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My Cancer Journey

Pauline’s Journey (The Road to New York)

Below are some excerpts from my Facebook page that I set up for close family and friends when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  It’s a journey through Breast Cancer treatment.  This page really helped me and I like to think it helped my family too.  It’s easy to see from the posts that this was a massively difficult time but without the support I wouldn’t have got through it.  You may be wondering why I am posting something so personal…..and I have thought long and hard about this.  Now that I can finally say I have finished my treatment, I am hoping that my story will help and inspire others, no matter what life throws at us we can get through it!!

April 12, 2016

I have created this page so I can post privately to close friends and family about my journey through my treatment. As you can see from the name of the page (The Road to New York) I have a goal. I’m confident I will reach my goal, pretty sure Richard and I will deserve a well earned holiday after this, but I’m going to need help getting there. I may use this page to ask for help to get some groceries or I may use it to get some inspiration and positivity. I know I can count on you all to cheer me up when I need it most.
Although my journey started a number of weeks ago, for me today marks a turning point. It’s been a long waiting game till now but today I have my port inserted ready for my first chemo tomorrow. The procedure sounds nasty but I’m feeling surprisingly positive and ready to fight. Love to all xx

April 12, 2016

Port has been inserted. Feeling ready for tomorrow……bring it on!!
Off for a meat feast with the hubby x

April 13, 2016

First chemo done and dusted!!! Feeling ok so far. Fingers crossed they have given me enough anti sickness drugs…..time will tell.

April 14, 2016

I can only describe how I feel as DRUNK!! It feels like I have been out on a heavy night of dancing, gossiping and cocktails. You know that feeling at the end of the night after 10 too many when you feel sick, sore head and a little unsteady on your feet, thankfully I don’t have the room spin! Only problem is that this feeling is lasting all night and day……must of been some pretty lethal cocktails.
Don’t worry, I’m still managing to eat, who’d have thought it 😀. Now, where’s that fruit (chocolate) I bought………x

April 18, 2016

Oh how I wish I was still as naive as I was this time last week!! Since my last post on Thursday I have had the hangover from hell. I know I am at that age where a three day hangover is the norm but this beats all hangovers and I don’t recall having any fun getting it. I have another 15 of these to get through and I honestly have no idea how I am going to do it.
I am still experiencing some changes in my body which are not pleasant but I’m hoping that they will be more manageable going forward than the last fours days.
Mum, Dad and Richard haven’t left my side and I will be eternally grateful for all they have done this week. Thank you to those that have sent messages of support. It really does make all the difference. Much love x

April 26, 2016

Today I visited my oncologist for scan results and check up on how I managed with the first round of chemo. Scan results were all clear and he is pleased with how I am coping with the treatment. I explained I had one week of hell and since then I have felt better than I have felt in months. May it continue…..if one week of hell is what I need to do to have two weeks of fabulousness then I can live with that!!
My hair has started to fall out. I haven’t succumbed to the clippers yet but I don’t think it will be long before I do… falling in my taco at dinner is almost the final straw 😊 x

April 27, 2016

The clippers came out and the hair came off. I’m not entirely happy about the situation but it was the right time to do it. Richard joined me with the shaved look in solidarity….❤️. It’s a bit cold though 

May 3, 2016

Chemo cycle 2 done. Sorry for the awful picture…….reality sucks! x

May 24, 2016

Chemo cycle 3 done and dusted. Only one more of the big ones to go and then I’m on to the easy peasy cycles……..see you on the other side.  Wanda the wig has made an appearance today x

June 1, 2016

Unfortunately the other side is yet to arrive. I thought I was nearly there but I now have a throat/chest infection which has knocked me back a bit. Anti sickness drugs aren’t working and all in all I feel pretty crappy. Moan over…….there are people much worse off than me in the world and I’m pretty lucky really.

