My Day In The Sun

The cancer journey has certainly opened up some doors for me, some new experiences and put me in touch with people I would never have come across. After my op in March I met the founder of an organisation called Pink Phoenix cancer foundation (http://www.pinkphoenix.co.za)  This meeting was by chance but through this meeting I have done some amazing things since finishing treatment.

I was invited to be part of a fund-raiser called Wacky and Wonderful which was launched last week https://youtu.be/Uty8y_Ry2aQ   or http://www.pinkphoenix.co.za/pages/11937/niselle-naidoo

The funds that are being raised are for an inspirational 20 year old girl Niselle who has been fighting for her life for the last 4 years. She needs a bone marrow transplant and has finally found a match in the UK. In most cases like these the medical aids are not forth coming with funds and so by doing this wacky and wonderful photo shoot Pink Phoenix cancer foundation hopes to assist Niselle in raising funds.

I had the honour of meeting her and her amazing parents and she is one amazing young lady. She was an inspiration to me.

I was then asked if I would be a guest speaker at a fund-raising event for Pink Phoenix at the end of October. When I got the email my heart skipped a beat. Me + public speaking = disaster. My matric oral was a mess and there was no way I could stand in front of a whole lot of people and talk. But then I gave it some more thought. This wasn’t an oral or a speech about something arbitrary. It was an opportunity to share my story, my journey with cancer. And something that is close to my heart is the fact that I can create awareness around breast cancer. That is why I started this blog and shared it with as many people as possible. So I said yes.

As my mom would say (often) do what scares you. ha ha well mom I’m doing it, I’m doing something that scares the living daylights out of me. Hope you are proud. I know she would have been. She would have dressed in her pink from head to toe and whooop whooped in the back ground.

After I met Sharon from Pink Phoenix she asked if I would like to be apart of their ambassadors: Brave and Beautiful. I felt so honoured and as soon as I was finished with my treatment I was booked for my photo shoot.

I had to be styled the day before in Carol Clark dresses. That was so much fun. I was brought dress upon dress upon dress. Sort of like a Hollywood move star 🙂 . The outfits were beautiful and I felt beautiful.

Being so exposed and bear while going through treatment you don’t feel beautiful or don’t feel like a woman. You are at your rawest. This morning of fun made me feel special, sexy and feminine.

The photo shoot morning arrived and Sharon took one look at my face and said “are you ok you look nervous” and I was. I haven’t done anything like this before. Ok well maybe when I was 9 years old but that doesn’t count. I got to work with an amazing photographer: Sean Baker and had my makeup done by Nixon make up artist Jules. All these wonderful and professional people were there for me that day. I hope that doesn’t sound vein as it’s not meant to be but I truly did feel like Royalty. I had 4 different dresses in 4 different scenes with 4 different make up styles. It was such a fun day. I must say though my muscles were kinda stiff from standing in all sorts of positions during the morning.

Over and above the shoot I get to share my story in a nutshell. When I sat down to write it, it felt awkward. I battled to find the words I wanted to say. Revisiting those first few days I got quite emotional. That feeling when you first hear your diagnoses, the fear, the tears and the great big unknown cancer world.

I sent that draft through but wasn’t happy with it. It wasn’t until I started writing my “speech” for the fund-raiser that I realized my ambassadors story was not the right one. I tweaked my speech and sent that one through. It flowed more perhaps because I was a little more out of the woods and my head was clearer and I was in a better emotional space.

Over and above all of these amazing things happening I went to Cape Town with 2 of my very best friends Ali and Pauline. A girls weekend in the Mother City. I think the mountain shuddered at the thought ha ha. We had such an incredible weekend. Eating, drinking, sleeping, laughing, crying. And we just recharged our batteries. Each and every one of us have had a tough 2 years. So this holiday was just what the doctor ordered.

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So next week is the fund-raising event where I will be guest speaker. I have bought a new pretty dress and hope that my speech will run smoothly. I am nervous and excited all at the same time.

I will keep you posted to how it all went!

