Through My Eyes

Some people say I talk too much, that I always have a story to tell. I don't know what's round the corner so my blog is about life through my eyes and making every day count.

Archive for the tag “Breast cancer”

Results are back….

So the 3 month wait for my genetic  test result is over….

Got the letter the other day to say I don’t have the gene that means I’m more prone to getting cancer back. Obviously I’m more at risk anyway but I’m not going to worry about that, the fact it’s not genetic is a huge weight off my shoulders and reduces the chances of it returning so happy days!! 

It’s a good job really because I start a new job Monday and at my interview I told them I’m perfectly fine now. Of course that’s not a lie and i was as honest as I could be but imagine if the genetic test had come back positive and I had to have more preventive operations, that would have been rubbish for both me and my new employer so I’m so glad it’s one less thing to worry about when I start my new job Monday!! 

When my results came in I was so pleased but it did leave me thinking about the people who were opening letters to say It is genetic for them, it brings a whole new worry in itself and must be so hard to have to deal with that and the revisions that come with it. It’s life changing for so many reasons, some people may be forced to have operations they didn’t expect to ever have, other ladies may want children or more children and genetic cancer can really effect decisions like that. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about that for the time bein but really sympathising with the people that do. 

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I’m The start of a new normal!

Defining the word normal is not easy, what is normal to one person is strange to another.

When I got told I had to have a mastectomy I was not upset at all, I was more annoyed at the inconvenience that and in my mind the sooner I had it done the sooner I could get back to normal. You get assigned a Macmillan nurse when you get cancer, someone who is there at any time to answer any questions you have or just for general support. My
nurse said to me that after my operation I need to find a new normal. At the time I thought what a strange comment but it’s only now I fully understand what she meant.

Nights out for me didn’t happen very often but when they did I would be known for wearing the shortest dress and biggest heels! I love clothes so getting dressed up was a real treat!
So New year this year I decided I was well enough for a night out…..2 hours later after trying on 10 dresses I chucked on a pair of jeans and some heels and was ready.
There’s nothing better than putting on a little dress, looking in the mirror at a great figure and feeling a million dollars, going out knowing you will turn heads. Sounds a bit arrogant but give a girl the right outfit and right pair of shoes and they can conquer the world!
Unfortunately that’s not the case for me, I put on a dress now, look in the mirror and just see a deformed overweight frumpy looking horror! When I tell people that’s how I see myself they just humour me and say don’t be silly but it’s not exactly like they are going to agree! The thing is that I know all it takes is a bit of exercise and my confidence will come back but I’m in no state to exercise as I’m still sore from the operation and get a lot of pain so not sure what the solution is yet.
So new year I wore jeans out but I couldn’t wear jeans last night when we attended a racing awards dinner with a dress code.
The dress I ended up wearing was one I never thought I would wear. I bought it online from an expensive boutique but when it arrived I hated it, it looked far too long and I didn’t like the material. I forgot to send it back but who would have thought a year later I would be so glad I had it.
When I put it on I couldn’t believe how long it was, it was knee length, the longest dress I have ever worn! That aside it was the most flattering out of all my dresses and I felt classy and smart all night.
This is where the new normal comes in, a year ago I would never be seen in a knee length dress, all mine were mini dresses some even backless or low cut showing lots of flesh! I can’t imagine ever being confident enough to dress like that again so now I need to adjust to a different look even if it’s not what I normally go for. I need to Make these changes my new normal
So when I get dressed up to go out I still feel a million dollars but don’t have to worry about my scars and war wounds as such being on show!
It’s going to be difficult but hopefully in time this new change will become my normal and my confidence will build back up. Even now when I go shopping I need to get into the habit of looking at different clothes and different styles! I’m not going to be one of those overweight people that wear clothes that look too small for them or show off far more flesh that anyone wants to see!
Its funny because I now realise that it’s not just a case of having an operation then back to normal like I hoped. So much had changed for me. I refuse to let cancer win and take over my life so rather than continue trying to get it s
How it was I need to concentrate on finding my new normal!

Thundersport motorcycle racing awards dinner and the frumpy black dress I didn’t like!!

Fundraising while getting fit!!

