Well, the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a slight change in the title of my blog which gives you an indication of what this post is going to be about. There’s no easy way to say it so am just going to plough on and those of you who have I have spoken to or see in the last week or so can pretty much skip right to the end!
I’ve recovered incredibly well from my op but we had a bit of news shortly before my surgery, which has taken a little time to get our heads around.
When I was initially diagnosed in November I was told there were ‘indeterminate’ spots on my lungs, as well as the breast cancer. The spots may or may not have been cancerous (apparently lots of us have completely harmless spots and marks on our lungs) but if they were then the chemo would treat them.
The recent scans show those spots have now been ‘resolved’ – ie they were cancer and the chemo has had a positive effect on them. Unfortunately the scans also show cancer in three vertebrae in my spine. These were not present on the bone scan in November and my oncologist believes they were simply too small at that stage to show up on the scan.
They cannot ‘cure’ the cancer in my spine, it is something I will live with, hopefully for years, and there are new treatments coming on stream all the time. I’d already started to have Herceptin every three weeks (because I had protein cells in my cancer which was making it divide and spread more rapidly) and was due to have this for a year. I will now be having it every three weeks indefinitely as it will treat the cancer in my spine. I am also having another drug, Zomata, every three weeks to help strengthen my bones and push calcium into them as the cancer weakens them and could cause fractures, and am also taking high doses of calcium in tablet form each day. As and when the Herceptin/Zomata combination stops being effective there is a raft of other treatments to try and, as I am becoming more and more aware, there are new developments every day where cancer treatments are concerned.
I’ll start having the radiotherapy for the breast cancer in a few weeks time as planned, and they may use radiotherapy on my spine in the future too. Have also been warned that the cancer spots in my lungs will come back at some point and that will mean more chemo. Not something I will look forward to, but it could be years before that happens (fingers crossed!)
It’s been a monumental shift in mindset from thinking by the end of this year I’ll be cancer free, to accepting that I will be living with it permanently, but I am absolutely fine – my outlook is that it could have been worse, as this is not a terminal diagnosis. I’ve also met a couple of ladies locally who are in a similar position – both with secondaries in their spine – and they are fighting on, after 5 and 8 years respectively.
The news has obviously crystallized issues such as work/life balance in my mind and I have made the decision I will not be returning to my previous full-time job, as I need a more flexible and less stressful lifestyle, plus I’ll be having blood tests and treatment every three weeks. I hope to continue to work for Communications Management a few days a month as an Associate, as well as securing my own clients – and I might even do some radio, 15+ years after being behind the microphone!
So there are exciting – and scary times ahead but, as Joseph Campbell said:
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
First thing on the agenda is the Relay for Life this weekend which Ray and I are taking part in, raising money for Cancer Research UK. If anyone would like to sponsor us then please follow the link below. We are so grateful for any amount, however small, but are also conscious that many people sponsored my lovely friend Becci when she ran the Macmillan 10K in my name so please don’t feel obliged to donate again!
More will follow soon but until then thanks to everyone for their on-going support.