Archive | June, 2012

The final countdown…

28 Jun

On Monday morning I got a call to say my Op had been postponed until Friday. At first I was a bit bummed out. I’d kind of been psyching myself up for D-day, or should that be C-Day?! But after a moments reflection and a little glance down at Lefty a big smile spread across my face. Me & Lefty were living on borrowed time. This was good news.

It’s like when the Governor runs in to save the guy on death row about to get the lethal injection – “Noooooo George, wait! Lefty ain’t going down today….no sir”

Anyway, so there we were, me & Lefty. On borrowed time. Exciting. Maybe we could flee the country and just carry on for ever, Lefty and I, adventures all over the world…..but no, that’s not really very practical and I’m pretty sure wherever we went that dam C-Monkey would show his face. Suncream and sombrero in hand, waving merrily at us…..he really is such an annoying little C…..

So, three days. That’s all we had. Just three more days of my body, just the way it is. That was quite a sobering thought.  So we set about making a plan, a master plan to fill those three days with fun, laughter, a tiny bit of sadness (ok, ok maybe a lot of sadness, because stupid C-Monkey seems to insist on in at every turn!), some nice girly stuff and then, then we’d have ourselves a big old send off for Lefty with the official – Bye, Bye Boobie party!

But more on that later.

So in a nutshell here’s what we did:

1. Dinner / drinks / coffee and chats with numerous amazing, gorgeous and loving friends, colleagues and family – who continue to prop me up and make sure I’m not in a crumpled heap on the floor crying over my favourite bra. They love Lefty just as much as me and their words, hugs, tears, chats, giggles and love are keeping me strong.

2. Some pampering – Obviously this was essential, who’s to say this whole C thing isn’t some kind of really elaborate (if slightly mean) plan for me to meet Mr ZomesertBoy! Of course he doesn’t has to be from Zomerset and I’d rather he was a man than a boy but that’s by the by. Maybe he’ll be a dashing doctor, or nurse (Cute), or maybe he’ll be the person who tattoos my new nipple on – oooh errr. Anyway my hair is now as glossy and shiny as a little pony and my nails look pretty so I’m good to go.

3. Admin, or rather Cancer admin. No one ever warns you about this but there is a whole lot of admin that comes with Cancer. Seriously it’s like a second job, my to-do list is massive. It goes something like this – Number 1. Say thank you to everyone for all their lovely messages. Of course this is absolutely crucial, but it’s sort of like the ‘thank you’ cards you always means to send out after your birthday or Christmas or something. But I’m doing them, if you haven’t got yours yet it’s coming, it’s coming I promise – and thank you!! Number 2. Return the phone calls / text messages – There is a constant stream of calls with nurses or the health care people about general C-Monkey stuff. Of course again I know this is critical stuff and needs to be done. it’s just I’ve only got three days with Lefty, we want to be out running across London Sans Bra, bouncing freely in the wind, showing the world how glorious he is – not stuck on the phone….

4. Panicking. Ok so time to admit I’m bloody terrified. Three days to appreciate Lefty also means three more days to slightly loose my mind over what it’s going to be like, you know, when they take him. The lack of sleep is still also a bit of a pain. Pretty sure I have lost a few of my marbles now, C-Monkey has them, he likes to play with them. I’m hoping he chokes on one. So I try to take my mind off the lack of sleep with other stuff, like this rambling nonsense and planning the Bye Bye Boobie Party.

In hindsight I probably could have done more with Lefty, maybe taken it to see some sights, shown him off in some seriously sexy bras or tried my first ever nipple tassel, maybe I could have slept with as many men as possible to show it off one more time (note to self, this isn’t really possible when you’re a crying, mascara stained mess, blabbing on about ‘old Lefty’ – not really a turn on, no, not so much), maybe I could have had my breasts cast in bronze, oh now that would have been awesome! But no, we just did normal stuff and now the day is nearly here.

But the Bye Bye Boobie Party is happening tonight and that’s something to be excited by. The night before the op was always going to be horrible, fucking horrible actually, but now I get to spend it with my lovely friends and family laughing, eating, drinking (yes I can, I checked, I can go crazy until midnight, then I turn into a cancer pumpkin – boo!), talking about boobs and generally trying to keep me “perky” until morning. Sorry couldn’t resist that one.

Then after the party, that’s it. Time will have officially run out and Lefty will be gone. At 6.30am on Friday 29th June I go in to hospital for three days and everything after that will always be different.

