Saturday, 3 September 2011

Sponging of Bob

The title of this blog is down to my dad – and why – its because I have started to use my sponge boob given to me at the hospital when I had the mascetomy.  The first time I wore it, I asked my son if it looked even and spent the whole day adjusting it trying to make it look as droopy as my other boob – my son said it was just not right for him to be looking at his mother’s boobs all the time!  I can’t wear a special bra yet or be measured for one because my scar hasn’t healed and it would be most uncomfortable – McMillian have sent me some great brochures to look at and I even may be eligible for a grant to have some free ones.  Never knew there were so many kind of false boobs you can get – different textures, weights, sizes, colours and for uses for different things such as swimming – and all look very flattering and pretty.  Breast Care also have models who have had breast cancer and who do fashion shows for them– so there may be some retail therapy to look forward to in the future!  I have been advised in the meantime to buy some crop tops as they would be just right to fit the sponge into.  I would love to go and get some but money is so tight at the moment after sorting out vet bills (although cousin paying half) – the fleas and booster jab, buying school uniform including casual trainers, school shoes, trainers and football boots and some warmer clothes for my son – there is just not enough to go around for me at the moment – its an expensive month and all this considering I am not sure at the moment how much I will be earning September – I think I need to get a top up loan to get me through so I am no longer living on my overdraft, but I don’t think the banks will lend to me at the moment! 

On a much more positive note the sponge boob has made me much more aware of my posture and I am now no longer walking around like a hunchback, it has also given me more confidence when going out especially on social occasions – although I am aware I look a little wonky now and again!
Going back to work has been weighing on my mind and I’m not sure how it is going to work – I am getting bored at home pulling out my hair with daytime TV and getting addicted to Facebook games – let alone my sleep patterns all over the place  - I need to seriously think about getting back into a routine and my son going back to school next week should help with that.  I am avoiding going out and about to many places I used to go to because I know I will be tempted to spend money on things that are not really a necessity. I have an overdraft which I am  living on and don’t seem to be able to catch up, its not as if I haven’t been given any cash injections some family, benefits etc, but this month I really think  is going to be difficult – the bills mount up and I am just about paying them, food is getting more expensive and my son is not good at not asking for things from me that cost money even down to a daily chocolate bar (oh and I do resist strongly but feel a little guilty when I do ) – on top of that my only vice smoking seems to be the most sensible thing to give up  to save money – but it is sometimes the only thing that  seems to put my stress levels down – trying “rollies” but its not going well!.  I don’t manage my money very well and I don’t know why – its not as if I buy expensive things – I shop at charity shops for almost everything  I need, but with the school holidays just gone by and being home everyday has been expensive in itself.  I know a lot of people are suffering at the moment with the economic downturn so its not just me and because of the cancer is something happening to people all over the world and especially to single mothers with no second income.  I am trying my best and my next step is to try and apply for social housing along with the hundreds of other people who are – maybe my cancer and history of domestic abuse can be turned to a positive thing here!

As I have found on my journey nothing is straight forward.  My chemo starts on 7th September and I have an appointment with the nurses to go through side effects on the 5th of September.  I was hoping to go back to work on that date – the day when my son goes back to school – it just seemed such a good date at the time, but now that is very much in the air.  My work have been great but because I can’t clarify if I will feel well enough to work after a chemo session they are not sure how their sickness policies fit in – I do feel sorry for them because I only starting working with them in December and then I have been off sick from May – six months trying to get myself established and to get to know the job – three months now off sick recovering from ops and not knowing what is going to happen from next week.  My start date back to work is the 15th of September and I will probably go back part-time or in a staged way – but if my salary goes down then I will be in more trouble.  The consultant said it is very much in my hands if I work through the chemo or not but it does depend on what the side effects will be for me – it is different for everyone – the only certainty is I will lose my hair.  Many people do work through the chemo, others part-time and others are too ill and can’t work at all. The lack of being in a secure position and not being able to plan much for the immediate future is the most frustrating of all

Talking about hair, I have been looking at hairstyles thinking what kind of wig I would like -  I could go blond long haired or as my son wants to have a Mohican!  My dad offered me my mum’s wig (she died of Ovarian cancer some 6 years ago) but I didn’t fancy going grey unless I could dye it!!  As you may have read in another blog I have had my hair cut short and in a spiky style so as to prepare for the chemo.  Being spiky means I will be able to brush my hair over any bald spots without it showing for a while.  My cousin heard about a women who has gone through the same thing as me but  loved her wig so much – she has stayed bald and brought all kinds of wigs which she wears for different occasions – a meeting is going to be set up for me to meet her and I am looking forward to it!

