Monday, 27 January 2014

47,700 - 50,000 women and 300 men are diagnosed with BC every year in the UK

I had a lovely soak in the bath last night, a place I can light my candles, switch off the lights, play some music and RELAX. A place I can take off my cotton jersey sleep cap and dunk into hot water, although it is cold to the back of the head on the bath tub. 

On pulling the plug, I was still very surprised to how many hairs were in the bath and noticed that my eyelashes are now thinning on the top lashes, my eyebrows are still here, but these are likely to thin over the next couple of cycles.

I'm 5 days post FEC#3 and finished this cycles anti sickness tablets yesterday and still have 3 days left of 7am immune injections -
Nivestim/Filgrastim to go (administered day 2-8 post each cycle). In layman terms it makes more white blood cells in your lower back to counterbalance the healthy ones the chemo are killing off).

I have the upmost respect to anyone who has to inject themselves everyday for the rest of their life. 

I had previously pointed out in an earlier blog post that I had found a breast cancer forum very unhelpful and after reflecting upon this, it was because I was virtually surrounded by people zapping my positivity and energy.

I am a strong advocate of the Macmillan website and I have since joined the Macmillan Community forums. It has been a positive experience in gaining a wealth of information, where mainly women are coming together to support each other. If you only had one website to access, this would be the one.

I've had the usual uncomfortable dry retching and lack of sleep, hot and cold sweats, stabbing pains to my head and stomach cramps but have breezed through this cycle better than the others. I really can't complain.

I'm still adhering to a good diet, even though it feels like a bit of a struggle, especially when I can imagine the taste of that gherkin pickle in a Mcdonald's cheesburger.... nom nom nom.

Drinking water with slices of lemon (keep a bowl of lemon slices in the fridge)
Drinking shots of wheatgrass when I feel rubbish
Weetabix for breakfast with drizzled honey or 1 banana to 2 eggs pancake mix
Stews (easy - just throw vegetables and stewing steak into slow cooker)
Fresh fruit and veg 
Fruit teas - no caffeine
Popcorn as a snack
Jelly (0% fat trace/8 calories)
Cottage cheese on oatcakes
Rice and Chicken
Natural Yoghurt

Links to check your bits and bobs.
Early detection is the key

Picture of the day :)

Another brilliant blog post

Thanks for reading and any comments welcomed and encouraged 
Anything you'd like to see included?
Tam xx

Thursday, 23 January 2014

FEC #3 - We're Cooking on Gas

Catch up from the last 6 days

Monday was a big occasion. I went and found Jim Hawkins from BBC Radio Shropshire as he features a segment in his show where he sits on a bench and randomly talks to people who find him. He posts the location of where he will be sitting and what time on his Twitter feed. I thought he'd be outside the library but I found him inside and completely forgot about being in a public place - I was on a mission.

I wanted to talk to him about early detection, particularly for people under 40 and my treatment plan and that you must be persistent with your GP if you have any concerns about lumps and bumps. It was aired on Friday 17th of January.

I revealed my new 'baldy' look to him and it was the first time I'd been in public since the dramatic hair loss. 

It was emotional ...... my head was revealed TA DA

Jim took photographic evidence and uploaded it to his Twitter account @jimallthetime
(highlight link and right click on your mouse and search with search engine - Go to http://us4.)

As they say in social work

1) Acknowledge
2) Recognise
3) Confront

and Move on AND that's exactly what I did.

I met up with some friends on Thursday evening - happy, bald and comfortable. 

I decided to give the wig an outing on Friday night, which would have been alright, except it felt uncomfortable in every way. I ran my fingers through it, I sprayed it with dry shampoo and fiddled and fiddled. I clipped bits up and then took them out. I spent hours trying to make it look as natural as possible. It's slightly Farah Fawcett esque and so quite glamorous for me, so I must have changed my top to go with the wig at least 3 times (absolutely ridiculous if you think about it)

I was hot, it was itchy and it felt like a dead ferret on my head - very self conscious indeed. 


Someone even questioned to whether I should be drinking at all - advice given -all in moderation - although I did wobble home "my bag". 

Hubster and I went to the Butterfly farm in Stratford upon Avon on Sunday and had a lovely relaxing lunch and walk. I was just the tonic we needed and such a beautiful clear day with blue skies.
Foolery, Sir, does walk about the orb like the sun: It shines everywhere. (Twelfth Night)

So now back to today 23/01/2014

The nurse who administered the FEC today gave me a copy of my bloods. I explained how I had completely changed my diet and she said to continue with what I'm doing,because its working :) My bloods are apparently very good.

