Well where do I begin. A year down the line and I am the fittest, slimmest and the happiest person I have been in several years. I love my job, my friends and things are going well – but something wasn’t right. On Friday 5th July following an MRI scan, apart from discovering I actually had a brain! they also told me I had a ‘large’ single deposit fossa metastasis, which basically means a tumour at the back of my head. Holy fuck! (sorry, excuse my language) but no other words seem to be enough – ‘oh dear’ just doesn’t cut it!! So here I am, 49 years old, having a 3rd battle to fight.
So here are some medical facts …
I have breast cancer in my brain. It is a brain tumour but not in the true sense of the word. The cells are made up of the breast cancer cells I have had. Apparently anyone who is diagnosed with a cancer can be diagnosed with a metastasis even decades down the line, but no-one really understands why, and this was something I wasn’t aware of. However they can’t be sure if it is definitely a secondary cancer unless they put it under the microscope and that would involve surgery or a biopsy and they don’t want to do that. Why not? … my tumour is quite deep and pressing on the part of my brain that controls my balance and there could be a risk of making my symptoms worse or permanent – which could lead to me not being able to walk at all and that’s not a possibility! So because of my history they are taking it that it is – the treatment is the same and it is safer for me. So the decision’s been made. A no brainer really!! No pun intended!!
So what does this mean? .. Well we all know that secondary cancer of any type is not usually a good thing. It can be treated but rarely cured – so – we start treatment and see what happens.
What is the treatment? .. It’s called Gamma knife. This is a stereotactic radiosurgery which allows radiotherapy treatment to be given with pinpoint accuracy to small areas of my brain. As my neurologist said they are effectively blowing a hole in my brain! Lovely!! My treatment will be given over 3 sessions. I will need an MRI scan first to allow the team to pinpoint my treatment accurately and I will have a mask made to help hold my head still whilst treatment is given. No two treatments are the same so this is specifically designed for me dependant on the size and position of my tumour. The treatment can take from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the plan. Once treatment is finished I will be observed for about 30 minutes and then I can go home.
Side effects… Specific side effects depend on the location and are very unique to each person but usual side effects are tiredness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and possibly some worsening of your original symptoms. So it will be a wait and see. I have been pretty lucky in the past but this treatment is new so who knows!!
So I am going to the BRI tomorrow, Thursday 18th July for 7:00 a.m. to start the process and my first treatment. I am obviously apprehensive as I am not sure what to expect. I dont like being in the MRI scanner and the tight fitting mask is a bit daunting but Neil cant wait to take a picture of me in it so watch this space!!
How do I feel? … I’m not going to beat about the bush or sugar coat it. I felt like I had been hit by a train. A real kick to the stomach. Why is this happening to me again? I am not a terrible person. I don’t deserve this but no one can answer this question – not the doctors, oncologists, priests or god. Questioning this at this time only creates resentment, upset and negativity. None of which I plan to be. We need to look forward to the plan in hand and what I can do to start this fight – again.
I am going to tell you all something completely honest. When my oncologist gave me the news I looked at the floor and I wasn’t even really taking in what he was saying. I heard him saying ‘I’m so so sorry’ but I thought I don’t need this – I need to know if I am going to die. I interrupted him and asked him the question but he didn’t respond. When I asked him again he said ‘if I do nothing you will die but I am going to do everything I can to save your life’.
This hit home but it is a positive statement. He is going to help safe my life medically along with my fabulous neurologist and I will do everything I can to save my life by changing my diet, habits and lifestyle. I am not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me – you all know I certainly don’t want this current situation to change how my friends and family look at me or treat me. I have no intention of going anywhere – not yet – the outlook is a positive one.
HEY CANCER – YOU PICKED THE WRONG CHICK!