A little introduction….

I am sure you can count on more than one hand, how many times someone has told you “But you are too young for Breast Cancer”? Some days I feel like shouting back like a hormonal teenage girl “Well, I DID get Breast Cancer”….. but instead I take a deep breathe inme introduction and out and politely respond.

The truth is although uncommon, younger people (yes both female and male) do get breast cancer. People like me, people like you.

After being diagnosed at 38 with Breast Cancer, I turned to my good old loyal friend “G$$gle” in search of someone young like me who really understood how I felt.  In this day and age, I assumed there would be hundreds of support networks out there but after searching pages and pages my so called bestie g$$gle had let me down.  I honestly felt deceived by my bestie but more so, I felt lonely.  Lonely seems like an ironic word – I have a brilliant husband, a 4 year old son and a 12 year old step daughter, a really close set of family and friends – yet I felt alone.  I didn’t like how I felt, I knew there must be hundreds ,thousands of people who were also going through this and felt exactly the same way and I didn’t want another person to have to feel like this.

I wanted to create a support group for people like us to talk about this serious subject but as the same time I wanted us to tackle this in a light-hearted way and instead of g$$gle, let’s “doodle”… J

 

Goodbye Chemo Curls!

So I made the decision last week that enough was enough and the chemo curls had to go.

If I’m honest they were getting me down, really down, which to others may sound pathetic but when you look in the mirror every morning and there is a bloody 80 year old staring back at you, it’s not the best for your self esteem!

It hasn’t helped matters that next week I am having a WeightWatchers photo shoot to be in their breast cancer awareness issue.  I should be on cloud nine at the fact they want to publish my story but all I could think about was this hair!

What sort of role model am I going to be looking like a granny! They’d probably take one look at me and ask if I was accompanying my granddaughter to her shoot!

I’d got so emotional about it all that I was holding back the tears when I got to the hairdressers.

“It’s making me depressed” I said to my lovely hairdresser. Not a phrase I use lightly so you can get how low I was starting to feel!!!!

She tried to convince me to keep them but I was having none of it. They had to go, every single one of them, if I left the salon with even one curl in my hair, it was one too many.

The granny was going!

curls

I had never been so excited about the ghd’s coming out since I bought my first pair 10 years ago! I was like a kid in a fricking sweet shop!

By the end of it, I’d got more product in my hair than the cast of “Hairspray” but I didn’t not give a monkeys!!

Gemsy was back! I could literally feel the confidence coming back in my face as I looked in the mirror!

Even my Rock said it looked good and that was without prompting so it must look bloody good!!!!

And when your mum says “yes Gem, it did look like a granny perm and looks so much better now”…….you know you have made the right decision!

Next stop, getting rid of these unwanted grey “sparkles”, they can pi$$ off as well!!

Don’t call me “Mate”!!

left hook

Just when you think you have turned a corner with energy, Mr Fatigue punches you back in the face, this time with a full on left hook!

fatigue

Pi$$ off back to where you came from!!!

I’ve been waiting for him to make an appearance since my trip down to the office last week!… I knew he would make an appearance…..

Fatigue is one of those strange things to explain, it’s so much more than tiredness, it almost feels like you’ve had another round of chemo but without the steroids!!

The problem is once you finish treatment and your hair starts to grow back, people including yourself forget what our bodies have been through and what they are still going through!

To the world we look “normal” but unfortunately we are far from the people we used to be, physically and mentally, even 4 months down the line.

I remember hr telling me it would be months before “normal” service was resumed and they were right!

For days I can feel “fine” then smack wallop, the reminder that my body is still recovering from this bloody poison.  When the fatigue happens, it really takes over your body and all you want to do is find a hole and hibernate!

It is frustrating at time, particularly when you have led a busy life and are trying to juggle work with being a mum, wife, sister daughter and friend.

Anyways,  on a lighter note I will give you a hair growth update!

They don’t call it chemo “curl” for no good reason! I thought I’d got away with it but then discovered a couple of weeks ago that my hair is growing outwards than bloody downwards!

I know I should be grateful my hair is growing back, in fact it’s growing fast and really thick!

It’s definitely greyer than it was but as my hubby said to me  “you could always use a sharpie pen to colour in the grey fleck” ffs I sound like a carpet! …..Gemsy mix. Thick pile, Brown with a grey flecks !!!

He’s only jealous as I have curlier hair than him at the minute!!!

