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Saturday, 13 May 2017

How Cancer Has Changed Me



Over the past few weeks I've been having a bit of a rough time but I don't want to sit and complain about everything so I might try to write some separate blog posts about some of the things that have happened, but this post is all about me trying to fuel my pain/upset from this rough patch of my journey into something positive, although this experience is rubbish (insert rude words as appropriate) and I've had the toughest time going through it, I'm going to try and make this situation turn me into a better person, I have learnt so many things from being diagnosed with cancer and I want to use them to my advantage to turn me into a better person with a better outlook on life (or turn me into the perfect wife for Justin Bieber) I'm starting this by thanking and apologising to my friends and family, the people I've met along this journey(doctors, nurses, all people involved with the medical stuff, I've met celebs but can't really say this to them lol) thankyou so much for being by my side and for supporting me and looking after me so well, there have been times after diagnosis when I have been angry and I still probably take stuff out on you when I'm having a bad day, but you are the people who get me through each day, you look after me so well and my friends especially you cheer me up with your texts and with coming to visit me and wanting to spend time with me (even though I know  I can be  annoying), so thankyou for being here, I'm always here for you too. 

I have learned so many things from my experience with cancer,  another one is that you shouldn't waste time worrying about silly things (idk something like spilling a drink on your favourite top) the time you spend worrying over trivial things like that is useless because you can't change it, I think it's a natural thing for us to do and I try now not to but it's quite hard, there's times when I find myself thinking I'm sick of this now, I hate cancer,  why did this happen to me?, what did I do wrong?, but I know I can't change it however much I want to, I might be Queen Bieber but I can't take my cancer away, So I'm trying my hardest not to worry about trivial things (although tbh I'll probably still complain when my phone needs charging) 

another of the many things I'm trying to change about myself is to appreciate everything in life, even the smallest things because if you put them all together they're all one big thing, For example- I shouldn't take for granted living in a lovely area with the people I live with, because there are people in this world who are underprivileged, when I'm better I'm going to make it a goal to help people & animals but for now all I can do is just appreciate what I do have at the moment because even though cancer has taken things from me, I still have a lot more than other people.

I'm going to make this the last thing then stop rambling, cancer has taught me that I'm stronger than I think and even the most  horrible situations can't bring you down and stop you  if you don't let them, my cancer has taken so much from me, a few being my ability to use the left side of my body, nerve damage to my voice, missed out on finishing my first year A-Level exams and spending time with my fab friends at college but I have not and will not let it take my positivity and determination to beat this cruel disease, I take each day as it comes and just get through them because that's all I can do, and I have bad days but occasionally I do have good days, I just have  to persevere

I hope that anyone who reads this post can take  something from it, I want to turn my situation around to help others and to explain a bit more about cancer, thank you for reading.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Chemo 2.0

I'm going to be starting some more chemo which will help to attack the small new part in my brain and hopefully will help to kill the one in my spine too. This chemo is different to the last one I had (temozolomide) it's 3 different chemotherapy's together and it's called PCV. I will get my bloods checked on to see what my platelets are like to check if it is okay for me to have the chemotherapy, this is what the chemo is: 

•Procarbizine, CCNU(lomustine) & Vincristine

Each cycle of this is 6 weeks, on the first day I'll have Vincristine (intravenous) & Lomustine(4 tablets that I take on the day with the Lomustine) then the following day I'll start a 10 day course of Procarbizine tablets(which is 3 tablets a day). When that finishes I'll have no more treatment until the 6 weeks is over then I'll start the cycle again. There are obviously side effects to this medication, I'm most worried about the fatigue and losing my hair and also having aches & pains from the drugs as I don't want this to interfere with my physio because what affects me the most is having my independence taken away from me and not being able to walk/use my left arm so I'm determined to get it back, but with tiredness and aching from drugs this can be hard for me  to keep working so hard. Also, my hair is still growing back from my last lot of treatment and I'm concerned that I'll lose it all again after I just started to feel better about my hair because it was growing back. There are many other side effects but I'm not an expert so I've just mentioned a couple that I know already. I hate that these drugs are supposed to make you better but actually they can make you feel worse, although I know I just have to deal with it & get on with it otherwise I'm never going to beat this cruel disease. 

My advice to anyone who is starting cancer treatment  and anyone who is worried about the treatment & its side effects is to make sure although you still want to get on with everything ( like me with my physio) you have to give yourself time to rest and be kind to yourself. Make sure you have plenty of rest & also to keep your spirits up don't let the treatment stop you from doing things that make you happy. For me this is things like singing & seeing my friends; the treatment is rubbish but if you give yourself time to rest then it won't stop you from doing the things that you love and that make you happy. 

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Relapse

After my most recent MRI scan, we were told I had relapsed. There was a new spot in a different area of my brain that could be a bit that's broken off but we don't know, because of this, my consultant wanted to do a scan on my spine  to check, there was a tiny spot on my spine also so more treatment is needed now. I will start radiotherapy urgently and more chemo will be needed. The radiotherapy will be to my spine to attack that small spot before it has chance to cause any problems. This is a bit of a shock but it's nothing I haven't done before and it just means that I get to jam to my fave artists in radiotherapy again. 

