I met with my oncologist about 3 weeks ago, and life has continued to be cancer-busy, as I’ve continued to try to get my head round what has happened to me (not sure this will ever quite happen!). Since then I’ve met up with a few friends, been to see my parents, and then a couple more things ‘cancer related’ (aside from my regular treatment infusion).
Who knew that cancer treatment could have such an impact upon your teeth .. .well, several people, which is why there’s a campaign seeking free dental prescriptions alongside the other prescriptions that we get. It was time for my checkup, and I noted that my teeth feel more sensitive – it appears that my gums are receding somewhat – likely just another lovely side effect. I’ve been recommended to ensure I use a good sensitive toothpaste, make sure I time for 2 minutes, use floss, don’t use mouthwash, and put toothpaste on neat during the day too. I may get prescribed some fluoride-intense toothpaste…
Solo Travel: Munich
Life feels like it has become very much work or hospital (maybe with house/decluttering), and in those attempts to try and work out what life might look like whilst #BusyLivingWithMets! So, on receiving an email from EasyJet with some cheap deals, and having vaguely thought about Germany (though not specifically Munich), I decided I wanted to challenge myself to do what I used to enjoy a lot – going somewhere on my own that I’d never been to (and where I don’t really speak the language, despite a couple of years of learning German at school)… Considering that I’ve got quite stressed just going through airports for ‘easier’ trips, after booking this seemed a bit of a crazy idea (but ironically not asking for special assistance aside from going through the special assistance security lane – where I’m not sure if it was my prosthesis or my port that kicked off a full-on pat down)…
I’d remembered to download many episodes of Silent Witness to my iPad, and found my hotel close to the central train station – then realised had forgot my adaptor so ended up exploring nearby shops (lots of toiletries shops for some reason – which don’t sell adaptors), then back with some snack and early to bed. Both days I didn’t leave the hotel until 11am (and didn’t bother booking breakfast because 1) was quite pricey, 2) didn’t want to have to be down by 10am), then walked (looking for Pokemon/landmarks) with frequent stops and random meandering. The full day was back in bed with more snacks by about 5.30pm, though the final day had to stay awake for the flight (which thankfully was on time). The only ‘attraction’ I bothered paying for was the Olympic Tower (9 Euro) – and would have paid for the Rathaus, but the lift was broken (and no, I’m not climbing many steps):
Returned shattered, but felt that had done my mental health a great deal of good! Need to get making that ‘life list’ …
Return to Work
Monday I ‘returned to work’ (working from home still most of the time), plus an appointment with the GP to get enough medication to take to New Zealand – and she wants to see me post NZ to talk longer term trying to manage ‘the new normal’. Like most people with secondary cancer will end up living to a certain extent scan-to-scan – NEAD can last for years, or can disappear overnight.
Anyway, took about 3 hours to delete all the emails I didn’t want, leaving about 300+ to deal with – by end of the week still hadn’t got to the bottom of them! So the whole week was actioning emails, with a visit to work to fill in the ‘Return to Work’ paperwork (at which point I found out what a phased return was supposed to look like) – nicely interrupted by a fire alarm just as I’d asked what a ‘PEEP’ was and whether I needed one (personal evacuation plan).
I’ve found returning to work quite overwhelming and emotional – talking ‘longer term’ and realising that treatment is never going to stop, and that the fatigue may not improve, I’m not entirely sure what I’m capable of any more, and I’m just shattered after 2.5 years of ongoing treatment (cognitive overload is the polite way of putting it … ‘headfuck’ the less polite way). Having said that, I have managed to keep going with a decent amount of work in between (it never feels like enough). I’m hoping that occupational health (Monday) and chats with some others in management may help find a way to allay some anxieties. I picked up the Macmillan brochure on work and cancer too – and online there’s a downloadable guide on questions to ask.
Some information I’ve been sent re managing energy:
By Friday, I was beyond it and had (surprise-surprise) done more work than I should have, so slept a lot. Lunchtime I had an appointment with the Lymphoedema clinic to see how I’m responding to the pressure-support. These appointments always seem to be on time – and she was very happy with what my arm is doing. In fact half my treatment arm is actually SMALLER than my right-arm (which as I’m right-handed doesn’t make sense)… So, she said it could be that it flared up because of all the extra treatments and that we caught it so early, that maybe with continued moisturiser and massage it will be managed without the sleeve. Suggestion is to try for a week without and see what happens … either way I shall be wearing for the flight!
Whilst we were chatting, she (along with most medical/psychological personnel – and TBF, most of my friends) thinks I try and do too much/beat myself up too much. She mentioned that there was a Macmillan Centre over the road, so I went over there for a good chat, came home via Sainsburys (rock and roll) and crashed out.
SO – anyway – for those who are interested, you’re kind of up to date!
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.