[CANCER] Endocrine Therapy: Tamoxifen & Zoladex #BreastCancer #WaitingRoomFeet

I’m super tired. Today was the day that I start on another round of treatment, an injection to be had every 28 days, known as Zoladex (I’d been sent a leaflet by Breast Cancer Care to read a couple of weeks ago). My cancer is fed by oestrogen and progesterone, so my oncologist wants it out of my system as much as possible: although the chemo will apparently already have ‘aged my ovaries’, I’m still young enough to be peri-menopausal, and they want me to be post-menopausal. I had a blood test a couple of weeks ago, and apparently some kind of oestrogen was at levels around 2000+, and they need to be around 70.

Tamoxifen

I started on Tamoxifen before radiotherapy started. It’s a daily tablet, which most people take either first thing in the morning or last thing at night (because it’s easier to remember then). It’s designed to stop oestrogen binding to any random breast cancer cells still potentially floating around the body, despite surgery, chemo and radiotherapy. I’d originally been told that I would take this for 10 years, and not about anything else, but one thing you have to learn with cancer treatment is to be flexible, because things change depending upon test results, and how you respond to different medications.

Within Facebook groups, there is a lot of discussion about when is the best time to take this (it doesn’t matter, whenever you are most likely to remember, although some people find side-effects can be better managed if they change their time – but what works for one, won’t necessarily work for the rest). There is also a lot of discussion about brands – they all have the same active ingredient, but will likely come in different coatings, which can impact different women in different ways. Again, what works for others, won’t necessarily work for you – I’m onto my fourth box, and three of them have been Relonchem, and one box from Wockhardt.

There are a lot of fears about taking Tamoxifen (as there are in starting any of the new treatments, and inevitably we hear about the worst side effects online, as people are seeking help in difficulties). As with everything else, just went for it, and waited to see what would happen. I felt really sick for the first couple of weeks, and then everything settled down. Changing brands doesn’t seem to have impacted me either, so that seemed good.

Zoladex

The Zoladex is for 5 years, and will be injected every 28 days. I’ll need to pre-order it, and then book an appointment at the GP practice for a nurse to inject it – alternating between right/left sides of belly button (for my own notes, we were right side today!).

This morning was an early-ish start, after observing ‘starvation’ since last night. It was time to find another waiting room, check in, and pop myself into whatever free seat I could find whilst I took a ‘bloods token’. I was then called in to have my blood pressure done (those electronic ones are fierce), before returning to the waiting room where I’d missed my bloods slot. I was nervously looking at the bloods box, as there appeared to be 8 different tests required, and I am so difficult to get blood out of. *I miss my port*! Once I was in, I looked at the 5 vials that needed filling, and the tiny vein on the back of my right hand which is the only one that seems to give anything… we got 4.5 vials out, so hoping that’s enough (I don’t find out the results from those today).

And if you’re wondering about the #WaitingRoomFeet, wouldn’t it be “fun” if that would take off. There’s a lot of waiting, it avoids getting anyone else in your picture, people can cheer you on whilst waiting, and all sorts…

Once those tests were done, it was time to head back into another clinic to wait to speak to the specialist nurse (and watch a bit of Homes Under the Hammer whilst waiting, of course!). We talked through what Zoladex is for, why it’s of value. She explained that 4-5 years ago, I would just have been put on Tamoxifen, and that would be that. After the SOFT and TEXT trials, the consultants at The Christie unanimously decided that Zoladex should be used for pre-menopausal women, and so here I am. She explained that the benefits are lesser from age 40 onwards, but there’s still a 2-5% benefit, and I’m all for that. If the oncologist thinks it’s going to help, despite the side-effects, then let’s at least try it. We talked through other medications and things that may impact, the leaflet had outlined possible side-effects (hot flushes, fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, acne all seem common – hurrah), and were told to ring (or hurrah, email) with any symptoms that were bothering, as there’s probably things to try to help manage that. Had to fill out a form about my mood, and any menopausal type side effects – which apparently I’ll do every time. We discussed EMLA cream (which needs to be put on an hour before the injection) to help numb the site, and agreed that the first injection would be done today. A form was put in for a bone scan, as osteoporosis is a possible risk, so that’ll be coming up (and phew, it doesn’t require a cannula, just 10 mins in a machine at some point)!

