My Crazy Family Story

Thursday, 22 August 2019

My Breast Cancer Journey - Getting prepared for a mastectomy


Its been just over a week since my single mastectomy and my next post will document just that, I wrote part of this post before I went into hospital, I have been finding it really difficult to write exactly what I have been thinking and feeling because its been awash with thoughts of cancer and as you can imagine or know it has been a really stressful time.

How exactly do you prepare for a mastectomy? I don't think as a woman you ever quite will be prepared for this sort of surgery its not only the physical appearance you have to think about its emotionally painful when I think about it, honestly I would rather lose a hand, I know its only appearance but in this day and age, appearance, not just to me, although it shouldn't matter for most of us it really does matter. In the twenty-first century, though there are a lot of bands around now that make really beautiful feminine underwear, the breast prosthesis you can get are actually really stunning and lifelike and the reconstructive surgery, its truly amazing what the surgeons can achieve.

However, despite all of this and the fact that mastectomies are becoming more and more common this sort of surgery should not be downplayed.

I have to say I was so stressed the night before the operation, I found it difficult to think I found my mind was working in overdrive trying to imagine just what I was going to look like and of course I'm only human I imagined I would look like a monster I thought it would be horrifically ugly. After the surgery, I was pleasantly surprised it actually doesn't look that bad and the surgery was nowhere near as bad as I thought honestly try not to overthink things, I know its easier said than done.

I thought rather than me going on I would give you my top tips on preparing for a mastectomy, of course, there may be things I have missed but hopefully, this will help others that are going through the same thing or that are in a similar situation to myself.



Preparing for a Mastectomy 


  1. Communication, Obviously, your body image is going to be drastically altered, so open communication is an absolute must. Communicate your true feelings, hopes and fears to your partner if you have one or a friend, a relative whoever you are close too, but first, admit them to yourself. Consider keeping a diary or just writing down all your feeling where you can really let it all out. 
  2. Grieve, like anything we lose or are about to loose we grieve its normal to be sad/angry if you need to cry, cry, scream and shout just let it all out and if this isn't enough do it again. After all, this is a huge deal.
  3. Clean your house, sounds ridiculous but after a mastectomy, you are not actually going to know how long you are going to be feeling poorly for and your not supposed to do anything too strenuous for at least four weeks at least if the house has been cleaned from top to bottom before you go into hospital it will hopefully stay relatively clean - I also cleaned mine because I have been stressed and generally tend to clean more when I'm worried about things.
  4. Stock up, I made sure I had got plenty of food in the cupboards to eat if you like batch cooking you could also do this and freeze meals so it makes like just that little bit easier. I also did a shop online before I went into hospital, for later on in the week so I knew I hadn't got to worry about doing another shop and I knew we wouldn't run out of food.
  5. Buy some bigger clothes, this is one of my top tips I made sure I went into the hospital with a shirt on that was purposely too big. After surgery your not going to be able to lift your arm up in the air so it is ideal to have shirts, I also bought PJs that were front buttoning they are also two sizes too big, you really don't want them to be too small or tight as your going to be pretty sore for a while. 
  6. Take time to think, think about your reconstruction I went with the consultant's advice and I am having a delayed reconstruction later after treatment but there are so many different reconstruction options these days and there fabulous but obviously all come with there own risks, do your research and make an informed choice.
  7. Seek out support, there are loads of Breast cancer charities now that offer free helplines if you have a burning question or you just need to chat to someone that has been through the same thing don't be afraid to utilise these services they're all there to help.
  8. Take a photo of your breasts, I take photos of everything on a daily basis but this is something I didn't do, I really wish I had it will help with the grieving process and on a practical note it might help with the reconstruction, matching up you breasts and also if you wanted to have a nipple tattoo, later on, it could help with matching up the colours.
  9. Be prepared for drains, I was lucky I didn't have a drain in after my surgery but many mastectomy patients do, you can buy post-surgical dressing gowns and pyjamas from the likes of Marks & Spencers and Asda they have bigger pockets so you have somewhere to put your drain or you could take a small shopping tote bag it would do the job just as well.
  10. Pillows, sleeping isn't the easiest when you have just been diagnosed with cancer but after a major operation, it can be even more difficult, make sure you have plenty of pillows to get yourself comfortable id also try and identify somewhere else you could potentially sleep just in case the bed is too uncomfortable.

