Thursday, 21 October 2010

Acute versus Chronic

Both are an improvement on 'terminal' which really should be reserved for transportation no?

Last night the clinic where I receive my treatment had a 'support evening', partly because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and partly because they have a load of woman in similar situations who, unlike NHS patients, never normally meet.

I entered the room late. Duur. Thought the start time was 7.30 and therefore, I was arriving early at 7.20pm. Ho hum. I got talking to my Breast Cancer Nurse who I have previously directed a lot of my rage at due to the inadequate support system in place for breast cancer patients. She was explaining the difference between acute and chronic illness. I'd previously tried to think of breast cancer as a chronic illness. We discussed the different terminology; acute, chronic, terminal, palliative (cheery huh?). I told her I felt acutely aware of my cancer. I'd love to put it back a stage and see it as just chronic. If anyone can suggest any coping strategies, they'd be gratefully received.

Meanwhile, as a group we were asked what we would like to get from the evening. We all agreed we needed more information on diet, excercise, constipation (yes, really), lingerie, libido, free prescriptions, employment law, parenting, stuff, stuff and more stuff. When we'd finished our list a lady in the middle put up her hand and said she started her treatment in the NHS and had received an information pack with a leaflet on every single thing we'd discussed. She was asked to bring this pack to her next treatment so the private health care peeps can offer similar support to the NHS. This is a step in the right direction.

There were between 30 and 40 of us. We seemed to be united by a need to help each other and other women (and men) coming through this devastating disease. We mostly had a sense of fun and equality in the group. I'd assumed I'd be the in the minority and one of the youngest; there were two 'elderly ladies' i.e. in their 70's. Then an even spread of ladies in their 50's and 60's. There were too many of us in our 40's. No. There were just too many of us.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Born to be Alive

Me: 'I just want to check that the way I feel is due to having secondary breast cancer and not because of any imminent, dramatic doom'

Nurse: 'You mean, you'd like to feel better if that was possible?'

Me: 'I would, yep'

Nurse: 'OK, we'll take your bloods.'

This conversation took place just under an hour ago. It was preceeded by this conversation:

Me: I had a mammogram and ultrasound last Tuesday. Dr G says everything's good, all's clear and she doesn't need to see me for another year.'

Oncologist: 'OK, I'll just check your glands... OK, I can't find anything'

He sits back down, checks his notes.

Oncologist: 'I'll just check your glands again... Hmmm, still can't feel anything'

So, up to this point, I was feeling pretty bloody good. OK, pretty crap in some ways but not bad for someone who's not particularly well, try and keep up eh? So now, I'm feeling pretty bad again. I have a constant cold and my immune system certainly doesn't dispose of teeny infections as efficiently as it once did, but surely that's no reason to be terrified?

Everyone keeps telling me to 'Keep Calm & Carry On', positive thinking is great - which is fab and therefore, baffling when you arrive in a positive state of mind and it's removed by the very clinician who keeps telling you to be positive.

So, the nurse has taken my blood (they only do this every second visit; what can possibly go wrong in the six weeks inbetween...) and wimp that I am, I've asked her to call AB with the results. Sorry AB. He's so much better than me at processing this kind of information.

Not figured out how to put the photo where I want to yet, but this is me with three of the lads from Bath Rugby Club who came to see us at Dot House the other week. Lovely lads who let us make all the old jokes about hookers and big thighs and seem up for another visit in the not too distant. Meanwhile, thanks to all for your fantastic sponsorship for the Midnight Walk; not got the final figure yet but we made at least £600, will let you know the final figure asap :0)