Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

Third surprise, Breast Cancer.   46 comments

One week after joining Rob in Port Shepstone in Natal, I found the lump in my breast that had been there for five years, seemed to be getting bigger. It had never been painful before, but now my arm was irritating the side of my breast.

Five years earlier when I’d found this lump, I’d seen our family Doctor, he had done the syringe bit, painful I might add, removed fluid and sent it for testing. The results said the lump was benign.

I asked for the lump to be removed anyway, but the Dr. said it was unnecessary, as this was just a cyst and not dangerous, it was an occurrence in woman approaching menopause. But to be safe I should return yearly for tests just to make sure, this I did religiously.

Now not knowing any Doctors on the coast we asked around and luckily one of the woman at Robs work told us who to see. The Doctor was a member at Rob’s golf course and agreed to see us. Again the syringe test to remove fluid and sent off for testing. The awaited phone call was a few days in coming, but when it did, it was cancer. Why, what next, was this to be the start of a new chapter of our lives.

I was devastated, only eighteen months after the Oncocytoma, this could not be happening and I phoned Rob asking him to come home. When I told him the news shock was written all over his face, we sat and really didn’t know what to say to each other. I think our thoughts were the same.

The Doctor wanted to remove the lump as soon as possible, so we made the arrangements with the Medical Company and a date was set.

In the hospital the day of the operation the Doctor came to speak with us both, he was going to remove the lump as well as a good part surrounding it, also lymph nodes from the arm pit which would tell him if the cancer had spread. He also said that if he found things that did not look good during the operation, he would recommend the total removal of the breast, in fact he would recommend a double Mastectomy.

This news was given to us just before the op and we immediately agreed, to do what was necessary. I was surprised at Rob’s reaction, after all he is a “boob man”, but I think, like me he wanted the cancer gone no matter what the consequence. On my way to the theatre I prayed; “God I am in your hands, whichever way you want this to go, please give me the courage to handle it.”

When I came round my chest was heavily bandaged and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I had a breast anymore. The Doctor did not take long to arrive to tell us that everything looked good and the nodes seemed clear, but the last results should be in the following day. I still had my boobs, praise the Lord.

The following day I’d gone to the toilet when there was a knock, I called that I was busy, but the door opened and in marched the Doctor. Here I was sitting on the loo with the Doc sitting talking to me (very embarrassing). The results were in and all seemed fine the cancer seemed not to have spread. Radiation would be the following step after the healing of the wound.

I met my new oncologist, a woman that was to take me through the next step, radiation. She felt that from the Doctors report and the pathologists report chemo would not be necessary, but the taking of Arimidex for five years was her recommendation.

The Doctor had told us this might be a forthcoming from the Oncologist and had told Rob he would not allow his wife to take it. He felt this was still a test drug and that the results were not that conclusive enough, to warrant the “hell” it put women through.

We discussed this and Rob felt it was my choice as I had the cancer and not him, he would go with whatever I decided. After many thoughts I decided anything that gave a half chance of the breast cancer not returning was worth the effort.

The radiation started, we had to travel 100 kilometres to a hospital in Durban every day for six weeks. Rob had asked permission from his employees and they stood completely behind him. So every day we travelled through, fortunately the hospital was on the side of town from where we came so we tended to miss the heavy rush hour traffic.

Our first visit was by far the worst, a waiting room full of people waiting their turn, and not knowing what awaited me did not help matters. But everyone in the waiting room looked so serious and sad, Rob’s first comment was it seemed like God’s waiting room. The treatment only took ten minutes, from getting undressed, one minute of radiation and then getting dressed again to going home.

Six weeks of this made me think it was going to be easy, the only thing was the air of sad and gloom in the waiting room. Now Rob being deaf, tends to talk loudly and I’m for ever having to give him the sign to talk quieter. He would enter the waiting room and greet everyone in a loud and booming voice, this surprised many, but when we sat, chatted and laughed it tended to bring a smile to the others faces who could not help but overhear Rob’s conversation.