I first wrote this blog at the end of August, but seem to have had a bit of a “blogger block” and its been a couple of frustrating weeks, son on school holidays getting bored and causing mayhem at home, lazing around and being shouted at to walk the dog, help around the house etc – I have done a lot of shouting – perhaps my anger has turned into a different direction which is not good! , but despite everything and although I have worries, I am staying pretty positive and in a strange way am quite content – but I know I am a bit like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand (which is a tendency with me) – if I don’t think about it too much it won’t touch me until it happens – what I can I do but go step by step. 

 I started menstruating today – the first time in months but another more serious side effect is that the chemo is likely to bring on my menopause (hot flushes to look forward too as well ) but I do feel thinner  - the bloating seems to have gone, so perhaps the doctor was right “body-shock” from the ops and stress making me feel as if I was pregnant!  It was, however, a big shock to find out how much weight I have put on since my first op and I am trying to address this -  I have managed to take the dog for a walk now and again, and trying to ensure I do have a walk every day as well as keeping on top of house work (although that is not quite as successful).  Arm exercises are still tricky and I have been referred to physio – still not doing them right and I can’t get my arm behind my back properly.  I think there is also an exercise class at the hospital for those with cancer so I think I will look into that soon as well.

So its all still a waiting game,  a pause on the rollercoaster of life .  I watched a programme about the life of Bill Hicks and his stand-up routine about life and rollercoasters.  It resonated for so many reasons.  For many years now I feel that my rollercoaster of life has had too many twists and turns, ups and downs and that it should go a bit slower on a bit more of an even run – the constants in my life are my family and friends and  it is those people who are my lifesavers.  My Aunt did make me laugh – she sent me a cartoon of a ladder and the steps of my cancer journey and all the people round me who cares – its these little kindness and knowing I am being thought of  that makes the world seem a brighter place.  My Aunt’s best friend also has just gone back to work after a year recovering from breast cancer, a double mascetomy, more ops, chemo and radio-therapy.  Her hair has grown back and she has just come back from a holiday.  She is in her 60’s so if she can do it, I definitely can.  I also heard about an old school friend in China who is now just going for regular check-ups.  I would like to also send my best wishes to my friend I met in hospital who  has just gone through an op for reconstruction, after having one five years ago, when breast cancer was found again and now recovering from her op at home.  Keep your chin up! There is light at the end of tunnel (although someone once said to me make sure the light isn’t a train about to run you over!).

I went to a great free music festival last Saturday,  joined a choir and will be singing Beetle and Abba songs – It was  uplifting for me as I like to sing (but don’t do it well!) and it should help me with my breathing – heard that this can be one of the side effects of chemo feeling breathless . Being taken out for a quiz night at a local pub was also a highlight and being on the winning team even better – I also attended a community meeting about problems round the Hythe area run by Source (a Christian group who I want to join and support more than I am doing at the moment).  I have made a decision in that I don’t want to wait for the world to come to me anymore and that I should be going out and meet the world on my own terms.   There are things I need to try and do now to put in place before I have the lack of energy to do it later with the chemo treatment. 

Something to look forward to is  Christmas -  my last chemo is scheduled for 21st December and my dad would like us to be with him -  but it’s too early for me to even think about Christmas – I have no idea where I will be within myself both emotionally and health wise then.  It is still day by day, step by step and finding something positive in everything and every day as I go along this journey.  You can choose to let life get you down, or you can go with the flow and be as happy as you can, I have chosen  to do the latter!

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