I’m starting a little blog up. I hope you’ll like it and I really hope other stage 3C breast cancer fighters and survivors will find comfort and strength in my determination to kick the living daylights out of cancer for the second time around… Equally I hope I come across women in a similar situation who can offer me the same.
I was recently diagnosed with a recurrence of my breast cancer with my supraclavicular lymph node and axillary (underarm) nodes affected. They diagnosed it as stage 3C which is pretty shit.
I had been for 2 checks at my breast clinic because I had underarm pain and pain behind my breast but twice I had been told they were 100% certain it was nerve damage from my previous double mastectomy and reconstruction. I still felt unsure and just 3 days after I was seen, I found the lump above my collar bone – 6th January. I just knew it was back.
I had to wait two absolutely hellish days for it to be Monday so I could speak to someone and thankfully I was seen on Monday 8th, ultrasound scan, biopsy and CT scan happened on the same day and confirmed the motherfucker was back.
Michael had to have a job interview while I was at the hospital (which he amazingly got – he’s my absolute hero) so my dad came with me and when they told us it had returned, my poor dad almost fainted – twice! If you can imagine your absolute worst nightmare, this was mine. It was just incredibly terrifying.
I was literally begging the consultant to tell me it wasn’t cancer, telling him I’ve got a 3 year old. I was grabbing his hands pleading with him. My little girl, she needs me. I wanted to look after my dad and he wanted to look after me but it was just awful.
Michael came straight from his interview and in the car on the way home, I just screamed – I didn’t even realise I could make these noises. I screamed and screamed because I knew recurrence was bad news. I couldn’t accept it. That I won’t be around for Ivy when she needs me. What if she gets picked on at high school because people pick on redheads. Who’ll do her hair for her on her first day of school or be there for her when she just needs her mum.
Who’ll look after my Michael when he’s lonely in bed at night. Who will he share his day with and send funny photos of Ivy to and who will he go to gigs with. Who’ll sing (really terribly) to him while he plays the guitar. I imagined him having to meet someone new and worried he and Ivy would forget me.
My heart broke for my poor mum and dad. My mum crumbled when we got back from the hospital. My poor mum and dad. They shouldn’t have to go through it all again.
When we got back from the hospital, my breast care nurse phoned to say they’d amazingly reported the CT scan and thankfully it hadn’t spread to any other organs. I thought this meant it could be cured and spent 2 days blissfully unaware.
We had earlier planned to go away to celebrate my 3 year remission (12.01.18) and decided we’d still go anyway. We had to go to the hospital first. Here’s when my oncologist and breast care nurse told me that 3C was classed as incurable (that’s the last time I’ll use that word because it’s a horrible one).
I went into meltdown again, started grabbing Michael, grabbing his jumper. All I really got from that appointment was “let’s aim for 3½ years” and “I know of one stage 3C patient who made it to 10 years”. There were more positive things but I don’t remember them.
Our night away was cancelled and on the morning of what would have been my remission celebration, I was led in a PET scanner and then sat in the old chemo chair having round one whilst sobbing loudly 🙈. I just couldn’t accept it.
Friends and family lifted me gradually out of the depression. I don’t think I moved from my bed for 5 days. I couldn’t sleep and when I did, I woke up praying I was in a bad dream. My poor Ivy, she knew something was going on. I was being distant with her, I know it’s awful but I instantly didn’t want her to depend on me because I didn’t know what was going to happen. She crawled into bed with me a few times and even stroked my hair. #heartburst
I spoke to Sara – my breast care nurse and she really changed my thinking around. I asked “how do you know it’s definitely going to come back?” she said “we don’t know that Roisin…. It obviously has a high recurrence rate but you are going to be one of those women I tell my patients about when you’re older.” She said surgery may now be a possibility, that I will probably have my ovaries removed to stop my hormones and they’ll blast me with radio and chemo. I told her I’d read loads of Stage 3C survivor stories and she said to keep on reading them! She also told me patients with a positive attitude can do up to 20% better than others. She said when my oncologist mentioned 3½ years, she simply meant make that your first milestone, then she had also said “make Ivy’s first day at big school your next goal” but I hadn’t heard that.
For the first time in a week, I had some motherfucking hope and I wrapped literally ever fibre of myself around it…. And I’ll never unwrap myself from it.
I have started the keto diet which there is SO much evidence about it fighting and killing cancer cells. Keto is just no carbs or sugar. Cancer cells thrive off sugar so just cut it out. Friends and family have brought us so many gifts, supplements, even a bloody holiday. We are drenched in love and kindness and we just can’t thank each and everyone of you enough.
Just as cancer thrives from sugar, I thrive from the fighting talk, I need it (maybe that makes me a needy little sucker but hey ho). So writing down my feelings, although personal (and some I’ll still keep to myself) reeeeally helps me because I feel SO much support. It’s truly wonderful.
I am doing everything right, I AM going to be there for Ivy’s first AND last day at high school. I am going to grow old with my one true love and our families and friends are going to see us blossom 🌸. We are really reeeeally hoping to still go ahead with adopting our boy… I just need to convince my oncologist to get behind me for that one because I’m going bloody nowhere.