21 months

On the 23rd October 2012 I had an MRI which unfortunately showed that I did indeed have a fuckwit and actually, it was a big bugger.

On the 8th July 2014 I had another MRI that would show that fuckwit (and any other hangers-on) had gone and left me with (after extensive treatment) a designer va Jay Jay.

Today Dr Powell, gave me the chance to look at that first scan. And then I was able to see it beside my most recent scan. It helped prove to myself that I’ve overcome so very much, actually, huge amounts, in such a short space of time. That means so much to me, in a period in my life where I’m doubting everything (and I mean everything) I do from the how I’m living my life to how I deal with an email.

I have accomplished something along with an amazing medical team who saved my life.

21 months is nothing. I’m baby terms it is the precipice of the terrible twos. In project terms, it’s the crux of hard work, culminating.
In Cancer terms, its mammoth. It’s a big hairy, wooly mammoth. It’s proving you got through that ridiculously bleak time and through to the other side.

But as I go through each review, I truly feel that the real treatment for the Cancer that destroyed so much is actually happening now. At times, I actually wish I was having the daily trek to radiotherapy or the underlining nausea from that platinum chemo as I dealt with that way better than the dealing with the compelling urge to carry another child or the fact that my Cancer can return.

21 months? Smashed it. Life? Let’s try again. And again. And again.

I’ll spare you a picture of the inner workings of my vagina, but if you did want to see what I beat, let me know 😉

Thank you so very much for all your support, as always, and for the pictures and texts and messages. What a lovely bunch you are x

Does it get any easier?

Tuesday 19th August, 2.30pm.

18 month check.

Bart’s hospital, West Wing

Seeing it written down doesn’t make it look scary. Seeing it written down in my scrawl on a post it note doesn’t make it look scary.
But scary it is and really thats a misnomer too. I’ve had an unscheduled MRI for a hiccup that I had and the results say its clear.

However, fear and anxiety hit me like a brick wall. Its the same every time. 7-10 days before the appointment, my brain kicks into overdrive and suddenly, its time to think about everything and then think about it all over again just for good measure. I think about there being something there on examination of my hoo-ha; I think about what would be the next course of treatment if there was something there; would I need a hysterectomy and then I think how that might be a good thing because then it would take away equipment that I no longer need, because thats how I think of my womb now. Redundant equipment. No longer necessary. No babies here. And then I think about what if wasn’t as simple as removing something, what if this was the appointment that told me that its back and its not going anywhere except to take me down with it.

And so on and so on ad nauseum.

Someone this week asked me if it gets any easier, I think my blurb up there says it all.
In some ways, yes, I think it has. But in many ways, nothing has changed at all.

The waves of panic in times when I need to be clear and concise, always catch my breath. I could be talking to someone about a meeting room booking system and BAM. The image of a concerned doctor drums into my head.

Does it get any easier? Like with many things, I think you just learn to live with it.

Send your prayers, if you pray.
Send your good thoughts and vibes, if you have them.
Send your love, luck and hugs.
And send your pictures of you in purple.
That gesture alone is worth so much to me.

I love you all and here is to the 18 month appointment, which will forever be known as the ‘Phoney’ one.

To be or not to be…now I have my answer

15 months…check. Boom.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Dr L (damn I knew I should have name checked you!) who after introducing herself, promptly told me how much she liked my bag. The Mulberry had its first hospital outing today.

We chatted for a bit and the usual questions came up;
‘Bowel ok?’
‘Yep’
‘Bladder?’
‘Well, actually, the urgency to go for a wee is a bit more now but manageable’. She explained how this was a lasting effect of the radiotherapy I had and completely normal. Also doesn’t help that I have had a baby and any Mama knows your wee patterns are never quite the same after you have had your little darling…

It was then time for the main event…the physical examination.
Whilst chatting about how cheeky our ‘threenagers’ are especially when it comes to ratting you out about your alcohol consumption, Dr L, did a thorough internal (which still has me wincing despite all the treatment I have encountered – you never get used to a doctor with a plastic tool up your hoo-haa) and made a couple of comments (which I will spare you dear readers, but it was very reassuring) and gave me the delightful news that the fuckwit, cervical cancer, was still being kept at bay…for another 3 months at least.

Boo – fucking – ya! 15 Month check – nailed it.

And actually breathe again and nearly pass out from holding it in.

Throughout my appointments, throughout all the questions I am asked by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, there is one question I have been been too scared to ask. I’ve not wanted to know why because knowing would take the last smidge of hope away.
But today, today I had the courage to ask because I need to move on to the next part of my life and stop tormenting myself.

I sat with a tissue in my hand, my head concentrating on my lap and with Dr L leaning forward to try and hear what I wanted say through the tears already falling from my eyes.

