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    If you have popped over here from my facebook page could you please add comments in the blog rather than on the link on facebook itself. I dont want to worry YD unnecessarily Thanks. You can now use your facebook log in so you dont need to enter extra details if you like
  • All about Gertrude

    Gertrude is the name we decided to call my cancerous breast hence the title of this blog. Although I had to keep my breast through chemo and radiation due to the nature of IBC - once it 'blew up' it no longer looked like my breast and I couldn't wait to get rid of it. Calling it Gertrude was a way of seperating it from myself. This main page is where I write about the general goings on that relate to Gertrude, there is another page that are more a diary of treatments etc This blog is a public blog so although I am being very honest about my battle with Gertrude I have "changed names to protect the innocent" - because everyone can see it if you write comments on the blog pages please use the same abbreviations for other family member or friends that I do. Please feel free to ask questions if you want clarification because then other people who might have been wondering the same thing can read your question and our answers.
  • Abbreviations

    OH- Other Half (Hubby), OD- Oldest Daughter, MD- Middle Daugher, YD- Youngest Daughter, SB- soulja boi MD's fiance in the army (now ex fiance), OD's R OD's partner, BS- Breast surgeon whose initials just happen to be BS as well, BC- our GP (family doctor), Dr H- my medical oncologist, all other friends family etc will be referred to as initials etc
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    No Princess Alone button

New look blog

I decided to make my blog reflect me a little more and so changed the ‘theme’ to one where I could customise the photo at the top.  I hope no one is offended by me using my t-shirt slogan but I felt that summed up the blog more than any other picture I could have put up. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Christchurch to visit MD, also caught up with Bro and his family( in their native habitat, LOL so to speak) all of the times I have caught up with him in the last 30 years have been when he has been up here.

I felt really tired towards the end of it and on Thursday after we arrived home I just succumbed to the weariness.  I wouldn’t have done things any different – had a really busy stay down there but I had forgotten how tiring being with YD 24/7 is.  You have to be constantly “on”. 

When MD and Bro etc were busy YD and I got round the city using a metro bus card.  Good way of seeing the city and if  I fly down again I will probably keep using it and top it up rather than getting myself around by hire car.  Certainly if I am down there with YD – it would be the preferred mode of transport as it allowed me to discuss what we were seeing out the windows of the bus and help her discover Christchurch rather than me getting frazzled by trying to drive myself around unfamiliar streets and talk to her at the same time. 

Armed with a Christchurch street map book and bus time tables we got everywhere we wanted to go.

punting on the Avon

punting on the Avon

We did all the touristy things – punting on the Avon, riding the tram, going up the Port Hills in the Gondola.  MD also shared her favourite beaches and the weather was really lovely while we were down there.

Taylors Mistake beach

Taylors Mistake beach

Lyttleton harbor from the top of the Gondola

Lyttleton harbor from the top of the Gondola

Southern Alps out the back of Burnham
Southern Alps out the back of Burnham

I found the mountains (Southern Alps) an awesome sight to behold and it reinforced for me how much I love Nature’s beauty (mountains, water, or native bush).  I intend to spend more time out and about enjoying it. 

There is just something about being by the sea or gazing at a mountain that centres me

Bubblegum, Blindness and Busy

my two new sets of glasses

my two new sets of glasses



One of my new mantras I say to myself when I am worried is “It’s just bubblegum”

Weird but it’s based on a story by one of the IBC survivors on the support mailing list I belong to.  As most of you know I had my CT scan yesterday and although the drs are pretty sure I’ve got nothing to worry about , it doesn’t stop a case of the “what ifs” setting in.  Then I remind myself of the story that DJ told to the group about thinking every little thing was metastasis. 

Shortly after her initial treatment she got a severe pain behind and below her right ear. They did MRIs to rule out recurrence and as she was at the oncologist discussing the results – that was nothing showing on the MRI – the oncologist noticed she was chewing gum and suggested she didnt chew it until they had sorted out what was causing the pain. Lo and behold the pain went away and it was concluded that it was her chewing very vigorously on her gum that had caused stress in her jaw and the muscles working it.  She often refers to it when she is helping those of us that are just out of treatment when we re not sure what niggles to worry about.

So folks I hope that no news is good news as far as my CT scan is concerned and that on my followup oncology appointment on 6th October that they will be able to say that my niggles are just scar tissue or lymphodemas related issues (my version of bubblegum)


As I have written before, before chemo I didn’t need glasses but shortly after starting chemo I found I needed glasses for reading.  I found out later from my oncologist this is because the steroid we take to counteract having allergic reactions to the toxins in Taxotere can harden the corneas.  I went to an optometrist and they said they would not test me until I got the go-ahead from the oncologist. The oncologist advised to wait at least 6 months from the end of the taxotere treatment and said to wait until I had finished the herceptin too.

So I went 2 weeks ago and got my eyes tested, and boy I was blinder than I thought!  He tested my distance vision as well and found that I have a slight decrease in distance vision.  I also have astigmatism, light sensitivity and bad short range eyesight.  I have had to wear sunglasses all the time in sunny weather so the light sensitivity was something i had already self-diagnosed. 

With all these issues I ended up spending more on glasses than I intended but did get the two for one deal at Specsavers.  my glasses are both progressive (see distance up the top, reading down the bottom and working on computer screens in the middle) and transitional they go dark out doors in strong light but are clear under inside lights.

I am hoping this will stop me getting so many headaches from eyestrain and because I will wear them all the time it will stop me needing to have both sunglasses and reading glasses on me at all times.

The optometrist did say given my age (46) some of the eyesight degeneration was just age-related but I believe the chemo just accelerated the process.


 I worked longer shifts than I should have a week and a half ago due to our manager’s dad dying and me  covering her shifts then one of the other girls T being sick on the Saturday so I worked longer and A (another girl) taking the Friday afternoon on short notice off so on the Friday I worked all day in the shop by myself. from 8.30 in the morning to 6.30 at night and was very busy (biggest friday sales for a long time )- due to the nature of the terminals it is very repetitious movements of the right arm and although I was wearing my sleeve I ended up with lymphodema related problems and also fatigue and my shoulder muscles etc just seized up it took me several days off before things settled back down. 

It has really reinforced my decision to go to Uni next year as I cant see myself being able to work the same amount at my old job as I did before.  The manager’s back and we were discussing that we have two casual staff leaving. If I was back to normal I would have grabbed those hours to get me back to working more the hours I used to, but it’s just not possible at the moment.  However I am going to  train the replacement that she is advertising for at  the moment, because that means the trainee does all the actual work and I just need to sit or stand there and tell them what to do. I will continue being their casual fill in person as needed once this new person is trained.

I am off to visit MD in Christchurch for the next week. Taking YD for her first trip on a plane so that is exciting for her.  Will post another blog post on return