I’ve put off updating my blog for a while as I just can’t seem to get the words down the way I want. I’ll start with the bare facts of where I’m up to with treatment and take it from there.
My CT scan in July showed that everything was stable so I enjoyed another 3 months chemo-free but with visits to The Christie every 3 weeks for a Herceptin injection. My three-month scan came round all to fast in November with the devastating news that the Herceptin and Tamoxifen combination were not working and my tumors had grown. I’d been so optimistic about a prolonged period of stability and a chemo-free Christmas but it was not to be. It seems that the HER2 marker that had been identified when I had surgery was, in fact, borderline meaning that the treatment had not been effective as hoped. Back to square 1. A number of options were discussed but I think I knew from the outset that there would only be one real option – IV chemotherapy.
This time it’s a drug called Carboplatin – most commonly used for lung and ovarian cancers. Bye-bye chemo-free Christmas and cue tears and tantrums. It is so difficult deciding to endure the complex and sometimes debilitating side-effects of treatment for a disease that will ultimately kill me, no matter what. Two rounds in and it seems that the worst physical side-effect of this chemo for me is a week of stomach pain and related issues. Much worse however is the 2-3 day brain-fog that descends and renders me incompetent from all but the most basic of tasks. I am half way through now though with treatments on 10th and 31st January followed by the usual pre-scan terror. Fingers crossed it’s doing its job and the pain and discomfort is worth it. One (tiny) bonus is that this one doesn’t cause hair loss.
So, in an attempt to prove that I’m living with cancer rather than being a victim to it, here are some of the highlights of the last six months. I’ve also updated my full-year of a positive every day which initially felt like a chore but is fantastic to look back on and is definitely something I’ll be repeating.
July brought a new cat into our house – welcome Marlow and thanks to Millstream Animal Shelter. I also had a great day out supporting my friend Rowena to complete Bolton Ironman. I finally had my bee tattoo cover-up by the fabulous Saskia at Sacred Art….. and decided to get my scalp tattooed at the same time to reduce the stress related with chemo hair loss. I’m delighted with both! I completed Salford 10k with Billie and virtually no training, not my fasted time ever but we had a ball. Mike and I finally made it down to Cornwall and the Eden Project, a trip that has been postponed several times. I was well enough to attend my cycle club’s Annual Ride and Social Event in Lancashire and completed the first ever ARSE Parkrun / cycle combo. Finally, in November, we managed a family holiday with my sister Jess to Robin Hood’s bay. Oh – and I’ve got hair again, it’s curly, unmanageable and a bit nuts but it’s hair all the same!
Throughout 2018 I not only managed to stay in full-time work but actually took a twelve-month sabbatical from the Open University and worked for Macmillan evaluating a programme of cancer improvement projects in Manchester. This has resulted in many new friendships as well as a sense of satisfaction at being involved in something so important. Hopefully I will return to the OU in February once this lot of chemo is done.
My biggest achievement however, which I share with all our trustees, riders and volunteers, is the launch in January 2017 of Pegasus Riding for the Disabled. It’s great to be involved with RDA again after a long break and I love both my governance role and the opportunity to volunteer as a coach every week and see the joy that ponies can bring to people with disabilities.
So what’s on the horizon for 2018? I’ve entered Loch Ness sportive in April so need to concentrate on recovering my somewhat depleted cycle fitness. I’ve challenged 12 groups of friends to provide me with a new experience every month. Only 3 rules, it has to be something I’ve never done before, those nominated have to do it with me and finally – I pay my own way. Knowing my friends and family this could throw up some entertaining, challenging and potentially dangerous and / or illegal activities. Bring it on!
Above all, in 2018 I’m hoping for a treatment that works and holds me in remission for as long as possible with a good quality of life. Happy new year to you all x