Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Real ism's of Cancer Land

Currently I sit and wonder if I am accepting or in denial. Am I putting up an elaborate front to hide my real anger to the ism's of cancer? My replies have become so methodical without emotion; it’s as if I thrive on keeping my true anger at bay. I am playing a game of knackering myself out so I forget, but I am unsure of which bit.  Like I said to a friend, ‘I once was an empty cup with zero info to becoming a cup that overflows with attitude to boot.’ The individual I once was, who would shy away from the camera now could not give a toss. I am, who I am, but what do I honestly want to achieve.

My hospital is trying to make the breast care unit more BC patient friendly. It was during the mastectomy wear modelling slot I did for my hospital on Friday that all this became apparent. The unit is looking a little worn and torn, so they are looking at ways of raising the cash to improve this problem. Again I have noted the pressure is being applied on BC patients to make people more aware. The two areas the hospital wants to improve on in the breast care unit are waiting and comfort. These two areas were brought to the attention of the hospital via a questionnaire sent out to patients.

1.    The BC patients would like a bleeper system so BC patients do not have to remain in the breast care clinic. It would give patients the freedom to sit in a cafe on the hospital grounds or just simply stretch their legs. The bleepers which will be handed out at the reception area are such a brilliant idea. I already know this idea is being used in several hospitals in various departments, so it is viable.

2.    The chairs on the unit need replacing, and the decor on the unit needs revamping.

3.    Refreshments are another area BC patients say need addressing, but the bleeper system would illuminate this problem.  

I do have a few ideas that could be used to raise cash, but it is whether these ideas are practical for their purpose.

When speaking to the breast care team at the hospital I noted it is very much in its infancy. They want to do everything through the patients and their interaction with them in hope they have a networking system, but it could end up with the same glitches that other organisations face in this current climate. I tried to explain that if they want to make an impact on what they are trying to achieve they need to climb out of the BC box. It seems much focused on breast cancer patients being pro active to achieve the monies to be raised, and sometimes those people just want to forget the journey they are on or are financially already over stretched.

I have been told time and time again as a BC patient to move forward, but the reliance of a patients feedback or interaction means that sentence is nil and void. This is only my observation on the whole journey of being a BC patient, that some sentences that are used actually should be dropped or rewritten into something more realistic to the journey of BC. It is not realistic to say move on, not when your living through the trauma of breast cancer twenty four plus.

I took my youngest daughter to an art class for families on Saturday. This was nice because normally these events are strictly set out as non children friendly. It gives Sophia a chance to interact with people I know and I can sit back. Sophia was the only child present and the organiser said she could invite her friends along if she wanted next time, but truth be known I would not even attempt to ask anyone. Who would actually want me to take their child into a place that focuses on cancer especially when it does not affect them?

I explained I’d sooner keep this side of mine and Sophia’s life separate. Without getting into the truth of the real reasons why. It is bad enough that my friends drop to the wayside without having parents of your child’s friends encouraging the same behaviour. Like I said it is unrealistic to say move on in BC land.

Sophia did a lovely painting that will be on display in the Big C hospital along with pieces I have done. She walked away from the project excited because next month there is a different project that she can become involved in as well.

Slowly I and my daughter are filling our diary with various activities that can be shared experiences. On Monday there is the ‘In Time’ Premiere with Justin Timberlake possibly attending. It will mean a mad rush to catch the tube to Central London, but she likes the excitement of getting there. And she is a Justin Timberlake fan, so I will be filming her reaction.


Dilemma is not the word, forgotten more like. In the two words 'move on' really is 'switch off' because of the irritation you feel or anger to the situation. If BC patients are not careful you can become a puppet to a machine of raising awareness and cash in various areas which can flow into pockets rather than the aim set out. At the modelling event they had an MP who was handed a plaque. To me you might as well throw the plaque on the flames of invisibility because it will be down to the patients to achieve.  Mean time the MP will be there to swallow any attention the new centre could achieve to make sure his job is secure. I have seen it time and time again the sympathy vote which no BC patient wants for political gain.

