Friday, September 28, 2012

It begins

My meeting with my Oncologist, Professor MiracleMaker went really well this week.

I have had my tumour staged at a T2, which I believe is still considered an early stage cancer and my N and M factors are considered 0 which is very good news

From Wikipedia:

T describes the size of the tumour and whether it has invaded nearby tissue
     Tx - Tumour cannot be evaluated
     Tis - Carcinoma in situ
     T0 - No signs of tumour
     T1, T2, T3, T4 - Size and/or extension of the primary tumour

N describes regional lymph nodes that are involved
     Nx - Lymph nodes cannot be evaluated
     N0 - Tumour cells absent from regional lymph nodes
     N1 - Regional lymph node metastasis present OR tumour spread to closest or small number of regional lymph nodes
     N2 - Tumour spread to an extent between N1 and N3
     N3 - Tumour spread to more distant or numerous regional lymph nodes

M describes distant metastasis (the spread of cancer from one body part to another).
     Mx - Distant metastasis cannot be evaluated
     M0 - No distant metastasis
     M1 - Metastasis to distant organs (beyond regional lymph nodes)

So at the moment I'm a T2 N0 M0
Which considering I have a visible (from a scan) tumour in my body I couldn't have hoped for a better outcome - my tumour was probably already too big to be classified as a T1 so the fact that it's 'only' a T2 is great news - I've never been the fastest person in anything I've done sports or otherwise and I'm happy to say my little growth is taking after me in that respect!!
The N0 and M0 results are quite frankly FANTASTIC - normally with my type of cancer it has spread to other parts of the body before it gives people any symptoms so I'm very glad it decided to be a shy little thing and not try to make friends with any other organs.

Next week I am due to have my laparoscopy where my surgeon Mr MeasureTwiceCutOnce will insert a camera into my abdomen to have an actual look at my tumour so that he can gauge what will need to be done when the time comes for my operation. They will also fill my abdomen with water and then bag up said water and test that for rogue cancer cells - I'm still astounded at the level of detail they go to when looking for the cancer - I'm totally confident in their approach and I'm glad they're being thorough.
At first I thought I'd get nervous having to go through all of these tests as each one could bring with it bad news but now I've come to realise that all of these things simply allow me and my team of Professor MiracleMaker and Mr MeasureTwiceCutOnce to arm ourselves with enough ammunition for the fight. The cancer treatment is going to be tough and I'd rather bare it the once and be as sure as possible that they're getting it all out than them storm in, treat the main tumour yet miss a sneaky cancer cell elsewhere.

After my laparoscopy I will get approximately ten days to recover and then I will experience my first Chemotherapy session.
Professor MiracleMaker has decided to go at me with all guns blazing considering my age and (thanks to the last couple of years) level of fitness so I will be undertaking three rounds of chemotherapy each taking three weeks, then I will be given about six weeks off to recover from the chemo and I'll have another scan to see how teeny tiny my tumour now is and then I'll go for my operation with Mr MeasureTwiceCutOnce then I'll have another six weeks off to recover from surgery and I'll go back for three more rounds of chemo to blast my body again to make extra sure that there is no more cancer in my body!!

This is probably going to be the hardest few months of my life and there are going to be highs and lows but breaking it down is helping quite a lot
For example:
I can do ANYTHING three times - I'll have three rounds of chemo - the first time will be scary / exciting as I start my first day at cancer killing school, I'll hopefully make friends with other patients and I hope my chemo drugs make friends with the cancer and, as the rebellious older sibling, convince the tumour to go on a trip of a lifetime by having an 'out of body' experience!!
After that I'll go in for round two three weeks later which, when you think of it in a course of three, is already more than halfway there and then round three will be the last one! Term one in cancer killing school is over already! Time for a wee holiday before packing my bag once again to go back for Term two!

The good things about this is, if I keep to plan and my body stays healthy enough to have the chemo every three weeks then my three rounds will be over before the end of this year and I'll be in my 'six week holiday' during Christmas which means that hopefully I won't be too 'loopy' from the Chemo to actually enjoy Christmas and hopefully the Chemo will have done it's job and shrunk the tumour enough for me to be able to eat slightly more solid foods i.e. attempt an actual Christmas dinner!!
The other even better thing is if my body stays healthy enough to be on schedule, my Chemo - Operation - Chemo journey will have finished three weeks BEFORE my brother's wedding next year!!
I only have one sibling and although we've had our bad times (he's five years older than me so during childhood we always seemed to be in different phases of our lives) he's an amazing big brother and I'm so proud of everything he's done. I was away when he graduated from University so I missed that and a couple of weeks ago I honestly didn't think I'd be around anymore to make his wedding and to have that as a goal and a target will be a light to lead me on in my darker days.
My last chemo session should (all things being well) also fall on the week of my birthday and I can't think of a better present than being given the gift of life!

