I have surprised myself of how confident and positive I am feeling. Where am I getting my strength? Lee, family and everyone around me, the phone has been ringing constantly, and I have received numerous cards telling me that I can beat this and get my so called squatters evicted. The feeling of support is overwhelming and I seem to be amazing everyone by my frame of mind and the way that I am dealing with it all.
First Hair Cut
On Saturday 3rd June 2007; In preparation for the chemo I have decided to take charge of my hair. Lee and I called round to see his mums and asked her if she would do the honors of cutting it for me. After a very long drawn out discussion of how to cut it and how short to go she agreed, it was decided that I would have a short (jaw line) inverted bob. This hair cutting business is a first for me as I would never have volunteered for a haircut. Usually I hated anyone cutting my hair as I always liked it long and over the years I have had a lot of disappointments and disasters with hairdressers, who always put it upon themselves to cut inches and inches off instead of the very ends as I would usually ask them to do. I can remember one occasion where I came out of the hairdressers with my hair being; the only way to describe it was that it had been hacked at. T hey had cut approximately 4 to 6 inches off and I had chunks missing everywhere. The right side was a good inch longer than the left and in the end the only way to put it right was either to have it all cut short or to have some extensions. I sat for 3 hours in a hairdressers chair (a different hairdresser of course) while she patiently rebuilt my hair that the previous hairdresser had destroyed. Today was a totally different story though. I wanted to get in there before the chemo did and by doing this I felt like I was in control. If I didn't like it, so what, I wouldn't have it for long anyway would I.
So with the Towel wrapped around my shoulders I got sat in the chair and let Maureen get started on giving me my new hairstyle. As I sat there I could see my beautiful long blonde hair falling to the floor, handfuls and handfuls of it all around me. My heart was pounding as I saw each handful of hair fall wondering what I would look like and knowing that there was no going back. I felt it rest against my jaw line and could no longer see my blonde hair around my shoulders. I looked up at Lee to see his expression and as he looked at me his eyes grew big with a facial expression of shear horror. I laughed at him and told him to stop messing about. He laughed back, smiled an approving smile, and said, "It looks good, you should have had it cut a long time ago". That's all I needed to hear, those words made me feel better. I didnít care if Leeís first reaction was true or if his words were. What counted the most for me was his support and right now I was getting it. Even if I didnít suit my hair short, the man I love was giving me re-assurance that my hair didnít matter, which is a good job because very soon it will all be falling out in handfuls and become a distant memory for months and months until the chemo is done and itís time for it to make a comeback.
I wonder what I will look like bald. Will I be lucky enough to have a decent shaped head to pull off the bald look or will I have a weird shaped head that everyone will make fun of Thinking back to my baby photoís I will have to admit that I will most probably be the latter. Do I mind? Not one bit. Iím going bald for a reason and right now even if they told me that my hair would never come back, I would still do the same. I would still want it to be my choice when my hair goes and not the chemoís. And I would still embrace the chemo as this is going to save my life and I would rather be bald and alive rather than have hair and die.
Maureen wouldnít let me have the mirror to see what she was doing. She was nervous enough cutting it without having me watching her every move. Part of me wanted to look, but the other part didnít. Sitting there in the chair and watching my hair falling all around me, I will admit, I was very nervous, but had a feeling of excitement. I was beating the chemo to my hair. I was in control.
Maureen finished cutting my hair but still wouldn't let me see it. By now I was dying to grab the mirror that was on the top and have a good look at the new me, but nope; I had to sit there while she titivated with it more and more making sure that it fell just right, even getting the hair dryer out to style it into the cut that she had done for me. I sat there being good and actual being patient for the first time in my life, while Lee watched on and Maureen busied around me, pulling the sides of my hair to make sure that both sides were even.My head felt light and on a hot day like today the air breezing around my neck felt really cool and nice. After another 15 minutes or so, at last I was allowed to look. I nervously grabbed the mirror and slowly lifted it up in front of me, turning my head this way and that, taking in the new reflection starting back at me and do you know what? I really, really like my new hairstyle. It feels in such good condition and actually feels a lot thicker. "It makes you look younger," Lee piped up. My whole face shape seems to have changed. I donít look like me anymore, but I like it. Oh I forgot to mention; Maureen isn't even a hairdresser, she has cut family and friends hair on a few occasions and I have to admit that she has done better job than any qualified hairdresser has ever done to my hair.