The real ism' is acceptance, Acceptance towards the visual change, but also the mental attitude you develop which was not there before which could go either way. I saw one of the other models who were convinced to do the modelling when really she was not ready. It was to bring a mix into the cultural pot of BC land. She was Asian and was not ready to do such an event. Yet she had been pressurised into feeling it was the right thing to do. Now she could of easily walk away and decided no it was not for her, but the realisation of what she was about to undertake only hit home when she was in the room. I told her do not do the underwear piece if you are not comfortable. The gowns that we were to wear were post op surgical white gowns. They were not flattering just a reminder of what we had done. If I had organised the event I would have gone to Primark and they sell lingerie gowns at £6.99 and I would have bought five.  The make-up company used were selling their products at this small event as well as preparing our faces. Question why could they not have prepare sampler bags for the models? There were things I picked up throughout which could have improved a BC patient’s experience. I know I could get involved and improve what they had set out, so the next event is more focused on what is in front rather than flash backs of the past. Yes we laughed about the unflattering gowns, but to me that should not have even been there.

Monday, 24 October 2011

W.E. Premiere and a Needle Aspiration OUCHHHH!

Yesterday I went to the premiere of W.E. and lucky to be given a ticket to go inside. To be perfectly honest I thought the movie was very, very, good. The hype that she was heckled by fans was utter crap. She was heckled by the dealers of autographs, and she was advised by security to keep a distant because of a possible crush on fans. The dealers were doing a run to try gain Madonna’s autograph. A run is when they dash the line at the back of people pushing forward to gain as many autographs as possible, but Madonna decided not to sign and they responded by heckling. The bit the media don’t tell you is the value of that particular signature which can be £300 plus. Not only that but you had the ‘Tin, Tin’ premiere on the same day. The autograph dealers were split between gaining Spielberg or Madonna. Spielberg did not turn up at his premiere so the spillage of dealers zoomed in on Madonna. I saw arguments and fans being driven away because they felt threatened by the dealers. I decided to not bring Sophia to this premiere because I knew it was going to turn nasty. It also gave me time just to relax before the hospital appointment the following day.

My appointment at the hospital went really well and I’m just waiting on the results. I managed to grit my teeth through the mammogram and swear at a needle aspiration. My friendly lump was a cyst, but the little beggar is no more. They told me not to get excited and wait on the medical panel, but they feel the problem has been resolved.

So what next, well I have a modelling assignment for Friday for Breast Cancer Research and a demo for a TV show. Plus tomorrow I have a Premiere ‘Anonymous’ to attend with Sophia. I had to turn down a plane passenger advert down yesterday which miffed me off because cash is cash. Plus I have an art project for me and Sophia to attend on Saturday. So my week is full and hopefully next week will be just as busy.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

WishFul Thinking or Pro Active Patient!!!

There is no wrong or right way in dealing with BC, just what you think is right for you. So when I read a post about wishful thinking I ask one question.

What’s really wrong in wishful thinking where treatment is concerned?

Susan M Love says wishful thinking is not always the best course of action, but as a patient whilst I understand her statement I disagree slightly. Wishful thinking is being involved in ones treatment or showing an active approach to your health and well being. The one thing a BC survivor talks about is the feeling of being lost, that they are no longer in control.

Yes we discuss our treatments and medications, but every step that is taken is wishful thinking that point is clear. The oncologist does not know how one person will fair to the next person with treatment. It all boils down to wishful thinking or should I say being pro active on their part to our treatment. After all we all want or wish the nightmare of BC to end.

Susan put her point about having healthy breast tissue being removed whilst the risk of leaving small amounts of breast tissue behind is still leaving the risk of BC there. Her post says the science of BC is not being addressed just a very scared individual looking for a quick solution. But these women know that small amounts of breast tissue can remain, but to them it is being pro active not wishful thinking. In the UK currently there is an ongoing argument on medication and the expense to the NHS. These drugs are seen as wishful thinking, but to me it is hope. Yet their arugment is you are just prolonging the obvious outcome.i.e. the treatment is not a cure.

On Monday I go for an Ultra sound and Mammogram is this wishful thinking or pro active? Because I could easily stay at home and not bother. It would save the NHS money and me spend those extra hours with my daughter rather than face the stress.

What I am trying to say is wishful thinking is all a cancer patient has on this road to try and prevent it’s return. To discourage a person from being pro active which is what wishful thinking is to me is wrong. I don’t believe in the carrot a day rule or swallowing a handful of fresh blackberries off a bush, but there is something that is amiss. Why else would we be in this predicament? and to say on the end paragraph Breast cancer is not necessarily an emergency and we have time. Say that to the multi corporation drug suppliers because it is them that controls the prices, which in turn controls the treatment I may receive.
Wishful thinking is also the pound/dollar sign that plays a strong part in our treatment. I.E. The Cure!!!!!!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Rebel of a Lymph Node....

