Thursday, 30 June 2011

Nipple Recon (Cont'd)

Spent two hours at A & E this morning my new nipple is playing the arse. I had a swab taken to make sure there is no infection, but it is really sore. The Doctor said it is just taking a little longer to heal because of my diabetes. My skin has become rather sore/sensitive due to the dressings and my allergy to using anything sticky. Thankfully they said I could stop using the dressings for now and let the air to the wound. I have to return to the Big C hospital so my plastic surgeon can check it over himself tomorrow because he is not in today. I would not be bothered normally, but has you can see by the image my new nipple looks a little miffed.

I popped into Maggie’s for a social coffee and got chatting to another lovely lady. She had breast cancer also and caught it early before it had spread. She was telling me about her nipple recon and the tattoo process. The whole nipple recon was pretty quick without any hiccups for her. She reassured me once I had got past this little glitch I will be smiling at the finished product. It is nice to compare notes with others because you just don’t know, but I am slowly getting there.

On my way home I decide to buy three more maxi summer dresses. After that wonderful gentlemen gave me a surprising compliment he seemed to have given me that kick I needed. Why should I dress down? I maybe forty one coming up, but I’m still as attractive as any other women out there. So I should be able to fluff my plumage and strut my stuff. I just hope the sun starts to shine so I can wear them.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A Simple Life Without BC

A friend contacted me via my FB page yesterday. One of her friends had passed away of BC and she wanted advice on what to look for. My breast cancer hides the true reality of the disease. There was no chemo or drugs. So visually with my clothes on I was like every other person walking and talking. It was the perfect diagnosis to have with the type of cancer I had so I was told. My treatment was hidden from view beneath clothes and a smile. She could not see my tears, torment or frustration, but with her other friend it could not be hidden. Her cancer had been caught to late it had spread to her stomach infecting major organs. It is sad that she had to experience let alone see the true reality of this dreadful disease. That it took the death of her friend to make her pro active and try to understand. Now I personally can see why pink has become a deadly colour. Whilst it is a bright cheery it is masking something that is sinister.

I reply with how I found my BC that if she wanted one on one advice she was to contact Macmillan cancer support. When advising anyone on cancer I personally prefer referring them to a knowledgeable organisation because even though I have gone through breast cancer there is a lot I still do not know.

On my journey home from dropping Sophia off at school I look into some ones garden. In the garden is a massive dandelion clock. Part of me wants to make a wish and blow its seeds away in hope, but another part of me is reminiscing. Dandelion clocks hold a fairy tale attraction just like a mushroom rings. As a small child I would shout, ‘Don’t step in a mushroom ring a family of fairies live there and its bad luck’. Well maybe at some point I stepped in a mushroom ring without me knowing. I look at this dandelion clock and the urge to wish all the bad would dissolve away is so strong. Yet part of me is mesmerised with its delicacy that I would sooner watch the wind knock it about. As a BC survivor I so wish I could return to a simple life without the worry. As a BC survivor sometimes you cannot stop the fear of what ifs.

Monday, 27 June 2011

I Feel So Good

It is eight o’clock in the morning I have zero make-up on and it is the usual school run. I have a nice strappy maxi aqua blue sundress on with a nice pair of silver sandals. I am pounding the pavements instead of trying to catch the 282 and what should happen, but a wolf whistle. Now there is a lovely young lady up in front and I believe the whistle was for her. I continue my journey drop Sophia off and head back again walking. There is another whistle from a white van man with a comment that I did not quite hear. Now everyone knows when there is sun and heat men loose the plot slightly, but it is early. I continue to ignore because there are other young women about.  I walk to a road where a man had pulled up and turned around he said, ‘I just wanted to let you know how gorgeous you look in that dress.' I look at the man not knowing what to say or do and give a sheepish smile.
Well that man I could have held tight and said a thousand thank you’s too. He did what my husband should be doing. He had made me feel a million dollars by saying a few words. He did not ask for my number or chat as quick as he said what he had to say he drove off. Whoever that stranger was he needs a medal for being so nice. I now feel like a giggly school girl all over again.  

I told a friend and she smiled with the reply, ‘Well I hope to see you dressed in a dress tomorrow too.’ I think about what she has just said and agree maybe I should try more.