Some people lose weight on FEC,some gain weight. From what I have read, FEC is full of steroids, as is the anti sickness medication, so I am happy to be below my starting weight but maintaining it, rather than being a bloater.

The slow cooker is great for stews and the Market Hall in Shrewsbury is such a fantastic place to shop. This week I made homemade hummus and an avocado dip to eat with celery sticks and tortilla wraps with freshly squeezed apple juice. I am following recipes, rather than throwing everything from the fridge into something and hoping it works and even thinking about baking some vegan/gluten free cookies. I have a notebook of recipes to try out and I'm genuinely excited about this. 
The motor on the blender and juicer may burn out soon with all the wear and tear ;)

I have a top up of Senokot (as I never want to experience constipation like before
 ever again)and some eye drops as my eyes are very itchy and watery. 

Love Tam

Monday, 13 January 2014

Chemo isn't just Chemo!!!!!!!

Since my diagnosis on 30/09/2013 I have a greater understanding of cancer and in particular cancer treatments. 

Its important to remember that Chemo isn't 'one size fits all'. 


It is this point that needs highlighting.

A chemotherapy drug can be given on its own or as a combination with other drugs. 

Macmillan have a comprehensive list of each individual chemotherapy drug, how each drug is given and possible side effects.

The side effects you will experience will entirely depend on the chemotherapy drugs you're having. 

In a previous post last year, I mentioned that my treatment was a combination regimen called FEC which is specifically used to treat breast cancer. 

FEC is made up of 
F - Fluorouracil (5FU) 
E - Epirubicin   (Pharmorubicin)
C - Cyclophosphamide

I am on the highest dose of chemotherapy of this regimen. With my treatment it is the E that has caused the hair loss and I have more E administered that the F & C.

Here is the link to the combination regimen/treatments:

and more specifically FEC

Each cycle of FEC takes 21 days (three weeks). At the end of the 21 days you start FEC cycle 2. You have 4 to six cycles.

I am having 6 cycles of FEC

My last cycle will finish on 17/04/2014

I will then start a course of daily radiotherapy for 10-14 days about 4-6 weeks after chemotherapy (time frame of treatment to be confirmed)

Apart from the significant hair loss, FEC #2 has felt easier to manage. The first 7 days of each cycle is when the side effects seem to hit me, which have been hot/cold sweats,nausea and tiredness. 

On each cycle around day 3-4 I lose any ability to taste food and I am sensitive to smells (tobacco smoke/perfume)which make me gag.

FEC#2 has been easier than FEC#1. BUT again some people find treatment harder at the start, middle or end (completely individual). As the chemotherapy has an accumulative effect I will update you as and when.

I have made a positive change in my diet, cut out all processed food from my diet, only have one coffee as a treat in the morning and eat fresh fruit and veg/raw/juicing. I have also managed to exercise a little this cycle(#2).

I lose half a stone cycle#1 and have maintained a weight lose of 3-4 lbs through healthy eating and juicing this cycle. With Triple Negative Breast Cancer, they recommend that you maintain your weight during chemotherapy.

For the last two weeks, my skin has been baby smooth (chemo glow) and I have read that this is because the chemotherapy drugs remove all the toxins from your body. However last night I had a spot breakout.

Day 1-7   Side effects and drugs/injections given to counterbalance nausea and low immune system (stay indoors due to feeling rough)

Day 7-14  Avoid people/public places - low immune system (stay indoors or go for a walk)

Day 14-20 Fairly normal activity

Day 21 Next cycle

Thanks for reading peeps x

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Immune System Blood Builder Booster Juice 

2 Beetroot
2 Carrot
2 Apple
1/2 Lemon

Super Blend Blood Builder Booster Juice

2 Apples
1/2 Cucumber
1/2 Lemon
1 tomato
4 Beetroot
1 Carrot
2 Broccoli heads
2cm of Fresh Ginger
1 teaspoon of Wheatgrass Powder (optional)

Jason Vale Juice Recipes

2 Apples
2 Stalks of Celery
1/3 Cucumber
1 Lime Peeled
3cm Chunk of Ginger
One Half Avocado

6 x organic Cucumbers
3 x Large Beetroot
2 Bunches of Spinach
1 Bunch Kale
Fresh Garlic and Ginger
One Bunch Organic Carrots
Stick of Celery

