Cancer Diary

©Rebecca Teal

Many of you have asked that I put all my cancer related blog posts together in chronological order, so here you go...


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Good News Bad News

© Rebecca Teal

Good morning, everyone. I haven't been on cam nor posted here for a while because I have been seeing doctors and surgeons. The BAD NEWS is I have Breast Cancer. The GOOD NEWS is it's treatable although the treatment will be tough. I have a fantastic care team and I have the wonderful Mr T so I consider myself to be very lucky.
I'm currently having all the tests and check ups pre-chemotherapy to make sure I'm fully prepared so I have about a month before that begins.
The biopsy was a little tricky as I only have little boobs
but it gave the doctors what they needed. It left me rather bruised
but nothing that Mr T can't kiss better!
 
 This was five days later!
(Ha ha...my vest flattened my nipple)

 


Friday, 22 June 2012

Wigs and Bones and Burgers (Veggie wrap)

© Rebecca Teal
Yesterday I had a wig consultation. I also had a bone scan at very short notice...they called me the afternoon before! My wig appointment was for 10am but this didn't leave enough time to get to the hospital for the scan so the Wig Shop actually opened half an hour early for me. I really want to thank the lady who spent so long with me and seemed to know, without me saying, what I was thinking and feeling.
So, here I am playing with wigs and pulling faces
                 
My real hair               I like this one                  Yes,  I like this
 
Yeah, I loooooooove this!
This sort of grew on me, I may well have one like this, too. What do you all think?
 
But I'm thinking....not blonde.
Next stop was at the hospital to be injected with glow in the dark radio active stuff. I had to wait two hours before it had done what it had to do for the scan...

so Mr T and I had a late breakfast at a well known food outlet.
(Other food outlets are available!)

 
This is the Bone Scanner...it's quite a beast. I wonder how much such a thing costs and I'm grateful for the health care which is unquestioningly available to me.

Next week I have an appointment with the Chemo Guy to assess dosage and set a schedule. The week after I have an appointment for a CT Scan. I'm still waiting for dates for a Heart Echo and blood tests.



Monday, 25 June 2012

Just Giving Donations Page

© Rebecca Teal
I have set up a Just Giving page to support Cancer Research and
Macmillan Cancer Support.
Please donate to either (or both) by clicking on
the pink ribbon wherever you see it on my website!

 Thank you
Rebecca
xx

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


The Chemo Guy

© Rebecca Teal
My Bone Scan results are fine :o)
Today I saw The Chemo Guy. He copped a feel and had a squidge…I started a bit when, as he was measuring with his measuring thing, he said out loud “5cm”. “Um…it was only 3cm before”, I said. “Swelling”, he said, “from the biopsy” “Phew!”
He told us the procedure for the treatment, which drugs he’ll be using and the 5842 side effects. You wouldn’t believe some of that stuff. So, yikes! It seems I have to stay as healthy as I can because my immune system will be compromised. I have to take my temperature twice a day and if it reaches 37.5 I have to call the clinic. So I shall be avoiding hotness and steaminess but not naughtiness ;o) In my favour I have the health and fitness of a thirty year old, a diet which is as good as it gets and a pretty darn healthy lifestyle.
I have an appointment booked to have a coil marker inserted nest week (I googled images…SO wish I hadn’t!) along with the already booked CT Scan and Heart Echo and chemotherapy will start in about two weeks.
All good news so far, apart from the obvious crap stuff and I’m hoping the CT Scan keeps it good.

  

Monday, 2 July 2012


Open Gown, BB

© Rebecca Teal
 
 This morning I had a Computed Tomography Scan on one of these babies!
I had to arrive an hour early so I could be given six cups of water (six wees ensued) as this somehow helps with the scans. After the first one I was hooked up via a needle to some dye which helps my inside bits show up. What a crazy job some people have…scanning bits of people. That said, I’m extremely glad they do.
 I was allowed to wear the hospital's best designer number...
I could see the passion in Mr T's eyes  ;o)
"Open gown, bb"
Next was an EchoCardioGram. Nothing much to report really except it’s rather awesome seeing my heart…we take far too much for granted.
 