As mentioned in my previous posts I am attempting to get fit but it’s not a short-term goal but a long-term lifestyle change!
I started shortly after my operation, well actually about 3 months after but it literally took that long to recover and even now I’m not 100% but getting there! Seeming as they took a huge amount of muscle from my back I thought starting at boot camp would help build that back up! 6 months on and who would have thought I would be flipping tyres, pushing cars, running with a 15kg medicine ball etc! Some people think I’m obsessed but I’m Not at all, I just need to stick at it because once I stop it will be difficult to get back into it.
So in June which was 7 months on I completed the race for life muddy challenge and raised £800 for Cancer Research. It was so rewarding to cross that finish line not only as a personal achievement but also knowing I had done it for Cancer Research and that my money raised may contribute to saving lives!

Following on from the race for life I continued to go to boot camp and found that it was becoming a part of my life. I don’t have a huge amount of female friends seeming as generally girls do my head in but the boot camp girls are different, we all have different back grounds and stories but then come together to train and get fit and have a  laugh at the same time!!

I have found that due to my mastectomy there are certain exercises I struggle with, I still do them anyway but not as well as everyone else. exercises such as carrying weights above my head or anything that strains my shoulder as that then seems to pull on my back and hurt a bit but I take it steady and do what I can! We even took it in turns pushing our coaches car up the car park with him in it and I got the second fastest time which I was happy with!!!

So the next thing on my list of crazy things to do is the Spartan Run in Ripon in September. At first when this was mentioned I said no chance but somehow my coach and the girls persuaded me I can do it and I booked on! For anyone that does not know the Spartan run is a 5k run with 15 obstacles! When I say obstacles I don’t mean a few tyres to hop over, I mean crawling through mud under barbed wire, monkey bars across a lake, jumping over fire, carrying massive weights up a hill and a lot more pain!  For me those event is more about personal achievement,  A lot of the obstacles are things we do in boot camp anyway, carrying weights, flipping tyres, sprinting, climbing ropes etc so it will be a good test to see how far I have come since my operation 8/9 months ago.

I am going to run the Spartan race for the Benjamin Gautrey Foundation, A charity that was set up after my pal Ben was killed racing bikes at Cadwell a few years ago. Now I have mentioned this before in a previous post and gone into more detail but its a great charity that helps young people within Motorsports and other sports and helps them achieve their dreams. Too many kids and adults sit on the sofa and don’t have hobbies or ambitions so this charity aims to help those that do.

Benjamin Gautrey

 

The link to my Just Giving page is http://www.justgiving.com/laura-stephenson25 which shows more about what the Spartan is about and ways to sponsor me if you want to!!

I do question that if I complete the Spartan, which I plan to, what will be next, How far can I go pushing myself, I want to do amazing things and achieve amazing things, sounds cheesy I know but I have never had hobbies or a talent so to put my mind into something like fitness and to actually achieve results is a big deal to me!! Watch this space…….

 

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Fundraising for cancer research

Race for life 2014, – sponsor me!

I have only gone and signed up today, but not for just one event but for 2!
I always quite fancied having a go at the 10k race, a couple of years ago we did the 5k and even though we didn’t manage to run the whole thing and did walk some we finished in a respectable time and enjoyed it. So this left me thinking if we could push ourselves a bit more and do the 10k. After all nobody is going to sponsor us if it’s not a challenge!
So today I went on the website to sign up, only when I did I saw another even advertised, the 5k pretty muddy run! This looked interesting, a 5k assault course involving a lot of physical activity and a lot of mud!
It may only be 5k but looks twice as much work trying to tackle the obstacles and mud!
That was me sold and I signed up! The only problem was that the minimum age for this event is 13 years old! That means my 10 year old daughter couldn’t take part.
When I broke the news to her she was really upset which surprised me and to cut a long story short she ended up persuading me to sign up to another 5k event but not a pretty muddy one this time, just a run. So I’m still doing the 10k as initially planned but in 2 stages!

I have set up a just giving page which is http://www.justgiving.com/Stephenson25

I now need to start getting fit! A bit difficult when I can do any major exercise just yet and still get back pains and aches!
If it wasn’t for Cancer Research I may not have been diagnosed as early as I was and the cancer may have spread all over by the time they found it. Cancer research has enabled doctors to have the technology and expertise in place to diagnose earlier and earlier diagnoses have a much better outlook.

Hopefully lots of people will donate even if it’s just £1 and in the meantime I need to think about some exercise!!

Laura’s Just Giving Page

Summary of 2013

Happy New Year!

