Saturday, 28 February 2009

I have amazing friends

Saturday 28th February 2009

Here is another thing I found in my Ovacome magazine, on the very last page. I was so excited, I actually rang Em up, and it was such fun to talk to her - we've been in touch by email and Facebook for a year, and never actually spoken until now. We did text each other during chemo and swapped tales for ages, and it’s nice that now we did finally speak, we are both well, happy and getting on with the important thing - living life!

Emmers story is so hopeful. For a lot of young women, getting ovarian cancer means their chances of having a child are forever gone, which, on top of being told you have cancer, can be utterly devastating. So the fact that she had ovarian cancer, then a recurrence and struggled through chemo twice - but is now pregnant with her first child, is pretty inspiring.

See below for the story. [click on the image to be able to read it]

excellent news!

Saturday 28th February 2009

I just had my newsletter thing from Ovacome, and noticed a good little article in there. The UK government aim to phase out the prescription charge for all patients with long-term conditions.

The Government will consult with clinicians, stakeholders and patient groups to work out which conditions will be covered.

At present, long-term conditions are those that cannot be cured but can be controlled through medication and other therapies and which have an impact on a person's quality of life.

The move, which immediately takes around 250,000 people out of NHS prescription charges, rising to five million in the longer term, was welcomed by campaigners.

Mr Brown said: "Because we know that almost every British family has been touched by cancer, (Health Secretary) Alan Johnson and I know we must do more to relieve the financial worry that so often goes alongside the heartache, so our plan is next year to abolish all prescription charges for everyone with cancer."

See the full article here in the Independant, and here, at the NHS site
Way to go Gordon!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Ovarian Cancer: Do You Know the Facts?

There is no time like the present to learn all there is to know about ovarian cancer symptoms and prevention. Be sure to share it with a friend!

1. Ovarian cancer symptoms include:

Abdominal bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, and/or feeling of fullness [for more than one day - ignore the yoghurt advert!!!] are all symptoms of ovarian cancer in addition to vague but persistent and unexplained gastrointestinal complaints such as gas, nausea, and indigestion; unexplained change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhoea); unexplained weight gain or loss; frequency and/or urgency of urination; unusual fatigue; shortness of breath; and new and unexplained abnormal postmenopausal vaginal bleeding.

2. Risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
A. Inherited gene mutations
B. Under the age of 40 with a personal or family history of breast cancer

All of these factors make you at higher risk than the average woman. Several factors may increase your risk of ovarian cancer. Having one or more of these risk factors doesn't mean that you're sure to develop ovarian cancer, but your risk may be higher than that of the average woman.

3. Both breast and ovarian cancer can be caused by gene mutations.
Both breast and ovarian cancer can be caused by mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer, or a personal history for either, particularly if diagnosed before age 50, should be aware of increased risk for the other.

4. A prophylactic oopherectomy is:
Prophylactic oopherectomy, or risk reducing salpingo-oopherectomy, is the removal of both ovaries and tubes for prevention of ovarian/tubal cancer in extremely high-risk patients.

5. How is ovarian cancer usually treated?
A. Cytoreductive surgery and surgical staging (removal of ovarian tumours)
B. Chemotherapy
C. Radiation therapy when appropriate

All of the listed options are used to treat ovarian cancer. Treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer must be determined by a gynaecologic oncologist.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

I forgot I’m not normal yet...

Friday, 20 February 2009

What a busy few days - last week I did a Spring clean. Yes, I know it’s not Spring ok? Most people dread doing that, or can’t be bothered, or have 'someone else' to do it for them [lucky buggers!] - I was so excited, as I can do everything myself now [our house was a tad dusty last year]. Hauling the hoover [vacuum cleaner for you lot in the States ;o] up and down the stairs has gone from being a chore to being an achievement. I was so pleased with myself, I can't tell you. Scrubbing floors, polishing floors, vacuuming floors [we have wood and carpet and tile...], making up the beds - it was great! I felt like the Queen of the World! Tarzana Strikes Again...

