Sunday, 30 November 2014

Run, cancer, run!

This is just a quick post about running. Or lack of it.

One of the hardest things I am having to get used to at the moment is not being physically as strong as I was before I started chemotherapy. Nowhere near. I've gone from half marathon runner to being unable to run half a mile without having to stop to catch my breath.

I managed to keep up the running whilst on FEC to a degree - still not as fast or as far as before but stil managing around four and half miles (wihtout stopping hurrah!). I made a couple of appearances at my running club and even ran a 5k race four days after my second chemotherapy treatment.

But Docetaxel is something else. It has zapped any energy from my body. The side effects I had from my first treatment rendered me bedridden for over a week and unable to walk properly, never mind run. This time round I have nowhere near that amount of pain so I braved a couple of runs this week. I did two and half miles on Thurday and two miles today.  As I said, I have to stop to take a breather after half a mile, my legs are like lead, my lungs feel like they are full of cotton wool and my heart doth protest a tad too much.

However, I am going to keep trying. I will force myself to get out of the house and go for that run even if I feel ike all I want to do is stay under the bed covers and sleep until new year. Because cancer has taken so much from me already and I refuse to let it take anymore without a fight. So - jog on cancer!!

Friday, 28 November 2014

'Roid rage and other stuff

**Ranty post alert**

I had my fifth chemotherapy treatment on Tuesday  - my second Docetaxel. So far, physically I'm not too bad - not as bad as last time anyway. My legs and back ache and I have manky tax mouth again but this time I have to say that so far the worst side effects are the mental and emotional ones. Maybe its a build up of everything so far or perhaps due to the fact that I ave been given eight days worth of steroids instead of the usual three this time to try and stave off horrid side effects but at the moment I feel like this:

Everything is pissing me off. I'm irritable at the slightest thing. I almost attacked a woman who was giving me dirty looks in Primark whilst I was stood in the queue having a bit of a moan. I wanted to scream at her 'I've just spent the best part of the day sat in hospital having toxic chemicals pumped in to my body to try and kill a cancer I shouldn't have after spending the night having little sleep due to steroid intake. Oh and tomorrow I have to go and have my blood tested to see if if I'm a genetic mutant and need to have my tits cut off! So shove your dirty looks up your backside!'

I didn't, however. But I very much felt like it.

I have people asking how I am quite often and most of the time I'm not really sure I tell the truth. I think people want to hear that you're OK, being positive, fighting the good fight etc. and believe me most of the time I am trying. But right now, if you were to ask me how I am I would tell you that I'm tired, irritable, fed up, exhausted and want to lie down on the floor and scream and cry my eyes out. I'm tired of having to take so many tablets a day I have to write down what I've taken otherwise I'll forget. I sick of not being me anymore. I can't get used to not being able to do the things I used to. I've tried to do some work to keep my mind occupied but it's like thinking through custard. I can't remember conversations I've had with people and I find it incredibly difficult to concentrate for more than five minutes. I'm fed up of feeling useless and unable to contribute anything of any value to anyone else around me. I'm tired of feeling guilty about everything. About being ill, a burden, not being able to do what I feel is expected of me. I feel exhausted when I think about how much more of this I have to go. Yes, I only have one chemotherapy yet but then I have surgery - possibly several lots of it - radiotherapy, hormone treatment, uncertainty... To be honest I just want to go back to bed and not get up until its all over.

Anyway, I just needed to get that off my (soon to be chopped up) chest. So I'll sign off by saying - ARRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Hair today....

This is another post about hair loss - prompted by the fact my eyelashes have started to join my eyebrows at whatever holiday destination they've toddled off too. Yes, my eyelashes have booked it, packed it and f*cked off. My lovely long eyelashes have started to fall out, leaving behind short stubby things that no amount of mascara can enhance. I'm also going to illustrate this post with some photos of the hair loss, so readers as I'm sure you'll be glad to hear, there will be little less of me prattling on and more pretty (ahem) pictures instead.

I've also chosen this post to 'come out' with my baldness. Yes - I am going to post the first photo of me sans hair that I have posted outside of breast cancer forums. This is quite a big thing for me - I never go out without wearing a wig and only very privileged people (or not as the case may be) have seen me in the flesh in all my bald head glory. However, I wanted to go public with my baldness in solidarity with other chemo girls so here it goes:

And here is me without the make up:

 Ah the magic of the war paint eh??

