Saturday, 30 November 2013

Manuka Honey

I bought some Manuka Honey 10+ and 25+ strength. 

A low white blood cell count or Neutropenia, a common side effect of chemotherapy, is a blood disorder that diminishes the number of infection-fighting cells which destroy bacteria in the body, leaving sufferers open to developing illnesses and facing potentially life threatening situation where they are no longer well enough to carry on with the treatment needed to fight their cancer (source:

Resistance to infection is usually at its lowest 7-14 days after chemotherapy.

The Benefits of Manuka honey

Honey has long been known for its ability to destroy infectious bacteria. It has been recognised that Manuka Honey from New Zealand contains additional antibacterial properties not found in other types of honey, making it even more effective in treating infection. It also has more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants than ordinary honey.

Manuka Honey's main claim to fame has always been wound care and treating even the hardest to heal infections such as MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant conditions. It can also be used to treat other infections throughout the body.

When taken orally, It is effective in treating conditions such as stomach aches, stomach ulcers, sore throats, acid reflux disease, gastritis, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome (source:

Strength of Manuka Honey


Manuka honey is considered to be active Manuka honey if it has a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) and anything less than UMF 10 is considered to have a low level of activity. The ideal strength of Manuka honey for therapeutic use is between 10-18 and there is a significant difference between Manuka Honey and  Raw Manuka honey.

Also see Life Mel Honey

Hair Donation to The Little Princess Trust

I've decided to donate 12" of my hair to The Little Princess Trust and shave my head. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to experience hair loss as a child/teenager. 

Wednesday 4th of December at 2pm is the date. I have raised £25.00 to date through Justgiving.


For those with naturally long curly hair the market on the wig front is absolute pants. I ordered in three wigs which bared no resemblance to my own hair, needs must and all that malarky. I eventually opted for a long straight/slightly wavy brown model which I purchased with my NHS wig voucher and privately purchased a short straight one off ebay.

After Chemotherapy (March 2014)

My hair may grow back curlier (ffs), straight or indeed a completely different colour. You're probably all thinking it's just hair, it will grow back and indeed it will, but this has been my huge bugbear of mine since my diagnosis.

I understand that I have been lucky in catching a fast growing cancer and yes I would rather have my health, BUT can't I have my hair too?

I have invested in fake eyelashes and an eyebrow stencil kit. The last and only time I have ever tried to put on fake eyelashes I gave up as it landed on my right cheek. I'm not high maintenance as those that know me ... know

I have also purchased a deep red couture lipstick to "frame my face", which I have been trying out recently on nights out.

Dainty Doll lipstick in 001 Couture

Rene of Paris Amore Monofilament wigs are indeed the most realistic wigs out there.


4th of November - Harvester/Egg Collection

We arrived at 10:15, got changed into a hospital gown and my slippers and had a cannula fitted. I've had nothing to eat and drink and done a pregnancy test that morning. The blood tests and scans every other day leading up to this, suggested that there were 6 eggs lurking up there, but only about 3-4 eggs amounting to anything to warrant stealing.

I've had friends who have been through IVF/fertility treatment and told me stories of being slightly out of it but still aware of their surroundings

"you know somethings going on down there, but you can't feel anything"

"I was listening to some tunes and when I winched they topped up the medication to chill me out"

The fertility consultant came in and explained that he was going to inject something into the cannula which felt like I'd had a couple of vodkas.

and that was the last thing I remembered


Next thing I knew I woke up next to my Husband (sitting on a chair next to my bed), being asked by a nurse to whether I would like a cup of tea - Bonus

I was never one for a cup of tea, (I don't drink milk) more a coffee person - BUT in hospital - It has to be TEA

I then got changed and went into a room to speak with our fertility nurse Gwen and was informed that they had managed to collect three eggs and that they would be left overnight to fertilise.

Fingers crossed

30th of October - Results

My Husband and I are sat in the waiting room waiting to see my consultant/surgeon. I'm looking over to the lady opposite and surmise that she is wearing a wig (What the **** is happening to me?).

I've become obsessed with hair and taking plenty of photographs of mine whilst I have it. The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital have run trials in the past on using the cold cap and no longer offer this as an option to their patients.

Through this link you can search for scalp cooling in the UK. Enter your postcode to find your nearest hospital

Another woman across the waiting room said " I have followed you around appointment after appointment and I half expected you to be on the ward on my day of surgery".