Sending loving and healing vibes too all my dearest soul sisters and loving vibes to the rest of you. Hope you all have a wonderful happy day 🙂

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CRAZY LITTLE THINGS

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And there it is friends. I had to document this day. The day I finally got to wash my armpit after 6 weeks ha ha. Again so much excitement in my house. It was a family affair. Husband taking pictures, children standing over the shower watching me shower with comments of how I won’t smell like bad dog breath anymore and how I can give them cuddles without them blocking their noses, my sister checking in on me how it feels to get wet again. Yes, yes I know all a little weird but for those of you who know, you will get me 🙂

I stood under that shower for 20 mins enjoying the feeling of water washing over me. It was the best shower I had, had in my whole life. The small things in life we take for granted. Being able to stand under a shower with fresh cleaning running warm water. I have savored my showers ever since.

Every week at school my daughter Maria (6) has to write and share her weekend news. On the Monday following my shower; we were leaving school and she said “Mommy guess what I wrote for my weekend news?” So I thought we had started mini lifesavers that Sunday, so perhaps that is what she shared. Oh no not my little comedian of a child. She thought it was a great idea to share with the whole class and her teacher:

My mommy got to wash her boobie

Oh my hat I felt my cheeks got instantly hot and thought what on earth those children must be thinking and what the teacher must have thought about this being the most exciting news to share with everyone. But that is my Maria for you.

And so life has continued as normal. I’m back at work a few days a week, back to running around like mom’s taxi in the afternoon. Doing normal things that I was doing before. I also feel like there is this expectation of ok right thats it you are done with your treatment, you not sick anymore lets move along now.

I wont lie I still take strain and feel tired by mid day and could easily take a nap. I have to keep reminding myself of what my body has been through and how I need to take it easy, ease myself back into the normal routine of life but then there is the flip side that life has been in limbo for the last 10 months and I am chomping at the bit to get all the things I had been thinking about doing while lying sick in bed, I can do them now. I need to find a balance to it all.

The next 2 years is critical in my healing process. No more stressing, eating healthy, exercising and most importantly living in my truth.

All along I have been concerned about get Lympodema. Lymphedema is a disease process of the lymphatic system where abnormal accumulation of protein and water develop the interstitial tissue spaces of the body. Basically a swelling in the limbs, face or body. Because I had 21 lymph nodes taken out of my armpit this was very likely to happen.

I noticed the other morning while getting dressed that my arm looked a little bigger than the other, not hugely so but fatter. My sweet husband Vince said that because I had put on a little weight it was likely to look like that. But I knew that it was Lymphodema. So now I am walking around with a compression sock on my arm and verrrry verrrrry preeeeetty one. It even has a lace finish at the top. I’m not that fazed about it yet as it’s not really that bad just got to keep doing my drainage and exercises to keep it at bay.

There is an american company that does a tattooed looking arm sock. www.lymphedivas.com.  I think this is such a unique idea and really adds something fun to having to wear this all day.  
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I often wonder if I will find things to write about but this journey has brought me to some interesting cross roads and I have met some really wonderful people so I am sure there will be many stories to share still.

Looking forward to this new chapter.

FAITH, LOVE & HOPE

And so I’m 34, I kissed that 33 year good bye and sent it off on its merry way. Goodbye I’m glad to see the back of you. Its the start of my new chapter, this new beginning. The green shoot breaking through the burnt crisp felt. Here I am the new me, the same but slightly altered, slightly different and somewhat damaged but here I am ready to tackle this new life.

My birthday came and went quite uneventfully but I got to spend the weekend with my person, my Vinnie away in the bush just him and I and a group of our closest mates. We both really needed it after the year we had endured. We had the best time, laughing our hearts out, just relaxing; cuddling on a sunlounger enjoying the afternoon sun with an ice cold beer in our hands – this was the life. If this was a glimps of my new life I could quite comfortably get used to this. Watching the sunrise over Lake St Lucia and on that very same day watching the sun set and being grateful to be able to enjoy natures beauty.

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Coming home after the weekend feeling refreshed and super excited about my last radiation and the fact that I could stand under a shower for as long as possible letting the water wash over me was the most exciting thing in my life right now. The small things ha ha.

