Showing posts from May, 2011
Thank goodness for bank holidays......its really helped restore me a little more. Friday started well with a lovely time with friends and then finished listening to The Firebugs. They are fantastic.I managed to stay awake and so glad i did. The highlight for me was my son singing a beautiful song he wrote and they dedicated it to me as he started to sing.Wonderful. My heart was full and indeed it was an emotional evening. It was my reminder that this time has been an emotional roller coaster not only for me but for others who care for me too. And I do feel guilty about that but its also shown me how rich I am in love and friendship. Writing the blog has also connected me with wider communites and I have loved hearing from you all in the different ways. The impact breast cancer and its treatment is huge for so many of you.I fully understand that the impact for me will change but continue to affect me in some way.But for the many people whose breast cancer has spread the impact will

Reasons to be grateful

I have noticed how many people have been advising me to look after myself this week. Looking in the mirror, inspite of wonder women eye shadow and the rest, I understand why.I do look rather drawn and dont expect anything sensible out of me after 9 o'clock. I suspect while being delighted about my results and having a real sense of delight at having my summer back I need to remember I still need to give myself time to heal from all that the last few weeks has thrown at me. And of course its not over yet either. But mostly I am feeling very fortunate. Knowing that I wont need to rush into any more surgery has freed us up to look at holidays. Our plan is to holiday with my step daughter and her children. My recent diagnosis has brought back to them the loss of their much loved Mum and Grandma-I am so glad we can enjoy precious time together-and I am so grateful for that. These experiences teach you to savour life there is no doubt. I have also been in contact with a good friend

Wonder woman??

Who stole May and made it November? What a day yesterday was. As the weather unfolded, my own personal dramas were coming more to the fore. Approaching results days are always hard. Yesterday was my first day back and my decision was to keep busy and I certainly achieved that! To say I was exhausted at the end of the day was an understatement. Every time I thought it would be nice to put my head down on the desk I realised perhaps I had returned too soon. The keeping busy strategy isn’t always good for convalescence I guess. In the midst of all that I spoke to Professor Dixon who gave me my pathology results and it was great news-very little extra disease and nothing invasive. I felt a huge burden lift as he said this. Although as I have said from the beginning this was very early disease there is always that fear that maybe pathology finds something unexpected-and they didn’t. Having this information before my appointment the next day was so very valuable. The team understand tha

Feeling good?

My thoughts are turning to going back to work properly.   And it’s the important issues that are to the fore. No not the new politics of Scotland , not the meeting I am chairing in the afternoon, nor the 1-1s planned or the many emails. No its the what will I wear dilemma. Don’t misunderstand me this isn’t a deep-seated trauma as a result of my recent surgery it’s a fairly typical day really. But there is the complication of the current advice about not wearing under-wired bras. I tried to contain my horror of the potential quality of the non wired bra variety but finally had to enlist the support of my son’s girlfriend. The men in the family are  impressive  but there was too big a risk of re-enactment of the episode of Father Ted when the priests got trapped in the lingerie department. So she went to the Mecca for every variety of nice lingerie. She did a marvellous job so I will emerge confidently and comfortable to work. God bless you M&S. And not just for having such choic

Being Gleeful

Having made the decision not to officially return to work until Monday I retained my plan to go into the office on Friday to join with the team for a get together, culminating in a team karaoke session. What a good decision that was. I can sense some of you recoiling at the very thought but it was therapy on so many levels. Those of you who have returned to work after some challenging event, be it illness, bereavement, relationship breakdown will know there is that transition when people don’t quite know what to say or do. I have found in the past, I then start to take responsibility for how they are-and I know I’m not alone in this. So going back for a fun event was great. Of course everyone said how are you but after that it was about having a good night. Another impact of the blog is that the people who are following it for whatever reason are actually up to date with what is happening and it doesn’t need me to repeat the story lots of times. This is such a relief and keeps frie

But why?

I started today trying to get more information that may help me make my decision in time about further treatment. Through my work with Breakthrough Breast Cancer I have access to the best information, be it on family history of breast cancer or the best treatment guidelines and this is hugely helpful to my family and to me. It struck me as I analysed things that often this is part of a diagnosis-this searching for meaning and trying to make sense of it. We all try to link an illness like breast cancer back to an earlier stress or accident or exposure to an apparent risk. I remember first time round people saying to me it was perhaps because I worked too hard and put too much stress on myself. This really made me   feel guilty and upset me. Was that really true? Did I want to change? I remembered telling my GP I wasn’t about to take up knitting! (I know its fashionable again but still…) Breakthrough set up the Breakthrough Generations study a number of years ago now and it will run

Music and mascara

I have been off work for a week now although will admit to having had some attachment to the blackberry. Is it an obsession or just a need to stay engaged with a job I love? Maybe its also about staying linked to the normal rhythm of my life, balancing complex demands and exploring opportunities to make a difference? It’s a big bit of who I am after all. We often assume that peoples first reaction to a diagnosis of cancer is fear of dying or treatment but its often also about how will it impact on my job, my relationships, my holiday plans etc. Lets face it for many its also how will I pay the mortgage and will it affect my employment prospects. All legitimate concerns that are in the mix at the 2 am shift of the insomniacs. A week in I am wondering when is the right time to go back. I cleared my diary until tomorrow (ever the optimist) and put contingency plans in for Friday but seem unable to make a decision….perhaps there is a clue there, I know. I did go out today and survived so

Universal truths and karaoke?