June 2, 2016

I’m feeling better today which is always a positive. Unfortunately my white blood cells are being a bit stroppy and not playing the game so I’m stuck in hospital for another night. Fingers crossed they get their act together and I can get home tomorrow. If any of you healthy people fancy visiting me then you are always welcome but please don’t bring any germs with you 😊

June 13, 2016

I’m feeling mixed emotions at the moment. Tuesday will be my last big chemo treatment, moving on to weekly treatments in July. Weekly may not sound better but the drugs are not as strong and less side effects therefore I’m trying to focus on the positives of being nearly half way through my treatment and it getting easier (fingers crossed). I just need to get through the next three weeks. Some sad news today has put things in to perspective and I’m very grateful for all that I have, an amazing husband and wonderful family and friends. Cherish those closest to you and make sure they know how much you love them. Love to all xx

June 20, 2016

Having had a really tough week I’m finally starting to feel like me again. Give me another day or two and in the words of Arnie “I’ll be back”!! I don’t know what I did to deserve Richard…..he hasn’t left my side for a whole week and despite having his own aches and pains has cared for me in ways that no husband should have to. Cooking has never been his speciality but he has been able to keep me fed on meals which I enjoyed and make me laugh when laughing felt like something other people did. 
I’m still not able to describe how this chemo makes me feel. I think a new word needs to be invented. It’s not tiredness, and fatigue and lethargy don’t seem strong enough words. There are many many side effects which I am experiencing but luckily only in small amounts. I’m conscious it could be much worse and as I’m such a woose I’m very grateful it isn’t any worse than this. I’m not strong and I’m not brave, I’m just doing what needs to be done, what I’m being told I need to do! I am however doing what I can to get through this and without the love and support of my family and friends it just wouldn’t be possible.  ❤️
Tomorrow I’m going to the hospital for a course to learn how to put on eyebrows (and other girly make up things)……..mine are pretty much non existent now so I’m looking forward to trying to make myself look normal. If you see me and I have a thick monobrow please just pretend I look normal 😀 x

July 4, 2016

This chemo is making me put on weight at a rate of knots. Or it might have something to do with the 1kg bag of peanut m&m’s that I’m working my way through 😊. Either way I need to get my fat arse to the gym. If only I could find the energy. Lame excuse but also true. It’s my first weekly chemo tomorrow and I have high hopes of what I’m going to achieve this week…..I’m aiming for one day of crap and be back to normal by Thursday. If that’s the case then I’m going to make a real effort to get to the gym at the weekend. Richard and I are hoping to go on holiday in the break between my chemo and radiotherapy. I need to get my body beach ready so I don’t embarrass him (I will do that in other ways 😋). In the meantime I’ll finish off my bag of m&m’s. Can’t have them going to waste.

July 18, 2016

I took a friend to Maggie’s today to show her what an amazing place it is. For those that don’t know Maggie’s is a support centre for patients, their families and carers. I use the term ‘centre’ loosely as when you walk in you feel like you have been transported to a tranquil, peaceful and beautiful space in the world away from the busy streets of Manchester. You can walk in and make yourself a brew in the lovely kitchen and sit at the massive table chatting to other visitors or take it out to the garden to sit and gather your thoughts. Maggie’s Manchester has been open for 6 weeks and I get emotional thinking about the thousands of people this place is going to help. It really is exactly what people need, it offers so much in terms of emotional and practical support. Maggie’s is a charity with many volunteers who keep the place open Monday to Friday and even some of the psychologists from the hospital volunteer their time to offer psychological support. I won’t keep ranting on about it, please take a look at the website for yourself.
I’m doing ok and back at Christie’s tomorrow for my third blast of the weekly chemo. I can’t put in to words how different this weekly chemo is to the horrible nasty chemo I was having previously. I feel like I have a bit of control back which is fanbloodytastic!!! We are off for a wee weekend of camping on Friday……please keep your fingers crossed for no rain x

August 16, 2016

Maggie’s have posted this today on their Facebook page. I hope it generates more donations for them x

August 19, 2016

I was dreading this day…….the day when I can’t manage both my work and my treatment. Today was my last day in work for at least three months. I need to focus on getting through my treatment which is getting progressively harder. 
Any suggestions of what I can now do with my spare time will be greatly received. Obviously I can’t climb any mountains or run any marathons and no massive “to do” lists which if you know me at all you’ll know this will be very difficult for me to deal with 😋. I’m off to have a frozen margarita and see if I can get brain freeze. Happy weekend x

