I’m officially halfway through my chemotherapy treatment and decided I’ve had enough. Whilst the drugs are good, they’re not “that” good and my poor body has had enough torture. The constant nausea, the sore scalp, another blood clot in my arm; measuring 15cm & daily injections to treat that, the constipation, the horrible feel & taste in my mouth, mouth ulcers, fatigue, aches/pains, breathlessness and the list goes on and on.... I’m so done with the chemicals. I saw my oncologist in absolute tears, and said enough, i can’t do anymore. He tried to make a deal with me, one more cycle and then I can stop if I want.
I still haven’t decided if I’ve committed to that, but some days I think I can do it and other days I’m not so sure.
I’m sick to death of the emotional roller coaster. Some days I cry so much I wonder how my body can literally produce any more tears. Last weekend was tough, I cried all my eyelashes off, and, if anyone that knows me knows that is tragic!!!!!
I couldn’t deal with the hair loss anymore so I went and shaved it off. Felt better for a bit and then was ultra devastated about having no hair left. Gotta say though I’ve never had so much attention from everyone staring at my shaved head....
This is hard. Beyond hard... and I know I have love and support but I think I’ve officially hit rock bottom and understand completely how cancer patients feel about not wanting to go on. It’s incredibly difficult.
Last week I saw my surgeon and he requested I have “breast clips” placed into the tumours. Apparently these act as markers for surgery and they only do it when the tumours are starting to shrink rapidly - so I know that’s a good sign.
So let’s see what the next week brings... oh and not to mention I’ve woken with yet another sore throat and aches/pains. I am so hoping it’s not flu or anything nasty, just a cold will be fine thanks.... ???
It’s been 3 weeks since my first round of chemo. I’ve had some good days and a lot of not so good days. Tomorrow is round 2 and whilst part of me is just wanting to get through it and put this nightmare behind me, part of me is dreading what this next round is going to do to my poor body.
It’s been a super stressful couple of weeks and ending up in emergency for a blood clot in my arm was the icing on the cake. Various ultrasounds and blood thinning injections twice daily have been just adding to the complexity of already feeling like crap! Not to mention Ruby coming home from daycare with a nasty cold really finished me off last week. Ordinarily our bodies would fight off a cold fairly promptly but having little to no neutrophils (white blood cells) means exposure to germs and contracting viruses is almost a given. Thankfully I think I’ve just turned the corner on the cold front, all in time for my next round of chemo tomorrow morning. Yay for me ?
I think for me the most confronting part of this process so far is the fact I’m losing my hair and it’s coming out so, so fast. I washed my hair on Sunday and stood in the shower and just cried my absolute eyes out at all the hair that came out. The funniest part is that I collected it all up and put it outside hoping maybe the birds would find it and use it in their nests! I know everyone says, don’t worry Mich it’ll grow back and it’ll be stronger than ever but my hair has been such a massive part of my identity and who I am for such a long time that it is incredibly scary, sad and super challenging on all fronts. All I can say is I’m ecstatic to be picking up my wig today!
My oncologist saw me yesterday and said I looked fantastic (liar) but he examined me and said he could already feel a change in my breast tissue. He said even after one chemo cycle it’s reduced in size. Super positive news considering this particular cancer can actually be chemo resistant. It’s comforting to know that all this hell is going to pay off and I’ll come through the other side, stronger, braver and tough as f*%#ing nails!!! So look out ?
I cannot thank my family and friends enough for stepping up and helping us all on this rather crap journey. It’s the little things like having meals available to us when I haven’t been well enough to cook, people’s time and of course to my parents and my in laws that have spent countless hours now entertaining Ruby and making sure we’re all doing okay. Thank you everyone. And thank you Ben, if anything I think this whole experience has really helped the relationship between Ben & Ruby. They’ve really bonded in a different way and this has brought them closer together. Once it would’ve been “Mummy, Mummy, Mummy” and now it’s nice to hear her say, “Mummy, I want Daddy”...
I haven’t cried quite AS much this week, perhaps the hormones have settled a bit now but it’s likely the treatment is going to leave me infertile and speed up menopause. Woohoo no more periods! Silver lining ?
Wish me luck for tomorrow! I’m still anxious as all hell......
And it begins...
Well, it’s now been a week today since my first chemo treatment. Chemotherapy was intense. I’ve decided to trial what they call “cold cap therapy”, which is basically a method of human torture I think ? They basically drench your head in water and attach what’s like a swim cap to your head. It then blows icy cold air all over your head and after a few hours looks and feels like a head full of ice crystals. It’s bizarre but they keep you cozy with electric blankets. The nurses are utterly AMAZING. I have no words for just how remarkable a job they really do. They set me up with a cannula and got really quite excited over my nice juicy veins, three enormous bags of ominous looking poisonous fluid and a tablet before they start, to prevent nausea plus more anti-emetics in the IV.... and so it begins. The first bag is bright red, kinda fools you into thinking they’re really just giving you a big bag of red cordial!
