Hold onto your hats, it's going to be a bumpy ride! Thank you for stopping by and joining me for a while. I've recently been juggling (as all mums do) more balls than I am comfy with, and just when I felt like a professional juggler - BAM!! I get hit with this - BREAST CANCER!! I'm hoping that writing this blog will serve as some sort of therapy for me, to get me through this 'rough patch' ahead.... if it's interesting, entertaining, thought provoking or helpful to anyone else out there then that's an added bonus. If you like what you read, please visit again or click the "join" button below, and feel free to spread the word.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Wiggle your toes....

Wiggle your toes next time the needle goes in. That's my top tip for coping with any future injections or blood tests you have to endure. I am becoming an expert at this game. Sorry but this post will be brief as I just typed a long one and then promptly lost it all! Grrrrrrr! Very annoying.So this morning I successfully injected myself with GCSF, a drug to boost production of my white blood cells. I felt a huge sense of pride that I DID IT! No fuss. No tears. I've got to do the same again, 4 more days in a row and then that's it, for this chemo cycle anyway. Possible side affects include bone ache, cos my bone marrow will be working over time. I'll take bone ache over 3 nights in hospital any time, thanks!!!SO, SCHOOLS OUT FOR EASTER!!! Whoop whoop us mums did cry yesterday...when the sun was shining. Today I would think, like me, the jubilation has died down as the bickering (amongst the kids) has begun. It would really help if the sun was shining again, but typically the weather is letting us down. My 2 little darlings have been snapping at each other ever since they got in my bed at 7.30 this morning. She's done painting, he's played on his DS, they've played on the Wii nicely, but briefly together. Now it's time for Lego. Lego is the best and does keep them happy for quite a while.I am lucky enough though to have a very keen Mum, who relishes being a grandparent, and she is taking my 2 off my hands for 2 whole nights next week! Thats's my mum and her amazing man, aka Grandad Chris. Everyone should have one! But I feel rather strange about farming them out when I don't have to be at work. What on earth will I do with myself!? Apart from having a Heart Scan at 3pm on Wednesday I have nothing planned. Sigh! ;). I can here your wistfuls sighs from here. Xx

Friday, 30 March 2012

Hair today gone tomorrow....

The last 3-4 days my hair has been shedding a fair bit.   I had been hopefully thinking it would slow down or stop, but it’s the not knowing that has finally got to me.   Plus, this morning on the way to the hospital I had a bad headache and I just could not bear the thought of sitting with the cold cap on for 4 hours!!   Wondering and waiting to see if I will lose all my hair has been causing me considerable stress and worry, and it has been falling out bit by bit anyway, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Enough wondering and worrying, I declined the cold cap at chemo today and it was such a relief!!!   My DH has a set of clippers he uses regularly on his own head, so very shortly he will be shaving my head! And maybe we can even get the kids to help!  They are naturally quite worried about having a baldy for a mum, so hopefully if they can see it happening or even help it will be less of a shock for them.

Now that I have decided what to do and am taking action, at the moment at least, I feel good about it.   Once its done I am sure I will shed a few tears and it will take a while to get used to the chilly feeling!    My DH will obviously have to get his head around it too!   As he rightly said “I look at you more than you do!”
Hours later………

The deed is done!   My DH has shaved my head to a number 4.  He had to be brave too.  So I now look like I am joining the army, or like I’m ready to join the Gay Pride March (sorry I’m not usually one for stereotyping people but in this case, it’s true – see pic!)

I’m proud to say I haven’t shed a tear at all.  I feel liberated and would happily walk around with my nearly bare head on show, if it wasn’t so flaming chilly!!   It is very short at the back, and not very attractive, so this morning I braved my first trip out wearing a wig!!   I have to say how grateful I am to Marilyn at The Olive Tree for lending me a couple of wigs to tide me over until my new one arrives.   The Olive Tree is an amazing oasis of calm for people like me where we can  have lots of lovely complimentary therapy treatments and support.  There is always someone there to talk to and its just one minute walk from the hospital where I have my chemo – perfect!  

