… or at least it will be on Saturday 10th June. Which is in precisely 12 days time!
My mad sister and niece are going to be taking on the MoonWalk Scotland and walking 26.2 miles to raise money for research into prevention of and better treatments for those with breast cancer. If twenty six (point two) miles were not enough of a feat, they are doing it overnight. In their bras. Madness, I tell you. Madness!
However, I do feel a certain responsibility for their efforts. They have already suffered blisters, pulled muscles, sunburn and all manner of fatigue in training and that is before the event has even begun. It is all very well saying that adrenaline will kick in on the night and carry them through but it is still a gargantuan effort. And they are going to be looking, frankly, ridiculous. They will be wearing yellow bras, decorated with sunflowers and bees. The sunflowers are partly my fault as they remind my sister of me. Tall and beautiful, obvs, not loud and brash at all, oh no! They also remind us both of our Dad and were symbolic of fundraising for cancer research and better treatment and flashing your tits in the film Calendar Girls. The bees are because they are Team Bee, the first letter of their surname and a nod in solidarity to their Mancunian roots after the horrific events of 22nd May.
They have pledged to raise £500 and are well on their way but still need a bit more to push them to their target, which they would be very happy to exceed! If you are at all able to do so, please go to their fundraising page and sponsor them. They are not just doing this for me, but for all of us who have had the misfortune to experience this hideous disease. And if you have a moment, go to the MoonWalk’s Where The Money Goes page and take a look at the many amazing projects, grants and research that they support. If you have visited Penny Brohn, Maggie’s Centre or The Haven then you will have benefitted from MoonWalk support. If you have used a cold cap system, it could have been provided for by a MoonWalk grant. If you were treated at Christie’s and visited their Complimentary Therapy Unit, again you have benefited from the MoonWalk’s fundraising. And of course, the research they fund could help prevent many many more of our friends, relatives and loved ones going through this ordeal. Close to my heart, I was gladdened to see that they are also funding vital research into secondary breast cancer.
So, their fundraising page again: https://moonwalkscotland2017.everydayhero.com/uk/nicki-and-sarah
I am tweeting support for them throughout the night using inspirational walking songs (oh yes!) to encourage them along the route (mwha ha haa haaaa!). Do join in if you’re on twitter: @wildsidejam @nickibaguley @sarah_baguley #SongsForWalking #MoonWalkScot
Thank you x
I have been very slow to tell you that my cup, indeed, overfloweth. Or rather, my cup is now fitting very well. Thanks to the lovely Monique in John Lewis Birmingham. Following my last visit to Surgical Spice, I was able to throw out the soft bras and finally get myself sorted with something a little more appropriate. Underwired is out for now and likely to be for some time but before I plunged into the lingerie department once more, I needed to have an idea of what size to be buying.
My mastectomy in March 2016 removed a kilo (I kid you not!) of breast tissue and replaced it with shoulder muscle in a mound that was considerably smaller than my removed boob. My reduction this March (2017) removed half a kilo to bring it down to a size that matched my Foob (false boob). Before any of these shenanigans I was wearing a 36F. I knew it was too small and figured I should be in a G cup. So imagine my surprise on discovering that I currently measure a 36F!
I have gone from a size 18 top to a size 14. I can see my stomach for possibly the first time since I was 12. My shoulders no longer ache and my back is much improved. And yet, apparently I am the same bust size I was pre cancer … Methinks my bras were a tad smaller than I realised!
In other news, I have been having increasing problems with my left arm since my last surgery. It is painful on stretching, down to my hand and thumb. The pain is worst in my forearm, and certain movements are now becoming tricky. It has magnified since we’ve been out boating. That may be co-incidence or it may be linked to increased use. Difficult to say. Being the cheery soul that I am my first thoughts were to bury my head, ostrich style. I do denial so well. My next, was to convince myself I was developing lymphoedema but given that pain is not usually an isolated symptom and I have no swelling or other symptoms it seems unlikely. My third and most sensible thought was to call Breast Cancer Care’s helpline who in turn put me onto my Breast Care Team. The result? I have an appointment in a couple of week’s time. Annoying as I would really rather forget all about it now and just get on with living, thank you very much. But then again, I am very grateful to have access to such care.
I can hardly believe it has been eight weeks since my last surgery. But it has. Eight whole weeks. It seems a lot longer because I am so well and have recovered so much faster than I have done from any other surgical procedure I have ever had. Getting to grips with my dressing problems no doubt helped but I think knowing that this was the last big thing to happen was a major psychological boost. Having had a total of 1.450kg removed from my chest has probably helped too (1kg at mastectomy, 450g at reduction).
Anyway, today I got to see Surgical Spice for what may be the last time. But more of that later. Given that we are no longer land based, it involved a boat trip back to central Birmingham and then for the first time ever I walked to my appointment. This was actually rather fun thanks to brilliant sunshine. My Foob (fake boob) is looking excellent. It has healed well and no longer twitches quite so alarmingly. It still has the potential for a bit of tit twitching but it is not something I am practising and Surgical Spice is not keen to re-operate on that bit. Which is good as I am less than keen to subject myself to yet more surgery unless absolutely necessary. My Much Reduced But Still Real Boob is also healing well, although the scars are not what they should be yet. I have been instructed to be more vigorous in massaging both the scars and the breast in general as there appears to be some fat necrosis internally. This is not as alarming as it sounds and will settle down. The symmetry is excellent and all things considered everything looks very good. My histology results were also fine and given that I had totally forgotten about them were clearly something I was not worrying about.
The next stage is for nipple reconstruction and this is where things got a little complicated. My hospital is going through some major reorganisation and my lovely consultant will no longer be working there from June. This is a sad loss for the hospital and the service as the skills she brings will no longer be available to this NHS Trust. She is the only surgeon able to perform certain procedures like the DIEP flap reconstruction which was my reason for being referred there in the first place. I will not be recovered sufficiently for my new nipple to be formed before she leaves which leaves me with two options. One, have whoever replaces her at my treating hospital; or two, aim for the NHS Choose & Book service which may allow me to continue to be seen by her even though she will no longer be working within the NHS. I am inclined to continue under her care if possible given that she knows my history and I am so nearly through my treatment so will aim for that option. Once this is done, I get to explore the world of tattoos!
Once again, this appointment was rounded off with a trip to the medical imaging department as topless photos are now a standard part of my visits. I would quite like a complete set to see the changes but suspect this is not possible!
This weekend marked something of a landmark. It was the first weekend that the Captain and I had booked in to trade at a canal event this year. When we sent off the forms it was unclear just how much I would be able to do, given that it was still fairly close to my surgery. However, I am pleased to report, as returns to work go, it was a triumph.
I did need to have a few nap-lets during each of the three trading days. And it is true, I did have a minor meltdown as we came to set up for our first day. But it felt really good to be back and doing something so normal.
We launched our Not Second Rate Raspberry & Rhubarb Jam in support of Breast Cancer Care’s Secondary Not Second Rate campaign and it went down a storm. Even the lovely Richard Parry, CEO of the Canal & Rivers Trust, bought a jar and went away clutching his Taking Care of Your Breasts leaflet. Two pounds from every jar we sell goes straight to Breast Cancer Care and at the end of the year, I will tot it up and announce the amount raised on our website & Facebook pages.
Finally, the Captain managed to make it into the local paper. If you want to read more, see here. I think I may need to remind him who’s business this is … 😉