I was then sent to the pharmacy to activate the prescription for EMLA cream and zoladex, and sent off to have an Echo in another department – that was pretty swift, and I was told anything in the 400-500 zone is good, which mine was, so was allowed to go and get some food (note do not bother with these, or these M&S crisps!), as the prescription would be about an hour!

Pretty much sums up today! #cancerlife #zoladex

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The prescription took just over an hour to arrive back (very busy pharmacy serving the whole hospital plus hundreds of outpatients!) so I took that back through to ‘Department 35’. Was taken into another clinic room, another nurse popped in, said I could have the cream – but once I said I’d had my drains out after surgery without anything, she said this would be easier, so rather than waiting another hour for the cream to numb the area – we went for it! To be honest, it was less painful than the blood tests (where the needle had been wriggled quite a bit to encourage the blood out), and then it was done and we wait and see the impact!

I was then shown how to apply the Lidocaine cream, which I’d been given instead of EMLA (apparently EMLA is easier as comes in self-contained packaging, whereas the Lidocaine need to find large plasters to hold in place, etc.) It needs at least an hour to work, and is then effective for up to around 5 hours – and ended up looking rather like this:

I could have gone then, but once again, a friend who we’d got to know each other as our bloods, etc. appointments always seemed to be scheduled at the same time, was also in for appointments and waiting for the pharmacy – so we popped off to the canteen and chatted through things – both cancer and non-cancer related – whilst enjoying some curly fries (ah, memories of St Johns, Durham there!) until her pharmacy order was ready:


… before I popped off to find a few more #BeeInTheCity:

and home to finish reading a book, write this up, and get ready to crash into bed! It’s always surprising the emotional toil these things take, the anticipation, the wondering what the side effects are going to be – as much as the physical things. Weird way to spend a day of annual leave, but thankfully ‘working from home’ tomorrow – and I’m tired enough to go to bed soon!

Next Steps?

Apparently I’ll have another appointment in about 8 weeks to see what my bloods are doing, and then we’ll look at swapping to Exemestane (not anastrazole as I’d previously been told), to replace the Tamoxifen (I think this is all age related). I’ll then have to come back in 8 weeks after that for more bloods… and if that’s all good, then only ‘once a year’ for this particular clinic.

Cover image from Readers Digest

[DIGITAL] Bless and Block the Trolls #BlessandBlock

Yesterday, after being on BBC Breakfast, as expected, I received a couple of negative comments about my weight (particularly aware because of my involvement in Beyond Chocolate, and the #HAES hashtag). Despite so many positive comments any time I appear on TV, I still remember that when I was on The One Show, sat next to Mel Giedroyc, and someone tweeted that ‘Sue Perkins next to her seems to have porked out somewhat’. People need to remember this:


As I tweeted, I expected that a programme of such high profile, would attract someone who’s focus was on my weight, rather than my expertise.

As I wrote in a piece about someone who trolled the McCanns, but was then pushed into the glare of the media:

…the Malicious Communications Act 1988, which covers Twitter, notes that it is an offence to send messages to another person which are “indecent or grossly offensive”, threatening or false. If the message is intended to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient, they breach the law.

As written in a piece on Psychology Today “Why do people think it’s okay to say racist, inflammatory, or otherwise socially inappropriate things online?”. Most of the time I’d ignore trolls , but this time, I decided I’d respond to the (thankfully only) two that I received/noted on the hashtag.

The first was this, which thankfully a friend had seen and nicely responded to:

*I realise that those who are determined can find out who these people are, but I don’t want a pile on so I have blanked all accounts out for now.