I'm now three FEC chemo sessions and one Docetaxel session down. My head hair started falling out just before my second FEC, my eyebrows became very sparse about three weeks or so ago and now my eyelashes have started to do a runner. Oh, and the inside of my nose is also now hair free. Cue perpetual sniffing and carrying tissues around with me like an old woman  - although, may I add - I do not keep these up my sleeve. Not yet anyway....

Another example of the sorcery that is makeup is how well it can hide very patchy and sparse eyebrows:

This eyebrow is brought to you courtesy of Benefit Browzings. It's an eyebrow kit made up of a gel and powder and comes in three different colours. Many of the chemo girls I know find this product incredibly useful once the toxic drugs start to rob them of their eyebrows. It's also good for non-chemo girls (and boys) too I would imagine.

One situation that the warpaint is not so magic in, as I mentioned before, is enhancing the spindly spiders legs that are currently masquerading as my eyelashes. Evidence below:

Oh dear. Up close the top photo doesn't look too bad I agree. However, when you see the full picture e.g. the rest of my face, the eyelash population is quite pathetic. You can see a few of the stranglers from my former eyelash glory that are hanging on quite heroically, determined not to succumb to the chemotherapy toxins.

However, because even the world's greatest mascara can't disguise these stumpy beauties, I have invested in multiple packets of these:

Luckily Boots currently have a three for two on, so I get to stock up on eyelashes and Advantage points. Every cloud and all that.

I'm also currently creating my breast cancer birthday and chemo Christmas list. I've had a few recommendation of serums that can help to stimulate eyelash growth and hopefully bring my eyes back to their former hairiness. These include RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum and Lipocils Eyelash Serum. I've also heard that Fast shampoo and conditioner may also be good for helping me look less like a potato and more like a peach. So Santa baby, if you're reading this - I've been very, very good this year (well, kind of...).

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Scalpel please

I’ve managed to drag myself out of the docetaxel induced illness stupor I’ve been in for the last week to write about my visit to see my surgeon last Friday. I’ve been feeling quite useless this week having done nothing of any value apart from sleep and have the occasional hot bath so I’m hoping writing this post will at least go part way to rectifying that. Feeling useless seems to be par for the course for me at the moment, but that’s another blog post….

Anyway, last Friday I went to meet my surgeon to discuss plans for the new year. Not which festivity we’ll be at to see it in sadly, but rather which bits of my body he was looking to remove in January. The first time I met him was when I was coming round from a general anesthetic, looking like a smurf after being injected with blue dye and having five lymph nodes removed. As usual, I was the youngest in the waiting room at the breast clinic by at least 20 years. Cue stares of confusion and puzzlement, particularly when I am called in to the consultation room rather than my elderly relative walk out of it.

The reason that I have been given chemotherapy first is to try and shrink the tumour down so that it can be removed with a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy. As I am not exactly blessed in the boob department, removing the lump without shrinking it would have left me with what could probably be described as a mangled tit. However, after lots of reading and researching, I have begun to think that a lumpectomy is not for me – rather I would just get rid of both of the buggers to try and give myself the best possible chance of not having another primary breast cancer.  ‘But that’s such a big decision and so traumatic!’ I hear you cry. Yes it is – but do you know what is more traumatic? Having breast cancer. Believe me, I know. A double mastectomy doesn’t remove the risk entirely but it certainly reduces it.

However, this isn’t an operation that NHS doctors tend to do simply on request. As my GP put it, doctors are trained to make people better – to remove bad tissue and leave the good stuff. To remove healthy tissue with no obvious reason goes against the conventional doctor’s way of thinking.

I went to see the surgeon, struggling with the unpleasant beginnings of tax side effects, almost prepared for a bit of a fight. I wanted to ask for a referral for genetic testing purely based on my age. I have no strong family history of breast cancer – my paternal grandmother possibly had it in her 80s however certainly didn’t’ die from it. My tumour also doesn't have the characteristics that can indicate a BRCA 1 gene faulttriple negative and very fast growing (grade 3). However, the simple fact is that I am 32 and I have breast cancer. That in itself is very unusual and for my own piece of mind I need to know whether it is due to a gene fault. Then I can take whatever steps are needed to reduce any further risk of another primary breast cancer or other related cancers.

However, surprisingly the surgeon agreed with everything I said and confirmed he would put me on a quick referral to genetics as the result of the testing would determine the type of surgery I have in early January. For the first time, I felt like someone in the medical profession was treating me as a younger woman with breast cancer, rather than a woman with breast cancer. If that makes any sense at all. He also told me that in dimension terms, my tumour had shrunk by almost half and that a lot of what I could feel now was probably scar tissue, formed when cancer cells die. Pow - take that you bastards!!