No my post has nothing to do with BC, but it is everything to do with BC and moving forward.

Friday, 24 June 2011

What Type Are You?

My week has been filled with listening as well as advising. I was invited to do a GUEST BLOG 'Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer' explaining Paget’s to other women.  It was nice to be involved with a pro active posting on Paget’s. When you speak about BC some people are unaware of certain rare types of breast cancer. Some people believe BC is just BC and only become aware once they investigate the symptoms of BC.
Types of Breast cancer:
At the end of my post I put a paragraph that applies to anyone:
‘My advice for any breast complaint would be; if in doubt go to your doctors and if you are not happy seek a second opinion. It is only your vigilance that can lead to your diagnosis.’
My appointment at the dressing’s clinic did not go to plan. My nipple is still taking its time to heal, Mother Nature is dragging her heals somewhat. So I have to return to the clinic next week for it to be checked again. The clinic nurse is happy, but she is airing on the side of caution.
As usual I dropped in at the Maggie centre for a social coffee and chat. I have enrolled at the art class for next Friday morning at the centre. Whilst I was there I got chatting to a lovely woman who is wise beyond her years. I say this because she is wise, but I don’t know her age and it’s rude to ask. We spoke about our diagnosis, and how we had discovered our cancer. She has skin cancer, but before that she had a tumour near her left eye removed. After that she had a tumour near her right eye removed, and she had the worry of knowing the cancer could have travelled into her brain it was that extensive. I sit back and listen to her speak about her life. She said, ‘Fear, creates that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. No-one will ever understand that sensation unless they experience it. Does your husband support you?’ Well my husband was not with me I was on my own so actions speak louder than words. People pick up on little details, important details. If you go to appointments on your own it leaves questions to the emotional support you are receiving. I have been to the Maggie centre quite a few times now and I have never been with anyone. This lovely woman has seen me come to Maggie’s on more than one occasion by myself. We spoke about men and how some of them fall at the first hurdle when cancer is mentioned. Well my husband had fallen at quite a few hurdles and this lovely woman did not need me to tell her. She said, ‘Ask yourself this one question can you survive?’ I pause for a moment and say yes. ‘Then problem solved if you can survive he should be worried.’ I smile at her and nod.
I am looking forward to my new art classes. I am looking forward to developing new friendships. It does not matter that my husband is not there to participate. It does not matter because I have got this far without him. So maybe he should be worried....

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I love a Tweak!

I made/designed eleven of these in two days
The last few days I have been tweaking my blog and sewing eleven tops, one cape and another wing attachment for another dance stage production next week. This also includes the housework, cooking and striping my hoover to freshen it up. Walking my darling youngest to school a 2 mile journey there and back. I do have the option of the bus, but I can't be arsed waiting. My day is pretty full really, but my husband probably thinks the house cleans itself and I sit on my arse all day sulking. Of course I do, I drink champers and nipple strawberries all day too, with a man slave wafting a palm leaf. Don't I wish!
My multi tasking skills even astound me sometimes. Now I can sit back and relax instead of rushing about, but I have an itch. Next month my husband has his annual BBQ.

Last Sunday in July every year is a Trini calendar event in my back yard. We are starting or at least I am sorting our garden out. My husband is a typical Trinidadian bloke he has the lastminute. com thing going on. Or you could say he has two speeds slow and stop. Personally I am more into preparing things well in advance, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, especially Steve.
This year is a little different though for Steve. With the operation on his knee this month, his father coming from Trinidad & his university graduation he needs to fluff is plumage. It is a month of comparing scares and certificates rather than listening to the same old stories. Thankfully it only happens once a year, but the story will keep going until he finds a new one.

Yes we have a few people that are there each year religiously that help and listen to Steve, but the aftermath I cleanup. Example the tents from last year were still in the same position this week from last year. Until a nice scrap metal merchant came and collected all the scrap metal from our yard this included the tent poles which were weather worn. I had convinced myself last year I was not going to do nothing, and neither did Steve. At a guess my sit on my arse plan was not subtle enough. At a guess I think this year it will be the same, and the year after that, and the year after that too. 