As I wrote in my book (p119), my friend is refusing to be a bystander:

The role of bystanders is often ignored in discussions about online bullying, but they can play an important role in encouraging children to take action. Don’t forget the famous saying attributed to Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” When a situation is already difficult, the real-time nature of social media can feed the situation, but it can also be used to ease tension and allow friends of the victim to declare themselves as “digital allies”. If someone spots a hurtful comment, three others can then come in and protest against the posting.

I posted about this on Facebook, and said that I was tempted to post back with the image of the following badge which had just arrived in the post – and then decided to!

Fred (as this is what he called himself, though clearly not his name) wanted to know why he should care, to which I responded:

To which I received the following response:

A lot of my friends are pretty digitally literate (and listen to my rants about interacting positively, and using social media with wisdom, etc.), and a few more responses came in:

To which I said:

And another friend posted:

Some brought some beautiful responses from our troll *language warning:

In fact you’ll see that our troll is very ‘eloquent’ in his responses:

Another response from a friend gets even more eloquence:

I decided it was worth engaging a couple of times, but clearly he was a ‘proper troll’, and not to be engaged with, so I followed the example of my friend Kate, and went for the ‘Bless and Block’ approach (I’m not quite sure what the second response meant, but…).

Whilst I was at it, I reported the account, and soon after it was suspended. I was surprised that that had happened so fast, though algorithms could be looking for specific insulting words in reported users?!

As Michelle Obama famously said:

I saw this later in the day and thought it summed up how some people approach Twitter – not with reasoned debate, but looking for a snarling fight:

The other person I interacted with, however, demonstrated that it’s sometimes worth trying (he’d posted something about the fact that I should have been down the gym, rather than on Twitter…):

His excuse was:

I am not a fan of excusing anything as ‘Bantz’ because it usually covers up a whole load of unacceptable things (as this misuse of Keep Calm demonstrates):

Fortunately, I also had a load of lovely comments from friends (known and unknown), and this is a good mantra.

It does bug, but basically, it’s not someone’s opinion who I care about, but does continue to drive my passion for continuing to seek ways to make online interactions (and the whole of life) more inclusive, and a more positive space to be!

So:

Love this 🙂

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[MEDIA] Talking #ScrollFreeSeptember (@R_S_P_H) with @BBCBreakfast #BBCBreakfast

NOTE: There are two clips within this post, one from 7.20am, one from 9.40am.

In May 2017, the Royal Society for Public Health produced a report #StateofMind looking at the correlation (though not necessarily causation) between young people’s social media use and mental health/wellbeing. The key findings were:

  • 91% of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social networking
  • Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol
  • Rates of anxiety and depression in young people have risen 70% in the past 25 years
  • Social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep
  • Cyber bullying is a growing problem with 7 in 10 young people saying they have experienced it
  • Social media can improve young people’s access to other people’s experiences of health and expert health information
  • Those who use social media report being more emotionally supported through their contacts

With an unexpected interest in this, they then developed this into the idea of #ScrollFreeSeptember:

The story was picked up in a BBC article at the end of July, but for BBC Breakfast, it made for a good weekend story (Saturday being their day with the highest viewing figures, apparently). It was an early start this morning, with an alarm at 5.30am, taxi at 6am, and at MediaCity, Salford, by 6.30am, ready for make-up, meeting Ed Morrow who I’d be on the sofa with, and chatting to the producers about what to expect/likely questions, and getting miked up.

7.20am:

The original timeslot was 7.20am, and we were then asked to stay on and discuss again til 9.30am (subject to NASA rocket launch). It felt like we had just done introductions, when our timeslot was up … although apparently they’d extended our slot because they liked what we were saying:

Pics from 7.20am slot on @bbcbreakfast – on again 9.30am #scrollfreeseptember

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We spent the intervening time chatting in the Green Room, chomping on a bit of breakfast, and interacting with the others who were on the sofa, as well as our social media feeds!:

9.38am:

Once it was confirmed that the NASA rocket launch is delayed until tomorrow, we went on a fraction later than expected (it’s live news, until your face is being beamed out, you assume you might get bumped!)