The only regret that I have today as I type out my journal is that I didn't get a picture taken so unfortunately I cannot show you what my hairstyle looked like. All I can say is that I did like it and instead of trying to grow it long again when it eventually does come back I am seriously considering having my hair in a short inverted bob. Just like Maureen lovingly gave me.
The following day I was so excited, Lee and I took a drive up to see my family in Doncaster. Yup! I'm a Yorkshire lass, a girl whose accent is spotted no matter where she goes. The reason for the trip is that Lee and I feel that if my family could see me in the flesh, Face to Face they would see that I truly am coping with this cancer thing and not hiding behind a phone. I know my mum especially thinks Iím hiding behind the phone because every time she rings she asks me how I am and when I reply ĎIím fineí she repeats herself and asks again. Its either this or sheís suffering from Alzheimer's. My mum was so looking forward to me going through and after telling my younger brother, Neil and his other half, Kerry. They decided to do a little BBQ. Lee and I pulled up in front of my mumís house and hadnít even gotten out of the car before she was coming through her front door and down the path. We stood on the driveway hugging and as usual she asked me how I was. I laughed at her when she asked me and told her ĎIím fine' Seeing my face as I said it, she could see that I was telling the truth and believed me for the first time since being diagnosed that I was indeed fine. After having a quick cuppa the three of us piled into the car and drove round to Neilís. My Nana was there too which was a surprise, as usually the only place that she leaves the house for is to go to her hairdresserís appointment every Friday. I felt very honored and as soon as I arrived she came up and gave me a great big hug. Kerry asked how I was as she busily prepared the salad dishes and Neil; well Neil is Neil and has never been good with words when heís hurting about something that is out of his control. He deals with these feelings by going quiet. As I walked over to him, he smiled and said ďHow ya doinĒ? as he put his arms around me to give me a hug. I think the hug was for him too, to let him know, that I am ok and that he has nothing to worry about. His big sis aint going nowhere. My older brother wasn't there today due to other commitments but I know that I will see him soon.
I made my way over to the garden swing seat at the bottom of the garden and straight away Jack my nephew aged 10 was coming up the garden with some bottles of larger for us. The weather was beautiful; the sun was shining with clear blue skies and we sat, ate our food, drank lagers and generally talked about everything and anything. I was dressed in a pair of white linen trousers and a little white top that had thin straps, the top was quite low and while sitting swinging on the swing drinking my larger I discreetly kept looking down at my cleavage, obviously because of the subject that was being discussed. Every time I looked down I realised more and more that come next summer, I wouldnít look like this, and wondered if I would be able to wear this top again. I had Joe my youngest nephew jumping around all over me, talking and talking and talking a load of gibberish just like you would expect a 3 year old to do, Driving my nana mad constantly rocking the chair swing backwards and forwards she threatened to wallop me saying she was starting to get motion sickness. I think I intentionally swung it more from that point on. Well we are put on this planet to wind our parents and grandparents up aren't we? It was nice to see them and I really enjoyed spending some time with them all.
One of the conversations we got onto was that people were coming out of the woodwork so to speak. People who have had or who have known someone that has gone through breast cancer. Many people had come forward to my family, telling their stories, and offering them support and encouragement. I appreciate this and thank them all as my family, are so dear to me and I love them all. At one point I told my brother very matter of factly that he would have more hair than me soon for a change. He laughed at this, everyone did, bless his little cotton socks he has been receding for some time. Don't get me wrong he's not gone bald, far from it, but he does keep it nice and short now. I think it's a number 1 cut that he has. Lee got everyone laughing, telling them about his ideas for my baldhead when it arrives. Well we'll just have to wait and see what he has planned for me; so far itís; playing naughts and crosses on my bald head and drawing hair on with a permanent black marker.
At the end of the day we said our farewells, lots of hugs and kisses then Lee and I set off back for home. I think (hope) now that they have seen me that they realize that I am not putting on a brave face for everyone, and that I have accepted things as they are. I am still the same person and yes I have a fight ahead of me but I know I can do this, especially with all their loving support.
