APPOINTMENTS, SCANS, PROCEDURES & TREATMENT
The Scans, Procedures and Treatment you have could span over a period of months, it all depends on many factors associated with your Cancer and proposed treatment.
In all I had 15 Appointments prior to starting chemo, which was pretty much every week.
TIMELINE OF APPOINTMENTS, SCANS, PROCEDURES & TREATMENT
GP APPOINTMENT - FRI 11TH MAY 2018
This appointment was with my GP to determine whether another appointment was needed with a specialist breast clinic.
At this appointment I attended it with my husband as I was quite nervous as to what was going to happen.
The Doctor was very nice and made me feel comfortable. We discussed how and when I first detected the lump and other details.
The Doctor drew the privacy curtain and asked if I could remove my top and bra so that he could feel the area where the lump was, as well as the other breast as a precaution. My husband was there and next to me for the whole check up.
The Doctor was very professional and talked to me during the check up to see if that was the area in question, and if there was any pain or discomfort.
EXAMINATION & ULTRASOUND - WEDS 30TH MAY 2018
AT EALING BREAST SURGERY CLINIC -
The waiting room was full of many women and their support. We waited for a little while before being seen.
During this Hospital Appointment I met with some of the clinic team.
I was checked physically by one of the team, the same check up as at the GP.
The clinician had a diagram that he was filling in. It was a diagram of the full body and he drew on the area of the left breast as to where it was generally located.
He also put other notes, such as an approx. size and how it felt, i.e. it was hard.
I was then told that I was to go straight for an Ultrasound to have it checked in detail. Usually a Biopsy would have been done at the same time, but their were many patients that day and they were over subscribed.
So I was to come back for my Biopsy appointment.
The Ultrasound itself was straightforward and they certainly made me feel comfortable.
I took off my top and bra and laid down, with my arm up and lent to the side.
She squeezed the gel onto the machine and started to have a look on the screen.
My husband had a clear view of the screen and he saw the lump, it was rectangular in shape.
The doctor told me not to worry in the meantime.
BIOPSY - MON 4TH JUNE 2018
AT EALING BREAST SURGERY CLINIC -
I wasn't sure how this Biopsy would go. I knew it was an invasive procedure, but wasn't sure if it would hurt.
I didn't seem to be nervous, more curious than anything else.
Again, I was made to feel comfortable and myself and my husband had a nice chat with the Nurse while she was prepping for the procedure.
Same as before, I took off my top and bra and laid down, with my arm up and lent to the side. Laying in this position also means that you cannot see any of the procedure, which I personally like.
The clinician prepped me and went through the procedure with me.
The Ultrasound machine checked the area, so she knew where to inject. I was injected with a local anaesthetic at the area. It felt like a sharp scratch and she tested if I could feel anything. I was totally numb. I'm sure that she added more local anaesthetic to numb a larger area.
She then got the Ultrasound machine ready again to check exactly where the larger biopsy injection needs to be inserted.
I really couldn't feel a thing as she went in to retrieve a biopsy. At the same time she was using the Ultrasound to make sure she was getting a good sample.
I felt a little something, but it did not hurt at all.
I heard a little click from the Biopsy injection and then it seemed to be over.
There was a little bit of blood, but I was cleaned up and a light bandage was put on, to keep on for a couple of days.
DIAGNOSIS - WEDS 13TH JUNE 2018
AT EALING BREAST SURGERY CLINIC -
I actually thought I would be hearing news that I do not have Cancer.
But when myself and my husband were waiting for my name to be called, he said to me - I hope it's not bad. I told him i'm sure it's fine. He said, i'm worried as they don't usually call you back otherwise.
That's when it hit me - I thought "Oh Shit." Why didn't I think of that before, I guess with all the sadness surrounding us with the death of my father in law, i'd clung on to some positivity of good news.
My name was called. We sat down. The Doctor introduced herself. She seemed sad, seemed low and subdued. I was worried.
She said I'm afraid that we've found Cancer cells in your breast. The shock made me emotionless, motionless and frozen. I tried to listen in full to what she was explaining to me, but my mind was still talking away with questions and chatter. Like my mind was there, but not.
I still remember her telling me what type of cancer I have and she started writing down what Triple Negative means.
I didn't cry, I was just sitting there.
I then went to see the McMillan Nurse appointed to me and she went through my Cancer diagnosis. She is lovely my Nurse, extremely helpful and deeply caring.
But meeting her for the first time, she seemed to be shocked that I was diagnosed at such a young age of 31. I guess she's right. She asked me do you have any children? I said no, she then had a deeper sadness in her eyes and almost looked to tear up, but she didn't.
To be honest, I just wasn't aware at that point, that Cancer and its treatment could make me infertile.
My husband looked distraught throughout the whole ordeal and was also in shock. He was strong though and seemed to be in the same emotionless state that I was.
Looking back it all feels like a blur, with flashbacks of those moments I chose to remember.
It felt like a dream, a dream that we didn't want to be true.
I don't even remember now what we felt like or what we even talked about when we left the Hospital.
What I do remember is having the love and support from my husband that I needed and how lucky I felt to have him in my life.