So I was very brave going out on the school run for the first time wearing Honey – she is a honey blond bob, a little too ‘big’ for my liking but not bad.   My lovely mates at the school playground were very supportive.  Honey is rather itchy though, especially at the back of my neck.  I’m much happier with a head scarf or hat on, but then my appearance does tend to scream “cancer patient” rather loudly! – it’s much easier to blend in with a wig on although I feel more self conscious.

My kids have been a bit unsettled by my dramatic change of appearance.  They didn’t get off to sleep til nearly 9.45 p.m last night! But that could be Easter excitement too.  They definitely prefer it when I cover my head up, though my son (age 7) is rather embarrassed by it all, bless him.   It will take them time to adjust.

So that’s 2 Chemo sessions down – 4 to go!! Whoop Whoop!!   Today I feel pretty good. No sickness or nausea.   I’m tired – but what’s new there then!!

Tomorrow will bring a new hurdle - injecting myself in the belly with a drug called GCSF which will boost my white blood cells and hopefully avoid another stay in hospital after day 10.  I'll let you know how I get on! xx

Friday, 23 March 2012

Home time!!

After one night in A&E I was moved to a ward but in a side room. I had to keep visitors to minimum and as there's so many colds around at the mo, each of them had to wear a face mask when in the room with me. It's been very isolating and sometimes scary, but thanks to the antibiotics and other drugs they have been pumping into me, I'm all better now and ready to go home!!! Whoop whoop!! 3 nights in hospital is plenty thanks.
I am SO sick of needles. Today I had one stuck in my left boob to drain off some fluid built up since my op, that didn't bother me cos that boob is actually numb now!! Then a needle stuck in my armpit 3 times so drain off fluid from there - which I didn't even know was there til this morning! On the ultra sound scan any fluid shows up as black masses but when the doc tried to drain the fluid off (2 times) nothing would come. So for about 2 heart stopping minutes I thought that big black mass was another tumour!!! But then he gave it one last try and thank god, liquid started to flow into the syringe! Haaaaaaa ... And breath.
So my White blood cells are very high now as they've been given a boost, my 'obs' are normal and roll on 5.30pm when the Hubster is coming to get me!!
I must say I have been really happy with the level of care and treatment I've had. The NHS is doing a great job and we should really be grateful for it. I am very bad at keeping up with the news but I know that it's all about to change and the Government are going to wreck it all. We should all care and do what we can to save the NHS!! I never dreamed I would find myself where I am today but there you go, we are all vulnerable to illness and disease and the NHS is one the best medical services in the world! If you want to find out more about joining the fight to save the NHS then visit the 38 degrees website.

I'll get off my soap box now.

I could have a whinge about the hospital food, but I am sure they do their best on a very small budget!! Here's some pics of the delights you can look forward to - let it be motivation for you to do all you can to keep fit and healthy!!!
My friends and family have been complimenting my hospital diet with homemade veg soup, healthy snacks and scrummy treats so don't take pity on me too much!
Lastly just to update you on the chemo hair situation - my head hair is thinning a wee bit but I'm confident the cold cap was a success. Eyelashes and eyebrows are still in tact. Thursday 29th is chemo no 2 so we shall see how my body deals with that! My oncologist can give me more drugs to avoid a repeat of this weeks drama.
So, watch this space... And thanks for reading!! Xxxx

