Sunday, 27 February 2011

Introducing myself...

Hi there,

It's been approximately three months since I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I'm 42 years old and a mother to a gorgeously cute 13th month old baby. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. I had a very good prognosis, a small tumour, no spread etc, etc. and I was given two years of an injection called Zoladex and a daily dose of tamoxifen. I had no recurrences and generally proceeded to get on with my life in the best way that I knew how.

After six years agonising about whether to have a baby or not, I bit the bullet and my partner and I decided to try for a baby. I got pregnant fairly soon after, had a stress-free pregnancy and my son was born nine months later. But it was a traumatic birth. He spent the first month critically ill in intensive care, but fortunately fully recovered and after a few post-traumatic months, I began to learn how to become a mother for the first time, thinking that the nightmare of the earlier months were behind us. This unfortunately was short-lived. Six months after my son's birth and once I'd finished breast-feeding, I began to notice pain in the area of the breast that had been mastectomed. I paid my GP a visit. She assured me that it was a minor complaint. But the pain got worse. I visited a plastic surgeon. She referred me to oncology and after a number of scans, my worst fears were confirmed.

When I first diagnosed with primary breast cancer I was a much more precious person. I had always been an annoyingly healthy exercise junkie. My body was my temple. I resisted chemotherapy but told the doctors that if they really thought I should have it, I would comply. But they didn't think I'd need it, so I had hormonal therapy instead.

When I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, the word 'chemotherapy' sounded like manna from heaven to me. Something that would give me more time with my son. I no longer cared about the toxins, or the hair-loss, or the side-effects. If I had to drink the drugs, I would do it. I adopted a whatever-it-takes attitude and set about building myself up for the experience.

Once I got used to the chemo, I started to think about the rest of my appearance. Even though I generally still looked the same, the chemo had taken its toil on my hands and nails which were sore and looked unsightly. I had cysts on my eyelids and dark spots on my arms where the IV needle had been put in.

I didn't pay much attention to my hair, which before the start of chemo, had been a thick, short, lustrous afro. There was the possibility that it would fall out but I was encouraged to wear a cold cap just in case it only thinned.

But it thinned a lot. Until huge patches were falling out. I decided to shave it off. This looked fine and I got lots of compliments about how it suited me, but then it started to get patchy. I then decided to wear a headwrap. Which again, was fine for a while but then I got bored and began to miss having hair again. Perhaps it was time to get a wig. After decades of being an 'au naturel' laydee.I thought it would take me an afternoon to buy one, but a month later I'm still staggering around, worn down by chemo drugs trying to find that definitive afro wig. I don't want high glamour or to look like the girl from the latest hip-hop promo. I just want a wig that looks like my old hair - only I didn't realise that it was ever going to be this hard. And this is why I've started this blog...

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