Before The Chemo
Wednesday 6th June 2007; Back again at the hospital in the Oncology waiting room, waiting to have my biopsies done. Maureen had come along with me as a bit of moral support. This was to be a regular thing that I would have to get used to, sitting around in waiting rooms. I was told to come a little earlier so that I could have my blood tests taken before having my biopsies, my first blood test of many. It's a good job I had gotten used to needles as years ago as used to pass out at the sight of one. The nurse was nice and very talkative which seemed to take away the tension that she was sticking a needle in my arm. Maureen can be good company; she always sets me off laughing for some reason or another. I am giggling inside right now as I am reading my journal about Maureen while I was having my biopsies taken. There I was, laid on the coach and obviously because I am naturally nosey, and have done this before, I am looking down as they prepare me for my biopsies. My oncologist tells me to turn my face to the opposite side. "You don't want to see this, it's not nice to see," he said. I looked away towards Maureen. I learnt that day that Maureen is as nosey as me, her face was an absolute picture; she watched everything they did, and all the time, wincing and pulling all sorts of faces, every time she tryed to look away her eyes went straight back to the blood and gore of what was happening with my boob, taking everything in. I couldn't stop laughing at her, which in turn made her laugh, making me laugh even more. Everytime they took the biopsy, the gadget thingy they use makes a very loud clicking sound and each time they did this Maureen jumped a bloody mile. Shouldn't it have been me doing the flinching? After all it was me they were taking the biopsies from. I am unsure how my oncologist actually got the biospies he required with me jigging about all over the place from the what was now just complete uncontrolable hysterics, of which by now my oncologist and nurse had joined in. I was pretty good, I didn't flinch once throughout the 4 biopsies were taken, mind you, my boob is a little sore, probably from me jigging around so much. I'll have to remember next time not to laugh.
Right; that's the Biopsies done. What about my chemo?
I signed my forms for the research study and was told by the 'Research Nurse' that my details would be entered into the computer for it to select the treatment plan that I would be having. She gave me a voucher to exchange for a wig and told me she would ring later in the afternoon to tell me ecactly what my treatment plan is and what my start date would be, also telling me that this could be as soon as Friday, depending on what drug I would be issued first.
Maureen and I went off and was in the middle of B&Q doing a bit of garden shopping for Maureen's garden when the 'Research Nurse' rang. The computer had selected me for 4 rounds of the EC from the FEC every 3 weeks apart and then another 4 rounds of Pacletaxol that would be given every 2 weeks; (Oh crap, no Gemcitabine) my first one would be given to me in 2 day's time. Oh My God, my heart did a triple summersault. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat while Maureen looked on, waiting for me to repeat the conversation, after I hung up. I felt a mixture of emotions, I started to feel a little nervous, I was giddy and I was also very excited. How could I feel excited about starting my chemotherapy? Well! The reason is that this chemo is going to start killing off my squatters. I didn't care that I would lose my hair; I didn't care about any of the side effects. All I cared about was getting things started so that I could have the surgery and get it all cut out.
So there you have it. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on the 17th May 2007; here I am 3 weeks later, 2 days away from starting my treatment.. In that time despite being told initially that I would have to wait approximately 3 weeks for my CT scan appointment to come through; I have had that, had the results, seen the oncologist, had my biopsies AND cut my hair. I wonder what I will look like bald. Does it come out all at once or does it just gradually fall out? I had always, as far back as I can remember had a thing about not liking the fact that I had a high forehead and always had a fringe. Well; I would soon be getting the highest forehead that I have ever had. I wonder what it will feel like, will I get cold, and will my head shine? Lee started to have a joke about it saying that he would give my head a spit and polish every day. I will have to keep him to that.
I wonder what Lee is thinking deep down, the thought and visualization that for a period of time I will have no hair. I will be bald and he is the one that will be looking and seeing it every day. He has told me not to be embarrassed and not to feel like I have to wear a wig or scarf all the time. "If you want to go bald, then go bald. Who gives a shit to what other people think?" He said and reminded me that one very good point to this part is that I will be able to spend longer in bed in a morning, as I wonít have to mess about doing my hair for work. I could just wig-it and go. No more hours spent doing it for a while, no more hairdryers and straightners. Oh yes I hadn't thought about that, just think of the money I will save on shampoos, conditioners and hairsprays.
I am now ready and raring to go. Friday is set to be the start of the eviction process of my unwanted squatters