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

My adventures in A&E

Well life took a rather dramatic turn yesterday! Monday night I had a really bad headache, was a good girl and took my temp before taking some paracetomol, went to bed and felt ok. Then Tuesday after the school run I had a headache again and started to feel cold and shivery. When I commenced my chemo they gave me a special "fast pass" which I should use at A&E if I was feeling unwell. So I rang my hospital where I'm having the chemo and they told me to go to A&E without delay and use my Fast Pass. Sounds like something you get at Disney World. Well this has been rollercoaster ride, without the fun!!
I rushed through A&E which made me feel important but had to wait a while. It's the first time I've been. It's another world. Doctors and nurses, porters and ambulance men all rushing about, busy busy. You HAVE to ring your bell to get their attention! They put a canular in my arm and took my blood, rushed it off for testing. They were looking to see if I was Neutropenic, which I realise now, I am. This means my neutrophil count is zero, as is my White blood cell count - meaning my body has no way to fight infection. This is a result of the chemo dose I had 13 days ago now. Apparently the Oncologist might be able to change my dose a bit to avoid this happening again. In the meantime I am stuck here! For 3 days. Possibly more I have just been told!!
I have spent the night in A&E. Luckily (every cloud...) cos of my condition and have shut away in a side room to minimise the risk of further infection. This is far more preferable to being 'out there'. Out there is constant noise, machines beeping, nurses talking, patients moaning and groaning. One poor person keeps having fits and makes a scary moaning sound throughout. Another lady of 95 was calling out yesterday, constantly "pleease help me!". The nurses were helping her but there is little they could do to calm her down it seemed.
At 4am today another lady was screaming "don't go, don't go" over and over. A&E is a scary place! I do feel somewhat protected though behind my door. I've even got an en-suite shower room!! Apparently, when a side room becomes available on a ward, they will move me. So, to help me get better they are giving me intravenous anti-biotics and an injection to raise my blood count.
Being told you are neutropenic is really rather scary. I'll let you google it. But I'm in the right place and the drugs appear to be helping - my temp is not as high now (39 when I was admitted).
I'm still not sure if I actually have an infection. They are going to investigate the wound where I had my lumpectomy. So watch this space for more news as I've done this blog with the mobile app. I seriously would be lost without my iPhone!!!
I attach some pics of the culinary delights they have here :)

Friday, 9 March 2012

Chemo - It's a Rollercoaster ride!

It’s now 3 days since my first chemo session.  Looking back on it I’m thinking it wasn’t that bad.   The actual administering of the drugs by intravenous injection took about 30 minutes with the nurse slowly pushing in the plunger on each syringe to allow the drugs to mix in with the saline solution being fed into my veins.    The drugs had been kept in the fridge and some were coloured red.  This definitely looked and felt like poison being pumped into me especially as I could feel the cold creep of it spread up my arm.  Not very nice, but essential nonetheless.   The veins in my wrist started to ache and hurt a bit so the nurse laid a heat pad over my wrist which really eased this discomfort.

The worst part was getting used to wearing the cold cap.    Before putting it on you have to make your hair wet with leave-in conditioner, this helps the cold to get to the roots easier.    I was sat in a very comfy chair, with special squishy seat pad, I would think specifically designed to avoid pressure sores on your buttocks!  Then the nurse put the cold cap onto my head.  It was already filled with freezing gel.   I thought “ooh, chilly but not too bad”, then she leant down on it more to make sure it fit really well and then she bought down this really tight strap which fit very snuggly under my chin.  See the glamorous pic – this is my best brave smile.  
I pretty much felt like I had my head in a freezing cold vice, the strap cutting into my chin underneath.  I new it needed to be tight though.  My eyes started to stream and a few tears rolled down my cheeks.   Deep breaths were needed.  A dear friend of mine had reminded me of the power of positive thinking and visualization.   I tried my best to think of warm summer breezes and a happy picnic scene, ripe juicy fruit, fat buzzing bumble bees, the kiddies laughing with all my troubles behind me.  It did help, but not initially!

 I wore the cold cap for about 4 hours. All in attempt to hold onto my crowning glory.  After the first hour, I barely noticed it thank goodness.   The pipe that links it to the machine is insulated but I asked for a towel between it and me to stop my shoulders from freezing.   Anyone going to give the cold cap a go I would say wear some very warm and comfy clothes and seriously, brace yourself for that initial half hour, it does get better though.

