Yes I know… using a smart phone app to check a mole on your skin sounds like a stupid thing to do but…
A: I’ve been battling breast cancer and it’s hard to focus on the little things when you’re batting a ‘big’ (pardon the pun) thing. So many little medical issues become insignificant and getting MORE tests is so exasperating.
B: My GP recommended I do this as it is a ‘really good way to track them yourself’.
Skincheck apps have become very popular for checking moles etc for malignancy. I have very olive skin but even so I have a lot of moles and have had a lot removed. The MOTH was told by a mole checker recently that he had ‘too many’ to check and yet he is a prime candidate having been burnt so many times as a youth with his fair skin.
When I asked my GP about this mole 12 months ago he said it looked ok and to check it with this app. I was undergoing breast cancer treatment at the time so he was hesitant to put me through more and in hindsight it DID look ok at the time. It looked NOTHING like the melanoma my Dad had so I must admit I wasn’t too concerned. Dad’s was very small and jet black. Mine was like a small Sultana bran flake… but not as yummy.
So when I checked the mole on my arm using the app recently it was classified as ‘low risk’. I checked it twice but only saved one of the photos. Well that gave me peace of mind for a while anyhow. Let’s get this breast reconstruction surgery out of the way.
While waiting to go into surgery to have my breast reconstruction, an enthusiastic student plastic surgeon saw it on my arm and said ‘I don’t like the look of that’. THANK YOU to her diligence because otherwise I would still be floating around with it on my arm.
I received an apology from the company and have told them that I was wanting to warn them and give them feedback so that they can tweak their app. I am sure they have peoples health in their best interest but even so… WARNING WILL ROBINSON don’t rely on them!
Now I have had a failed breast screen check and a failed melanoma check. How cool am I? I just keep bouncing back and ducking and weaving. I’m living life fearlessly in faith with a sprinkle of caution.
Here I am mostly intact. We have moved in with Sophie and Jarrod in Glen Waverley and our dogs only fight every 3.5 seconds now so things are improving. It’s like a circus here but we don’t have to buy tickets so that makes it kind of cool.
We have successfully settled our sold house and our purchased house at Safety Beach is ready to be demolished. We are hoping to have a little holiday in it before that happens but that depends…
I hesitate to tell you what’s going on medically because I don’t want my breast cancer followers to lose hope for breast reconstruction. However, here is the long and short of it…
New flat belly complete with belly button repositioning. Sutures keep going around the corner!
Here I am with a stomach wound which looks like someone took to my waist with a can opener, various scars from the tape (everywhere), bruising from various injections and lines, a right breast which has had a reduction and looking pretty fine, a left breast which is ‘mostly’ fine BUT part of the DIEP flap reconstruction has lost circulation and ‘died’. So I have a black hole the size of two 50c pieces on the inner part of my left ‘breast’. It is a big bad angry looking mamma. No photos provided. I don’t want to scare you.
Oh… not to mention a 7cm scar on my arm from the incidental melanoma.
What now? They decided that this section of the flap is definitely ‘dead’ on Monday so I need to go back into surgery to have ‘something’ done about it. The melanoma also needs to have more taken from it so they will do both at once. The surgeon will decide when and what tomorrow morning (Wednesday 23rd March 2016).
I’m off all pain killers now so I should be heading onward and upward… if only I didn’t have to go back in and get it done again. I appreciate your prayers and concerns. Soon this will be over and we can just stop and watch the dog circus while sipping camomile tea and wondering where on Earth all those things we packed into storage for 12 months are. My car will be released from it’s holding bay where The MOTH put it so I can’t drive. Meanie.
This is a quick update to let you know my test results…
My tests were all clear (yay!) My heart is functioning at 98% of the normal range. (yay) My upper abdominal innards are all excitingly healthy (liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidneys etc) and my lung is pumping oxygen like a little trouper. Now we have the ‘well what is going on then?’ question. So I see the oncologist on the 23rd Nov and she will do tumour marker tests to see if there are signs of tumour growth (blood test) but I’m sure there is nothing sneaky going on. That’s my final word over my body.
If that’s all clear I’ll try looking at diet etc but I mainly eat Paleo so it’s not like my diet is BAD. It may be that I have a sensitivity. I don’t know. I’m grasping at straws. Sleeping 12 out of 24 hours is just plain annoying.
My GP said my fatigue is too chronic for it to be something minor like ‘over doing it’ or ‘diet’, given that he has checked thyroid, iron etc.
… back to getting the house ready for ‘open for inspection’ today. Stay tuned and thanks for your lovely comments I’m sure it’s all sounding quite boring by now and I’m blessed to have such lovely people sticking around to hear my sagas!
People have been asking me why my blog updates have disappeared. To be honest… it’s because I’ve been in ‘limbo land’. Have you ever been in that position where you know things ‘aren’t right’ but you haven’t got a diagnosis and you don’t want to seem paranoid or like a hypochondriac? No? Well apparently that’s just me ha ha.
I’ve had increasing fatigue for the past 2 months which has now got me asleep for 12 out of 24 hours. I’m also breathless and giddy at times. I KNOW… I over do it and I have the house on the market and so forth but guess what? I’ve always over done it and I’ve never lacked energy in my life. Right now my fatigue is worse than when I was on chemo. 3 months ago I was walking 40+ km a day in the heat all over Europe!
