Dear Cancer I’m not ready to Die

I hate writing this. But this is how I am feeling at the moment.

With tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart.

I think about who I would leave behind

I dread the thought of being told that I am going to die.

I have always feared death. Always cried about dying. Having children made it all become a little bit more real.

Having Cancer has made it all the more real for me. It has made me think more and more of death.

Right or wrong. Positive or not. You can not allow your brain to not think of it.

I have three beautiful children who I adore so much. I have so much to give them. So many more memories. So many more cuddles and kisses.

I want to be able to see them grow into handsome young men.

I want to see them graduate from University

I want to hold their hands through the good and the bad.

I want to watch them fall in love and enjoy life

I want to watch them walk down the aisle and I want to hold my grandchild in my arms

I am not ready to die.

I am not ready to leave my family behind to cope with me not being around.

I have so many more bumps and bruises to kiss better

So many more bedtime stories to read.

So many more experiences to enjoy with my boys

Death is a horrible thing and I know we all will die eventually. This has always scared me. I’ve always been upset about leaving my children, young or old, behind.

Coping with having Cancer has made it all real.

I am not ready for my body to give up. I am not ready to leave my boys without a Mummy.

Why am I writing this? I don’t know. Its how I am feeling. It’s what I am thinking.

It’s in my thoughts all the time. I don’t want it to be there. I want to enjoy the time I have with my family.

So many people tell me to enjoy my life, but It’s so hard. Cancer takes over.

I want to take control of my thoughts and body. I do not want it to win.

Am I feeling down? Am I depressed? YES

I want to be healthy and I want to live a long and good life

I want my children to enjoy growing up with their Mum around to guide them and teach them right from wrong. What Mum wouldn’t?

They need a strong Mum and a happy one.

I will carry on fighting with every inch of my body for the sake of my boys. I will try to keep strong and not allow them to see the weak me, the depressed me, the unhappy me. I will not let this defeat me without giving everything I have.

 

 

 

 

 

Bowel Surgery My Story Part 1

It’s been a long, hard struggle, but fingers crossed I’m on the road to recovery.

I was admitted into hospital last November 9th, for a scheduled bowel removal operation. I was in good spirits as i arrived to the hospital at 7am in the morning. I had my suitcase packed with a few essential items of clothing, magazines, books and a few snacks for the evenings whilst I was in hospital. I was due to stay in for 7-10 days but all depending on the rate of my recovery. I was told by my surgeon that there wasn’t many risks to the surgery for someone as fit and healthy like myself.

As I laid on the hospital bed waiting to be called into theatre, my surgeon came by to see me, I was in a positive mood and was hopeful that my surgery would be a success. I had tried hard not to think too much about the surgery but had researched the type of surgery I was having. I knew that my rectum was going to be removed as the tumour was sitting on the sphincter muscle, which meant if the rectum was left intact then I would not be able to control when I wanted to release my stools. My surgeon shook my hand and told me that I was first into theatre. I got dressed into my gown and had a last minute trip to the toilet before being wheeled into theatre.

I remember the lights were so bright, everything seemed to be gleaming. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed in theatre and the nurses and anaesthesist running around me, all doing something important. They all seemed to be really busy and I was just sitting there like a little lost lamb. Not sure what to do or say. I remember watching the nurses gather together the surgery tools, placing them onto a trolley, all lined out in a specific way and thinking how shiny and sharp they looked. I took a bug gulp. A deep breath and closed my eyes. I thought about my children at home and how they would be feeling today, how they would wake up and notice mummy not there. I remember a nurse coming over and fitting in a cannula to my hand and a needle into the base of my back (I believe this was an epidural, but I’m not sure). I remember the anaesthesist commenting on how calm and collected I was. How I seemed to be composed and ready. I didn’t feel it. I was then told to lay down. And that was it. I can not remember anything more until I woke up 6 hours later

I was in a different room this time, different people running around me. There was a nurse sitting on a chair next to my bed. When I opened my eyes she asked me how I was feeling. I felt fine. I felt no pain. I felt OK. I didn’t want to look down at my tummy, I didn’t want to see what they had done. I remember feeling hungry and thirsty so the nurse went and got me a yoghurt and some water. It felt so good to eat it.

