Through the keyhole… #Sarcoma #Cancer

Hello everyone,

Today I met the man who will, in a short while, be saving my life – my wonderful surgeon. He’s explained that he will be doing two operations on me, the first being on my right lung. The tumour is close to my chest wall but as I have no pain at all he is confident that it’s a straightforward procedure which will see him remove the middle lobe of my lung. This will be achieved via keyhole surgery. In the unlikely event that he can’t do this he will slice me open good and proper, move my ribs (ouch!!) and get to the little bugger that way. He said that 1/20 surgeries like this can’t be achieved with keyhole. In the even unliklier event that the tumour is attached to the chest wall then he may remove a rib or two (bigger ouch) Either way I don’t care as long as it’s out of me.

The second surgery will be to remove the one met that remains in my left lung. Yes you did read that correctly. One has gone!!!!! He said that the one that’s left could be the dregs of one tumour or may even be scar tissue. I was so pleased with this as I thought I still had two there. The second surgery will be taken once I’ve recovered from the first one.

Private Healthcare
I am not having the surgery on the NHS as going private will get me an earlier date. Hopefully the surgeon will call me in the morning to confirm a date, apparently Theatre is quite quiet at the moment!

Thinking of Friends
On a final note, I’m genuinely shocked by the amount of friends/family that have been diagnosed with cancer recently. You are all in my thoughts and keep fighting

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Look Good Feel Better #LGFB #Sarcoma #LiverpoolRoyal #Macmillan

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I’ve met so many people facing cancer and all of the women have been telling me to attend a “Look Good Feel Better” (LGFB) session. I contacted the Macmillan office at the Liverpool Royal Hospital in January and they were able to offer me a place on today’s session. I had high expectations for the session considering there was a two month wait.

So what is LGFB?
Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) is the only international cancer support charity, providing practical and very effective free services for women and teenagers suffering from the visible side effects from cancer treatment.

LGFB is dedicated to improving the wellbeing and self-confidence of people undergoing treatment for any type of cancer. Many beneficiaries tell us that LGFB helped them regain a sense of control and normality at a time when diagnosis and treatment had taken over their lives.
(taken from the LGFB website)

So having waited over two months to attend, I arrived half an hour late having gotten my times mixed up (oops-can’t even blame it on being blonde anymore!!) Luckily the lady hosting the session allowed me to join in. There was nine of us in total, some of us had hair, some of us were bald, some of us had scars, some of us had no boobs, some of us had finished treatment but…ALL of us had cancer, albeit different cancers. We were all there for the same reason – to get tips on how to make us look and feel better.

The session was hosted by a Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisor and a Macmillan volunteer, who provided us all with a ‘Confidence Kit’ which had all products required to undergo a 12 Step beauty/make up programme. For an hour we cleansed, toned, primed, preened, talked and laughed until we all looked fabulous.

I would highly recommend this session to anyone who is undergoing treatment as it’s informative, fun and certainly gives you a confidence boost.

For more information please visit the LGFB website

Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors
If you are unable to attend one of the sessions then I would definitely pay Boots a visit to see a Macmillan Beauty Advisor. You won’t get the experience that you get at LGFB but they will give you a make over and help you to understand which make up to use while having treatment. I’ve had one of these and I honestly felt a million dollars when I left the store.

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Brow Arch March
Debenhams and Benefit Cosmetics have teamed up to bring you Brow Arch March.
Throughout the month of March, Benefit ‘Brow Bars’ – located in 50 Debenhams stores across the country – will be offering a complimentary brow arch service (worth £11.50) for a requested minimum donation of £5, with all proceeds going directly to Look Good Feel Better. (taken from LGFB website)
This is a brilliant opportunity to make yourself look fabulous and you will feel fabulous knowing you will be helping women affected by cancer.

Would you believe
In the group there was another lady, Sharon, who is being treated for Sarcoma by the brilliant Mr Chandra. It’s lovely to meet people who know exactly what you’re going through, although you wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone. I hope to see Sharon at the next support group meeting.

I’ve rambled on long enough now so I’ll leave you in peace!

Good night x

So what happens now…… #Sarcoma #Cancer

I’ve been away, am refreshed (such a lie-we partied like it was going out of fashion!) and back to fighting my irritating intruder.