1/4 Small Pineapple
1/2 Celery Stick
1 inch Chunk of Cucumber
1 Small Handful of Spinach Leaves
1 Small Piece of Peeled Lime
2 Apples (Golden Delicious or Royal Gala)
1/4 Avocado
Ice Cubes

2 Golden Delicious or Royal Gala Apples
A Small Chunk of Carrot
1/2 Stick of Celery
1 Large Handful of Mixed Green Leaves (Watercress, Kale, Parsley, Spinach)
1 inch Slice of Cucumber
1/2 inch of Broccoli Stem
1 Handful of Sprouts
1/4 inch Unpeeled Raw Beetroot
1/4 inch Slice Courgette
1 Small piece of Lemon (peeled with pithe)
1/4 inch Slice of Ginger

Good for fighting infection

2 Apples
1/2 Beetroot
2 Small Carrots
1 Small Parsnip
1/4 Lemon

Morning Ginger Shot

1/2 Apple
2cm Chunk of Ginger

Blueberry smoothie/frozen dessert (easy peasy Tam's recipe)

125 x 2 Natural Yogurt Greek Style
2-3 Handfuls of Fresh Blueberries

Blend together

Eat with a spoon or  decant into a container to pop into the freezer (sorbet)

Spot the Difference Sunday

Spot the difference

The goal is to find a number of differences between two near-identical images.

Find 6 differences

Answers on a postcard

Friday, 10 January 2014

Bristol Stool Chart

How to 'go' from type 0 - type 7 in less than 12 hours
If you are constipated DO NOT then gorge your own body weight in fresh fruit and nibbles.

1.5 litres of water
Green tea
Natural yogurt
4 satsumas
Senokot x 4
1 small black coffee
Cottage pie

and let's not forget  

+ 1 litre of prune juice

I'm sure you are wondering why I posted not ONE but TWO posts on shit, (politely faeces) and in truth I probably should have limited it to one. 

BUT .................

Who knew there was a Bristol Stool Chart?


Why would you NOT share that?

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Bear with No Hair

Thursday 9th of January 2014 (Click image to enlarge and read)

The term "Fuzzy Wuzzy" originated in the 1800s.  British Soldiers gave the nickname, "fuzzy wuzzy" to the Hadendoa warriors that were a nomadic tribe along the Red Sea in Sudan. The Hadendoa were a formidable fighting force that gained the respect of the better trained British forces. The Hadendoa warriors wore their hair matted which gave a "fuzzy" appearance.  

The British were eventually victorious over the Fuzzy Wuzzies but with a greater fight than other enemies.

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem in 1890, Fuzzy Wuzzy that praised the Hadendoa warriors for their fighting skills. "So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan; / You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man"

Today Fuzzy Wuzzy is known more as the nursery rhyme many of us learned as children.

The Original Fuzzy Wuzzy Rhyme
Fuzzy Wuzzy
 Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, 
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair,
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy, was he?
Long establish nursery rhyme, Author unknown.
The last line had many variations:
"Fuzzy Wuzzy Wasn't so very Fuzzy, was he?"
"So Fuzzy Wuzzy was not fuzzy, was he?" 

Click image to enlarge

Home birth

When I was 18,  I worked in a nursing home as a part time evening care assistant and one evening I responded to an alarm bell from a lady with dementia. 

She was sitting on the toilet extremely agitated and confused with tears streaming down her face.

It was obvious she was in excruciating pain


Because she had a fully sized elephant poo wedged in her bottom.

Shameless selfie ;)

So just when you feel that Cancer has humiliated you enough, you spend well over an hour rummaging around in your own backside with a bottle of olive oil from the kitchen to assist with the proceedings.

'You should consider yourself a hero'

Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Tuesday 7th of January 2014
Hashtag: #100happydays
Day 1

Happy to be in bed as its wet and windy outside

Day two

Listening to XX/Mumford and the rain in the bath

Day three

Eating natural yogurt, blueberries and honey for breakfast - Yum

Day four

Architecture ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Day five

Playing with my new Christmas 'juggling boobs'.

Monday, 6 January 2014

MRI - Mild cognitive Impairment - Chemo brain

Once you've been diagnosed and you start your treatment plan, it doesn't just stop there. Chemotherapy alone can leave you with chemo brain and immense fatigue. And let me tell you that fatigue is very different to feeling tired. It's not a case of receiving treatment and then BANG your back to normal, like tickety boo. You have to deal with further side effects ... the joys ....