I had a catheter to help drain the bladder of urine. I also had a colostomy bag on the left hand side of my abdomen. I had a drain attached, coming out of my bottom collecting blood/fluid. I also had 3 little incisions where they had performed a laparoscopy to remove my rectum and lymph nodes.

My parents had come with me to the hospital that morning and I hadn’t seen my Mum since they wheeled me down to theatre, I wanted to let her know I was OK. A nurse told me that My parents were waiting outside in the waiting room and wanted to know how I was. I wanted to see them but they wasn’t allowed through to the recovery room. After an hour or so they were allowed to come through and see me for a quick cuddle and to see how I was. It was good to see them, I held them tight

At about 6 in the evening I was taken upstairs to the surgery ward where a bed was waiting for me. I don’t remember much, I was very tired and kept drifting in and out sleep. Paul was with me and then it was time for him to go home. I didn’t want to be on my own. I slept. I awoke in the middle of the night in immense pain, screaming out to the nurses for help. I can not describe the pain but I remember it being so strong, I was crying. I wanted it to stop. I don’t even know where the pain was coming from, I just know that whatever the nurses gave me it wasn’t strong enough to take it away.

I don’t when, but they hooked me up to a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) where I was in control of when I administered morphine for the pain by pressing a button. This way I was able to control my pain whenever I needed to.

I don’t remember when I got up and out of bed. The days went by in a whirl. I slept so much. All I wanted to do was sleep.

I asked the nurses if I could get up and walk around but they said that I needed to be assessed by the physiotherapy team first.

I remember asking to get out of bed so I can sit in the chair. One of the nurses helped me out and then just as he was walking away I remember feeling really weak, sweating and then nothing. I must have blacked out. The next I remember was being carried into my bed and being hooked up to a saline drip. I believe that my blood pressure was low and that is why i fainted after getting out of bed.

I wanted to try again. I wanted to get better. But I was so scared I would faint again. I felt weak.

Days went by and I was soon feeling stronger. I was eating and drinking but not enough. The food was horrid. Tasteless.

My parents came to visit everyday. My mum helped me wash and when I gained enough strength to get out of bed she helped my shower. I hated seeing myself in the mirror. Who was the person looking back at me. A thinner, weaker version of myself.

My boys came in to see me, but I didn’t want them to see me so ill and weak. My eldest son came to visit after school, on his way home. Most days he would just sit next to my bed holding my hand whilst I slept, other days we would talk about school and his brothers. I hated seeing the hurt in their eyes. I would cry when they went home. I wanted to gold them close but my wounds and stoma meant I couldn’t have them close to me incase they knocked the tummy.

Where my rectum had been removed I had been stitched on the bottom. I wasn’t allowed to sit on my bottom for longer than 10 minutes. It felt weird. I had to keep moving from one side to the other every half hour. Sleeping was uncomfortable. My pert bottom was gone and in replace was a disgusting looking flat piece of skin that covered some bones.

It took over a week for the stoma to start to work. I was told I was constipated and that I needed to drink more but I just couldn’t take in anymore that what I was drinking.  I was given an enema to help. My first stools were watery. I was taught from the stoma nurse how to change the bag and what equipment to use. It didn’t seem too bad.

I was told what I could and couldn’t eat. So much of my normal diet was a no go. I went off of food and could only manage a few mouthfuls at a time. I began to feel sick and started to throw up whatever I was taking in.

I wanted to go home so much. I wanted to be with my boys. I hadn’t seen much of them whilst I was in hospital. So when a doctor came round to see me two weeks after surgery and asked me if I wanted to go home, I obviously said yes. I knew I was being sick but if they thought I was well enough to go then I was happy to do so.

We waited around for the discharge papers. Two hours later I was sitting in the passenger seat of the car and ready to set off home.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t stop here. Read part 2 later on this week. 

Thank you for reading.

2017 Please Be Kind To Me

Dear 2017,

Last year was not a very good year to many people, me included. 2016 was pretty shit, to put it lightly.

