Friday, 11 July 2014

DCIS a ten month challenge

We are all busy but it's not until something big is thrown at you that makes you stop, then you realise just how busy and how much you manage to do in a day or a week.
I was recently diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), which are pre cancerous changes within the breast. Within a period of 6 weeks from when I first noticed a change in my left breast I had had numerous visits to doctors and hospitals. These culminated in a sentinel lymph node operation on a Friday followed by a couple of days rest at home. Then it was back to a different hospital on the Monday when the rest of the lymph nodes were removed and I had a mastectomy followed by immediate reconstruction. From this operation they found out that the pre cancerous changes had progressed to two small tumors.
When I started to feel better after the operation, which took a few weeks, I then had to face the next challenge...chemotherapy. Every three weeks I have had a session of chemotherapy. This is not as straightforward as going to the hospital on the day of the chemo. Two to three days before you have to have blood tests at the hospital. Now this is ok if the hospital is local. But for the first three sessions of chemo the journey by car or train was over an hour and a half away. For my final session I was transferred to a different hospital, now this was an easier a journey as it was just half an hour away.
The chemotherapy then gives you additional challenges, the side affects are numerous. But the worst two side effects that I faced were the extreme fatigue and the horrendous headaches that I faced. So for the week after the chemo I have been totally wiped out. The effort involved in doing the most simplest of jobs is unbelievable.
So I went from being a busy single working mum juggling school, work, home and play to doing quite literally nothing. In hospital my day literally consisted of doctors and nurses checking me, taking pills, having food (we'll sort of), sleep (again sort of) and visitors. Whilst recovering, my day consisted of very little difference from being in the hospital apart from going out for daily walks. Eventually I started to recover, then it was time to start the chemo. Whilst I have been having the chemo my life has got a bit more substance back. Apart from the week after chemo, when I have been totally exhausted and spent most of the day in bed. I have also been getting structure into my day by going back to work, all be it on limited hours because of the fatigue.
I am one of those people who always has to be doing something, always on the go. I do not sit around just mindlessly watching TV. I am always reading, at least one book a week, I enjoy crafting things, painting furniture up, tracing my family history, going out and exploring the world around us. Over the past few months I have done very little of any of these as I have not been able to physically do them or my mind cannot concentrate on them.
The hardest thing that I have found over the period of illness is letting others do things for you and standing by and watching because you can't do things. It's frustrating knowing that all you want to do is just move something from point a to point b but having to wait and ask someone to do it for you. I know I have to be patient with this otherwise I will not recover.
But the one thing I have found through this is how supportive my family, friends, work and work colleagues have been. This network of amazing people, have given me the support when I have needed it.
All I would say is just check, if caught early cancer can be dealt with. If you find something you are not sure about no matter what just get it checked out don't leave it and think oh it will go away......go to your doctors you will not be wasting anyone’s time.


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I've only just read this. I really hope you're doing ok now and are on the mend. Several friends have had breast cancer and I know that the treatment just wiped them out. Thinking of you and hoping that you and yours are OK xxx

Betty said...

I just popped over to your blog as checking on those in my swap - I am so sorry to read about your illness but wow, you are so full of positive attitude to fight it. I am so glad for you that there is a network of people who care and are behind you. I am just a bumbling blogger passing by but my goodness I am going away with plenty to think about, you are such a positive lady. Blessings to you. Betty