The energy and excitement in my house on the morning of my last radiation was something else. I think Vince was the most excited. He has been giving me a count down on his fingers for the last 5 days. My kids were even doing last radiation happy dances. I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. There was such a euphoric energy around that morning.

The funny thing was I had felt so emotional over it all. I think while you are in the depths of turmoil you are merely trying to survive each day’s trouble. Taking 1 day at a time but when you start seeing the light of day, looking back those heavy emotions come flooding back.  My goodness if I look at what I have been through, what I have faced and how on earth did I actually manage to get through it all has amazed me. Yes I was strong and yes I was a warrior but there were definately days that I felt defeated, felt like I just couldn’t anymore. The thought of facing another chemo, just the thought alone would put me into a spin. And so I am facing these emotions now.

The morning of my radiation I gave Vince a hug and thanked him for his unconditional love and support. He never faultered in front of me. He was my rock, never ending smiling face and encouragement, he is my person. I thanked and hugged Carly my sister for her unconditional love, for the way she stepped up to fill the roll as “mother” when I was sick in bed, for never missing 1 single appointment or treatment. I hugged each of my girls for their unconditional love and for being the bravest little girls through this all.

And I am sending out hugs through the wifi airwaves too all my family near and far for their love and support. More hugs to my bestie Alison, forrest without you keeping me sane I actually don’t know!!! Hugs to Pauline for the love and Moet ;). Hugs to each and everyone of my friends for the meals cooked, the visits, the messages of encouragement and of course unconditional love. Man oh man how does a person do it on their own because without all these special people in my life this road would have been so much more difficult to walk. I love you all and thank you from the deepest part of my fragile heart ❤

And so back to radiation……….. I got undressed and lay down on the radiation table for the very last time. The machine did its usual clicking and whirring and buzzing and boom it was over. IT WAS ALL OVER. How did I feel? I actually wasn’t sure to be honest. Over the moon it was over yet scared that I needed to carry on with life. Also the security blanket of seeing my oncologist every week wouldn’t be there. I only see him again in 6 weeks. What on earth was I going to do till then? Yes and so my overthinking brain did what it does best………..

These are the beautiful people that have seen me through the last 10 months of treatment. They were there as well when my mom was sick so I have gotten to know them better over the last year. The oncology nurses: Rene (right of me), Babitha (left of me), Linda (missing). The pharmacist who mixed up my cocktails: Jenny (far left), and last but not least Candice (far right) the lady that did my bloods every week. And then the radiation team: Esmaree (left), Kevashnie (right), Nigel (missing). These are my people that I have become very attached too. I have gotten to know them on a personal level, they are like my family. Thank you to them too for all the tenderness and care they showed throughout my treatment as well as my mom’s.

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I made myself a little collage of the last 10 months of each treatment and its damn scary what I have put my body through. The fact we have to make ourselves sick to make us better but I would do it again if it means saving my life

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I started this journey scared out of my wits and slowly through the processes have become calmer and calmer about the whole situation. I read something that another woman with cancer wrote and I found that is really resonated with me. It perfectly describes what I feel:

Greek philosophers called ataraxia, a suspended kind of calm in which you can find a surprising strength.

So I sat at my computer for a long while not really knowing what to write about this last little leg of my journey but here I am 1000 words down and I suppose once I got started there was no stopping me.

Can’t wait for that damn shower…………

TATAS

I have become quite comfortable discussing my boobs (tatas), demonstrating over my shirt where they are radiating and how large my boob is. I do this so unconsciously because I have had so many doctors having a look, I have had to have them exposed during radiation and examined every week and by examined I mean poked and prodded; that they have really become something I am not shy about.

I don’t really realize this when I am talking to people and I can almost see them dart their eyes about the room as they are too embarrassed to look. ha ha sorry about that friends but all dignity was lost on my very first  biopsy.

I have a week left of radiation and when I look back at everything I have been through. Everything I have managed to survive I can’t actually believe it. When I was at the starting block of this very long and scary obstacle race I didn’t know how on earth I would get through it all but I have. I’ve done it. I’m on the flip side and more than anything ready to start living my life again.

As I have said before I often wonder how I will be but as I sit here typing this I know I am going to be great. I know I will be strong and will start living my life the way I am supposed to.