Relapse is a word that a cancer patient doesn't really want to hear, but if there is anyone reading this who is going through a similar situation, I will put a few tips at the end that helped me when I was told this and things that always help me if I'm worried, some are my own strategies and others are Ones that my psychologist has taught me.

Before that, I want to just say thankyou to everyone at the hospital that was with us yesterday, I don't think any of us expected it but you were all there with us and you got us through, Thank you.

Tips:

Worry cars- try to visualise your worries as cars driving by, if you were stood on the side of the road, you wouldn't go and get into a random car, so don't choose a random worry to consume you, just let it drive by like a car. 
Mindfulness- there are many different types of mindfulness but there are lots of apps and things online that give you mindfulness exercises to do
Distractions- this is probably the main thing that helps me, having things to distract me. This can be focusing on things that you love such as listening to your favourite music or watching your fave tv show, or just arranging a night with some friends to take your mind off everything else that's going on.


Hope this helps someone :)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Medication

Something that I've never really talked about is the different medication that I have needed/still need. Obviously there's the treatment (which for me was both radio and chemotherapy) but there's a lot more as you may need medication to help with the side effects of treatment, I'll talk about a few different medications that I have had,


  • Anti-sickness(ondansetron & metaclopramide) - this helped with the sickness I felt from treatment, sometimes I just felt so sick but these tablets usually helped with that.
  • Bowel control-(docusate, bisacodol&suppositories) -chemotherapy can affect your bowels and these help with that problem(I'd rather not go in to a lot of detail about that haha) 
  • Painkillers- I'm not really on painkillers regularly but we have some there if I do need them, I take painkillers for when I'm aching in my wheelchair or if I feel a bit ill or have a headache, ones I've had before/still have are paracetamol, oxynorm, diclofenac and after surgery I did have codeine but ive not had that really, I take painkillers for when I'm aching in my wheelchair or if I feel a bit ill or have a headache
  • Septrin (prophylactic antibiotic) I have this two days a week to help fight infections, although this week I am unwell so it mustn't have worked that well!
  • Gabapentin(this is for nerve pain but I no longer take this)
  • Norethisterone(I used to take this when I was still having chemo to stop my periods but now I have finished chemo I am off them-which I hate(gosh boys have it so easy lol) 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

One year on...

today (15th march)  is one year since I was diagnosed and march 21st will be one year since surgery, to be honest this past year has been horrible (excluding some things) but looking back from where I was this time last year helps me to see how far I've come since last year, for example, when I came out of surgery I couldn't even sit up and now because I've been working so hard with physio I can do a lot more than that, obviously I still want to reach my main goals of walking and using my left arm again and that's something I'm trying to achieve now and working towards, but seeing how far I've come since last year shows me that I'm making so much progress and helps me feel a bit more positive about my physio, because this is a very slow process but looking back shows me that I will eventually get there it just takes time and a lot of hard work, my life was very constant before all of this, I went to college everyday and saw my friends everyday and then suddenly it all changed;I never anticipated my life to turn around the way it did but from the beginning I've been determined not to let it get me down,I think that's the most important thing to do in situations like this, it will only get you down if you let it  so you have to fight against that and keep positive however hard it may be. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

18th birthday

On  24th February 2017, I turned 18, I spent my 18th very differently to how I expected and I'm unable to do so many things that I would've wanted to do, however  I'm going to try to not get upset over this, I have to look on the positive side because being negative won't help me, through this journey I have found out who my real friends are and made some great new friends through the Teenage Cancer Trust so I spent my birthday with fab people who I know will always be there for me, although my birthday was different to how I had imagined it, I still had a great day and being with these people  reminded me that through this hard time I'm still surrounded by happiness,  my Mum is amazing, she never  fails to make me happy and she put so much effort into making my birthday special as she knew how hard this day was for me, everything was perfect and I had so much fun despite being unable to dance etc, hopefully this shows anyone in a position similar to mine that whatever you're going through and can/can't do, nothing is impossible and you can always find a way around things 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Goals for the future

This post is just about what my goals are for the future for example,  the biggest and most important goal to me is to get my mobility back, it's not that simple though and this is going to be a long and tough journey,  but I know that the energy that I would use on being upset about not being able to do stuff, I can use towards the energy of working towards my goals. Most of my goals are all physio related like to be able to do things more independently and get my mobility back is something that I'm really working towards but I do have a few other goals also, such as I want to regain my singing voice, my voice was affected with nerve damage from the surgery and I now struggle to hit certain notes, I find the lower notes easier than the higher so a goal is to regain my voice and be able to hit a wide range of notes as singing is something I'm passionate about. I think it's been good for me to set myself a goal as then it gives me something to focus on instead of getting caught up in all the horrible thoughts such as "I can't walk", "I want to walk", "my singing sounds weird", I can focus on achieving the goals rather than getting upset. I wanted to write about this to  kind of show people that even though you might have a goal that seems too hard, don't let yourself get upset because that energy should be used to concentrate on achieving the goal rather than getting upset about it.