Surgery Update

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* Just like the previous post, this one too, comes to you from the present, from today*
Thursday, 15 of December 2011

To all of you ladies, and our one gentleman reader, Robert

First of all, let me tell you that I’m alive, (and happily waving back at you – ‘hey there!’), and that I missed you all.
I missed you, missed you all so much, it broke my heart.
I missed writing for you and being with you, the joy and comfort that you give me, the precious feeling that I belong to something, and that I too, am worthy of the air I breathe.
But I’ve been so weak and sick and lost in pain, that any attempts (and of those, there were many) at sitting on the chair at my computer desk and trying to concentrate long enough to produce a readable result have all been futile.

I tried ladies, I tried to come back to you.
But every time I tried I was unsuccessful and ended up in tears, nauseous and shaking and hating this darn cancer with all the might my heart could master.
Look at ItIt, the cancer!
A mean bully who has taken everything away from me.
Granted, I didn’t have that much to begin with; mostly a petty, worthless life, but lately things have changed, this blog came into my life and it brought me you. I have a goal now, I have you and I’m determined to hang on to my treasures for as long as I can.
I want to live a few more months ladies, just long enough to at least finish my story and this blog.
Ah, and by the way!
Something has happened to this blog!
It has taken a life of its own. It’s now not just a blog anymore, but much more than that. It’s my legacy to you and to the life that I have lived. It’s a way, the only way, for me to be remembered and to go on living beyond death, even if it’s only as an ethereal thought, passing through your minds and lighting up a memory of me. For a fleeting second, I’ll be alive, with you again.
And so, I am determined.
I am not going to die before I have finished it. I’ll cling and I’ll kick back and I’ll battle to the last hope and to my last breath.
Will I be successful? Are a few more months a bridge too far?
Well, right now nobody knows the answer to that question, not even the doctors, but that’s no reason to give up. Rest assured, you have my word that no matter what, I’ll finally grow a backbone and put up a darn good fight.
There you are ladies!
Until the end, and in the name of you.

Now, before I go, let me give you a short resume of the things that have happened to me over the past 2 months. I hope you will better understand the reasons for my absence and silence.
But there is a problem.
As you know, I’m desperately clinging to the hope that I will be alive long enough to finish this blog. Also, if I am to help anybody, I believe it is important to write my story in the right way, chronologically and step by step. Which means that today my hands are tied; I can’t give you too many details or I risk disrupting the narrative.

Let’s just say that in January of 2011 I was diagnosed with cancer A and cancer B.
The most dangerous, the one that’s killing me faster than we can stop it, is cancer A.
My last post to you was written in October, a day away from surgery on cancer B.
At the same time, cancer A, which, for reasons that I will explain fully at the appropriate time, we were forced to leave well alone for a few months, was happily enjoying the unexpected break and spreading all over my body. And so it comes that I was getting ready for the surgery on cancer B, but getting sicker and sicker from the invasion of cancer A.
Now, tell me ladies, isn’t that jolly fun?
So many cancers, we’re spoilt for choice here!
Surgery on cancer B went fine. (Darn!) I didn’t die on Prof. Hill’s operating table, (although I had hoped to), and 3 days later, 2 plastic tubes (drains) hanging on from my chest, I was ready to go home.
I didn’t though.
Dana, my friend, was worried about the idea of me, post surgery, alone with those pesky plastic tubes, and invited me to spend the week with her and her family, to help with the recovery. She picked me up from the hospital doors and we drove to her home in Tyrellstown, where for a few days I was overly-pampered and felt a bit like a queen.
(Thank you Dana, Joseph and my most 2 favourite kiddies in the world! You’ve been the best!)
The recovery was easy and I should have had a great time.
Except it wasn’t to be.
Enter cancer A, and out goes the joy.
Vicious and as aggressive as usual, it never gave up. My belly started growing bigger and bigger, eating and even breathing became more and more difficult, and I was feeling weaker and more miserable with each passing day.
Things got so bad that only 2 weeks after the surgery, I was back in hospital, begging my oncologist, Dr. Breathnach, for more chemotherapy.
– ‘Please Dr. Breathnach, cancer A is going everywhere and is making me feel so sick! Can I have more chemo?’
He looked at me with worry in his eyes.
– ‘Andrea, but you need to let your body recover from the surgery. It’s too early!’
(He was right, of course, and I knew that. Normally, chemotherapy is given between 4 to 6 weeks after surgeries. This time frame is the optimal window. But there is nothing optimal about my cancer diagnostic, and I went on, babbling and begging for more treatment).
– ‘The surgery on cancer B was easy’, I told him, trying my best to sound natural and reassure all his fears. ‘I never felt much pain and the recovery is going very smooth. All is great from that point of view! My pains come from cancer A; it’s invading so fast, Dr. Breathnach, so fast! My belly is ever-growing, I look as if I’m 6 months pregnant, I’m always nauseous and I’m pretty sure I have huge clusters of cancer living inside my liver. Please Dr. Breathnach, let me have more chemo!’
Dr. Oscar Breathnach (lead oncologist at Beaumont Hospital, – all about him when the time comes) is a wonderful man who doesn’t have the heart to refuse his patients. However, like all dedicated doctors, he is also very reluctant to risk their lives.
He looked at me again, up and down, up and down, and I knew he was trying to asses my physical condition. ‘Is she strong enough for yet more chemo? So soon after the surgery?’
I must have appeared pretty healthy and rosy (thank you, my Revlon blusher!), because he smiled and agreed.
– ‘Alright Andrea!’, he said. ‘We’ll give you more chemo and we’ll do it as fast as possible. This time we are going to try a new chemotherapy combination, Gemcitabine plus Carboplatin’.