Looking at social networking sites it seems 2013 hasn’t been the best for a lot of people! Everybody has something to moan about on Facebook!
For me I will remember 2013 as the year I got breast cancer and had a huge operation which changed my life forever. Despite this i am not one for moaning, I just get on with it, there’s always worse off people and I have so much to be grateful for in my life so I’m not going to let silly illnesses get me down!
Cancer aside though what else do I think of when I think of 2013?
Autograss racing was big for me in 2013. A lot of people say they are going to do something and then don’t do it, well I like to try and make things happen and so a mini was bought, painted, covered in stickers and raced all year! Brilliant and the highlight of my year. I even raced (and won a trophy) 2 days after an operation! My surgeon would have gone mad if I told him but I’m not one to let a small thing like cancer stop me living my life! The funniest thing was that I was worried about hurting myself so stuffed bubble wrap down my race suit to add padding in case I crashed! It wasn’t the most comfortable racing but still managed to come away with a trophy and nobody knew I had been wrapped in bubble wrap!!

So what else in 2013….. Well we had an amazing holiday, it was just after another operation so was a much needed break and I loved every second, I even managed to swim in the sea and has a go at snorkelling which is something I have always been a bit scared to do!
I also got a promotion at work
Which was quite significant. I was a receptionist but have now been promoted to customer services and HR. Makes me feel a little smug which I know is silly but when I left my previous job my boss basically told me I was stupid and making a huge mistake leaving a good job for a temp receptionist role! Well it just shows that life is what you make it and if you work hard you can achieve anything.

So, 2014 what do I hope it brings? One of the big things is to try get used to the new me! Gone was the skinny confident girl who spent a fortune on compulsive online shopping and wouldn’t go on a night out without a camera for selfies!
Instead the new me is not so skinny due to being unable to exercise for long time and the new me avoids cameras at all costs! Not only that but the new me can’t buy random clothes online knowing they will look good because I need to try everything on now as nothing seems to look
Good!
That aside though I’m still the same person and I’m sure 2014 will bring more of the same fab things I fill my life with, more racing, more family time and maybe even a new house and a new car at some point!!
I Also plan to run the 10k race for life for cancer research. I can’t run yet as it’s too soon after surgery but hoping to start training soon as I need to get for for that!! I also want to plan an event to raise money for the Benjamin Gautrey foundation so have that to
Think about as well!

Whatever happens in 2014 good or bad I know that with my family by my side I can deal with it and I look forward to the challenges and fun times ahead!

All the best for 2014

Life isn’t getting back to normal as quick as I’d like!!

So it’s been a week or so since my last appointment at hospital, this was the appointment where I was pretty much told the worst is over and just to get better now, I was also prescribed the drug tamoxifen for 10 years which I have since started taking. So to me things were looking up, no chemo needed, no radiotherapy, just a tablet a day along with my painkillers and I will soon Be better!
They say you shouldn’t wish your life away but I really want to get back to normal and put this whole cancer thing behind me. That’s the attitude I have had throughout. Rather than feel upset or devastated I have remained positive throughout, in fact I have not shed 1 single tear over it. Everyone says it’s life changing having cancer but I didn’t see it as a life changing thing, to me it was a complete inconvenience that was interrupting my life and the sooner it was sorted the sooner I could carry on as normal!
My life was so great before this happened, we were away racing motorbikes or cars every weekend, I have a job I loved and had just been offered a promotion and we were starting to decorate our little house to get a bigger house next year and then after that maybe look at having more children!

The funny thing is that I have done everything in my power to not let cancer drag me down, even when i
felt so rubbish after the operation I still managed a smile, yet now after all that I am on the road to recovery and feeling lower than I have throughout the whole thing! Really I should be happy now!

I think reality is setting in that recovery is not an overnight process and my life isn’t going to be back to normal as soon as I would like. I have developed a thing called a Seroma where I have fluid on my back under the skin am sloshing around like a hot water bottle! I was hoping this would go over time but it seems to have got worse so I am going to have to go to the hospital and get it drained!
The Tamoxifen has started to have side effects now, I feel quite moody (more than normal) and get these awful hot flushes that are horrible! I get so bloated as well oh and I’m quite tired yet can’t sleep and feel a bit sick on them.
I tried a trip out to the metro centre yesterday for a bit of Christmas shopping and after half an hour was so hot that I felt sick then my back started throbbing and I had to sit down then go home!
It’s been 4 weeks since the operation and I hear about so many women who are getting back to normal and I feel I should be doing more now but instead I just can’t get out of bed on a morning and have no motivation to do anything! I feel I should be looking to go back to work soon or doing something productive every day but I just feel stuck in a rut!

