My Crazy Family Story

Friday, 11 October 2019

My Breast Cancer journey - The Results are in!


On Monday the 7th of October, I was called in to meet with my oncologist for the very first time, during my journey I have only had to meet with my breast consultant who is lovely I had been quite apprehensive about meeting him not just because he is a new consultant to me, but because it was in oncology - a place where I started my journey in the NHS I was a health care assistant there for five years before I went to do my nursing training I learnt so much there, I gained a lot of friends some of whom I am still friends with now, it taught me a lot about life and also a lot about cancer which I am not sure is such a good thing now I am a cancer patient myself sometimes knowledge is not a good thing.

I met with my consultant he was friendly and really nice enough I felt at ease, I sat myself down in the chair and I could see my results on the computer screen my OncotypeDX score was high which means my reoccurrence score is high, in a nutshell, I have got to have chemotherapy.

I have been really well since my mastectomy surgery and in actual fact the last few weeks I have felt a bit of a fraud having time off work, I have felt really positive and motivated somehow in my little brain I thought my journey was going to be over I had envisaged my score to be low,. I thought the oncologist would give me hormone treatment in the way of tablets for the next ten years and that would be that I would be skipping back to work before Christmas.







It wasn't meant to be I am now facing at least another four months off work, I have eight sessions of chemotherapy ahead of me I will have one session then a three-week break then another session then a three-week break and so on until I get to number eight. I know the chemotherapy Journey is going to be a long and gruelling one and honestly this week I have been in shock, I try to pretend its fine I will get through it and I will, I have to, but inside I just feel so sad and scared, I'm not scared for me I'm scared for the kids in the last ten years I have had four c-sections a hysteroscopy and a mastectomy and nothing has bought me to my knees I am so frightened that this is going to make me ill enough so I cant look after the kids.

The Consultant went on to explain some of the most common side effects, Nausea, vomiting diarrhoea, constipation a sore mouth and throat, taste changes, bruising or bleeding, tiredness and feeling weak, anaemia, numbness or tingling of the hands and feet, fluid retention, watery eyes, I will lose my hair within the first three weeks and I could lose my nails - I need to stay away from people with infections as my immunity will be low (easier said than done when you have five children that are walking bugs!) I also had to sign a disclaimer that says in rare cases chemotherapy can cause death - Its not surprising that I left the appointment and sobbed and sobbed I have just been so positive and felt so well - I just kept thinking Why does it have to be me? What have I done wrong? needless to say, I haven't really felt great this week smiling on the outside but on the inside, I'm cracking. Next week is a new week though next week I am going to find my motivation again, next week I am going to try not to overthink, I'm going to try to enjoy the half term with the kids I know I will get through this for myself and my family

I won't ever give up.











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Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Oncotype DX Breast recurrence score


Its been a while since I blogged anything about my breast cancer journey you might ask why? it seems, in the beginning, everything was one appointment after the next for my MRI scan multiple biopsies then, following on from all of that prodding and poking my surgery for my mastectomy and now nothing well thats what it feels like to me anyway.

Last week I got my results from my mastectomy, some good news some not so good news, let me tell you the good news first I have no lymph node spread which is great, hopefully that means that the breast cancer won't randomly turn up in some other part of my body in years to come, the consultants can never say never but I am staying positive. The consultant thinks that she has managed to get rid of all of the breast cancer, the margins the consultant says are clear so technically I should be cancer-free which I'm really happy about. Now the not so good news the monster that was taking over my breast was four cms instead of three cms which was the size the MRI scan gave, I was actually quite surprised by this as I thought that MRI scans were as accurate as accurate could be, there were also smaller satellite masses one was half a cm the other was one cm in the words of the consultant it was a very busy breast.

I thought at this appointment I would have a treatment plan at least so I know what's happening next but the next bit was hard to swallow they are sending my breast tissue to California seems hardly fair that a part of me is visiting the states without me! Its going to the states because its one of the only places in the world that will look at all the cancer cells and they will then give me an accurate number of my reoccurrence, meaning how likely it is that the breast cancer will return then based on this the consultant will make a decision on my next stage of treatment.






OncotypeDX testing what is it? 


All breast cancers are different and some carry hormone receptors some don't my breast cancer was HER2 negative and Oestrogen positive stage 2

To be considered for OncotypeDX testing you have to fall into a specific category:


  • Are newly diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer. 
  • Have cancer cells that are ER+ (Oestrogen positive)
  • Have cancer cells that are HER2 negative.
  • Are either lymph node-negative or have up to three lymph nodes that are positive.   