The next step was to tell my immediate family. A very difficult step indeed.
MAMMOGRAM & MRI SCANS - TUES 19TH JUNE 2018
AT EALING HOSPITAL -
A mammogram is usually done on older women as their breasts have a different form to younger women.
I have to admit, it was quite painful. Although the pain only lasts for a few seconds.
I went in took my top off, and its one breast at a time.
They basically place your breast in between a compressor, which flattens them to then be scanned.
It's a little cold and squeezed very tight.
But over in moments.
The MRI is a long, loud and can be uncomfortable if you lay yourself wrong.
I made the mistake of using too many pillows and I was raised to high in some places which made it so uncomfortable for me.
As it's breast cancer, they lay you on your front, so that your bobbies are facing the floor and are placed in a set open area, so that they can be scanned.
I was stretched out like Super Woman with my hands above my head.
The scan lasts for 45mins and the noise is so loud that they give you ear phones covering your full ears.
During the scan they put a dye through my veins which is connected before you go in for the MRI.
One of the Radiologists was actually my previous client for hair and makeup!
FERTILITY CLINIC - WEDS 20TH JUNE 2018
QUEEN CHARLOTTES & CHELSEA HOSPITAL -
This was just a quick consultation with the Doctor about our fertility and that it will be fast-tracked.
It was literally a 5 minute appointment.
NURSE APPOINTMENT - WEDS 27TH JUNE 2018
EALING HOSPITAL BREAST SURGERY CLINIC -
This was an appointment with my McMillan Nurse Lincy - where they told us exactly what the treatment plan would be.
Which at that point was fertility treatment, chemotherapy, surgery then radiotherapy.
ONCOLOGIST APPOINTMENT - MON 2ND JULY 2018
EALING HOSPITAL -
This was the first time we met our lovely Oncologist. She's very knowledgeable and took the necessary precautions with my treatment.
I signed the consent form for my Chemotherapy.
MARKER INSERTION & CT SCAN - MON 9TH JULY 2018
EALING HOSPITAL -
A marker insertion is when they insert a tiny metal marker into the middle of the tumour. They do this so that if the chemotherapy treatment works and the tumour shrinks - then they will be be able to still see where the tumour is.
The procedure isn't the nicest ordeal but also isn't painful.
it's a similar procedure to the biopsy.
They inject a local anaesthetic into a few areas localised around the tumour - so they went quite deep into the tissue.
They then use the Ultrasound machine to see where they are going with the insertion of the marker.
As the tumour is quite a hard mass it was quite tough for the doctor to get the marker inside, but she managed to get it right in the middle.
It's basically a long injection, but I couldn't feel a thing. Absolutely nothing at all.
I found it best not to look at all at any of the injections - which helped immensely.
FERTILITY CLINIC - WEDS 11TH JULY 2018
QUEEN CHARLOTTE HOSPITAL -
This was an in depth appointment about what we had to do to preserve my eggs before I started chemotherapy.
Unfortunately the fertility clinic messed up and we were unable to preserve my eggs.
They were supposed to do a fast track treatment and instead put us on the regular treatment.
Fertility treatment entailed daily injections for a week which have a toll on your hormones, emotions and body.
Then a surgical procedure to remove the eggs from my ovaries in order for them to be frozen until we wanted to use them to have children, if needed to.
MAMMOGRAM - TUES 17TH JULY 2018
EALING HOSPITAL -
I had another mammogram done in order to check that the marker insertion was placed exactly where it needed to be.
PRE-CHEMO APPOINTMENT - THURS 19TH JULY 2018
CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL -
This was an introduction to the treatment, more tests and a tour around the Chemo Day Unit.
I met Nurse Clemie, who did a few small tests, like swabs, my weight, height. Checked my bloods.
We discussed the chemotherapy treatment in more detail.
GP NURSE APPOINTMENT - MON 23RD JULY 2018
This was the first appointment with the GP Nurse for my regular monthly Zoladex Injections which could help preserve my fertility.
Zoladex is an implant via an injection. It is a man-made form of a hormone used to treat those suffering from breast cancer and other issues in men and women.
Many women diagnosed with breast cancer, especially younger women, are concerned about their ability to have children after treatment. Some breast cancer treatments can cause temporary infertility or make it harder to get pregnant after treatment ends. Other treatments, especially certain chemotherapy regimens, can cause early menopause and infertility.
A study shows that premenopausal women diagnosed with hormone-receptor-negative, early-stage breast cancer who were treated with Zoladex (chemical name: goserelin) along with chemotherapy after surgery were much less likely to be infertile after chemotherapy ended than women who got chemotherapy without Zoladex.
A study by doctors at Nottingham City Hospital found that Zoladex, a hormone treatment, is as effective as chemotherapy at preventing the return of cancer. The treatment has the added advantage that, unlike chemotherapy which can cause infertility and hair loss, it has few side effects.
ONCOLOGY PRE-CHEMO APPOINTMENT - WEDS 25TH JULY 2018
CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL -
When I went in for my Pre-Chemo Appt on Weds 25th July 2018 with my lovely Oncologist Olivia, it was to deem me fit for Chemo on the coming Friday.