AND I cooked two meals in one day too! I made a great [sorry, but it was] pork roast for my daughter and her fiancĂ©e on Friday night, and at the same time I got a curry together for Saturday night [you have to cook curry in advance or it’s just boring]. Jenny and Martin arrived Friday night, and left Saturday afternoon - Jack and Bill arrived Saturday afternoon and left at 3.30am on Sunday [aaargh! but it was fun and I love them both!]. Vicky and Grace arrived Sunday afternoon. We went to the aquarium and did 'stuff'. Grace is 5, so she is a little bundle of energy and seems to drain mine! I love her, and every minute I spend with her is a lesson to be learned - children are so refreshing, they just see things so clearly and go at everything head on. It’s great. But it’s also very draining.

By Monday night I was totalled. And I really mean it - I was so shattered I couldn't drag myself to circuit training [and I LOVE my class!] so that was bad. Aj was worried and I was too. I had terrible stomach pain - very odd, as it felt like muscle pain, but when I tried a few stretches, they didn’t hurt. So; worry.

BUT the week goes on - you can’t sit around worrying?! Oh the lessons I'm learning...things that BC wouldn’t have meant anything; now they have a different effect. Any little thing becomes a 'big' thing. Grr. It’s like being a hypochondriac!! Eek I have belly ache - oops, I’m dying!? Whaa! What is that all about then? Plus I watched Jade Goody...that poor girl. She broke my heart. NOT a good idea to watch it actually. Cried a lot after.

So, Belly ache besides - my VALENTINES present!! OMG!! Usually we don't 'do' V-day. Aj’s mum died on the 14th Feb not too long ago, so it’s not really a day that we feel is a celebration. Usually we don’t do anything. So this year I just deleted it from my brain - no card etc. But Aj went mad!! On Valentine’s Day he gave me two huge bunches of lilies - my favourite, Stargazers, they smell amazing! AND a beautiful card...and, a gift. A gift! We don’t DO that. Anyway - I find it hard to type this. I am so touched. I have the most amazing husband, I am so lucky. He booked us a trip to VENICE!!!

Venice? I couldn’t believe it - I had to reread the letter and then I just cried. I have always wanted to go to Venice - and we are so broke, I didn't expect to go anywhere. So, we will take a million photos to share.

Venice. I can’t believe it.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

send a Virtual Cupcake to support Ovarian Cancer Research

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I saw this on a friends blog and thought I'd pass it on too!

From the website:
"Electrolux is proud to support The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Electrolux and Kelly Ripa [American actress, television personality and talk show host] have teamed up to raise more than $500 000.00 to support this important cause. Electrolux is also making a $1 donation to the OCRF (with a minimum of $25 000.00 and a maximum of $30 000.00) when you send a virtual cupcake to a friend."

So click here, register and send a cupcake to help support Ovarian Cancer research.

Thanks Electrolux and Kelly for raising awareness and funds for OC research.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

later on...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Well, the mammogram turned out NOT to be one at all! Talk about demented? The actual letter stated I was to go to the Surgical Outpatients Clinic - I only knew it was for the mammogram [or so I thought] because I booked the time on-line. Anyhow, I saw a lovely person called Dr Mary Davies [Associate Specialist], she was a real sweetie, and she did the manual exam. And said everything is fine as far as she can tell from that [phew]. She was very positive and reassuring which is exactly what I need.

BUT today was also for her to evaluate me and decide whether or not I should be allowed a mammogram, or if it would make sense for me to have one. No point doing it if there's no point doing it in other words. If I had ovarian or breast cancer in my family, then of course I would be a valid candidate immediately. But, as I have no sisters, my mother is an only child and can't remember whether she had her hysterectomy because of cancer or not [or what kind it may have been IF it was cancer - although reassuringly, she was left her ovaries, so it wasn’t OC at any rate!].

So we discussed why I want to have this done, and Dr D agreed that it was a sensible manoeuvre on my part, and would probably help me a lot in dealing with all the worries about the OC suddenly appearing as BC - all I need. Not. I do try not to think about that at all. It's quite enough to worry about a recurrence of OC without that too. She discussed the gene test as well, and decided there is no point doing that on me; again, because there’s just me in the family who has had cancer. Thank God.

Actually, it still feels odd to say and think that. I’ve had cancer? Good heavens? Really? It is so surreal. Totally bizarre.

Luckily for me, I am a candidate because I am a 'stand alone' - i.e.: no sisters and a family medical history that's obscure with regard to cancer to say the least. So the mammogram appointment will appear in one of those scary brown envelopes in the post at some point.

