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

For now….

Dear James,

Tomorrow Mama finishes her cancer treatment. I am both elated and scared by this fact.
Tomorrow, I have my last general anesethic for my last brachytherapy treatment. It will be 3 in total and three times I have done the same thing the night before. I have held you before you go to bed and I have sobbed into your hair. I tell you that no matter what, I am your Mama and that I love you more than you could ever know. You look at me with your chocolate button eyes and say ‘Na’niiight’.

Throughout this whole experience I have tried to shield you from my crying or my anger. I think I have done a good job of protecting you, but I never worry about crying in front of you at these times because, it just shows you how much I love you. If I never woke up tomorrow, I hope on some level you knew how much I love you.

You have been my little star these past 8 weeks. You have dealt with this upheaval so well, it makes you far older than the tiny 20 months you are.

You are saying so many words now, some with a northern inflection and even some sentences. Caaakes and Haats are my favourite words of yours.
You just love to be part of the crowd. Centre of attention if you like. You tickle and do the tickling noises too.
And you are tantruming like a gooden. You’ve definitely kept me grounded these last few weeks.

We’ve had such fun these last couple of days in the snow, you’re so independent, it hurts.

You have curls and curls and curls. You could almost be a girl, if it wasn’t for the fact you look so much like a boy.

Now were venturing to the next step. Its a bit uncertain and i’m not afraid to say i’m worried, but please stay as you are, my darling. Your amazing love has got me through.

I am so proud of the little gentleman you are becoming. I hope that one day, when you sit down to read these letters, you can say you are proud of your dear old Mum. Its been far from easy, but you make it a smoother journey.

I love you with everything I have.

Snowy Boy

Snowy Boy

Keep growing strong,
Mama
xxx

Wizard Sleeve

Wednesday was probably one of the most bizarre experiences in my life. Even more bizarre than my friend in primary school telling me how babies are made. Apparently babies are made cuddling tightly and then the man touching your bum. True story.

If you are a lady who has had radiotherapy to the pelvic region, and if you then have brachytherapy, it is likely that after the cumulative effects have subsided that you will get adhesions in the vaginal wall which, can be usually broken by fingers but if left, can harden and then only be removed by surgery. Grim.
In order to prevent this happening, you have to administer dilation to keep you, er, ahem, stretchy.

Below is the conversation I had with Gloria about post brachytherapy maintenance. Prepare to be weirded out.

Gloria: Right, now, this chat is the same with any woman who has had this treatment, any age and any amount of sexual activity-ness.
Fran: *bites tongue at sexual activity-ness*
G: *Gets green bag of tricks out*
F: Ooo do I get a little bag?
G: Ooo yes, well actually you get a case, but you can keep it with your other vibrators if you want, just wash it etc.
F: *eyes widen* oh, ok.
G: Right, I see you’ve had a baby so this is gonna be dead easy for you to do. *proceeds to get out 4 tubes of varying sizes, they all twist on to one another to make a dilator and handle* Ok so as you can see, we’ve got varying thickness most women, feel nothing with this one *holds up rounded tip which is about 1-2cm wide* so you can use this one first but you might as well use this one *holds up rounded tip which is about 5-6cm wide*
F: *gulp*
G: Dead easy, you need to do this 3 times a week. Put some nice music on, relax, maybe do it after a bath. Just slather on the lube and pop it in (she actually said pop it in, i’m wincing just remembering) then turn it anti-clockwise for 2.5 mins then turn it clockwise for another 2.5 mins then bobs your Uncle, you’re all done. Now, there are alternatives.
F: Oh yea, I think I might try that. Never been a big fan of shoving things *up*
G: Really, oh you don’t know what you’re missing. You could get your Husband involved.
F: Erm
G: Actually the alternative is to use your Husband. If you have sexual intercourse (yes, she said sexual intercourse) twice a week you won’t need to use the dilator.
F: TWICE A WEEK?!!
G: Yep
F: *tumbleweed* Anything else?
G: Well, to avoid RSI, we get loads of complaints about wrist injuries from using the dilators too much, we can provide a vibrator which does the turning for you. *Produces THE RABBIT*
F: Oh, so when you said vibrator, you actually meant a proper one, not like a hospital grade one
G: Yes, of course, do you have this one at home?
F: Me? Oh erm, well…
G: These are fabulous, they really work well plus they do all the hard work for you, you can use your own one or we can provide it for you for £17.50. Don’t worry you don’t have to “hide the rabbit”, that’s just for clitoral stimulation.
F: *crimson* Right, I think i’ll stick to the dilators you give me.
G: Good choice. Right, now, lube. You can get it on prescription and seeing as you get your scripts for free, you might as well go to your GP and stock up now. Make sure you get the Sylk lube, its the best one.
F: Right.
G: Now, I suggest you wait 4 weeks after treatment before starting this which will probably be about the 21st Feb.
F: *Laughs* Oh that’s my birthday. Happy dilating birthday to me!
G: Oh that’s perfect, get a baby sitter, get your Husband to make you a lovely birthday meal then have lovely birthday sex, then you’ll only need to dilate one more time that week.
F: Was hoping for some Ikea vouchers, but I guess this could work too.
G: Vouchers won’t make your vagina stretchy. Here’s a leaflet and a DVD on how to use the dilators.
F: I think you have explained it more than enough, Gloria.
G: Oh good, I love these chats, vagina’s are fascinating.
F: Huh, My Husband says the same thing.

