Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Second chance

I'm stuck for words (a first for me!) as to how I should start this blog post.  This whole journey has sparked so many emotions, too many to list and this past week has been no exception.  In fact it has probably been one of the toughest, since receiving my diagnosis.  Much earlier in the year (and in line with the D-Care trial I am involved with), I was notified that my CT scan and Bone scan would take place on Monday 20th August.  Initially this seemed like a long time away so I didn't ponder the idea too much and just got on with enjoying life.

As the months turned into weeks and the weeks into days, I started to become more and more anxious.  The idea of having scans, triggers many emotions for me.  My last scans were performed a few days after receiving my breast cancer diagnosis (14 months ago) and I just have so many negative associations with this time.  Just the idea of walking back into the same rooms with the same noises, same smells, same doctors triggers so many difficult emotions - it really is hard to describe.   

Thankfully by the time the actual 'scan' day arrived I was able to keep my emotions in check.  I felt like I was on autopilot!  I was there to do a job and was trying to remain as positive and upbeat as possible.  Ryan spent the day with me and we enjoyed a nice lunch in the city in between scans.  I was very relieved when I arrived home that evening and was quietly hoping Wednesday would bring me the results I had been hoping for.  Unfortunately due to all of the radioactive fluid that was injected into my system for the scans, I was not able to kiss my girls, cuddle them or let them get too close to me that evening which made me sad, especially after such a big day.

The following day (Tuesday) was to be another emotional day for myself and Ryan.  Earlier the previous week, Ryan's beloved Nan passed away at the age of 89.  She was a really wonderful woman and treated me as one of her own grandchildren.  Her funeral was held yesterday and was a beautiful celebration of her amazing life.  She was a very much loved Nan and we will all miss her so much.  Not long after my diagnosis last year she gave me a beautiful little bluebird ornament that she said would bring me good luck.  It is always taken with me (in my handbag) and I will treasure it even more so now.  

This brings me back to today!  My appointment with my Oncologist was at 2.30pm and it honestly couldn't have come any quicker - I was so eager to find out the results.  She greeted us with a big smile so I assumed the news must be good.  My bone scan came back with 'no obvious aggressive bony lesions' and my CT scan showed 'no evidence of metastatic disease'.  In simple terms, this means no spread of cancer to other parts of the body.  What  a relief!!!!!!!!!!!  You honestly couldn't wipe the smile off my face.  It was the exact response I had been hoping for.  Of course there is always that sickening feeling of recurrence but I will just try to keep going and remain as positive as ever.  My Oncologist (whilst very happy with these results), reminded us that she won't say that I am 'cancer free' until I am 10 years post diagnosis with my age being a huge factor.  There is always that chance it may return down the track but I plan on proving that I will live a very happy and healthy life until I am at least 89 - following in Nan's footsteps!

Wow - this past week really has been rather crazy.  Last Friday I received a call from Genetics WA to advise that after 6 months, my gene test results had been finalised.  My result came back as 'Inconclusive' to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.  To tell you the truth I still don't know how I feel about this.  To give you some background the outcome is only ever positive or inconclusive (never negative).  The reason for this is that whilst I may not have the faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, I may very well have another faulty gene that has not yet been recognised, hence being inconclusive.  Whilst I am relieved I don't have either of these faulty genes, I am also a little disappointed.  I know that seems ridiculous but I suppose for me, if I had been 'positive' to one of the genes it would have been the answer as to why I was diagnosed with breast cancer and more importantly why I was diagnosed at such young age.    Now I am left with the feeling of 'why me' - not in the sense of 'poor me' but more in relation to 'what did I do differently' or 'was it something I didn't do', etc.  There will forever be a question mark.  On the positive, I am thankful that my daughters will most likely not have this gene either.

Over the past few months I have been slowly trying to clean up my act.  It is a definite work in progress but we are getting there slowly but surely.  I have been trying to eliminate all (or at least most) of the chemicals in my life - everything from products in the shower (shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc) to facial products (moisturisers, make up, toothpaste) and then onto such things as dishwashing liquid, window cleaner, etc.  The chemicals in our lives are never-ending.... it's frightening!

I continue to attend my wonderful support group and will be travelling to Sydney in October (with my pink sister, Rachel) to attend the BCNA National Conference.  Whilst it will only be a brief visit (a couple of days for the conference), I am thrilled to be able to attend and listen to some fantastic guest speakers.  The gala dinner also sounds amazing - right on Sydney Harbour!!

Ironically just days before my scans I attended an informative seminar on 'Fear of Recurrence' at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco.  I found it very helpful and picked up quite a few techniques to deal with negative thoughts and feelings.  For me, the most common thought I have, is associated with the risk of the cancer returning.  Most of the time I can deal with these feelings but I can't deny that at times the feelings can be overwhelming.  It is at these times that I see cancer as deadly, if not now, then it will happen later. 

Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for all that you have done and continue to do for me and my family.  I am so very thankful for the love and support we receive - we really do have he most amazing support crew and we love you all very much.  I know that Nan would be having a glass of champagne for me right now!

My girls are tucked in their beds fast asleep tonight and I am so thankful they are the age they are.  They have been so resilient throughout this journey and I hope they never have to endure what I have been through.  I had to laugh this afternoon when I gave Jaz a big hug and told her I had some exciting news; that there was no more cancer in Mum's body.  I then burst into tears (out of sheer relief I think!) and she responded with 'does that mean they gave your boobie back?'  I thought this was very sweet :)  The poor thing must have been so confused though as she went on to ask why I was crying if I had such exciting news.

I feel like tonight is the start of my 'new life'... my 2nd chance so to speak.  First on the agenda is planning another girls trip with my sis - I am thinking Singapore this time!!