I am Fine

31 October 2015

Day 31

Shoooo I made it to my last FB post… not that I have run out of things to tell you, rather that I prefer to return to the normality where “I am Fine” is enough! I left the usual questions I am asked about Breast Cancer treatment for last…

I normally get asked about diet changes.
Yes, I have made diet changes. I watch how much red meat and processed food I eat and restrict my bread consumption. I eat a lot of broccoli and cauliflower. I drink at least 2 litres of water a day. I stopped drinking coffee and hardly drink juices or fizzy drinks. I eat lots of spinach, eggs, fresh fruit and organic free range chicken and fish. My diet is colourful and I enjoy Mediterranean food. I did not cut out sugar because I LOVE CAKE and I am just generally Greedy! I tried juicing but was not very good at it because it upset my stomach…

Do I take supplements?
Through chemo? Absolutely Not! No point in trying to build up your body while chemo is breaking it down! You have to submit to the treatments and when you are done, you can take as many supplements as you like! I take a multivitamin, protein supplements, Vitamin C and Vitamin B. I get enough Vitamin D as I spend a lot of time outdoors. I also supplement with Black Seed Oil.

I No Longer Smoke!
On the day of my last Herceptin treatment I had my last cigarette. I quit Cold Turkey! I had never attempted to quit before that. I will NEVER SMOKE AGAIN! And don’t even tell me its HARD to Stop… JUST STOP! IT GIVES YOU FUCKEN CANCER!

Weight gain on Tamoxifen?
Is Real and NOT IMAGINARY! Very Very True! You will gain weight through your treatments and by the time you reach Tamoxifen you will be FAT. TamoxiHELL makes it hard for you to lose weight, somehow your body becomes a fat storing magnet! And no amount of starvation, exercise or other quick fix weight loss regime is going to help. I have not met anyone who has been able to shed the weight on this medication…

Do you exercise?
I exercise regularly. It is VERY (KUK) DIFFICULT! It has NOT gotten easier for me… I love running and have been able to On/Off run for the last year. Exercise has helped me cope with the changes in my body and lessened my TamoxiHELL Joint, Legs, Abdominal and Back pain. I have slowly come to terms with the fact that my lungs, heart and left foot are under achievers… and it’s okay, at least I can still run or hobble… Kind of!

Anti Depressants?
I have managed to not take any anti-depressants despite the many times that they were prescribed. I am one of those difficult people who prefer to just face the Shit and Get On With It – I am as Hard Headed and Stubborn as a Mule! There are other ways of dealing with your sadness and depression – help is not going to come in a bottle – it will just mask your symptoms – You have to Fix/Cure It yourself! And remember NO ONE HAS EVER DIED FROM AN ANXIETY ATTACK! However, if you are mentally ill or suicidal please seek assistance…

I have been asked to not stop writing, so I won’t! I will, however, be moving my posts to a Blog! Keep your eyes and ears peeled and don’t hesitate to contact me if in the event you want to Chat or Swear or Cry! Thank you for all your words of Encouragement, Kind Thoughts and Prayers! I really appreciate it!
It’s Been Real!
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Tamoxihell

30 October 2015

Day 30

For the first time this month I find myself at a loss for words. I am so super reluctant to write about my Tamoxifen experience (aka TamoxiHELL) because I really have nothing nice to say about it, and may come across as a really ungrateful irreverent miserable (B)WITCH !

My hormone therapy started after I had my mastectomy and had the drains removed, but still doing my Herceptin cycles. I did a tremendous amount of research as I was required to take 20mg of Tamoxifen daily for 5 years, and at the end of the day I had to weigh the benefits of taking it against the risk of recurrence if I don’t take it. The benefits outweighed the risk unfortunately….

Tamoxifen is a cytostatic agent – an anti-oestrogenic compound. Basically, it blocks the cancer causing oestrogen from attaching to cancer cells and impairs the growth of the tumours, hopefully KILLING IT! Sounds really cool… BUT…

The list of side effects they slap you with are HORRIFIC and some are LIFE Threatening as it may even cause ovarian cancer and/or liver cancer… The common or milder side effects are hot flushes, water retention, vaginal bleeding, thrush, gastric disturbances, dizziness, rashes, hypercalcaemia, blood platelet and white blood cell anomalies, headaches, depression, fatigue, confusion, leg cramps, alopecia and dry skin… And if you’re really unlucky you may develop deep vein thrombosis or a pulmonary embolism or blurred vision with corneal opacities/retinopathies. It delays the body’s ability to heal and can cause osteoporosis…

And that’s why it is so much HARDER to take Tamoxifen than anything else… it’s an unwanted gift that keeps on giving! Just when I used to think ‘I GOT THIS!’ Tamoxifen would beat me into submission!