I wonder how long your hair has to be before the ghd’s come out? I even had to buy myself some “serum oil” to tame the curls!

I also had to buy some conditioner! I was so excited, it really is the little things that mean so much to us survivors!

I do wish these hot flushes and night sweats would f$uk off though, It hasn’t helped that I had to miss hedgehogging aka acupuncture last week.

I’ve been having it religiously for a couple of months now but last week I was travelling with work so had to give it a miss………Boy have a suffered for not having it!

So last weekend we went away for a child free evening to a hotel and spa.

Some old lady “tried” to make me feel guilty about leaving our 5 year old with his Nanny and Papa so I thought I would subtly play the old C card when she asked me what treatment I was having.

You should have seen the look on her face when I told her I was having a cancer friendly massage. She actually did apologise and said to take back what she had just said!

To be honest it didn’t bother me, why should I feel guilty about leaving my 5 year old? Date nights are an essential part of any relationship and although I do love the little man more than anything in the world, I know how much Nanny and Papa love having him.

Why are people so judgemental??

Her issue….. not mine and as my fellow boob cancer mate told me, “you need to play that C card once in a while, better than a group on voucher!!”

So in the night I kept waking up with a night sweat, bloody air-con was being about as much use as a chocolate teapot and the windows were on those ba$tard safety catch settings!! Ffs what was I supposed to do?

Then I had cunning plan, surely the mini bar fridge was going to be my saviour and all I would need to do was open the door for a fresh cool breeze…… or maybe not!

The bloody “do not disturb” sign on our door produced more cold air than the mini bar!

I had to resort to taking a cold drink out of the mini bar and rolling it all over my wrists, chest, head…. the things you do to get rid of a hot flush!

Message for Mum,

I am sorry for all those times I took the pi$$ out of you for your hot flushes! I truly am!!

 

 

 

The M word

Why is it that every time I pick up a magazine, watch an advert, turn on a tv chat show, it’s always about the bloody M word, M as in Menopause?!

M Word

It’s a bit like when you buy a new car and you start noticing cars like yours everywhere!  Maybe they’ve always been there? but I guess at 39 I wasn’t always looking out for Menopausal articles, I thought I’d have another 15 years before I had to deal with all that crap!

I used to feel the cold so much, I know I know I am a bloody Northener, I should be used to the cold but I always felt like my thermostat was 10c below everyone else’s.  Now it’s more like 4 bloody seasons in a day, I’m worse than the british weather for my ups and downs in temperature!  One minute I’ll be in my jumper, coat, hat – the next I’m stripping off to my knickers!!! – thank goodness I work from home!!

Don’t get me wrong I am very thankful to have hormone therapy in order to help reduce the risk of Lenny or any of his mates returning but some days I just wish the hot flushes / night sweats would pi$$ right off!

Take this weekend, girlie spa day, all relaxed having my back massaged when guess who turns up, uninvited!!!!!!! Yep, Harry the fricking hot flush!!

Thankfully I had already explained to the therapist that Harry could make an appearance, she ended up spending half the massage taking off the blanket, back on, back off, back on!!!!

Oh well it didn’t spoil the weekend!

I’ve also had to change my wardrobe too, I know any excuse to shop but on a serious note, I have to really think about what I wear especially on an evening out when the hot flushes seem to go on overdrive.  Sleeveless is usually the option, just need to get rid of these bingo wings!!

Apparently there are 34 side effects of Menopause, Hot flushes and night sweats being top of the list.

Apart from the hot flushes, my side effects so far on the tamoxifen have been minimal.  I guess I was expecting my “mood” to be worse, I do find my mood can change but my magic oils seem to be really helping there, don’t know how I would cope without them!!

Oh and guess whose had their eyebrows waxed last week? yep that will be me! Another tick on the hair growth box!

The hair is also continuing to grow, had to order myself some more magic Rosemary oil and I am so excited that I’ve had to order some conditioner! I’ve not had to use conditioner for months!!!

It won’t be long and I will be having to get the cobwebs off the hairdryer! Although not quite sure how hot flushes and hairdryer will mix, I’ll probably need another bloody shower after drying it!

But It’s these little things that mean so much to us Cancer Survivors!

 

 

 

 

 

Short, back and sides

Well Friday was a big milestone… drum roll please….. I had my first haircut!!!

Yep short back and sides for Gemsy!

Well ok, not quite the first haircut of my life but my first one since that bloody poison robbed me of it!