My last bit of advice is to take each day as it comes and deal with the now, be kind to yourself remember you got, this keep smiling. 




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Friday, 16 August 2019

My Breast Cancer Journey - Telling the kids I have cancer


I'm sure that I've gone through many of the same stages that anyone diagnosed with cancer has, including denial, anger, grief and acceptance.

But telling the kids I have Breast Cancer is by far one of the hardest things I have had to do on this journey so far. The feeling of actual pain I felt when I told the kids really hurt me it, it was worse than any physical pain I have felt it was heartbreaking to know it was going to hurt them and this was something I couldn't protect them from.

When I have told people that the kids know that I have Breast cancer most are surprised, a lot of people think I didn't have to tell them or that I shouldn't have told them, nothing is ever that black and white, Kids have a radar they know when something is going on, they know when people are telling them to leave rooms or whispering in corners, which causes them to be anxious and they begin second-guessing which is natural and is exactly what happened with my children, this is also the reason I decided to be as open and as honest as I possibly could with them.



flowers breast cancer my journey



I found Adam sat at the bottom of the stairs tears rolling down his little cheeks I had to ask him several times what was the matter before he managed to mutter, I don't want you to have an operation mummy, it broke me at that point I didn't know what to say, I hadn't prepared to have to explain myself to a seven-year-old, that although mummy looked very well, mummy was very sick, for a moment time stood still, I put my arms around him and picked him up, sat him on my knee I cuddled him, while I composed myself trying not to let him see that I was going to cry. I held him for a while and told him that I would talk to him and Liam (my 9 year old) later and for now to try not to worry, mummy would talk to them both when the babies had gone to bed, maybe I should have spoken to him then, but I needed to prepare and think about exactly what and how I was going to tell them both I just needed a bit more time.

later that evening I sat them both down, I made them put down there games consoles and listen I told them I had cancer, I told them I had cancer in my boobie - this they could understand there was a little giggle between them - of course, the word boobie and boys of seven and nine are bound to have a giggle, Liam looked at me and said I know what cancer is mummy its a rogue cell isn't it mummy and if it spreads somewhere else you will die, Adam said are you going to die, mummy,?

I told them that I was going to try my hardest to get better, I wish I could have promised them I was going to get better I am 90% positive I am of course going to get better and Cancer isn't going to beat me, but I can't promise them because I don't know.

I explained to them that most importantly they couldn't catch it and if they wanted to ask me any questions they could, I also explained I would have to go to the hospital, maybe stay for a few days whilst they took my boobie away to get rid of cancer which is a nasty bug. I also might have to have more medicine after my operation because cancer sometimes takes more than just an operation to get rid of, I also told them we could talk more about once I knew what medicine (if any fingers crossed) that I would have to have.

They both seemed to take in what I was telling them well the boys were as alright as they would ever be about the situation and you know I felt a sense of relief, relief that it was out in the open, relief that they could openly talk about it.



I wasn't prepared for the next day - I wasn't prepared for the four-year-old Jack to ask me mummy do you have cancer? the boys had been talking and he had overheard.

When I had told the older two boys the night before I had just got it into my head that the twins and Jack were too young to understand and there was absolutely no point in me telling them - now here I was looking into the big green eyes of my baby boy wondering what I was going to say - I nodded and said yes Jack mummy has got cancer.