I have been on Tamoxifen for 3 years – and I have experienced MOST of the side effects and it is ROUGH! It can diminish your quality of life radically as it makes you feel like WORSE THAN CRAP!! ! At my last doctor’s appointment I was slapped with a new research document which basically sentenced me to TAMOXIHELL FOR LIFE… WITH NO PAROLE!

Forever… I HAVE TO TAKE TAMOXIFEN FOREVER!

But if it’s any consolation…
You get used to it… You Get Over It or you Manage It…
It’s just a Different way of LIVING!

PS: So please Excuse the Misery…as I am waist deep in TamoxiHELL!

Nothing Feeling

29 October 2015

Day 29

I finished Herceptin with ease – I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it felt. And yet, I was horrified about the fact that I would not be going to hospital as regularly as before. Crazy I know – I came to rely on the rhythmical living that I had adjusted to. My trial with chemo had come to an abrupt END – and I felt lost and incomplete. It’s stupid how I was living from one chemo to the next, constantly telling myself ‘five more to go… three more to go… and then the last one and… DONE!”… Woooossssssaaaaa!!!

Relieved?
Peaceful?
Hopeful?
Happy?

Nothing…
I felt NOTHING!

Nothing but sadness, emptiness and disappointment… What was I expecting? A Big I Survived Cancer Party? Yes, I actually really did! This was Bigger than my 21st, much Bigger than Anything Else really, I mean I survived the Big C! I wanted bells and whistles, and a street Party, and All my friends and the whole World to give me a Shout Out! Okay! Maybe Not! Lol!

My point is you feel Lost. You don’t know what to do… You don’t know where to start… Do you try and salvage what is left of you and then carry on as if nothing happened? Do you even remember what ‘You Before Cancer’ felt like? You feel different and inaccessible like a volcanic island. You realize that obviously what you have been doing your whole life is what gave you cancer in the first place, so you have to implement Change…
Change your Diet!
Change your Lifestyle!
Change your Career!
Change your Relationships!
Change your Thinking!
Change Everything!

And then Change Your Mind…
Instead of thinking of Cancer as a Curse or Calamity, I started thinking about it as a Divine Inspiration. A Push from the Universe – redirecting my Lifeboat to calmer Seas! The harrowing experience really chips away at all your perceptions, opinions and understanding of Life and like a Gifted Sculptor, it carves you and kneads you and then moulds you into something New. Remember, it can be a time of tremendous upheaval in your life, but it can also be a time of rediscovery, adventure and motivation. It can Inspire you to do Great Things, things you thought you were never capable of. You may walk a thousand miles, you may climb the Kilimanjaro, you may even go into outer space! And if you really lucky, It may even introduce you to your Inner Self and give you the courage to Live your True Purpose!

How Much Time

28 October 2015

Day 28

The one thing I have learnt about Cancer is that it blesses you with the ability of understanding and appreciating the Value of Time! You are never more aware of time than when you are counting minutes and days to or from your next medical appointment. When you are diagnosed, that’s the first thing you are likely to think about… How Much Time Do I have before I die? How much time do I have to spend with my children and family?

Time forces you to face the awkward questions of your existence. What have I done with my Time on this Earth? What have I achieved in this Time? An elusive element of existence with so many paradoxes it can make you crazy… you have to start thinking out of the box to make it work for you.

Somewhere after my operation and starting Tamoxifen I felt that Time had stopped for me. I no longer felt alive, I felt excluded from the living almost like I had fallen down a crevice of the Mountain of Doom. It was a hugely challenging and testing Time for me, which was ironic because in hindsight this was the light at the end of my tunnel, right? But I still felt defeated, deflated, deveined and brain dead…

My hair was starting to grow back, and I was feeling relieved about it although it came back white – not even gray… just white! I was still experiencing side effects and Tamoxifen gave me more allergies. And the Craziness returned Full Force along with my Periods (that were SO BAD I thought I was dying). In this time I l Lived fiercely and fought for my right to be Alive, because I was feeling dead inside…

And in the quiet moments I thought about Time. I grew really restless and frustrated as I watched Time pass into missed opportunities, regrets, could have-beens and would have-beens… I wished for more Time as a Mother, a Wife, a Daughter, a Sister, a Someone! I Felt challenged and I wished to spend my Time by pursuing and achieving some greatness by Living with Purpose!

And In Time, I started feeling More Alive and stopped Time- Wishing and Time-Wasting and did some Real Time Living!

Dear Cancer

27 October 2015

Day 27

Dear Cancer,

I FUCKING HATE YOU!