Terrified doesn’t come close.

Shit bags.

Glow in the dark nipple – why not!

23 Jun

So today has been my first day alone. Since hearing the C-Bomb that is. I decided to spend it in bed. I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to get dressed or talk about stuff, I want to wallow in bed, cry a bit (maybe a lot actually) and hopefully, at some point, get some much needed sleep.

However C-Monkey has other plans, he won’t let me sleep or stop crying. So here I am. Still in bed. With Mr Chaterbox going round and round in my head. In a bid to regain control we’ve started a new game which I thought I’d share – listing the pro’s and con’s of having my breast removed…..yes I know it’s a very sombre game but when you’ve had little to no sleep in about a week these things sort of become quite black and white.

So here’s where me & C-Monkey have got to –

Con’s:

– Ok so yes, lets get the first most glaringly obvious one out of the way – they have to take my boob. Old ‘Lefty’s’ days are numbered. And that sucks in every kind of way possible…..and then some more, in ways which no one thought was possible, but actually is. It just sucks.

– I’m also bit freaked out about having something ‘else’ in my body. I have no idea what it will feel like. Will it be like someone’s put a bean bag under my skin or a water balloon, will I hear it swishing about??? Blurgh! Or will it be really hard and solid and heavy? Will I feel a bit…wonkey? Hmmm, yeah not really feeling good about all that stuff.

– Also and completely randomly (thanks C-Monkey), I’m pretty sure no one will ever motorboat me again. I know, I know, that’s a totally and utterly ridiculous thing to say and actually I can’t remember the last time anyone actually did do that, because I’d probably slap them, – BUT should they want to, they probably won’t be able to. The phrase ‘rock and a hard place’ should be replaced with ‘boob and a hard place?!’ Who knows how solid this new boob could be, I could seriously hurt someone!

– Some of the ‘process’ is a bit grim too. The first implant they put in needs to have a tube, some kind of pump (?!) thing. This will stick out of me for a bit, which is just weird and horrid to think about. And what they hell are they going to do, just pump me up a boob every day?? Is it like those trainers we had as kids, you know the airmax things with the pump so you could pump up the soles – I mean that’s pretty cool for shoes, but who wants to be pumping up their boob every 10 minuets. And what happens if it deflates, do you get that weird hissing sound like a balloon going down?? Um, embarrassing… Thankfully I’m told that bit of the process doesn’t last long and the new boob will get properly put in quite soon after, but still….it’s not nice.

– This may sound vain but I’ve always really liked my boobs. I’m sure every girl does, but I’ve never really had what I think are stand out features – I’m not tall, don’t have long legs that go on for days (mine end after about oh, say, a minute), I don’t have big eyes or amazing Jolie lips, but I did always have nice boobs. I could fill a dress and always felt kind of sexy, you know, in a womanly way. But now. Or rather after. I really don’t know. Will all that go away? Will they take my womanliness as well as the cancer? Will my confidence, my sexiness (cringe!) be gone too……… I don’t really like thinking about that too much.

– What will I look like…..will it be ugly and scared, will it horrify me every time I look in the mirror. God, that one really depresses me….ok time to move on.

Pro’s:

– Ok so I get to have a whole new boob, which could potentially be amazing, like porn star perfect – forever. No spaniel ears for me in years to come, nope I shall have a perky pair for a very long time. Oh yes I say pair because as part of the aftercare they make sure you have a matching set – so even if Righty starts to droop and look a little sad next to the new and improved Lefty, they’ll sort it out. Come on ladies that’s a pretty big bonus, you know what I mean.

– I’m lucky enough to be having a skin sparing mastectomy which means they keep the skin. Ok so I know that sounds gross but it’s actually a very good thing, it means the implant will be put into or rather under my own skin. So I don’t have to have a skin graft from anywhere, there will be less scaring and when I look down it’ll still look like me, because its my skin. So that’s pretty amazing really. I feel very, very grateful about that.

– Also as my friend James pointed out, I’ll probably never drown. I will have my own built in buoyancy aid, like a life raft just ready to go should I ever need it. My own mini dingy boob. Brilliant. Bond would be proud.

– I also get to have a whole new set of bra’s. Now I know this doesn’t especially link to the Op because you can get new bra’s anytime but bra’s are really, really bloody expensive. So for the most part us girls make do with our regular boring every day sets and then have some nice expensive sexy stuff for when we have….um…visitors. But post Op, I’m gonna need a whole new draw bursting with amazing bra’s to make me feel nice. It’s important. There will be a fully justifiable reason to buy as many bra’s as I like, even if there are no ‘visitors’ for a very long time. It doesn’t matter. They (the old & new boob) need to look and feel pretty if only for me.

