Unbelievably it has been a year since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I know that because I attended my first annual check this week. A lot has happened in the last year and I have written various blogs along the way but I haven’t written an update on my health since February, just after my 5th dose of chemo. A few people have asked about an update, so here it is….
I don’t like to moan about my experience because I am acutely aware that many people are going through or have gone through so much worse. I was in two minds about writing this blog because a dear friend of mine is currently very poorly - it doesn’t feel at all right to be writing about my recovery in the circumstances. I know I am extremely lucky.
Although I don’t really like to admit it, the last part of my treatment did make me feel pretty rubbish. It could have been the cumulative effect of the treatment, or the different drug, or both. Looking back and being honest, some days I just had to focus hard on just getting through the day. Simple tasks or activities like making food or getting the children to school sometimes seemed impossible, but with a little focus and determination we made it!
My final cycle of treatment finished at the end of March, so since April I have been gradually rebuilding my strength. March also saw the start of my hormone treatment, an implant called Zoladex injected once a month to stop my ovaries from working and therefore producing oestrogen (the hormone that was feeding my cancer). The injections effectively put my body in to menopause which brings with it a host of fresh new side effects!
The difficulty initially was knowing which side effects were being caused by the hormone treatment, and which by the chemo. Following my final chemo treatment and first hormone injection (which both happened on the same day) I suffered with oedema (fluid retention) in my legs. I put on over a stone in weight within a week, while eating less than normal. My ’elephant legs’ burnt with a lactic acid feeling at any exertion, so frustratingly I wasn’t able run.
Thankfully, the oedema is now much improved – we are fairly sure it was a delayed reaction to the chemo rather than anything to do with the hormone treatment so I am feeling much better, and back out running!
My hair has started to grow back to the extent that the children will just about allow me out of the house without my hat! I am also getting back up to full speed at work, though I have been lucky enough to be able to work throughout my treatment which has provided me with a welcome positive focus. I still get more tired than I would have done in the past and have to remind myself that it is okay not to be feeling 100% all of the time.
As I have said before, I am determined to harness my experience over the past year to make changes for the better. It is very easy to get swept away in the day to day of work, children’s activities, cooking, cleaning, rushing about here there and everywhere and sometimes we can lose sight of what is truly important.
With this in mind I am working on enhancing some of our tools and activities around the concept of the Mindful Money Tree, and I am also planning a new book, so watch this space!
I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has offered kind words and support over the past year. When you are feeling rubbish it really does make such a huge difference to hear a kind word, or receive a positive wish. Thank you so much.