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 Otis 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. 

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!!

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Tick Tock… Tick Tock…

TICK….TOCK….TICK….TOCK

So Life is good at the moment, well all things considered!

We have been living in the house a year now and it is going great, slowly adding our own personal touch to it and making it wonderful!

Megan’s karting is great and we love our race weekends away racing as well as our weekends at home in the garden. I have a lovely family that make me very happy and all is blissfully good!!

So the scene was this…. It was one sunny afternoon, sat in the garden with a cold cider with the BBQ on and the sun on my face, Megan was playing on the trampoline and my Husband Gardening! I suddenly thought how nice it would be to have more children running round the garden! It had never occurred to me before that I might want more children but now that I have almost everything I could want, a family, the perfect house etc I thought actually it could be something to think about. A little brother or sister for Megan, what would she think to that!!

Following the thoughts of cute baby grows and family bbq’s, my mind strayed to my health and my age, Whilst I am only 32 I am on Tamoxifen for 10 years and I would have to come off that in order to have more children. This would not be an easy decision to make. For a start I was advised I need to be on it for at least 3 years! Currently I am at 2 years and 7 months so got a while to go yet before I could even consider it, then I would have to be off it for a while before trying and then there’s the risk involved.

Coming off Tamoxifen would mean I am at an increased risk of the cancer returning. The consultant couldn’t give me any exact figures but just said the risk would be increased. Now I am never one known for playing it safe, If I want something I am normally happy to take a risk to get it however when the risk is my health I can’t rush into anything. I just keep thinking in my head that if I had another baby and then in a years’ time something happened and I got the cancer back then I couldn’t live with myself knowing I had played a part in that by coming off the tamoxifen.

I know it sounds a bit extreme but imagine if it got really bad and got worse and then I left my family all for another baby. I am maybe over thinking it but these are all the things going through my head. Should I concentrate on the family I have got and not be selfish or should I run the risk of it coming back to extend my family further.

These are all things I have been thinking about then to add to it all my consultant says that due to some new guidelines or something I now fall into the category of genetic testing to see if my cancer was caused by a faulty gene! I will write another blog post on this as it’s a whole new drama in itself but it gives me even more to think about as could seriously affect decisions over having children. I am currently waiting for some genetic test results to come back but trying not to think about that at the moment!

In an ideal world I wouldn’t even be having this dilemma now and would just go with the flow and see what happens but in the back of my mind all I can hear is Tick Tock Tick Tock which is the timer running down as I get older and my window for having more children gets smaller! I am only 32 so maybe need to calm down a bit as I have a few years yet but time seems to go so fast. I Didn’t worry about age till I hit 30 but now I’m looking ahead to 40!

I did put some posts on a forum to speak to anyone that has been in this situation and come off Tamoxifen to have children but not a lot came back. I have spoken to some people at work who are a little older than me and they say they wouldn’t even risk it for more children and that’s it! Bearing in mind they all have more than 1 child and wouldn’t have any more anyway irrelevant of any health risks! They have very little understanding of how I feel. I always imaged I would have 3 children and whilst I am very happy with the family I have I do feel that maybe there’s an option for more?

So the saga goes on, In 5 years’ time I might look back at this smiling with a baby or I might be in a totally different situation. I have learnt over the past years not to plan too far ahead and just to go with the flow and take every day as it comes!! Or at least that’s what I try to do!

 

The little reminders!

So after the whole Cancer episode I thought I would just forget about it and move on, I was back at work after a few weeks and didn’t have to have chemo so in my mind once I had got the operations out the way everything would go back to normal! Turns out that’s not the case!!
It is a bit strange because at the time I was having all the tests, surgery etc I didn’t once freak out or get upset. Yet over a year later I find myself getting stressed and upset for stupid reasons! The first thing is the paranoia, I get the slightest headache and I think it’s a brain tumour, I have a tiny new mole at the moment that I’m convincing myself is cancer! It’s not a healthy way to live but after the shock that I had breast cancer I now start looking for something wrong with me and am constantly paranoid! 

The next thing is my back, when I had my surgery they removed the muscle from my back to do a breast reconstruction. This must have caused some nerve damage that the surgeons say could be permanent. If anyone hugs me or taps my back I get shooting pains resembling electric shocks! I never say anything when this happens as I don’t like to make a fuss but it’s really painful! I was on the treadmill the other day and only walking at a slow pace and my back felt so strange, it like tightened up and was really painful! I am hoping this will go over time but it’s been over a year and it hasn’t! 

I have booked us a holiday to Oludeniz in Turkey for July. I am so excited! It’s our first holiday abroad since my operation and will be my first time wearing swimwear! This has turned out to be another massive drama, it must sound like I’m being a proper moaning Minnie but all these little trivial things never used to be an issue but suddenly are! So far unless I wear a wetsuit I can’t find one bikini that flatters my over inflated wonky boobs! My husband keeps saying there will be way worse looking people on holiday so stop stressing but every girl wants to look good in a bikini and for me it’s not actually happening at the moment!  Either way it will be a fantastic family holiday wonky boobs or not! The hotel looks great and the sea is bright blue and really clear. It’s really exciting! 

Anyway enough winging from me, I always tell myself there are far more people out there worse off than me so smile and get on with it as it always could be worse! 

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!

Race for Life 2014

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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

Shopping – I used to enjoy it!

One of the main things I love to do is Shop! I’m no millionaire with money to burn but I work hard vas like to treat myself every now and again!!
Since my operation we decided to get a new bed, out old one wasn’t very comfortable and comfort is important after a big operation!
The bed arrived yesterday to my delight! It has a lot of storage underneath which I took it upon myself to store all my shoes! At the same time I decided it was maybe time to chuck out a lot of pairs and get some new ones!!

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So after sorting shoes my mum picked me up and we drove to Newcastle for shopping, something I normally love!
When we arrived it was so busy but normally I don’t mind so we excitedly entered the Shopping Centre. Within about half an hour I felt so hot, not just warm but hot! A downside to the Tamoxifen tablets! After taking off 2 layers I felt much better and carried on shopping.
Normally I can just look at a dress or top and know it will fit and won’t even need to try it on! Since my operation I don’t have as much confidence and not only that don’t know what looks good and doesn’t.
It seemed every dress I tried Looked hideous and every top I tried on just reminded me of the operation iv had done and had me worrying if you can tell!
In the end I couldn’t even be bothered, I was so hot and stressed I just wanted to go home. My bags were heavy but not with nice shopping but just the layers iv taken off and have to carry!
I stopped by John Lewis and decided it was time to buy a better bra, it’s only early days so I can’t have underwire yet but wanted something a bit more attractive than the sports bras iv been wearing!
After the lady measured me she brought me a selection of bras to try and to be honest the whole thing just made me more stressed. I think it was a wake up call as to what iv had done. I realised I can’t put a nice bra on anymore and feel sexy and want to show it off, now it’s just a case of trying to cover the scars and marks rather than show off what iv had done.
My mum kept asking what was wrong so it must have been obvious I wasn’t happy but I just smiled and said nothing. In the end I just bought The bra to keep the woman happy even though it was Calvin Klein and cost a fortune!
In the car on the way home I just felt deflated, i had spent a good afternoon in a hot sweat surrounded my manic Christmas shoppers vas only come away with an expensive Bra I didn’t really want!

I think the whole experience is just another example of how my life has changed, gone are the days I swanned round a shop picking up items of clothing I know will look good, now I don’t know what will look good and have to try everything on, something that isn’t fun at Christmas time while suffering side effects of Tamoxifen!

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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