I am such an active positive happy person so for me to feel like this and want to stay in bed a day in unusual and I hope I snap out of it soon! Maybe once I have my back drained that will help the pain and then I hope my body gets used to the tamoxifen so the side effects ease and then maybe I will start feeling more positive!

Treatment…..And moving on!

So the all anticipated appointment has been and gone. The good news is I don’t have to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Reason being is that the cancer they found was only small and whilst it still was invasive breast cancer it isn’t enough to warrant any aggressive treatment. The other thing is that it is highly hormone receptive meaning it reacts to hormones and hormones make it grow so to control that I have been given the drug Tamoxifen for 10 years!
I couldn’t Believe it when he said 1″ years, it seems like forever! He says it is because I am young and something to do with hormones so I need to be taking it for 10 years. It’s a hormone blocker so quite a big deal but still the best possible outcome for me.
The downside is that if I decide I want any more children I can’t take the drug while trying to get pregnant or being pregnant. It’s not the end of the world but does mean coming off it for that period of time therefore increasing the risk of the cancer returning. Luckily it isn’t a huge risk but still a decision to be made nearer the time!!
I also had my dressings checked while at the clinic and the consultant noticed I have developed fluid on my back. I hadn’t noticed this at first and it wasn’t really bothering me but since he mentioned it I am really aware of it! I feel like I am a walking hot water bottle sloshing away when I walk which I know is a bit gross! I can go back to clinic and get it drained if I have to but I don’t like the thought of that either so will try bad out up with it for now!
So I am 2 days into my tamoxifen which is nothing when I am on it for ten years!!
So far no side effects but common side effects are hot flushes, weight gain, moodiness! I have all this to look forward to.
So as far as I am concerned now the future is all about healing and getting my life back to normal! Of course this isn’t totally over, I have the tablets for ten years along with side effects, I may need further surgery on my boobs but mainly for cosmetic reasons, then I have the yearly mammograms and worry of the cancer coming back in the future!
So really life is never going to be normal as I know it and suddenly I have gone from reading about cancer in magazines or on tv to experiencing it first hand and all the hassle that comes along with it!!
The other thing this means now is I am going to have to find other things to blog about!
To be honest this won’t be hard as I have so much going on in my life besides cancer but whether it will be of interest to anyone I don’t know!!
I am looking forward to what the future holds and am proud to say I am not a cancer sufferer but a cancer survivor!

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More results and news!

So I got a letter through the post with an appointment for the 3rd Dec. I didn’t understand this at all, surely I couldn’t be expected to wait till the 3rd Dec for results?!
I rang my point of contact (the breast care nurse) straight away and just got voicemail. I then spent the rest of the day ringing her, the ward, the clinic and every number I had but nobody picked up. It was 6.30 pm when I finally got hold of her. She didn’t know anything about the appointment but said she could look on the computer for my results.
So here we are, the results!
She started reading them out and it was all medical terms I had never heard of, I was trying to write them down to google when I got off the phone! The main part of the results is that they have found a small area where the cancer cells are not in the ducts anymore so now classed as invasive. The good news is that the areas were very small and only grade 1.

It was quite difficult being told this over the phone because as much as I wanted to know, it was the nurse telling me so not the consultants so she couldn’t answer a lot of my questions. I will have an appointment next week to find out what treatment I have to have following this new discovery.

Whenever I tell anyone the new results they are all so positive which is good to be but sometimes I don’t think they actually understand or have a clue what a big deal this is!

The funny this is though that I am actually struggling to say the C word out loud! Is that normal?! I mean before these results I was telling everyone I had DCIS, so when people asked me I explained I had DCIS and did not even mention the word cancer! Now it’s invasive I need to face the fact that it is breast cancer and try telling people this. Someone asked the other day and I started talking about DCIS and invasive and Allsorts and they looked so confused! I am sure if I just said Breast Cancer then I would have made more sense but couldn’t say it!