Your lovely, thoughtful and warm messages are helping me feel less self indulgent for writing this blog. Indeed one of reasons for doing this is to share a universal message really. Its universal, not only as a breast cancer journey, but also as that of any major illness. Two good friends have recently spoken to me of family member’s diagnosis of diabetes and how they have at times felt scared, distressed, overwhelmed and even guilty. I recognise all of these emotions. One of the universal messages for me is that receiving care which informs, supports and allows you to address the issues presented by your diagnosis full on and find your own answers to it ,is not a luxury but has to be a fundamental part of your care. And its sound economics too. Whether that’s helping to prevent common complications like depression or helping people get back to work. But its also true that while breast cancer has a universal impact it is also unique. The uniqueness is because it has such an impact

Boob cap baby!

As I emerge from sleepiness post anaesthetic and re-engage with things my mind is also moving forward to getting the next lot of results and what that will mean. I know I am not alone in listening intently to every nuance, every word, every shrug of the shoulders or look of sympathy and trying to build meaning from it.   A surgeon as experienced, as Professor Dixon knows this very well and chooses his words carefully as he talks to me after the operation. I noticed he was encouraged by not having had to remove so much tissue this time and how I hope that means perhaps there wont have to be the next stage surgery after all. But of course that isn’t what he is saying. But maybe, just maybe he is leaving the door open for that? I share this with you not because I know the answer but merely because I am examining that question over in my head. I caution myself not to get my hopes up but its hard not to. It’s another week till I get the results so distraction is the only way till then I

Its not just me.......

When I speak to people about breast cancer as part of my job with Breakthrough breast cancer I often say that breast cancer affects families not just individuals and this has never been more apparent to me than now. This story isn’t just mine its my family and friends and colleagues too. My husband is a volunteer counsellor and has had to suspend his volunteering meantime. You need emotional capacity for counselling and this experience was using that up. My step daughter has found my news difficult because although she knows its different-it has taken her back to when her Mum died far too young of breast cancer just a few years ago.   My daughter being away from the family at this time has left her perhaps worrying more than she would if she was here herself. And of course she has always known that the age of my first diagnosis means that she may be at slightly higher risk herself. For my son its hard too but he can help with a well timed hug or offer to make dinner-but its still im

Show yourself some TLC

If ever anything had a relevant double message for me at this time its this one. Knowing how to be breast aware using our TLC-touch look check message has meant that i have found cancer very early for the second time.For Breakthrough Breast Cancer it is a key campaign as we know early detection and diagnosis is the bext predictor of a good outcome.This experience is making me evangelical about this message-look up our website or check out our iphone app for more details-ibreastcheck. But its also that reminder to look after myself and take time to recover-not something I am good at as a rule.The cat and I are laying claim to the sofa these days-surrounded by books, DVDs and my laptop. He has taken to my dressing gown in a rather worrying way-he's going to be disappointed when he realises its just a fluffy pink dressing gown....... Before my op we managed to go to the May Island in the Firth of Forth to see the largest group of nesting puffins in the UK. It w

Tea and twitter

Tea and twitter Yesterday it seemed to all be about tea and twitter. I was admitted into the day unit at 7.30 fasted and ready to go for treatment for breast cancer for the second time in my life. Twitter helped me feel in touch while i waited to go to theatre at 1 pm and I had mentioned needing tea to everyone I spoke to and on twitter several times. I think maybe there is something like catnip in it?! What a fabulous team they are at the Western Breast Cancer unit in Edinburgh . From the famous Professor Dixon there from dawn till dusk making everyone in his care feel special to the nurse who risked the wrath of the catering staff to find gluten free bread to make me toast. I felt informed, safe, supported and cherished throughout and then got home to my own bed at night.Result.And tea and toast never tasted so good. I was amazed to learn that i had to walk to theatre.Tried not to think of the green mile! I could see it created a different dynamic, a more empowered process as it i

Last day at work before my op.

It’s like that day before you go n holiday-wondering if you can get it all done but without the good bit to look forward to! At some point of course you cut your losses and try to get some realism in to the plans. The uncertainty around plans and dates have become something of   a frustration and although the surgeon said this doesn’t have to take over your life, at some level I am beginning to accept that I cant control all of this even with a very flexible and personal service like the one offered here. For a control freak like me (there is some insight) that’s a hard one. I remember previously feeling like I was on a runaway train without knowing where and when it would stop. It’s not as bad this time but its still there a little. Maybe I understand the terrain and have travelled this journey before- I just don’t necessarily have the access to the emergency stop! If truth is the first casualty of war, then sleep is probably the first casualty of this experience of having treatment f

Welcome to Audrey's blog

Hi I am Audrey and I am the Director for Scotland of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. I am also a wife, a daughter, a mother, a step mother,a sister, a friend , a colleague and many other things too! So why do i want to blog? I recently have been diagnosed for the second time in my life with early breast cancer-the first time was almost 17 years ago.The difference in the impact of this diagnosis has been stark for me and through this blog I wanted to explore why some of that is. What makes it different now for me, does working for  Breakthrough Breast Cancer make it harder or easier even? What difference does it make now my children are adults?What can i learn from this to help me come to terms with the impact of having breast cancer twice and actually use the process of writing it down to help me think it through. I also want the blog to help me connect with others to help them through my expereince, either to ensure they show themselves some TLC ( thats our breast awareness message) or t