Doodle Dandy
There is never a dull moment in cancer land. Today I spent two hours in hospital because a lump in my armpit needed to be checked out. It has been there for some time now, but it had decided to get a little bit bigger. So after I got my husband to check the lump was there and it was not me on the hypochondria train. I booked an appointment to visit the breast clinic for today. Was I nervous yes because I have never had a lump before now? Once the clinic had a good grope of both breasts and then examined my armpit on the right side they agreed it was better to air on the side of caution. My reply to the registrar was, ‘So I’m not a nuttier then?’ he smiled and said, ‘No you are not a nuttier.’  This made me feel better because I’d been playing with my mischievous lymph node for three months. I replied and I thought I had found a tinny friend in my armpit, but it turns out its not quite a friend. He laughed at my humorous comment and I was booked in to have an ultra sound of my breast and the lymph, along with a full blood works as routine.

My right breast wants to remain a rebel after losing its partner in crime and to be honest I don’t blame it. Poor buggar has been squished and jabbed even bits taken away, so no wonder it has a strop on and now my lymph wants to join in the fun and games. The thing is at least it is being dealt with minus the constant pain from the last lot of examinations I endured on this breast in January.

Tomorrow I am meeting up with a group of Maggie friends for another art class at a different hospital, so I am not dwelling on the outcome of today’s events. In fact I am finding a new way to distract me from the fog of cancer land and that is art therapy.  

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Oh, My Moaning Tree....

The other day I went to Hyde Park and I wondered threw its endless weaving paths. I had a bag of stale bread and I was heading for the octagon by Kensington palace. Before I reached my destination I took a short cut across the green and I came across what I call a moaning tree. I chuckled at its expression and tried to imagine if this old tree could talk what stories would it reveal, maybe the odd romance amongst royal staff with an affair or two.

This tree stood out from all the rest and seemed to have a personality despite the damage it has received through the years, but the damage has given the tree the character I see and I walk around the tree asking myself, why is life so focused hard on perfection? That maybe my past arrogance is being rewarded with the scars that are hidden from view.

I have tried to avoid the pink confetti of breast cancer month this year, but no matter where I go the reminder is there. I mean Kylie Minogue received an honorary degree this month and to be honest I was annoyed at the commotion she received. It had been perfectly timed for breast cancer awareness month. Kylie is a celebrity with a PR team supporting and advising her on every move, but to me there are plenty women out there who deserve the same recognition. The women I speak of do not have the luxury of advisors. They sit at a computer night after night sifting through information and sharing it out as best they can. Their tireless efforts are rewarded with a thank you not a piece of paper with a title.    

Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer I actually was not aware of the bureaucracy that surrounded October. Each year post diagnosis the only day that was of importance was the 31st  due to the work I was involved with. Yes I did my bit and bought the badges or slipped the odd pound into a collection box, but I personally was ignorant to breast cancer and its red tape. We give small tokens hoping in some way that ignorance will be a blessing and cancer will not darken our door. So two years on from diagnosis, and my perception of breast cancer has changed, but is it for the better?

My frustration of the conveyor belt I am on is only an echo of what others feel. I am trying to make sense of memories past that are now starting to fade. Yet the daunting shadow does not fade like the scars that remain. I feel my concerns are not solely expressed by me alone either. Many past conversations I have had have left questions unanswered. The only issue I have with my moaning tree is if that moaning tree grows amongst other trees that don’t bare the scars it can be easily hidden away.

‘We walk into the unknown with every foot step we take. Please understand breast cancer is not just October it is a reality for some every single waking day. Be breast aware!’

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Filming of Culture Shock

I have had the most exciting two days of my life. Filming for the movie scenes I am in started Friday and yes I was nervous about it. When Steve Balderson says he films as he sees it he is right. The man is a director after my own heart; he and the cast were absolutely brilliant. The set was relaxed with easy simple instructions with laughter and adrenaline fuelled action scenes. The movie itself is an action movie not like any other Balderson movie, but still an indie movie with its simplicity. I cannot go into the Culture Shock storyline too much because it has yet to be finished and edited. It was a closed set with strict instructions to all cast members, but I would love to do it all again without a doubt. My scenes if not edited and thrown on the editing floor will surprise the doubters. I did it, I over came the doubt and proved I can act and bloody good too by all the comments that came from other cast members that were watching on. I asked the right question to the director and he guided me with a simple yes or no and he said for me to go for it so I did. I wish I could discuss the details so you could understand my excitement. But the movie is both serious, funny and kickass action which everyone must see. It was well written with the perfect cast picked even without me in it. All my worries had drifted away and Sarah is back with a fresh look on life, and yes I want to do it again and again and again.  BRING IT ON !!!!!!!