The thought of losing my hair was the first thing that came into my head when I was told that Chemo was “recommended” as part of my treatment plan.

I remember that day well, I still remember the car journey home and asking hubby “will you still love me with no hair?”

“Braving the shave” definitely helped me to cope with the trauma of losing it by “taking control of the situation” and for anyone reading my blog who is about to start chemo I would definitely seriously consider shaving it off before the large clumps of hair come or in your hand.

On the plus side my wigs have been amazing and I’ve had a lot of fun with them but I am not going to lie, I’ve had my moments of grieving for my long locks back.

One thing I never really thought about though was the “growing back” bit.  Every week I’ve been taking a “Saturday selfie” of my hair growth since I finished chemo.   As each week has passed something “new” has happened to my hair, from a few sprouts to to looking like a little chick with my fuzzy stuck up hair.

It really is an amazing transformation when I look back at the selfies. There is a bit more grey than before but I’ll choose grey hair over being a baldy any day -sorry Dad 😉

The magic “Rosemary” oil I have been using has definitely helped!

Well only 3 more months and I can slap on some hair dye, apparently you shouldn’t dye your hair for 6 months.

I might have to celebrate with a gin, I definitely think first haircut is classed as a “special” occasion on my “only drinking” on special occasions!!hairgrowth

Superscanner

It is probably the longest I have gone between blog posts. If I’m honest I think I’ve had writers block!! My head has been a bit over the bloody place the last week or so.

Let’s start with the good stuff first….

Our spa stay was bloody amazing, I can’t tell you how good it felt to do “normal” stuff again like getting a massage! On the 2nd day of the break we even had the entire spa to ourselves, it was heaven!!

I think I did freak the hotel staff out with my constantly changing hairstyles and hair lengths! I decided to wear my wig for what I hope is the last time ever!!

They probably thought hubby had 2 wives, a day and night one!

I even treat myself to a couple of glasses of wine although I did pay for it in bloody night sweats! Apparently Prof reckons it’s due to the wine increasing your circulation!

Ok so life ain’t always rosy and the last few days have been mentally tough…….

So a couple of weeks ago I started with a “niggle” on my right hand side near my ribs.

One thing I have learnt recently from my sessions with my psychologist is about the “Superscanner”

superscanner

 

So the theory is that when events happen in our life, they result in making us very sensitive to situations. I remember before I had my little man I could sleep through anything but as soon as I had him it was like a “super hearing” sensor had been switched on and any little noises at night would wake me up as I thought it was him crying.  I would always be the one who woke up first to his crying although on a few occasions I did pretend to be asleep and let hubby go deal with him 😉

Well the same principle applies when you have had the big C.

Your brain ends up being wired to “superscan” your body. So you end up noticing every single bast4rd thing wrong with you. Every single bloody ache, pain, niggle on that bloody body of yours especially in areas you are concerned about.

So for me that’s my boobs (obviously), liver, ovaries, bones and brain. They are my “sensitive” areas because they are usually the secondary areas for breast cancer.

Any niggle on these areas, my brain is “querying” has the cancer spread?, whether I like it or not!!!

Thankfully physiologist has given me some tools and tricks to deal with the “Superscanner”.

I won’t go into them now but I have been using them and so for the last couple of weeks I have been monitoring my “niggle” as opposed to freaking out on day 1.

It did coincide with me starting some core strength physio and running but despite cutting those ou,t the “niggle” was still there!

Then I started with abdominal discomforts and the “liver secondaries” dvd started to play on my bloody head!!  For a few days I thought the niggle had gone off but after the weekend it had returned!

Looking back I had been “preoccupied” at the weekend with fun at the gin festival but being alone working from home that fricking dvd was playing again and again and even the bloody mindfulness was not able to stop it being on auto play!!!! grrrrr

By Tuesday, I decided enough was enough and the only piece of mind I was going to get was to visit the Prof. He is the only person who completely puts my mind at ease!

So on Wednesday afternoon we took ourselves to the hospital, thank fu$k we have a 4 x 4 with the “beast from the east”!!!  He certainly hasn’t helped my anxiety this week!

I managed to bump into all my friends aka receptionists / nurses, I felt at home as soon as I walked in the door!!

I even saw Prof’s secretary, that lady is a legend, getting me in with 24 hours notice meant the  world to me!!

