Strange Christmas gifts for me

All I want for Christmas is 3 tattoos and a breast inflation. Apparently that’s what I’m getting.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my new Radiotherapy specialist at Ringwood Private. He was more rapid firing than my Dr at Maroondah but seemed very thorough and in a rush to commence the program. I begin radiotherapy on the 29th of December. I was hoping to have a break and begin late January but at least I will get through the treatment sooner this way and spend some time recovering before we go to Europe in May.

On Christmas Eve I have my last ‘breast inflation’ appointment at Maroondah where Dr Grim (not his real name) will advance on me with the largest syringe on the Earth and inject 75ml into the tissue expander. That will be my last one yay! Later in the day I go to Ringwood Private to have 3 tattoos and a CT scan to prepare for the radiotherapy. I hope the tattoos are something cute. I rather fancy an owl or something. So Christmas Eve will be spent in hospitals and not preparing for Christmas day at my place!! Oops. At least I’ll have tattoos.

While they are there I could get this tattoo on the back of my head. You like? My hair is still falling out so I’m not expecting long locks for Christmas at this stage.

The doctor decided that I need 33 treatments rather than the original 25 as I have had a big gap between surgery and radiotherapy and I am high risk of the cancer spreading to the chest cavity. So that’s every day except weekends for 6 weeks or so. Ho hum. What’s a few more weeks in the scheme of things?

Oncology nurses are angels

I can’t thank the staff in the breast clinic and the oncology nurses at Maroondah enough. Having chemotherapy is frightening for many people but they made something which can be fraught with fear and anxiety, a supportive and caring place to be. They are always concerned and kind but they are also fun and friendly. They go over and above their call of duty and run their little legs off all day supporting people who can be at many stages of grief or anxiety.

I’ve heard many cancer patients find it difficult to move from this supportive environment to ‘being alone’ and I can understand why.  Having had chemo for 8-9 months now they have become a part of the family. The staff walking the journey at your side is really important and stepping away from that can be a little daunting for the patient and their partner.

To top it off, the MOTH has teased the daylights out of them for the past 8 months. Perhaps he will finance their self esteem building sessions.

Feeling unravelled

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Please don’t ask me what goes on in my brain. Col says my brain scares him. This week I did a series of 4 greyhounds who are looking rather ‘unravelled’. I sold 3 of them before they were finished. I can identify with them in that I am tired, I have various aches and pains but I’m still running towards the finish line. I am not skinny though!!! Stupid breast cancer chemo all has ‘weight gain’ as a side effect. Not to mention all the eating I’ve been doing but let’s blame the chemo.

Actually I think I am less tired but with all the Christmas celebrations I don’t feel it. This morning I actually did some RUNNING on the athletics track. It wasn’t much but enough to start getting my fitness back. Hopefully I’ll be able to get out of bed tomorrow without the resulting sore muscles.

I’ve been asked many times where people can see my artwork. At the risk of seeming self promotional…

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A funny thing happened on the way to a party

Jen2For some weird reason, my hair all fell out and then began growing back again. For a while I shaved it off but then I left it. It’s white and soft like baby hair and now about 2cm long. It’s very sparse so you can still see my scalp very easily but even so… it’s hair. The even weirder thing is that everywhere else my hair has gone and isn’t growing back. I haven’t shaved my legs for months. Yay for that. I’ve alway done things differently to everyone else ha ha.

I usually spend 3.5 seconds doing my makeup but my personal assistant (daughter) has kindly made it her duty to prepare me for the public eye when it comes to special events.

In this case it was an engagement party. As you can see (above), she did a pretty good job of the eyebrows, although according to her (and me) one eye brow is just plain odd. It’s quite challenging even for her to get it right. Today Sophie glued fake eyelashes on me even though I’m not supposed to wear them due to the particularly frail state my skin is in from the chemo. Then came the wig. Voila!

So off I went to the party, trying desperately not to blink furiously and/or to wipe my eyebrows or eyeliner off while navigating the way in the car for the MOTH. My wig was in my eye so I flicked it furiously out of the way so I could see the GPS instructions. Oops. I soon discovered that my eye lashes were glued to my wig. Now I had one corner of the eyelash hanging off and no idea how to fix it.

A quick SMS to Sophie resolved it. It all seems so simple when she says it like that…

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I’ve been microchipped

Last week we stayed at Rosebud for a break and for 2 of the days I had an art retreat by myself. On the Tuesday, however, we had to drive back to Maroondah so I could have a titanium chip put into the tumour (providing they could find it). After much hoo ha with the ultrasound, they found the tumour and eventually put the chip into the middle of it. Now when they do surgery, they will be able to find the area to remove.

I can’t run away now because they have a remote control to bring me back to base. Just kidding.

If you want to read about the tagging there is a short article here:

The radiographer also found two swollen lymph nodes under the arm and in the breast. I’ll find out more on Tuesday when I start the new chemo treatment and see the doctor. Hopefully I’ll discover the size of the tumour (which is too small to be ‘felt’) and what’s going on with the lymph nodes. Hopefully the nodes are just another weird thing to add to my list.

I’ve been feeling pretty good this last week. Running on the treadmill at the Rosebud resort and with running group today and not needing nanna naps for the past 5 days.  I created so much artwork in Rosebud I almost couldn’t find my way to the bed at night for the mess. Loving it!

Swinburne investigation

My lovely friend Elaine is pioneering an investigation into the number of women from Swinburne who have or who have had breast cancer… possibly any cancer at all. It isn’t a witch hunt, but an investigation to see if there are links. Elaine has medical background and has made contact with the right people, composed documents and permission forms etc. So if anyone out there would like information please let me know. Elaine is doing this out of the goodness of her heart and I just want to thank her on behalf of all of us who are too distracted to do it ourselves. Bless her cotton socks!