I say this as I have tried to write the word 'gold' for the last five minutes and couldn't remember the second letter ..

It was initially reported by female breast cancer patients that they were having problems with thinking, memory and concentration. They attributed these effects to chemotherapy, so called `chemo brain'. 

These negative effects are known by various names including:

  • chemo brain
  • Chemotherapy Cognitive Impairment
  • Post Cancer Cognitive Impairment (PCCI)
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Chemo fog
  • Cognitive dysfunction

It is not 100% certain that these effects are caused by chemotherapy, but there is no doubt that the impairment is real. Cancer Research UK reports that studies estimate between 17-50% of breast cancer patients and 47-69% of prostate cancer patients having chemotherapy have experienced some form of cognitive impairment (

Click image to enlarge

Saturday, 4 January 2014


Thursday 2nd of January
After eating lunch at home with my Mum post 2nd chemo, I was really impressed that I had not resorted to the duvet cover and more surprised that I was actually feeling really hungry.

Unfortunately I then spend most of the evening through to the early/late hours of the morning taking additional anti sickness tablets and Gaviscon and feeling like I wanted to vomit my insides OUT. My Hubster looked after me all night and I felt so bad for him going to work on a couple hours sleep.

Last night after having a temperature of 37.4 all day and feeling as cold as a frozen popsicle,  I went to bed at 20:00 and experienced the most erratic heart palpitations and sweated through two vest tops throughout the night, which prompted me to strip everything off the bed and myself this morning.

Saturday 4th of January
I initially woke up at 6:45 to remove the immune injection from the fridge, which is injected into the stomach at 7am and to take 1 anti sickness tablet, I then managed to sleep until 10:30am and took my second dose of a different anti-sickness tablet x 2 with two ginger biscuits (as the second tablets need to be taken with or after food).

I had a fried egg on toast for breakfast with a wheatgrass shot
A small slice of cottage pie with spinach for lunch/dinner
A Blueberry smoothie

I had an appointment for Acupuncture at 14:45 but after a ten minute consultation was postponed as my heart palpitations/blood pressure is too high and was advised to go home and rest and drink plenty of water and to return again next Tuesday, when the acupuncture can counter-balance the further side effects.

16:30 - x 2 more anti-sickness tablets 

My scalp is very tender and it feels like my hair has been in a high ponytail - the Croydon facelift - if I had some hair of course.

Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs work by attacking the cancer cells and disrupting their growth. Unfortunately, they can also affect the normal cells in the body, including the cells of the hair follicles (Macmillan)

Daniel Field has an informative guide designed to support those who have decided to undergo chemotherapy, before during and afterward.

Hair diary 

My hair is lifting out of the hair follicles and is thinning by the day. I'll be glad when its all lifted out and then I can give it a good buff and shine :)

However I'm feeling much better post chemo #2 than I did #1 - I hope I haven't spoken too soon.

Sunday 5th of January 

Oh , what a difference a day makes.

Quote of the Day:
You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf 
Joseph Goldstein

Thursday, 2 January 2014

FEC #2 - January 2nd

I had my blood tests taken on Friday the 27th of December labelled chemo priority.

I received a phone call this morning at 09:50 from the ward asking me to come in asap, on asking why - I had my bloods taken too early and they need to be taken again. 

Who advised me knowing the next date of cycle two? - only the ward, *expletive*. But I went in early with my Mum, popped my hand in a bowl of warm water to heat up my veins, had the cannula fitted and bloods taken.

Within the hour I was given the all clear to start FEC # 2, meaning my white blood cell count was normal. 

Ding ding - round 2 

Had a chat with a man opposite me, he has been in treatment for the last three years and said the only way to get through this is to stay positive and watch lots of old skool comedy

Image source:
Pink writing added by yours truly

He said I looked like his favourite singer. People of a certain age usually crack a comment about Tammy Wynette and I sometimes respond " you really wouldn't want me to sing for you". 

But he compared me to Sinead O'Connor (yes flattery will get you everywhere ole chap) and seemed suitably impressed that I wasn't wearing a wig. 

The nurse administering my injections even commented that I was lucky to have a "good shaped head"! *yes I'm quite impressed in the shape of my head too, my cranium/brain case has not let me down, no strange moles, lumps or bumps*

Just a little patchy - but still got hair at the moment 01/01/2014

Had my obligatory red pee afterwards and took a picture for my chemo diary and then came home and surprisingly ate quite well, rollmop herring, farmhouse ham, spinach, plum tomatoes, olives with garlic and bread + drank my own body weight in water. The red E (Epirubicin) drug has already disappeared from my system. 

Battling to keep my eyes open tonight and thought I felt a bit queasy, but ploughing through a drum of Twiglets, so I can't feel that bad. Mmm Marmite ....

If you are following a chemotherapy treatment plan at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, the Lingen Davies Centre can issue you with a carpark form which allows ten treatment plans = free parking. You are not limited to one car and I haven't driven for months, mainly as I don't trust myself at the moment behind the wheel, so rely on my Mum, Dad or Hubster for lifts to the hospital. You can not use the pass for other appointments to the oncologist etc. 

2 down and 4 to go.

YOLO peeps xx

Survival kit, Diet and Exercise

The sudden diagnosis of cancer doesn't come cheap, that's for sure. This is the stuff no one tells you about and to be honest if someone was struggling financially, this would seriously push anyone to their limit at an already fraught and stressful time.  You can get an NHS medical exemption card  by asking your GP to fill out the appropriate forms and send these off for you. Prescriptions are free to cancer patients in England. My exemption card is valid for five years. However saying that its not always feasible to be sitting in a waiting room with lots of ill people waiting to discuss with your GP all the side effects your experiencing and what medications you need.  However what is evident is the increase in day to day living and the costs incurred. 

Macmillan's new research report reveals the sheer scale of the financial burden faced by people living with cancer*

  • Four out of five cancer patients lose £570 a month
The cost of cancer is calculated as the loss of income and the additional costs experienced as a result of a person's diagnosis
  • One in three lose £860 a month in earnings because they are unable to work or have to cut down their hours
  • Six in seven see their monthly expenses increase by £270 a month
*Figures shown are averages

All advice suggests a change of diet (mainly fresh and organic) and then there is the cosmetic side of things, headscarves, cotton hat and wig paraphernalia.

I have included some frivolous items of choice to make me feel better, the candles and nice notebook. Because lets face it for two weeks out of every three you feel like you've done ten rounds with Mike Tyson and then been hit by a bus. 

 My work colleagues gave me an amazon voucher so I used it wisely and purchased a mannequin head and some music, which I have been constantly playing - positive vibes.

Here is a list of all the things I have needed so far and I'm sure I will probably be adding to it at a later date.

Cotton PJ's - for menopausal sweats hot vs cold
Candles for bath time/relaxation
Sleeping tablets (GP) & Nytol
Childrens soft toothbrush (change each chemo cycle)
Difflam oral rinse mouthwash for mouth ulcers (GP)  and Bicarbonate of soda/salt water (good for mouth ulcers)
Nice notebook to keep track of appointments, conversations at oncologist appointments, diet, medication, telephone numbers and side effects. 
Wig shampoo
Wide tooth comb to comb wig.
Mannequin head
Baby wipes
Headband - to cover your ears and back of head and pop on under a woolly hat
A cotton hat to wear in bed to keep your head warm and helps when shedding hair
Jersey sleep caps
Anti-bacterial hand sanitiser
Anusol  haemorrhoids cream- chemotherapy does give you piles and for this I hate you.
Gaviscon for heartburn
Senokot for constipation 
Ibuprofen for headaches
Sudocrem for dry soles of feet
Dermol 500 (GP)
Dermol 600 Bath Emollient (GP)
Fake eyelashes + glue
Eyebrow pencil
Eyebrow stencil kit
Pink blusher/bronzer
Tissues for the constant runny nose when you no longer have nasal hairs (
Cough sweets for cold like symptoms and sniffles and sore throats, nasal spray.
Moroccan Argan Oil - to hydrate your scalp and massage into your scalp to stimulate hair follicles 

Clippers - for shaving your head 


Try and cut out meat and dairy products or at least only makes up 20% of your diet

Drink plenty of water - at least 2 litres per day
Dried apricots/pumpkin seeds
Green tea/fruit tea
100% orange fruit juice lollies for sore throats (but not great when your taste buds have gone, I felt like I was chowing down on a cows tongue)
Manuka honey 25+  (tastes vile)
Wheatgrass powder 

Exercise/Complementary therapies

Walking to feed the ducks (my favourite)
Rebounding/mini trampoline (haven't managed to do this as yet, but its low impact on the knees and when I feel well enough will bounce like an uncontrollable bouncy person).