I was soooo relieved to see the Prof although I nearly died of embarrassment when I got undressed and realised I hadn’t shaved my pits, ffs third world problems in the consulting room!!! –

Prof put my mind at ease, I’ve torn a ligament in my abs, near the rib. Too localised to be anything related to the breast cancer.

The chemo is also to blame for the stomach discomfort. It can take a good year to get all that bloody poison out your body and Prof explained your body can feel for a long time like it isn’t your own!

Phewwwwwwwwwwweeeee

Omg if it wasn’t for the snow I would have skipped out of the hospital car park!!

Normal service resumed! Life is all good again 🙂

Now pi$$ off playing “negative” dvds brain cos little miss “feel like gemsy” is back in town!!! and Superscanner you can go take a flying jump too!!

Help I’ve been Hedgehogged!

So after giving myself a good talking to last week, I decided to make sure I took it easy this week and not be mad dashing all over the bloody place.  It did mean that I didn’t go to my Auntie’s birthday bash and I did feel bad about that but I know she would understand.  It wasn’t so much actually going, but it’s a good hour’s drive each way and I knew I just needed to “be kind to myself”.

Well in terms of milestones, it’s been another good week.  I got my ar$e into gear and got back on the treadmill.  Not sure if I mentioned it but 2 weeks ago I nearly put myself in hospital tripping over my laptop charger to run to get the door.  I really hope no one was looking through the windows as it was not a pretty sight.  I could just see the headlines now…..

“Woman survives  big C but is killed by a laptop charger”!!!!!

It hurt so much that I had a little cry to myself, proper needed a “Mummy cuddle” and a “Magic Kiss” to make it better!!!  At the time it was my nail that hurt the most.  The ba$tard chemo has left my nails looking like something from a horror movie and a couple have come loose.  Bending one back to stop me from falling over was probably not the best decision I have made!!!

Anyways after an hour, the nail throbbing subsided but then I realised that my toe was getting worse and worse.  I took off my sock and it was bright red.  It was so bloody sore, there was no way I could do any running on it.  Then it turned a lovely blue colour and was like it a few days.  The old “Superwoman” would have tried to run on it but this new sensible version of Superwoman decided to rest!  I even put my “Deep Blue” magic oil on to take down the inflammation!

So on Tuesday I decided it was time to get back on the treadmill.  I’d set a goal for Febrary to get back to running a full 5k and I was determined to do it!  So I stuck on my tunes and took myself to my “She Shed” that also doubles up as the “Gem’s Gym”

My PB since Lenny was 30 minutes although it was 3 weeks since I had done that!  I remember when I did Couch to 5k that they say once you get over about the 12 minutes its “mind over matter”, well I had a lot of bloody mind to get to 30 mins!

With the help of my mate Chris Martin singing his tunes to me, I only went and ran 36 mins and a full 5k!!!! OMG I felt bloody brilliant.  I was back on my new running journey, kicking the Big C’s Butt – only another 3 x 5ks and I will be at the Great North Run distance!!!! Easy peasey…NOT!!! But it is baby steps as I keep getting told!

I felt so bloody great from the run that I decided to sign up for a 4.5 mile run with my GNR mate in April.  I do need to have some mini goals to get me to the half marathon distance!

On Thursday I decided to get “hedgehogged”, well before you all think I have lost the plot, it is “Our Rosie’s” name for having Acupuncture.  As I have said before, I will try bloody anything to get rid of these fu$king hot flushes and night sweats.  I’d never been Hedgehogged before, I’d been told it wasn’t painful and to be honest the pain was the least of my worries.  The night before I had convinced myself I was gonna get Hepatitis from a dirty needle!!! – Sounds so bloody ridiculous now but in the middle of the night, post nightsweat – anything is possible!!!

hedgehog

Thankfully as soon as I got to the hedgehog lady I realised that the “prickles” were disposable …phew!!! – I am a muppet at times!!!

The whole experience was sooooo interesting…..people were right, it didn’t hurt.  The prickles went mental in my ear when the probe went over “hormones” and “temperature” No shit Sherlock!!!

In a strange way, I found it relaxing and I’m booked in for another session this week!

It must have given me some energy though as yesterday I decided I was gonna go for my first outdoor “proper” run for 7 months.  Running to the next village felt pretty good but running back was a killer with those bloody hills.  I was proper tired when I got home but guess what…… I had run 5k!!!!!!! Which means this “hedgehog” is going back to ParkRun!!!!!!

Now to finish packing for our well earned Spa Break!!! Gym gear not included!