The Dummies Guide to Enjoying Christmas When Your Cancer May Have Spread…

cervical cancer awareness

 

So, I’ve thought long and hard about writing this blog; partly because of keeping my ordeal very private over recent months; partly due to old memories being re-lived; partly because I want to protect my babies; and partly because I am awaiting further surgery.

BUT January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month, and I am very passionate about encouraging as many women to get their smears tests done as possible, and for society in general to appreciate the long term consequences the illness brings to YOUNG women – YES CERVICAL CANCER IS A YOUNG PERSON’S CANCER and completely destroys the life young women dreamed of ever having.

So here I go……

Around 3-4 months ago I began suffering extreme pain.  The type of pain I walked around with for a good 18 months a few years ago prior to my cervical cancer eventually being picked up via a routine smear test (this was after all my CLASSIC symptoms being dismissed by medics!) 

I tried to ignore the pain the best I could, despite being secretly panicked.  However it eventually began to become unbearable and I gave in and telephoned my cancer nurse who made me an emergency appointment with my Oncologist.

My Oncologist was wonderful as always and could see I was in pain and ordered me an urgent MRI scan.  This was then followed by an urgent laparoscopic surgery on 11th December (exactly three years to the date since my original cancer surgery, so you can imagine that this was an incredibly difficult day for me).

The surgery involved a general anesthetic, four abdominal incisions, probes and a camera to effectively ‘dig’ around my insides to check if my cancer had spread, and also see if there was anything else which could be causing the pain.

Before being discharged from hospital, my amazing Oncologist came to see me armed with some pretty gross but fascinating photographs of my insides!  He explained that although he couldn’t see any obvious reoccurring tumours, he had taken some samples for testing and that I would have a three week wait for the results of.  Shit.  That was any small bit left of my Christmas cheer thrown firmly out of the fecking window.

He also found quite a lot of significant adhesions from my previous surgery which could explain the pain – basically certain organs in my body have decided to fuse to places they shouldn’t have.  Great ‘ey?  Having Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (a rare genetic connective tissue disorder) had dramatically increased my chances of adhesions and I am deemed ‘high risk’ for any type of surgical procedure.  Gotta love ya faulty inherited DNA 😉

I won’t lie (gosh, I sound like Nessa!); the past month has been incredibly difficult.  I came home from hospital in pain, weak, dizzy, exhausted, panicked.  But being a single parent, I just had to continue as normally as much as possible; so back on the school run the next day, looking after my babies, seeing their wonderful Christmas concerts, housework, studying, fighting infections, CHRISTMAS!

The three week wait for my results was absolute agony; not just physically, but mentally too.  I couldn’t really tell many people what was going on for various reasons – the main being the Christmas period and not wanting to cause upset to others or be a burden.

Well, the 3rd January FINALLY came around and I was sick with nerves all day waiting for my afternoon appointment slot.  The wait in the horrid, stuffy depressing Oncology waiting room (right next to Maternity of all places; really people, talk about adding insult to injury?!?!?) was made slightly more bearable by my lovely chap holding my hand and getting me to play eye spy bless him.  But as always I chose to go into my appointment alone……

I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to be physically shown a paper report by my Oncologist with the words “NO MALIGNANT REOCCURRENCE FOUND” written on it!  I felt an instant peace come over me.  My cancer hadn’t spread!!!

My main worry over the past few months hadn’t been ‘just’ about the cancer possibly spreading, but more about how my kids would cope going through the same thing again.  A mum will always put her babies above anything else.  Always.

So, despite being given the ‘all clear’ (which is absolutely fantastic!) I still have a second bigger surgery to follow to try and unfuse my organs in the coming months, but after cancer everything else seems pretty insignificant in comparison.

I really don’t know how I would have gotten through the past month without a few amazing people taking such good care of me and my babies.  We love you xxx

And for every other female reading this GET YOUR SMEAR TEST because believe me the alternative doesn’t even bare thinking about.

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Well That’s One Off the Cancer Bucket List!

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Well today’s ‘office’ is me on the sofa under a blankie, exhausted, run down and in pain.  But it’s largely self inflicted and I’m so glad it is!

You see since cancer, I’ve been compiling a kinda bucket list in my mind given my second stab at living.  As a result lots has changed over the past two years; relocation to the beautiful Welsh mountains; I’ve completed a further nutrition diploma; I’ve taken up singing again; I’ve re-found laughter; and I’ve shocked myself into loving running!  Yes you heard right!  Yes, me running!  

Some of you will already know that I live with chronic illness in the form of a rare genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (and many wonderful associated aliments) and Secondary Lymphoedema due to the cancer treatment; both which can affect my ability to walk quite significantly at times.  Despite this, I added a rather challenging and bonkers item to my bucket list recently – to complete a MUD RUN!  Yes, totally bonkers!  You will read from my previous blogs how I’ve struggled with my fitness due to my health – you can read them here and here if you haven’t!

This is what I wrote on Facebook on 9th September:

“So, have kept this quietish in case I wasn’t able to take part for health reasons, BUT apart from just detoxing my body & mind, I’ve been training towards one of my bucket list goals since surviving cancer 2 years ago…..Today I’m VERY pleased to say I SMASHED my first ever mud run, completing a 5K course with muddy obstacles in the heavy rain in just 36 MINUTES!!! Not only did I stay in the lead of my race, I actually outran the majority in the race that set off 15 minutes before me!! I’m soooo emotional & what really made it extra special was having my two babies complete the last 100 yards across the finish line holding my hands – MY WORLD & reason I continue to fight living with chronic illness and beating cancer!! xxx.”

I still can’t believe what I achieved!  All by sensibly stepping up my walking over the past 6 months, sticking to a very strict detox and high-protein diet, and shutting out negativity.  Of course this combined with an EDS burst of adrenaline on the day; the celebration to still be alive and the love of my babies is what truly got me through that race and over those obstacles!

I still have to pinch myself; I could literally burst with pride.  I really could.  The haters couldn’t burst my bubble, and nor could the awful downward spiral in my health since as a result!

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©