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Tracey’s Battle of Britten Cancer Journey ‘This is my new normal’


Cancer Journey

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I don’t really agree with all the pink fluffy advertising.  I don’t think it really represents what us Breast Cancer (or any cancer) patients have to go through but I do think it’s good that people are talking and fundraising and if pink does this then it’s good. Although I did get a Facebook post of a poor lady who was very pink after her 35 blasts of radiotherapy – this was a better representation of breast cancer! My boob was pink enough after just half that (check out the pics on the medical pages).

For me October represents a few other things too……

My dad has been gone for 11 years……. still miss him so much, always will. But I think maybe my curly hair could be inherited! What do you all think? My mum’s hair came through curly after her chemo too and look at my dad’s hair – super curly!


Pics of us on holiday in Spain – Gemma, Michelle, Kirsty, Me, Dad, Darren – happy memories.

This is my mum’s surprise 50th birthday party – I remember helping to organise this – I think I was about 22 as I’d just met Phil.


Me and my little sis at Pontin’s – I loved that swimming costume! This is the shortest my hair has ever been and it was dead straight when I was little. Note my brother on the floor! I wonder what we’d done to him??? Me and my dad in the next pic.

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Next photo in Nan and Grandad’s garden of my beloved german shepherd, Zena with Dad, Grandad and Bonnie – all in heaven now. My grandad and I shared our birthdays on 1st November – glad I was with him when he died (cancer!), and I am sure they are looking over me now and helping me through – lots of happy memories in this picture.


And of course October reminds me of my sister, Michelle and Paul’s wedding – what a beautiful and perfect day! Can’t believe it’s been 2 years already!

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Health wise this week has been another tough week. It should have been my so called ‘good week’ before my next Herceptin, but I finally caught a cold! I have been eating so well but I suppose with loads of students poorly it was inevitable that I would get something! So I’m been feeling extra rubbish. I have most of the symptoms of a cold anyway – runny nose, body aches etc so it wasn’t too bad. It was the cough and sore throat causing lack of sleep that has added to my uncomfort and of course the pain of coughing! I hurt so much. Not good. So on my days off on Wednesday and Friday this week I went to the Essex and spent a substantial time sitting in the steam room pretending I was somewhere else! I do this a lot!

The Essex – golf and country club – has been amazing throughout my treatment. The staff there have been lovely and as I can’t use it fully they let me pay a discounted rate which really helps. I have met some really special people that I regularly swim with, chat in the sauna or jacuzzi, or sometimes meet in the cafe for a drink (mine’s a hot water and lemon please!). Thank you for your support my Essex friends.

And as you all know swimming has kept me going from the very beginning. It helps my mind and my body. I visualise swimming somewhere beautiful with fishes and if Freya is with me, of course we are mermaids or dolphins!

And of course the hot chocolates afterwards are great!

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Swimming is all I’m able to do at the moment and I’m gradually trying to build up some strength again. My arm is really restricting – I find it difficult to drive, open jars, chop up veg, vacuum, iron etc – everything really. Except typing is ok – yay! my fingers are good!

The accumulate affect of everything this year has knocked me so much. I have realised that this is my new normal. I’ve got to stop thinking about how I used to feel, stop moaning about it and just get on with it. So in future when people ask me how I am, I am fine. This is my normal – a bit grim but fine and do-able. That’s what I’m trying to tell myself anyway!

A few people have asked me if I’ve thought about using cannabis for medicinal purposes to help with the pain. There is a lot of research going on to do with cannabinoids and cannabis. But unfortunately it is still illegal here in the UK which makes it very difficult to get the right medicinal strain. If we lived in Spain it would be easier as it’s legal there so long as it isn’t used for profit. So there’s an option for the future! I did ask my oncologist of her thoughts on the subject and she was very honest with me and said that in my case it could do more harm to my liver and lungs than good and in her opinion was not worth the risk at the moment until more research is done. If I had lung or liver cancer this would be a different matter. So for the moment – not for me.

Talking about drugs, I was listening to the students discussing their exploits the other day. I said to them, what I tell my own children, which is that there is no point in telling you not to try stuff as you’re going to do it anyway. But please do some research and know what you’re taking – knowledge could save your life one day. The scary stuff is that I have medication that is totally legal and tested on humans and some of the side effects of those send me to a different planet! The kids at college have no idea where their stuff comes from! I choose only to take when I am desperate and can’t tolerate the pain any more and need sleep as this is the only function my body can safely do on the meds! Sleep! Although the other night I nearly weed the bed because my muscles had relaxed so much and I was out of it – will need some nighttime tena ladies too! OMG! this shouldn’t be happening til I’m 83! not 43!

My hormones must be doing crazy things at the moment too. My oncologist warned me they would rocket and then bottom out with the ovary suppressant. OMG! It’s like being pregnant again – I feel so emotional, drained and I have spots! Not good either.

Yesterday I was walking the dogs and a little old lady and her husband stopped. I recognised them both. She was so happy to see I had hair again! Bless her. She was so cute and kept crying. I seem to make lots of people cry when they see me. I really don’t mean to and I can only think it’s because people relate and think how it would be if I were them or a daughter? But she had me in tears too because I felt sad that I’d made her cry! I’m not usually this emotional!

Then at dinner the other day the boys said I nagged them too much about not doing their school work and that they gamed too much – usually this wouldn’t have bothered me but I had to do all I could and hold it together and not burst into tears! It upset me so much as I only want them to do well to give them the options to do what they want to do in life and they understand this! I don’t want to nag, what’s the point! Maybe I was though and I needed to be told. All ok now though.

I feel I want to cry a lot because I don’t feel well and hurt a lot too! So not me – I don’t like this. I wish I could turn this emotion off like Data from star trek! So I hope those hormones level out soon. Positive is a least it’s not for 9 months like pregnancy!!!

We’ve also been busy this week checking out the Colchester Institute and Colchester Sixth form for Nathan next year. He loved the idea of only doing 3 days a week at the Institute but he couldn’t decide on science or engineering and wouldn’t be able to do accounts or maths so it restricted his options as he’s not sure what he wants to end up doing. But the Sixth form blew us all away – the facilities were amazing and he can have a choice of subjects which suits him better. So he’s applied to do Maths (he needs an A to get on to this course though – but if he doesn’t he can do the lower Maths A level), Applied Science (which is all 3 sciences together at A level and he already has the GCSEs to get accepted), Electronics (again goes well with physics if he wants to go into engineering and he already has the GCSEs to do this too), and Media (he loves this and is hoping for an A GCSE so this will be his fun subject and who knows). So that’s his 4 A levels chosen and applied for. I’m really excited for him.

So this week is half term and so needed! We are just chilling mainly, Phil has some time off work. Nathan has some revision days and some work experience. I have my No 7 treatment on Wednesday. My friend Jane has just sent us tickets to see the new James Bond Spectre movie at the cinema – I love the movies and I LOVE popcorn! I hope the weather stays nice as I’d really like to get to the beach for some fresh air too.

And of course it’s halloween! I love halloween! Will be baking and decorating for the trick or treaters!

And next Sunday is my birthday! I’m going to be 44! Will be low key, just us, maybe go to the Lion across the road for sunday lunch, as just after my treatment but I’m quite excited really – I feel I’ve come quite far in so many ways. Quite amazing really.