‘I know I can’t have anymore children, but I want to know why’

I know its a silly question, we know why, but I needed to know in black and white. I needed the facts, however hard it is to hear.

‘There are two parts; part one your ovaries would have been in the radiation field and therefore the eggs would be damaged; part two your womb would also have been in that area and not able to accommodate a baby’

As soon as she said that, it was as if a weight was was lifted.
A simple clarity to assist in dissipating a lifetime of heartache.
That horrible thing your body does, tricking you into thinking something could be happening because you recognise a niggle that ‘ooo might possibly’ be ovulation pain…can be just swept aside now.

We have a very amazing friend, so amazing that she offered to be a surrogate for Pete and I, but now, knowing what I do now about my eggs, its made it easier for that decision to be discounted, but be forever in her debt for thinking of doing something so selfless.
Even Dr L got a bit emotional about that. I love Dr L. She’s a Mama. She knows.

So the next step…maybe now we can actually talk about the next step. Whatever that maybe.

And maybe now I can take some comfort in the fact that I might not carry anymore children, but I am here and I am well.

Once the tears have dried of course.

To be or not to be…now I have my answer.

Comfort

I’m sitting here in my chair, admiring the nails I’ve just had done and their gorgeous purple hue.
I’ve got some purple stocks gracing a vase and some Sweet William to add to it with the most violet petals.
I’ve planned my purple outfit and in my head are the words I’ll put as Facebook statuses and tweets.

Tuesday the 20th May will be the day when I see my fabulous Bart’s team again for my 15-month check.

15 months??? How is that possible? I very nearly forgot this appointment. We went to book a holiday and it popped up in my calendar. Although it’s never really far from my mind, I am beginning to let it go and not dominate my life as much anymore.

I’ve had a few people ask why I like people to show me there purple clothes every 3 months; the truth is I can’t really remember how is started, I think it was a tweet about being part of an army when I started my treatment and it just gathered from there. And now I ask people to do it because it brings me comfort. For one day every 3 months, I get people send me messages, tweets, Facebook pictures and emails with all the creative ways they can conjure up purple for me. From babies in handbags to lilac badges to purple knickers. Yes I have had several underwear photos sent to me. All done tastefully of course.

It makes no sense and the cynical realist I have become knows it doesn’t really mean anything to any tests that I have, or , to the outcome of that little appointment that I have on Tuesday.

But for a few hours every 3 months, I have a group of people (#purplearmy #fransarmy) who are willing to let me know they are thinking of me and support me. In all seriousness, it’s those few hours that help me forget the build up of tension and anxiety each appointment brings.

It’s my army who get me through.

And I want to thank you all for doing it in the most imaginative ways possible!

I love you all.

Send your prayers, if you pray.
Send your good thoughts and vibes, if you have them.
Send your love, luck and hugs.
And send your pictures of you in purple.
That gesture alone is worth so much to me.

Totes wanting to show off my tiny tan I have…

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Tick

There is a lady I would like you to meet…

Ladies and Gents, I give you Dr Powell (or The Amazing One as I like to call her).

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Excuse my tear stained face, but she had just announced that my MRI was ALL CLEAR!
Making it one year cervical cancer free.

*wibbly lip*

We then got chatting about the blog and raising awareness and to hear how proud Dr Powell was that I was doing this, just made me realise how important this message we all need to spread really is.

As ever, my purple army really stepped up a gear and really made me feel supported and loved with all the pictures and banter that everyone shared. We managed to change timelines to purple lines again and I couldn’t be more proud and overwhelmed.

If it’s made one woman get a smear test that she’s been putting off or go to the doctors or got a man to have an awkward chat, then our work is in progress.

I love you all.

One year. Tick.

Darkness

As I lay here in the dark, I recognise all the sounds I hear.
The intermittent crackle of the monitor.
The snuffle of breath in the air.
The teeny tiny cry of Molly wanting a cuddle.
These are all sounds I know. I hear them all the time, but in darkness I hear them loudly and clearly than ever before.
This should be reassuring, this should be what I know. But tonight they are taunting me, reminding me I’m still awake.

Awake? That’s a laugh. I don’t think I’ve been awake for months. I’m going round in a fog. I don’t feel myself and kind of look like someone I used to know.
That girl who had spirit, who had fight; she is dwindling under her own weight. The one year check is looming and all the little things leading up to it are pushing you into thinking something isn’t right.

The appointment being brought forward from a Thursday to a Tuesday.
The way the MRI technician didn’t quite meet your eye when you asked if it was all ok and you were waved off with ‘Your Doctor will discuss this with you’.
The endless rounds of bloods needed. By Powell and by GP.
The weight loss again coupled with tiredness.

