I'm not exactly sure how to start this post, it's been a whirlwind month to say the least made up of some exhilarating and debilitating moments.
Those of you who are on Facebook would have been inundated by my celebrity-filled showcasing and I was hoping to use this update to share with you some of the official photos and videos from the M&S Summer Ball but alas they have not yet had the PR seal of approval (which makes them even more intriguing). I promise to share them with you in an update as soon as I have them, but in the meantime, I can very proudly say that I never expected cancer to enable me to tick dinner with David Gandy off my bucket list!
As you will remember from my last update, since our house move I now have a new medical team at the Nuffield in Cambridge so I've spent the last couple of weeks endlessly reviewing my histology and pathology reports with teams of boffins. Even though the tedious experience may have surfaced some zesty memories, the invaluable second opinions have resulted in my inclusion onto a brand new treatment plan. I now understand that my sobriety makes me a good candidate for clinical trials (good advice for anyone in a similar predicament), add to that an uncompromising Oncologist and you have a winning formula (we hope)!
For the next two years I will be having Zometa which is effectively a mild chemotherapy and is administered in the same way. Fortunately this time I won't lose my hair, but, as I experienced shortly after the first round, Zometa has some pretty unpleasant side effects and I retreated to my chemo-cave cared for by my long-suffering family as I willed the pain and sickness to pass. Why would I put myself through it? It's ok to think that, I thought it too as I curled-up in agony refusing painkillers as they would just make the vomiting worse. As you will remember from previous posts, for many women diagnosed with stage III breast cancer, there is a good chance it will return and spread to your lungs, liver, brain and bones. If it spreads to your bones there is a zero survival rate. However, some new and very compelling research has found that the use of bisphosphonates to protect the bones from reoccurring cancer increases survival rates significantly and in the words of Dr Russell "My job is to keep you alive until a cure is found".
As is always the case with cancer, all is not rosy. The treatment is most successful in post-menopausal women. Sparing you the gory details I was most pleased to discover that my reproductive system had survived the chemothery and had started working again, however, in order for the Zometa to work it all needs to be shut down so that means 6 months of Zoladex pellets injected directly into my stomach and if that doesn't work then the whole lot will be surgically removed....classy!
I'm starting to come to terms with the new regime and although it may sound odd, cancer treatment is easier after the first round as most of the stress is the unknown, now I know what I've signed up for, the pragmatic Helen will make a plan to deal with the symptoms each time around because spending time with my family is worth the pain and sickness.
I'll finish with a brilliant video that was shown on the night of the M&S Summer Ball, it features all of the other gorgeous women from our "Magnificent Seven" campaign. I warn you that it's not an easy watch but compel you to do something positive after watching it.
Please donate money to fund the research that will STOP this from happening..... TODAY.