Funny thing was, I wasn’t nervous for this appointment. No anxiety. No fear. No emotion. Just curiosity! Which I found weird myself! When I think about it now, I just surprise myself with how I control or should I say have a lack of emotion when its needed.
I think it helped me in this situation.
Anyway… I was there at the appointment discussing treatment (briefly), any concerns.
Then the consent form comes out. You know usually I read anything and everything I sign (just my background in Law) and in this case I didn’t read it all. Just the bit which I hope won’t scare you.
It was the “Serious or frequently occurring risks” section – which says hair loss (okay I know that occurs), infertility (yup know that one too), stomatitis (erm didn’t know that would be included but ok). I read on…infection, bleeding, clotting, then it says Death.
I stopped and looked at that word…
It felt like longer, but it must have just been a couple of seconds. Death! Okay, what Death!
That brief moment I was sure I won’t die and I know they put it there because they have too.
So I asked the lovely Olivia, why does it say death? She explained, no one has ever died from having Chemotherapy. But, if you get an infection and do not keep an eye on your temperature, you could unfortunately die if you do not act quickly if you get an infection and it is not treated.
A very understandable answer; under chemotherapy we lose our white blood cells which help to fight infection.
If I’m completely honest and open about how I feel about death. I don’t fear death.
I stopped fearing death along time ago when my brother died in 2008.
So now, I just don’t fear it. There may be a fear of experiencing a painful death – but death itself I feel is not the end.
Anyway, on a lighter note!
I was positive, feeling positive about Chemo. Its not easy staying positive, but it’s something that does help to keep you strong willed and determined.
I certainly have my days though of crying and incredible sadness – but its how you can bring yourself up again which shows you can keep fighting.
PET CT SCAN
ROYAL BROMPTON HOSPITAL, MARYLEBONE -
This was a fairly quick and very nice place to have my PET CT Scan.
The Hospital was Private and it was so posh and it did feel very different to the usual Hospital visit.
It felt like a 5 Star Hotel to be honest, even my husband who was waiting for me, was relaxing on the sofa next to the Fireplace with a cup of tea and all the nibbles he could desire.
I had my own cubicle with an electric recliner, private TV with access to movies and any food and drink I desired.
I was given such a professional and quick service.
The CT PET Scan itself was easy and took about 20mins. I was laying flat on my back and had a good old nap and woke up to packed lunch for me to take home. Serious Service!
The results were positive and I am so grateful that the Cancer hadn't spread into my Lymph-nodes.
This is why I am so happy I caught my Breast Cancer early.
FIRST DAY OF CHEMO - FRI 27TH
CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL - Chemo Day Unit
My Chemo is at the incredible Charing Cross Hospital, Level 6 – where the staff are just amazing!
I walk into the main waiting area with my husband and we check in at reception and take a seat.
There are all walks of life seated in the waiting area. Different backgrounds, various ages and at various stages of their treatments. Some had full head of hair like me, some completely bald, men and women, so with beautiful wigs and some with lovely soft scarves neatly wrapped over there head or cool hats like I’d already bought – turban hats.
I felt like I was the youngest there, more older men and women than young on that particular day.
The chairs are big armchairs and comfortable. There’s a TV usually showing Homes under the Hammer, and lots of free Tea and Coffee. Many leaflets on show too, all to do with Cancer and help you might need.
The waiting isn’t long – I got called in and went into the double doors of the Chemo Day Unit.
You walk in and are always greeted by smiles from someone. The round little main desk is to the left almost in the middle and there are armchairs scattered all over the room in different sections. All the chairs have electric reclining so they are uber comfy!
Each chair usually has a little table next to it or another normal chair for your +1 to sit on and be with you.
There’s another side to the Unit – as you walk in, you go to the right. On the way there’s free sandwiches in the fridge, lots of biscuits and nibbles and a water cooler.
Myself and Micks always like to buy some goodies for everyone to enjoy and nibble on while on Chemo or for those to eat while being with their loved one who’s on Chemo.
Another good thing is all the pillows you want! Super soft pillows too.
The room itself looks like a typical Hospital room – all clinical and white. But the views are just gorgeous overlooking the landscape of London and its Landmarks.
My husband is such a gem, he can’t sit down when he’s there – all he wants to do is help, especially the elderly, he has a soft spot for them.
First Chemo Day arrived
I woke up feeling, NOT excited to be starting chemo. But positive and happy that we are doing something about it! Woop Woop as I say!
Again, no anxiety had set in, no fear was creeping up, no joy, no sadness either.
It was again curiosity. Curiosity of what happens when you’re there – how it works, what does it feel like, should I be scared, why should I be scared? Will it hurt? Can I take it?
I was calm, curious, positive and smiley.
Unfortunately they don’t tell you in detail what it’s like or even what exactly could happen to you after Chemo. It’s all quite a mystery in my opinion, until you’re actually in it.
It’s all a learning experience for each individual going through it. As everyones body is different, everyone has different reactions to chemo, different thought processes, different journeys and different paths.