 I spent the 4 hours in my squishy chair reading magazines (all bought for me by friends), a book (Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert) and listening to some tunes on my beloved iphone.    I had a brief chat with the nurse.  This didn’t really go that well though as she asked “Do you have children?” I nodded but was unable to answer properly as my resolve to be strong promptly crumbled and I blubbed into my hands, then searched frantically in my handbag for a tissue.  Its tricky to do stuff with your left hand if you’re right handed and your right hand is out of action.   I’m having all my drugs into my right hand as they can’t use my left because that’s the side my operation was on, and I’m a lymph node short on that side.   It’s okay though, this blubbing was bound to come at some point during the day.  I got over it quickly enough.

The room where I was having my chemo is on the 6th floor of the hospital I was born in. All those years ago.   The room has large picture windows with a view of the sky, luckily blue on that day and planes taking off from the airport.   There were 5 of us patients that morning, receiving our life-juice.  I was the youngest there by far.   The only other woman patient sat across from me.  She was in her 60s I would say and her daughter about my age kept her company.   I clocked her wig as soon as I saw her.   It looked okay but you could just tell it wasn’t real hair and was quite short and spiky.   She was very proud of it and told me how the NHS do great ones (which you pay a £60 prescription charge for).   During my first half hour with the cold cap, she was being given her chemo drugs and I heard the nurse ask her if she had tried the cold-cap?   Her reply was “No why bother, it’s all going to come out anyway!”   I’m assuming she meant to say this quietly but unfortunately I heard.   Oh Marvellous! I cried (again) in my head.  Why am I doing this to myself?!

The main reason I will persevere with keeping my hair is for my children.  I think I’m pretty much okay with the hair loss now, but I just know that my kids are really quite freaked out at the idea of a bald mummy, they mention it every few days and they are definitely worrying about it even though I have reassured them it probably won’t happen.  And even if it does, they don’t have to see it.

The hospital staff looked after me very well that day.   I had hot drinks and a hot lunch – although the veg had been cooked to death, all nutrients sapped from it and poured down the plug whole with the cooking water no doubt!  Why does hospital food have to BE like that?!

They sent me home with a bag of more drugs to take.   Mostly to stop me being and feeling sick.   I’m on my last day of steroids today, thank god.  I am sure it is these horrible things that have made my tummy blow up like a balloon, my jeans no longer fit me!  Here with go with another side effect of chemo – weight gain.  Oh joy.   I am doing my best with being active.   I’m under strict orders from loved ones to get out and walk every day.  Which definitely lifts my mood, but is rather tiring!  I am such a lightweight now.  Talking of my mood, this has gone up and down like a rollercoaster.   I hate feeling sorry for myself but sometimes I really struggle to just stop feeling like I’m in a miserable black hole.   Everyone is being so positive.   “Yay, you’re one down – only 5 to go!” Yipp-yarr (dead pan voice) I cannot wait.

The best thing that’s happened in the last 3 days is watching my little family all pull together around me, hubbie and the kids all cleaned the house yesterday and are being so sweet.   Also I’ve signed up to do Race for Life on 23 May 2012.  This will be one week before my last chemo session, so I figure I’ll be good to go at that point. It’s only a 3 mile walk (I might jog a wee bit if you're lucky)!  If you want to join my team or sponsor me, please click the button at the top of the page.
 I'm visiting the hairdresser on Tuesday, so watch this space for news of my new do!!    It needs to go a bit shorter so that its easier to wash and care for - no hairdryers and minimal styling products allowed.  Should I take the plunge and buy a wig, or just hope for the best?!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Keeping a cool head