Many people lost their lives through illnesses or disasters in 2016. To be honest I didn’t spend much time watching the news or reading the papers about what was going on around me as I was in my own little nightmare.

This year I would like you to be kinder to me and my family, please.

We have been through so much and deserve just a little break.

2016 saw me being diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, adeno carcinoma, an unusual cancer for a young woman of my age to get. In fact it is rare and there are only two of us diagnosed with such cancer in the hospital that I received my treatment at.

Last year I under went 5 and a half weeks of radiotherapy and taking chemotherapy tablets.

Last year I spent 8 days in hospital with an internal infection due to the radiotherapy harming my bladder and bowel.

Last year I had my tumour taken away (well what was left of it).

On top of everything that I went through in the space of 5 months, you decided that you would throw a little more at me.

After my first surgery, I had complications and just 2 weeks later I had to have an emergency operation on my small bowel.

You see 2016, I am stronger than what you think I am.

In 7 months I went through hell and back, physically and emotionally. Not only did I suffer but it effected family and friends.

So this year, 2017, I would like you to take into account on what I went through last year and take pity on an underweight Mummy who just wants to be here for her children.

I would like to laugh again. A real good belly laugh.

I would like to be fear free.

I would like to spend precious time with my boys without thinking about time.

2017, I would like to be left alone please. Let me be. Allow me to be who I want to be.

I want to have tears of happiness. I want the tears to roll down my face and onto a smile

I don’t want any more sadness or bad news. I want to be hopeful.

Dear 2017, please be kind to me.

Much Love

A very tired, but hopeful Angela

No One Should Walk Alone

Cancer is lonely

No matter how much support you have around you

No matter how many people offer you help

You always feel lonely

You try to keep strong for everyone else around you. For your family, for your friends and especially for your children

You try to hold it all together

You tell people that you are fine

But you are not!

Family and friends love you, they offer help and visit you when they can

But they do not understand how lonely cancer can be

I cry

I cry when I am alone, in fact I sob

I have no control over the tears, they sometimes just roll down my cheeks and I have no control over them

I am jealous of others and their future

Why me?

I Live in fear every second, every hour of every day

Of what the future holds for me

Your emotions are all over the place

Like a rollercoaster, they are up and down

No one understands

How can they?

Words go in but you are not listening

Your mind wanders

Having Cancer you feel isolated

The treatment is gruelling and tiring

You have a good support network but they can not go through your emotions and treatment with you

You alone are in the radiotherapy machine

You alone are laying on the bed waiting for surgery

You alone are recovering from surgery

You alone feel the pain, the tiredness, the sickness and the fatigue

Cancer is a lonely path

No one should walk alone, but Cancer has a way of making you feel lonely

Adjusting to life with a Colostomy Bag

As you may well know, If you follow me on social media or on the blog, that at the end of last year I underwent surgery to have a tumour removed from my bowel. Because of the site of the tumour I had to have my rectum removed which results in me having a bag for life. Now out of hospital I am adjusting to living with a colostomy bag.

I haven’t made too many public appearances yet as I am still weak and recovering from the surgeries that I had. I have had a little walk around the local supermarket and I did have a little mishap of wind but As I was layered up with clothing the sound was muffled and it was probably just me that noticed the noise.

The stoma at the moment is very noisy and can be very embarrassing. It sounds like a balloon that has been deflated and let off. The boys have got used to it now but still find it hilarious that Mummy has a bottom on her tummy and that I poo in a bag.

I am conscious of it being seen under my clothing as I my tummy is quite swollen at the moment and sticks out a bit. It can be seen if it isn’t tucked into the trousers and does make a rustling sound against my clothing as I am wearing loose tops. I am worried about others noticing it and the comments that will come. Some people can be blunt with their words and not think of your feelings. Some people can be damn right nasty and make jokes of wearing a colostomy bag. Yes, I am embarrassed but on the other hand I know that it has possibly given me a life.