CAN WE JUST TAKE A MOMENT AND CHEERS TO THAT!!!!!!

CHEERS TO LIFE! CHEERS TO GRATITUDE, CHEERS TO LOVE! CHEERS TO LIVING FOR THE MOMENT! CHEERS FOR APPRECIATION!

So radiation has been going so well. Not so much of a walk in the park as I thought. My poor little tata is big and red and angry and oh so damn itchy. The worst part is you cant really get your nails in there and give it a good scratch. You run the risk of infection and skin break down. Oh yes lovely hey. I often joke that I am walking lob sided cause the one boob is bigger than the other. Actually a size I wouldn’t mind keeping if I could have both that way 🙂 wishful thinking. (without the big, angry, itch skin of course)

The doctor has been happy with everything and so the count down is on friends. 7 more treatments to go and I will kiss this cancer goodbye. Thanks for coming, thanks for the lessons, thanks for making me start appreciating more, thanks for teaching me to forgive, to let go anger but I am done with you and your lessons.

I held a tea for my Soul Sister support group. We hadn’t all met each other and it was so nice to put a face to a name. It was such a lovely morning. Great to discuss treatments, scans, cancers and how we all get through each day. We are uplifting, inspiriting and a bunch of beautiful woman.

My poor husband has got 5 years of grumpy menopausal wife at the age of 33. Shame poor man has to deal with a menopausal wife twice in his life. Because my cancer was ER+ and PR+ (estrogen & progesteron positive) I will have to go onto hormone therapy.

2 aspects of this: Zoladex injection for 2 years. What this does is stop the ovaries from producing estrogen basically putting me into a clinical menopause. This delightful process has side effects like hot flushes, weight gain, mood instability. Yay what fun!!! And then I will be on Tamoxifen for 5 years which is an antagonist of the estrogen receptor in breast tissue. This also has side affects of weight gain, mood instability, nausea. Oh great so I get a double wammy of menopausal side affect. Watch out here comes godzilla

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I get to celebrate my 34th birthday in a couple of days. I don’t know if its a getting older thing or a combination of the absolutely crap year I have had and the fact that it would be the first birthday without my mom but I haven’t been as excited. I love birthday and love celebrating them. We don’t just celebrate the day in my house its a whole weekend. Its not quite going to be the same without my mom phoning me and singing happy birthday over the phone and then there would have been a definite coffee date during the course of the day and flower, mother darling always bought me flowers. But we shall see on the day how it all goes for now I am bidding farewell to my 33rd year as it was the crappiest year ever: loosing my mom and being diagnosed just 3 weeks after tops my list of worst years EVER.

The thought of being over and done with all this treatment is exciting and scary all in the same breath but I’m not quite done as I will be on the endocrine therapy for 5 years but I suppose that it is easily managed in comparison the the aggressive treatment I have had.

So I am going to plan a BIG end of treatment party I think. For me it will be a fantastic way to send off the big C, celebrate my tatas (boobs) and a great way to celebrate the start of my new life. So party planning I shall begin 😉

OH BROWS AND LASHES WHERE ART THOU

I danced with the red devil and tango’ed with taxol and by some miracle managed to keep my eyelashes and eyebrows. I have been quite proud about this fact and often make sure I mention it when people ask me about hair falling out. It really funny how people ask actually “Um Cands did ALL your hair fall out EVERYWHERE” ha ha um well YES expect for my eyebrows and eyelashes of course.

But I wasn’t going to be the lucky one that got to keep her brows and lashes. As I started radiation I started feeling dangling lashes/brows and low and behold bit by bit these little buggars came out but the silver lining here is as they were falling out so they were growing back. So I now have 2 half brows and 3 or 4 long lashes left on each eye with little stumpy lashes pushing their way through. I went out to a party and tried to apply my mascara and there were little stubby eyelashes and I laughed myself silly as I was trying so desperately to make them long without poking the mascara brush into my eye but they were having non of it.

