Baldness, BCSM, Breast cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Hair loss, Hair regrowth, Health, MRI, UK, Women's Health

Two years on and still nothing sinister

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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

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BCSM, BRCA1, BRCA2, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Care UK, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Genes, Genetics, Health, Mammogram, MRI, UK, Vita Magazine, Women's Health

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.

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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.

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BCSM, Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Screening, Cancer, Health, Mammogram, MRI, UK, Uncategorized, Women's Health

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.

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Breast cancer, Cancer, Health, UK, Uncategorized, Women's Health

‘Happy Cancerversary’

20130620-221342.jpgHappy Cancerversary
to Me…
Happy Cancerversary
to Me…
Happy Cancerversary
Dear Lau-raaa…
Happy Cancerversary
to Me!

Hip-hip…

Ok, you may detect a hint of irony. I have long hated the word ‘Cancerversary.’ First of all, it doesn’t go particularly well with the word ‘happy,’ which should be reserved for things like holidays and families and birthdays and cake. ‘Cancerversary’ is up there with ‘Your cancer journey’ and ‘Your battle with cancer’ in my Most Disliked Cancer Terminology book, even though I’m guilty of using some of these myself. It’s also perhaps because I’m a grammar and spelling Nazi that I hate the adding of ‘-versary’ onto anything that isn’t ‘anni,’ but don’t get me started on that.

Hating aside, today is the anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I would like to say it was the worst day of my life, but the truth is there were far worse days to come. A year ago today, I was the naive Laura who said things like “Ah, it’s just like breaking a leg” and “I’ll be running marathons again by the end of the year.” Pah! Little did I know what was ahead of me.

BUT…

I survived. And the fact is, I’m doing wonderfully. I haven’t quite got the ‘One-year all-clear’ yet because I’m still waiting for my mammogram and MRI scan, but the important thing is I feel healthier and happier than I did a year ago.

As proof, here is a photo of me looking suitably content on a beach in Ireland last week (yes, I did just say “content,” “beach” and “Ireland” in the same sentence – we were truly blessed with the weather.)

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And, while I may not have fulfilled my slightly farfetched hopes of running marathons by the end of 2012, I did manage to climb to the very top of this rather sizeable mountain in Ireland last week and am making significant progress training for the half marathon I’m going to attempt in October.

IMG_0553Considering there were times during chemo when I couldn’t stand on my feet long enough to even brush my teeth, I’d say I’ve come a pretty long way. So there!

Rejoicing aside though, I am very aware the ‘cancer journey’ (for want of a better phrase) doesn’t end here. Life goes on for me, but I’m well aware not everyone is so ‘lucky,’ which is why we’ve got to continue spreading the message and encouraging early detection. I’m very proud to have joined forces with Coppafeel!’s Boobettes and will be giving my first breast-cancer awareness talk to the boys and girls of Britain next month. (More on this later).

So… while I may not exactly love the phrase ‘Happy Cancerversary,’ I’m going to celebrate anyway, because I’m alive and well and that’s good enough for me!

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