We exchanged the fact that her surgery had been on the Tuesday and mine was on the Thursday. I had obviously been in such a daze not to have notice her, although she was so friendly and familiar. She said I had stood out to her whilst we waited outside x-ray  for the mammogram as she said I was much younger than anyone else there. I explained that I had a lumpectomy and the next course of action was chemotherapy and that I was gutted to be losing my hair, followed by radiotherapy. She said that she had come for her first mammogram (as I think that cancer screening is offered at the age of 50 in the UK) and it was only then that they had detected an anomaly, whisked into surgery and would now need radiotherapy (no chemo involved).

We initially went in to see my Breast Cancer Care Nurse Specialist and a nursing student in her second year at Staffordshire University and they checked the wound site and then called in my Consultant to have a gander at his handy work, which my husband and I are exceptionally pleased with.

The incision across my right boob is 3.5 inches in length
The incision made for the sentinel lymph node biopsy just below my right armpit is 3 inches in length

He explained that it was Grade 3 invasive breast cancer. He had removed the margins of the tumour site and they were clear and that the Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy was also clear.

Staging and grading of Breast Cancer

I tested Negative for ER status and Negative for HER2 Status. I am still awaiting the results to whether I am PR Negative status. This determines whether I take Tamoxifen for 5 years post chemotherapy and radiotherapy or whether I am Triple Negative, which is found in about 1 in 5 with breast cancer (15-20%).


Triple Negative Breast Cancer

I am now waiting for an appointment at the Lingen Davies Centre at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to discuss the side effects of chemotherapy and the chemotherapy treatment I will be having. All appointments from here on in will be in Shrewsbury - Hurrah.

All I can think at the moment is FEC off ......

FEC Chemotherapy

Friday, 29 November 2013

Week commencing the 7th of October - a rough week

I picked up my sicknote from my GP practice and it read "Breast Surgery", which technically was right, but I just couldn't get it out of my head that the HR department at work were probably thinking I was on a jolly getting my boobs done. I was prescribed some sleeping tablets and I proceeded to pickle my own head with the amount of shite on the intraweb, which caused immense anxiety, sleepless nights and an impending doom which followed me around like a bloody storm cloud.


Fertility treatment

The fertility medication has been delivered and the Fertility Clinic has given us a DVD and a sharps box.

We watched the DVD on how to mix the medication, but just wanted to make sure, double check that we were doing it right, so we found this link easier to follow to mix the Menopur.

You can also find youtube clips on how to administer fertility medication into your stomach/fatty bits, medically known as subcutaneously.

I know it helped us 

Each pile is for the evening "stabbing". 6 Ampoules to 1 vial of water, divided into two needles see

The pack in front is the morning injection. See

17th of October - Lumpectomy

Wide local excision/Lumpectomy/ Breast conserving surgery + Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (SLNB)

I arrived at The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford at 07:30. I checked in and found my bed and was told that I would be the first person up to surgery. My fabtabulous Husband helped me into my gown and my sexy surgery socks trying to keep my mind off the inevitable and then I had a cannula fitted. I had NOT been looking forward to this day and had a bee in my bonnet that I was going to wake up mid surgery. The Anaesthetist tried to comfort me and explain that I would be given something to help me feel calm.  I was quite tearful at this point anyway but when my husband left me by the anesthetists door, there was no stopping me. There's something very vulnerable about lying on a hospital bed being wheeled into the unknown.

Whilst in surgery I will have a Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, where blue dye is injected into the breast. This makes your faeces and urine blue after surgery (and even now as I am writing up these posts, my right breast is still blue, the date today is 29/11/2013). The blue dye can be visible from a few days to a couple of months later and I'm sure the Breast Cancer Care Nurse is sick and tired of all the Smurf jokes.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy is another way of finding out whether cancer cells have spread into any of the lymph nodes under the arm. During your breast cancer surgery, your surgeon injects a small amount of blue dye into the area of the breast around the tumour. Sometimes they also inject a mildly radioactive fluid known as a tracer. The dye drains away from the breast to the lymph glands close to the area. The surgeon can see when the dye reaches the first group of lymph nodes. They call these the sentinel nodes. The surgeon removes about 1 to 3 of these nodes and sends them off to the lab to see if they contain cancer cells. If the surgeon thinks any of the sentinel nodes look as though they contain cancer cells, they will remove the node and the nodes around it. Usually, the operation is then over, and you and your surgeon will get the results of tests on the sentinel node a week or so later. (Source:

The last time I had been under General anaesthesia and into surgery was back in 1998 at the age of 26, when I had my tonsils extracted and had what I term as "an adverse reaction to Morphine".

