Diagnosis: Cancer

I am back on my blog but this time I am fighting a different battle. I went from getting so excited about being able to run with more ease after my asthma diagnosis and feeling so healthy to “you have breast cancer”. Yes you read that correctly. It was rather a shock I must say.

It was the 21st of March and we had just had the most amazing day mosaicing and drinking fabulous gin n tonics. It was such a lovely day with friends. I went to sleep that night with a happy heart. This was however rudely shattered when I fell asleep on my tummy and felt some pain in my breast. I rolled over and found a lump. My brain went into overdrive and I tried to convince myself that I was imagining it. It was however unmistakably a lump. The next day was a holiday so I couldn’t get it seen to or even make an appointment so I had a rather stressful day mulling and overthinking it. I managed to get an emergency appointment at the Breast Wellness Centre at Sunninghill on the Tuesday. They were really fantastic to squeeze me in and I was so grateful. The ladies in the waiting room weren’t too pleased as they took a while doing my biopsies. These were surprisingly not sore at all and quite fascinating to watch. The dr didn’t really like what she saw so I kind of knew there was something ominous.

They called me on the Thursday morning of the same week and it was the news I didn’t really want to hear. From that phone call it was like a garbled mess. There was so much to be done and everything happened at lightning speed. Appointments were made for me and I did nothing but rocked up! I saw the surgeon on the Thursday afternoon. This was the first reality check and it came down like a ton of bricks. My friend Sarah came with me thank goodness as I don’t think I could have done it alone. All the family were away and I was on my ace for this. My surgeon told me that I have triple negative breast cancer which means that this type of cancer doesn’t respond to hormonal treatment as it has no receptors for them. It thus has to be treated with chemotherapy followed by surgery. Chemotherapy of course means that I would lose my hair. This was the straw that broke the camels back and just cried with Sarah. Ugly cried! But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. My surgeon also commented that I have very big boobs. My response was “you think?” We had a good laugh!! So she gave me the options of the surgeries to think about and she soon realised that this would be the easiest part for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I have rather uncomfortable boobs and they are a pain. This is not quite the way I planned to get rid of them but hey I won’t complain. I also had to go into hospital to have my sentinel lymph node removed. This is the lymph node that first indicates the spread of the cancer. This was booked for Tuesday the next week.

I then saw my oncologist on the Friday afternoon and she gave me the treatment plan that is being developed for me. I really felt that I was in good hands with these two ladies looking after me. My oncologist tried to be more diplomatic about my boob size and we had a good laugh when I told her what my surgeon said. My oncologist also has an assistant who I can contact at any time on Whatsapp which is really fantastic!

Did I say whirlwind? Flip it happened so quickly. I had to go for an MRI and full body CT on the Monday which was uneventful with the staff at Parklane Clinic being awesome! I then had to go and receive an injection to enable my surgeon to find the sentinel lymph node in my armpit. This is a nuclear injection and I had no information about it. I thought it would be injected into my arm however I got the fabulous news that this would be injected directly into my boob so that it would flow to the node. This made sense but didn’t ease my nerves! I asked the technician if it was painful and the idiot responded by saying that he didn’t know as he had never had it. My dislike for this person escalated and he nearly got a slap! I then asked how the other patients reacted and he said some don’t and some say it feels like an insect bite. Well I can confirm that it didn’t feel like an insect bite, it left like someone was injecting fire into me! The gent got a lesson in swearwords and was feeling distinctly sheepish. I didn’t feel the second injection, I am not sure why but it was perhaps the fact that I was hyperventilating with adrenalin coursing through my veins. Luckily that was all the pain I experienced with this exercise.

I then checked into the Parklane Clinic on the Tuesday for my node removal. I had to stay overnight as I had a drain but it all went very well. The nursing staff at Parklane were really fantastic. I must say it was the best nursing care I have had in a hospital in a long time. I did give them a bit of a heart attack as my pulse rate was too low for their liking and it doesn’t appear that they get many fit people! The alarm kept going off when they checked my blood pressure and pulse! LOL

When I saw the oncologist before my first chemo session, she indicated that all my scans and lymph node tests were all negative so no spread. This was fantastic news and my prognosis is very good. I had my first chemo session on the 6th of April. Drip upon drip of stuff for 4 hours. I particularly liked the antihistamine which made me pass out! Pity I didn’t get that at the beginning! I was quite unsure of how the chemo would go but I came prepared with lots of snacks and drinks, my pillow and a new fluffy blankie. I watched series on my phone and was quite content really. I got an impressive repertoire of drugs for after the chemo and was prepared for anything. You just have the images of people hugging the toilet bowl after chemo. Luckily I have had minimal symptoms. I got a sore throat and a bad headache and my tummy was rather grumpy the second week (whilst in Kruger). I am really hoping to maintain this through the chemo but only the next session will tell.

I have just about lost all my hair and I am surprisingly ok with it now. Just one meltdown was required! I decided that I need to donate my hair for someone who needs a wig. My beautiful friend Haley recommended a lovely little place in Linden called A Few Grey Hairs. They arranged for my hair to be harvested and gave me a spiffy new hairdo. The best was that I arranged a hair cutting party and all my closest friends actually participated in cutting off my hair. It was such fun. My beautiful friend Helen also shaved her hair off for me. My sister had her hair harvested for wigs too. Did you know you can donate your hair without shaving your whole head? The other beautiful ladies are all getting pink hair strips put into their hair for me. My friends have just been amazing. To say I am lucky is an understatement.

Harvesting party

Please join me on this journey back to health! There will be a pink comeback run at the end of this all.

12 thoughts on “Diagnosis: Cancer

  1. My friend you are so much stronger than you realise!! You WILL beat this, and hordes of us are here whenever you need help. Keep believing and fighting, celebrations will come along the way. Love you loads πŸ’žπŸ’ž


  2. Liesl, I’m so sorry to hear of your diagnosis but I love your positive attitude! Take care of yourself, I’ll be thinking healing thoughts for you. Love Carmen


  3. Wow Liz,you are such an amazing soul and very inspirational.I wish you all the best in your journey to health and I’ll definitely be participating in that pink run.πŸ’œ


  4. hi Liesl, jy is n amazing sterk vrou en jy is altyd postief. Ek dink aan ju en stuur vir jou baie liefde en drukke en nog.
    Ek sal daar wees vir die pink run.
    Wees rustig.


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