I got home later and read the leaflet which informs me that I have to do this for 5 years. FIVE YEARS. My poor foof. I’ll have the wrists of a pubescent boy.

I’ve not watched the DVD yet. I’m not allowed to get drunk enough to get through that…

At least my vagina won’t be like a Wizards sleeve *Punches air*

Where does the time go….

As I sit here in Starbucks abusing the free wi-fi on my Big Mac, nursing a peppermint tea and trying desperately not to get indigestion from the fruit toast I have just inhaled (yes, I am still eating like a sumo wrestler), I am drawn to the fact that it is the 2nd of January.

THE 2ND OF JANUARY.

How on the actual earth we live in, is it already the 2nd of Jan???

It is exactly 2 months since I was diagnosed.

In those two months I have had:

A PET scan
My 1st general anesthetic
My hair chopped off
5 oncology appointments
1 kidney test
One toddler pour my wee away for aforementioned kidney test
3 tiny tattoos
22 fractions of radiotherapy
4 cycles of chemotherapy
10 blood tests
22 pounds lost
One Superhero cape made

I am 3 weeks off completion of my cancer treatment.

What will I do with my time then?

And a Happy New Year…

So here we are on the cusp of a New Year.

Safe to say that I am not sad to see 2012 go. It has been a shit year for many, many reasons. I am not going to list them, you know it all anyway.

I always get nostalgic when New Year comes round, and try to find the positive in tough times. I’ve struggled to see the light this time, but I made myself think of 5 things that were wonderful about this year.

1. Celebrating my Son’s 1st Birthday with his many friends
2. Welcoming 3 new babies to the family
3. Holding the Olympic torch
4. Having my love grow for the people around me
5. Getting perspective on life

That last one is pretty deep huh? Pretty standard I think once you’ve been diagnosed with Cancer. I’ve learnt not to sweat the small stuff; Let go of some deep seated issues which have been holding me back. Silly things like the clothes I wear, the way I am about what I love to do, like writing.

I am not happy I have Cancer, but I am happy that it’s made me realise that I am person who matters and being comfortable with myself, is just another step in my recovery.

In a way, I am sad to see this year go. I lost two wonderful people this year. Both at opposite ends of the age spectrum. A friends little girl who was snatched from life and a Father In Law who was released from his struggle. I weep that this year ends with them both in it forever, but I hope that wherever they are in the world, they are at peace.

I wish you all an amazing New Year, make of it what you will and most of all….be happy.

I love you all.

Right, now indulge me, give me your 5 wonderful things about 2012.

Counting down

So I have nearly completed week 3 in my Cancer treatment, and I have to say, that this week has been a vast improvement on last week by eleventy billion percent.

I have actually accomplished things this week. Little tasks like cooking dinner or doing the washing and tonight, I managed to get James to bed, which is such a major thing and he was very happy about that too….lets hope that transpires to a long sleep.

Never. Gonna. Happen.

To me this is amazing. I am very tired now, it’s really hitting me, but I have to say that I am counting myself very lucky as the other possible side effects have been bearable. I have spoken up and got my anti-sickness tablets changed (if you don’t tell your oncologist what your feeling, how can they make you better) and although I am eating 16 meals a day due to the steroids giving me an appetite a weight lifter would be proud of, at least I can do that now without the underlining nausea.

Me and the Duchess of Cambridge have loads in common init. Except she’ll birth a future Monarch and I’ll birth a 2lb tumour. Swings and roundabouts, huh.