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Call the f**king salon...how hard can it be?!

© Rebecca Teal
I have a wig fitting on Monday afternoon and I’m sure the best thing to do is have my hair cropped on Monday morning. If I do that the wigs will sit better, I’ll be able to put them on more easily and it’s only one cut away from shaved. And if I’m honest, my hair is in a pretty bad state of abuse at the moment so even under usual circumstances a bloody good shortening (that’s 4 or 5 inches in my world) would be in order.
There’s a hairdresser next door to the wig shop (I like the idea of dashing from one door to the next under a hoodie) but it doesn’t open on Mondays and I don’t possess enough celebrity sway to make it happen. There’s another hairdresser a few doors away (a dash of a few doors will be just about acceptable) but I just can’t make the ‘phone call.  I have the number, I have my ‘phone, I have tears streaming down my face.
I know to all you people with hair, long or short or shaved through choice this may seem ridiculous. Bald or dead? Um…that’s a no brainer. But I’m a girl (albeit an old one) and girls are meant to have hair and this girl always has long hair. And having lovely, long hair makes me feel lovely and having no hair and no eyelashes and no eyebrows and no left breast and a sore mouth and sore eyes and aching joints and numbness
and so many other rubbish chemo side effects is going
to make me feel like absolute f**king sh*t.
But it’s better than being dead and without treatment that’s what I’ll be. So, the sensible thing to do is make the call to the hairdresser. I have the number, I have my ‘phone, I have tears streaming down my face…
 



Shouldn't Google Everything!

© Rebecca Teal
This afternoon I am having a coil marker placed against the tumour. I googled "coil marker in breast"...silly, silly me.
"You're going to put THAT in my boob?! Pffft! Over my de...   Ah, yes, that would be the other option. Go ahead...put it in."
I will post later, if I'm not too busy being self-indulgent and wimpy and ouchy.

Yesterday Mr T called the salon for me…it seems they all close on a Monday so we’ll collect the wigs and see how it goes. I’m thinking at the first sign of hair loss he’ll whip it all off for me.
Bummer.

         
 



Thursday, 5 July 2012

...on a bike!!!

© Rebecca Teal
Jesus Christ On A Bike!!!!!
I had taken two “prescription only” strength co-codamol and the injection for the anaesthetic still had me on the ceiling. I was however given a double dose and told I could leave it for now and try again another day but I stayed and had the coil marker thingy put it.
The actual putting in wasn’t so painful, mostly because the lignocaine did its job; it’s getting a needle in so deep to get the lignocaine to where it has to be that has me uttering foul words. My care  team seem to be in agreement that the problem is the density of my breast tissue (that’s how come they’re so pert and I have no need to wear a bra!)

I had to have a mammogram afterwards. painful at the best of times but dear lord...! It was amazing to see the coil so clearly in place though. I'm hoping to get a print out to post on here soon.
Throughout the whole procedure, Mr T held my hand, kissed  my shoulder and made it all possible. Thank you, darling…”rock” doesn’t come close.
      

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Ooh La La!

© Rebecca Teal
Yesterday, I did indeed collect my first wig...
soon I shall be collecting another rather different one...watch this space!

 
 I also collected a stand, a brush, some conditioning spray and some wig shampoo. Apparently it isn't necessary to douse it in Chanel so I need a different reason to stock up on that...hmmm...like I ever need an excuse.


Mr T and I were so excited/shocked/upset about buying/needing a wig that we forgot about the VAT exemption on hairpieces for cancer patients.
I shall call the shop today to see if it's too late.
(I'd quite like £40 back!)



        


Wednesday, 18 July 2012


La Di Da...

© Rebecca Teal
Today I collected another wig…
It’s actually quite a bit more orange (ginger) than the photograph shows.
It’s a prescription wig so for me it was free. It isn’t such good quality as my other ones but I do love it.
I love how it fades to dark brown
It’s quite a bit shorter than the first wig and is a lot easier to wear
so I may get a second one like this (though in just dark brown) which I will have
to pay for but daaaahling, I’m worth it xx
Tomorrow I have a very important date so I shall post about that in a a day or two and tomorrow the car is having the exhaust fixed…la di da…the excitement of it all!
   

