Saturday, 12 October 2013

She's is Paint C Out!

Gosh! I’ve gone from one post a month to three in a matter of weeks things must be juicing up, so here is the latest on Paint C Out! and myself. Yesterday I went for a routine check on my imposter with the plastic surgeon. After a quick examination on my imposter they agreed the radiotherapy has created capsulation. Capsulation is where the tissue around the implant starts to reject the implant and creates scarring surrounding it. My imposter has started to throb, which is what happened last time and it ended up it being removed and cleaned up. Then we went onto discussing both breasts and we came to the decision that I could have the remaining right breast removed and reconstructed. The plastic surgeon said we could remove the implant and use stomach fat etc which means there would be no rejection. I’m not asking to be like Katie Price, I just want normal sized breasts for my frame this is a A/B cup nothing more.  For the ball to get rolling I first have to sit down and talk with my oncology team at the Royal Marsden. From there I may need a referral from my GP, but the plastic surgeon said it will not be an issue.  The fact I had already been through so much with my right breast it is all about peace of mind. I explained I had asked before about removal just after the last lumpectomy and starting the Chemotherapy, but my concerns were brushed aside.  He explained with so many women coming forward with the BRCA gene and requesting mastectomy’s etc they had to change their opinion. The fact my cancer had reached stage three of cause I would want my other breast removed just to try stop that fear. I said well they can’t say I have not tried to not go down this route, but I’ve realised it’s my family that is suffering with all these biopsies no one else.

As for Paint C Out!

Well I’m attempting to sell our story to raise money for canvases, paints and a new camera. All what I have done so far I have funded out of my pocket and I’m determined to raise this projects profile. I know this has a good positive on a bad negative journey so why not share.
Here is the outline I sent:

When my 6 year old daughter saw my mastectomy scar for the first time in 2010, she said mummy I hope I don’t get breast cancer. She did not fear cancer, but the scars that were clearly visible.
I knew somehow I had to get my daughter into a pro-active way of thinking, where cancer was not the soul topic in our home. I am a Yorkshire woman who strongly believes a foundation building confidence can replace fear. I started to research on the internet events that were free in London. I moved to London in 2007 and we live just off the central line, so central London is not far away. I stumbled on a webpage that was promoting red carpet events. I thought ok that is what we need a hobby. Red carpet events are exciting for a child because they get to meet stars off the big screen and chat to them, also being a Yorkshire woman it costs nothing. Since 2010 Sophia has walked 8 red carpets and collected over 250 autographs. These include Madonna, Katie Perry, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise and the list goes on. 

Then in March 2013, after completing chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a stage 3 recurrence a friend said Sarah if you can do portraits why not paint the stars. At first I was unsure because I wasn’t sure if I was good enough, but with encouragement we got our first portrait signed by Johnny Depp, closely followed by Jennifer Aniston, Cillian Murphy, Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde. All responded with amazement and we filmed some of the responses.

From doing this I’ve now created Paint C Out! I paint the pictures my daughter gets the stars to sign. It has become a challenge because Sophia would love to keep all the paintings, but she understands we are doing something better than that. The paintings we do we intend to sell and raise funds for Paint C Out! and Maggie’s, London. Maggie’s were my back bone when things got difficult and I attended their creative art sessions every Friday. It meant we as a family could give back as a thank you for all their support and advice. 

“Paint C Out!” Is not just about Maggie’s either. I’m also painting pictures for those who have been affected by cancer. These paintings they get to keep free of charge. This includes a painting of a star and I get them to sign it. We have George Clooney waiting to be signed and I’ve received a request for Benedict Cumberbatch. If by sharing my daughters hobby brings a smile on some ones face then it has been worth it. 

I’m still receiving treatment for my recurrence, but in no way shape or form will cancer stop me. Our next premiere will be Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
If you publish our story the money received from our adventure will be spent on a brand new camera and more canvases plus paint for Paint C Out! Right now I am funding this project and while those who I have painted for want to pay me I want this to be a gift from the heart. 

We would also love to find an Art Gallery that would display our story as a positive for other families facing a cancer diagnosis before the paintings are sold. As it stands there is a hole where peer support for young females with mothers facing a breast cancer diagnosis. I hope at some point by raising Paint C Out! profile with our story that this hole can be addressed. I also do pro-active work with Breakthrough breast cancer raising awareness to this issue, as well as with Maggie’s. A cancer diagnosis can be lonely for a cancer patient, but imagine what it is like for an eight year old girl who has not developed breasts yet.

I think this sums the journey thus far… 

As I listen to my daughter practicing on her piano I have to thank god that I have brought up one little strong lady. Without her knowing it she has been my spurring force that has kept my sanity intact to beat this disease. She is the force in “Paint C Out!” without a doubt!
So please share our story and help Paint C Out create more smiles..

Thursday, 10 October 2013

White Coats and Cancer Research...

