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  • 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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  • SUSAN’S ARMY

    No Princess Alone button

The uncertainty of life

This week two years ago 4th of August 2.30pm to be exact I was sitting in a breast clinic being told not only did I have breast cancer but I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer the ‘worst’ form of breast cancer to get.

My first blog post was on the 10th August 2008.  Two years on I am still dealing with both the after effects of my treatment for the initial diagnosis and then the recurrence but also the uncertainty of my future – is it going to be no more recurrences or more recurrences and therefore more treatment? 

Something happened this week that made me think about this a lot – and it had to do with our pets.  We have 3 pets living with us at the moment.  Theoretically two of them are OD’s and one is MD’s but they have stayed with us rather than move out with  their owners especially OD who over the last few years has had many and varied flatting situations – not all of them pet-friendly.  Our pets are OD’s rabbit Morpheus aged 8 years, OD’s cat Gemma aged 6 1/2 years and MD’s cat Montie aged 13 years.  Now Morpheus is getting pretty old for a rabbit and Montie has had allergy problems that have required her to be put on steroid shots which have affected her health, so it is these two that we have expected to not be around for very much longer and we had prepared ourselves for those events possibly happening in the next couple of years. 

But this week it was Gemma who had a near death experience and life – threatening condition.  As far as we can work out she was hit by a car and got her tail caught at the base by the tire.  Her tailbone(sacrum) was shattered and the vets said there was a possibility that she might be paralysed in her bladder and bowels due to nerve damage in which case she would have to be put down.  I am happy to report after a very nerve-wracking couple of days it looks like she is going to pull through although they have had to amputate the tail as it is too badly damaged. 

Gemma before amputation operation

The emotional effect this has had on us has been huge – we had not prepared ourselves to lose Gemma and had thought even if the other two pets died within the next couple of years we would still have Gemma around for another 10 years or so. Even YD said Gemma was too young to die – that she had to live to be an older cat.

 I think it is more emotional for us because of my situation.  When I got my diagnosis one of my main thoughts was I’m too young to die, and one of the reasons I got so upset about the thought of Gemma dying was the fact that I thought if the worst happened to me and I died in the next few years at least OH was going to have at least one pet to keep him company. 

It doesn’t help that my hip is still hurting and I have had a splitting headache for the last week – it developed on the Friday afternoon after I had written my last post intensified over the weekend to near migraine status on Sunday including nausea and vomiting and continued as a band at the back of my head for the rest of the week – I had no other symptoms other than headache so I don’t know whether it was another virus or what I’ve managed to keep it to a dull roar by dosing myself up with pain killers and going to uni but it worried me that I had got over the flu of the week before but kept this headache.  Now of course because of my pain and lack of sleep I have now got sick with another flu/cold this weekend.  I have been in bed every Saturday afternoon for the past three weekends needing a sleep and frankly I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I even wondered whether I should be cutting back my uni papers – I don’t want to if this is purely just a pack of opportunistic viruses causing these problems and that in a couple of weeks I’ll feel on top of the world again but the trouble is I know I am still recovering from the vinorelbine (Navelbine) chemo treatment aftereffects and that might take me another couple of months to shake off.  It is making it hard to be as on top of my uni papers and assignments as I would like to be.

One of the other thoughts I had when we were waiting for news of Gemma was the whole aspect of putting her to sleep if we had to because it was the more humane thing to do.  Of course this made me think about what would happen if there came a time when we had to make decisions like that about me – not put me to sleep although I am in favour of euthanasia if it is the patients wish – but if it got to the point where we had to decide whether it was worth continuing with treatment versus quality of life .  I know these are more morbid thoughts but I actually think it is better that I think about them now when it isn’t a necessity and tell my family my wishes than them to have to make those sort of decisions for me.  I have already decided to have an  ‘allow natural death’  similar to a DNR (do not resuscitate) order to be put on my file if my cancer is ever terminal – I know I would rather die my own way with dignity than with tubes in every orifice.

I’m not as down as this post seems but all the same it is stuff that has been in my head the last few days.  I am still awaiting a CT appointment to rule out bone mets in my hip and I am a little hesitant to mention my headache to them in case they decide to go for a brain scan too.  I wish I could totally dismiss the possibility of metastases but as much as I think it is unlikely, there is a chance it is and that is why doctors will check every little ache and pain I have for  the next  2-3 years…

 Hopefully my blog post in August 2013 will be one of 3 years cancer free and nearly finished my degree.

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