Prep Notes

Aside from looking at the BBC story, RSPH page, and the video, I hoicked out a few of the things I’d written/spoken about in the past (and read Yvonne Kelly’s guest blog) and pulled together a few other ideas:

  • Accepted submission to ‘Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health inquiry’ Commons Select Committee (2018).
  • Alicia Blum-Ross: When parents choose ‘screen time’ (2016).
  • There’s a consistent media narrative that needs dealing with. Leads with words such as ‘negative, addictive’, rather than leading with the possibilities and the positive. Most pieces have one line that ‘of course there’s good stuff, but look at all this bad stuff’.
  • Social media is not necessarily something that people need to detox from, and that many don’t actually work in the revolutionary way that people expect (see book extract) – people find other things to fill their time with. When taken in the sense of ‘give it all up’ (rather like a diet, may work in the short term, doesn’t help in the long term – see Beyond Chocolate) – people are likely to give up and then give in – and throw the baby out with the bathwater. Smaller steps in a coaching style = ‘how would it be to try x’?
  • For many people (and not just young people), our phones are somewhat of a Swiss knife, and have much more functionality than many give them credit for.
  • There is value in reflecting on our habits and practices online .. I struggle with the notion that the #ScrollFreeSeptember, although it talks about different levels of ‘giving up’, seems to view going ‘cold turkey’ as a gold standard to be aimed for! The notion of not using for work/school makes sense, except within appropriate sessions … partly depends what your job is. If I need to focus on writing, I’ll often turn it off (and use it for accountability!)
  • The notion of giving up for a month-ish, I’ve looked at before with church members ‘giving up for Lent’, and it feels rather like saying ‘I won’t talk to those friends for a month’. Dave White – Residents & Visitors.
  • RSPH indicates that work social media is OK, but this is where I see a lot of the pressure comes from (companies need to look at policies around social/digital as much as email, and not necessarily starting from a ‘do not’ standpoint)
  • My key point is likely to be a focus on quality not quantity of interaction (see also this 2016 report from LSE).
  • There’s also so much pressure to ‘be productive’ in contemporary times, and it’s OK to make space for play too (balance please).
  • If we’re focusing on technology as the problem, we’re not looking at the other issues – e.g. exam pressures, feeling of limited career options .
  • What happens online tends to be offline amplified (it’s not either-or, or real-virtual), so the cultural expectations to respond ASAP, etc. come from outside the tech. The companies need to look at how they build the software and making their gamification hooks TOO compelling, and need to be answerable to government.
  • There’s always the question of ‘correlation-causation’. Huge amount of pressure on kids – but if we’re focusing on blaming the technology, we’re not thinking about the other pressures (I see #HeadsTogether – the Royal Charity) tends to emphasise this side of things.. and the benefit of bit of mindless activity online. *With computer games, worth giving children e.g.a 20 min warning so they can finish a level, or give them a time range in which they should be finished.
  • One of my favourite quotes from @Livingstone_S is ‘Even though in practice, face-to-face communication can, of course, be angry, negligent, resistant, deceitful and inflexible, somehow it remains the ideal against which mediated communication is judged as flawed’. (2009, 26)
  • As a historian, look back at previous moral panics – we have survived worse things in the past – suspect Ed & I have a lot in common – both want what’s best for children (and rest of society), and in many ways parts of this plan are good (e.g. not all or nothing), but the way it’s framed is part of wider media narrative that technology is ‘bad’ and needs ‘managing’
  • Support groups are great (for single parents, widowed, elderly – my cancer treatment and the value of FB groups (e.g. YBCN, UKBCSG and WIASN) + other social media to connect with others in a way that wasn’t limited by geography – or the time of night-day). Hoping to look at this with Macmillan bid: how does good/bad peer-to-peer information impact on patients and clinical decision making.
  • Bottom line surely is if social media is impacting on your life negatively then taking time to reflect and examine is wise! For some – it may be helpful for some to say ‘I’m doing this thing, so you can’t contact me (between x hours)’. Otherwise, the apologies and feelings of guilt that ‘go on social media every day’ or ‘for 10 hours a week’ is problematic.
  • Draft from Telegraph piece: 39% of 8-11 year olds have their own smartphone, 52% their own tablet device, and 94% are online, for an average of over 13 hours a week. These are just some of the stats from Ofcom’s November 2017 Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report which demonstrate just how thoroughly embedded digital and social media have become within children’s lives. Much of what children do online is positive, including access to information around areas of concern such as mental health and body image, strengthening relationships with friends and family via social media, and access to strong peer support networks. Also: Dustin Hutchinson, National Children’s Bureau, noted to a recent select committee that young people have asked for warnings on social media sites, clear privacy settings, and simple reporting measures in apps. Carolyn Bunting, Internet Matters, said: ‘One of the most critical points is that I do not think that we can use technology and regulation to find our way out of this situation. This is really a cultural and societal issue. It is really all about education of children and parents in this space.’ Families can make use of opt-in filtering from their internet and mobile providers. They can also use ‘parental control apps’ such as FamilyTime, Qustodio, Norton Family Premier, or ESET Parental Control, used in discussion with your child, as a learning opportunity, rather than as a form of spying. The digital is now part of life, and life is not risk free, and requires a multi-stakeholder approach, including wider society.
  • Social Media and Surveillance extract: Much media discourse around digital and social media is negative, claiming that it is all a ‘waste of time’, and simply provides a space for poorly-managed conflict. Within society, especially religious cultures, the ‘protestant work ethic’ has infected the discourse (van Hoorn, A. & Maseland, R., 2013, 10). The notion that users may be wasting time, assumes that all users use it the same way, and use it negatively (Goldsmith, 2016). It signifies the moral panics that accompany every new technological development: ‘If modern people worry over whether digital electronics threaten to corrupt religious experience, their grandparents worried about the intrusion of electrical light into sacred spaces, and their great-grandparents debated the permissibility of musical instruments for worship’ (Adam, 2012, 5). Adam identifies that socially permissible uses of technology are for clothing, shelter, and food preparation, and that any use for entertainment, comfort and self-indulgence is deemed impermissible (2012, 7). There is no doubt that online content is full of triviality, but no more than in everyday conversation amidst stages of relationship formation, where surface conversation topics help establish trust, defined by McCormack (2018) as ‘weak ties’, leading to ‘strong ties’ amongst mountain biking communities.”
  • The pressure on physical presence together, or a physical book – how and when should we be online, (when is it helpful, what do you need to learn/know, why might you be expected to interact with others just because you happen to be physically together, but if you are physically together then you should be – that doesn’t mean don’t end up using phones – we often have a online/offline convo searching something together, etc. like that art picture … at least social media is interactive.
  • how can we protect ourselves from getting lonely using social media etc. (it’s all about how we use it – see the benefits e.g. for those who are disabled – lots of technology is enabling, for those on the autistic spectrum – use online/offline) … those who are using social media as some kind of barrier/mask, etc. are likely those already struggling – amplifies what is already happening.
  • See as DIFFERENT aspects of one life – have been challenging people to move from virtual/real to online/offline, but even that is not necessarily a helpful distinction – in the past, kids talking about a parent who wrote a book said it was like talking about how to write with a pencil
  • Responsibility on all of us – govt, parents, schools, youth groups, etc. We shape the environment, and we can’t put all the pressure on parents, although children are looking for boundaries so also parents can’t put everything onto legislation … how much trust do we put in the social media companies – need to be questioning what they are doing, ensure they are being held accountable – they have a lot of power (but then so have other groups in the past). Need to teach strong values – what happens online is offline accelerated – if children are taught that x is wrong, and understand why – less likely to undertake unhealthy habits such as bullying. Question of addiction – v few are truly addicted (self-definition)– those who are need help … need to look at own habits (we’re role models), and demonstrate healthy use. E.g.. putting phone to one side for time together, playing board games … but not demonizing tech.
  • Paranoia – many of these things are not inherently bad – and screentime should be about quality not quantity… that doesn’t mean you can’t set screentime limits but question whether you would say the same thing if your child had their nose in a book for weeks on end (as I did when I grew up as had no TV) – why is digital ‘bad’ whereas the range of things that can be done on a device these days…

And it appears that there’s a deadline of MONDAY on an APPG on young people/social media/mental health.

[CANCER] Urban Axe Throwing with @WhistlePunksUK, courtesy of @ElliesFriends

When cancer strikes, it’s pretty rubbish, and your life can become absorbed by medical appointments, a fear of the future – often combined with a desire to cram in as many experiences as possible as life feels more precious and there ‘to be lived’. Many charities help with all kinds of aspects of cancer, but, along with the Willow Foundation (for 40 & under), and The Honey Rose Foundation, Ellie’s Friends is one that I’ve been privileged to win a couple of things from – including some hats from Annabandana, most of which found their way back to Maggie’s in Manchester (Maggie’s and Ellie’s Friends are now part of the same charity). Here’s why they exist:

Anyway, their prizes are all over the country, so pick carefully – but one that intrigued me in Manchester, was Urban Axe Throwing – and I was duly informed that I was the first winner of this prize, so they wanted to know if it turned out to be a good prize! I received 2 sets of tickets for 2 people … and I still have one set left (ticket holder already assigned, sorry if you want to go, but you could always join us once we book!!!).

After popping into a Chinese buffet, we headed to the venue (in with the Odeon cinema on Deansgate) – via a handful of #BeeInTheCity:

Getting that axe arm ready! Thanks @elliesfriends #beeinthecity

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We had to ‘sign our lives away’ on an iPad disclaimer form, given the opportunity to buy some (non-alcoholic) drinks or snacks before starting, could play some games or darts, or just generally look around! A note that flat shoes are recommended, and open-toed shoes are not permitted (although a really fetching pair of Crocs was provided for the one person who had these). You’ll be joining in with whoever else has signed up – in our case 13 people all from the same company – and the 2 of us!

The team was good, getting the atmosphere going. We had 3 attempts at single throwing – much of which I looked like this as my axe bounced back off the board towards me:

The tips were good – e.g. ‘good stance’, ‘try gripping this way’, ‘try counting before letting go’, and how to get around surgery arm, etc. I still hadn’t embedded the axe into anywhere but the edge of the board by the time we went into ‘competition’ mode – in which we played in pairs (we had 2 lanes open), and the higher scores would play off against each other until there was a full on winner. We then had the opportunity to try throwing 2 axes, our instructors showed a couple of ‘trick throws’, then took photos and wished us a good evening. I think 2 people from the evening got their name on the ‘wall of fame’ (for those with scores over 50) – that most definitely didn’t include me!

So, overall, fun experience – I always like trying new things. I’m looking forward to going back and having another go (and if you really like it, you can join a league!!). And there’s a 10% code available for others too: iamawhistlepunk

[CANCER] 1 Year Mammogram #BreastCancer

So, this time last year, I had not even had an appointment with the GP about a concerning lump (that was 15th August – so I must have booked it, but not told anyone). My bedroom was nearly finished (I’d been stripping it, painting it, getting electrics, furniture, carpets done) – little knowing how much time I was going to spend in it. My annual calendar was set up with teaching deadlines, and I was looking forward to some leave – as I was SHATTERED (even more so than I usually had been – we all know why now, don’t we!):

Preparing for Mammogram

My surgeon was about to go on annual leave, so I’d been invited in for my ‘1 year mammogram’ a couple of weeks early (mammogram, etc. was 23rd and diagnosis was 30th August).