BMJ
Dr Chandra had asked if he could use pictures of my tumour, pre and post op, in his work with the British Medical Journal. Chandra was presenting at the BMJ conference where people were lucky (or unlucky) enough to see pictures of me in my short lived modelling career. Dr Chanda is amazing and he is working with other professionals to implement a module for trainee GP’s to create awareness of sarcoma. I wish him all the luck in doing this and have told him I’m happy to consent to any of my files/photos being used.

Appointments
Friday was a busy day. John & I headed to the Linda McCartney Centre at the Liverpool Royal where I had two appointments. As usual I had the ‘pre appointment’ jitters but was comforted by a friendly face in the waiting room-we bumped into the lovely Rose who attends the Sarcoma support group.

The appointment was different – In the room was John & I, Dr Ali, Dr Allam and two Clinical Specialist Nurses – it was like a mothers meeting, but so much better than having two separate appointments!

So what happens next?
I will be meeting the surgeon in the next 10 days. He says the surgery is easy (well he does do it a lot) and they want to do it sooner rather than later, which is music to my ears! I need to have two operations, the first will be on my right lung. Now here’s the biology lesson….. The right lung is in three sections (the left is in two) and the surgeon will be removing the ‘middle lobe’ which is the smallest lobe. I will need to recover for approximately six weeks then I will have another surgery where the two buggers on my left lung will be taken out. Dr Alam has confirmed that I won’t be having any radiotherapy following my operations. This is scary as it means I could be ‘getting on with life’ in about 8 weeks by doing things like returning to work, going on the long haul all holiday I didn’t think we would have in 2014 and well, just trying to put the big C behind me. These operations are the final hurdle in this chapter and I can’t wait to start moving on….

Giggle
This morning I received my Tesco club card vouchers and they offered me money off dry shampoo. An hour later I received an email from Debenhams showing me how to create the perfect eye brows…. 🙂 don’t they know I’m bald???? 🙂

Goodnight folks xxx

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Alone and lonely? #Macmillan #Sarcoma

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So, on Thursday I got a letter saying I had an appointment with the lovely Dr Chandra…..today!! As you can imagine my heart missed a few beats at this but we realised it was just a check up on my leg. The clinic has now moved to the Linda McCartney Centre, which is great as the team now have a permanent home which is more private that the other two areas where the clinics were held. The sad thing is that the team also have patients who are not cancer patients and I’m sure it’s upsetting for them to be sat with so many ill people.

We arrived for our appointment ten minutes early. To our dismay, climic was running 50 minutes late and we had to endure Shania Twain on repeat in the waiting room. Aaaaargh!!!!

Alone. Are they lonely?
On a serious note though, there were so many people who arrived to see their oncologist on their own. Now, being in the waiting room alone can be emotional and that’s before the dreaded appointment, so believe me when I say it’s heartbreaking to see people dealing with this alone. I know I certainly couldn’t face these appointments, and this fight, on my own. Macmillan have a campaign going at the moment called “No one should face cancer alone”. I believe this to be true, but then I question – Do some people choose to take this journey on their own? Some people may do, but not many. So if you know someone who has cancer and they don’t have anyone, then please reach out. The offer of a supportive coffee, chat or even going along to an appointment will be greatly appreciated.

Results
On a positive note, Dr Chandra is happy with my leg. I have a muscle who has now decided to function (how dare it) and it’s such a odd feeling. I had convinced myself that something was wrong so I was over the moon when Chandra explained what I was feeling was normal. He also told me that the tumours on my lungs had massively reduced. This is fantastic news so I am still meeting with Dr Ali next week to discuss the next steps for my treatment I.e surgery and/or RFA. Can’t wait to get this over with so I can move on with my life.

Get well soon…
We have had a spell of family and friends who have been hit with bad health recently. So here’s a get well soon message to Aunty Christine, John (Johns dad) and to Marie who has embarked on her own cancer journey a few weeks ago.

Drama queen #Sarcoma #cancer

Greetings from Clatterbridge

Well, I’m here for my penultimate cycle and, knowing me, it’s not without it’s dramas. So I had my PICC line out because the dressings were too harsh for my skin, this means my treatment needs to be administered by a cannula. I’ve had to be re-cannulated each day!! Tonight’s drama started as soon as the Doxirubicin was pumping in. My skin burned and my arm swelled up so we had to stop, withdraw the chemo that had gone in, remove my cannula, wear an ice pack on affected area for 30 minutes, apply cream and the poor nurse had to fill in approx 29 forms….! So for the next 24 hours I need to be monitored and every two hours I need an ice pack for 30 minutes and cream applying…..so that’s no sleep for me and no discharge until 5pm tomorrow 😦

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Visits
I’ve had a busy few days with visitors. Thanks to Vicky, Mindy, Leanne, Joe, Vicky, Paul & Helen & the mini macs. Not forgetting my lovely mum & dad, Mike & Beckii and the amazing John who have all been here daily. Was lovely to see you all….see you on my next cycle!!!