I am starting my chemotherapy tomorrow.  There is little else on my mind at the moment, it pretty much consumes me, day and night.   I’ve been struggling to get off to sleep due to the cogs whirring and going into overdrive as soon as my head hits the pillow.   I thought that the Oncologist told me to steer clear of any health supplements and alternative remedies. So, being a good girl I had put my Neal’s Yard Remedies “Sleep” roll-on to the back of the bathroom cabinet and ever since have had trouble getting off. Today I spoke to my Breast Care Nurse and she said I was mistaken (easy to get all that info muddled up) and any essential oils used externally would be absolutely fine!  I am SO relieved that tonight I can get back to my old habit of rolling the aromatherapy blend to my pulse points.   If this doesn’t work then I am also now equipped with some hard core sleeping pills from the Doctor!
I digress, the main point of this post is to talk about hair loss.  This is the root (pardon the pun) cause of my anxiety.  As we all know if you have chemotherapy you are very likely to suffer hair loss (and not just the hair from your head!).  However there is something that can be worn to prevent this … the amazing and rather attractive (see pic) Cold Cap.  The basic idea is that you wear the cap before, during and after receiving your chemo drugs, during which time it freezes the hair follicles and thereby prevents too much of the chemicals getting into the root and hair shaft.  To learn more about this process please visit this link:

My local hospital is lucky enough to have one of the Paxman cooling machines and it looks very new and hi-tech, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it.   The cap reminds me of a jockey’s helmet and so I shall imagine I am riding a horse running through open fields whilst I am using it!  Mad woman.    If it works, I get to keep most of my locks, not that my hair is particularly special, it just IS to me.  The fact that I will have to sit with my head at -5 degrees for about 4 hours is rather worrying, but I have read that people just forget they are wearing it after the initial shock – I suppose it numbs your brain cells too.    Best case scenario is my hair will thin a little bit but I may still opt for that short elfin hair cut.  Worst case scenario is in about a months’ time I will lose the lot and behind closed doors only, look like an egg head.    It’s really important that whilst I have hair, I treat it as gently as possible, washing it less with very gentle shampoo – I’m aiming at once every 4 days, no hairdryers, no styling products, no hair straighteners!!!  So my hair will look a total (greasy) mess, even if it is my own – are you all screaming “Oh just shave it off and wear a wig!!”?  I am thinking that now.  You can see how I go around in circles, in my head throughout the night.
So in order to prepare for “hair today – gone tomorrow!” (that’s bad isn’t it) I have done the following; bought a silk pillow case – your hair is less likely to be rubbed off onto this than the usual ones; bought some leave in conditioner to wear during treatment (the nurse suggested this) and bought a few different delightful hair wear options, my favourite being a flowery cotton bandana thing that makes me look like ‘Gypsy Rosalee’ complete with my gold hoop earrings.   My BF says I am lucky I can pull off the hair scarf/bandana look, hats generally suit me, so thank heavens for small mercies!
 During my headwear shopping trip I encountered a couple of strange attitudes.   In one shop I asked the sales assistant if a particular scarf was square (you couldn’t see whilst it was all neatly folded on a hanger) and she looked rather annoyed and frankly like she was having a bad day – although the shop was quiet.  She helped by unfolding the scarf to check it out and then enquired what I needed it for.   I thought about lying (which is rarely my style) and then it just popped out, “well actually I’m starting chemo on Thursday so I’m looking for suitable head gear” queue sharp intake of breath and “oh I’m so sorry” and her manner completely changed towards me, she warmed up considerably.  In another shop – a hairdressers actually, one that specializes in weaves for afro hair and hair extensions that young trendy glamorous gals go for, I spied a rather quirky, fun, long pale pink wig, and thought for a laugh, at the right price, I’ll buy that.   I stood by the counter looking at the wigs, trying to find a price and then literally stood and looked around the shop blatantly needing assistance.  The woman at the cash desk just ignored me and carried on chatting to her mate who was doing someone’s hair.  There were 3 or 4 people there working.  They ALL ignored me whilst I stood there like a plum. Yes I am white and knocking on 40 but I had every right to be there, hankering after a pink wig!  I should have spoke up, but instead I just thought sod this, and walked out!!  I bet if I had had the confidence to speak up and then told them why I wanted a wig, I would have encountered a swift change in attitude once again.   And that’s a sad state of affairs don’t you think.
Ooh I’m in danger of sounding like my BF, so I will leave it there! (love you Tash)
Think of me tomorrow, riding my horse!   I'll be back again soon to let you know how it went.