I almost jumped up in joy!
Never such an android, futuristic word, has sounded like so much pure delight to a human ear!
Carboplatin! My dear Carboplatin!
I had been longing for it since the first day of my diagnosis, and finally there it was, mine to be looked at, admired, poured into my veins and adorned with a thousand dreams!
And not to worry, my ladies, in case I completely confused you with all this Carboplatin talk, rest at peace; when its time comes, I will tell you all about it. For now, suffice to say that that day I was so happy I could barely refrain from (poorly)impersonating Eliza in Pygmalion and start singing : ‘Just you wait, cancer A! Just you wait!’
I had, and still have, great hopes in Carboplatin and knew that once it starts flowing through my blood and reaches malignant cancerous cells, the battle for survival, head-to-head will be fearsome, bloody and many of them will die. Thus, allowing me to live a few more months longer. A few more months might not mean that much for a ‘normal’, healthy person, but for a cancer patient like me, close to death, a few more months are almost an eternity. Every day of reasonable good health is precious, and a few more months mean not only the countable calendar, but also the sparkle of Christmas lights, the beauty of the first day of spring and revival of all nature, and even, possibly, yummy red-painted eggs in the celebration of Easter holidays.
Not to mention finishing this blog and reaching my goal.
So much joy and so many treasures in only a few months. Well worth the battle!
That’s why I wave my finger and say: ‘Just you wait, cancer A! Just you wait!’)

After the meeting with Dr. Breathnach and under his control, things moved at an emergency pace.
2 days later I was having a full body CT scan and the very next day, with scan results already assessed and up on the system, I was sitting on the comfortable reclining chairs in the Oncology ward, surrounded by all the nurses I’ve learned to love, and receiving my very first dose of Gem/Carbo.
And here I am today. 2 complete cycles finished, a bit of a delay, a bit of a worry, and ready for my 3-rd cycle tomorrow.
If my blood tests come back strong enough and my chemo infusion goes ahead as planned, I will be very sick for the next 8-10 days. So sick and nauseous I won’t be able to post much, but before giving up on me, let me give a bit of a good news you’re not aware of yet.
10 days ago I have gifted myself with a brand new toy.
A laptop!
My very first laptop!
It’s white and cute, and lovely, and it keeps me warm and drives me mad at the same time, (will I ever be able to use this darn little thing called ‘the touch pad’? will I, ladies?), and for all its ‘touch pad’ annoyances, the little pretty thing honorably fulfills its most important duty, which is of course, to allow me to stay in touch with you ladies even in those bad days when I’m not able to leave the bed. Talking to you has become so much easier now, since its arrival, a lot easier than having to drag my growing belly and fluid filled legs to the uncomfortable chair at the computer desk.
I’m so happy I have it!
I can talk to you, write to you, I can watch movies, read books, news and my emails, all without having to get out of bed. It’s wonderful! No matter how long I have to live, I’m determined to enjoy my beautiful today!
I have to leave you ladies now. It’s getting late and there are still a million more things I need to do in preparation for the up-coming chemotherapy cycle and all those dreadful days of fearsome nausea and vomiting and pains.
It’s not going to be easy, but I’m ready.
It’s either that, or death in the next couple of months.
Not much of a choice really.
Please keep your fingers crossed for me that everything goes smooth tomorrow, I’ll be back soon, hopefully ready to continue our story with the next chapter – ‘Emergency Room at Beaumont Hospital’.

Many thanks for everything you mean and done for me ladies, (and our one gentleman reader, Robert)
see you soon,


Back to the beginning : ‘The First Symptoms’                                                  Up to:
Back to previous post: ‘To You’


Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Health, Ovarian cancer, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments