The End

To say it has been an emotional weekend since Thursday is an understatement. Fortunate for me I got the fabulous news that I had beaten cancer and I could call myself a survivor. It has been an incredible journey, the ups, the downs, the tears, the pain, the many trips to the hospital. The fear I had Thursday morning was indescribable, the walk to the consultant room was the longest journey of my life.

I began walking extra slow even though I felt like I was walking fast. My heart was pumping and the lump in my throat grew uncomfortably. When I finally reached my consultants room my cheeks shook as I said hello with a nervous smiled. She turned to me and said,  “it’s good news there was no cancer found, it has gone.”

I took a deep breath and slumped my shoulder forward and I cried my eyes out (mum and Darren did too). Whilst trying to catch my breath I thanked my Dr. She saved me! Although, whilst I was receiving chemo I use to get very frustrated with my doctors because I was constantly in pain and couldn’t see how this was helping me, but now I am grateful! I shall return in another three months for a visual check-up.

So, now its over and I can continue with my life. Life will never be the same for me, I will forever think of this period in my life and be grateful for another chance. Taking things for granted is long gone and appreciating everything and everyone is one thing I have learnt to do. More importantly, I have swapped a lot of negative thinking for positive thoughts, as I feel having a positive view on things means you are half way to being where you want to be.

I’ve decided that I will end my blog today and put this nightmare to rest and hope I never have to revisit it again. I am truly thankful for Mum and Dad for always being great but especially to my mum who is extra strong and got me through the bad days. To my brother and Claire for being so helpful in times of need, to my work colleagues who didn’t bother me when I was off or made me feel rubbish about not being at work, but for actually encouraging me to get as much rest as I needed. Thank you to my friends who came to visit me when I was too ill to go out (and for those who visited me in hospital). To my cousins who made me smile when I felt I couldn’t do it no more and for always being there to listen. My whole family have been amazing! A massive thank you to the nurses on the chemo unit at Barts (Level 7) for being fantastic. Thank you for listening to me when I was in pain and being responsive. Thank you to all the charities The Little Princess Trust for the wig and to So Glam (Epping) for my micro rings, The Willow Foundation & Clic Sargent for providing me with days out and events that I could look forward to on my good days.

Last but not least to the other half of me, my strength, my shoulder, my love and my bestest friend Darren. You did every single chemo session with me, every appointment and always made sure I was confortable. You made me feel confident when my hair fell out and you never once doubted that I couldn’t fight it. When I threw a massive tantrum on the chemo before the last you told me I was going to stay and you helped me over the hurdle. You cleaning my sick, sat up with me during the painful nights and helped me get dressed when I had no strength. You are truly incredible and I love you dearly. There are not enough words to describe how lucky I am that I met you.

So, here is to the future and to another chapter of my life.

It has been amazing writing for you.

One last time thank you for reading and supporting.

Hannah

16.03.16 – 15.09.16

I BEAT CANCER

The End  

 

16th March – 14th September 2016

On Wednesday 16th March 2016 at approximately 16:30 I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I took the news over the phone (which I requested) standing at a window in the office where I work. My heart felt like it had fallen out of my chest and I became numb. I remember thinking, I’m strong and I can deal with this and from that point I made a promise to myself that I would stay positive and strong.

(…)

I’m now on a journey I will never forget, a journey that makes you appreciate everything and everyone. I’ve begun writing this blog because I don’t want to forget what I’ve been through and I would like others affected to be able to read and relate to this….

Cancer has messed with the wrong person!

My emotions are running high as it has been nearly six months to the exact date of my diagnosis, but more importantly it’s the night before I find out if the chemo has worked for me. Tomorrow (at approximately 10:50) could be the end of this nightmare or the start of another chemo journey. I have been asked by many people what I will do if the results come back not as planned and my response to that is:

“nothing, I will carry on stronger than the last lot of chemo.”

This journey has taught me about myself, made me cherish what I have opposed to what I don’t have, not to stress over the smallest of things and to share happiness and positivity. I have missed out on a whole bundle of things this year, but it just makes life a whole lot more exciting.

