Today marks the day that, five years ago, I entered St. Vincent’s Hospital completely oblivious about the state of my health and left with the news that I had cancer. It was a day that would change my life in so many ways, not so much because of the horrors the illness would bring for me but because of the wonderful people I would meet because of it, and those I would lose along the way. Continue reading
Category Archives: BCSM
Five Reasons Why I’m Trekking Across Iceland for CoppaFeel
In August, I’m trekking 60km across Iceland (the country, not the supermarket) to raise money for a small but perfectly formed charity named CoppaFeel! Despite the daunting prospect of sore knees, blisters, sleep deprivation from the four hours of nightly darkness and the small matter of raising £2,695, I’m up for the challenge. Continue reading
Three years later, operation No. 2 is done
And so it was that almost three years to the day of my original surgery, I found myself going under the knife again. This time it was to remove a cyst that emerged after my original operation in June 2012 and recently got infected. So, no biggie. However, as with anything in the world of boobs, hospitals and health, it was not without its fair share of drama. Continue reading
Two years on and still nothing sinister
So this photo popped up on my Facebook feed the other day.
There’s nothing like Facebook to give you that big surprise surge of emotions with a visual image – whether it’s a photo of your ex on his wedding day or a school photo of you with pudding-bowl hair circa 1990 that someone has recovered from their parents’ house. Or, in my case, a pic of you larking about in a photo booth mid-chemo with a completely bald head and some ill-informed eyebrow pencillage. Continue reading
HuffPost: Timelapse Video of 18 Months of Hair Growth After Chemo
I haven’t written anything on this blog since February, which is due to a combination of having just completed a Masters degree in nine months and starting a new job immediately after, and – more importantly – having no cancer news to report. Continue reading
World Cancer Day
I didn’t know it was World Cancer Day until I woke up this morning and saw my face splashed all over the Emirates Woman magazine website – quite a surprise. I wrote the article over Christmas but I didn’t realise it was coming out today. I wouldn’t say the headline is exactly my own words, but the rest is all me. Anyway, it’s in this month’s print issue of Emirates Woman so if you’re in Dubai, go buy a copy! Continue reading
It’s All Gravy
So I just had my bi-annual check-up with the surgeon who saved my life and I’m pleased to say it’s all good.
It was just a manual examination – no scans, no cannulas, no tears this time – but for some reason it seemed more thorough than the last time and I felt quite satisfied.
Anyway, Dr Lifesaver seemed very pleased (‘Your scars have healed so well! You can barely even see the armpit one.’) and told me to come back in October for my next MRI scan. (Well, it’s not actually that simple – he said I have to come back and ask him to write another letter to the NHS board asking them if I can have another MRI, so it’ll probably be Christmas by the time I have another one, but anyway).
I have a different hospital appointment next week for a separate chemo/Tamoxifen-induced problem that I shan’t go into, but after that, no more hospital trips until July, when I see the oncologist again. Hooray!
As you can see, my hair has grown a bit since last time I wrote. It’s not actually as long as it looks in this hospital-gown selfie – it’s just got volume today because I went to sleep with it wet and woke up with a semi-Mohican (as happens most days). It is also getting mullet-like at the back again and needs a bit of a trim.
But the good news is I’m *almost* back to my pre-chemo pixie. I think it’ll actually be two entire years after my pixie cut (August 2012) by the time it grows back to that length, which is insane. But my latest theory is that if my cancer cells grow anywhere near as slowly as my hair cells then hopefully they have NO CHANCE.
Oh, and I figured I could get away with today’s headline since yesterday was apparently National Yorkshire Pudding Day. Didn’t know it was a thing? Nope, me neither. But fortunately I have a bezzie who knows these things and thankfully she was on hand to cook me a truly splendid Yorkshire roast. So it is, indeed, all gravy.
Vita: MRI or Mammogram?
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.
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.
The MRI Results
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.
HuffPost: We Are More Than Pink
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.