Friday, 20 July 2012


Chocolate on prescription?

© Rebecca Teal
Right then…first chemo session (I’m having FEC-T, four sessions of FEC then four sessions of T, but you’d worked that last bit out, hadn’t you?) was ok. It was a long day…we arrived at 8.30am and left at 3.30pm but were told this won't be the norm.
 
Here I am, prepped and waiting to be attached.
The first two drugs, Epirubicin (it’s red and makes your wee pink for two or three days…I like pink but usually go for it in a nail colour or pink sapphire way) and 5 Fluorouacil (5FU) are injected slowly into the cannula by a nurse and takes about an hour and a half. It’s a great time to ask all sorts of questions. Actually, that pink wee thing applies to all body fluids so there’s a chance my contact lenses may turn pink…bring it on!
It was during this that I was told I mustn’t have Take Aways as the risk of infection is too high. I was aware that chemo will supress bone marrow so my white cell count is low thus my immunity is low but I hadn’t realised just HOW LOW. Apparently, week two of the three week cycle is when it’s at its lowest. To help boost it, on Day 5 a nurse will come to my house and give me an injection.
On days 6 – 9 Mr T will give me the injection.
The next drug, Cyclophosphamide, is in a bag and fed through a tube to my cannula. It hangs on a thing with wheels so I can wheel it to the loo with me. Ah, but I need the drugs in my right hand as my cancer is in my left breast…and of course, the loo paper is on the right hand side of the loo. Luckily, I’m pretty flexible :o)
We passed some time after prepping playing chess but abandoned the game to talk to my nurse. We may carry on from this position at the next session I’m playing as white.
Other bummer related news:
I knew I had Stage2, Grade2, ER+ cancer but now know it’s also HER2+. You can google but sod that! It means the cancer is more aggressive than I thought and I will need a further 18 sessions for the drug Herceptin (that’s about a year!). The first four sessions will be at the hospital then we’re hoping the rest can be administered by a nurse at home.
Yet again, I’m completely in awe of the NHS. The treatment, care and consideration I’m receiving are what’s making me cry the most…but crying a good way. Also, your messages are fantastic and make me do that crying-in-a-good-way-thing, too…so thank you to all of you and please don’t stop…


Saturday, 11 August 2012


Chemo Number 2 and the Hose Attachment ;o)

© Rebecca Teal
 
Chemo number 2 on Thursday was ok in as much as having chemo can be ok. Thursday evening and night I felt uber sick and Friday I was shattered but today, I feel good again…I get tired easily but I know that will pass.

My hair is doing its best to drop out. This morning it was a ceaseless task trying to rinse it off my shoulders in the shower and I’d left it too late for Mr T to shave it before he had to leave for work for a few hours.  As I was trying to do my make-up I got so angry with it falling on my face that I had a bright idea! The vacuum cleaner was still upstairs so I put the brush attachment on the hose and gave my head the once, twice, thrice over. It worked and felt quite nice.
Mr T will shave it all off for me later today.

And answer me this, people. My under arms and lady bits are nicely bald but why the f*ck aren’t my legs?
      


Birthday on hold

© Rebecca Teal
Jeez...chemo number two has totally floored me.
It's been 9 days and I still can't do anything; spending most of my time horizontal again and feeling total rubbish.
Tomorrow is my birthday and I'm going to have to admit defeat. I'm in the second week of my chemo cycle when all my blood counts are at their lowest so socialising is a big no as the risk of infection is too great. To be honest, I can't stand up for long enough to be very sociable anyway.
Packages have arrived and I am saving them for my birthday.
Mr T will help me open them and I shall thank you all.

Rebecca 
xxx

Thursday, 30 August 2012


Fecking FEC

© Rebecca Teal

I saw the Chemo Guy today and my ultrasound shows no shrinkage (which we had kind of sussed) and that my tumour isn't responding to the FEC part of my chemotherapy...which is a real bummer. So, he's cancelled tomorrow's FEC chemo session and instead has me starting Herceptin and Docetaxol chemo next week.
Not  a very happy bunny today
xxx 

All night long...