So to the surgery and which bits of me will be no more come January. Basically, if genetic testing shows I do have a gene fault it’ll be a double mastectomy, one at a time. I’ll have the bad one off first, with delayed reconstruction as I’ll need to have radiotherapy. Then when they come to reconstruct the bad side, they’ll also take the good one off and reconstruct that one immediately. It does mean I’ll be a one- titted wonder for six to twelve months but I can cope with that. I’m not exactly Katie Price in the boob stakes – it’s nothing that a good prosthesis and a bit of padding won’t fix. Getting naked in front of a new fella (wishful thinking here) might be a bit weird but to be honest, if one temporarily absent boob puts him off he’s not the one for me. Amright, ladies??

Anyway, if there isn’t a gene fault, but the genetics team say I am at increased risk of another primary breast cancer due to my age, the same surgery can still be done, it’s just that ‘there are a few more hoops to jump through’ as my surgeon put it. One of these being me seeing a psychologist to ensure that my fears about having breast cancer again are likely to be reduced by having a double mastectomy. No point whacking them both off if I’m still going to be panicking about it is there? However, I don’t think anything ever ensures that the fear leaves you entirely. As one woman who is now three years from her diagnosis said to me – it never goes away; it just gets easier to deal with.

I’ll also need a level two node clearance , as my sentinel node biopsy showed one node out of five removed involved. A level two clearance basically means taking all the nodes out from under your arm up to your chest. To be honest, this scares me more than the removal of my actual boob.

So basically, the outcome of my genetics referral will ultimately determine the surgery that I have. As regards the type of reconstruction, this is totally way over my head so I’m being referred to discuss this with the plastic surgeons. However, if I lose my nipples. I have decided I want roses tattooed on instead or maybe hearts. Or even the Chuckle Brothers.

I still may be able to have a lumpectomy, but if not, do I feel sad about the potential loss of my boobs? To a degree, yes. I’ll lose a part of me and probably end up with a pair of foobs with no feeling in them that someone could set fire to and I wouldn’t notice. My boobs used to be one of my favourite parts of my body – until one of them tried to kill me that is. So you could say my relationship with them is not the best right now. We’ve fallen out big time. It’ll take me a while to forgive them  - well, one of them anyway. So I won’t be too sad to see them go. But if I do have to say bye bye to my boobs or tara to my tits, I’m going to give them a good send off - a party with bubbly, cake and balloons. And guess what the theme will be.....?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Incredibly Taxing

I'm writing this post sat in bed, which is where I've been for the majority of the last three days. The docetaxel, along with the G-CSF injections I am giving myself to stimulate my white blood cell production have floored me. I don't normally write moany posts, however this one is. So there. I think I'm allowed it. I want to share exactly how bad I've been feeling with the world. I'm ill and feeling sorry for myself and I want everyone to know about it.

Those of you who know me will know that I've coped quite well with chemotherapy so far. The worst of the side effects for me have been feeling quite tired and a little bit 'poisoned'. So the side effects I've experienced from tax so far are a whole new world for me.

After having my first tax on Tuesday I felt fine - better than I normally do after FEC. Then on Wednesday I had the worst stomach pains - think sweating, writhing and moaning - which eventually went off but left me with a tender tum which has steadily got worse. I feel like my insides must be tied in knots. I want to reach in to my abdomen and massage my intestines. Every time I eat or drink anything my stomach protests with placards and a march and leaves me doubled over in pain.

To go with the sore stomach are the bone and muscle pains. A combination of side effects from both the tax and the GCSF injections. Tax is known to cause this type of pain and because the injections are causing my bone marrow to produce more white blood cells it's a double whammy. I feel like I've been in one of these:

Everything hurts. My back, my thighs, my arms, my ribs, hips, shins, neck - even my jaw. My eyeballs hurt. Constant aching and intermittent stabbing pain. The last few days has consisted of me mostly lying horizontal and counting the minutes until I can take more very strong painkillers. I can't stand up straight. Occasionally I've moved to the bathroom to lie in a hot bath, which provides a little temporary relief.

There's also the icky mouth and sore throat. My mouth has that feeling like when you've had that first mouthful of a too hot cup of tea - sore, sensitive and burnt. And a constant horrid taste that when combined with awful stomach pains makes eating really not fun at all.

