Sunday, 6 January 2013


I'm now tattooed with 4 tiny dots, one on my neck on in the middle of my chest, and the other two on the outer edges of my chest. It wasn't the best half hour of my life, and it was a fairly impersonal procedure as I guessed it would be, but strangely, afterwards I was ever so slightly euphoric. This tattooing event had been on the outer edges of my worry radar for over 6 months, working it's way towards a major anxiety moment as the date got closer and closer. Now it's over, I can tick that box and move on, and I do feel just a tiny little bit proud of myself for having got past it.

The tattoos are strategically placed so that the radiotherapy beams are aimed at exactly the right places, and to ensure that my heart stays safe and well away from the rays. I had to have 3 CT scans first, and they taped very thin wires over all my scars beforehand. I also had to put my arms in stirrups above my head - why is it that my face always develops irritating little itches as soon as I'm not allowed to scratch them?

The best bit was the hot chocolate and cake afterwards with WM, as I knew it would be.

This week, just as I thought I was going to be emerging from chemo boot-camp, filled with energy and motivation to really get things done, another set of symptoms have loomed their ugly little heads, knocking me for six in the process.

For some reason, my muscles have absolutely no strength whatsoever, and they seem to be getting worse. The effort of going upstairs, or even getting dressed is so arduous that I'm puffing and panting for ages until I get my breath back. I can't walk more than 10 or 12 paces before I'm behaving like I've just run half a marathon, and it's all absolutely crippling, as well as being really annoying.

I'm fine sitting down, which luckily I'm really skilled at, but any movement at all finishes me off. My big worry is that it's some sort of side effect from Herceptin. That might mean that they take me off it, which would be really scary. Herceptin has been available in the UK only since 2006, and it is already responsible for increasing my type of breast cancer survival rate by 40%, so I do feel like it's my insurance policy. I'm due for my third dose tomorrow, and I'll be seeing the Oncologist beforehand, so I can tell them about it then and see what they think it might be.  An even worse scenario would be that it's a sign of the cancer getting worse and spreading, but I'm trying not to even go there with my thoughts. I'm pretty sure that, whatever it is, I'll be scheduled up to the eyeballs with a thousand more test and investigations, when all I really want to do is catch up with some living normally after all those months of surgery and chemo, but it looks like that will just have to wait.

One thing that really can't wait any longer is a new laptop. This one is now well beyond its sell-by date, and the final straw was a lovely glass of red wine being tipped all over it at Christmas. It took several days before it would turn on, and at first, it was obviously still very tipsy, with all the keys typing the wrong letters. It's now virtually recovered, apart from the letter "D", which just will not function at all, so the only way I can write anything is to use the online keyboard every time I need a "D", which is painfully slow and very annoying. It's not just the glass of wine that's finished it off - it's getting slower and slower and very eccentric. Just like me, really, though I'm not yet at the stage that I need a week to recover from a glass of wine.

Anyhow, I got all excited about the new generation of laptops, with Windows 8 and it's new capacity for touchscreen operation, coupled with the new convertible range that all the manufacturers are launching. Basically they now make laptops that convert into tablets, with all sorts of mechanisms whereby the keyboard folds under itself to be a stand, or even one which has two screens, so someone on the other side of the table can follow what you're doing. Maybe a mixed blessing, but I think this feature can be turned on and off, so you can still keep your secrets. Anyway, I was so excited by the prospect of buying one, until I saw the prices. They cost 2 to 3 times as much, so I'll just have to wait until everyone else has one, and they don't cost an arm and a leg anymore.

Unless........I can find a way to afford it that doesn't entail starvation, because, let's face it, I've already done a stack of waiting, and all this cancer waiting certainly teaches you that sometimes life is just too short.

Whatever it is


  1. Waiting and patience are two difficult words and to endure - love your post - just keep writing them :)

  2. I don't have a laptop yet, so Yvonne...let me know how you get on with your research. And I hope the next stage of your treatment goes smoothly.
    I've been dealing with possible nerve damage, especially in my left hand, from a non-ergonomical work desk where I use my computer.
    Since September 2012, I've had numbness and restricted movement and coldness in my left hand...and I find it very hard to grip anything or open lids, etc. I feel so weak!
    So I can totally relate to your muscle weakness. And I so hope that your muscle power recovers well.
    Love and hugs, xox
    Sharon K. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

  3. eye ducts leaking after reading this one!
    Bottle of wine bought and waiting for delivery to you. Glad I didnt bring it b4 xmas as I would have felt guilty for said laptops decline.
    Feel better soon!
    See you soon. had exams, extra meetings and all that crap. Even got mock exam papers to do! Gulp.
    Love and hugs Debbie xx

  4. Another Yvonne with breast cancer!! Thanks for your honest and heartfelt posts that make me able to think I CAN get through this. I had a mastectomy Dec. 7/12, 10 more lymph nodes removed Jan. 10/13 -- all negative, YAY!!, and just had my first cycle of chemo 4 days ago. There truly is comfort in numbers, and feeling like I'm not the only one who's dealing with a lot right now. :) :)

  5. Hi Yvonne, Thank you for reading my ramblings and for leaving such a lovely message. Brilliant news about your lymph nodes, but you're in a miserable phase of treatment at the moment - right at the start of chemo. It does get better - just take the side effects as they come, give in to them and try not to do too much.There will be good days too during the cycle - enjoy every minute of those! The cycles fly past much quicker than any of us imagine they might, but it doesn't feel like they will during the first few days of that first cycle. Good luck with it all - you'll be fine, we both have the same lucky name! xx