© Rebecca Teal

The night before my new chemo I took a massive dose of steroids as instructed and was bouncing off the ceiling. At about half past midnight I said we should go to bed as Mr T needed to sleep even if I didn’t. After about half an hour in bed he asked (with a smile) if I was going to stop talking so he could sleep or should we get up again. Can’t help thinking now that I missed an opportunity for some all night naughtiness…

Monday was my first infusion of Herceptin…had to spend six hours at the hospital as it’s nasty stuff and they need to monitor me to make sure I have no adverse reaction, which I didn’t.
Tuesday was an ECG as Herceptin can cause heart damage, even failure, so that will act as a benchmark for regular checks; also had pre-chemo blood test.


Yesterday was my first infusion of Docetaxol, my new chemo drug.
Today is a day of rest and all is good so far.

       



Sunday, 16 September 2012


You, bug, go forth...

© Rebecca Teal
I've not posted for a while as I had no wifi in my hospital bed...
but now I have a dongle!!
I was admitted on Friday when my temperature reached 39.4°C  I'm being given intravenous antibiotics and something to increase my white blood cell count and being monitored every few hours...the buggers even wake me up to do all this!
One of the side effects of chemo is a drop in white blood cells, which increases the risk of infection. It seems that an  insignificant germ to whom I would normally say "Get thee away, little bug, go forth from my door" has been able to emulate a superhero germ and maraud my body unchallenged...the cad!
My temperature is now closer to normal but my white blood cell count is still too low so I won't be allowed home yet.
Be patient, people...I'm doing my best to get back on track.
Rebecca x
By the way, what I'd really say to that bug is "You, bug...fuck off and when you get there fuck off some more then keep fucking off!"  

Monday, 17 September 2012


Bibi, bb

© Rebecca Teal

It's official; even the NHS calls me bb.
Yes, that really is MY ward file on the left. Bay 1 Bed 1
Good, huh?

Thursday, 11 October 2012


Quick update

© Rebecca Teal

Just a super quick update for you!

My last chemo (last Wednesday) put me in bed for a week with ridiculous pain and unbelievable fatigue. I've never felt so ill. Today I have an ultrasound to check for tumour shrinkage...remember how the FEC chemo had no effect? I'm not sure this docetaxol chemo is working either and this time it will be a relief if the Chemo Guy stops it and moves straight to surgery...then it's a whole different set of pain and emotions.

Monday, 22 October 2012


New boobs on the horizon...

© Rebecca Teal

My ultrasound last week showed some shrinkage but not enough to save the breast
 My boobs are so tiny that even removing a small lump would take away most of the breast tissue and it seems chemo isn’t going to make it anywhere near small enough.
So the Chemo Guy has stopped my chemotherapy (hooray, I hated it but eek, I want all the chemo you can throw at me) and organised surgery.
I’m having a mastectomy with an immediate implant (Yay!).
I didn’t want flap reconstruction as this leaves too much scarring for me and anyway, I
“don’t have enough fat on my abdomen, bum or back to use”
(I’m taking this as a compliment, Mr Surgeon)
I've never wanted false breasts. I dislike anything false
but I think under the circumstances I will make an exception.

Counting blood...

© Rebecca Teal

My blood test results from Thursday show that my counts
(neutrophils, white cells, platelets and some other things with strange names)
are currently too low for next week's surgery. I'm having another test on Monday. So..
HEY, YOU, BLOOD! GET YOURSELF SORTED!
I really need this surgery as soon as possible. 

Monday, 5 November 2012


Waaaaaahhhh!!!!

© Rebecca Teal

I just called the breast clinic. My blood results are good and all is
fine for surgery tomorrow.
So now it's actually going to happen, which is what I wanted,
I find I don't want it after all.

Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

So fucking nervous it's unreal...


      

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Home with a new puppy ;o)

© Rebecca Teal
I'm home.
I'm very, very sore.
I feel like I've been hit by a bus but all is good.
 Here's my sexy hospital  cape...nice, huh?
And here are my super sexy (control yourselves, boys) surgical stockings.