I confirmed my name and d.o.b and spoke briefly with my surgeon. I was then asked what my favourite tipple was and as I was slurring "Shailor Jerree" I was under.

Wednesday 16th of October Fertility Clinic followed by Isotape Scan

The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
Fertility Services

Bloods taken x4 vials
Injection of Centrorelix

Gwen, the most fabulous Fertility Nurse, administered my first stabbing of Centrorelix.  I brought it in from home after having all my fertility drugs delivered and one particular box being housed securely in the fridge for later use. My husband will be administering this subcutaneously as I can't bring myself to do it.

Link to Administration of a subcutaneous injection:

The Princess Royal Hospital, Telford
X-Ray Department

Nuclear Isotope Scan/Sentinel Node Imaging
CT Scan

My appointment letter read " The examination will involve you receiving a small injection of a radioisotope followed by some pictures"

Sentinel Node Imaging is carried out on the day or on the morning of your operation

A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the breast at the edge of the peri-areolar tissue, which is the darker skin around the nipple. The material is carried into the armpit by the lymph vessels and trapped in the sentinel node(s) which can then be seen on a scan after a short time delay. The scan shows where the sentinel node is located and not whether it contains tumour cells or not.

For me personally this injection stung like hell but was bearable, however I'm not sure the nurse holding my hand would agree. The nurse manipulated the material by rubbing the area of the injection site.

10th of October


The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
Fertility Clinic

6 vials of blood taken at Elizabeth House
Fertility Scans


Princess Royal Hospital, Telford
Pre Operative Assessment Appointment

Provide a pot of urine
4 vials of blood taken
Height and Weight
Blood Pressure
Complete a Health Questionnaire

Although I had told a couple of people who were aware of "the cyst" over text about my diagnosis, I decided to post it to Facebook (as you do) and decided to raise money through the "Stand up to Cancer" fundraising event, whilst telling everyone on my friends list in the process that I had been diagnosed. Everyone was incredibly supportive and donated so generously. The King's Arms in Church Stretton raised £210.00

I have yet to honour my sponsors but they are all aware that I will be Standing up to Cancer after my chemotherapy treatment. TBA

1st week in October - The phonecalls from Sue and the lovely Welsh Gwen

I received a telephone call from my Breast Cancer Nurse querying a conversation we had yesterday, which I don't remember at all, about my Husband and I trying for a child.

Sue mentioned that chemotherapy treatment could induce early menopause and asked if I would like to be referred to fertility services and if so, this would have to happen very quickly and prior to chemotherapy.

Within a couple of hours a lady called Gwen from Fertility Services phoned. She was a straight talking , no nonsense Welsh woman, asking for my husband and I to come into the Fertility department that week to discuss the ethical/medical/ authorisation forms to complete for the Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority.

Gwen had already stated that this appointment was quite laborious and could indeed take all morning. I knew she meant business when she said she would make us coffee and could ask for a break at anytime.
The question on the form asking "In the event of your death or mental capacity" hit a nerve, especially as I was still waiting for my breast surgery appointment to come through.

Other questions that arose

Do you want eggs or embryos frozen and the differences
How many eggs they would hope to collect
The procedure in collecting/harvesting the eggs

What I did find out was that I am too old for IVF treatment and that without my breast consultants tireless work, this service would not exist for childless couples diagnosed with cancer.  We had a discussion with the Embryologist and decided to freeze embryos rather than eggs. He explained that he would like to collect six, but there may only be one or even none. He also outlined other options to consider in the future, but to discuss this at a later date, if that was applicable. They will keep the embryos on freeze for one year and then we could return as private patients in the future.

We were then given a timetable/ protocol letter to follow to the tee.

The standard delivery of fertility treatment is completed within 6 weeks.
Due to the urgency of our situation, we completed a cycle of fertility treatment in 2.5 weeks.

and again

It was just too much to take in..........

So the following day we went to Bath for the weekend.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October

Monday 1st of October

Ironically today is the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I'm on a mission to get everyone I know to have a feel of their lovely jubbly wibbly wobby bits.
Spread the word

Went into work
tried to keep it together
didn't keep it together 
managed to keep it together, long enough to write a letter, a couple of emails and hand over my caseload
lost the plot
kept it together
lost the plot some more
cried some more
Pulled myself together
and eventually took myself home

Like those before me and those to come, only you can fathom the magnitude of those words and what the future holds. 

I think the recent Macmillan advert typifies (if that is the right word to use) how I felt when I was diagnosed and the impact it had on my Husband, Sister, Mum and Dad. 