As someone who has remained quite active during treatment so far, this is all hitting me quite hard. I hate feeling like an invalid. Its like a massive reminder of how ill I am and how huge this all is. I'll admit I've cried - both with the pain and out of total frustration. I'm 32 years old and currently bedridden. I'm fed up and I feel like shit. I'm pissed off too. I'm feeling incredibly irrational and angry at the world. Angry at people who think having breast cancer is 'not the end of the world these days' - that its pink and fluffy and not as serious as other cancers. I'd like to invite them to feel like I have for the last few days and then tell me it's 'not that big a deal'. Pissed off with people just going about their cancer free lives whilst I'm feeling so utterly shite (yes, I said I was irrational). I'm angry at my body for letting me down in the most monumental way. But I have to keep reminding myself that this is temporary, a means to an end, for the greater good blah blah blah.....

So there we have it - treatment for breast cancer. It's definitely big and definately clever. But one thing it isn't is pleasant. Not in the slightest.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A little bit Taxing

Last Tuesday I was due to have the first session of new chemo drugs - namely Docetaxel - or Tax as it's affectionately known. However, my blood test (I am sooo over needles right now) showed that my neutrophils were too low to have chemotherapy that week.

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell and basically the levels in my blood hadn't recovered from the last cocktail of toxic drugs that had been blasted in to my body. If I had chemotherapy when the levels were so low and my body hasn't recovered, it could leave me extremely ill. So my chemotherapy sessions have all been put back by a week to give my body chance to recover from last time. No chemo last Tuesday. I never thought I'd be upset about not having another toxic cocktail pumped in to my veins but I was. Very. Not only does it mean that any plans I've made are all out of whack now - I have to plan any social and work activities around when I'm likely to feel ok and not be at risk of infection - it felt like a massive set back. Even though in the grand scheme of things, a weeks delay to one chemo session hardly seems like a big deal, it felt like one. My mood had been slipping since around the previous Thursday and I found Tuesday's set back incredibly difficult to deal with. I responded to the impending darkness by writing a blog post about the emotional effects of chemotherapy and cancer - something that is quite often skirted over and misunderstood. However, I'll save this one for another time - be warned - its not very cheerful reading..

Anyway, after a week of frenzied juicing of all things nutritious to try and get my white blood cell level back up, I went back to the hospital today with the hope of being able to be pumped full of toxic drugs. And yes hurrah - bloods all fine - give me those chemicals!! This time round I'd had to start an increased dose of steroids yesterday, continuing for three days. The main function of which is to try and avert any allergic reaction to the Tax. However, an undesirable affect of the steroids was total lack of sleep last night, resulting in a very tired me today.

I didn't have to see the oncologist this morning as I saw him last week - however I was disappointed about this when I realised it was the cute registrar on duty who reminds me a bit of Moss from the IT Crowd. Damn it.

As a result of not having to see the onc this morning, we were welcomed on to the chemo ward earlier than usual. I had the lovely Relentlessly Cheerful Chemo Nurse today as well, who has taken to calling me Bec (I love this woman.)

The oncologist last week gave the go ahead for my other arm to be used to administer the chemotherapy in to this week, to give my poor sore, collapsed veins in my other hand a rest. One of them has packed it's bags and is hiding nervously from impending cannulas as far under my skin as it can get.

Relentlessly Cheerful Chemo Nurse sat with me for ten minutes at the beginning of the administration of the Tax just in case my body decided to reject it and my tongue swelled up. Or something. Anyway all was fine and mercifully it only took an hour for the bag of loveliness (or not) to work its way in to my veins. A refreshing change from FEC, which took more than two hours and left me with pink wee.

One Tax down - two more to go!

So far Tax has left me feeling a little less poisoned than FEC normally does the evening of the dose. However, apparently with Tax, side effects can kick in 3-4 days after administration. These can include muscle and bone pain, more hair loss, sore nails and an icky mouth. I'll look forward to that then..

Because my white blood cell levels were so low last time, I'm now going to be given a round of granulocyte colony stimulating factor (or GCSF) injections during each cycle. These will basically simulate my bone marrow to produce more white blood cells, bringing with them more possible bone pain. Delightful. And the best part is that I have to administer these to myself - injecting them in to my stomach. Yes - this will be my breakfast for the next seven days.

But all is not lost - I get a sexy little travel bag including a little sharps bin and thermometer to go with them!