On one occasion he even fell asleep while I went in for treatment, and this had the room more than smiling, especially with his snoring. Things seemed to be cruising along until I developed a sore under the breast, it became raw and almost blister like. This was apparently normal and they gave me a treatment and a gauze type sheet to place on it.

Rob would have to do this as I could only see it by lifting my boob and using a mirror. My “boob man” husband who normally would not have needed any encouragement to touch, was now afraid. I think the application and removal hurt him more than me and he had to do this every day for 30 odd days and at the end he became quite the professional.

The last day of treatment was the day before Christmas and I asked Rob to take me shopping for gifts for the staff that had administered the radiation. They had all been so good and friendly and for some reason enjoyed Rob’s happy way while in the waiting room. In a way I was sorry to see the end, not for the treatment, but because of the people I was going to miss.

Through all of this, my faith is what kept me strong, support from my family and of course, a sense of humour.

The Arimidex began after this and I’m not sure I would recommend this to anyone, yet I would, if it was going to save a life and stop the dreaded breast cancer from returning.

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The Second Stumbling Block.. Oncocytoma   76 comments

It’s July 2006.

I awake one morning, look in the mirror and see that my neck is very swollen. So off to the Doctor I go and I’m diagnosed with the mumps. Well, for and old biddy like me this was hilarious.

Anyway, six weeks later my neck was still swollen so back to the Doctor I go for the third time. He then sends me to see a (maxillofacial surgeon) face, jaw and neck specialist, who promptly sends me for a CT scan. When the results were in, the Doctor took one look at the pictures, he whistled, used a word that I cannot blog, looked at Rob and me in amazement and said he has never seen anything like this before.

Apparently around my jaw and neck area there where about ninety small growths. So the Doc, under a local proceeds to remove one of the growths (giving Rob a biography lesson at the same time) and draws blood to send away for tests. The pathologists where puzzled, they had never seen anything like this either, but six weeks later the Doctor told Rob and I that I had been diagnosed with Oncocytoma, which he explained to us was a small tumour that attacks you’re salivary glands and lymph nodes and that it is considered to be very rare. The good news was, that it was not cancerous, and it was not life threatening.

After two months of research of how to treat Oncocytoma, he found out that chemotherapy and radiation had no effect on the growths, so the only way was to have an operation to remove them surgically. By doing this he explained to Rob and me, he would have to cut me from behind both ears, and down to the middle of my neck on both sides and peel back my face. Then he had to lift the nervous system to be able to reach the lymph nodes and saliva glands. The nerves would be replaced after all the nodes were removed, causing temporary paralysis for six to eight months in my face, and I would have to have intensive physiotherapy to bring my facial movement back to normal again.

Well up to now Rob and I had been fine with my diagnoses, after all it wasn’t cancer. But now he was talking paralysis, and that scared the living daylights out of me. The darkness and desperate feelings of the unknown were not something one is accustomed to.

The night before the operation, lying in a hospital bed the Anaesthetist came to do his normal checks. He asked if we could pray together for The Lord to guide him, as well as the two Surgeons that were to operate on me. I looked at him and said “Please I would love that.” Again I experienced that feeling of calm, and being in the presence of The Lord. I had such a peaceful sleep that night, knowing all would be well.

I woke the next morning, ready to face whatever was to come. I don’t recall when they wheeled me in, but Rob had to endure a nine hour wait without knowing what was going on. My daughter had come to be with her Dad to try and keep him calm, I believe he threatened many times to enter the operating area to find out what was happening. Our only concern was that each and every node and gland that was removed had to be checked for cancer. They were all clear, thank the Lord.

I returned home and I was to start physiotherapy the next day.

I look in the mirror and I see a face with no wrinkles, my eyes are darting from side to side and I cannot blink (I had to close my eyes with my fingers to replace the blinking action). I try to smile but nothing happens. I try to open my mouth wide and I can’t. Talking wasn’t easy either, and as for eating and drinking, I had to liquidize all my food, and use a straw by holding it between my teeth because my lips could not move. Rob would tell me a joke and I would laugh, but he said it was weird as my face showed no emotions.