Friday, 17 June 2011

Update Nipple Recon

My appointment to have my dressing changed went well. The newly formed nipple looks rather big, but I was pre-warned about this and it does shrink with time. It still hasn’t totally healed so I have to go back to the dressing clinic next Friday. The clinic nurse has put a fresh dressing on in the meantime with strict instructions to be kept dry. I and the clinic nurse had a lovely chat about my imposter. She found it funny that I referred to my recon as an imposter, but I did say it is better than a pet name. The nurse found my attitude to my experience of breast cancer an excellent attitude to have, but I explained I had avoided the rigors of chemo, rads and meds. So my story is not the same as others that have faced cancer.  When the clinic nurse finished inspecting the wound and dressing my new nipple she said that the surgeon had done an excellent job and it was symmetrical with my other breast. This brought a smile on my face finally there is a piece of sun peeking through the cloud.

When I left the Big C hospital I popped into the Maggie’s centre. Sometimes I go there for a social coffee instead of rushing back home. I have met a lovely lady there called Patsi who was telling me about a video she had put on You tube. Patsi said ‘If you close your eyes it sounds like a drum.’ So out of curiosity I checked it out and yes it sounds like a drum and my youngest said so.   
I have noticed that some of the women I have developed friendships with have a natural urge to get close to nature. Something as simple as rain hitting a watering can trigger a camera being used. There is this new found interest to record things so you can share that experience. Some people would pull faces at this behaviour, but when your life is laid out before you. It makes you realise the things you actually take for granted in day to day life are all around you. Some things as simple as rain can be so soothing to listen too.
My GP has decided to take me off Metformin. When I tried to discuss the reasons of me being on Metformin and the possible benefits he dismissed them. He said it has not been proven to have any benefits and until it is out of the experimental stage he did not want me taking it. He said my sugar level on starvation was 5.9. This is classified as being border line. I said I understood what he was trying to say, but my sugar level was going to 11.4 in the evening. I personally felt he was not listening to what I was saying. At the end of the day I was not a doctor and he was. This GP was the same man who had told me my breasts were cancer free. When I see my oncologist I will be speaking to her about Metformin rather than food supplements.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Green Snot & Dress Making....

Help! I have alien snot on my lungs. Yes I developed my first ever chest infection. I have had coughs and colds before, but I have never seen dark green snot come off my lungs. I was quite surprised at its consistency very thick and alien looking. I know TMI on the green snot, but the body amazes me. Besides I told my GP the exact same in his office he laughed and listened to my chest for signs of crackling. We also discussed the LD scar on my back. He was also impressed with the healing and asked on how I was coping etc. Then he printed me out perscription for a seven day course of anti-biotic. He also wanted to know when my next appointment was for my oncologist. My GP has insisted I mention my weight lose and maybe they could refer me onto a dietician and some protein drinks to help build me up. The issue with that idea is I don’t like protein drinks or the thought of them. Yuck!

Despite my greeny friend in my chest my hands have remained busy designing my young daughters’ Victorian costume. I whisked up a few pieces for her to wear. She fell in love with what I had done for her instantly. Sophia loves to play dressing up. I think she got the bug from when I dressed her up as a mummy baby at eleven months old for a Halloween party.  In fact I did my eldest daughter and youngest matching mummy suits. Yes you hold these memories with a glint in your eye. I and Kathi (Accidental Amazon)ended up swapping images on various costumes we had made. Those images brought pride and lots of smiles on a FB page amongst a group of women. No matter what the pain you go through to keep those special moments those glints alive you have to share them. Like Kathi said we all still have a life outside the BC realm.....  
My eldest daughter Kayleigh at the time fifteen and Sophia dressed up for Halloween 2005

Sophia in another creation of mine as Tinkerbell..


