Secondary Breast Cancer: The cancer has spread
While most people take it easy over August, the traditional holiday month, I chose to whizz all over the place enjoying various long weekend breaks. Unfortunately, the cancer also chose to pick up the pace and start whizzing around my body again.
It all started with my appointment with the wonderful Prof J on the 29th July. The tumour markers were up and despite the rest of the bloods being fine, it was enough to kick the medical system into action and find out why. I was booked in for urgent scans. I had an MRI to my head to see why I had been getting headaches, and a PET-CT scan to have a general look at my whole body.
If I was playing a game of scan bingo I would be excited as I haven’t had a PET-CT before. The Prof was on holidays himself but my breast care nurse phoned with the results. Good news; no cancer in the brain; bad news there is more in the skull cavity; good news there is no major spread in the body; bad news there looks like a bit more cancer in the liver. This is all in line with what life is like for me now. There is never just straight good news, it’s always tainted with some bad news.
Overall, the doctors on Prof J’s team were happy that nothing too dramatic was going on and I could wait till my next scheduled appointment with him at the end of August.
So off I went to Saint Tropez with my best girlfriends from school for a long weekend of glamour, relaxing, great food and most importantly big laughs. I love those ladies so much and I’m so happy that we have our annual trip in the diary now. Ibiza next year ladies?
I headed to Verona with some of my cancer network friends to see the opera. It was amazing, we by chance were at the 100th anniversary performance of Aida on Verdi’s 200th birthday. The highlights of the weekend were some great chats and an over indulgence in gelato! Milan to see La Traviata this winter ladies?
Finally, I headed to Ile De Re with my best friend Ross for his stag weekend, by this point I was getting pretty tired and in a lot of pain so while the weekend was fabulous, it was getting harder to smile and go with the flow.
I was only home a day before the big Prof J appointment to review the scans and see how the bloods were doing. Sadly it was not the best news. The cancer has spread even further in my bones with cancer in my humerus and femur for the first time as well as more in my pelvis, skull cavity and shoulders; added to that there are new small areas in my liver and a lymph gland in my chest wall is also affected.
The bloods aren’t great either with the tumour markers up, the red blood cells down, the bone and liver enzymes up too. All this means the Prof has chosen to put me on an IV chemotherapy again as the current oral chemotherapy is clearly no longer working.
He is allowing me to go on holiday with my family to Denmark first. We have fabulous old family summer houses there where I can sleep, relax and be pampered by everyone! First, I’m having a blood top up by transfusion though.
So how am I feeling about this change? I’m obviously sad and worried and once again surprised by cancer. Just when I think I know how it works, it seems to find a new way of pulling the rug from under my feet. This time I’m shocked by the bone spread, it’s getting to the point where it’s easier to say what bones aren’t affected – lower arms, hands, lower legs and feet. I now know why I’m having to take more and more morphine to control the pain.
In a funny way I’m relieved to know what is going on as the uncertainty is so hard to handle. Now I’ve been able to put plans into place, adjust my diary and focus on my new career of motivational speaking.
Overall though, as much as I know there are still LOTS of treatment options available to me I can’t help but be sad to be crossing another one – oral chemotherapy – off the list. The closer you get to the bottom of that list the closer you get to running out of options and by default, life.
So I’m preparing for the next big treatment ‘fight’ with a big strong will to kick this disease into remission again, but at the same time making sure I get as many life experiences in while I can.
For more information on secondary breast cancer visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk/secondaryTagged in: Breast Cancer, secondary breast cancer
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