So I have dragged my reluctant self to the GP and he has done a series of blood tests. Then he heard ‘something in my lungs’ so I had a chest X-ray which is clear (YAY!). However… my liver function isn’t so good and my ECG wasn’t good either.
In the past I’ve had excellent heart test results so you might think that strange but I was told that because of my breast cancer being on the left side, the radiotherapy can damage the heart. So that’s a possibility but who knows.
Next week I have a liver CT scan and a heart stress test. Sigh. I’m sure you all know the feeling… part of me wants to find out what it is out of a need to know what’s going on but also I don’t want to seem a fraud. How silly! The other part wants it to be NOTHING. If it’s nothing why am I so sleepy and giddy? Maybe it’s love. The MOTH is pretty cute;)
I feel embarrassed to be such a medical maniac so I’ve only told my closest friends and family because they can face palm and roll their eyes at me and I can just tell them to ‘get over their bad selves’.
So… if you were wondering where my blog had gone… it went into the land of question marks. Nothing to report but hopefully I’ll know something by the end of next week. Otherwise, back to the oncologist to get more tests. Boo
On a happy note… my hair is like a giant curly frizz ball. At least I have hair and if I can con my hairdresser into straightening it I look quite ‘normal’. PLUS… I am waiting to have my breast reconstruction done. They will build me a new one out of my stomach and ‘fix’ the other one to match. I’ll be frolicking on the beach in my bikini in no time.
It’s been a while and I’ve neglected the blog a little. To begin with, I’ve had a nasty hip problem keeping me awake at night. I don’t want to go on about aches and pains but I understand how concerning it is when a ‘new pain’ starts up and all the tests have to begin again. Over the past 3 weeks I’ve had bone scans, CT scans and many trips to the doctors. Monday I’m off to have an ultrasound. My GP is very sure that the left hip is bursitis and that is treatable with a shot of steroids. YAY! I’ve got bursitis! How exciting. Better than the alternative.
However… I also have a 4mm ‘spot’ on my right hip. This isn’t concerning me but I have to have another CT scan at the end of May to see if it’s grown. I can’t have an MRI because I have metal in the breast tissue expander. So on the 26th of May I find out the results. THIS IS THE DAY WE FLY TO EUROPE FOR 8 WEEKS. Doh! Seriously, I am not going to worry about every little ache and pain… or spot for the next 10 years.
Relay for life
Tonight I’m sharing my story to 2000ish people at the Greensborough ‘Relay for life’. It’s my 2nd public speaking engagement and not the last as I have another booking in May. My story seems so boring and not unusual as cancer touches so many. Hopefully I will be able to inspire people and help them to see that the big ‘C’ word can be life changing in a positive way.
I’ve decided to shun the wig. It was like wearing a woolly hat on those hot days and I almost drowned in my own perspiration. Maybe I’ll wear one on special occassions. So far two people (men) have said ‘Why aren’t you wearing your wig?’. The women all call me ‘sweety’ and pat me sympathetically on the hand. It’s quite funny to see the reactions of people I know. My Dad didn’t recognise me! The best of all was my friends son (who I have known since he was a child) who said ‘wow, I love the way you’ve cut your hair’. I was cheerfully dancing at that comment because he didn’t realize I had chemo hair. He may be a hippy but he made my day. Actually, I have to confess I’d always wanted to cut my hair really short (being an ex hippy myself) but I was worried that it would look bad and I would regret it and cry into my pillow for 100 years. So I’m trying to embrace it and so far so good. Just don’t call me sweety and pat me on the hand or I’ll have to show you just how sweet I am and get violent ha ha.
I’ve been struggling with nasty hip pain over the last 2 weeks. They tell breast cancer patients to get all new pain checked out but I have arthritis so I’d be wearing a track to the hospital if I did that. This is new hip pain is on the left side which is new, so I went to have a bone scan this week. I’m getting very little sleep from the pain. Arggh. I was all excited about bouncing around like a rabbit from here on. The problem with it is that I can’t get a massage or go to my usual chiropractor because laying on my stomach is uncomfortable with the breast tissue expander. My friend has invested in an Australian made product called ‘Mammagard‘ and I had the honour of meeting the ‘inventor’ who is an osteopath. He is selling his kits like hot cakes in the US and I feel privileged to have the use of one. I got to sleep on my stomach last night and that was awesome! So I’m hoping to get a massage and treated by my chiro/myotherapist next week. He said I can use it for my Body Balance class also but I’m not sure if I’m that co-ordinated. Soon I’ll be bouncing around like a rabbit for sure:) http://mammagard.com/
If you find laying flat uncomfortable for whatever reason (breast related) let your Physio/chiro etc know about it because they can buy a kit.
I know I’m starting to sound like a walking advertisement for products but I swear it’s just that I feel so enthusiastic when I find something great. Do you know my radiotherapy burns went from horrid, purple, infected and very very painful to remarkable healing almost overnight. I’ve been piling on the Moo Goo (also an Australian product) and it’s beginning to look better than my other skin! I told the plastic surgeon yesterday and he could hardly believe me when I said what a state I was in just 2 weeks ago. He said he would have cried if he saw it. They are very sensitive these plastic surgeons. BTW he told me I have not got enough stomach (still) to do a TRAM flap so he might have to use butt or thigh tissue. I am devastated. I’ll leave it to you to decide if I’m kidding or not.
Firstly I’d like to say thanks for the wonderful messages I’ve received from caring people. I’m so sorry that I haven’t managed to reply to you all but I really do appreciate it. So for now… this picture should say enough!