This whole process has given me confidence to do anything!

Can I ask before you sleep tonight to pray for me please, so I can have my life back.

Thank you in advance.

 

a little update

It. The nightmare. The illness. The C word… Whatever you want to refer to my cancer as is slowly, but surly becoming more and more of a distant memory. My life is becoming more normal, pain free and a happier place to be. While I still await my scan I WILL continue as normal and refuse for ‘it’ to steal any more of my precious life.

I can’t believe it has been 4 weeks today since I started my rebuilding program it has surely been quite a journey, an emotional, tiring, challenging, but such a rewarding and happy one. The idea of the program was to regain what I had lost during treatment and to fight the fatigue. I didn’t want to tell anyone about my plans (not even Darren) I just wanted to wake up with a determined mind set, grit my teeth and crack on with a new challenge of getting back to me again and there was no better day to do that then the first day of August.

So, I went back to eating clean again, training 2-3 times a week (including a mixture of cardiovascular and strengthening sessions) and I returned back to work 1-2 times a week. Returning back to the gym at first was difficult. It felt like I was using another person’s body, but with my competitive thoughts. I had to consider my decrease in strength and be careful not to push myself too hard. However, I am seeing the difference and I have a lot more energy! Going back to work was quite nice, everybody is very supportive and always asks if I’m ok, if I ever need an early day they make sure I take it, but I tend to try and crack on with a full day – its boring at home!

Life is pretty much back to where it was before this awful nightmare happened, although I am a little paranoid about the odd niggle and keep checking for lumps. Last week I received my date for the PET scan – 12.09.16. Getting the letter made me feel a little nervous, Its made me struggle emotionally the last few days, even though I just get on with it you can never remove the fear and thoughts of the worst case scenario; my crazy family help to shift the negative thoughts.

I have also opted for the short hair look lately; the wig is so beautiful, but so hot in the warm weather. I follow lots of other ladies that have HL and they have the attitude of being open about the illness, why should I hide it? I am fighting one the biggest battle of my life. Today I noticed that I’m getting lots of stubbly bit on my head now – wahoo… it is finally growing back. The next few weeks will be busy for me I have family from Canada here at the moment, my birthday and then my scan and results day! I shall keep you all posted on the outcome of the scan.

Thank you for reading – the kind messages of support have helped me to get through!

Sat thinking about how far I have come! 

How hard it has been, but how quickly my body has recovered. 

Praying for a positive result – 15.09.16 

Always smile: it makes you feel happy even if you are not. 

Never stop being you: I would always put my make up on before chemo. 

💕

The view from up here is becoming more beautiful! 

I have been living in a bubble for nearly 7 months! An ill bubble, a sad bubble, an unconfident bubble, a whole sphere of being and feeling sorry to my family and friends for the situation, as well as being angry that my life had been stolen by a huge monster of an illness. Thankfully this experience has taught me so much about myself and I generally feel like this was given to me to change my way of thinking and to make me appreciate what I do have opposed to what I don’t have. 

Since posting last there has been more change.. surprise surprise. My hair is falling out massively and will continue to fall for six week (so the nurse says), I could quite possibly be bald in that time. If there is anyone that has been through treatment and knows more about how to treat the hair growth process and how long it takes to stop falling out, please do contact me and let me know I would be grateful. 

More importantly I have begun holding the plank morning and night to begin strengthening my weaker muscles and to correct my poor typical ‘ill’ posture I have adopted (slumped/rounded kyphotic shoulders and upper back). This in itself is a massive positive for me, it means my body is in recovery and mending well and I can get myself in the gym very soon.

Last week I experienced extreme stomach cramps (six days after treatment) the pains were inbetween my diaphragm and belly button. It felt like a mixture of wind cramps and burning. I took Lansoprosol when I felt the feeling appear and I drank lots of honey and water… I swear by minouka honey now! I knew I wasn’t constipated because I had been to the toilet, however I read that this was normal after having ABVD. The on call doctor recommended I took cocodamol and buscopan together. Even though the cocodomal made me feel drowsy the two medicines did ease the pain. Eventually the pain went after two whole days.

