The story of a breast cancer patient
Hi, my name is Adrienne, a couple of days ago my lovely friend Julie reminded me that today, February 4th is World Cancer day and asked if I wouldn’t mind putting a short blog together about my journey with cancer and how I have dealt with it over the years, so here goes.
My first diagnosis was in October 2013, I was 41 years old with a 13 year old son, in a very new relationship with a thriving Sports Therapy Business.
In the 15 months leading up to my own diagnosis I had lost 3 friends to breast cancer, one only 31, and two in their early 40’s – so as I am sure you can imagine, it was a time of uncertainty for both me and my family, even more so because my own Father had dies from cancer aged just 55.
Initially there was anger, I hadn’t got time for this, I had clients who needed me, how on earth was I supposed to help them if I was having to deal with this c*#p?! I’d like to say that the anger subsided reasonable quickly and acceptance had set in, but to be honest, the anger lingered for a very long time, years in fact, but that’s another story.
I was hoping to get away with just having a mastectomy, but it transpired that the cancer had spread to one of my lymph nodes, so I was going to need chemotherapy, this then put another fly in the ointment because it meant having to close my business for another 6 months on top of the three months it had already been closed. Fortunately, I had had the foresight to take out critical illness cover so my income was covered for the short term and there was one less thing to worry about.
Chemo wasn’t great for me, it made me quite poorly and caused a lot of brain fog. Whilst I appeared to be strong on the outside, I was really struggling mentally. I was pushed into early menopause so my hormones were all over the place, my night sweats so bad that I would go long periods of time with out proper sleep, this had a huge impact on my day to day life, making me very emotional with horrid mood swings too.
Fast forward to the summer of 2014, I had finished all of my treatment other than the hormone suppressant, Tamoxifen, and I was back at work – well of sorts. Prior to my diagnosis I was treating 30-40 people a week in my sports therapy practice, it was physically demanding, but I loved it, it gave me so much job satisfaction. I now found myself in a situation whereby I was struggling to treat 4 people a week. The tamoxifen was having such an impact on me physically that it was too painful to treat. So, in September 2015 I reluctantly closed the doors for good.
The time between closing my doors and today have been very up and down, both physically and emotionally. I have had to learn that the old normal no longer exists and find a new one, I have had to learn to accept myself physically – it took over 12 months to be able to look at myself in the mirror again.
In 2018 I retrained as a Clinical Hypnotherapist & Clarity Coach and think that this career change has been my saving grace if I am honest. You see, although I have always had a positive mindset, I have been known to slip into victim mode from time to time, blaming everything that had gone wrong on the cancer; oh woe is me, what have I done to deserve this?all the usual self-destructive behaviour.
I’m going to skip forward a little further now, to October 2020 when I found an inflamed lymph node in my neck. I was having reflexology with Julie at the time, she picked up that something was going on with my hormones, but to be honest I thought nothing of it at the time.
When, after a couple of weeks the lymph node hadn’t gone down, I thought it best to book in my GP, who I have to say was very on the ball. I had a blood test, from there ultrasound, which led to a fine needle aspiration and followed by CT and MRI scans – turned out they have found a rogue breast cancer cell in my lymph node, thankfully both CT & MRI were showing clear, but to be on the safe side I was sent for a PETct scan – this showed a couple of ‘suspicious’ areas in by body, so back off to the oncologist I went, still feeling okay at this stage, right up until the point the oncologist told me I had stage 4 secondary cancer and that from the PET scan it looked like it was in my leg and my lung/sternum.
It’s hard to explain how I felt at that very moment, I was dreading telling loved ones all over again. But, after 24 hours of panic and fear I decided that I needed to take back control of mind and body, so started looking at ways to change my diet and lifestyle. One book led to more research, that led to blogs and alternative therapies.
I made radical changes to my diet, cut out sugar, pasta, rice, white potato, meat and dairy – well I did say it was radical! These changes led to meltdowns because I was also looking at the blood group diet. My mission was to balance gut biomes and eradicate inflammation from my body and create an alkaline environment, all things that cancer hates. The problem was I now had no idea what on earth I was supposed to eat, basically I had gone in to panic mode.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to have chemotherapy, but have been put on an immunosuppressant called Palbociclib. The first month wasn’t great, there was a lot of nausea and I just wasn’t enjoying anything I ate.
Month two I wasn’t quite so radical, I adjusted the supplements I was taking, this in itself made a huge difference and I started to feel better and find a few meals that I was starting to enjoy.
Something else I added to my daily routine was exercise, visualisation and mediation, as well as journaling and keeping a food diary, and slowly I began to find a balance that is right for me.
I write this on February 3rd, I am week into my 3rd cycle of immunosuppressants and feel pretty darn good. My weight has dropped from 11st 10lb down to 10st 6lb, purely through diet and exercise, areas of pain and discomfort that had been present in my body for years has disappeared, I sleep better at night, I feel more energised and the lack of concentration I have experienced has gone too.
I am pretty sure that my rediagnosis was stress related, but I am sure that my weight and diet did not help matters though, and although I have tried for years to lose weight I have failed miserably, I know now that this is because my reason why was just not strong enough.
My next scan is at the end of this month, so it will be interesting to see what it brings up and just how much impact my changes have had.
So this is my story to date, albeit streamlined as much as possible, but before I’d go I’d like to share a couple of hints and tips.
Know that there are always options, it is your body and there are alternative therapies that can be used alongside traditional treatments despite what your oncologist may say
Integrative Oncologists are a great source of information, and although not free, are accessible to each and every one of us
Take a very good look at your diet, sugar DOES feed cancer, cancer DOES love inflammation in the body, it DOES NOT like oxygen or an alkaline environment.
It is important to support your immune system when you’re going through treatment
Gut health is key
Do your research, but don’t get sucked into everything and don’t try and do everything
Meditation, journaling, exercise and holistic therapies are great for mindset
Frankincense, Tumeric, ginger, garlic, lemon & greens are to be recommended, as are melatonin, shark liver oil, aloe vera & a good quality probiotic https://www.lavendertreetherapies.com/shop/
Look into Mistletoe Therapy, 60% of Germans have this alongside their traditional treatment
No two cancers are the same
Do what is right for you, not what is right for those around you
Do not let your Consultant or Oncologist put the fear of God in you
You are entitled to copies of all scan results, biopsy reports, test results & if you want it, your full medical history
My final note is that you are never alone in a cancer diagnosis, there will always be someone to chat to, there are lots of support groups across the globe who are there ready and waiting to support you.