As you can see I fall completely into the specific guidelines for the testing the test takes around two weeks to complete and The Oncotype DX test is a molecular diagnostic test that analyses the individual biology of a breast cancer tumour by examining the activity of 21 genes in the tumour tissue. At the end you get given a score between one and one hundred the lower the score the less the need for chemotherapy and the less likely my breast cancer is going to reoccur, the higher the score the consultant may recommend chemotherapy alongside hormone therapy and it will tell me that there is a high chance the breast cancer will come back. however it's not inclusive the consultant will discuss this with me at my appointment and it will be a mutual decision between us as to what is the right thing for myself once the results are in.

Scores made simple: 


  • Women with a score of 0 to 25 who are over the age of 50 won’t get any benefit from having chemotherapy in addition to hormone therapy.
  • Women who have a score of 26 or above and are over the age of 50 are likely to benefit from having chemotherapy in addition to hormone therapy.
  • Women with a score of 0 to 15 who are aged 50 or under won’t get any benefit from having chemotherapy in addition to hormone therapy.
  • Women who have a score of 16 or above and are aged 50 or under, your specialist will discuss your test result with you to help decide if you’re likely to benefit from chemotherapy.

That is the simplest way to explain the test and how it works for me now it's a waiting game to find out what the future of treatment holds for me I am still eagerly awaiting my appointment from the oncologist and then there is the breast reconstruction to consider, but to be honest until all the treatment side of things is out of the way its not even within my thoughts its not priority. Cancer isn't something that you seem to be able to think about long term well I don't find it easy to think to the future you just have to take each day and appointment as it comes and for me the worst part is waiting but I can't change what the future holds I believe its already written. 






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Thursday, 29 August 2019

Back to school bags with Maqio Toys - Review


As we all know that time is here kids across the country are getting ready to go back to school some schools across the midlands have already gone back with the rest going back next week.

Whether it is nursery school or primary school the kids are going to there is one thing they are all going to need, school bags although most kids love a good bag even if it isn't for the school being a last-minute Lil this was one thing I hadn't actually sorted out yet so when Maqio toys asked if we would like to review some bags for them, of course, we were going to jump at the chance.

If like me you have a lot of children, your way behind on getting the school uniform sorted and you don't want to spend a lot Maqio toys have a 40% off sale on their backpacks and there not just the boring plain coloured bags either they're branded character ones that kids absolutely love.

Adam has chosen a Lego bag because like all the boys in the house they're Lego obsessed and the twins choose a shimmer and shine bag which they also love.




Quality wise I can honestly say they are great, the twins overfilled their bags with dolls and toys as soon as they got them they have been bashed about as young children do and they haven't bent or marked as the front are a hard plastic so I would think hard-wearing  and long-lasting the girls absolutely loved the sparkly glitter on the front of them.

Adam has tested his backpack out with his pack lunch in the back of it, it is the perfect size for him he is absolutely chuffed to bits he gets to wear his favourite character to school every day, I like that it has a pocket on the side for a drinks cup and it also has reflective stripes on the sides which is peace of mind for his safety as the darker nights are drawing in.

Adam and the girls are over the moon with there bags and are already showing them off to there friends and family.



If you haven't heard of Maqio toys before its definitely worth a hop over to there site not only are they offering a 40% off sale on their bags, they have also got a massive up to 80% off sale on other items. I have Adams birthday around the corner so this massive discount if definitely going to come in handy and then there is, dare I say it Christmas knocking on the door Maquio toys is definitely a great place to start getting stocked up.


*we were sent these backpacks for the purpose of this review all opinions remain honest and my own thanks maqio toys!







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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Back to School - Top Tips (The useful ones)


The countdown begins we are nearly there the kids are going back to school get the trumpets out, flags out, strike it off on the calendar.

I can already hear the sound of silence whilst I enjoy my tea in the morning without having to make three cups because the rest have gone cold, usually all I can hear is the screaming of he's took my toy, he's licking me, he's pulled the curtains down, he's yes breathing on me the list just goes on!

You know what else I'm actually looking forward to not having to tell the boys to put the seat down on the toilet a thousand times a day, or trying to work out each day which one of the boys Wee I have just sat in, fact

Now don't get me wrong I like any other parent love my children till the end of time, however, they have been at home too long now they miss there friends and as hard as it is to admit this, us parents just aren't enough for them.






Prepare yourself


Gosh, it's hard especially if it's your youngest child going to school or your first child or any child for that matter, honestly its alright cry but I don't know about you but my mind does crazy things when the kids are not around.
We think about how we're going to fill the void DO NOT go out and buy yourself a kitten, puppy, guinea pig or think that by procreating we can somehow make it all better, schedule in some friends, go out for lunch, have some much needed me time, paint your nails have a long bath, imagine actually having a bath without a bazillion questions and someone going for a poo at the same time sounds like bliss.
Make plans so your not spending the next seven hours concocting a master plan that could turn into a nightmarish situation.