I was a little disappointed that they're really surgical socks!
My surgeon has a set of different coloured pens. The blue line around the nipple and down and then the one under my arm is where he cut. The red outline is the implant and the little red box is the port for inflating with saline. The blue Xs are where the drains exit and I had a third one but cannot remember where it exited.
 And here I am two days after surgery.
Two of the drains have just been removed.
The remaining one will come out next week.


        



Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Undressed...

© Rebecca Teal
Two weeks after surgery, this is how I look
 
The dressing has come off and the steristrips will come off in a couple of days. It's then I will, for the first time, see my scar and my breast without the nipple...yikes!
I won't always be this shape and size. I will have a couple more injections of saline to increase the size of the implant and when the swelling subsides, if you're not happy with the shape I can have it changed and the other breast altered to match.
I've never been a fan of fake boobs and I apologise to my followers who liked that mine were small and natural but I think I have a good reason now to indulge in a little fakery.

As my cancer is ER+, which means its growth is stimulated by estrogen, I am having my ovaries removed to help prevent any recurrence. This will mean another hospital stay and seven or so weeks recovery but should be fitted in between now and the work on my other breast


               

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Nipple Free!

© Rebecca Teal

Here it is…the moment I’ve been waiting for…the first sight of my scar and I am so pleased.
This is the first time my surgeon has seen it and he was very pleased, too. Some of the areola has been saved and he'll use this to make me a new nipple then a new areola will be tattooed around it. Good, huh?

This photograph was taken after I’d had another 40ml of saline injected into the implant.  The breast will settle in time and look less like a football!  Next week, I’m having the final top up…not 40ml, I don’t want to poke Mr T in the eye.

EDIT: and in case you were wondering, I will be having the other breast made larger to match!


                

Friday, 30 November 2012


Pumped and plumped

© Rebecca Teal
I've had the final top-up to my implant
 Before
 After
I no longer have to wear the compression bra so the implant
can now drop and will look more natural.
At the moment the profile looks a little strange!
So, bring on the next round of treatment and the next two surgeries,
then I'll have matching breasts

 

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Show boob, bb

© Rebecca Teal

Wanna see my boob? 
 I've been given a prosthesis to wear inside my bra over my real breast to make it the
same size as the reconstructed one while I wait for surgery to even them up.
Neat, huh?

Friday, 28 December 2012


Damaged but not broken

© Rebecca Teal

I had a bad day.
I couldn't get out of the car.

No amount of Mr T telling me I looked beautiful made any difference. No amount of knowing people don’t view me as the sick lady in a wig makes any difference.
 
 It’s not about how others see me but how I see myself
and above all, I see a damaged me.
 
I see every bit of damage this cancer treatment has caused
and it breaks my fucking heart.

But fear not, normal service WILL be resumed.

I'm damaged, not broken and I’m a feisty old bird, remember?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Droopage

© Rebecca Teal


A couple of weeks ago I took some photographs so you can see the current state of droopage. There are five weeks between these “then and now” pictures.

last_after
Then

   Snapshot - 2
  Now

S1270008
Then 

  Snapshot - 4
  Now

Blimey, I look very lopsided in the first “now” picture! Roll on my match making surgery. I asked about this and was told both surgeons are happy to combine the surgery so I should be having mastectomy and reconstruction number two in March or April.

 
 


Sunday, 17 March 2013


New breast update

© Rebecca Teal

                             
Nineteen weeks since surgery and this is how my new breast looks.
In a few days I'm having my second mastectomy and reconstruction and in a couple of months or so, when that one has settled, they should match.
New nipples a few months after that and I shall be as good as new!
 
I seriously hate HATE HATE my hair though. All this crap I've been through, with more to come...and what I've found the hardest to bear is the loss of my hair. Lord knows how long it will take to reach its previous length...

...and hey, I'm not bad for 51, eh?
                


Saturday, 30 March 2013


I got a matching pair!