I wanted to mention this as my reading and research lead me to believe a lot of people that undergo ABVD experience stomach discomfort and therefore, I wanted to explain what procedure I took to get rid of it. It’s important to mention that I also drank a lot of fluids, not many fizzy drinks, but diluted juices as water doesn’t taste good after treatment…STAY HYDRATED! 

So, right now I am currently on an 8 week break from treatment. I have already been back to the hospital as I found a few lumps in my groin and neck, but my doctor is not concerned and asked me to keep an eye of the size of them. I felt a little bit like a hypochondriac going to the doctor, but for my own peace of mind I needed to know that it was ok and that I didn’t need to worry. I hear that many people become so anxious about getting cancer back again after getting the all clear. I hope I find a way of avoiding anxiety over my health.  I get my results from the pet scan on the 15th September – fingers and toes crossed I get the ALL CLEAR! 

I have just started to feel ‘me’ again. Last night I went out with friends for the first time for cocktails and it’s safe to say I still have that groove on the dance floor!! I am also loving the wig at the moment. My natural hair is so fine that seeing my bald head is not very glam for a night out. I am also going back to work next week for a few hours a day and I think I will make an appearance in the gym too. 

It just goes to show when you think you CANT you DO and there is ALWAYS light at the end of a DARK tunnel. I’m nearly at the top of the mountain and wow the view up here is looking beautiful!!! 

Potentially the last

don’t really know how to start this blog today…I think I’ll just dive in.

The recovery after session 1 of cycle 3 wasn’t so good. I began experiencing terrible pains in the arm I had the chemo in. I tried icing my arm, warming it and massaging, but after suffering for three days I went to A&E. It was this visit that made me realise how much I had learnt about my cancer and the symptoms I suffer. I had an ultra sound scan to rule out a blood clot and I was sent home with 0ramorph (a liquid form of morphine).The pain went after about 4 days, but I’m sure I’ll have it back in a few days.

So Saturday, well where do I start with this one? The whole week I had been building myself up for what could potentially be the last chemo session – fingers crossed! Lots of people sent me messages prior to Saturday saying things like “last one wahoo” and “keep strong just one more to go.” But I couldn’t see it like that. I knew what I was in for. The day before chemo a nurse always calls to check you are coming for the chemo and makes sure I have no coughs, difficulty with breathing or a temperature. As soon as I put the phone down on the nurse my eyes filled up and I was crying like a baby. My stomach felt weak and all the symptoms I get after chemo were already happening…this was obviously psychological. I called my nurse at Barts and she suggested I did things to distract me and to relate the hospital to a positive time, of course this sounded like a great solution, however the mind is more powerful than we think and this was going to take practise.

Saturday morning I told myself I would take complete control over the situation. I had breakfast (as I knew I may not be eating for the rest of the day) and myself and Darren left for the hospital. This time round I took a face mask to wear for the hospital. I was trying to eliminate everything that makes me feel nauseas. From the moment I sat in the seat I went into a complete different zone. I was aware of everything, but I didn’t want to look around the unit nor did I want to speak to anyone. Myself and Darren didn’t speak throughout the day he checked I was ok and I nodded, I didn’t want anything or anyone to distract me.

I took my nurses advise and I decided to use imagery to get me through. I imaged that the chemo came from a sun flower and I pictured myself on a sunbed around a pool in Mexico. Mexico was one of the best holidays me and Darren went on… Thank the lord it helped me get through. I woke up yesterday with swollen fingers and a swollen face, my eyelashes have fallen out which could be making my eyes look a little puffy. My taste buds and smell are all over the place at the moment, but I am eating and drinking like normal. My cousin asked me the other day if I am sticking to my usual healthy diet. The answer to that is no. When you are unwell and losing weight the idea is to eat! I think. I like to drink a lot of fluids to keep my toilet game strong haha! For those that may experience constipation I find that manuka honey and boiled water (hot as you can) really helps, but I must add I do use Lactulose if I have to. However I try to use it as little as possible as it can irritate the bowel and that is painful.

