And Now This …

And now this … those of you living near me probably know already … as I have roles in so many local groups that I found I had to tell a lot of people (so that I didn’t let anyone down at the last minute).

wp_20160424_15_37_05_proOh! Why?  

Glad you asked, well, my three-yearly mammogram came round about six weeks after Dad’s funeral. I went along – as I always do – quite happily, being sure that I felt no lumps or anything unusual – and I do check.    . . . First a bit of history …

Back in 2003 a mammogram had found something suspicious … that call-back, followed by a biopsy a couple of weeks later, resulted in a diagnosis of Micro-calcification. (poem from the time below)

Evidence of micro calcification

I find myself aware of life, all life
taking care not to harm
even the ant. Just as when expecting,
an un-thought, instinctive  
seeking wholeness and health.

I ask, ‘worse case scenario’
tuck away pieces of terminology
seek little more, seem un-worried
but later, research thoroughly
– the odds work both ways.

Biopsy; as always, do as I’m told
be as still as I know how
the conscientious student
the un-worried patient
put it all at the back of my mind.

From the bath I rescue
both silverfish and spider, for once
pray for myself instead of just others.
Then the letter, and my relief reveals
to me the degree of my anxiety.

Ann Foweraker

Nothing to worry about after-all !

Then a few years ago I had a sort-of sore feeling in my left breast when I lay on that side, nothing to feel lump-wise, just sore – a bit like an old bruise that still hurts when pressed. The ‘soreness’ didn’t go away, so after a few weeks I saw the GP, who referred me for a mammogram just to be sure – it showed nothing to worry about at all ! (and the soreness went away too after a little while)

Then this latest mammogramand the call-back. Immediately I checked again – I still couldn’t feel anything untoward! So set off in a hopeful mood – that this would also be a false alarm

In Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital we have the Primrose Breast Care Centre – here everything for breast care is drawn together so you don’t have to wander around the hospital, going from department to department. It is a charitable foundation working with the NHS to provide the best breast care experience and, completely coincidentally, something that one of the groups I’m involved with had recently voted as this year’s charity to support.

First it was in to take another set of mammograms – to check the area they were concerned with – though they took scans of both breasts – perhaps for comparison.

These must have been sent almost straight into the Radiographer, for that was my next port of call, within a few minutes. The doctor then did a ultrasound and told me, in a kind way, that there were two patches, right beside each other, that, in his opinion, looked very like cancer, and that he was usually right 19 out of 20 times. So he would need to do a biopsy.

There’s me thinking I would have to wait of a couple of weeks for this, as before – but no, within a minute or two he and the nurse were ready to perform the biopsy, the skin numbed and the needle guided by the ultra-sound scan. It wasn’t too painful – an odd tugging feeling in the breast as the needle ‘clunked’, twice, and it was done – the nurse pressing down to stop the bleeding and then putting paper-stitches and a waterproof dressing over the wound. After a meeting with another Primrose nurse to fill out forms, I was ready to go home.

Apparently the pressing is supposed to stop bruising – all I can say – is it didn’t work very well for me! I know I bruise easily – I’m always finding bruises on my hips and shoulders where I’ve caught something, so lightly I can’t remember doing it – but the bruise is there anyway.

This photo is after three days. You can see the site of the biopsy, where the tape was – it left un-bruised lines, and even the water-proof dressing curbed the depth of bruise – but the rest of the bruising spread far and wide! (Don’t be alarmed – it looks a lot worse than it felt – actually the main soreness was around the site of the needle insertion – the red dot)

 Then – about a week later – The Letter. ..

I’d definitely been diagnosed with breast cancer … and a trip into the Primrose Unit again beckoned, this time to discuss treatment with the surgeon.

My reaction? Well, to be honest – pretty miffed! I was just ready to get going again on so many fronts. Yet, somehow, not altogether surprised as I have seen, over the last ten years or so, so many people who have cared for others (often with cancer or another life-threatening, or debilitating, condition) who have then gone on to develop cancer themselves. . . it almost seems as if it is catching – but of course – it isn’t.

My next reaction – research! No point in panic or upset – I’ve just got to get on with it – but find out all I can! That’s me 🙂

Why? Oh Why? Am I blogging this?

Well, because my cancer is (provisional) stage 1 (Early – invasive ductal carcinoma) and, luckily HER2 negative (so, not aggressive) and when I was researching I found that there are many, many blogs out there about aggressive, or late-discovered tumours – but few about the early ones, therefore few to compare with.

AND because I couldn’t feel ANYTHING that would have warned me – even when I had the re-call letter and gave it a really thorough checking out! ONLY the MAMMOGRAM picked it up. So I want to say, when you get the call for your mammogram – GO! I’m only glad my call came this year – not in another couple!

One thing I know – there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who have had breast cancer – survived – and living life to the full – so if you’d like to share here – please do – as always, I love to hear from you – on this or anything else…

And that’s me for today … Best ~ Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂

pps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

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Apples and Memories

This week, on a warm day I went into the apple store and realised, by the fermenting aroma, that it was time! Time to sort out all the remaining apples and chuck out all the mouldy ones.

Now a really organised person would have been doing this all along – they’d have done this every time they collected apples – not dashing in, grabbing a few and flying out again, often at twilight, when sorting apples in an unlit shed is not easy.

Red admiral - telling us the apples are ready!
Red admiral – telling us the apples were ready!

As I stood turning over each of the apples that still looked good to check for damage, and chucking the obviously past-it apples into the bucket, I remembered picking this crop. We did it over a number of warm days, the butterflies dancing and tasting apples that had already fallen.

In past years Dad has always been the most assiduous fruit-picker in the family, he’d check the fruit, wait for the dew to dry and then set off into the orchard with a wheelbarrow full of boxes, and steadily pick apples and lay them out in the apple store all day, or until the apples that were ripe were all gathered in.dad-picking-apples-holding-on-2017

This year, ill as he was, he still wanted to help. So, over a few days, he did. I helped him walk down to the trees we were going to pick, and he held tightly to a branch and picked with his free hand, or propped himself against the trunk, and did the same. An hour or so of this and he was exhausted, but happy to have done his bit for that day, and after I’d helped him back he’d settle down in his armchair, feet up, and would swiftly be asleep. wheelbarrow-apples

trug-apples

 

 

 

 

dad-with-howgate-wonderThere had been an excellent crop, with some real whoppers from the Howgate Wonders – an apple I love to recommend as it is sweet enough for an eater, mushes down like a cooker (needing no added sugar) is a heavy cropper and keeps really well! Here’s a snap of Dad holding one, though not the biggest, of these lovely apples.

All this is going through my mind as I sort the apples, and here we are, the second week of April and I still have a range of apples left.wp_20180408_15_17_11_pro
They do not look as pretty as the chilled, native and imported, apples in the supermarket, but they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.wp_20180408_15_16_56_pro

They haven’t been waxed or coated in shellac . . . and if you don’t like the sound of these ‘old apples’ please note that *’apples you buy from the shops are usually anything from a few months to a year old’ * Times Newspaper 10/4/18

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Yet even after all these months, peeled, they still taste wonderful, are free – wp_20180408_15_17_23_pro

 

 

and I reckon I have at least nine kilos left!

 

 

The mouldy and too-damaged-to-eat apples I’ve spread out on our open-top compost heap – where it won’t take long for birds to find them to have nice, unexpected, spring feast.

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What have you been up to this past week?

What annual jobs in the home or garden are you tackling?

Do let me know in the comments – I love to hear from you 🙂

 

ps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

 

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