So here’s a catch-up on the healing process of my breast cancer lumpectomy. I know I promised a stage by stage report, but as you will know, a few spanners fell into the works – and then my blog/internet disappeared for a while. Well, back on track – here are some pictures to join the dots.
May – this was the last one I showed you …June – by mid June the bruising had expanded and went all round the breast – making it swollen and tender.. July – by mid July the swelling had gone down – but there was still the feeling of a hard knot under the scar – and the scar seemed rather pulled in. August – by mid August this had ‘filled’ in again and the ‘knot’ seems to have loosened – leaving the nipple slightly looking aside, but the breast feeling smoother.
Now the ‘Other interesting Developments’ I mentioned at the end of my last post.
Well, when I returned to see the surgeon after surgery he said I would receive radiotherapy after my surgery had started to heal, followed by oestrogen blockers – but after I left him I was approached by a research team nurse.
She explained that this hospital were doing a phase three research study into whether radiotherapy did more harm than good in cases where the removed lump was, a, under 2 cms, b, early stage, c, oestrogen receptive, d, non-aggressive. In which case the treatment would be via oestrogen blockers only
I was asked if I would give permission for the lump to be examined for suitability, while I could read up about the research programme and the statistics. Armed with plenty to read I gave my permission for the lump to be tested.
When I returned to the hospital for my first appointment in the radiotherapy department the results were not in, so the research nurse appeared again and apologised (explaining that I ought to have been ‘caught into the research programme’ just after my biopsy – so the lump would have gone straight off) so now they would process me as if I was having radiotherapy … but not go ahead unless I decided not to enter the programme and it was required.
I was concerned about what would happen is I reacted badly to the oestrogen blocker. The common side-effects are to put you back into menopause symptoms. Having gone through them ALL, for five years ‘cold turkey’ (no HRT) I wasn’t too enamoured with the idea – add to that, I had a friend who had, post breast surgery, reacted badly to oestrogen blockers of various kinds, living in a ‘brain fog’. I was told, that there were a variety to choose from, and that if one did not suit a different one could be prescribed. AND I was told I could begin right away, so that by the time I had to make the actual decision – I might have an idea if they suited me. That seemed like a good idea to me.
At the next appointment in radiotherapy with the consultant radiographer we were joined by the research team. Now I had to make my decision. Did I want to be on the programme?
Now I’d had plenty of time to consider. I had looked at various information; I had learnt that a phase three was considered ‘pre-clinical’ as in the last programme before it became recommended (that it was looking at much larger numbers to iron-out anomalies, but that it was showing great promise)
I already knew that they would be following me up with a mammogram a year for ten years – so that if anything occurred or reoccurred it should be spotted early. That 25% of women who have radiotherapy suffer long term, sometimes life-long, side effects, including marked breast shrinkage, constant pain or tenderness, burning sensations. One in 4 is a high number!
I had initially had a few weird feelings when taking the oestrogen blocker – but after a week these had disappeared. I was getting hot feet at night – but then the weather was quite warm anyway, but none of the other menopause symptoms like full-on flushes or brain-fog that I had feared. I decided to say YES.
However, now I had to give permission for them to look at the results to see if I was eligible. . . .
Ten minutes later they came back to say I WAS – the results from the lump met all the criteria and, when the formula was applied, I was given a 3.2 % chance or re-occurrence, meaning I could go on the research programme.
Since then I have had a bone density scan (as oestrogen blockers also make it more likely to suffer from osteoporosis – though remember I’d be on these anyway) which came back as ‘normal’ and I now have a GP cancer-care follow up appointment lined up.
The hard scar tissue in the breast has softened, and though the nipple looks a little sideways now, the breast feels good and the cleavage is still smooth (well, as smooth as any at 64 years!)
So, here we are on my breast cancer journey – basically just getting on with it, taking the oestrogen-blocker pill everyday, trying to get back to my pre-2016 healthy lifestyle, exercising, eating well (basically low carb, including fermented foods, a few supplements (like vitamin D [October to May], omega3 oil, gulcosamine, and, of course, the borax maintenance dose and magnesium glycinate for the LS)
Time to get back to writing, to being an author – and editing and running my business. Time to start living life again and trying out lots of new things.
Let me add – this is just my experience. I couldn’t find any early stage breast cancer stories on blogs – so decided that I would do it – for others who want to see what this stage is like ( as opposed to the drastic cases usually written about) Being positive, being informed, and getting on with it, is my way through.
Hope you found something useful – and if you want to share your experiences please do use the comments.
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 🙂
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pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂
Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write 🙂 Thank You