© Rebecca Teal

First I want to say I love you, Mr T. You are my world.
Second I want to thank all who have sent messages of well wishes and support. You people really do give me strength.

I've been home for two days. I'm still very sleepy and the pain is off the scale but I have Tramadol, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol. In the hospital I also had a morphine pump and a clicker with local anaesthetic in it...all good stuff!

Here's how I look this morning...two matching implants :o)


It's a little easier this time as the first mastectomy involved the removal of the breast and axillary nodes to clear all cancer cells. The breast which was removed this time will be checked but is expected to be clear.
I have two drains which Mr T is emptying each morning and these will be removed on Tuesday.
I'm pleased with the look...I did love my small natural breasts but as an alternative to no breasts this will do me nicely and if it means kicking cancer's butt then it will do me very nicely :o)



Thursday, 4 April 2013


This to this...

© Rebecca Teal


                    
What a difference a year makes.
It makes me sad that I no longer have my small, natural breasts (on the left) but I shall make the most of my small fake ones. It amazes me that I have had all the breast tissue removed and yet my surgeon, with the help of expander implants, can still make me look like this (on the right).  I shall be forever grateful to him for removing the cancer, saving my life and giving me some awesome looking bangers!


Tuesday, 23 April 2013


She's something else...

© Rebecca Teal

So, four weeks after surgery the scar looks like this

Still some healing to do but looking good


I've had a small saline top up but will still need more to make me balanced.
We just have to be patient!
Please click on the ribbon below. Please keep giving. I’m getting through this with your help and the love and support of Mr T. Not everyone has this so we need to find easier treatment, care and most of all a cure for cancer.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


Thank you, all

© Rebecca Teal

A year ago today I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It's been the toughest year I've ever known but with the love and support of Mr T
and the support and encouragement from you guys I've got through it.

With all my heart I thank you
 
Rebecca
xxx

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Here I go again...

© Rebecca Teal


Here I go again, packed and ready for more cancer kicking surgery.
Tomorrow I am having my ovaries removed (oophorectomy) to stop the production of
estrogen as that is what fed my breast cancer, which was ER+8.
This should prevent any stray cells from further feeding!
All being well, it'll be keyhole surgery and I will be home on Friday night. Recovery time is about two weeks but I shall be around to chat. Next week I'm having a tad more surgery (just as an out-patient) and then I'm good to go!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Bring it on...

© Rebecca Teal

My treatment is complete! I've had chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, more surgery, eighteen intravenous Herceptin, more surgery and more surgery. So that’s me sorted. Letrozole for a further four years and Alendronic Acid with calcium and vitamin D for ever more due to losing bone density (thanks to chemo and the banishing of estrogen) and taking exceptional care of my left arm due to having no axillary lymph nodes.
I know there are horror stories and bad experiences but I’ve had incredible treatment throughout, which would have been beyond my means so thank god for the NHS. Without exception every nurse, doctor, consultant, surgeon, “ographer” and “ologist” has been patient, understanding and reassuring.
I’ve seen equipment I never knew existed. I’ve had treatments I never knew were possible. I am in awe of my surgeon. I’ve been wheeled about by cheerful porters who knew the hospital like the back of their hands. I’ve been served coffee by people who have lifted my mood with a mere touch of my shoulder. I’ve been ferried to and from radiotherapy by volunteer drivers through some dire weather.
Lord knows what the cost of this has been. (I know my Herceptin alone cost £22K). I’ve paid tax and National Insurance for 30 years but I’m sure I’ve had more than my share back.
So, thank you NHS…THANK YOU
And thank you all for sticking with me...your support and generosity has made the last two years a lot easier than it could have been.
And thank you, thank you, thank you Mr T, for holding my hand, shaving my head, sticking needles in me, bringing me lunch, bringing me knitting, bringing me back to reality, collecting wigs, collecting prescriptions, being with me at every appointment, being with me whenever I woke, being with me always. Your strength, your devotion, your belief in me, your faith in medicine, your gorgeous bum have all made this bag of bollox bearable.
And my god, it’s been worth it.
 
2014? Hell, yes…bring it on…I’ve kicked cancer’s butt!