17th June 2018
Thank you for all your kind wishes. I have been quite overwhelmed by it all. It’s the kind of gestures we can give to each other, which provide warmth, comfort and strength. I am grateful for it all.
I am happy to share some good news.
After a local infection, Lilly is recovering well and frustrated about not yet being allowed to play ball. All things being equal her drain will be removed in a few days, followed by the stitches. We are still waiting for the full results of her biopsy and what, if any, further treatment she may need.
Following the local recurrence of my breast cancer in the same breast, further scans and tests have not shown evidence of cancer anywhere else in my body. As things stand, there is no indication it has metastasised. I will have a unilateral mastectomy by the end of the month, with no chemo. I am planning to write a piece about mastectomy (what to consider, how to prepare practically and emotionally). But at the moment, I am busy doing the same for myself.
Looking back, I am glad I never ignored the possibility of the cancer returning. I believe over the years it has made me stronger and more prepared.
Having said that, I have become acutely aware again of “living in between different worlds”. To the outsider who is not in the know, I, like many people affected by cancer, “look well”, going about my “normal life”. Yet we carry a special load. That goes the same for anyone with an “invisible” illness. But what also goes for all of us, is the potential for sudden frailty due to life changing illnesses or events.
Before I got the results of my scans, many activities I did took on the sub-title of “last time”… the last time I see my clients, sit in my therapy chair, wash my floor, water my plants, do my laundry …. I did not know what kind of diagnosis I would get and how long I may have to live. But I knew this was the last time I would do anything without knowing. The next time (if there was a next time) I would do it with more knowledge of what is happening in my body, and what the consequences of that may be.
I am relieved. But I will not underestimate the unpredictability of this illness. I will not take anything for granted.
And I will not start “the self blame” or “why now, why me” game. I have my moments, but overall this is the biggest waste of time, I cannot afford. I have done my best to limit the chances of the cancer returning. And I will continue doing exactly that. We all have to make our own choices and live with them.
For now, I will focus on gratitude and grieving. I am thankful for my breast, even though we may have not always seen eye to eye. I will miss her and I have decided not to replace her. I will wonder what will happen to her. I will start grieving with her for her – now. We will talk and argue and remember. But we have to part in peace. I will also need to think about her twin, who will be left behind and needs to be included in all of this.
This is new territory for me. I have decided not to read up on what other people have done. I have little time to prepare and decided I need to walk this path on my own and trust my own intuition and wisdom.
I have stopped working and will take a break for thorough recovery – physically, mentally and emotionally. I am hoping to continue writing, though at some point things may get a bit more quiet here, at least for a little while.
But I also have things I need to do and want to do. So watch this space.
As always, thank you for your kind support and my best wishes for you all.
(17th June 2018)
12th June 2018
My dog and I have cancer – what are the chances of that happening? A personal update.
Dear readers and friends,
You may have noticed a greater degree of inactivity on my part and I had promised to let you know what is going on.
Here is a brief explanation and a bit more detailed video at the end.
A couple of weeks ago tests showed a local recurrence of my original (2012) breast cancer. I am waiting for results of CT and bone scans as well as blood tests, to see whether the cancer has metastasised and can be found elsewhere in my body (eg bones, liver, brain). Depending on the severity (stage) we will then decide on what to do next – depending on whether the cancer is treatable, can be managed – or not.
Since contracting chicken pox in December 2017 I had had episodes of new skin allergies, worse lymphoedema, and generally just feeling ‘odd’. Blood tests and physical investigations did not give my GP or the Breast Care team reasons for concern. But I remained unconvinced. I was finally offered further investigation and an ultrasound located something, which a biopsy confirmed to be cancerous.
While I am preparing for various possible scenarios, pausing my clinical practice as psychotherapist, doing what we need to do to avoid financial problems (eg the financial toxicity of cancer – ill health costs money!) and much much more, my trusted companion, Lilly, an 8 year old Staffie, was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. I had noticed a small red lump by one of the nipples. She had an operation yesterday and is recovering well. We are awaiting further biopsy results and staging of her cancer.
Pets and their owners can develop similar illnesses. And this is not the first time for Lilly and I. If you google the topic you will receive a number of explanations ranging from lifestyle and environmental impacts to emotional and spiritual connections.
I do not think it is a coincidence. I’d like to think these things happen for a reason. And I have my own way of looking at it.
It is interesting to notice, that many things I feared, currently feel far less threatening.
Sometimes in life, when things start to happen, you may surprise your self with your response. You may be a lot stronger than you think.
I am sharing this news with you now, after I have spoken with all my family, friends and current clients.
I will keep you posted and may continue to write and record some videos. It all depends on my news and how I feel.
I have recorded a video to explain it all a bit more.
For now, my very best wishes for you all.
(12th June 2018)