I wasn't prepared for the question nor his reaction he burst into tears I couldn't stop myself before I knew it I was crying with him, I said to him its a really nasty bug Jack but the hospital and doctors are going to look after mummy he pointed at me and said which one has the nasty bug mummy and I pointed to my left side, he then said I thought cancer would make you dead - now I don't think he quite understands the concept of dead but I explained again mummy was going to try her very bestest to get better so we could keep having lots of fun. He nodded and said don't worry mummy I will look after you and with that he was gone playing with his cars.

I should never have underestimated Jack but honestly I thought when I told the oldest two boys he was just too little to understand and take any of it in - I was wrong but I'm glad now we can deal with things as a family if one of the boys are feeling sad or I'm feeling sad and unwell we can talk things through.

If they're scared or need to tell me how they're feeling at least they don't feel like they can't or they are not allowed to talk about Cancer, they know that its not their fault, children often think if they listen to something that they shouldn't have they will be in trouble and hold onto their thoughts and feelings and of course I don't want them to feel guilty or feel like they carry a burden of keeping a secret.

It is the best decision that I have made to get it all out in the open but not an easy conversation to have and Jack now tells complete strangers in the street my mummy has cancer but kids will be kids, I'm glad, I'm glad I decided to be honest with them.

Something I have already come to realise, is that a lot of people don't like to talk about cancer, but it is a subject that needs to be talked about, people, unfortunately, need to be aware that this shitty disease it is a part of life, the more we talk about it the more people have a chance, a chance at life.

The more awareness we have the more people can be treated early and their lives can be saved. So keep talking and keep sharing! #BreastCancerAwareness   




Musings Of A Tired Mummy



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Saturday, 10 August 2019

My Breast Cancer Journey - More bad news


Monday 22nd July 

The day I went for my MRI scan, a scan you say easy I thought it would be easy it was bloody horrific laying on my front with my boobs in what could only be described as a basket for 35 minutes it wasn't a nice experience at all, I have seen MRI scans so many times from behind the glass window but being in one, it was so noisy even with headphones over my ears at one point I was really frightened I shed a few tears while I laid in there on my own.

Thursday 25th July 

Today was the day I got my results from the MRI on that I had had on Monday, The consultant was hoping the MRI scan would show the mass was small enough to perform a lumpectomy - a lumpectomy is where they just remove the lump leaving the breast in place so it conserves the rest of the breast and tissue.

However, the results were in and it was more bad news the results showed the mass was not just one mass or two it was multifocal meaning there were more than one or two masses there was around five or six masses one slightly larger and lots of little tumours around the primary mass. 
The MRI also showed the breast tissue has high-grade ductal carcinoma all around them the whole area was nine centimetres by seven centimetres so the cancer was far more extensive than originally thought, this meant there was no other way to remove the cancer, other than to have a full mastectomy it was a hard blow to swallow.


full mastectomy



We talked through my options, the consultant told me if I wanted immediate breast reconstruction she could give me an implant which would probably leave me looking very odd, also the risk of infection was high and with me having to have second-line treatment after the mastectomy it would probably end up not being very nice. It would also be difficult to fix if it was to end up damaged or infected. 

The consultant recommended a mastectomy with delayed reconstruction would probably be the best thing for me as there was less risk of infection and the reconstruction, later on, would be easier for them to perform and would look a lot better.

It was a really difficult decision, I decided that I would go with her recommendation of the latter option, a full mastectomy with delayed reconstruction, although I would have to wait 18 months to two years for this, by then hopefully all this nightmare of a situation would be over and I would be properly healed.

I can't tell you what it feels like knowing you have got to go to surgery and have your breast removed and wake up flat. 

How would you feel if you were told you had got to have one of your breasts removed?

I have never really realised how much having boobs makes you feel like a woman, when you have had them all your life and someone tells you, you have got to have one taken away it just makes me feel really sad, I am dreading the surgery, dreading waking up flat, its not normal and things will never, ever be the same again implant or rebuild my boobs will never be what they were and never look the same.