Eye Eye Captain!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Part One D_Day For Nipple Recon

Today my humour was at full pace whilst I had the start of my nipple reconstruction done. They handed me a mirror and said ‘So where do you think your nipple should be?’ I looked at the men present in the room and thought hang on guys your men where do you think it should be? The surgeon was a women and I thought nope you can’t say that. So I bit my lip and said here pointing to my chest. I smiled and plonked my finger in the area I thought was right before she lost patience with me. She knew I was trying to make fun out of a very serious situation. Then I turned to the other male plastic surgeon and said, ‘What do you think?’ The female plastic surgeon stepped in quick smart. ‘No I am asking you where you want your nipple to be. You have to live with it.’ I never knew how hard it was to position a bloody nipple. The theatre bed back went up and down with me looking in a mirror for five minutes or so until we finally agreed on the position with a marker pen marking the area.  

Then she had to numb the area with a local. Boy I could of jumped and kissed the theatre ceiling. The pain was in the area where once my back muscle was happy to be. The sensation was not natural and made me feel sick. A nurse held my hand whilst I gritted my teeth. The surgeon was brilliant and took her time, but I never thought a few pricks could create some many profanities. I of cause kept a dignified Ouch! And that hurts.

Once my chest was numb and thoroughly sterilised in iodine a curtain was put up at my request so the fun could begin. The female surgeon told me to put my hands under my bottom. Don’t know why and I didn’t ask. Then they got busy with the scalpels whilst I and a male nurse chatted to ease the boredom. We spoke about my two girls and what I did for a job. I told him that I was going into acting as well as designing costumes for theatrical projects. The male nurse then mentioned how someone he knew had met a girl who happened to do a porno whilst studying to be a lawyer. Don’t ask me where this conversation came from. Maybe he thought I should go into porn or maybe it was to do with the fact I had my chest out in full view, but apparently his friend thought he had scored big time because his now girlfriend had done a porn movie. Then the male nurse said, ‘Did you know that the men have a rougher ride than the girls during the making of a porn movie?’ My reply was, ‘Personally I have never done a porn movie?’ Now I am not uncomfortable with the conversation in fact I am bemused. But I do believe they will have given the young man a talking to later. If I had mentioned or insinuated anything to do with porn to create the conversation then fine, but I was talking about my girls and skirted across the acting not giving any details at all. Strange how having your tits out on a table moulds a conversation.

Anyway one hour later my nipple is formed and I am bandaged up. The female surgeon said you have a Madonna esque theme going on so don’t be shocked. They had put a cup over my reconstructed nipple and taped it in place to protect it. All I kept thinking was ok I have a fitted red shirt how on earth am I going to button it. Why they did not say please wear a loose fitted top is beyond me. Thankfully I had brought a large rain Mack to protect me from the strange looks people will give when I go on the underground.  So this is one step closer to a new nipple fingers crossed it takes.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

What a Bargin..

I love finding  a bargain in a charity shop. My friends say I am a typical Yorkshire woman when it comes to sniffing out a deal. Today I bought a Litho image of a native American Indian. I paid £5 for it and is worth £200 or more. I have hung it up in my hallway because I love it. The image is called Proud American and one of a series printed in 1976 by Popo & Ruby Lee.

I also received a phone call from the Big C hospital. They have a cancelation and want me to come in on Friday for nipple reconstruction to begin.

Letter from Big C hospital
Dear Dr S,
Re : Ms Sarah Mendoza – DOB **/**/**** NHS Number: *** *** ***
        18 **** **** Road, Northolt, Middx, *** ***

I reviewed this pleasant lady in clinic today. She has had a left mastectomy and LD implant reconstruction as an immediate reconstruction in November 2009. Postop, she had a capsulotomy and adjustment of her high riding implant February 2011.

On examination today, she finds that the appearance of the left breast has significantly improved after operation. It is still though slightly high riding compared to the right breast. She decided that she is not keen to have any further symmetrisation procedures, but she is really keen to proceed with a left NAC reconstruction. She understands that the position of the left nipple areolar complex depends on the contour and shape of the left breast and that it could look asymmetrical comparing to the right NAC should she decide to have further symmetrisation procedure after her left nipple areolar complex construction. I have put her name on the waiting list for left NAC reconstruction today and I have arranged for her to see Mr H in clinic in six weeks’ time to discuss things further. We will keep you informed of her progress.

Yours sincerely
Miss A

Finally things are moving forward and I only have to get the all clear from my oncologist appointment next.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

I'm a Addict I Admit It!