Thankfully whilst all the drugs are being drip fed through, you don’t feel much other than the icy brain freeze from the cold cap.
At one point I’m busting for a wee so they allow me a pee break! Whilst I’m in the bathroom the nurses hear me scream and they yell back, ‘ohh yeah, don’t be alarmed if your pee is fluorescent red’... thanks for the heads up I said!! Sorry if that’s too much information but I’d like my blogs to be all about the ugly and the not so ugly faces of cancer.
After about 4 hours, it’s done! And I’m sent home with the best pharmaceutical show bag ever! Ativan, maxolon, zofran, somac, valium, dexamethasone, ondansetron wafers you name it, I’ve got it. So, that afternoon probably a few hours afterwards I start to fade. I feel woozy, light headed and then wham, wow. I literally feel like I’ve been hit by a bus, no... make that a freight train. I keep up all my meds and take them religiously every 4 hours or sooner if needed and crash........ the best medicine has been sleep.
The next morning I’m not feeling all that bad and I start to convince myself that I’m going to breeze through this. Until I go back in for my immunity booster injection... the nurse says I might feel like I’ve been hit with a bad case of flu over the next 48 hours. She was not wrong. I progressively deteriorated, I felt so sick, my body starts to ache, my skin hurts, hell even my eyeballs hurt. What was harder to deal with was all the hormonal/emotional changes. I could be sitting watching TV or mid conversation and suddenly I’m sobbing and crying my absolute eyes out - why? I couldn’t tell you! All very normal I’m told.
On the 5th or 6th day post chemo, I’m not feeling too bad. Maybe popping one or two anti nausea pills a day but the fatigue is intense. I’ve never ever, ever experienced tiredness like this & so I snooze, sleep & rest whenever I can.
I know my little girl doesn’t understand what’s going on, but the little comments she makes here and there break my heart sometimes. She came home from daycare one day last week and said ‘is Mummy still sleeping’? She’s been such a sweetheart, her laughter, cuddles and pure unconditional love are proving to be some of the best medicine yet.
So, last week I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Wow. What a shock. Certainly not what you expect to hear around your 38th birthday...
Triple negative breast cancer is a rarer type of breast cancer generally occurring more often in young women.
Yesterday was a big, big day. Started off with an MRI to ascertain the extent of the cancer and whether it had spread to the lymph... once that was done it was over to the oncologist. My oncologist is a professor and is absolutely amazing, albeit he does look about 12! He has assured me the cancer I have is treatable and his aim is to cure me, not just treat me but cure me completely. It’s likely I’m going to lose my hair (crap!), be pretty god damn tired, feel a bit yucky and generally crap! I’m preparing myself for the worst so anything better than that is a bonus really.
After my oncologist appointment I saw yet another professor who specialises in breast surgery and I’ve been reassured he is one of the best specialists in the country... he too agrees that chemo is the best first line of treatment followed by surgery and then radiotherapy.
Thursday will also be a big day with a visit to a geneticist to establish whether I am carrying the BRCA1 gene (a gene mutation) and will also then establish a treatment plan and whether more surgery is required down the track.
It’s all super scary and overwhelming but I know I’ll get through it with the love and support of my beautiful family and gorgeous friends. Those who know so far have been amazingly loving and supportive and I have no doubt it’s going to be a long & tough journey, but there’s only one way through and that’s through.
That said, I’ve decided I would love to try and raise $3K towards breast cancer research to help find a better way to cure this awful disease. If you would like to donate, please visit: https://fundraise.nbcf.org.au/fundraisers/michelleakayan
Thanks everyone and I will keep you all posted with my progress ??
Until then... much love,
Australia, get ready, I’m going pink.
From 18 – 24 June, the National Breast Cancer Foundation is challenging the men and women of Australia to GO PINK in support of the thousands of mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, daughters and sons that have been – or will be – affected by breast cancer.
I’ve joined the team because breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. It’s a disease we cannot ignore. But together, we can change the outcomes.
While “Going Pink” this June, I’m raising money for life-changing research. Please donate to my page, you’ll be helping us step closer to our ultimate goal: zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
YOU can make a difference. Let me know if you want to GO PINK with me!
Thank you to my Sponsors
Chris And Frank
Chris & Kate Blows
Noela Akayan And Berj Akayan
Carmel And Greg Brien
Jenny Hatton Mahon
Roz And Michael Akayan
Leo And Di Doherty
Louise & Michael Leah