On the plus side, I will be alive, the operation will be the start of my recovery, the start of me being cancer-free and the start of getting back to normal, although things will never be normal as I knew them before, maybe somewhere I can find a new kind of normal. The road to recovery is still a long way off and after surgery, no decisions have been made to what treatment I am having next so this is just the beginning.

 
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Friday, 2 August 2019

BE BREAST AWARE #KnowYourBoobs


If you have been keeping up with my recent posts, you would know I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, before I go on and tell you what's been happening with other appointments I thought now was a good time to share with you some statistics about Breast Cancer and remind everyone how important it is to check your boobs, I know, I know I don't want to teach you to suck eggs, really we all already know how important it is, but how many of us can actually put our hand on our heart and say we check our boobs regularly?

Checking our boobs should be at least in our weekly routine if not more frequently, for example, when you apply conditioner to your hair in the bath or shower, whilst you are leaving it in for a few minutes you could easily be checking both of your boobs for lumps bumps and changes if checking your boobs is not part of your routine, make it part of your routine.





Breast cancer Stats 

  • (33%) of women aren’t regularly checking. A fifth (20%) say it’s because they don’t know how to check their breasts.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, 
  • one person is diagnosed every 10 minutes.
  • 1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the past 40 years in the UK.
  • Almost 9 in 10 women survive breast cancer for five years or more.
  • Every year around 11,500 people die from breast cancer in the UK.


I wouldn't want anyone to go through the horrible situation that I'm in however if Breast Cancer  is Caught early it is very curable, so make sure you keep checking I can't tell you enough how important it is, check your boobs often, look at them in the mirror so you know them like the back of your hand that way it will be so much easier to notice any changes. be breast aware #KnowYourBoobs. 





*Statistic taken from Breast cancer care UK
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Wednesday, 31 July 2019

I Have Breast Cancer


I keep saying it because I can barely believe it myself I have Breast Cancer I'm thirty-six years old, I have five children and I have Breast Cancer how can life be so bloody cruel.

4% THE NUMBER OF WOMEN UNDER 39 THAT GET BREAST CANCER 

physically I feel so well apart from having the odd pain in the breast I am no different to how I was a month ago except now I know, I know I have a monster growing in my breast one that is trying to suck the life out of me, how do I feel honestly, I am just numb I am talking about it to people telling friends, family, work colleagues as if its just something that has happened or happens to everyone its still does not feel real, my brain just isn't processing the information at this point.


flowers with the words I have Breast Cancer


Thursday 11th July Diagnosis and the plan 

Today was the day I was given my diagnosis, I went to the hospital with Ian and my sister by my side, to listen to the news I was almost expecting, the consultant said I'm really sorry its cancer - my reaction I didn't cry I think over the last week I had already prepared myself for the worst news possible they thought there were two small masses however they couldn't be sure as when they do a mammogram in women under fifty, breast tissue is quite dense so they can't always see cancer properly.

The consultant explained that because of how the cancer was sitting inside my breast, there were two small masses about two centimetres apart surrounded by microcalcifications (the beginnings of more cancer)

The Consultant thought that I would need to have a full mastectomy,  However, she wanted to be sure and said they were going to send me for an MRI which would give them a much more accurate view of what they were actually dealing with because of my young age if they could they would rather just perform a lumpectomy where they remove only the part with cancer so my boob would be saved.

The consultant had also organised blood to be taken an ECG and my pre-operation talk I was given leaflets, for practically everything I needed to know about breast cancer and a special folder to keep it all in, but no actual specific treatment plan yet.

I have no idea what they were talking about at that point it was just all too much my mind was drifting fixated on the folder, ironically I was thinking the last time I had a special folder and this many appointments I was having the twins, how I wish I could go back to then, I was so happy, now I just don't know what to think or feel I don't want a bloody operation nor do I want any treatment I just want it all to go away.





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