Right, enough of the Taxing talk for today. I'm now off to do some more steroid induced frantic house cleaning or juicing...or something. Anything other than sleep most likely!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

October is over

Hopefully many of you will have taken the time to read the four featured posts from some brilliant women I know, all of whom are members of the Younger Breast Cancer Network.

October is now over (and with it 'breast cancer awareness month') but the need to hammer home the message that no one is too young to get breast cancer doesn't end when the pink washing does. You have heard from four fantastic ladies about lumps, bumps and wonky nipples and their treatment for breast cancer. If you take anything away from this (apart from how bloody brilliant these ladies are), please let it the importance of knowing your body and what is normal for you.

Make sure you check yourself regularly - and don't just focus on the boobies! Check your armpit areas and up to your collarbone. Take a few minutes next time you're in the shower or laid in bed. You may even want to ask someone to check for you as well  - just make sure its your other half and not some random bloke in the pub....

Your boobs may be squidgy, spongy or lumpy (no, these are not the long lost cousins of the seven dwarves.....) - just know what feels normal for you. Become best friends with your boobs ladies! Or 'breast' friends ......

Getting to know your boobs from nip to pit will help you to spot any changes. And you know from reading the stories of these four lovely ladies, this can be a variety of things including:

Lumpiness or thickening of the breast tissue.

Swelling in the armpit or round the collarbone (remember its not just the boobs!).

Nipple changes - both Sarah P and me had dodgy nips with our tumours - however, I could feel a lump as well, whereas Sarah couldn't. Nipples may become inverted or start to look a bit wonky. Mine started to drag inwards, with a crease through the skin (too much nip info??).

Constant pain in your breast or armpit - although we are regularly told pain isn't a sign of breast cancer, you know from reading both Laura's and Sarah M's stories that it can be.

Any dimpling or puckering of the skin.

More information about checking your boobs and what signs to look for can be found here.

Remember, if during your booby checking you find anything - ANYTHING - that concerns you or you aren't sure about see your GP as soon as possible. Do not be fobbed off and do not leave the surgery until you feel satisfied with your GP's response. Remember - no one is too young to get breast cancer and you do not need to have a family history. That said (and so I don't terrify everyone) most breast lumps and changes are not due to cancer. But, it can and does happen and the earlier it's found, the better the outcome in most cases.

So get tactile with those tits, handy with your hooters! One day it just might save your life.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Younger women with breast cancer - Sarah M's story

The last featured story on my blog as part of this year's Breast Cancer Awareness month is from Sarah M, aged 38:

'On 20th May, aged 38 I found a lump in my left breast , felt by my inner arm, through a padded bra as I was getting into the car.  I straight away touched it with my hand and knew this was something serious that required immediate attention. I panicked realising that since the beginning of 2014, possibly longer I had unintentionally ignored all the signs that this could indeed be breast cancer.

The first sign I had was tenderness in the breast. I had been cupping my breast as I ran up and down the stairs because the movement was making it hurt ( they are only small too, a humble 34B at a push ). I was also aware that for a long time I was repeatedly saying "mind my boobs " to my little boy as we cuddled up. With him on my left side, when he leant into it there was more tenderness than usual. I subconsciously put this down to hormonal changes in my menstrual cycle. I suffered intense itching  around my nipple on and off for ages , possibly as early as mid 2013. Having suffered with itchy skin all over my body since I was a teenager I thought no more of it other than itchy skin.

I had a dull ache for a few months in my left armpit. I put this down to the physical side of my job moving and positioning vulnerable (some very heavy) adults and assumed it was muscle strain.

In Nov. 2013 I completed a course with South Central Ambulance, part of which was using heart monitors. We measured our own heart rates and mine was particularly high. The paramedic training me advised I get this checked which I did. I was tested for diabetes , thyroid problems , blood pressure and a couple of other illnesses that I fail to remember. All tests came back clear, although I just felt something wasn't right with my body . I ached more than usual and tired a lot more easily than I ever had.

Mentally I found I was becoming increasingly short tempered, emotional and anxious ( this could explain the rapid heart rate). I felt something wasn't right, that a change was needed and the fact that my periods were becoming irregular I began to think, and even said to my husband Paul, that I was having an early menopause .

Then a couple of months before finding the lump , Paul came home and gave me a copy of The Sun Newspapers Check 'Em Tuesday guide. He asked me if I checked my boobs to which I flippantly replied " No, I am too scared too in case I find a lump", what a ridiculous comment to have made.  It did however prompt me to check and when I checked properly I did feel the lump there. Yet again I ignored it , comparing to my other breast I just put it down to hormones, how stupid am I.

