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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


A few weeks ago I was planning to have a nice peaceful break after finishing  uni , having some rest and relax time and part of that with was going to be spending a week or two in Christchurch with MD.

Due to the news that I told you about in ‘Disconnection’ that isn’t going to happen quite the way we planned.  I am still heading for Christchurch but now it is to help MD pack up her house and move back up to live with us.  Not so relaxing LOL.   To give me some relax time I decided rather than fly down I would take the Tranzscenic train routes.   So the plan is that I catch the “Overlander” train tomorrow morning at our local train station and travel down to Wellington.  (Thanks UpsideBackwards for being my Wellington “uofficial tourism guide” and answering my queries) . I arrive in Wellington tomorrow evening and have got a place to stay only 5 minutes walk from the train station.  I stay one full day (two nights) there, then catch the ferry across to the South Island.  I stay Tuesday night with my cousin J2 and then take the “Tranzcoastal” train from Picton to Christchurch.  I’m spending approximately a week in Christchurch and then flying home with Halo (MD’s dog) to be back just in time for my next Herceptin treatment.

Most of MD’s household stuff will be loaded on a furniture moving truck the day before I leave.  MD will drive her car back up with her friends over the course of 3 days the following weekend.

I’m taking my laptop and will have internet access (via Tstick mobile broadband) while I am gone so look for blog updates and tweets letting you know of my adventures


Last week I had my oncology assessment to ok my next few rounds of herceptin.   My heart function is still holding very well (for those of you who know what I’m talking about my LVEF is holding steady at 64) so they have no concerns about continuing with the herceptin at this time.  They still want to do another CT scan before Christmas just to check on things so I am awaiting an appointment for that.

I talked to them about my increasing lethargy and fatigue and they said it wasn’t surprising given to all intents and purposes I have been in treatment for over two years and they said although herceptin doesnt have the same side effects as the more heavyduty chemos it is treatment all the same and even if it isn’t affecting my heart function levels it can still be having an effect on my energy levels.

I told them what decision I had come to about my university studies.  My degree is a four year full time degree and I have done the first year full time but have gradually been getting more and more fatigued as the year goes on – some of which is natural study fatigue but is compounded by treatment fatigue.  What I have decided to do is  drop back to part time for the next two years – that is do my 2nd year papers over a period of two years and concentrate a little bit more on my physical health, fitness and energy levels.  I have been using all my energy this year us on mental, intellectual energy and have had no energy left to try and get exercise etc.  My oncology registrar summed it up by saying by dropping back to part time I will be giving my body both time to rest and time to exercise.  She said trying to add more exercise on top of a fulltime schedule was just going to make me more fatigued.  She also agreed with my assessment that even if I worked on my health and fitness over the summer break (3 months) it wasnt going to give me the long term fitness that I need, where as working on it slowly over the next two years will set me up much better for being fitter and healthy going into the 3rd and 4th year full time study including 2 3-month full time practicuums. 

We also discussed that the next two years are the danger time for another recurrence but if I am doing only part time study  then even if something does pop back up I can probably do both study and treatment.

I also had a meeting with the lecturer that was acting as our academic advisor for our first year.  He said the university staff see a lot of potential in me as a Social Worker and anything they can do to help me achieve my degree, they will do.  That was lovely to hear but I did end up bursting into tears when talking to him because in some ways I do feel like I’m letting myself down by dropping back to part-time and frustrated that, even though I know I am making the right decision for me that I can’t do it full-time and even though I am in remission, ‘Gertrude’ is still putting limits on my life.

One of the things that really made me realise that I needed to drop back to part-time was my relationship with YD.  Even though she no longer lives at home I usually spent Sundays with her, usually  every second Sunday.  As the year has gone on and the fatigue got worse I started resenting having to spend time with her because I was so tired.  When I spend time with YD I need to be constantly ‘On’ and I started dreading spending time and feeling even more tired.  I love YD and don’t want to feel that spending time with her is such a chore.  Last weekend having had a week off after exams I spent the day with her , having fish and chips at a regional park and going for a walk around the park and sitting on the beach after.  Here are some of the views on our perimeter walk around the park.  they were taken with the camera on my phone so aren’t great quality

view from the clifftop walk

YD on one of the flatter parts of the bush walk

view when sitting on the beach afterwards

It was a lovely day and I want more of those,  where it’s a joy rather than a chore.

Dropping back to part-time study for the next two years has been a hard decision for me to make but ultimately everyone, family, friends, hospital and university think it is a lot healthier for me in the long run and the best decision I could make for myself at the moment


I realised today it was three weeks since my last blog post and I have to admit some of that was deliberate.  I had an absolutely mad week the first week of November with all four of my university papers scheduling their exams for that week.  I definitely had very little time for blogging that week. 

The following week I made a deliberate decision to not be online as much as usual (no blogging, no tweeting and very little facebook)- I just felt I needed some “me” time – I read several light chick-lit books, I got my hair cut and recoloured.  Most of my grey hairs seem to be at the front so when I look in the mirror all I see is grey and at 47 (nearly 48 ) I’m so not ready to look that old.  I even treated myself to a facial .  There was a few other things -such as oncology assessment and herceptin –  I had to fit in that week but by and large it was a “me” week and I really appreciated how much I needed it.

This week I have been more active and on track and due partly to another major disconnection that has happened in our family’s life.  MD and SB , after 6 years together, decided to break up the last week of October.  He has just been deployed on a 6 month peacekeeping mission this week (Pacific, thank goodness, not Middle East) The breakup has been reasonably amicable and I am very proud of both of them for handling it as well as they did.  SB even came to see us last Sunday when he was up saying farewell to his family before he left which I think shows a great deal of mutual respect between he and us.  I won’t tell anymore of their story as it is not my story to tell. 

The only trouble with not blogging for a few weeks is that you end up with lots of things to tell so I am breaking it down to more manageable slices  this will be one of my “D” series of blogs over the next couple of days – ‘Decisions’ and ‘Destinations’ to follow as time allows