So all this hair loss including brows and lashes is quite challenging on a self confidence or self esteem level. It really pushes people to start really and truly loving themselves. No golden locks to straighten, or style, no eyebrows to tint, no lashes to make thicker or darker or longer just a bare face with straggly hair sticking out from your very white and bare skull and eyes that have no frame. To truly turn inwards and love yourself for who you are and not what you look like. Often during treatment and especially chemo you are so pale almost see through with dark rings under your eyes with no hair or brows and lashes and to look at yourself in the mirror is one of the hardest things to do. To see yourself like that it really does teach you to dig deep into that self esteem. And to drop judgement of your self and others.

I read something on another blog about eyebrows and I have to share this as it was so funny:  http://cancercans.com/2015/05/18/an-ode-to-eyebrows/

AN ODE TO EYEBROWS 

Oh, eyebrows!

You divinely clustered tresses,

Come back!

Forgive my past transgressions

With pointed tweezers and molten wax;

For every time I uprooted you so harshly.

Please,

Look beyond all my churlish cursing!

You were never too sparse, never too unruly.

You were beautiful!

Oh, eyebrows!

You sleek, sweeping curves,

Come back!

Forget about the times I queried your essentiality!

It is clear to see,

Of facial hairs, you reign supreme!

No beard, moustache or eyelash can compete

With your power to frame, to flatter

An otherwise pallid face.

I feel so bare,

I look so oddly undressed,

So alien.

Oh, eyebrows!

You graceful arches of expression,

Come back!

Without your delicate form,

I cannot truly convey

My feelings to the world!

You are the adjunct to my speech:

A slow lift for bewilderment,

A deep furrow for rage,

A soft angle for scepticism,

Subtle expressions of my unsaid thoughts.

Oh, eyebrows!

You delicate contours of thought,

Come back!

I would give anything to have you

Festoon the bony ridge

Atop my eyes once more.

You’ve left me alone,

Exposed to gawps and stares.

There is no way to belie my illness,

Or feign my way to health

Now that you have jumped ship!

Oh, eyebrows!

My bushy beauties!

Please,

Come back!

Here are a few wacky looking shots of celebs without eyebrows to make you giggle:

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Good for our souls to have a good old laugh and I found this so funny.

So the count down is on for radiation. I am halfway through and quite excited and scared about the end. I have requested that I have a final CT scan after all my treatment that when I have officially finished I know that as it stands that I am clear. I do really hope I am not that person that lives from follow up appointment to follow up appointment. I really do hope I can start living my “new normal” life and enjoying it all.

GLIMMER OF NEW LIFE

Emotionally I have been strong for a little while. Which has been great not feeling like I have cried for every small little thing, feeling weak and helpless. It was great to feel somewhat normal but then my daughter Keira (9)  sang a song for me. She is part of the school play “The Little Mermaid” (one of my childhood favourites). She has an angelic voice which floated right over to my fragile heart and gave it a big old emotional grip.

In that very moment of listening to her sing the fear crept sneakily down my spine, cold moving slowly down my legs. The tears just started flowing and all those damn what if’s I managed to keep at bay for a while now started playing over and over in my head.

What if I didn’t get myself seen to when I did, what if I left it another year where would I be now, would I even see them finish school, would I get to see their plays, their sporting achievements, their start of high school, their decision on what subjects to take, boyfriends, heart-break, entering into womanhood, matric dance, matric finals, marriage, grandchildren. And even though I have caught this early will I get to see these things……….. around and around these thoughts went.

I know that all sounds crazy and yes I know I shouldn’t think like that but these are really fears and I wonder if once I am done and dusted with this part of life if I will still have these moments. These what if moments. Will they haunt me, hanging over my head, my own little personal thunder-cloud. What is my life going to be after breast cancer?

I know I am going to sound bias now as every mother does but my children are the most beautiful little souls inside and out, don’t you think 😉

IMG-20150725-WA0012Keira      IMG-20150725-WA0009 Maria

Radiation morning arrived and I was quite excited in some sort of strange way to get it all started. Most likely because it was the last haul. I was waiting outside the room when the door opened and another lady walked out looking very overwhelmed. The radiation people were saying “you see it wasn’t that bad, once we started again you were calmer”. A little anxiety crept in because I had been through this with my mom I kind knew what to expect. It was her first day too and so for the next 6 weeks I would have a radiation buddy, yay for me 🙂

I was lead into the room and told to take everything from my waist up off. At this point I am no stranger to bearing my tatas for all to see and so I striped down and walked over to the very hard looking bed. They have these extra’s that they add onto the bed to ensure you are in the correct position and my position for the next couple of weeks were hands above my head in a kind of stirrup, head turned to the right.