Being told down the telephone that your wife, daughter and sister has breast cancer can not be easy and I can't even imagine what went through their minds in that very moment.

More information can be found at

or watch the campaign on Youtube 

Macmillan Cancer Support - Not Alone

Monday 30th of September - Breast Clinic RSH appointment

30th of September 

My Husband wanted to attend the appointment for the breast clinic at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford. He asked me on more than one occasion if I wanted him to come with me. I had scheduled my hospital appointment around my working day and after all it was only a cyst...

So off to work for a couple of hours, attended a very cheerful and upbeat team meeting and felt quite liberated wearing jeans and my Joules bright green gilet, not normal attire but then I was off to the hospital for a 10:40 appointment.

I arrived early and went into see a GP who drew a black cross on my "lump" and then told me that I would need an ultrascan. She turned to the Health Care Assistant and said "and also a mammogram" and then retracted her words by saying "ultrasound only ............ too young for a mammogram".

I pootled down the corridor and got changed into my super cape and went into the ultrasound scan room.

As soon as he said Mammogram, something inside of me changed, I started to worry, not panic but again a niggle, I sensed something was amiss. Just couldn't put my finger on it .... actually I could and it was situated on the top of my right tit.

I sat outside the x-ray room with my super hero cape on with four other women all about ten years older than me and wearing their super hero capes and realised that not only should I have accepted my husbands offer, as I really wanted and needed him to be here holding my hand but sometimes It's OK to be scared and let you guard down.

Practical advice
Always take someone with you

The mammogram didn't hurt.
I've heard tell that if your boobies are of a bigger size, it doesn't hurt so much having them squeezed between two sheets of glass/perspex. I haven't investigated whether this is a myth or indeed a fact, but I've just written it down to look into it further tomorrow and google the heck out of it.

Everything past this point is a little vague - my memory is appalling at the best of times

I was ushered into a room to speak with a consultant who had reviewed the mammogram results and said that there was an abnormality in my right breast and that he was going to perform a needle core biopsy.

I found myself lying on my back, having a little blub, trying to comprehend the enormity of what the heck was going on around me, whilst trying to engage in a perfectly normal conversation with the nurse about joining the local outdoor walking/running club which I had planned to do that evening. She explained that they would now be numbing the area with a local anaesthetic for the biopsy. A small incision was made and the sensation felt like someone stapling my chest six times. This did not hurt but I think the NHS should provide a pair of headphones to drown out the sound ....

The consultant explained that it would take about 45mins to 1 hour for the results and to come back at 12:45

I arrived at 12:45 and was walked into the consultants room. I felt like I was going for a job interview as there was a woman stood directly behind him and she was introduced as Sue, a Breast Care Nurse ... (alarm bells)

And then he said ..

"There's no easy way of saying this ..... You have breast cancer"

Blub blub

Monday 16th of September - Emergency GP appointment

Monday 16th of September

I called the GP practice at 8am and explained to the secretary that I had found a lump and although I was sure it was nothing, I would like someone to have a look at it.

I had previously been heavily chastised by a GP six months previous when I had attended the walk in clinic. I happened to mention it  to my sister on a Friday night catch up over beverages that I had found a lump in my left breast and I was a bit worried about it and she promptly drove me and waited three hours with me on a Saturday morning.

So I was really impressed that the secretary offered an appointment that very morning and then I tried to contact work to explain that although I had just had two weeks off work enjoying my holibobs, I would be in later than expected due to an emergency appointment.

The GP said she thought it was a cyst but would refer me to the breast clinic. She explained that the waiting time for the appointment was two weeks, she mentioned something about a needle and draining ........... and off I went.......

In the beginning - How it started

Thursday September 12th 

We were on holiday and staying with the in laws

So here I was tiptoeing across the bedroom onto the landing into the bathroom with my hands securing my boobs in the hope that THAT floorboard wouldn't creak. As I lowered myself down onto the toilet seat, I felt a lump above my right breast. I registered the lump and as quickly as I found it,  I put it to the back of my mind ... well sort of.

Friday 13th September

I woke up and went to the bathroom to tickle the pickle and brush my teeth, the thought of "the lump" was still niggling me and I was hoping that it was but a dream, but "the lump" sure enough was still there. In a split second I refused to acknowledge it and in another called my husband to the bathroom to check it out.  He asked me to make an emergency appointment on Monday to see my GP, back in the UK and as usual I was bitching about taking more time off work, particularly as we were coming to the end of our two holiday and didn't want to piss off work on my first day back.