5 years ago

6 May

On a day like this 5 years ago it was a Wednesday not a Tuesday. I was probably drinking coffee not an oat milk chai. I was living in London, not Barcelona. And I was going for an appointment at the hospital not to work, unlike today. 5 years ago, in a small room in hospital in East London, Ms. C broke the news that I had indeed breast cancer. I was there with Nick, my ex-boyfriend and Fausto, my best friend. The breast cancer nurse, whose name scapes me now, was present too.

A few months ago, I was going through papers and found the letter that Ms. C sent to my doctor, the general practitioner I went to first so she could have a look at THE lump. This is what she wrote…

“Dear Dr. D

I saw Ms Panades today after our brest multidisciplinary team meeting this morning.

Unfortunately I had to give her the bad news that the lump in the left breast is confirmed as breast cancer – C5 with malignant cells on cytology and core biposy grade III infiltrating ductal carcinoma- The axilla lymph node looked abnormal on ultrasound scan and the cytology report confirmed metastatic involvement (C5).

At the present moment the lump is about two-cm clinically and on ultrasonographic measurements. She is young with relatively dense breasts and we wait MRI scan for a more accurate measurement and to see whether any other focus elsewhere.

Because of the C5 grade in metastatic lymph node, I have arranged staging investigations – including bone scan and CT chest/abdomen – which will be done this coming Friday (8th= and Monday (11th). We will then re discuss staging investigation and MRI result in the next breast multidisciplinary team meeting (13th) and Ms P will be see in clinic that afternoon. Temporarily, we may be able to five her a space on out operative day 21st May.

Ms P asked that if it is only a two-cm grade III cancer with modal involvement what treatment? We would be able to offer breast conservation surgery with axillary clearance- As it is a grade II node positive cancer and she is relatively young chemo/radiotherapy would be required but we will await hormonal and Herceptin status o see whether she is suitable dor adkvant ormonal or Heceptin therapies. He wanted to discuss fertility issue so I will refer her to our gynecologist.

Ms P is still in a dilemma about what to do and whether to have the treatment in London or Barcelona. She has just split with her partner who she used to live with several years, her parents undergoing divorce with the house up for sale and, unfortunately, her grandmother has just passed away. Presently, her employer may not allow paid sick leave but she will sort this out and let us know o her social circumstances next week. On further questioning, shy says one of her aunts (?) likely womb cancer in her forties and her brother testicular cancer and treatment at the age of thirty-two. There is no breast cancer or definitive ovarian cancer otherwise.

Ms Panades is still relatively young and may think about genetic testing. However, at this current stage, there is too much on board for her and she want to concentrate on the cancer treatment first-

I will keep you informed of the outcome from our next MDM discussion and management.

Yours sincerely,

Ms C.”

I am happy that 5 years on I am still here to read this letter, to realise how much good has happened since then and to look forward to the time ahead of me.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Panades

 

Did I tell you..

30 Apr

Originally posted on The stories of Rosa and her lump *What life turns out to be when you have to pencil in breast cancer*:

that I turned 35 last week? Yeay! The more time passes the more grateful I am for the things that I have. Like great friends…Image

A wonderful boyfriend

Image

Lovely pets

Image

And a head full of hair!

Image

And to think that 5 years ago I was celebrating my 30th birthday with a lump on my left breast, not knowing, yet knowing that it was “possibly-most likely” cancer. 

Happy birthday to me! 35 and counting! :-)

 

 

View original

Hair growth after chemo is 4 years old today!

13 Jan

On a day like this four years ago I started this blog, aptly titled hair growth after chemo. The aim was to document how hair grows after going bald from the side effects of chemotherapy. It was also a way for me to deal with the obsession that growing THE hair became once my treatment finished. So lets have a look at the pertinent before and after photos.

1 WEEK after chemo my hair looked like this:

Image

4 YEARS after chemo my hair looks like this:

Image

Not bad I would say!

Thinking about this post today has made me reflect on what has happened in the last 4 years since I finished treatment and tried to regain some control over my life. So I thought I would do a kind of “the last 4 years in numbers and pictures” type post.

In the past 4 years I have…

Moved cities once: from London to my home town, Barcelona.

Image

Fallen in love once (maybe twice if we count aby ;-) )

Image

Moved houses three times

Image

Been on train rides

Image

Adopted a muuuuch healthier lifestyle 

Image

Done my third 10k run (half marathon next?)

Image

Been to a music festival with lovely friends

Image

Rescued two cats

Image

Been busy writing 100,000 words for my PhD (nearly there!)

Image

Had lots of fun with these two!

Image

Been to the beach with my girlfriends countless amounts of times

Image

My little brother and I have gone from looking like this…

Image

to this… (quite an improvement on both sides, don’t you think?)Image

I have visited London, Morocco, Rio de Janeiro and SevilleImage

And I have had many medical tests, all with good results (fingers crossed)

Image

And then there are those things that cannot be counted, the amount of times I have laughed, felt happy and on top of the world. And the times I have felt down, anxious and scared. Because the thing with life after cancer, as these photos show, is that you can enjoy it again. However, there is a dark side too, at least for me. The dark side is those times when I get scared that now I’m cancer free, it will come back to snatch it all. And the dark side is most felt when I hear of another life taken away by this illness: from loved ones, to people who have passed through my life, to those who I have only met virtually and those who I have actually never met. This post is dedicated to them. And to all of us who are still here, let’s (try) enjoy life while it is still in our hands. 

 

My (34th) birthday!