The results of the tumour and lymph nodes biopsy, once taken from me, has come back negative. No cancer cells left behind. That’s not to say that they haven’t escaped to else where in the body and I will not know this until I have a full body scan. I am extremely worried about this and on one hand I don’t want to find out. I don’t want to go through it all again. I had a shit 2016, especially the last 6 months. My family and my life has been put on hold. We have had to cancel plans, holidays, days out and adjusted to life with Cancer. During my treatment, I spent weeks laying on the bed due to the skin breaking and becoming sore. The last two months I have been in hospital. It all seems to be a dream, a nasty dream.

The only way now is not to dwell on what could have been but what can be.

I need to get some more confidence in myself and say ‘Sod you’ I need to be comfortable with my body in order to go about life as I was before.

I have already began to think about what type of clothes would be ideal to wear with the colostomy. I have bought a few items of clothing in the sales, a few long cardigans, over sized jumpers and loose-fitting tops. I am fully aware, constantly, of the bag and am hoping that once I become more confident with it then it will just become part of me and once in a routine it will become an everyday routine that won’t stop me from having an active, social lifestyle.

It has taken a while for the bowel to fully function properly and is still finding its place in the abdomen after being prodded and poked about with during surgery. Certain foods are giving me wind, which is very uncomfortable and painful. I have no control no more of my bowel habits, when it happens it happens. I am concerned that it will happen when I am out amongst other people who do not know my situation. I am scared of the reaction from people. I am aware that the bag can be seen through clothes and I am anxious of the stares, the glares, the pointing and the comments that will come. I know I can’t be in the comfort of my home for ever, I have to return to work and I have a life with the boys to get on with and I have friends to be social and enjoy company with. I am hoping with time that I will become less conscious and more confident. After all it is still early days, I only had the surgery on the 9th November and have only been home for 2 weeks now. With the support of my family and friends I know I can do this and that I will get my life back on track.

A Cancer Diagnosis

The house phone rang, I didn’t want to answer it, but I did . You see, I was expecting a call from the hospital. I had been waiting for my results from a biopsy that I had two weeks previously. I had also had a MRI and CT scan, within the two weeks.

I had found a lump and although my doctor had treated the lump as hemorrhoids, the lump hadn’t gone in fact I think it had actually grown.

I was a little worried and I had done the googling my symptoms, as you do, I wasn’t sure what I was thinking but as the words popped up onto my screen and I read over them, I knew. I knew deep down that I had cancer.

The big C word.

The word that scares the shit out of everyone.

The Nurse on the other end of the phone asked me to come in to the hospital the following day. She asked me if I was going to be accompanied by anyone. I took that as a negative. I didn’t sleep that night, too many things going over in my head.

The next day I went into work as normal and left at lunch time to get to the hospital. As I waited with my Mum, Sister and partner, I tried to clear my head, to be positive. We were all called into a room. Three chairs were laid out in a row facing one other chair. The doctor sat down with a file in his hand. He explained the biopsy procedure and then the words came out “The tumour is cancer”

No tears came.

I remember holding onto my Mum’s hand and squeezing it. I just kept thinking what is going through my Mum’s head, how hard it must be for her to listen to a doctor telling her daughter that she has cancer.

Still, No tears came.

We asked questions, like how big the tumour is and what the next step was.

I was told that i would need 6 weeks of radiotherapy followed by a short burst of chemotherapy and then a bowel removal surgery. Having my bowel removed doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I just want the lump to be deceased from my body as soon as possible.

No tears came.

I felt numb. I remember feeling like it was happening to someone else, it wasn’t me he was talking to. I remember hearing my voice and thinking “Why am I answering”

We drove home in silence. We couldn’t talk much at home as the boys had just got in from school. They played in the garden whilst we tried to come to turns with what had just been thrown into our life.

I remember a sharp pain in my chest, not being able to breathe. It felt like I was having a outerbody experience, like I was watching this happen to someone else. My throat was dry but I still couldn’t cry.

The tears came the next day. I tried so hard not to let the boys see me upset.

I had two weeks to wait before treatment started, within those two weeks I had a colonoscopy and a CT scan on my glands in my groin. Each result came back negative, no more tumours.

