DIAGNOSIS – what’s in a name?

Invasive carsinoma by any other name would still be cancer. Everyone who’s had cancer, has a diagnosis story. And so my own story begins – in the shower. In 2003, at 33 I was living it up on the southern Turkish coastline, a golden life, working as a teacher, tanned and blond, the centre of my own world and feeling like a princess.

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I have been totally stunned by the response to my blog! The lovely comments on the site and also through Face Book.

It has been Inspiring and given me so much energy,For lots of reasons today’s been a great day, time and place arranged for our fledgling Antalya women with Breast Cancer group I do want to encourage you all to keep reading.

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You look well!

As a former English teacher in my local town I know many people and if I don’t know them that doesn’t much matter bacause they know me or more likely my husband Ali, or my now dearly departed father-in-law ‘Gök Huseyin.’ There’s a typical conversation which can be had many many times in any day and goes something like this:

Them: How are you?

Me: I’m fine thanks and you?

Them: I’m fine too.

And everyone goes on their way or there are a few variations in these parts which may include reference to the weather, price of tomatoes and football.

However with me there are sometimes other interjections based on what people think they know of my health and these can go something like this:

Them: How are you? You look really well!

YOU LOOK REALLY WELL That is red rag to the bull and my least favourite expression ever!

Me: Oh you know! (I’m trying to discourage them from continuing with this line of questioning)

Them: So have you finished your treatment?

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That pretty much says it all.End of story? Well there have, of course, been a few important events and details along the way.Two lives, being reborn in Turkey, breast cancer at 33, stage 4 at 40 but still here at 47. Today I have decided to begin putting a few of my thoughts down on paper. Better late than never.  And to begin doing SOMETHING which someone, somewhere may actually read and find helpful.  And in the process it will help me GET MY SHIT TOGETHER!

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None, none!? I haven’t got any hospital appointments for a whole month. A whole month! I can’t remember the last time I went for that long without a trip to the oncology department, a dose of radiation, a scan, chemo, results or something or another.

For a stage 4’er this is certainly a strange, novel and rather wonderful experience however also a little unnerving to say the least. I’ve had almost constant treatment for the last three years, often weekly, sometimes daily and now at the nineth hour I’m free from the constraints of the hospital and can actually think about a whole week stretching ahead without having anything in the diary.

I refer to myself as a chemo junkie…

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Winston comes home

Today’s piece is dedicated to my big sis, Lucy and Winston her horse. Lucy is a breast cancer survivor, animal welfare activist, champion and adopter of everything with four legs and in her spare time a realtor (that’s an estate agent to you and me) noter and writer.

Lucy and Winston’s story begins in 2010 when my sister was recoverying from a breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy. Now 7 years later she has just found out that her beloved Winston has been diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. It’s caused by a tumour in the pituitary gland, it cannot be cured. Exactly like me the symptoms can be managed with medication in order to improve the quality of life, it’s terminal.

I would like to share with you the introduction to my sister’s children’s book ‘Winston comes Home’ it’s the tale of how a woman recovering from breast cancer saved a horse and …

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What do the Radiotherapy Department and Hotel California have in common?

‘You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.’ At 12.55 on Wednesday I was demob happy. By 12.58 I’d done a total u-turn and was back exactly where I’d started a couple of weeks earlier. I’d had a lovely morning, chatted to a nice English couple down in -2, the bowels of the hospital, the radiotherapy department. My new mate from our ‘Breast Cancer Women’s Group’ was with me.

  • She’s a fellow stage 4er and when I met her I knew immediately that we would get on and of course we do.  There’s a lot which we have in common, same age, same year of diagnosis, metastasis, we sat and compared where it had gone to.  But she wins that game hands down, she’s had a brain tumour not once, not twice but three times. I can’t tell you how inspirational that is for me … she’s a real fighter.  If you met her you wouldn’t see any traces of her treatment unless you look closely, a scar here and there.
  •  Anyway she was due to be zapped too on number 3 brain tumour so it seemed fitting that she should be there with me for my last session.  I’d said farewell to the techs, the secretaries, the guy who gets zapped after me, I’d been signed off by a new doctor, I’d smiled at all the people still sitting in the waiting room, the three old guys and had actually managed to get past the glass doors and as far as the lift.  I was about to get out of Hades and was heading for the exit, the ground floor, sunlight, the cafe, maybe even a celebratory tea when … I heard my name being called. SHIT!
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VIRTUAL FRIENDS and the longest night

Girls you all know who you are but for all the others not in the know let me fill you in. I have a gang of entirely virtual friends from all over the globe and we are united by one thing breast cancer. This is a sympathetic, warm and loving bunch, ready to listen and share virtual tears and laughter. They respond any time of day or night as someone is always awake somewhere in the world.

You’ve already met some of the stars of this group, Norma and Rose but there are so many more; I’d like to introduce you to Jill who guides the group and keeps us in check, Ethel who provides us with wonderful turns of phrase and humour, Keri who always finds just the right response and tone with everyone in all situations and Tracy, Jan, Melissa and so many more wonderful women besides.

We are from America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Scandinavia, Europe, Turkey and the Middle East. We are an international and pretty classy bunch sharing our daily trials and tribulations, both good and bad news, rants, tears and sometimes things not connected with our breast cancer.

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