This is my 5th week since being diagnosed with breast cancer and either I am in a massive denial zone or I am just lucky to feel this great. So ok, it’s not ideal to spend every other day having to go to hospital to be poked and prodded.
This week was surgery week. Not the lumpectomy I will need to remove the cancer but the Sentinel Node Biopsy. This should normally be done at the same time as the lumpectomy but as I am not having that for a few month, the biopsy is needed to a) make 100% the cancer hasn’t spread there and b) act as a preventive measure – if the nodes are not there, the cancer can’t spread there. I will know next week if they were infected but early tests (ultrasound and MRI) didn’t give any indication that they were.
The surgery is done as a day patient. I went in at lunch time and was out by 5pm. I had to have general anaesthetic and the surgical team at Kings was really nice. I mean every single member of the team came before to check my history (so there is no one point of failure if someone forgot to ask if I was allergic to something) and they all came to see me after to check how I was feeling…I was woozy but within the hour I was up and about and ready to go home really. Some of the side effects of the surgery (or the anaesthetic) are fatigue, nausea and dizziness…didn’t get any of that. I recovered pretty well. They sent me on my way with a bag full of painkillers and the only reason I used some is because my throat hurt.
That is also a normal side effect as when they put you under, they intubate you to make sure you get oxygen. That’s why you wake up with a sore throat.
I was released in the care of my friends TN and CN who nicely put up with me for the night. By 10pm I was quite shattered, aftershock of the drugs in my system I suppose and I didn’t really sleep so well: small bed, strange bed and I was worried I would roll onto my operated side and make it bad…in the end, I rolled on it gently realising that I felt no pain and managed to fall asleep for a few hours.
Next day, I had an appointment with my oncologist, Dr R. CN came with me. This was the day I had to say whether I wanted to go through the normal chemotherapy treatment or go with the clinical trial.
I woke up feeling great, no pain in my arm, just a little sore but more because my arm is rubbing against the wound than anything else. The worse part is that I wasn’t allowed to shower and I felt really dirty, even though I washed with a cloth. With Dr. R, I felt really self conscious that my hair was the mess and I could smell myself…yuck. CN was sweet and said I look fine and she couldn’t smell anything but I couldn’t shake that off.
I decided to go with the clinical trial treatment. It’s quicker as you get more drugs (6 sessions over 5 months instead of 8 over 7) and the side effects are no worse than with the normal treatment. They can tell me off course which one I’ll get if any but the risks are the same, the difference will be that I get more check up and follow up than with the normal treatment. My scientific side likes to be part of something that could help improve the treatment of all breast cancer patients in the future. The drug I may or may not be given (50% chance) is not new. It’s a drug that is already being used with more advanced cancer, they just think that it could more beneficial in reducing lump sizes if given early on. Dr. R is convinced that she can definitely reduce mine and told me that she was excited to have me on the program. I can’t say I am excited at the idea of being pumped full of drugs every month and that I will probably lose my hair and won’t be able to have children but if it means that I can get rid of this lump and make sure it doesn’t spread anywhere else, then what the heck? It’s only a year in my life, my hair will grow back and I can always adopt if I decide I want to play mum.
Not one for letting things happen to me, I decided to take charge: choosing my treatment is one way and getting my haircut is another.
I booked my hair appointment for day after the surgery and went to a salon in Peckham which was highly recommended by the #EastDulwichForum. It’s called #kukihair and I got a hairdresser called Gemma. Lovely girl (woman?). Last week I had seen a hair cut which I thought I’d be happy with (new Alisha Keys album cover) so I took a picture with me and showed it to Gemma. She was happy with it and boy do I look different!
I am very pleased with it and I didn’t feel too upset about chopping my long hair. I am taking charge, that’s all that count and in the end, I look good for it…now let’s hope that I won’t loose the rest of it but even if I do, I’ll find a way to rock it. That is one of the advantages of being an optimist and a control freak at the same time…