So, to conclude todays blog, I am only on day two and we know that its around day 4 that my health deteriorates, I just hope its not too harsh.

xXx

Have you ever stopped still and watched the speed of life, the individuality of others choices and the repetitiveness of a daily routine?… This is me at the moment. I feel totally static yet their are a million things going on around me.

I haven’t blogged for a while because I haven’t had the motivation to explain, but today I feel like I want to. As I mentioned at the beginning of this journey the idea of this blog is not to pull on your heart strings, but to inform, update and help. I do not explain my story to make you feel sorry for me and to make out that I am the only one going through this. I use my own experiences to help you understand what this life is and for others like me to relate and share for awareness. So many unfortunate people are affected in some way and instead of hiding away like victims we should try to be big and bold and support one another.

Enough of me being informative, now I’ll explain what life has been since the last lot of chemo (2nd July 2016).

Wow, the weeks are flying by!

The last lot of chemo was emotional straining, without support from Darren and the nurse on the day unit I’m not sure I would have gone ahead with it. That same morning I was jumping around my bedroom showing Darren how to do the bogle, screaming out to my mum in the garden (not sure what I was screaming about) and generally just being me. As soon as we arrived at the hospital I began feeling sick. We walked into the lift and I covered my nose with my jumper because I couldn’t take the smell of the hospital. Chemo enhances your smell and taste – awful. I got into the day unit and I was in tears…I was scared! Up until then I had been so brave, open to all treatment and tests but for some reason I couldn’t stay calm. All of a sudden I had become resistant and angry. Whilst hysterically crying I told Darren I didn’t want to go ahead with the treatment and asked him numerous times to take me home, of course he said no! I explained to him that it was not his body going through this it was mine and I was done with it all. I hadn’t even had any chemo at that point and I was vomiting lots. All mentally provoked. Darren expressed that evening how much of a struggle it was for him to persuade me to stay. He said it was awful being hard on me, however he knew that I would have thanked him in the log run – and I did!

You can imagine how long that day was for me, we arrived at 12:30 and didn’t leave until 19:00. Like every chemo days I got into bed as soon as I arrived home. The nurse said I needed to go for a blood test the following Monday to get my neutrophil count checked. I did and I found that my neutrophils were very low again (0.4). Luckily I had a GCSF injection in the fridge at home, so I took that one and Barts had some more delivered to me the same day.

It feels like its getting harder, I have just one session left before I have an 8 week break prior to the PET scan. I cant see past it. I keep telling people that having this dark cloud in my life has stripped me from everything. Firstly, my hair is  falling out lots more..  although I still try to make jokes about it. I wore the wig for the majority of Monday, despite the compliments I got from people I didn’t feel very confident wearing it. Can you imagine if it fell off? haha.  Secondly, tiredness and fatigue gets me everyday. Within an hour of being awake I’m tired again. Thirdly, aches and pains. Currently I’m experiencing los of pain in my right arm (chemo arm). I refuse to take pain killers until the pain is unbearable. I have learnt during treatment that painkillers give me stomach pain after long and it slows recovery down…call me Dr Dunne haha. Lastly the daily routine I spoke about at the beginning of this blog. It will be so nice to get back to what I love: being active, going to the gym and socialising with no worry of getting tired. One thing I have noticed since I’ve been having treatment is that I forget the most simple things like peoples names, the next word in my sentence whilst getting tongue tide a lot. Is this normal?

To conclude, although I’m ill, I am ok. This health change has made me thankful for life, my family , friends and for the continued support I get daily.  I hope this has a positive impact on your day as this is reality. I am a firm believer of trying to turn the struggles of life into positives and not to be so hung up on things for too long.

We are stronger than we really know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion” – Muhammad Ali 

I will soon be a champ! 

Blogging today as there has been a change with my health over the last five days. Even though the chemo didn’t seem to effect me like it usually does, which maybe because it’s not as strong as day one of the cycle (according to the doc), I have been suffering with aches and pains and a sore stomach. 