Friday, 2 March 2012

Fecking Chemo!!!

Yesterday I went to see the Oncologist (cancer specialist) to hear what he had planned for me next.  He was a very nice bloke, explained everything clearly and didn’t was keen to answer any questions I had, he saw my list!   The lump in my breast was found to be Grade 3, which means the cells look very different from breast tissue and can spread quickly, it also tested negative for hormone receptors (which means it will not respond at all to hormone therapy treatment) and negative for the protein called HER2 (which means it won’t respond to the treatment called Herceptin), SO chemotherapy is the best treatment for me, giving me the best odds on the cancer never returning to any part of my body.   After the chemo I will also have radiotherapy, which focuses on preventing the cancer regrowing in the localized area i.e. my left boob.  Surely with these two things combined, I’ve got very good odds on being breast cancer free for the rest of my life – but only time will tell on that one.
I feel so lucky to still have two boobs of my own! Many women suffer a mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction, which is all so invasive with an even longer road to recovery and feeling normal again.  So in the coming weeks I will remind myself constantly of how lucky I have been.
The chemotherapy treatment lasts for 18 weeks.  I’ll have one treatment then 3 weeks off, for 6 cycles, taking 18 weeks in total.  The name of my treatment is called FEC-T.  These initials stand for the individual drugs being used.    I am a fan of Father Ted and Mrs Browns’ Boys so when I heard this name the words “Ahh Feck It” kept popping into my head!    Strange how you think when you’re being bombarded with important, yet depressing information.  Depressing because the Oncologist spent most of our time with him talking about the possible side effects of these drugs.  There are a lot of them!  I’ll list just a few to give you an idea, but hopefully not fill you with too much horror:
Fatigue; infection; nausea; weight gain and of course, HAIR LOSS.

As chemo reduces the production of white blood cells that fight infection, I have to take it very seriously if I feel at all ill.  Any headaches, coughs, sore throats, shivers must be reported immediately to the doctor, I’ve even been given this special “Fast Pass” which entitles me to jump the queue at A&E if any of these symptoms come out at night time!  I found all this very alarming!   OMG do I really have to put myself at risk like this?! I don’t have a choice really do I?

Maybe I do … the Oncologist also spoke about beating cancer and changing your lifestyle to prevent it recurring – he said the single most important thing you can do to help yourself is EXERCISE regularly.   He said there is proper research to prove this and in fact it is “almost as effective as having Chemotherapy”!!   Now, if I was capable of being persistent and single minded in the pursuit of fitness; if I thought I could be addicted to exercise then I probably would say “stuff your chemotherapy then”.  But I am not like that.    I do enjoy exercise, but am blessed with “slim genes” (slim not skinny) so have never really given it my all and stuck with it, consistently.   Of course, from now on I will have to change my attitude and get my arse in gear!  But I am not willing to take the chance and put all that responsibility on my own shoulders – so, Fecking Chemo it is then!

But I would say this to you, if you don’t already exercise on a regular basis, making it part of your life, then you should – you MUST!    I am not guaranteeing that if you do you won’t get cancer, but you will be doing what you can to protect yourself.

I will post again next week about how I’m hoping to stop my hair from falling out!  It’s the only side effect I have any control over, so will do what I can. 

For now though, I want to put all this to the back of my mind as much as possible (I couldn’t sleep last night) and enjoy this weekend.   Thanks to some wonderful friends and family, I’ve got cocktails, Chinese food and laughs to look forward to and a family roast on Sunday.  You see – I am a very lucky ‘girl’! xx

Thursday, 1 March 2012

What is a Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy?