Anyways - I'm going to stop being so poetic (yup people that's what I call poetic) and leave you to your no doubt wonderful Friday! Have a great weekend everyone - for those in the UK lets hope all this rain stops soon - it's causing too much chaos everywhere!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cancer

So...
My results have come back and it has been confirmed that I do indeed have Oesophageal Cancer.

I have been for various different scans so far and I'm still waiting for the results of my PET scan which allows the doctors to 'stage' the tumour i.e. see how big it is, how far it has spread (or hasn't spread hopefully) and if any of my lymph nodes are affected.
So far from the results of my CT scan the tumour looks to be quite small, hasn't spread to the outside wall of my oesophagus (less chance of it spreading to my heart and lungs through contact that way) and there were no enlarged lymph nodes so hopefully the PET scan doesn't show anything that the CT scan didn't show!!

I have a meeting with my Oncologist tomorrow where we will discuss my treatment plan and the way forward from here - it's going to be a 'take each day as it comes' period in my life but I'm hoping that in a year's time I'll be starting my road to recovery a better, stronger person than before.

I count myself lucky at the amount of love and support I have felt so far on this journey and there are so many people who go through life not knowing how much you mean to people and how many lives you touch along the way and I'm very privileged to be experiencing this right now. I'll never take it for granted again and apart from this diagnosis I'm a very blessed and lucky woman.

Monday, September 17, 2012

My new story

So...
I haven't been on here for a while because I have had a lot of things going on in my life recently.
I'm not sure if you remember me saying that food kept getting stuck in my throat and I had to make myself sick to get it back up again which meant that I wasn't really keeping any food down and resulted in a few weeks of sudden weight loss?

Well, I went for some tests at the hospital and last week an endoscopy showed a growth in my oesophagus which could turn out to be cancer, yup those words were said to little 27 year old me and they hit me very hard. They took biopsies of the growth to study in the lab (I'm praying its a benign growth)
This seems to have stunned even my doctor as this type of thing is often found in smoking, alcohol drinking, 60+ year old men and here I am sitting here a reasonably fit, healthy eating 27 year old woman - it just doesn't add up but apparently this is the road I will be travelling down.
Several extremely hard phone calls to my parents and brother were next which hurt me more than actually getting the news. What parent wants to hear that your child could be desperately ill?!
I then went for a full body CT scan on Friday to see if the cancer (I'm calling it that at the moment although it's still not been confirmed) has spread to anywhere else in my body and the actual size of the growth in my throat as this will indicate whether or not I can have treatment / surgery and if I can what kind it will be.

So at the moment I'm in the grey area of my life waiting until Wednesday (only two more days to go and I'm not sure how I made it through the past week!!) when I, plus my boyfriend and Mum who is travelling up specially, go to see my specialist and I'll hear if this thing is cancer or not.

So as you can probably understand, the maintenance of my blog has been quite far down on my list of priorities at the moment but as I seemed to have a handful of readers I thought it would be good to give you a quick update of what I'm up to.
My blog will now change it's focus on keeping weight on / putting on weight in preparation for any treatment / surgery I may need (gosh I never thought I'd hear myself saying I'm trying to put weight on!!) and just being a way of telling my story and all that I'm going through at the time.

I hope all those on the Marathon Weight Loss Challenge have done well on their final weigh ins and if you could send me a little bit of wishful thinking my way then I'd really appreciate it!!

Today has been good so far - Paul stayed over last night so I woke up snuggled up to him, work have all been amazing when they heard my news offering me time off from work whenever / work from home opportunities, I kept my lunch down and have managed a chocolate bar (I've been told by my nurse to have full fat everything) plus my dried fruit and green tea (apparently that can inhibit cancer growth - it's all worth a try isn't it?!) and I've found an amazing website with a brilliant group of people who have all been through this and come out the other side so for the first time in about a week the black cloud above me has turned a lighter shade of grey and I'm going to my first improvers ballet class tonight because I finished my beginners course last week and the teacher said she thought I was good enough to move on!!
Also I'm going to be busy cleaning the flat tonight because (under slightly horrid circumstances I know) tomorrow night I get to cuddle my Mum!!

Have a great day, make the most out of it and in the words of another amazing blogger (found here) Do Today Well