It began on Wednesday evening, my lower back ached and I had little twinges all over my body. The majority of the pain was in my lower back, although I suffered little twinges in the back of my arms and legs. I knew I was in for a treat as it was day 4 post treatment. The docs tell me not to take paracetamol for pain as it masks a fever, but I checked my tempreture and opted for the paracetamol. I had been prescribed Tremadol for severe pain, but I just didn’t like the idea of taking it. I had taken it before and I know it can make you feel drowsy and a little away with the fairies. In the end the pain got worse and I took the Tremadol. It made me feel so weird. By Friday I was going crazy, I was short tempered, crying lots and generally didn’t feel myself. 

On Friday I decided to leave the Tremadol alone, it wasn’t good for me. My stomach was killing and I felt agitated. I called my GP and asked him to prescribe me Lansoprosol to help line my stomach. I thought taking all the meds could be the problem..It didn’t help. During Saturday I kept drinking warm water and applied heat to soothe the discomfort (heat always helps for me). I had been awake all hours of Friday night and I was so tired. So I got as much sleep as I could and plus ANTHONY JOSHUA was boxing that night too, I had to stay awake to watch. Haha 

Well long story short I couldn’t sit up and watch AJ, but Darren managed to stream it on his phone for me, so I woke up to watch and then went back to sleep. 

I thought I had the “toilet” issues under control by taking lactulose since Saturday (the day I had treatment), but this Saturday proved wrong. I had like a burning sensation in my tummy. I couldn’t stand up straight. I tried drinking warm water and manouka honey, which actually seemed to help, but after dealing with it for a few days I called the on call doctor for some professional advice. He explained that although the lactulose helps with bowel movement it can cause stomach cramps… This was obviously what I was experiencing derrrrr! Haha. Doc told me to take Buscopan three times a day. I did and It has helped.

Yesterday I dragged myself out the house, I’ve noticed that my energy levels have dropped loads and it annoys me that I can’t stand for too long either. However my instructing skills are getting good. “Darren could you get the black jeans out, actually not them ones the blue ones” haha. 

So, they are all the physical symptoms  I’ve experienced. Mentally I’m ok, I think. I mean being in doors can get you down , but I can’t afford to pick up any infections. Thursday I’m due to see my consultant and Saturday will be day one of cycle three. Can I mention that although my hair is very thin it’s doing pretty well. It is still falling out lots but I do still have hair on my head. Saying this its important to mention that when you are so focused on getting better having hair is not a main concern!

Tomorrow I’m booked into a Look Good, Feel Better workshop. Apparently there will be a lot of people my age or similar there, I find this daunting to meet others going through the same thing, as I’m not sure how I will respond or deal with it. I’m strong for me, but not for others… Strange! 

In the words of our late champion: 

“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” 

-Muhammed Ali 

Second cycle done 

Just wanted to post a little blog. It has been 4 days since the end of my second cycle. This time round I had a lot more sickness no vomiting, but just the feeling.I haven’t had any problems until today. I’ve started having quite annoying aches in my muscles and nervy like pains in my back. I have taken Tremadol to help with the pain and luckily it hasn’t made me feel drowsy – I hate that feeling! 

I have been taking lactulose since Saturday evening and I have managed to avoid the constipation – fingers crossed it continues. I’ve noticed I have been having little mood swings and I am suffering with fatigue, for example, I wake up have breakfast and rest then I bath. After I have to sit on the edge of the bed, then maybe lay down for half hour. I then do my make up and then rest again, so basically everything I do I have to rest inbetween… don’t invite me out because I can guarantee I’ll be late haha. 

Lost a lot more hair recently mum was very honest with me, which I like. So today I decided to let the wig make an appearance.


I have had lots of positive and supportive feedback – thanks everyone. I wore it for half the day, but after feeling unwel I whipped it off and had a sleep… Taking selfies can be tiring haha. 

Going to finish watching big brother I’ll maybe check in with you all in the next few days. 

Thanks everyone 

❤️