Secondary breast cancer: The sink hole in the road

Ismena Clout

ZhejiangSinkHole 1 Secondary breast cancer: The sink hole in the roadIt’s fair to say, I’ve had a number of speed bumps in the road of life recently and to be honest I’m a bit bored of them!  These speed bumps keep coming and nothing seems to stop them, my life is slower and smaller then ever before and yet today I was served with so much more than a speed bump. No, to describe the change in my road of life I’m going for a sink hole. A sudden hole that appears swallowing the ground into it. Yes, that is a much better metaphor for today.

A few weeks ago the great Prof and I looked at my blood results and got a feeling that all was not well with the world.  We had been cautiously optimistic that my current chemotherapy, Taxol, was working but some of the key markers in my blood now showed a different picture.  Instead of three doses of the chemotherapy given over a three week period and then a week off, he decided to do just two doses, a week off and then a PET-CT scan and results.

So on Monday I went for my PET-CT scan, after six hours of fasting I was injected with radiative liquid and instructed to lie still for an hour.  The sugar they mix with the radiation fluid follows certain paths in the body and gets sucked up by the tumours. Which means they will glow like toxic little fireflies around my body.  The wait was fine, some TV on the iPad and a chat with my Dad who came along with me. He figured after working around Los Alamos for most his life a bit of radiation with me was small fry!

The scan itself we hideous; it took about 40 minutes and I was well strapped in. My discomfort mostly came from the lack of music, Where an MRI keeps your mind busy with all the moving you around and some of the most amazing noises,  this one is slow and silent, a very boring combination for someone who has to lie still.  This was made worse by the fact I was so very tired after being very sick over the weekend and still not fully recovered.  I kept falling into these crazy, mad dreams and I’m sure legs, arms and fingers jerked at certain moments, which just stressed me out as I was trying soooo hard to not move and ruin the scan.  It was a vicious cycle of tension, stress and anxiety.

I was finally released but had the worst head ache for the rest of the day.  Part two of this saga was waiting for the results. Here I absolutely can’t complain, as a patient at the Marsden I have never had to wait for more than a day or so for results and it’s amazing.  So I won’t complain about the day of waiting. The day of staying in bed, a bit distant, slightly snappy at my dad and zombie like.

Which brings me to today: Results day.  I was a very lucky girl to have both my Dad and my best friend Jennie with me for the big appointment, no tube strike was going to keep us from the news!  As soon as I walked into the room I knew… that’s a lie, I’ve known for weeks but it never makes it easier.  The Prof is confident that the chemotherapy Taxol did work for a few months and it is really a sudden change in just the last few weeks.  And what is that change? Well, there is more spread in the bones, I can’t tell you where in the bones as frankly I didn’t want to ask as there doesn’t seem a lot of point in knowing that type of detail at the moment. The tumours in the liver have continued to grow, and there are now some very small tumours in the lungs.  So lung tumours – not had those since spring 2011. Welcome back lung mets – please understand this isn’t a warm welcome and to be honest I am expecting it to be a short stay so don’t get comfortable.

The rest of the news was to be expected, the liver and the bones have been playing this game with me for a while now, I have decided that this time we are going to get me to a place where I can have a few months off chemo. A chance to go away, relax and get some quality of life.  I’ve been on chemo in some shape or form now since December 2012 and the body is getting tired, the bone marrow in particular is struggling and that’s the rub, that’s what is making it hard for Prof.  There are tons of treatments to try but my blood is not so strong, so it’s vital to get the dosing right and pray it works.

He has chosen my poison. It’s vinorelbine, which I hear is a solid, tried and tested drug and should give me what I need.  A chance to get on top of this disease and a chance to have a break from treatment to rest the body.

But even while on treatment I am going to be doing what I can to help heal the body.  I’m going to focus on some complementary therapies, some foods specific for the immune system, for the red blood cells.  Healthy nutritious foods that are easy for the body to digest and don’t stress the liver out, so it can focus of kicking those cancer cells out.

As you can see, describing today as a speed bump doesn’t quite cut it. I think this is definitely a sink hole in my road of life. But with good drugs, good family, good friends, good healing, good food, good juices and some good times I will fill that sink hole in no time and be on a beach drinking pina colada before you know it (alcohol-free of course).

Sadly, this is my last blog for the Independent but you can continue following my journey on where you can subscribe for new blogs.  I also have a Facebook page called a bit of a boob ( where I post regular updates on my journey.  Thank you for reading and I hope to see you on one of my other outlets.

For more information about secondary breast cancer, visit

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  • Amang Berangas

    Oh my god…

  • i-Betty

    Thank you for writing this blog for the Indie, Ismena. I wish you so much luck and love.

  • richard.loe22

    Yeah, I know the feeling Ismena. They’ve just restarted my treatment, and its hard work. I was lucky, I had a break over Christmas and the New Year, time to relax and not think (or rather, try not to think) about the future. It makes things easier, even if we still end up back on treatment. So get out there and relax with the alcohol free pina colada! And heres a hug to encourage you: {{{Ismena}}}

  • stephen boskey

    Hi, nice blog Really very interesting post shared above. Awaiting for more
    posts like this.

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