– I get a whole new nipple. Yeap you heard me. As part of the whole reconstruction thing they build me a new nipple and then tattoo it and the surrounding area to make it look natural. They tattoo my new nipple! How bonkers is that. I have flirted with the idea of a tattoo for ages, and now I finally get one. Having a tattoo of a nipple wasn’t really what I had in mind (more like a small bird on my wrist) but hey, it’s a tattoo non the less. Plus I might be able ask for something cool, maybe they could make it…..gold! Yes a gold nipple, that would be cool, or maybe sparkly pink – you know for parties and stuff. Or maybe they could do a glow in the dark one!!! A-MAZING! Yes that’s what I want. I want a glow in the dark nipple. I will never get lost in the dark, it’ll be a very handy beacon, so you’ll always know where I am and I’ll fit right at any Coldplay gigs. Done. Glow in the dark nipple. YES. sorted.

– Aside from all of that silliness, the most important Pro of all, of everything actually, is that the Cancer will be gone. That alone is the biggest Pro of them all. It will, I hope and pray, be gone. For good. In one horrible but very necessary moment. it will be out. That’s the only Pro that really matters. (Although I am going to ask about the glow in the dark thing, you never know…)

Ok C-Monkey, now that’s all out can I sleep now or at least stop crying…..pleeeeeeeease!

(That’s not me by the way…)

Bumper stickers for boobs

22 Jun

The shock of the C-Bomb stayed with me for quite a while…….well truth be told it’s still there, like some kind of weird evil monkey that just pops up. And pop up he does, all day, every day, I’m in the shower and he’s there (pervert!), making a brew – oh look there he is, settling down for some much, much (!) needed sleep – no, don’t think so, the C Monkey has other plans, he’s going to chat incessantly at your head for hours and hours and hours. I hate the C Monkey. I’m pretty sure he ate all my chocolates too.

The other annoyance in my life is my very, very sore boob, the one that got prodded and poked with big old needles. Jeeze it smarts! Every single wobble, bounce and jiggle is painful. I’m pretty sure this would be less painful if I had small boobs, small boobs don’t jiggle quite so much or with such rebound motion – at least I don’t think they do, it’s not really something I’ve ever had to think about before.

Anyway, the jiggle avoidance game is not a fun one. My poor mum & sister have had to drive like drunken idiots to try to avoid any bumps in the roads, any looming pot holes or potential dips that might cause me to wince in bouncy agony.

This has got me (and the C Monkey) thinking, wouldn’t it be a great idea if after your trip to hospital they gave you a “Boobie care package” to take away…..stuff that means people know you have a sore boob and to essentially mind the fuck out the way!

So you’d get a boobie bumper sticker for your car so people don’t think you’re driving like a lunatic –

“CAUTION: Broken boob on board” or “CAUTION: Nervous nipple behind the wheel”

They could even make badges, like the ones pregnant women have on the tube, saying something like –

– “Boob, not on board” – that would be handy to have post op I guess….

You’d also get one of those U shaped travel pillows, that you put round your neck – only it wouldn’t be for your neck, it would be for your sore boob. Imagine that. A boob, just nestled into one of those travel pillows, wow, what a comfy place that would be!

They also need to think of something more practical for the shower situation. I was told to get a shower cap and put it on your boob to stop the dressings getting wet. Right then. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever put a shower cap on your boob before put it’s pretty ridiculous and it just doesn’t stay on no matter how much tape you use. Oh yes, I taped the damn thing to my boob. You know that plastic popping, bubble wrap stuff you get to protect vases and stuff – well that’s basically what my boob ended up looking like. One giant puffed up bubble, waiting to be popped. This actually really amused me, I mean I got a fit of giggles for about 5mins it was that absurd. I almost took a picture. But think that may have been one step too far in this whole sharing thing…

So there you go, essentially there is loads of cool stuff these breast doctors could devise for the after care boob package….If you have any other idea please let me know – I could do with all the giggles I can get!

Dropping the C Bomb – the day my life changed

21 Jun

In the space of just one week my whole life has changed. Sadly my Zomerset Adventures have taken a much tougher course, one I really wasn’t expecting. Writing it all down has really helped to start to get my head around it, if that’s even possible.