September 13, 2016

Penultimate chemo today. Can’t believe it’s nearly over…..its a strange feeling. One of joy but also apprehension about the next chapter in this journey. I know it will be ok but it’s the unknown that waits ahead. 
My hair is as grey as John Major and still growing…..think a wee make over is needed before our holidays. Don’t want people thinking Richard is on holiday with his mother!! 😊
Hope you all enjoy the sun xx

September 21, 2016

Last chemo yesterday and I’m not sorry to see the back of those frozen hands and feet mitts…….the pain is unbearable!! Try sticking your hands and feet in bags of frozen peas for an hour and a half and you will see what I mean. 
It hasn’t really sunk in that it was my last (ever?!?) chemo, feeling too rough and sorry for myself today and apprehensive about the next stage. I will snap out of it as the week goes on, got our holiday to look forward to now.  🌞

September 22, 2016

I have spent the majority of the day with people who get it…..they get that this journey doesn’t really end, it’s just an ongoing series of transitions. Transitioning from one treatment to the next and from treatment to post treatment and from that, on to coping with the ‘what if’s’. Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, you never return to ‘normality’ as you knew it, you have to create a new ‘normality’ but how do you do that when human nature gets in the way. How do you learn to live with the doubt and the niggles and the worry?? I don’t have all the answers but I’m glad I am able to surround myself with people that can help me understand and learn to be me again….a different me but it will still be me!!

October 14, 2016

Port removal day today! This feels like a milestone and perhaps after the procedure I will feel a sense of elation that I didn’t feel after my last chemo treatment. 3 positive things I will try and focus on today are:
1. No more alien object in my chest
2. I can get comfy in bed without something hard poking at me (lol)
3. Struggling to think of a third one but I’m sure it exists……ooh, I get to go and see Dirty Dancing the musical tonight!!

Yesterday was spent studying mindfulness which I think has set me up nicely for today. It’s amazing that we spend 47% of our lives on auto pilot and it makes such a difference to take a step back and actually make the mind see what is happening in the here and now. It’s going to take some practice but I’m going to give it a blast on a small scale at least. 
I have discarded my wig and one day I may decide to burn the thing. It’s got to the point where I hate wearing it. You try wearing the same item of clothing every day for 6 months and you will see what I mean, it’s practically the same thing with my wig!! My own hair is still very short and I dyed it a dark brown which to be honest doesn’t suit me but I’m happy to live with it for now. 
The aftermath of chemo has left me with painful joints and I’m walking like a 90 year old woman. Apparently it’s a thing and it will go away eventually, I just hope it is soon as I have a life to live 😀😀😀 (never thought I would be saying that when I was first diagnosed!). 
Happy Friday everyone!x

October 21, 2016

Had my radiotherapy planning session this week and I have been forever marked by radiotherapy tattoos……..or so they say, they are so minute that I can’t find them. I was hoping for a love heart or dolphin 😀. I start the radiotherapy on Tuesday for 20 sessions, that’s one every week day for 4 weeks. I’m not worried about getting it or the side effects but finding the motivation to go to the hospital every day is going to be a challenge!  
Started my tamoxifen today which is a cancer drug to suppress the oestrogen in my body. There are many side effects of this drug which if I spent too long thinking about I would probably not pop the pill everyday. I have to take it for 10 years so I had better get used to it. Please don’t hold it against me if I start to get a deep voice or grow some stylish facial hair, mind you that seems to be all the rage at the moment, Dominic I may be in touch for some grooming tips 😋. On the positive side, I’m eligible for free prescriptions!!
The wig is back!! I started to feel a bit self conscious without it and although it might sound superficial the wig and the drawn on eyebrows really do make me feel better. I just wish my eyebrows would hurry up and grow back. It’s amazing the difference they make to a face. I did ask Richard to shave his off in solidarity but for some reason he wasn’t down with that idea.
I need to now focus on my weight as the tamoxifen will make me gain even more weight and I’m already at the stage where chairs are sticking to my fat bum when I stand up!!  Eric I need some help!! I’ll talk to you when we have our next catch up.
I’m off out tonight for some well deserved cocktails with my lovely and loyal friend Julie. A night of drinking and chatting is just what I need.
Happy weekend x