I am currently in limbo land.  I’ve pretty much recovered from my surgery and am now awaiting my next treatment, which is chemotherapy.  So to keep me busy I thought I’d write about my experience of the Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy.    It may be helpful to anyone else about to undergo the same thing.   The sentinel lymph node is in your armpit, it is the first lymph node in the chain of nodes which drain lymph fluid from the breast. It is part of your immune system, and its purpose is to drain away any bad stuff.  I’m not entirely where the bad stuff ends up but I guess the body gets ride of it somehow.  Very clever!

So, in order to check whether the breast cancer had spread to any others parts of my body, the first port of call is the Sentinel Lymph Node.  They need to remove it, then test it.   But first they need to find it! And they do this by using radioactive fluid and a massive scanning machine.  I had to attend the Nuclear Medicine Department at my local hospital.  DH came with me; he is my driver and rock of support.  On the drive up there we were quite jovial making jokes about me going radioactive and wondering if I will turn into the Incredible Hulk.   On arrival at the Nuclear Medicine Department I was greeted by a man who did actually look like a mad science professor, which was rather disconcerting!  He handed me a shopping basket containing 2 hospital gowns and took me to a cubicle, just like a changing room at the swimming pool, where he instructed me to remove everything to the waste and then put on both gowns, the second one back to front to ensure I was completely covered. Then I should return to the waiting room.  At this point I was rather worried that the mad professor would be the one carrying out the procedure.   There was no way he was coming near my boobs!!   I let out a massive sigh of relief when a nice young nurse called me in.    I laid on a chair/bed thingy (like being at the dentist) and exposed my left breast (I’m getting used to this now).   The nurse was very professional yet warm and friendly.   She explained exactly what she was going to do, which was inject my nipple 4 times around its edge with radioactive fluid.   Before starting the injections she warned me it may sting a bit and I’ll feel ‘pressure’ as she is injecting fluid into a place where there is no space for it!  They use very fine needles to minimize any discomfort, but it did smart a fair bit, especially on the last one.    As soon as the injections were done she told me to massage my boob with my whole hand, round and round.  This took the pain away and encourages the flow of the fluid from the breast up to the Sentinel Node.   That was it, all done, for now.    I was told to go away for 3 hours and come back to have x-rays taken.  As the hospital is 30 minutes drive from home, we decided to spend this time exploring a more local small town and we had a lovely lunch in an Italian restaurant.   It was Valentine’s day, so I felt pleased that at least we had managed to have a meal out together and raise a glass to Us, despite all the drama of recent events.

Once the 3 hours were up I returned to the Nuclear Medicine Department, waited for about 5 minutes before called through, obviously I had to half undress again and wear the now familiar hospital gown.  The same nurse showed me into a large room which had what looked like a giant polo at one end with a narrow bed, almost like a conveyor belt, running into its centre.   I had to lie down on the bed and then at the flick of a switch the bed moved down towards to the centre of the ‘polo’.    Attached to the front of the polo is a large box which comes down over your chest, really close to your body and stops about a centimeter away from your chin.   This is the ‘camera’ part.   The machine is actually some kind of Gamma x-ray machine which was donated to this hospital by the ‘Friends of ’ said hospital, a charity – makes you wonder if it would be there at all, without people giving to charity.     Anyway, so I then needed to lie still which 4 pictures were taken, each taking about 5 minutes each.  It was all painless and I actually really enjoyed the lie down.  The Corrs were playing softly in the background!  The nurse marked on me where the sentinel node could be found, according to the pictures – X marks the spot.  She also showed me on her computer, the node was a bright light of radioactivity shining out from the screen.  So these pictures along with the X marked near my armpit are what the surgeon used the following day to locate the all important Sentinel lymph node.

I then went home and started stuffing myself silly with goodies, as from midnight I was on nil by mouth ready for my operation the next day.