They say a bad apple don’t fall far from the tree as a way of explaining away the behaviour of an individual, but is every seed within that apple bad as well? My day today has been built up of questions and more question. I was lucky enough to take a tour round the ICU on Fulham road. Breakthrough breast cancer had invited me last year to tour this cancer research facility. The minute they mentioned laboratory and tour they caught my attention. And I would recommend/encourage everyone to take up the chance if offered.

When I arrived there were several people I recognised from when I did the Westminster Fly in a year ago, so I did not feel like a Billy-no-mates. I listened intently to the introduction with every bit of information projected onto a white wall. At the end the man who had outlined statistics and aims of ICU and Breakthrough asked if anyone had any questions. I for once remained silent whilst one young woman asked the one and only question to do with the 40 year generation study program currently running. My soul aim of being there was to speak to the Lab technicians. 

As we were all gathered into our relevant groups (mine was the black group ha-ha!) and each group taken to their relevant starting point of their tour I began to get all excited because now I was in an environment where I could finally clear some of the if’s, what’s and why’s up.  

I was one of only a few who was still on treatment for cancer, and I had been festering on knitty, gritty details for too long. Now don’t get me wrong they cannot diagnose and dissect my case, but I can throw questions like no other when I get going. 

First stop was to see fruit flies in test tubes. Why fruit flies? Well they have a shorter life span which means there cells are on a faster growth rate. What have fruit flies got to do with cancer? Well flies cells can be manipulated to get a form of cancer, but because they have a simpler and faster cell growth they can use what results they achieve and compare them too certain mammal cells. To sum it up on how I understand science. All life starts from one point and that is one cell. By manipulating that cell whether it be a fly or mammal cell its aims remain the same until its instructions for whatever reason mutate. Looking at how they change eye colour and size of eyes by stopping certain receptors within a cell down a microscope was fascinating for me. Sorry guys I worked in a museum and I was just as enthusiastic when fresh discoveries were brought in.

Second stop off point got even more interesting because we were discussing cancer cells and how they were researching blockers. They mark each cell from nucleus out and monitor its behaviour comparing notes continually with labs that have the same batch of cancer cells growing. They were closely monitoring in particular metastatic cancer cells because these cells cancer adapt from breast to liver or lung, not all cancer cells can do this. My questioning was focused on the diabetic type two debate and whether there was a connection? They spoke of how they used glucose to grow cancer cells, so it was only a matter of time before I asked. Anyone who has followed my blog would understand my interest because I am type 2. The reply I received was well we are in the middle of the 40 year generation program which is looking at genetic, environment impact and it’s implication on breast cancer. From listening to the lab technicians I came to the conclusion that until the 40 years is up there is no answer only what if’s. Then I asked is there any way I could donate my cells to the ICU lab? They said that everyone goes to one source for samples which makes it easier to compare with other lab results on that particular batch.

Our third stop off point was to explain how cancer cells spread.  By using healthy cells that create veins lab technicians are able to create a path way for the rebellious adaptable cancer cells to have free roam within the confinement of a dish. They then showed us on speeded time how placing a scratch within a dish these cells adapt fast. Like a pack of octopuses out of water the cancerous tentacles reach out until the scratch that divided them is no more. They spoke of the HER2 and its importance on blocking growth. Then I asked if a man was hit between his legs and it causes scarring could he develop testicular cancer? The answer was yes and no, we cannot say for sure, but we believe there is a possibility we cannot rule out. Then I said ok. Then I said well this is actually leading to a more important question. You see two years before I was diagnosed with DCIS I was breast feeding and my child refused to feed off my left breast which happened to be the breast cancer was developing in. During my time breast feeding my left breast had developed mastitis and would continually block. Could the mastitis of scarred the ducts or become enflamed to create the right environment for cancer to develop? The possibility was there, but the cancer may have been there long before was their reply. 

Then we went to the final stop off point which was where the blood samples for the 40 year generation study program were being processed. The program is eight years in already, but it will take a further 32 years for this program to show some sort of comparisons or sense, but even then it could take a further ten years before those results reveal what others have pondered on. 

The truth of the matter is in 2030 the statically rate will of reached 70’000 and there is a drastic increase in women below 40 being diagnosed with breast cancer. The younger you are in developing breast cancer the more lightly you’re at risk of it becoming metastatic. The results are frightening for any young woman reading this, but the reality of a cancer journey was not meant to be easy. The only true way to beat cancer is to keep an open mind because 1-3 will develop cancer at some point in their life time. 

One thousand women do die of breast cancer in the UK each month that is fact, not fiction. All those deaths will be from a metastatic form of breast cancer, this also includes men. Isn’t it better to be pro-active rather than blind to your own body?  Developing a better understanding of how breast cancer could affect you could save your life? So people MOT... You would not climb into your car if it was knackered, so why ignore your body.
When in doubt shout, your life, your body no-one else can help you, until you speak out.