It all happened one very normal day, just over a week ago, when someone dropped the C bomb.

Cancer.

Ok so lets rewind to that day and take this epic tale (you may need a cup of tea and some snacks as it’s a long one!) from the beginning. I’d gone to see my doctor about….ok so also a little warning here that things may get a little graphic so if you’re gonna freak out or be squeamish – stop reading and go pin something fluffy to a board or something!

Still with me? Ok so, I was at my doctors to show her a very little dry patch, which had appeared on my boob, the nipple to be precise. It had been there, not really doing anything, for a few months so it was time to get it sorted. I assumed it was eczema or maybe a reaction to something, but my doc didn’t like the look of it so referred me up to Parkside. That was it, no other weird symptoms, no big lumps. No pain. No big weird green fungus with a little sign that read “Danger – keep back – Grrrrrr”. It was just a small dry patch, mad really.

Anyway two days later I was sat with Professor M, my specialist, at Parkside. He’d just spent quite a bit of time prodding and poking my boob and didn’t have a happy look on his face. He had “concerns” and suspected it might be something more nasty than just a dry patch, so wanted me to go in to hospital the next day for some more tests.

I tried to remain calm but walked out of there shaking like a leaf. This was potentially really serious shit. So I did what all mature 32year grown ups do, I called my mum and burst into tears. Now a word on mum, she is by far the best mum in the world. Sorry but it’s a fact. A point proven by her reaction to my news – at 10am she left work, by 10.28am she was on a train to London with nothing but some knickers and her makeup bag!  By 2pm we were sat in my garden drinking wine – again, proof that she is the best mum in the world. If we’re gonna face a crisis lets at least do it with a nice glass of wine in our hands!!

So 9am rolled around and I was at the Princess Grace hospital in Baker Street, with absolutely no idea what to expect. In a nutshell it was a pretty horrific day.

Now being a spritely 30-something I’ve never had a mammogram before so when they clamped my poor boobs into this giant machine and proceeded to squeeze them into flat little pancakes using what can only be described as a winch like torture device, I was pretty shaken up. The fact that they had to do this two more times,  two different ways, didn’t help either. Seriously, girls, you have know idea how fucking painful that machine is – just try really, really squishing your boobs flat between your hands, you can’t do it!! Because they are large squishy boobs, they aren’t meant to be flattened down into pancakes, it’s painful and just wrong?!!

After the pancake boob machine I then moved on to the ultrasound room. This essentially involved my boob being covered in jelly and explored back and forth  with some kind of joystick thing (calm down boys!). The TV screen didn’t give anything away, not that I knew what might look weird, I guess I was expecting some kind of “ta da” moment. Perhaps a big C shaped dot smiling back at us.

But as far as I could tell it was just a very fuzzy picture with loads of black and white, well fuzzy stuff. Luckily the radiologist understood the fuzzy pictures and seemed to know what he was doing. Either that or he was just having a great time playing with the joystick and my jellied boob?!

After all that…. (oh yes it goes on – please feel free to get refreshments, have a loo break, as I said it’s a pretty epic tale!)…I was told that they’d seen some calcium spots on the mammogram and that the ultrasound just “didn’t look right” – so they wanted to do the biopsy. I don’t mind admitting, I’d gone from mildly frightened to bloody terrified in just a few short hours. But I was determined to hold it together, be a tough cookie and just get through it. DO NOT CRY, was pretty much my mantra all day, that and “oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuckety fuck fuck!”

For the biopsy I had to go back into the boob pancake torture machine. You can imagine my joy at that news.  This time it wouldn’t be over in 5 minuets, instead I’d be stuck, literally stuck in by my squashed boob, for 30 agonising minuets. If that weren’t enough pain to contend with, they’d then stick a bloody great needle into my boob to extract some samples. I’ll spare you any more details suffice as to say it was one of the most painful, whole body shaking with fear, things I’ve ever had to endure. But endure it I did. I remember laughing most of the way through like some kind of crazy, pain hungry lunatic who actually enjoys having their bits squeezed and stabbed?! Um no, not really, definitely not. I think I just went a bit mad with the shock of it all. Laughing hysterically and talking jibberish a million miles an hour while someone stabs your boob with a big needle maybe isn’t the normal reaction, but that’s what happened.

