Anyone who has ever survived primary breast cancer will know the feeling of fear that lives with you every single day. That is, the fear that the disease will at some point return or metastasise, leading to incurable secondary breast cancer.
Apologies for the recycled MRI selfie, but you can never have too many selfies
For survivors like me, there is no ‘screening’ for metastasis. But what doctors can do is regularly check the breasts themselves for recurrence, with manual examinations, mammograms and MRI scans.
I, however, have been somewhat confused over the last six months about whether I’m supposed to be having MRIs or mammograms from now on.
So, in my latest post for Breast Cancer Care UK’s Vita Magazine, I talk about the national guidelines and recommendations for MRIs.
Disclaimer: This should by no means be taken as ‘advice,’ because I am not your doctor. But hopefully it’ll give people a better idea about the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidelines, and from there you can ask the experts.
Some happy Friday news. I got my MRI scan results, and all is good (or, at least, ‘satisfactory,’ to use the doctor-speak). Here’s what the consultant said:
This is to inform you that your recent MRI scan of your breasts performed at Wythenshawe Hospital was satisfactory and showed no sinister features. We are reassured by this.
We will see you again as planned.
What a relief. I must admit it’s terrifying that I’ll have to wait another year until I have any kind of test again, but in the cancer-survival world, no news is good news.
Shellie Kendrick, one of the creators of the Real Cancer Awareness video
It’s that time of year again: October, aka Pinktober. The month that is now almost as well known for cancer awareness and the colour pink as it is for falling leaves, pumpkins and trick-or-treat.
There is nothing wrong with pink, and I am 100% supportive of breast cancer awareness, but there is a growing sense in the cancer world that so-called Pinkification and Pinkwashing are trivialising the disease and giving a disproportionate amount of attention to breast cancer awareness while other cancers are virtually ignored.
My latest Huffington Post blog introduces a new video aimed at real cancer awareness by cancer survivors Ashley Blair Doyle, Shellie Kendrick and Rachel Michelson. Please read it, watch it, share it and spread the word.
Why do I always pick the hottest, sunniest days for these things?
Anyway, I did it: The Royal Parks Half Marathon in 2 hours 13 mins 1 second. That’s only 12 minutes behind my pre-cancer, pre-chemo, pre-radiotherapy record, so it’s fair to say I’m pretty chuffed.
What an amazing day.
A huge, huge thank you to my running buddy, Karen, to all who came along to watch and cheer (particularly Mum, Sarah and Dan, and Sophie), to the men dressed as giant squirrels who served as my pacemakers throughout, and to all you very generous people who have sponsored us. We’ve raised almost £2,000 for Coppafeel!
Read the rest of this entry »
In Buenos Aires, at a conveniently named ‘Bar,’ back before any of this ever happened
A year and a half ago, I had my very first mammogram, having just discovered the lump in my left breast while living in Buenos Aires.
Thanks to my health insurance, I had the tests and results all in the same day. Everything was fine. I didn’t have cancer, said the Argentine doctor.
I was given some printed reports and a short letter, which I read and kept, always planning to follow up with the Argentine clinic when I was eventually diagnosed with breast cancer, four months later.
But cancer is time-consuming, and it took me a year after my diagnosis to retrieve the letter and really look into its meaning. It turned out I’d been given the impression I’d got the all-clear, when in fact the medical code in the blurb actually only meant ‘Probably benign.’
Here’s what happened next…
To read the rest of this post in Breast Cancer Care UK’s Vita Magazine, click here.