The final sign, I will always believe was a sign from a higher state of consciousness telling me to sort myself out.  In the space of ten seconds I had three short sharp stabbing pains which I can only describe as somebody ramming a knitting needle down into my breast , behind the nipple and pointing straight to where the lump was.  ( Ladies reading, this is a sign of some types of breast cancer but not the cancer I had or so I am told ). It only happened in those 10 seconds, on that day and never happened again neither had it happened before. Two days later I found the lump.

I didn't phone the doctor straight away as I knew I would be seen the next day and I had an event at the children's school to attend. I wanted to be there for them both and certainly didn't want to have to explain my absence to them or anyone else for that matter.

Two days later I was seen by a female GP who confirmed there was a definite lump , that had been there sometime, which she thought was a cyst. She said she had known of hard cysts before and if it was cancer I would of been seriously ill by now. Rubbish!!!!   I don't know who she was trying to convince, me or herself but I knew this was not presenting as a cyst.  I was referred there and then to Wycombe Breast Clinic.

I went home and Googled every single benign breast condition and their symptoms, resulting in yet more self diagnosis that what I had was serious. I just knew it was cancer.

Two weeks later ( the governments policy for being seen after visiting the GP ) myself and Paul attended the clinic where I was given an ultra sound scan to both breasts , followed immediately by a core needle biopsy, (possibly the second worst experience of my life, chemotherapy coming first by miles!!). I was then seen by one of the doctors in the consultants team. She confirmed that the lump was indeed suspicious and regardless of the outcome from the biopsy I would require an operation to have it removed.

One week later, Thursday 12th June ,another trip to the clinic for the results. After a two and a half hour wait ( these places are pushed to the limit ) a breast care nurse  called us through to see the main man, the consultant heading the clinic, Mr Cunnick. I knew straight away that the top breast surgeon in South Bucks NHS trust ( yep I Googled him too ) was not about to tell me I had a cyst  or anything else benign.  I wasn't even sat down as I was more concerned for Paul, when Mr Cunnick bluntly informed me what I already knew. I had Breast Cancer, no sorry or unfortunately, just, it's cancer,  invasive ductal carcinoma, 8/8 oestrogen positive and receptive to Herceptin. He briefly examined me then explained he would be carrying out my operation. I asked  him to remove both breasts, in fact what I said was " just take the whole boob off and whilst you are at it take the other one as well" but he said it was totally unnecessary and that a lumpectomy would be ample and he would hopefully save my nipple as well. He told me it was not genetic although this is a test I will be fighting for as it must start somewhere.  I then had a mammogram to both breasts and underarm and Mr Cunnick gave the results straight away.  The right breast was clear and as far as he could see there was no lymph node involvement. He explained this was the best type of breast cancer I could have if there ever was a best type and that it was all fully treatable. He told me I would more than likely have chemotherapy, radiotherapy , Herceptin and ten years of Tamoxifen pills . Despite his bluntness and the fact he was telling me I had cancer I really liked him, I trusted him and loved how he knew his job so well.

Five weeks later I had my lumpectomy and a sentinel lymph node biopsy where radioactive dye is injected into the breast and travels to the lymph nodes showing any cancer cells present.  Unfortunately there was metastatic cancer cells in the first  lymph node which was removed along with the second.

After a further two week wait it was back to the clinic for my results. This time the wait was four hours. So at 7:30pm we were informed  all the tumour had been removed with clear margins and the next step would be to see an oncologist who would explain the further treatment required. I thought he could have saved a lot of time by telephoning me with the results.
I am now two weeks past my second lot of  FEC chemotherapy. I have a further four to endure. I will then have a month off and start radiotherapy every weekday for 4four and a half weeks at a hospital a fifty mile round trek from where I live. I will have Herceptin by infusion every three weeks at the chemo unit and Tamoxifen pills for 10 years.  It is the worst time of my life right now, but I have to stay positive and strong for my husband, children, family and friends, I am very aware that it is not just me this has affected . I feel lucky a lot of the time that it is not a whole lot worse. I feel sad that so many women a lot younger than me are suffering this .

My tumour had been there for six months.

Had I not ignored all the early signs or been more informed as to what they indicated maybe life would be different now and I would not be dealing with chemotherapy. Consequently had the lump not physically presented itself or indeed grown inward ..................well, I dread to think. That is why it is so important to check yourself regularly and act quickly if you notice any changes. Remember that no one is too young to get breast cancer.'