One way I have found some support is in the way of a Facebook group aimed at younger women with breast cancer. I joined this group but didn’t expect much as I have joined forums before and not has many answers to my questions and posts. The first thing I liked was everyone saying welcome to me, I thought this was so nice. I then started looking at the people in the group and the people replying to me, as strange as it sounds the people were like me, they were young and pretty (not saying I’m pretty) and spoke like me like on the same wavelength!
When I was in hospital everyone on the ward was at least 50 years old, now I’m saying it is any easier getting the diagnosis as am older woman as it isn’t but I felt like I was the odd one out and on the wrong ward!
So I start posting in the group and I got so many replies. I have only been in the group 2 days and feel like I’m part of something, like I’m not alone and; these women are so easy to speak to and so nice. I am really glad I found this group.
So the wait goes on, only till next week though to find out what treatment I am having.
Despite this bad news I still feel ok, I don’t feel like crying or being negative, yes it’s worse than the DCIS but it’s only grade 1 cancer so perfectly treatable. Yes it’s not great but there’s a lot of people that I have met throughout this journey that are a lot worse and so I’m not going to get down about this and make a big deal out of it!

Swelling, Bruising & Scars!

So it has been 2 weeks since my operation. I have read on some forums that some ladies are ready to go back to work after a few weeks and things are back to normal but for me I am nowhere near that point!
From a pain point of view I am much improved and I feel more discomfort now than pain. Trying to get cosy in a chair or bed is not easy! From a Breast point if view the new boob seems fine, it’s a little on the large side but I have been told the swelling will go down a lot. It is also covered in bruising so not very attractive at the moment so it’s best to just not look in the mirror at the moment!
I have pain in my left arm and very little movement in it, I have been told I need physio for this at a later date but not something I need to worry about now!!
I still feel completely unattached to the new boob, I don’t feel like it is mine or a part of me, I feel like it’s just this big thing that’s stuck on the front of my chest but not like a part of me if that makes any sense! I am hoping over time this will change!
As far as my back goes it is quite a scar but will fade over time and is very neat. Some people don’t like scars, they try to get rid of them and hide them, I do understand that but for me I will be wearing my scar with pride. It’s right across my back so not like I can hide it in a bikini but even so I see this as something to be proud of. To me a scar is a sign of bravery and being strong not a sign of weakness and something to be hidden. This whole experience is a big deal and a big part of my life and the scar represents that.
I have attached a picture to this post and I am sorry if this offends anyone as it’s not the nicest of pictures. I thought I would post it though as It is significant to this post but I am sorry for anyone that does not like seeing wounds and scars and things!!

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A Nightmare day!

12th November 2013, my appointment date for the clinic, the first appointment since the operation and first time out the house.
Since the operation I have been at home, hair scraped back and Pyjamas on, not to mention the drain iv been carrying around that is attached to my back so not very attractive!
I thought I would take the opportunity to make an effort, put a bit of make up on as besides the fact my consultant is a bit of a dish I wanted to start looking and feeling better about myself! As we left the house I grabbed my appointment letter and off we went.
As we got to the hospital I had a quick look at the appointment letter and it said Tuesday the 22nd…. What?! It’s the 12th and here we are at the appointment! I felt like such an idiot and couldn’t say sorry enough to my mum who had driven me. As we were in Leeds we decided to make the most of my mistake and go shopping! Not something I would recommend anyone does a week after a large operation while still having a drain attached! I tried to keep the drain in my handbag but still got some strange looks!
After about half an hour and a few new outfits later the phone rang… The hospital asking where I was?? Now I was really confused, we had got to the hospital thinking there was an appointment today only to check the letter and it say the 22nd?! I got the letter out my bag again to see it said Tuesday 22nd October, not November! I had only brought the wrong letter, an old appointment card! I felt like such an idiot, luckily the hospital agreed to fit me in and see me but by then the dishy consultant had gone home so it was left for the nurse to take my drain out, check my dressings and give me some results!
Now I would love to be able to explain the results I really would but if I’m honest they didn’t make much sense and were pretty much inconclusive and awaiting further test results! So really there were no new developments and I have to wait until next week for any certain results! I would have rathered they just didn’t tell me anything rather than say the results are inconclusive as that only puts more worry in my mind for a week till I know for sure!
What a carry on I had but the good thing is that I got all my dressings off and got the drain out which makes life at home a whole lot easier and more comfortable!
I just need to wait for the results now, more waiting!

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