The past two days have given my youngest daughter some fabulous memories to hold onto. We went to two premieres ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ & ‘Larry Crowne’.
The first was Kung Fu Panda 2 and Sophia had a fantastic time. The minute she saw the panda she would not stop shouting Po. Then when Jack Black came round the corner in a rickshaw she kept shouting his name until he came over to chat to her. Jack Black gave her a high five and signed our book which made her day and mine. He was so warm and funny to watch in person.
The following day we went to the Larry Crowne premiere. There were loads of people there and Sophia had a photograph of Tom Hanks waiting to be signed, but sadly we did not get his autograph. Instead I managed to get Ronnie Wood, Sophie Ellis Bexter and Cherie Blair in our book.
Whilst there I managed to chat to a few autograph hunters at both events. They let me into a few little secrets about getting autographs. You can actually reserve your patch by putting your coat on the barriers or get a camping chair and no-one will touch it.That some people are there because of profit to be made on autographs, but I explained that I want to get pictures signed so I could raise cash for cancer research. They admired my determination to check out the competion first rather than run in head on. It is a very dark industry where people are very competitive for the perfect patch to gain autographs. Some would sooner you were not there at all. The signature I have of Ronnie Wood alone is worth £50 or more on eBay.
It all goes on how clear the signature is to the value a collector will pay. With me being just off the central line to central London. I can hunt theses signatures down and forward them onto friends for their charities, or set up a webpage and sell them making sure the monies go to cancer research direct from me. This is only an idea that I am playing with, but the people I am now networking with say it is an excellent one to do if I can set it up.

Yes I admit it I am becoming addicted to collecting autographs, but I have another personal reason also for doing this with my young daughter. Although this is nothing to do with BC it is everything to do with BC. Sophia is six years old and if the BC took hold I might not have seen her reach seven. Memories are important to a child’s personal development especially fun ones with Mummy. The other autograph hunters understood, but are still weary of my intentions. To me it is a bit of fun, but to them you’re stealing an autograph that could be sold making them a profit.

Richard Blackwood sparing with Jack Black on stage

Follow the black arrow near the bamboo, yes that is me lol

Sophia so proud of her poster..

Tom Hanks only three feet away :-(

Sophie Ellis Bexter

Ronnie wood

Cherie Blair

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Do You Think 2% is Good Enough?

I do not know the percentage of women that have got to five years free of cancer. I do not know the percentage of women that have gone ten years free of cancer, but that is not my point. I personally would sooner see no percentage because no women should face the pain that others have faced.
No my point is companies that are clearly making money out of our pain. I want these so called companies that say they are raising money for BC to put their hands up. I want to know your percentage for donation against the fight on BC.
A fellow BC survivor in USA put an image of a fairy part of the Hamilton collection. It was done to raise money for BC.

Her anger towards a pink fairy with opalescent glitter infuriated her and it was understandable, but there is more to this story because I jumped on board. Out of curiosity I emailed the company. My question was simple how much of a percentage goes towards BC? Now these companies can ignore the question. These companies are obligated to answer if they are pestered enough, but all it took was one email. On their web page it does not state how much of a percentage they donate.
People are being mislead into feeling they are doing a lot more for a very worthy cause. Well here is the bubble burst for you.

This is their reply...

Dear Valued Client,
Thank you for contacting
We are always pleased to hear from our clients and appreciate you giving us the opportunity to be of assistance.
As per your inquiry, 2% from every breast cancer collectible is donated to help raise breast cancer awareness and fund research. We apologize for any misunderstanding in this matter.
Please respond to this email if we may be of further assistance. Be sure to visit the online store by clicking on the following hyperlink:
Customer Service

Now if this does not explain why Accidental Amazon and the rest of the girls I follow on my blog are angry in the candy world of BC. I honestly do not know what else to say... 2 cents in a dollar... 2 pence in every pound from a marketable price of $29.00 or £15 UK pound for a fairy. This is the value of BC as well as a factual percentage from this company. From a cast of a fairy that most probably cost 10 pence or 20 cents in a factory in Taiwan.  
I leave this post with one request.. people before you spend your cash on so called BC fluff produced by scrupulous companies . Ask yourself this question...

 Do you think 2% is good enough?