Cancer Free and Getting by with a little help from my Friends

Friday 3rd of May big day for me – appointment with surgeon to get the results of my operation.  I was very confident about the results (as he had already told me that all had gone great and in my heart and soul I knew the bad stuff had left me) but I do like to see things on paper and have a look at the evidence so to speak.

Off to Vincents sporting my lovely drains which were still hanging off me.  There was however a very stylish way of clipping them to my belt – John Wayne eat your heart out.  Also I was sporting my new hairstyle no more wiggy for me just can’t do it anymore it’s not that its annoying or hot or itchy or anything it’s just not me anymore.  My brother told me I looked like the kid from Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in hospital (God I just love compliments) :-)   Met my friend Niamh outside the girl who had the operation the same day as me.   We were of course hoping for the best results for both of us.

My surgeon sat us down and told us that “as far as medical science can tell you are cancer free, all cancer was cut away, unfortunately you can’t see cancer cells but medically was deemed cancer free”   Obviously this was all I wanted to hear after seven months on my road trip with cancer.  This is a little technical but will be of interest to people who may have breast cancer.  They took out 19 of my lymph nodes in my right arm (lymph nodes are a drainage system in our body and they also can carry cancer to different parts of our bodies).   When they take out the lymph nodes they get dissected afterwards to see how many of them are cancerous to see if the cancer was travelling.  He said that there are different scales 1-3, 3-7 and then 7 plus which grades the severity of the cancer.  Out of the 19 they only found one that had cancer so as he said himself you can’t really get a better result than that.  He did say of course it would have been better if it had been zero but we knew because of my earlier operation that it had started to travel there.  So that was very good news as well.

I asked him what next?  He said that I will still have to have radio-therapy probably around 35 sessions which is done daily over six weeks give or take a day or two.  The radio is not as urgent as before but of course still needs to be done.   People ask why do I need radio therapy and I have asked myself that too…. radio therapy is a safe guard for the future and zaps any cancer cells that maybe hiding in my body at the moment.  It’s really to limit the chance of reoccurrence.  I did ask the doctor about reoccurrence and if I had more chance than other women of it happening again.  He said that they will keep monitoring me every six months and I will be on a drug called Tamoxifen for five years, as for reoccurrence I would have a slightly higher chance than normal but nothing drastic.

Happy Chappy I was after that meeting and Siobhan the lovely nurse helped me get rid of my drains and gave me some new paper stitches.  I still had my bandage on from surgery she suggested to leave it on for a couple of more days.   We went home extremely happy with the news cos hey what better news can you get than someone saying your Cancer Free!!!

Next step was to meet my plastic surgeon (sounds posh doesn’t it) and I did this the following Thursday.   More tech details so skip if you’re not interested.  At the moment there is currently what is called an “expander” inside my “sort of” boob.  This gets filled up with a saline solution every couple of weeks which of course expands my boob.  The nurse was telling us that inside my boob there is a magnet and on my file at the hospital there is a magnet.   When getting my boob filled they run a magnet over my boob to catch the other magnet then they can inject the saline within that point – wow isn’t that amazing!

Anyhow met with my plastic surgeon and she checked my wound and was happy with the way things were going it was great that there was no infection which is quite common.  I couldn’t get my first “pump” that day as wound was too raw.   I will go in next week to get my first pump to get the ball (boob) rolling.  It was mentioned that I can only get two pumps probably before radio therapy which I wasn’t too impressed about, then after radio I will have to wait five months to get the “official” implant.   I seriously wasn’t impressed with this as I though I would be done and dusted before Christmas I asked why do they call it immediate reconstruction if it’s really gonna take nearly a year to have a proper new boob.   Politely she explained that even though the official implant operation can not be until five months after radio therapy I can still be pumped.  Also in the meantime I can get Floppy Fiona operated as she will have to be made smaller she asked if I wanted this and I was like yes, yes, yes I agree to it now put me down on the list.  So pinky and perky wont be writing a letter to Santa Claus for some nice new lingerie but maybe by Feb/March everything will be finished.   My new one will have to have a nipple tattooed on it jury is out as whether to get a nipple or something else still thinking a winky smiley face could be fun!  Overall after the meeting I was a bit down as I am extremely impatient and I really didn’t think it would take this long but what can you do?   Patience is a virtue obviously I am not very virtuous :-)

I’m three weeks over my operation now and reality and what I thought it was gong to be like is quite different.  I thought recover 5/6 weeks yeah right, not drive for 4/5 week yeah right, I thought me being me would be up and at it at least within two weeks.  Reality is that it’s quite painful and have extreme lack of energy, interest and concentration in things.  What is actually sore and painful is my right arm (not the “sort of” boob) I walk around with arm in air like its broken trying to train myself to have it by my side.  Any sudden moves silly ones like plugging in a charger or something sends pain up my arm and I have to be extremely careful getting off couches and silly things like using the kettle with my right arm.  The nurse explained to me that when getting lymph nodes out that some nerve endings would have been severed so this is causing the pain.  I am typing this on my laptop as using my beloved computer is fairly painful a small thing like reaching up to move the mouse!    However at least I know this is normal and it will pass sooner rather than later :-)

Other main problem is cabin fever now I am in no way an outdoor/sports person that feels the need to go for a 5k walk or climb mountains however I do miss being able to get in a car and call to someone.   I have walked down the village twice (probably 2k return trip) I was wrecked after the first one and had to get one of the kids to come meet me half way to take the one tiny bag I had off me.  The next time was a little better.  I also suffer from tingling feet so if I walk too much it gets uncomfortable (this is a leftover from chemo).   My friends have been brilliant to me Ger dropping over dinner and drinks :-) Reenagh too with her lovely spag bol.  Terry and Una came down the other morning to take me out for coffee what a good idea – thanks guys and hope you enjoyed the red lemonade and ham sangers enroute!!   It drives me mad my “Dublin” friends think Clane is out in the sticks it takes 40 mins from my house to my folks house 35 was the best I ever made it in.  Thanks for all my visitors so far :-)   Keep it up folks it’s the only thing keeping me sane!!!