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Nigel entered the room (yes a man) and stood over my bare chest ensuring those alien green lasers lined up with my new tattoos. He moved my torso slightly and continued to call out some numbers pertaining to my position. Again I’m no stranger to having my bare chest showing but did feel a little awkward. I suppose he does this all day long and like a gynae doesn’t even notice (or so we hope ha ha)

I was fine up until that point but then everyone left the room and my heart started pounding and my breathing became quick and short and I started to feel all panicky. The machine started to whiiirrrrr and click and then a loud buzzing sound. I felt heat on my skin, then the machine started to move to the other side of my body and the same whiring and clicking happening and then more buzzing. I felt like I was in a sci-fi movie. And then it was all over, just like that, quick, quick.

Was that it, man oh man this was going to be easy peasy. No sitting in the chair for 4 hours, no nausea, no hair loss just a little suntan I can do this.

And so I suppose for the next 6 weeks life it going to be a little groundhog day. I can’t wash the area that is being radiated for the 6 weeks plus about a week to 10 days afterwards. Well this was going to be interesting. It is such an instinct to jump in the shower or put on roll on and body spray. All of that will have to be abandoned for the next 2 months of my life. Thank goodness it isn’t summer time and I could possibly get away without washing my 1 armpit without being detected from down the road ha ha.

I have made new friends at radiation and as it usually goes everyone keeps to themselves, generally looking at something on their phones or talking to the person that came with them. And as the time goes on you start asking basic questions or making a comment here or there and then suddenly you know each others intricate details of your lives, sharing stories about your treatment or having general chit-chat about the weekend or the weather or children or work. It’s like an instant connection just add cancer.

I continue to get inspired by my group of Soul Sisters all of them having breast cancer and all of them young. We help each other through our low moments and laugh with each other when something crazy happens with our treatment.  These ladies are truly phenomenal and I am so grateful to have them in my life.

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And so each and every one of us effect by this disease towards the end of our treatment definitely try to find our “new normal”. Picking up the pieces after the turmoil we have endured over the last couple of months or even boarding a year. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes we too shall rise in our newness to face the world with a different outlook, with new passion for life.

Shine (Birdy)

We often look at how far we still have to go but a very good friend of mine Dave said instead of looking how far you still have to go look at how far you have come. When he said that a little light bulb went off in my head. Actually yes. That mountain doesn’t look so steep if I look back at how far I have come. I have faced the hardest part of the journey thus far and what I still need to face is difficult but I’m closer to the end now.

This experience is so humbling. It has made me more compassionate, more sensitive to other people’s journeys. And that’s not to say I wasn’t like that before. And I’m not just talking about people who have cancer but everyone’s experiences. Another friend of mine that has also been through this journey said to me right in the beginning that I must be aware that because I have faced a dreaded disease that I may look at other people’s issues as not as serious. I’m glad I haven’t done that. I am very aware that each persons situation is complicated and they are handling their journey the best way they know how.

I have also started digging deep into myself and have begun uncovering some interesting truths about who I am and what I am really about. And I know this may sound somewhat crazy and I feel crazy saying this but I am grateful for this experience in my life, grateful that it has slowed me down and made me re look at things.

Somewhere along the line of taking pictures of how many to go we got a little confused. But rounds 8, 9, 10 came up. I must say that towards the end it really started to drag. The relentlessness of every week was starting to eat away at me. It felt like my life was in limbo. Suspended waiting for treatment to finish before I can continue with my life.  At round 8 I started to feel nauseous. The side effects were getting worse week by week.

