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Life with cancer

Things can be going along great then all of a sudden you have to stand back and change the road you are on.

In November I caught a nasty throats infection. I was unable to see my regular doctor and took an appointment with another at the practice so I could get help and not have to wait. During the consultation she mentioned that Pap smears were changing so if I wanted too it might be an idea to have one once I was well. A week later I turned up for that appointment and asked her to do a breast check as well. I don’t know why I got her to do that I hadn’t been to concerned although I had felt a bit of itchiness a few months before. This was during the time I was packing and cleaning. I had put it down to that.

when she found the lump she immediately organised for me to have a biopsy about 280km away in Port Augusta. So within a week I was on my way. Mamagrams and a very painful biopsy took place. I screamed in pain as the fine needle penetrated my poor boob. They had to give me an extra local antiseptic to continue the bruise from that stayed with me.

Less than a week later I was called into the surgery to be told the results came back clear but the speacilist from Port Augusta was still concerned So the decision was made to send me to Adelaide Royal Hospital for more extensive biopsys.

The 3 core biopsies I had next in Royal Adelaide Hospital confirmed the cancer and the hospital informed me by phone within a few days. Next trip to Adelaide was for a Carbon tracking procedure  that didn’t take place but I met my breast care nurse and filled out forms that prepped me for surgery. Christmas and the new year was upon us so I had to sit this out till I could head to Adelaide again for surgery.
In the mean time I was sent a lot of information for both my husband and I to read. I decided to not look at it without overwhelming myself so didn’t read anything till after the new year. There was nothing I could do and stressing both of us out seemed silly.
My breast care bra also arrived and the my journey kit.
Accomodation is provided once diagnosis is confirmed by the cancer council it is fairly cheap accomodation and can be supported by pats if long stays are needed. This I was greatful for as the trips to Adelaide were already breaking the bank for me and I was concerned about how I would be able to afford it.

To go through this you need a strategy in your mind to ward off  any panic that occasionally wells up. Mine is to only learn about it at each stage and not be scared to share information with others.  It’s my coping mechanism. It also doesn’t fill my head with too much information that will scare me. I have always been someone that over thinks things so I’m a bit shocked that I am was so calm. Talking to speacilist as I travel this road agree that my strategy is the best way to go forward.

The only regret I have had so far is being the tech head I am I joined a breast cancer forum and regretted it immediately. Everyone’s journey is different and not everyone has a happy story to tell. The fear was in full view so I just asked some practical questions received my answers and stood back from it. At least it is there if I need it.

Pre admission the day before my surgery consisted of being injected with a radio active substance that allowed my lymp nodes to show so their path could be pinpointed and they could be removed.  I also saw the anethisist had an ECG and spoke to a doctor and a care nurse. It was interesting to see one of the Asian doctors bow to me and wish me luck. It felt sincere and I appreciated the gesture.

The day of the surgery arrived with me heading to admissions early morning and going through the processes pre surgery.  They make sure they have your name and give you a code number that is used to identify you all day. My number was 245028800 so everything connected to me was given my name and this number. No procedure or any medication is given to you before they have identified you by name date of birth and code number. It was very reassuring knowing that this process was in place.

Once I had changed into a gown and taken into the pre op room. Each of my surgeons nurses and anethiasts came to visit me and introduce themselves.

It impressed me that all except one nurse were female who asked me did I have any questions. I said to all of them I did not and felt I was in good hands with so much girl power looking after me. As a women that has always had female managers and bosses and a strong believer in women in power being competent. I was also pleased that all the women were a young team and I had every confidence in them.

As I was wheeled in I was set up with ECG equipment they put on compression socks and slowly put in drips ready for me to be knocked out.  I had a giggle when the anethiast said on 3 occasions vein shame each time she missed the vain. It was something she was not used to doing she said and each ti e a bit of shame came with it. I remember thinking how clean the room was compared to the rest of the old hospital  as I fell asleep smiling comfortable in knowing I was in good hands.

When I awoke I was very calm and still under the influence of some very relaxing drugs. I quietly said hello to the nurse standing over me as I come too in recovery.

There was a hullabaloo going on in the bed next to me with many nurses and doctors hanging around it. I heard them say to the women that they found she was allergic to some of the drugs they had just given her so we’re administration another drug to help her. It is not a nice thing to happen but I heard my head saying I’m glad that I woke up feeling so relaxed.

I didn’t stay in recovery long they took me to a lovely private room where I paid for a voucher for 24 hour TV internet and movies and settled in to recouperate.

The bed was comfortable it was the same one I woke up on in recovery they placed a speacial heat pad blanket on me which was light and kept me warm all night and next morning. After breakfast the doctors and there colleagues popped in to see me. I seemed to see a sea of different people each time that filled me in on what was the next stage. I convinced them that a conference call about the results of the Tumour and type of cancer would be relayed to me would suit me better.  This is stage 2. Identifying the cancer.  I didn’t really want to have to fly to Adelaide to get the results and the locum that was visiting our town would be perfect for changing the dressing later next week. I would have to go to Adelaide when the radiation speacialist wanted to see me. Which was stage 3 of this journey.

I was pleased when they agreed to my request. I also spoke to my breast care nurse who suggested she follow up with Angel flights so that I am not over burdened financially and it could cut down on the costs I am incurring with the cost and infrequent flights back and forward. Don’t get me wrong I am grateful that there is even an airport close by and that BHP allow for a few community tickets and I am happy to adjust the times I can fly. My first trip had me stranded in Adelaide for 4 days but it was better than the two day drive and accomodation to get home.  Adjusting and being flexible has always played a part in my life.

I am surprised that I have been so calm about what is happening to me. Not sure if it’s just shock or whether the realisation that it is something I can’t just problem solve away.  So I don’t see freaking out and worrying of any benefit to my illness at all. There are many things I can do to keep my mind active. I can look after my diet and take living healthy to the extreme.



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