P.s thanks for my voddy Leanne!!!!

New year, same fight #Sarcoma

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Since my diagnosis in October 2012, I’ve been determined to live life to the fullest. In 2013, I partied, had fun, went back to work…and (my favourite) travelled a bit. I went to Amsterdam (again), Prague where we got robbed off a taxi driver (turned out he only nicked £3.50!), Edinburgh numerous times, and to the lovely Antigua (the same hotel where Nicole took The Girls on The X Factor). I’ve learned to appreciate life and will continue (after treatment of course) this lifestyle in 2014 and beyond.

Festive Fun
I’ve had a manic Christmas and New Year. I only finished my last cycle on 22nd December so everything was a blur until Christmas Eve. We went to Liverpool for the night and stayed in a swanky hotel with Dave and Sabrina who were down from Edinburgh. We had good intentions of “we won’t have a heavy night” and “we don’t want a hangover on Christmas Day”….. Yeah right! After a fantastic Brazilian (meal, not the wax) we ended up in the hotel bar drinking Laurent Perrier Rose champagne and trying to convince the Latvian (I think) barman to move to Edinburgh……
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We had a great start to Christmas Day, the four of us having breakfast in the hotel restaurant, in Christmas jumpers singing like idiots.

14 of us had Christmas Dinner at my mums. My appetite still wasn’t 100% but I managed most of the meal – thanks Mum. I will make Christmas Dinner next year…..

Last New Years Eve I was having radiotherapy so we just had a quiet night at home. I thought this year would be the same and didn’t think it was fair on my lovely other half. So….we booked a week, with my older sister and her family, at Whitewell Cottages in Ty Nant. We had a week of eating, drinking, laughing, crying and realising that John is a sore loser at all games….
The Crazy Clan
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2014
I only have two cycles of chemo left (not that I am counting!) and I will have a month between chemo and surgery so we are looking to sneak a well deserved trip abroad in 🙂

Today I read that pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers with only 4% of people diagnosed surviving past five years. Sarcoma is at a 50% rate. I will be in the 50% that survive this. These stats are horrendous and we must find a cure for cancer.

4th cycle, thanks yous and goodbyes…. #Sarcoma

I’m back in hospital having my 4th cycle of chemotherapy. I was particularly poorly after my last cycle and ended up in Warrington Hospital. Luckily it wasn’t too serious and I was soon sent packing with antibiotics, creams and other random medicines….which all made me better 🙂
Hopefully this cycle will be kinder to me!

Anyway, I have a few thank yous for fundraising efforts recently

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone at work who raised money for me. Special thanks to Claire, Joe and Bev who arranged the “Dizzytix Day” and raised £800 in cake sales, raffles, auctions and more. Thanks so much to everyone who helped, donated or took part and a huge thank you to the MD Andrew who matched the fundraising bringing the total to almost £1700. I was overwhelmed and emotional when I found out about the day and how generous people had been so a huge thank you. I’ve used a portion of the money to buy my latest wig and will put the rest to good use.

Next, thanks to Alison and her son Aaron who ran The Santa Dash in Wigan. They raised money for Joseph’s Goal and Sarcoma UK. Both charities received £105 which is brilliant. They look fab!!
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Thirdly, thanks to Matt and the customers at The Bridge Inn in Burtonwood who raised £73 on Halloween. They asked my uncle Kev to nominate a charity and he kindly donated the money to The Clatterbridge Cancer.

Lastly, a huge thank you to my sister for raising funds for Sarcoma UK by holding a Body Shop at home party. She raised over £210 from us donating 10% equivalent of her sales and holding a successful raffle. She has also donated her hostess gifts so we can raffle these for more money.
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Well done and a huge thank you to everyone, it means so much that you chose me and these charities

Goodbye
Today we said goodbye to one of the loveliest men around-my cousin Neil. Neil was 44 and passed away unexpectedly last week.
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Remember to tell those close to you that you love them, to not put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today and to enjoy life.

Goodnight and godbless the lovely Neil xxx

Good news….. #Sarcoma

Hey,

I’ve been absolutely manic for the last two weeks so apologies for not doing an update earlier.