Yep, I’m looking into it too much. The big black dog is getting to me, more often than not these days.
The Noise is a constant hum in my left ear.

I know I’ve come so far but I’ve lost lots along the way and feel like I’m losing more each day.

I’m treading water and I’m getting tired but I’m still managing to hold my breath for a few seconds.

Tuesday 11th can’t come quick enough. It’ll then be 10 days until I turn 30. Something I wasn’t meant to do.

I should be shouting from the rooftops and letting people get sick of me going on about it.

But instead I’m in darkness. Willing the hours away. Willing the ache in my chest to pass. Willing the tears to stop falling.

Willing to be anywhere but in darkness.

Here we go again…

Another year is about to end, with the promise of a shiny new one about to descend.

No denying it has been a tough year, but I’ve been very lucky also.

The last couple of months have been especially trying. I’ve felt like I have needed to prove myself in every aspect of my life.
Work.
Friends.
Married life.

I honestly don’t know whether I am coming or going. I could sit here and wax lyrical on everything that is wrong with me. I feel like I should write it down as if to justify my behaviour.

Part of me wants to do that, get it out there and let people know. List everything down. Outwardly I might be fine, but fuck me, am I a mess inside.

Part of me wonders why on earth I have to write anything at all. Do people not realise what I have been through this year?

Part of me wants to hide. Hide in a very dark place and wait for Spring.

Part of me knows I should try to move on as much as I possibly can.

Part of me…well you can see from above why I feel at such a loss.

I made an appointment for my Doctors for the 23rd December; I need to stock up on my patches but also, I need help.

Psychologically, I need some assistance. Not necessarily through meds (but I am open to that option) but maybe some therapy.

When you finish your treatment for Cancer, if you are lucky (like I am) you don’t see anyone (doctors/nurses etc) unless you need to or at scheduled appointments. For me, it has felt like you’ve been cut loose from the pack and you are out there to defend yourself.
And that was fine in the beginning, you are given a new lease of life, you’ve beaten something and for a moment, you are invincible.
But now its a bit farther down the road, and you’re still doing well, but the novelty of conquering cancer is waning.

I found myself looking in a dark hole. I was looking at a girl I used to know.
A girl who was paranoid about every tiny thing.
A girl who just wanted to please everyone and not upset the dynamic.
A girl who, at one point even considered leaving her job, just to make it so that her colleague was happy.
A girl who cried herself to sleep because she had forgotten to reply to a text and the recipient was upset because of that flippant forgetfulness.

I realised I had changed. I’ve written about it before, and although this whole bloody situation has made me stronger, it also took away some of my softer side.
I don’t suffer fools gladly and you can’t walk all over me anymore. And the other day, I realised that what people didn’t like about me anymore. They couldn’t take me for granted and weigh me down, because I simply don’t let it happen.
Someone recently told me that I was cold-hearted now, that I didn’t care as much as I did before.
To a certain extent that is true. Although I care about the bigger things now, the people and things that are important to me instead of fretting about the small things.

I think it is because I am being told I need to move on. I need to get over that fact I can’t have my own children anymore. I need to stop playing the cancer card. So I’ve just stopped it.

I guess I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve anymore. I think I used to make myself too vulnerable to people (why do you write a blog then?!) but I have shut that down now. I rarely talk about my personal life in work (apart from James because he is farking hilarious and EVERYONE should know about his antics) and actually I go to work for a rest from my ‘real life’. I get an eight-hour break from having to deal with the shit storm our family had to go through.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my little family. They have got me through the worst time imaginable, but it pains me that I/we have lost so much along the way.
I can switch off at work and forget what I have done to our family and just pretend to be someone else for a little while.

I can pretend to be Frannie, who gets her job done (and works bloody hard to do that) and flirts with people and can talk about stupid inane pish without letting any of the other hurt in my life get in the way.

But all that has changed recently.

The crushing anxiety which feels as though someone is sitting on my chest is creeping back in. The shaky hands are there, which is becoming noticeable when you pass something to someone. The paranoia that people are talking behind your back is ever-present, as is the nausea that follows it.

So why am I writing all this down, on the cusp of the New Year, which is to symbolise a new beginning? Because I want to leave all this shit in 2013. I don’t want it to drag me down in 2014.
I will never regret this year. This year I BEAT CANCER. I was on DAYBREAK for crying out loud.

But on the 23rd December I was meant to go to the doctors and I didn’t.
I bottled it at the last-minute.

I know I need help. I can admit that much. But I don’t want to go back to how I was. I like the bolshy, takes no shit, Fran. She’s pretty fucking spunky. But I do love some of the old Fran. She was kind and amazing.
How do I get both. Is it even possible?

So, here we go again. The constant loop inside my head.