Rob was my pillar of strength but I knew it was hard on him. So often we forget that the people around us in time of illness, are suffering just as much, if not more. So four weeks after my operation I booked us in at a lodge near the Kruger game reserve as a surprise, and a thank you to him.

Needless to say we enjoyed it tremendously, Rob even more so because he could take photos of the animals and birds. I still had no smile, so on all the photos I stood with my index finger pointing up representing my smile. I had to get a smile in somehow. (Note, it was my index finger, not my middle finger) LOL.

On the seventh week I jumped for joy, because I noticed that I had a wrinkle on my forehead that showed that the physio was working. It took another six months of physio before my face returned to normal.

I would like to end with Psalm 103: 2-5 from “The Good News Bible.”

Praise The Lord, my soul
and do not forget how kind he is.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He keeps me from the grave
and blesses me with love and mercy.
He fills my life with good things,
So that I stay young and strong like an eagle.

This is where we stayed…

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This what we saw from the Lodge…

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This is what I did most of the time….

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This is what Rob did all the time…..

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and this is me smiling…..

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Posted 02/10/2013 by linda in Cancer

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My Journey with Cancer. How it all began.   67 comments

October 1995

Went for a colonoscopy, afterwards, the doctor told Rob and I that he would like to do another, but this time it would be done in hospital under anaesthetic.

Two days later the Friday, I had the other scope. Rob and my son Len, were sitting at my bedside, and we were joking and laughing when the Doctor came. He looked at us and said there was no easy way to say this, but the two centimetre growth he had found did not look good, and he was almost sure it was cancer. He told us the laboratory tests would take three to four days before we knew for certain, and that he would phone us as soon as he had the results. He told us to be strong, and left. The poor Doctor, I don’t know who felt worse, him or us.

We all sat there with our own thoughts, not knowing what to say to each other. I looked at Rob and Len and the next thing we were holding onto each other, no tears, just stunned. Not once did I think about cancer before the colonoscopy. I looked at the two guys in my life and told them not to worry, that whatever happens we will handle it, now we had to go home and phone our daughters Magda and Tania and tell them what was going on, and that was not easy.

Now we have four days of waiting, and we are all trying to be strong for each other. In the meantime my thoughts are running away with me, our son is eighteen and writing his finals at high school, our youngest daughter is twenty and writing exams at college, how are they going to keep their minds on exams with all of this going on. Our eldest daughter is married and has three lovely little boys and I won’t see them growing up. And then there is my husband, Rob and I have never been apart, we go everywhere together and do everything for each other, how on earth is he going to cope without me. What is going to happen to our children? Then I realized Maaaaaaaaan! Linda! You are having such a pity party, snap out of it girl, right now!!! And promptly went and made dinner with everyone giving me a hand.

Wednesday evening the phone rang and Rob answered. I heard him say hello to the Doctor, and then a little while later I heard him say “So then it is definitely cancer” I got up and left to go to my room crying softly all the way, I remember closing my door and as I reached the side of my bed, a calmness came over me, starting from my head going right down to my toes, and then I got this warm feeling as if someone was giving me a soft hug. Well, I sat on the bed, and when Rob came into the bedroom he looked at me and said “Love you’re smiling” and I said “Yes, I am going to be O.K”. I told him that I had felt a hug from Jesus, I think he thought that his wife had lost it, but if it kept her from crying, that’s good. Ha! Ha!

Rob being a Christian said from now on we will call it you’re “Jesus Hug”.

Two days later, with all the family at my side, I went for my operation and they removed half of my colon. I remember coming to at some stage and the Doctor was telling Rob that I was cured, luckily the cancer had not gone through the wall of the colon and that no chemo was needed. He could not have given us better news than that. I woke at some stage after that and saw Rob sitting at my bedside, I thought it was visiting hour, but he told me it was 2.am in the morning, he could not sleep so he came back to be with me., a drive of one hour over a very mountainous pass., he made this trip for ten days twice a day sometimes three. All I can say is that this Bulldog of mine has a big heart, he showered me with a lot of love and attention in my hour of need, for that I will be forever grateful.

colon-cancer

Posted 20/09/2013 by linda in Cancer

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