The waiting was the worse. I cried. I sobbed. I didn’t sleep. I googled everything. I cried more. I was angry. I was fuming. I hated my body. I hated everyone around me living a normal healthy life. I couldn’t understand why my life had become a standstill and everyone else was getting on with theirs.

I was measured up for radiotherapy, received my tattoo for life, my little present from cancer. Three little dots were placed around my pelvis area, one on either hip and one above my pelvis. I was given a start date. My first session was to be half way through half term. At last i felt like something was happening, something to help me beat this.

I was told that I would not be able to have any more children as the treatment would bring on an early menopause. I was offered to store some of my eggs but how could I possibly have another child with this horrible disease hanging over my head.

I didn’t know what to expect from my radiotherapy sessions nor from the chemo tablets that i was to take. I just took every day as it came. I was told that I may become sick, tired, fatigued, suffer from blisters in the mouth, sore throat and that my skin would become sore.

I tried to carry on as normal. Shopping. School. Housework. Children.

The first week went by with no side effects. The radiotherapy sessions seemed to take forever. I had to drink 500ml of water 45 minutes prior to going in the machine. I’ve always thought that I had a strong bladder but I haven’t. I struggled every day to hold it in for so long. As a pelvis patient you are advised to drink 2-3 litres of water a day. I only drank mineral water of a ph level above 7.

The second week was pretty much the same, although I was becoming a little tired.

The third week, we had been booked onto competing in a mile race around St Pauls Cathedral, The City Mile. I wasn’t going to let the C stop me from running alongside my boys. It was a lovely day out and the sun was shining. The third week was also when some of the side effects came. I suffered from diarrhea and fatigue. My skin was becoming a little sore.

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The fourth week we had a weekend booked in Wales so that we could go up Mount Snowdon. I had booked it before the diagnosis and the boys were looking forward to hiking up the mountain. I managed to walk a quarter of the way and had to come back down as I was getting tired. The rest of the family carried on without me, I waited in the car for them to come back down. By now the skin was really sore and beginning to peel.

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I used to talk to the machine as It went around my pelvis zapping my body. The screen looked like it was a monster. I used to tell it not to miss anything.

The fifth week saw my skin that sore that I couldn’t sit down on my bottom, I had to sit with my legs to one side. I became very tired. I was a pretty awful mother as i couldn’t take care of my boys, I couldn’t get out of bed. It was too sore to stand and walk. I was given some cream to apply to the skin. I was told to expect it to get worse.

By the time my treatment had finished, the skin was cracking, bleeding and weeped. I couldn’t even pass urine without crying in pain. I lost weight and became weak.

I spent the week after my treatment finished in my bed, only getting up to go to the toilet.

My eldest son was my rock. He had grown into a gentleman within the last couple of months. Looking after his brothers. Cooking dinners. Cleaning. He didn’t argue he just did it. I ordered Gousto boxes for him to use. He followed the recipes and cooked up meals that you would pay good money for. He looked after me, making sure that I was comfortable, bringing me water to drink and food to eat. He sat on my bed and talked to me about his day at school or about his swimming. He is a true gent. He knows what is happening but he doesn’t talk to me about it. It’s hard for the children to understand what is happening, although I have tried to explain so that they will understand what is going to happen. But they see that Mummy is at home and don’t see the seriousness of it all. They know that I will be having an operation

I am now 1 month after my last chemo and radio session and I am much stronger. The skin has heeled, although I still feel sore inside. I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve changed my diet, juicing daily and cutting out red meat and dairy products. We were already cutting out sugar as a family before the diagnosis but now we check the sugar content on packaged food. I eat fresh vegetables and fruit and only drink water.

It’s hard staying positive when all I’m doing is waiting around. It feels like nothing is happening. Like I’ve been left to deal with it by myself. I have no idea if the cancer has gone. I have no idea if the tumour is shrinking, not until my next scan which is in 5 months time. I’m feeling strong, I am not ill, never was! I just have a pesky lump that wants my body but I WILL NOT allow it to take over.

#thisgirlwill