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Tracey’s Update – The Bionic Woman

Sunday 26th July 2015
What a week!


I feel a bit like the bionic woman being rebuilt and mended.

Lots of people are asking how the new boob feels – it’s been just over 8 weeks since surgery and I’m getting used to it. It’s heavier and firmer, there is no ‘give’ in it and it sits higher (which is good for a woman of my age!). I still can’t lay on my right side or my front and I have to be careful lifting. If I do too much it gets very sore where the attachments are. I get my boobs fondled a lot by friends now too. I’m getting used to this!

The new boob doesn’t have much movement – it’s tied down solid (reminds me of Gulliver!). I’m hoping my own skin is growing into the biomesh now and reinforcing it’s strength but without being able to actually see under my skin it is so difficult to know. I need to have bionic eye sight to see through stuff too!

Radiotherapy is going well – my task this week was to get the receptionist to smile! Well, by Friday, not only did I get her to smile, I got her to remember my name and chat for a while – she was lovely but a bit stressed in her work. I told her what a nice job I thought she had and how I used to pretend I worked in Disney World Florida when I worked in the pharmacy and my sole aim was to make the customer’s day better. It works! Tried and tested! Love a challenge.

My skin is a little sensitive but I’ve been given the ok to use aloe vera to cool any redness and tingling. Couldn’t get more natural so this makes me happy.

I went to have some clinical photographs taken this week too. From working at college in Photography I have learnt a lot – this is an interesting job so I must tell my students! Did you know that for a cleft lip they need to take up to 30 different photographs depending on the age of the child! The lady (I can’t remember her name because I am rubbish!) was lovely – I told her how I wished she could have taken professional pictures or a video of my surgery. She said she would have absolutely loved too! Apparently all I need to do is get Dr Chakravorty to ask her and she can – just like that! She says she does this for the nhs and privately. I wish I’d known this! It’s just like being a PA again – gathering information and connecting people.

Maybe one day I will go back to office work when the children are grown up – I think I’d prefer to work in the private sector of a hospital though – bit like private banking but more interesting. But at the moment I need to get better and get back to college – at least I get all school holidays off with my family, miss my job!

This week has mainly been planning my mum’s 70th birthday celebrations – a little stressful but all worked out perfect. Mum and Michelle visited on Thursday (mum’s birthday) to sort out last minute preparations. Me and Freya made a yummy lemon drizzle cake to celebrate (see EasyPeasyLemonSqueezy cook book for recipe). Mum loves lemons!

Friday was a busy day. Had rads, then went food shopping for the party, then home to unpack, then back up to county hospital. Unfortunately this week my good boob has got lumpy!

I was sure the lumps were cysts (cysts are very movable and appear quickly) but as the cancer disguises under the cysts this made me really anxious. I had it in my head that the cysts appeared when there was an underlying problem as that is what happened before but there isn’t medical information to support this – I need to get this out of my crazy head! Seriously, could I have this bad luck??? But the good thing is I am on the radar now and I know what to expect. My mind is constantly having a battle with itself between crazy panic and logical information.

Anyway, I called the breast nurses and they got me in to see Dr Chakravorty to get double checked. He is the king of boobies!!! Just having his reassurance means so much. So he assured me I had ‘nodularities’ – love this word! and I had an ultrasound to confirm (it’s too soon to have a mammogram again unless needed). As soon as I saw the screen it was obvious I had lots of cysts – I am getting good at reading the scans myself now. It’s amazing how much I am learning. It was quite funny as I am pretty skinny now so when scanned I could see the layers of skin, then the cysts, then my ribs!!!! Cysts show up as black bubbles! Me and the radiologist laughed about this! I cannot explain the relief – nothing sinister visible!

So back to see Dr Chakravorty. Just to make it clear to everyone that cysts are not believed to be connected to cancer growth and quite harmless – they don’t drain them unless they are painful as they usually just refill again, plus the risk of infection. But in my case they camouflage! This is my fear. But we chatted and he reassured me that the Tamoxifen will keep the cancer away (as it is hormone fed). The Herceptin is helping too because of the HER2+ (super spready protein). He also explained that in my case if any lumps come up and don’t go down to get checked. But not every week! He can’t cope with me on a weekly basis, just every other week!!! Bless him. We love this guy – great sense of humour. You need humour with cancer – it helps a lot.

Usually with a monthly cycle I’d know the routine of my breasts – when lumpy etc. Now I don’t get periods I have no schedule to go by. Apparently because of stress, anxiety and drugs the hormones are going into overload! Which is why the cysts have flared up. I need to calm down and chill. I’m a reflexologist! I’m meant to be calm! But with serious lack of sleep I am a bit of a mess! I must pull myself together.

Unfortunately even with the risks involved I still think I would opt for a mx on the good boob if I have the choice – I am not fond of it in any way now either. It has fed my babies and now it is causing me stress too – can I live like this forever???? I wish my mind would calm, otherwise the worry will kill me before the cancer itself!!! Tragic!

We also discussed a family holiday. It’s tricky as travel insurance will not cover me for anything at all to do with the cancer – this includes any side effects from the medication. The only thing I am worried about is blood clots from the Tamoxifen and flying – but Dr Chakravorty said that so long as we keep to less than a 4 hour flight I should be fine. And if I move around, drink loads etc shouldn’t be a problem. In fact he said we should go on holiday as it would help to relax all of us. We so need! So after my radiotherapy has finished we will look into booking something asap!

So lots of organising on Saturday morning – house decorated, food prepared. Ready for a house full of visitors. What a perfect day it turned out. Mum had a lovely time – everyone chatted and ate loads. My hair growth was quite the topic of conversation! And it was so good to see my family. I felt so lucky.

Then as if the day couldn’t get better I get a knock at the door. My friend Tracy and all the girls at the Hair Shop in our village had organised a fund raising day and there on my doorstep stood the gorgeous pink ladies. I was so pleased that through the badness of having cancer it also bought such good things and influenced people in good ways and bought communities together. I had felt bad that I couldn’t make cakes or go along to support them as I had been busy with mum’s party.

Little did I know that WE were the fund raising cause!!! I cannot explain the shock that people would do this for us – such unconditional kindness has been shown to me and my family along this cancer journey. So emotional. I had no idea people thought so much of us and I can’t thank them enough. The village raised £570 for us! My good friend Jane has already been so generous and given us £1000 towards a holiday. We have managed to save some money ourselves too.

This means we can go on holiday somewhere hot, with a beach, pool, nice food etc which will enable us to recoup and rest as a family and put the pieces back together again – we are hoping for an all inclusive week to Turkey or Greece for us – will let you all know. Thank you so much everyone.