Thursday, 26 January 2012

New Beginnings

Everybody wants happiness.  Nobody wants pain.
But you can't have a rainbow, without a little rain.

I did it!!!  After 2 bouts of surgery, 6 rounds of chemo and 25 session of radiation, I did it!!  I am ecstatic to say that I finished all of my treatment on Thursday 12th January 2012 - another date I don't think I will ever forget.  It nearly didn't happen though.  On Monday 9th January I arrived early for my radiation appointment as I wanted to see the nurses prior to the treatment.  My skin was so badly burnt (even more so than the last photo saved on my blog) and I was very concerned about it.  The nurse on duty was lovely but was also very worried about my burns and asked me to go home and return later in the morning - once the doctor had arrived.  I arrived home to Ryan and just burst into tears.  I just couldn't believe  there maybe a chance I would have to stop the treatment when I was only 4 sessions away from the finish line.  Ryan returned with me later that morning and I saw the doctor, who after assessing the burns, was happy for me to continue as long as I was very careful over the next few days.  If it had been any longer than 4 days they definitely would have made me stop and return at a later date.  It was crucial I gave the area regular salt water soaks and used the special prescribed creams to help the area heal but more importantly, to avoid the onset of infection.  I also had to visit the nurses before and after each session for them to dress the burns.  

I can definitely say that I was one of the unlucky ones who burnt quite badly throughout this process.  I found it interesting to hear from the nurses that it is impossible for them to pick exactly who will burn and who won't.  The radiographers were saying that they may have a dark skinned lady burn quite badly one day and the next day a very fair lady who doesn't burn at all! 

I really can't tell you how I felt walking out for the last time - there were so many mixed emotions..... sore, relief, happiness, sadness, etc.  Ryan asked me how I would like to celebrate the end of my treatment and all I really wanted to do was to go down to the beach and enjoy some Moet and this is exactly what we did!  Our wonderful families joined us and it was perfect.

We continued the celebrations by heading down to Busselton for a little camping holiday a couple of days after my last radiation treatment.  We really enjoy camping and we had a fantastic time!  Some lovely friends joined us and Ryan's parents came down for a night also.    The weather was amazing, in fact the first couple of days were really hot so I had to be super careful my burns weren't exposed to the sun in any way.

We arrived home from camping just in time to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary!  My lovely sister Lizzy came over and looked after our girls whilst we enjoyed an amazing 6 course degustation menu at Fraser's in Kings Park.  It was absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it!  It was a lovely way to celebrate a year that was definitely one of our hardest and one we will never forget.  I can't thank Ryan enough for absolutely everything he does for me and our girls - he is wonderful!

On Thursday 19th January, I had my 'follow up' consultation with my surgeon, Dr Willsher.  We spoke about my Chemo treatment and radiation and he checked my mastectomy scar and burns.  We then spoke about reconstructive surgery and my decision to have my other breast removed at the time of this surgery.  I really want to try and take the element of risk  away and my surgeon is happy with my decision and supports me all the way (especially due to my age).  I hope to have this done in late July / early August 2012.  I want to give my body a really good rest from all of my treatment before I head back into hospital for more surgery.  It is quite a major operation and I will be in hospital for at least 10 days and will take approx 6 weeks to recover - something I am really not looking forward to.  

Now that all of my treatment is finished, the question I am asked on a regular basis is 'where to from here'?  Unfortunately I won't know if all of my treatment has worked until June 2012.  Exactly 12 months after my diagnosis and 6 months after my treatment, I will need to go and have all of my scans done again.  No doubt this is going to be a tough day and I just hope I am drinking a glass of champagne at the end of it!

Once again I am extremely grateful for everyone's wonderful support and I must thank Hayles & Neil, Lizzy & Stevie and Trace & Darren for the lovely flowers and for Dee & Heath for the beautiful gift box I received on celebrating the end of my treatment. I feel very special - thank you!  

It is a strange and sometimes frightening feeling not having any current treatment.  I am sure some people may think that because I am out of the stages of having treatment, I am fine.  I'm not sure how I feel about this as I'm sure I will still have some sad days now and then.  My support group often speaks about feelings especially when treatment is over.  Treatment is kind of like a safety net - surely nothing can happen to us when on treatment?!

I really want to close this post with a status a friend recently wrote on Facebook (thanks Alsy!) - it perfectly sums up how I feel.

I am a very lucky girl that can quite proudly say if you measure my wealth by how many amazing friendships I have, then I would be a billionaire ten times over!

Ryan and I toasting the end of my 
treatment and new beginnings

Ryan and I celebrating 9 very happy years

Ryan and I at Tami's 30th Birthday 
(wish I had some eyelashes!)

My inspiration - my gorgeous little family at 
Jaz's surf life saving (Scarboro SLS nippers!)