I had a CT scan last Friday and went to see Dr Ali for the results today. There was bad news and good news. The bad news is that the main tumour wasn’t 15mm, it was more like 50mm. The two at the top of my left lung were 10mm each. I was shocked to hear this as I was working off 15mm…… Anyhow, I got over the shock and was pleased to learn that all three have shrunk by more than 50%!!!! Dr Ali showed John and I the scans and it was amazing to see the difference. One of the mets has shrunk so much that I think it will disappear by the end of the chemo! When I started this treatment, the objective was to STOP the tumours growing and anything else was a bonus so I am really happy with the way things are going.

Dr Ali said that he may just give me one more cycle of chemo but we agreed that as I’m coping so well with it we may as well blast the little buggers (Dr Ali didn’t say that hee hee) and complete the full six cycles. He is now going to involve a thoracic surgeon so we can plan the next stage of my treatment.

Thanks Mum and Dad for these gorgeous flowers from Nancy Moon flowers and the prosecco (that we will have with Chambord!!)
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The Penguin Tree
The Penguin Tree created a lovely paper cut design and donated proceeds from each one to Sarcoma UK. Here’s mine!
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You can visit The Penguin Tree here

Hope you are all ready for Christmas!

Bye for now xx

It’s been so long! #Sarcoma

Wow, I’ve not posted for almost two weeks, but I have been so busy (crap excuse!!!) so here’s what I’ve been up to….

Birthday and Rugby fun
We were at my sister Laura’s for Hot Pot and cake for her birthday-she even made a delicious Hot Pot. (We didn’t even think she could cook!!) While there, the lovely Jo Donkin text and asked if we wanted to join her and her mum, Veronica, in the hospitality suite at Wigan to watch the Rugby League World Cup quarter final England V France. Of course we said yes! and what a fantastic night we had. Wonderful food, great company and England won. Jo-thanks for inviting us, it was a great night, that was until John frogmarched us around the whole ground….to the wrong car park!!! Badbooks.com
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p.s on the table behind is Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler and Micky Higham

New Friends
I am part of a sarcoma support group on Google Group Spaces. Through this site I have been in contact with people via email but last week I met one of the other members, Louise. We met for a coffee….and was still there three hours later….! It’s so nice to meet people who understand exactly what you are going through 🙂

Old Friends
We have not neglected old friends and had a fab night with Bev and John on Saturday (too much drink-but very needed!!!)

McTickle Time
I’m sure you can appreciate that cancer is one pain in the arse and can put extra stress on a relationship, especially as John is doing everything, caring for me, housework, running me to appointments etc. So John and I have made time for each other and started to enjoy ourselves….by Christmas shopping!! I’m sure he won’t agree though! I wanted to get as much of it sorted before these next two cycles as I may be too ill. We have also had a date night or two 😉

Random Side Effects
Randomly, the main side effect I have had after this cycle is…..MEMORY LOSS. I can walk into Tesco and not have a clue why, I will stop mid conversation struggling to remember what I was on about….would you believe this is “chemo brain” and is not uncommon. I’ll just have to start writing things down
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Some Good News
Dr Ali came to see me this evening to say that he reviewed there X-ray that I had this morning. He said that the lung mets appear to be shrinking! He wants to wait for the CT scan next week to be sure but they are not growing. 🙂

I do have more to tell but will share who I have further updates as this could go on forever.

Night xxx

People are so generous…. #Sarcoma

In addition to being scary, life threatening, hell, plus many other things, having cancer can also be quite costly. Costs can be incurred from being off sick, cost of fuel/parking for numerous appointments, being out all day and needing food/drinks, visiting, and other costs such as new clothes when you lose weight and wigs when you lose your hair. It all adds up in ways that you would never imagine.

During this bout of illness I have been taken aback by people’s generosity. From Bev taking time to take me to hospital, to the Scottish McTickles taking me for appointments when they are down and to people buying me tea and cake 🙂 Every little thing helps, even just popping round for a brew really means a lot to us.

But I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of a colleague in our Crawley office. Tina, sadly, lost her father on New Years Eve 2012 to cancer, and the family had asked for donations for the funeral. Tina, her sister and her mother had not used this money yet and wanted to put the money to good use…..so they have offered some of this money to buy me a real hair wig. I was so surprised that people could be so generous and thoughtful that I cried when I heard the news. A real hair wig is expensive and is not a luxury I could afford at the moment. I am so grateful and would sincerely like to thank Tina and her family for such a wonderful and caring gift.

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