Another good thing, she will see me every year from now on until I reach the 5 year mark, in order to help me have a calm mind. She agreed with my idea that this is good for two things - first, to be sure I don't have breast cancer, and second because psychologically, it's very reassuring. And I will have the mammogram annually as well. By that time I'll have passed the '50' year mark and will be entitled to one anyway, so no worries there.

I didn't much like going to the hospital again today - it is starting to feel far too familiar. As I was walking down the corridors, I realised I actually knew where I was going. And that shook me a bit, as it made me think about how much time I've spent to and fro from here in the last year - more than I have ever spent in a hospital in the rest of my entire life up until this time last year. I am sick of having this going on. It sucks.

Well, at least that's one more control mechanism in place. I feel quite pleased with myself actually. But the detailed report on The Horrible Breast Crushing Experience will have to wait until I actually HAVE it!

another weird experience

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Today I am going for a mammogram [get that atrocious picture! the poor woman looks as if she’s ready to bash someone!]. Every time some new thing happens I go into a demented type of research mode. Yay, the internet - cold, concise facts. And lots of them. About everything.

It does sound like it's going to be a rather repulsive experience, having ones breasts crushed in a weird metal thing - it could ONLY have been designed by a man...but it has been niggling the back of my mind that it would be a good idea. And once the thought is in there, I have to do something about it or drive myself insane.
In the US it's seems that it's the norm to be sent for one after chemo/surgery etc. Here I have had to ask for it - which I don't mind, as it seems that if you do ask about stuff, you get a result. The trouble is that not everyone would think to ask, or know what to ask. Seeing that OC and breast cancer are closely linked got my little brain buzzing, and I asked my GP about it.

Apparently they don't usually do them [here in the UK] until you are 50 and/or menopausal. This is because the breast tissue becomes less dense around then, and it's easier for them to actually see things properly. In other countries women have one after they turn 40, once a year. Oh yes, I also noted that "there is no evidence that breast screening below the age of 50 is cost effective." Cost effective?? Oh really? I would love to meet the person who decided that little gem. Bastard. I'll cost effectively thump him.

So I told my GP I do rather FEEL about 50 at the moment, I AM menopausal and either he sorts it out or I'll need therapy [and he'll need a body cast]...he found that highly amusing, and he sorted it within a week. Pretty good going. I was even able to choose my appointment time on the internet - yay! I love technology. And I love that I am in a place where I get excellent treatment. I feel very lucky.

Back to the mammogram; apparently women in the UK have 2 pictures taken: one from above and one from the side. I was reading about how they do it etc. and my hair stood on end! But, I know it'll be reassuring, and I'm pleased I'm having it even though it's making me nervous. It only takes a few minutes. I also read not to wear any deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of your mammogram appointment. These things can make shadows show up on your mammogram. Hmm - interesting!

What fun eh? heh heh - think I'll scrub the bathroom later! Action always helps my nerves...though why I am nervous I can't imagine, it'll be a walk in the park compared to the stuff I went through last year. And yes, I KNOW everyone has one, and I KNOW it’s uncomfortable, and may even be painful - and I don’t care. It'll be good for my brain. Anyway, the first time you have something is always the worst as you don't quite know what to expect. Next time it'll be a doddle!

Expect a detailed report on The Horrible Breast Crushing Experience later...

Monday, 2 February 2009


Monday 2nd February

Hmm - I am a bit cheesed off today. No circuit training due to copious amounts of snow everywhere. I missed it today. I think I'm addicted! But it seemed a bit mad to risk ending up stuck in the car in a hedge somewhere between Exeter and Tedburn.

This is our road this afternoon. A crazy person is cycling! Only in Devon.

snow in Exeter today!

This lunchtime I went for reflexology - it was a lovely sunny day, and I had a very relaxing hour. I have very happy feet.

Drove home, and after lunch the skies opened - with the fattest snowflakes you ever saw! Within half an hour, the garden was white, the house rather like an iced cake. The traffic was immense as everyone rushed to get home and avoid the soon to appear ice.

Here's the garden. The first Spring bulbs appear to be a tad confused...

It's FREEZING!! These are my tracks where I raced out to the wood pile to collect some logs for the does look pretty - especially when we're inside with a lovely log fire!

My poor little garden!

And a cool [very cool!] spiders web...