November 2, 2016

Did you know there is good stress and bad stress?!? I have always thought of stress as a negative thing but in fact we all need a certain amount of stress to help us perform well. I like the teacup analogy where we all have a small amount of stress at the bottom but then life’s woes fill the teacup up and make it over flow becoming bad stress. So the next time someone tells you they are stressed tell them that’s a good thing, just try to not let your teacup overflow!
In other news…….its session 7 of my radiotherapy today with 13 to go. I’m starting to get tired quicker, those household chores will need to wait another day 😀 (any excuse)! I’m not yet experiencing any other side effects and fingers crossed it stays that way. I have developed a small routine each day to help me with the chore of going to the hospital every day. It involves a morning walk to the village for a costa coffee to start my day and loosen up my joints which still feel 90 years old but the walk helps, until I sit down again. It does feel a bit like Groundhog Day but I know there is an end coming very soon.
I spent some time at Maggie’s yesterday . Talking to some of the people experiencing cancer, we all have similar feelings and thoughts. A common one was that we have all stopped talking to people about our treatment and journey as it has been going on so long that people lose interest and it therefore becomes just who we are ‘oh that’s so and so with cancer’. We lose our identity. I have noticed myself that when someone asks how I am doing I just give the simple “I’m ok” answer and then move on. In general I am ok but as the cancer is ruling my life and encompasses just about everything I do there isn’t much else to talk about. Some people at Maggie’s have said they have lost friends since their diagnosis as these friends don’t know how to cope with it. I’m glad to say that hasn’t happened to me and if anything my friends and family have become closer.
Have a lovely sunny crisp day!x

November 21, 2016

As mentioned in a previous post, when my chemotherapy finished I was expecting to feel elated and as if a weight had been lifted but I was very disappointed and confused when that didn’t happen. Today was my LAST radiotherapy session and again I haven’t really felt as if a big fanfare has gone off so I decided to take ownership of it and create my own 😀! The bell in this picture is located in the radiotherapy department at Christies and is used to signify the end of treatment for patients. I couldn’t let this opportunity go by so Richard became my cameraman and we created this wee video.
My treatment may have ended but my journey continues and I suspect will do so for some time. I wasn’t given a guide book for cancer but with the help of my family and friends I have made it to this day. I want to thank each and every one of you for supporting me throughout my treatment, I am very humbled. THANK YOU!!!xx

December 15, 2016

Another milestone was met today……..I returned to work. This has produced some mixed feelings as, while I am very pleased to be fit enough to be back at work, I’m not going to lie, the time off has been nice with my only worry being what to have for lunch!! I will be pacing myself, I mean I do have the joys of Christmas food to think about and I won’t let work get in the way of that 😀. My priority today was organising a Christmas buffet lunch for my team, the thousands of emails that I have can wait!
In other news, I have had a restyle of my hair. It will take some getting used to as I still don’t recognise myself in the mirror but I kind of like it and may end up growing it a little but keeping it fairly short. It certainly takes less time to get ready in the morning although nothing beats the quickness of throwing on a wig 😀.

January 30, 2017

Can you believe it’s nearly February!! February last year was the start of my journey, not only did I lose my 100 year old Gran (who I miss terribly) but it was the month I found my lump. I can still remember the shock and fear when I found it but I wasn’t hanging around, I was straight to that GP’s surgery and wouldn’t leave until I saw someone. From then on it was a whirlwind of activity. A year on….what have I learned?? Well I have learned that life is precious and if I did one thing right it was getting to that GP’s surgery right on time. Friends and Family are important, don’t dismiss their help or take them for granted. I was never one to accept help and always wanted to do things by myself. I have realised that sometimes it’s just not possible to do things for yourself and sometimes it’s much more rewarding when you work together as a team. January has been a strange month, one that I thought I was managing pretty well considering I am back at work. Turns out that I haven’t been taking enough time for me. While I have tried to move on from last year, I have gone from one extreme to another. I was spending a lot of time speaking to people, attending courses, group discussions etc and that has all stopped. I have learned that I still need all that and I must get my toolkit out and dust off all the tools I equipped myself with last year.
I wonder what you have learned since this time last year, please feel free to share.