Talking of tumours, my oncologist I saw today was very pleased with my progress, there are lots of positive signs but I just need to keep an eye on my tiredness. If it gets too extreme (cannot get out of bed, tired) then my treatment will be scaled back, which I really don’t want to happen as it is going so well. Little cat naps and loads of water and letting people take charge will help this…I of course still need to make tea, just to dip my toe in. Damn it.

You’ll have seen on Facebook and Twitter about my lovely surprises that I received this week, and I still am in a state of shock. To have relative strangers (I have been talking to most of these people for over 2 years and have met several of them) go out of there way to donate money, just to make me smile is something that I just cannot comprehend. As someone who loves to give gifts for the smile it gives to a person, I want you to know that I went to bed beaming that 21 people wanted that same buzz.
I am truly honoured to call you ALL friends.

*wipes dirt that seems to have been caught in my eye*

So now the countdown starts..tomorrow I am officially over half way through. Christmas is a few days away and I get to spend it with my lovely family.

Except, if the fucking Mayans have got it right, I am going to be so pissed that I had fucking chemo today. Stupid life saving emo-chemo (only kidding, I love you chemotherapy, mwah).

See, I am doing so much better.

Oh to be just me

I had good intentions to carry on a video blog at least once a week to keep people updated on my treatment progress, as it turns out, having cancer is bloody time consuming. Travelling everyday for treatment, trying to keep working, trying to maintain a somewhat normal homestead, it’s all that you do.

But Sunday came and instead of having a relaxing movie day with my boys to set me up for the week, I was smack bang in the middle of an anxiety ridden steroid rage (still can’t decide which it was).
It was the most horrendous feeling ever. Even the unnaturally calm emotion I had at being told I had cancer was nothing compared to this.

I was literally climbing walls, punching walls, talking to fucking walls. Too much energy in my head which was atop a very weary body.

I ball of frantic lava in my stomach making me simultaneously starving but unable to eat.
A heart desperate to get out of my chest, beating as fast as a spaniels tail, yet it felt like aforementioned spaniel was sitting on my chest.

The worst part was not being able to hold James. My listless, restlessness was unbearable. For the first time, in his tiny life, he witnessed his mother go crazy.
I will never forget that sad pout at me not being able to pick him up. It’s what is keeping me up tonight.

Sunday, I could take no more. I called the chemo nurses as I was sure it was some kind of reaction to the steroid or anti-emetics. They were pretty sure it wasn’t and alluded that it was maybe more anxiety and that if I could get hold of some Diazepam then maybe I should, even if it was to get some sleep (at this point I should mention I hadn’t slept since Friday afternoon and this was Sunday evening)

As a previous user of anti-depressants I know there is no shame in asking for help and asking for it is actually the very first step in knowing you need assistance. I knew something was up and that I needed someone to step in.

Enter, possibly the best GP I have ever had. I know she will appreciate this as she reads this blog (Hi!).
I literally couldn’t wait to see her on Monday morning. I already felt a tiny bit better knowing she would be able to help me. Dr.S described steroid rage to me (its a real thing, people) and promptly prescribed diazepam and citalopram, to build me up to deal with this shit storm that’s building up.

Monday was possibly the worst day. I don’t actually know how I made it to treatment. I certainly wasn’t with it. I don’t actually know if I was even coherent.
I burst into tears on the radiotherapy table, knickers to my knees being hugged by the radiotherapist.
They were amazing. They made sure I was seen the next day by a nurse just to have a cry with her.

Monday I did my cry for help. I text my sister and said I was struggling. Big time. She was round in bed with me, kissing my forehead telling me all the lovely things we’ve got to look forward to.
She also told me something that really stuck with me.
Someone she knows had cervical cancer but for one thing and another (details are not to be disclosed) she wasn’t told the type of side effects she would encounter. And you know what she didn’t have a single side effect. No nausea, no loose bowels, no psychotic fucking rage. She is now in remission.

I really do think ignorance is bliss.

We live in a world where we can get information in milliseconds and its there if we want it or not. I’m an over-sharer (have you guessed?) and although awareness is key and we do need to be informed, but maybe knowing too much does us more harm than good.

I need to be more relaxed now and I need to focus on me. A step back from work and worrying about the washing, can wait for the next 8 or so weeks.

Relapses are not a good look.

I know James is being well looked after and I can weight on Pete once I’m fighting fit. I need to let some of this guilt go. James needs his Mum Mum around for a long, long time and Pete needs me nagging him until the end of time.

So really these next few weeks of upheaval are nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Now, to get my head to co-operate with my heart.