22 Apr

Last Friday was my 34th birthday. As years pass and I move further away from my diagnosis and closer to the 5 year post-breast cancer date, my birthday takes a whole new meaning. I am filled with happines, thrilled at the realisation that “hey, I am still here”! I feel I do not have the luxury of fearing getting old. After cancer my fear is NOT getting old. So I celebrated over four days. On thursday night my boyfriend Raoul took me to see a brilliant play. On friday I spent the morning with our dog Aby and went to the beach for a run. By lunchtime Raoul was back from work and we went to one of our favourite cafe for some coffee and bagels. I then had my first piece of birthday cake (out of 4 more that were to come).

Image

Then in the evening a bunch of friends came over for “la fiesta del huevo frito” aka “the fried egg party”. We ate (eggs), we drank, we laughed.

Image

The day after, my dad, his wife and my ´lil brother Adam came over for lunch. Raoul´s brother and nephews also came, over. Full house! isn´t Adam gorgeous?

Image

On Sunday, Raoul and I did the “Cursa dels Bombers” which is catalan for the “Firefighters Race” an annual 10k run in the city of Barcelona. It was fun, despite struggling to finish it and injuring my foot (and just to clarify, no, he is not proposing!).

Image

And then this morning at the office when I was fully absorved by my computer screen, my colleagues came in with flowers and cake and sang happy birthday (I took my birthday off work you see). Does this mean I have had a 5 day birthday?  I am one lucky girl, I mean *woman*.

 

 

The Good Life (nearly 3 years after chemo)

12 Dec

So three years ago, this is what I was blogging about: wigs,coping with losing my hair to chemo, celebrating that I just had my fifht round of treatment, my frustration at not being able to do chemo on time and my stay at the hospital due to being neutropenic. You can read it all here.

Three years on and my life (and hair after chemo!) looks quite different that it did then. For one I have moved back home to Barcelona, best decision ever. I have met a wonderful man and a great dog, who are now my family and who make me oh! so very happy. I have an exciting job. I am finishing my PhD. And I am hoping to have children in the future. In short: I like my life.

So while this is great and lovely, it is also terrifying. It appears sometimes that the happier I am the more fearful I become of my cancer coming back. For those who have had cancer, you know how much of a life changing experience it is. Emotionally it wrestles you to the ground, it makes you re-asses your values your priorities and it can often push you to the limit. It brings home how fragile life really is. It confronts you with death. From a practical point of view, don´t even get me started: hospital appointment after hospital appointment after…well you get the point.Your day to day life and routine may also significantly change, being absent from work, not being able to go to the gym or losing (some) of your social life. And the thing i that I love my life and I hate the idea that cancer may come back and take this away from me. Please cancer, stay away.

And this is what I have been up to since my last post in June and what my hair after chemo looks like, nearly 3 years on from treatment. This is why I am happy.

Raoul and I did the anual 10k run in our neighbourhood

Image

My little brother (yes brother, not nephew) is growing up so fast. He is simply gorgeous.

Image

I did the women´s race in Barcelona, along with my friend Vicky who makes the cutest plushies and many other things over at Anda Panda. Big fan of her work.

Image

One of my best mates came to visit over from London. Friends are the best. Particularly Fausto.

Image

Aby loves being on my lap. And I love her being on my lap. What you call a win-win situation.

Image

And last but not least, the man and dog who help me through my darkest moments. Meet the family.

Image

Three years on from cancer

8 Jun

May 6th was 3 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and you know what happened? I completely forgot about it! That day I was flying back from Rio de Janeiro, where I had been working for a week. Before my trip I realized that my flight back was on the day I was diagnosed, which made me think how life changes. Only three years ago I was in a hospital room being told I had cancer. Press the fast forward button and here I am, flying back from Rio and getting on with my life. Funnily enough last year I forgot too.  The strange thing is that I actually think about cancer every day. And my tearful moments often catch me by surprise: I can be running on the treadmill listening to Kanye West sing ”that that don´t kill me can only make me stronger” and then I am transported back to that hospital room, to the chemo suite, and I feel all chokep up. I have had many moments like that.

So, three years on from cancer and this is what my life and my hair post chemo look like:

Selling stuff in a second hand market. Ps. not that my hair is UP! those who have been bald, you know what I mean…

Image

Flying to Rio…

Image

Being in Rio…

Image

Thinking (hard) about my phd

Image

And having my face licked by my dog!

Image

And all of this thanks to the two loves of my life: my boyfriend Raoul and our dog Aby. The two most gorgeous and fun creatures on this planet!

Image

4 Jun

rosaslump:

The Fuck Cancer facebook page was asking today on people´s first thoughts when they were diagnosed with cancer, which brought me to this post! it has rained so much since…

Originally posted on The stories of Rosa and her lump *What life turns out to be when you have to pencil in breast cancer*:

I had to wait a couple of weeks for my results, which was fine with me, because I was going to be ok, right? I had just turned 30, so the possibility of BC seemed so small that I didn’t entertain it. My appointment was at 13:50 on a wednesday, and a few days before I got a message “This is the mammography department, you have an appointment qt 13:30 on wednesday”. “At half one? but in the letter it says at ten to two?” I thought to myself  “must be a mistake”. I forgot about it but the day before I thought that I’d better check what this time business was., so I rang the hospital/”Oh I have to come in for a mammography as well as for results??!?!?!?”. I then knew something wasn’t right.

In times like this google is your best friend, and your worst enemy as…

View original 550 more words

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 181 other followers