on Facebook wasn’t aimed at them of course. I’d decided ‘enough of the staring!’ You want to know what’s going on?? Here you go!!
I think I did it mainly to put it out there, say ‘this is me – this is what’s going on in my life’. So react, ask questions, and let me get on with it…
I was a little blasé about posting what turned out to be a post that – to date – people have remembered and told me as such.
Here is that first post (and yes this website has evolved from me writing that first line):
“CANCER… Me?… Really???
I have thought long and hard posting about this. But tonight I felt ready to put up a picture as this represents my ‘temporary normal’ …for the time being.
I know a lot of people are aware through us, or through word of mouth, but on Monday this week, I started round 2 of 6 rounds of Chemotherapy, with 4 weeks Radiotherapy after that thrown in for good measure, to hopefully kill off remaining Cancer cells, following my diagnosis of Breast Cancer in November.
Suffice to say it’s been a roller-coaster of emotions, appointments, tests, more tests, more discussions, and two operations (December and January) to remove quite a sizeable tumour and diseased lymph nodes. As you can imagine it came as a huge shock to hear what they found.
Initially I asked myself ‘how did I not know that was in there??’
But this process has taught me a lot about Cancer – how mine has grown, how complicated and different each person’s Cancer is, how they test it all, and why Research is SO important. But THE most important thing, is to ACT on anything we find. Awareness is one thing – it’s been everywhere lately, I know – TV, radio, social media. But checking and acting on any changes you find, no matter how small the change, is vital. I didn’t find a pea-sized lump, but felt something had changed. Thankfully I didn’t delay and got it looked at. And it was caught just in time apparently.
We have been given so much support and information from the start. From the GP, to the Ladybird Clinic in Poole Hospital for screening, the Surgeon, to the Oncologist and lovely nurses there. And now to the Dorset Cancer Centre for treatment. They have given me, and continue to give me, lots of information. It was ‘information overload’ at times, but for me I needed to understand what was happening to me.
So here we are. I know it’s not going to be an easy time ahead. Round 1 had it’s complications, some purely down to the viruses going about, and in the last 7 days my hair went from being thick and full, to thin and wispy and yesterday the last bits were trimmed to Grade 1. So, my personal choice, it’s now scarf time 😊. I’m a bit puffy from all the steroids, sometimes they make me want to eat the contents of the cupboards, other days I feel nauseous all day. One day I feel ok, the next I don’t.
I won’t be writing a daily blog (thank God I hear you cry!), but normality is key to this horrible disease. I will be working when I can, going on school runs when I can. But I will be hiding away and resting when I can too. Garry and I have been lucky in that our Employers have been very supportive, and both Broadstone First and Middle Schools have been fab with the children too. They know they can talk to the relevant people at any time and have done.
I am prepared as well as I can be, and Garry, the children – and I – am very grateful for the family and friends who have rallied around, and also just helped out with the little things too.
Lots of love and see you soon xxx”
The likes, comments and general reaction from people to that, really took me by surprise. People were worried, upset that it was happening to me, encouraging too giving me positive messages and saying how fantastic it was that I said it ‘how it was’. I just said what was going through my head – no bells or whistles or fancy words.
I’m glad I posted. I felt relieved. I could now relax a little, go about the local area with almost a carefree attitude – it’s out there now, move on…
Three months later, I decided to post again, as it was a poignant moment for me. I’d had a dreadful time during Chemotherapy and ringing that bell, although not End of final treatment as I was about to start Radiotherapy, was a fantastic feeling. So I shared it.
So that’s it for Chemotherapy!!
Last dose today, quite emotional ringing the End of Chemo Bell, and having my favourite nurse on duty too 😊.
They are all lovely at the Dorset Cancer Centre and nothing is too much trouble, whether it is on the phone, or on Chemo day when you can ask them sensible and not-so-sensible questions!
They spend time with you chatting about your family, any concerns you have, or just have humorous chit chat.
They are your safety net in a way, knowing they are there for you, and that’s what makes it so emotional to leave there.
So I have the next few weeks to deal with whatever this last cycle throws at me, then Radiotherapy to follow – but Chemotherapy is done!! Xxx PS – the red face is not the heat…or sunburn…it’s a new shade I call ‘Steroid Red’ lol x