Image: http://picreativemarketing.com/portfolio_page/mammogram-cartoon/

I haven’t felt particularly concerned about the mammogram, as I’ve not any concerning symptoms (I do sometimes worry that I still haven’t learnt & don’t panic about every random symptom as I know some do, but maybe that’s a good thing – and I do try and observe the ‘2 week rule’ we’re recommended about anything that DOES concern me). Still thought I’d keep myself busy today however, meeting an old friend for lunch, and a new friend for finding more #BeeInTheCity

Tracked down some more #beeinthecity

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The Appointment

I’d rung to check last week that 4.45pm was the correct time, as there’s a sign in the waiting room saying ‘after 4.30pm, you may not be able to have a mammogram’, but because the surgeon’s going on holiday, better to see him, and if necessary come back for mammogram. I’d offered to come in earlier if it would help, to have the mammogram first, but they said the consultant always wants to check you over first (and he’s the one who requests it).

I didn’t even get a chance to sit in the waiting room – straight through to one of the rooms. Brief chat with some of the nurses, then they left me to change into the ‘wonderful’ robe:

Mr Dimoupolos then came in for a chat, told me I was looking very well, said the year had gone fast (then said, maybe not for you!). I said I’m feeling pretty positive, just struggling with fatigue and peripheral neuropathy, grabbling with the psychological effects, and waiting the next set of meds! There is no fan/air con in the treatment rooms, so by this point, despite only wearing half my clothes, sweltering and sweating!

Last night, I realised I had things I wanted to ask, and today I’ve been gradually remembering them, putting them as comments in my appointment on todoist – and then when I got in the hospital I ticked the appointment off and couldn’t see my notes = genius. Think they all came back to me though:

  • Can I join exercise classes, etc or are there any restrictions? Can do anything, listen to body, and start gently – especially with weights
  • Got a place on ‘Casting for Recovery‘ – need a note as to my medical fitness – trying to explain ‘fly fishing’ to someone who’s first language is Greek (we had even more fun last year when I said ‘I feel a bit ropey’!)
  • Do we need to do anything about the ‘excess skin’ under my armpit (he thinks this is pretty balanced, but said we’ll have another look in November, when any radiotherapy damage should have settled down):
  • He asked me how I’m dealing with the fatigue – I said I’m trying to go to bed earlier, get up when alarm goes off, and get out walking – a lot!
  • The MRI scan to have for my spine should be around October, so he said a letter for that is coming, and then I’ll see him in November for the results. He said we’ll talk about any tidy up, and any likelihood of reconstruction then (I’m not particularly swayed by arguments for reconstruction yet – with long surgery + long-ish recovery time, but never say never!)
  • I’m seeing Dr Chittalia in January, so sounds like I’ll swap appointments between them for a while.

The Mammogram

The lady doing the mammogram was waiting for me (literally – she hadn’t had an appointment since 2.30pm!) so went straight through there too. They’re not fun, but I’m not too bothered by them. Whip the top half back off again …. she lines you up with the ‘straight on’ and the ‘bend to the side’ move – she did both twice – very clearly stating that this wasn’t because she’d seen anything of concern!

Only one side to do, so in and out pretty swiftly. Mr D has said that he will send a formal letter when he returns from holiday, so probably end of August, to the GP. If anyone spots any problems they won’t wait for him to come back, I’ll get a phone call and a recall… so let’s hope for the letter and turn our attention to the zoladex appointment I have some time next Monday at the Christie (no one’s told me what time yet, but I think it’s quite a long-ish one with blood tests, ECHO, bone scans, etc.)… I spoke to the specialist nurse who manages it all, and she said my blood test the other week showed that I had a (something-oestrogen) level of 2000+ and they need it to come down to around 70 (as my cancer cells – of which we hope there are none, but if there are any – are fed by oestrogen) – the zoladex will bring the levels down, kicking off a chemical menopause (whoop!).