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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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    No Princess Alone button

Septimana horribilis

A dreadful week

It has been a very hard week.  I had been feeling very stressed with ‘scanxiety’ waiting to hear what the scan showed and Dr H ran out of time to let me know the results before he went away last Friday.  With a long weekend and the fact that my assigned oncology nurse specialist KS was not at work until Wednesday meant that I didn’t find out until then anything about my scan results until then.

However before that happened, Tuesday had already hit me very hard emotionally.  I woke to the news that one of my blogging friends , Rachel of The Cancer Culture Chronicles had died, we had commented on each others blogs and had communicated on twitter and understood where each other were at in our journeys with metastatic breast cancer.  Her death was quite sudden in the scheme of things, she had been admitted to hospital with seizures,  but those of us that knew her in the blogosphere expected her to pull through as she had done with so many other hospitalizations which she had written about with her characteristic wit and humour.

While I was still absorbing that news, about 11 am on Tuesday I got a direct message on Twitter from Sunday and an email from Stella telling me that Susan (@whymommy) had died.  Susan, I was even closer too than Rachel, we met through twitter, we shared the diagnosis of IBC, she had asked me to join the ‘Mothers with Cancer’ group blog and we had let each other into our real lives by becoming friends on Facebook.  Although we had never met she was a very real friend because of our shared experiences. I was proud to be part of her Lego princess army and know she valued our friendship across the miles just as much as I did.

Two amazing women gone in one day…. the internet community that we were all part of , on twitter and blogs, was stunned.  We grieved together, many of us in tears.  I used the term heartsick to describe how I felt, the grief was making me feel literally sick.  But would I trade not knowing these women if I then didn’t have to feel such heartache? No, because knowing them has made my life richer, my belief in myself stronger and given me a sense of solidarity in sisterhood.

Wednesday came – I had already booked  to have counselling at the Cancer Society in the afternoon so organised with KS that I would come in and see her at the hospital to see what was happening.  I joked with a couple of people that it was the first time I have probably really needed the counselling but it was true.

KS couldn’t give me all the details but the gist of things is this.  The scan shows definite progression and growth – I will find out exactly what next week when I meet with the oncologist.  Dr H had seen the CT scan and come up with a possible plan but just run out of time to tell me before he went away.  So the oncologist that I see next week will be working off his plan.  It definitely means I will be starting a new chemo and my latest blood tests which KS was able to give me the results of also backed that up.  My tumor markers continue to rise and whereas in the past I could console myself that they were on the comparatively low side for aggressive metastatic cancer that is no longer the case.

OH has just started 3 weeks annual leave.  We have made plans to go away with C, ‘our French daughter’, if the doctors allow me to have a couple of weeks off chemo (I didn’t have it this week as the Adriamycin is obviously not working).  If we can we will leave on Wednesday directly after my oncologist appointment and be away for 4 days.  If not OH and C will go without me as C needs to be back the following week for Uni preparation and  OH and I will try to go away in between chemos some other time.  I will try to put a quick update on twitter and on the ‘Get Out Gertrude’ Facebook page before we go but probably wont have time to write a blog post in its entirety.

In closing I just want to do a big shout out to all my friends, whether I have met you in person or not.  Thank you for being there, in whatever way, shape or form that might be.  I love you all.



Leave a comment


  1. Angela

     /  February 10, 2012

    Big hugs and more hugs Jen.xxx

  2. Jenny – crap week all round. My own pre-bisphosphonate dental slicing & dicing (for the third time of asking) pales into insignificance. We’ve lost Rachel & Susan & Stephanie form the world of antsy mets women & now you and a couple of the younger UK mets crew all have bad news. Wishing you strength from across the world SJx

  3. Septimana horribilis is the perfect heading. Hope you have the days away with french daughter.

  4. I have been heartsick also at the loss of Rachel and Susan. I had the amazing good fortune to spend time with them last May in D.C., and I felt the impact of the bad news like a punch in the gut.
    I’m so glad you and so many of my other friends are still here.

  5. feistybluegecko

     /  February 10, 2012

    It has been an overwhelming week, strange being in tears in front of a computer screen, such compassion, grief and emotion without a physical touch. You were very much in my thoughts when I heard of Susan’s loss.

    I am sorry to hear that it has bee a tough week with your results too and hope that this new plan is effective.

    Warm hugs and lots of love

  6. Huge hugs. A very hard week, indeed.
    We loved having C to stay with us for a few days, though. She is a delight! I hope you do get to have some good time away with her.
    Lots of love…


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