March 1, 2017

Just as things start to settle down the pace picks up again. Last Thursday I went to see my consultant fully expecting to have my first big check up with mammogram and ultrasound. I have been suffering a bit since the beginning of February with pain and stiffness down my left side. I won’t lie, I was worried about it but knew I had an appointment coming up and decided to wait and avoid Googling my symptoms. (Insert advice here: never Google symptoms!!). Turns out that there is still quite a bit of damage from the radiotherapy which is causing the pain and the stiffness is from the removal of my lymph nodes last year. I need physiotherapy and had a bone scan as a precautionary measure. So no mammogram last week, waiting for pain to improve which I’m ok with. Those of you who have had a mammogram know how painful they are anyway so to have one when you are already in pain is just torture. The thought of my boob being squeezed to within an inch of it’s life right now makes me feel sick lol!!!
What else has been happening…… well apart from trying to get my brain engaged at work (nothing new there 😀) we have been planning our trips for this year. Got quite a few things planned as we need to make up for last year. The next trip being NEW YORK BABY!!!! Itinerary is almost complete and it’s going to be a full on week, we can’t wait!! It’s funny really as when I started this page I assumed that going to NYC would be the end of my journey (hence the name) but what I have learned is that there is no end…..Life is a journey and we are all aboard!!
Happy Wednesday all x

March 2, 2017

What a week I have had. Thankfully all good apart from my catastrophic error on Tuesday… more of that later. If I was to put my highlights of the week (and it’s only Thursday) in order it would go something like this…
1. Being offered (and accepting) a new job taking me well out of my comfort zone and providing me with lots of challenges 
2. Seeing Logan the new Wolverine film at the BMI IMAX, the biggest screen in Britain apparently
3. Doing a great interview on Tuesday, probably one of my best ever (my presentation skills have come on leaps and bounds!!)
4. Getting the results that my bone scan is all clear and all in all I’m in pretty good health (apart from the pain from radio but I have become very good at ignoring that)
5. Listening to a motivational speech by Jonas Kjellberg the founder of Skype and actually very funny
The catastrophic error took place on Tuesday morning when I turned up at the wrong place for my interview. That may not sound so bad until you hear just how far away I was…….I turned up at a location in Manchester and the interview was in London!!!…..Insert lots of expletives and name calling here!! I clearly still suffer from chemo brain. I managed to rescue the situation by rushing for the next train to London and making my way across the city just in time for my interview starting. Luckily for me it was in the middle of the afternoon and I pulled off the old “I’ve been here all day” routine lol!! Needless to say I was very stressed but thankfully settled down enough to pull off what will be going down in history as the greatest escape ever!!!
Thank you to Julie for helping me see sense that it was possible to rescue the situation and for listening to me call myself all the names under the sun 😀.
Here’s to a great Friday!!x

March 6, 2017

Today marks one year since my diagnosis. Since the turn of the year I have been waiting for this day…….it might sound strange but it feels like a momentous occasion. I guess I’ll have many days like this in the coming year, a year since my operation, a year since my first chemo, a year since I lost my hair etc etc. The question is do I just move on and forget it or do I spend 10 minutes contemplating what we have been through. These are the days that were the hardest of them all, trying to make sense of it. Diagnosed on the 6th March, turned 39 on 7th March and had the operation on 8th March. It was a crazy few days followed by months of feeling like I was on another planet.
It wasn’t just a difficult time for me. Richard was thrown in to this world of uncertainty just as much as I was. For Mother’s Day (6th March last year) I gave my mum the worst news a daughter could give to a mother and my Dad had just lost his Mum, the last thing he needed was this diagnosis. I would hate to think that any of them were living in the past, getting upset by what has been. I therefore must take my own advice. I’ll remember the positives, I’ll move on but I’ll never forget x

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