Prepare your child


DO NOT do what I have done I have told my child everyday from last week that they're about to start school with there big brothers, only to get an e-mail from the school in actual fact they don't start school until next week, my new resolution is to find time to read all the crappy papers that the school send home instead of putting them in the very organised kitchen crap draw that I will possibly sort out sometime next year.
Your child is bound to be anxious whether they are just starting out or moving up a class reassure them and make sure you have everything they need for there first day the last thing they need is to have PE on there first day and they have to do it in there trousers cause mummy forgot to send them with there PE bag (Don't be too hard on yourself if you do forget, I hold my hands up and say I'm not always on it with PE kits)
 

Get there haircut,


I have boys of school age so I tend to keep there hair short at all times trust me you want to do this otherwise they will be coming home with nits I promise you that nit letter will be circulating the kids school bags within the first week or two of starting school - if you have girls tie it up and make sure you keep a stock of nit lotion I kid you not you will need it!

Tissues,


Always on the first day, there are some tears the kids cry. Mummas we need to stay strong fake that smile it will reassure them - then leg it to the car or home where you can have a good cry it's ok, it's normal just have those tissues at the ready.

Labels,


The feeling of dread when I think about labelling their bloody clothes honestly make sure everything is labelled twice, I am a stupid parent I should have brought the labels that you can stick inside there clothes, I always leave it until last minute and end up the night before with a biro writing on all the clothes tags, shoes and bags don't be like me be smart buy the Bloody sticky labels! in terms of school uniform I have never put much faith in my children by the end of the first week we have usually lost at least two jumpers a t-shirt and have acquired school attire that is three sizes too big for them, I wish I could get a huge marker pen and write there name straight across the front of the boy's clothes but then I'm still not convinced the boys would come home with there own things.

Make plans


It's going to be a difficult time, the kids miss you and you miss them, enjoy the time at home you have left together and make plans to do something fun at the weekend so your children and you have something to look forward to, a treat always helps to motivate them through the first week as its a tough and tiring one for little people






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Mal paper Daily goal setter planner - Review


I'm a huge fan of stationary, I am always writing lists and dates and just generally writing myself notes, I have always found it difficult to use online planners, I just don't think they're quite the same as an old fashioned pen to paper planners. I was offered the chance to review the Mal Paper daily goal setter planner and to be honest, it couldn't have come at a better time with my breast cancer diagnosis and appointments coming out of my ears, not to mention that the kids go back to school shortly I needed somewhere a bit more productive to write down everything.



The daily goal setter aims to ‘make your goals clearer and help you be more productive, productivity and keeping my mind focussed is definitely something I struggle with, anything that helps with this is a bonus.

At the beginning of the journal, there is a series of cheat sheets which tell you how to set goals and keep them SMART, it sets out a morning, evening, weekly and monthly routines for best use of the journal which is really easy to follow I hate things that are difficult and you have to read it ten times before you get the concept so this for me was a dream I only had to read it once then I could get to work using the journal.

There is a goal section where you can write long-term, medium-term and short-term goals. I haven't set myself many goals yet as I wanted to think through what is really achievable, im the sort of person that struggles to deal with failings so I wanted to make sure I write down the goals that I will be able to achieve.

There are weekly and daily review spreads. The weekly sections have space to write the tasks you need to complete this week, and you can review and rate your week out of ten.



The daily sections have space to write 3 things to be grateful for today, your daily affirmation, tasks you need to complete this day, great things that happened and again, rate your day out of ten I like that none of the pages are labelled with months or days, if you haven't perhaps had the chance to write one day you can just start the next day it doesn't really matter. 

My favourite part of the daily goal setter planner is that it has a fab month review spread, which is a blank calendar view of the month. I found this really useful as you can write in the dates yourself and write-in events appointments meetings ETC. and there is a space to write your most important tasks of the month, you can also review and rate your month out of ten.



At the back of the book, there is a notes section great if you're like me making lists, meal planning or keeping on top of your cleaning I can then transfer them over into the appropriate section daily weekly or monthly tasks where ever they fit the best.

The daily goal setter planner is 256 pages and is designed to last for six months it has two ribbons in it so you can bookmark your pages to find them easily when you need to it also has a document holder at the back to keep things that might be important or are of importance, throughout the book there are also inspirational quotes which I thought was a really lovely touch to an already really useful book.



Overall I love the daily goal setter planner from mal paper priced at £20.95 and is available in three colours black, grey and pink I choose the pink because it works well with my journey right now, however, the daily goal setter planner is priced higher than I would usually spend on something like this but it really is working for me and if it helps me with my productivity which it is right now, I would definitely consider buying another one in the future.



we were sent the beautiful Daily goal-setter planner from mal paper for the purpose of this review all opinions remain honest and my own.





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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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