On a sad note a few days after my operation I found out that an old friend of mine Tommy Rath had died and of cancer.  Tommy was a lovely guy and a perfect gentleman and was loved by thousands and will be so sadly missed by his family and friends.  I went to the funeral with Mary and it was great to see such a huge amount of people at it to say goodbye to him he not only filled the church he filled the adjoining hall as well with people.  It was lovely to meet up with old friends some that I haven’t seen for over twenty years.  I know Tommy used to follow my trip on Facebook.  Sleep well my friend.

I am not as I have stated before a very emotional person or a touchy feely sort of gal.  However I have to take this time to sincerely thank all the friends and family that I have.  I have so many more friends now than when I was pre-cancer and some of these friends are the worlds best people.   They have come out of the woodwork for me supporting me all the way, making sure life is as easy as possible for me with offers of help and loads of delicious dinners :-)   Without all of you and my wonderful “gang” I would not be doing as well as I am.  I feel humbled by your love and support and all I ask that you keep it going I now realise a lot of things in life about what is important.  Its friends and family and that’s it!!!

As mentioned before I am helping organising a fund-raising event which is being held this Sunday 19th May in the Stillorgan Orchard.  Its called a Gig for Leah - Leah is this beautiful 14-year-old young lady who is suffering from a rare form of bone cancer and unfortunately already has lost a leg to this bastard disease.  We are raising funds for her family to get her the treatment she requires as the treatment is not available here (shame on our system).  If your around the area pop in tickets are €10 and if you can’t make it you can donate on Leah’s Website   There is a huge line up of bands playing, The Shoos, Stepaside, Superfly, Fistfull of Oranges and Blues Crew will be a great day.  Looking forward to getting out for a few scoops on a Sunday afternoon – cant remember the last time I did that.

I am also organising a Kicking the Shite out of Cancer Dip in the Nip.   I am delighted to say that so far 95 women have signed up for it and yes your right I want you lovely ladies to come as well.  It’s on the 22nd June in a “secret” beach location in Wicklow. Its going to be such a laugh and great craic (excuse the pun!).  I decided to donate all the monies we raise for two little girls Leah and Lily Mae who are both suffering from rare forms of cancer and again trying to raise funds for treatment outside Ireland.  So come on you lovely ladies bare all for these brave little girls and remember if I can do it bald with one boob you can too!  Join the Wibbly Wobbly Wonders and splash for cash.   If you cant make it or you are a “man” feel free to donate every little helps!

Good things that happened in last three weeks

  • I got the All Clear from Cancer
  • My friend ALSO go the All Clear from Cancer
  • I got loads of dinners cooked for me
  • So many lovely bouquets of flowers (even chocolate ones)
  • Some great books to get me reading again from Amanda
  • We had two days of sunshine
  • People are starting to do the trek to Clane from Dublin
  • Got brought out for lovely brekkie thanks Una and Terry
  • Thanks Reenagh and Ger for all that you do for me
  • Going out on Sunday – whoohaaaa
  • My Mother is doing Dip in the Nip

That’s it folks sorry for the long blog – once I start sometimes I cant stop :-)    Summing it all up am in great form and getting better daily.   Folks are enroute now to bring me out for a drive – should I take a rug and a bottle of TK Red Lemonade??


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17 Responses to Cancer Free and Getting by with a little help from my Friends

  1. Anonymous says:

    Another great read sis xxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Your blogs were fantastic reading ! The next Marian Keyes ! You’ve a great attitude and outlook. Wishing you all the best xx

  3. Anonymous says:

    So awesome! :-)

  4. Lorraine says:

    Continued wonderful news! Have been through this type of reconstruction with a close friend, so I understand how much patience is required, which is not easy! In the end when everything is done properly, you will feel wonderful and be very glad nothing was rushed. Wonderful news about the drains being removed, i’m sure they were a pain. Good luck with the radiation; somehow I think it will be a piece of cake for you after what you’ve been through! You rock, girl, keep on fighting!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Your amazing Deirdre, you’re well on the road to recovery!! Glad to hear op went well, results brill too!! Avrilx

  6. You’re an amazing woman! Congrats on the cancer free!

  7. Sinead BQ says:

    Wonderful Dee – that’s a tough road that you are climbing but you are doing a great job and so happy that all is good! Love the new hair do! xx

  8. Breda Waters says:

    Delighted all going well for you.. maybe a smiley face on the new Pinky boob.. happy days are here again for you.. well done.. <3 xx

  9. Tina Lynam says:

    So delighted for you Dee, don’t mind the long blog ;-)
    , you must be over the moon. Tina xxx

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Dee

    Me and rest of the family are so glad that you finally are cancer free. Amazing news! Very good job, Dee!
    /// Jan