You have invaded every infinite detail of my Fucking Life!
I hate that I cannot stop thinking about you. Every minute of the day you cross my mind a million times. I think about you when I wake up, when I eat, when I sleep, when I breathe, when I shower even when I go to the Damn Toilet! You own me… I am Your Cancer Bitch!

You have invaded spaces in my Being so deeply that I am trying really hard to escape Your Cancer Thought Prison Hell! I think about how ridiculous it is that I even have Cancer. I think about other people with Cancer. I think about if anyone in my family will get cancer. I think about the scary possibility that my cancer will come back…

I think about one of my best friends who nearly bled to death from a nosebleed caused by her chemo and I want to tell you that you are the biggest Loser Coward P&%$ and if you were a person… I would run you over with a FUCKEN TRACTOR SHREDDER! And I will feel no remorse…

Dear Cancer,

You have humbled me… You have brought me to my knees. You have made me stand at the edge of my abyss and you have made me jump! You have made me want to make love under the stars and moonlight in a magical forest… You have made me want to dive to the depths of the ocean to marvel at all the mystery and wonder beneath. You have made me push the limits of my Mind and Body and Soul.

You have emancipated me from the absurdity of this plane of existence and made me look forward to the great beyond. You have shown me that it is okay to experience all your emotions and to free yourself from the opinions of others. You have given me nightmares but you have also given me the most beautiful dreams…

You have made me Fiery and Feisty and Fucking Fearless!

You have made me understand the tryst between Hate and Love… And it was Nice to have walked Beside You…

Twenty And One

26 October 2015

Day 26

2
1
21
Twenty… One…
Twenty and One… Days

The most significant number of days in my journey. This became the sum of my resilience. I had reached my limit and my capacity was diminishing to quiet defeat. The irony of this number both amused and annoyed me – twenty one day chemo cycles and twenty one day post mastectomy drainage! Yes, I had my drains in for 21 Unbelievable DAYS… It was NO Focken FUN! I had my dressings changed weekly and much to my relief I was healing well and the intensity of the pain subsided, but my lymph drainage was severe…

This was the last big hump in my saga as I needed to hear from the Physican what the outcome of the grueling chemo regime had been and if they got clean margins from my surgical procedure. Clean margins means that they managed to contain the cancer within the area they removed (basically) – in other words there are no cancer cells present where they made an incision.

The Physician marched in, quite stern and announced: “Well done Sumayya! You are ENN EEE DEE!” Shocked I gasped – “What’s that? Is it good or bad?” He laughed while shaking my husbands’ hand explaining that there was NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE! All cheeky I retorted: “Am I in remission or not?” “No!” he said, “You are BETTER than in remission you are clear of cancer!”
And I bawled my guts and heart out…. SNOT EN TRANE I tell you!

My tumours were gone, not one cancer cell remained in my breast tissue and the lymph nodes that survived chemo, all tested negative and were not involved. Unfortunately I still HAD TO finish my Herceptin for another 8 months (21 day cycles) and needed to start hormone treatment with Tamoxifen… Wait for it… in Twenty One Days…

Twenty One Days…

My Curse,
My Blessing,
My Redeemer,
My Sanctity…

My Left Boob

25 October 2015

Day 25

I was convinced that I had staples across my chest and neck. The pain did not make sense and the pain killers were not helping. I had drains coming out from my left armpit that was excruciatingly uncomfortable and made me feel faint (it was Super Gross).

On a side note: I chose not to have reconstructive surgery despite the constant reassurance from my surgeon. I was advised that it would definitely help with my psychological wellbeing and healing and the fact that I was still young made it not negotiable. WHHHAAAATTTT?

A mastectomy is not an easy procedure. I had a radical unilateral mastectomy which involved the removal of all my lymph nodes and breast tissue. I was advised that I needed to have immediate reconstruction. I went to discuss the options with yet another medical professional who presented me with various options that would suit my needs. I basically had to choose between a silicone implant or a boob made from my own abdominal FAT!

I was revolted by the idea of plastic surgery as I did not want the constant doctors visits to pump up a piece of plastic in my chest (an expander to stretch the skin) and then have to endure another surgical procedure to insert a new silicone implant! NO WAYS!

The option using my own tissue seemed appealing until they told me the op would take approximately 8 hours and would require an ICU stay for 2 days. Also the incision to harvest my belly fat and muscle would run across my lower abdomen! So…. NOT!

I kept thinking about how I did not want to die with a piece of plastic in my chest… I already had enough toxins in my body as it is… I had a gut feel that reconstruction was not suited for me. I kept looking back at all I had conquered through my journey and thought that I would not let something as mundane as having one boob perturb me! I do not regret my decision and still feel very comfortable with my choice.