Sunday, 1 April 2018

Work, a scare and complementary therapy


Hello dear friends.  It's been a while since I've bored you with my breast cancer journey.  I've got loads of energy today so I thought I'd share a few updates with you.

Back to work


I went back to work in February.  I was really quite apprehensive about it. I'd been off work for nine months by then and the thought of going back filled me with dread.  Part of me wanted to use my brain again and get back to 'normal', but the other part of me just didn't want to be normal again. I felt like my identity and feelings had changed since having been diagnosed with cancer and I didn't want work to compromise who I felt I now was.  I'm not sure that I can even adequately describe what I mean by that.


I felt mentally ready but was still tired and also worried that I could be returning too soon.  I didn't want to do anything that I thought could set me back or possibly cause the cancer to return.  Anyway, I decided I had to bite the bullet.

To make it a little easier, I had previously dialled into a team meeting a couple of weeks earlier where I could break the ice a little.  I explained that I was looking forward to coming back but that I probably wouldn't be as energetic as before (I heard a massive sigh of relief from those on the call at that, cheeky beggars) and rather forgetful at first.  I also said that I didn't want anyone to say to me that I could put it all behind me and forget about having cancer.  Once you've had cancer you can never really put it behind you or forget about it, I explained.

On my first day back in the office, I went in with a colleague who metaphorically held my hand.  It was like the first day at a new school, and I was worried that everyone would stare at me like some sort of specimen in a jar.  I got hugs and kisses (I still do when I bump into someone from work who I haven't seen since last April) and lots of welcoming emails.  It was simply lovely and I needn't have worried.

I only worked a few hours a day for the first few weeks.  I've now built my hours back up to full-time. But I find that I do get tired towards the end of the week so I need to see what I can do about that.  I've also been given the all clear by my oncologist to fly again so I can at least start going to meetings in England again.  I do need to pace myself though and not overdo things.  The effects of chemo and radiotherapy are still working away on my body.

Bit of a scare

A few weeks ago I started to notice that my dodgy boob didn't look right. The skin on the lower part looked a bit like orange peel and the boob felt a bit lumpy.  I rang the breast care nurse and got an appointment to be seen at the breast clinic fairly quickly.  

The nurse examined me, which was immediately followed up with a mammogram and then a fine needle biopsy.  Oh shit, I thought.  Please God, don't tell me the cancer has come back again.  I asked if my boob could be numbed for the biopsy.  'No point,' said the nurse.  'The needle for the anaesthetic is actually bigger and would be even more uncomfortable.'  Oh bugger.

After the tests, I waited in the mammogram area.  Jeremy Kyle was on the TV so that was a bit of a bummer.  One poor woman who was sitting next to me was in a terrible state waiting to find out if she had cancer or not.  She was asking me loads of questions and could just about hold herself together.  I just didn't know what to say without possibly saying something completely ham-fisted and frightening her half to death.  I tried to reassure her by saying that if she was diagnosed then she would find an inner strength she didn't know she had and would be able to handle it.  I still think about that woman and wonder what news she was given. 

After a while, I was called back in to see the nurse and the good news was that everything was OK.  Phew!  It seems that the look and feel of my boob was down to radiotherapy and scar tissue.  I'm glad I got it checked out though.

Health check and complementary therapies

I went and got a free health check done, courtesy of Action Cancer a charity here in Northern Ireland.  They weighed me using a sophisticated piece of kit and took my blood pressure too.  I couldn't get a diabetes or cholesterol check due to being on anti-coagulant drugs.  The findings were startling.  Let's just say I need to lose a bit of weight.  Oh dear, bang goes the chocolate I got for Easter. 

Action Cancer have also booked me onto a course of complementary therapies, such as Bach flower remedies and reflexology .  They also recommended some apps to help me calm my mind too.  It's such a brilliant service.

That's all for now, folks

I hope you've found this latest blog of use.  My next one will be to mark the anniversary of when I was first diagnosed and I'll be reflecting on this past year of my life.

Best wishes and much love.  Please feel free to leave me a comment below.

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