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I investigated hemp oil when my mom was diagnosed. Really strange story quite serendipitous I think. Last year September I went to Nottingham road with some of my closest girl friends. We had booked lunch at a place called Lala Lampara. On that morning of our booked lunch we decided to move our booking for an hour later. We arrived at the restaurant and decided to move from our outside table to an inside table. Whilst having lunch another family came to sit right next to us. The restaurant was empty and for some reason they decided to sit right next to our table. Towards the end of our lunch my friend Tracey recognised the one lady at the next door table. They got chatting and we ended up chatting to them next to our cars in the parking lot. Through discussions it turns out that their mom had passed away 2 months prior from lung cancer. They were up in the Midlands celebrating their dads birthday. We chatting about all sorts of things and then hemp oil came up.

When I got home from my little holiday I did some research into hemp oil and it all seemed quite amazing what this natural  product could do. The lady I met gave me contact details of someone who supplied it. I go in touch and decided to get some for my mom. Sadly we only got to give it to her a few times and so we don’t know if it would have helped her but I honestly think my mom’s case was so severe it may have been too late.

So now having this hemp oil in my cupboard I decided to give it a try. What is the worst that could honestly happen? I could feel a little high, giggle a little and have a good sleep at night which was now becoming an issue too. Lack of sleep was not something I dealt with well and it was starting to become a problem for me.

So I tried it. Vince my hubby got a kick out of making me laugh which I did. Laughing is so good for the soul! And I didn’t sleep as well as I expected but I definitely slept better. And so I have decided to take it every night. If it cures cancer then why the hell not. And if there are any sceptics out there please have a look at the following website it has a lot of interesting facts: http://phoenixtears.ca/ . Carte Blanche also did a special on it and it has many many benefits not only for cancer.

I saw Dr Narsai at the end of my 9th round of chemo and he was happy with the way everything was going. I mentioned that my fingers were becoming more numb and my feet had become sensitive to the cold. He had already lowed my dose by 10% so we needed to keep an eye on how my fingers were going towards the end.

After round 10 of chemo (taxol) my fingers became incredibly number. The numbness was moving down my fingers. I also noticed that I was struggling to open up packets with my fingers or any sort of fine motor movements were becoming an issue. This really made me a little frightened. Because peripheral neuropathy is irreversible I really had to keep an eye on them. I called the oncology nurses and they said I must come in on Monday as usual for my treatment and we will chat to the doctor but by the Friday it was so bad that when I went for my blood tests I spoke to the nurses again about what had happened during the week. She popped her head into the doctors rooms who said I need to see him on the Monday before I had chemo to discuss it further and they may stop the chemo all together.

I didn’t know how to feel about it all. Obviously relieved that if they did stop the chemo that I wouldn’t feel so ill but also scared that I am not having all the necessary treatment I need to make sure that if there was any cancer cells travelling around my body that they had been killed off. I was happy and sad; a little bitter-sweet I suppose.

I had mixed reactions from my friends some very supportive and happy and others a little concerned. I had to trust in what the doctor was to say on Monday. This is what he does every day, he knows what is best for me.

The weekend dragged by and I was quite relieved that it was time to see him. He said he would definitely stop the chemo at this point. I had, had 10 rounds which was enough chemo for it to be effective. He said that when they administered the Taxol every 3 weeks it would amount to 180 (whatever the measurement was I can’t recall) but with Taxol being given weekly it amounts to 210. So as he calculated I had had enough Taxol for it to be equivalent to having the Taxol every 3 weeks. Armed with that information I felt completely confident that the decision that was made was the right one. I was young and nerve repair takes sometimes years and if its is permanently damaged then I would battle with fine motor skills for the rest of my life.

We then went on to discuss the next phase of treatment which is radiation. He said there would be a 4 week break between my last chemo and my first radiation treatment. That is a little frustrating for me. I really wanted to get this over now but he had his medical reasons and so I needed to be patient. I would receive radiation on the whole breast but no radiation under my arm. I would have to go for radiation planning which will be done the week before and then I will have 6 weeks of radiation.

And so I can see the top of the mountain. I can see the end of this ordeal in my life is near. I think about all the emotions, all the tears I have cried, all the fear and anxiety, the sleepless nights, the sickness, the no hair. All of this is coming to an end. 1 last obstacle to go and I can look back and say I did it. I can say that I AM A SURVIVOR!

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