The weird thing is they describe in graphic detail everything they’re about to do, so you get this running commentary of escalating horror described to you. “First we’ll put your breast into the vice machine to achieve flat pancake status, then we’ll leave it in there for about oooohhh 5 minutes or so,  just to check it’s as flat as possible and really, really painful. Then we’ll move on to stage two which will involve needles, bloody big needles which we’ll stick in to your boob, wiggle about a bit, while the pancake machine make loads of scary noises, then we’ll drag it back out. But it doesn’t stop there, oh no, just you wait! Just when you think we’re done, we’ll do it all over again!! …….Oh and then we’ll stamp on your big toe, poke you in the eye, give you a Chinese burn and  carve your nose off with a blunt spoon….what fun…..!!!!

By this point I was a shaking mess. Serious head to toe shakes like some kind of pneumatic drilling machine. I couldn’t stop, even my teeth were chattering. I think my body was freaking out – which was fair enough. Back in the waiting room I was given some hot chocolate, which I promptly spilt everywhere such was the shaking frenzy, and some more biscuits to stop me from passing out. It was at this point I realised that we must be in a pretty good hospital – as next to us was a very famous TV personality – I shant give away her identity and tell the world she was in a boob hospital waiting for her annual mammogram – but I will say she is very famous, very lovely and used to have a very well known Big Brother, hint hint……..

So there we go. The tests were done and so we just had to wait. And wait we did, until the afternoon of Tuesday 19th June – a day I will remember forever. If you haven’t guessed the ending by now, this was the day they confirmed I have breast cancer.

Yeap. Breast cancer. Me. Wow. Weirdly I was pretty calm when they explained everything, I guess I sort of knew from the tests that it was coming but still nothing really prepares you for that moment, that moment when someone says “You have cancer”. FUCK. It’s a total and utter head fuck. Pure and simple.

The hilarious thing is that the cancer I have is quite rare and a lot of people wrongly assume only old people get it, which makes you feel about one hundred and five when they tell you this. Oh by the way you have cancer, you have cancer for old people….yeap, you are just old, with cancer….nice.

It’s officially called Pagets disease and yes a lot of old women get it. But so do younger women and it’s regularly missed by GP’s who wrongly assume it can’t be anything more serious than eczema – so girls, please don’t ever ignore your boobs, if anything and I mean ANYTHING changes get to that doctor and insist on a second opinion – it’s so important.

An hour after they’d broken the news I was down in the MRI room waiting to be scanned to see if the cancer had spread to the other breast or anywhere else. For those of you who’ve never had an MRI before it’s basically like getting inside a giant polo mint, being in a seriously uncomfortable position for about 30 minuets whilst a whole orchestra of seriously loud noises, beeps, vibrations and bangs kick off all around you. And you can’t move. At all.

Now I’ve had an MRI before so thought I knew what to expect. But because they were scanning my breasts I got introduced to what I quickly renamed as “the milking machine”. It looked like an MRI in every possible way, giant polo tube – check, big loud noises – check. But there, on the metal plate were two quite big holes. Yeap you guessed it, I was to lie on my front and stick my boobs into those holes, just letting them dangle down, like some oversized dairy cow – for 30 minutes.  Just after being told I had cancer.I found myself in the milking machine trying with every fiber of my being not to completely and utterly freak out.

I got through it by counting. Counting, a lot actually. Large bouncy, animated numbers jumped about in my head whilst the small yapping toy dog (you know the ones you see in hamleys)  “bark, bark, bark” moved around my body. Nope I hadn’t lost it completely, as part of the mind distraction I started to try and identify the noises, so we had the toy dog and his yapping, the big bass drum – which made me think I was in a rave, the vibrations – which I tried to imagine were relaxing in some way (absolutely not btw!) and the loud continuous humming which sounded like a flock of bees attacking a tambourine?!

Before I’d completely lost my marbles it was done. And I was allowed out. Out of the polo milking tube, out of the hospital and finally allowed to let out all of my emotions. And out they came. I cried my eyes out. Sobbed. For hours.

I had cancer. Proper bloody cancer. And tomorrow I’d find out if it had spread anywhere else. Jesus. How the hell do you get over the shock of that?? The truth is, you don’t. I don’t think I ever will.

Thankfully we got the results back and I’m pleased, sorry that should be – fucking over joyed, to say it hasn’t spread and it’s not invasive, which is amazing, amazing news. This time I cried with relief!

So all they have to do now is get rid of it. And that’s the next battle. The operation. The operation to take my cancer out – along with most of my breast. How the hell do you prepare for that?

Pour me a large glass of wine and we’ll take it from there…..

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