ovarian cancer

Chemo 5 Pre-Assessment and Another Hospital Admission 

Please note that this is a backdated blog post from Tuesday 21st June 2016 – I’ve just not had the time or brain capacity to complete it….

—-

After an amazing time at my local Race for Life event on Sunday with my nearest and dearest, I was in high spirits and feeling good about the next stage in my journey.

The long awaited week of my first chemo post surgery had finally arrived and, although I was obviously anxious about the side affects I was equally excited to get treatment back underway.

For me, my chemo week starts on a Monday with a visit to my local oncology department to have blood tests. These are simply to check all my levels are suitably high enough that a dose of chemotherapy won’t make me too unwell. Due to one of my wounds playing up the week before, however, this week I was also met by my oncologist who wanted to see how things were healing.

All was looking well and I left confident that my blood results would mirror this and I’d receive my fifth dose of chemotherapy on Wednesday as planned.

Ordinarily I drive myself to my preassessment appointments, a last bid at freedom before the side affects of chemo take hold over the next wee while. However, due to my surgery I haven’t been driving lately and so my parents accompanied me on this particular appointment. This was lovely as it meant that, not only did they get to meet some of the team that have been caring for me, but also that we could go and have lunch together before they drove me home.

However, as is often the case with cancer, it had other plans. Half way through lunch I started to feel unwell. My tummy was cramping and painful and I just wasn’t feeling myself. In my typical approach to life, I tried to battle on but by the time they got me home I just needed my bed.

As soon as they left I was in my PJs, in my bed and had taken some breakthrough morphine for extra pain relief. I’m fairly certain I’d fallen asleep before they’d even left my street.

Most disappointingly I’d arranged for a friend to pop round briefly that evening while my husband visited his parents. Sadly those plans too had to be cancelled – having cancer is bad enough, having cancer have a say in what you can and can’t do is just plain annoying!

I slept for a good couple of hours before waking to constant sickness. I feared that a repeat of the previous week was on the cards, made worse by the thought that this could potentially delay my next dose of chemo. This brought a new kind of fear as, although chemo isn’t exactly ‘pleasant’ it is a necessary evil and it had already been delayed two weeks!..what would this mean in terms of my journey?…

So many questions went through my head about what a hospital admission would mean that, in hindsight, I probably suffered longer than would be advisable before I eventually called my husband and asked him to come home.

Unsurprisingly when I then called the oncology ward they advised that I came in to be checked.

It’s odd really, I made the decision to call them, I knew they’d want to see me but, somewhere, in the back of my mind, I just wanted them to tell me I was fine and should sleep it off. Sadly it’s never that simple with cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I think the oncology ward staff are exceptional but all I was focusing on was the fear of another admission and the potential of my chemo being delayed – again.

My fears were met. I was admitted. I was taken for chest and abdominal X-rays…something I loath as I’ve had so many in the last few weeks and they are, afterall, just exposing my body to more radiation. I was then given three bags of IV fluids overnight and given a syringe driver to provide me with constant anti-sickness drugs.

The Dr that came to see me on the ward let me know that my blood tests from my preassessment had been fine – my white blood count, infection markers etc were all in a ‘safe’ range for receiving chemo. However, knowing that my magnesium levels are prone to dropping, and also recognising that one of the side affects of this for me is sickness, I asked what my magnesium levels had been like during my preassessment. She let me know that they hadn’t been tested and agreed to have them looked into. As it turns out I was right to question this. My magnesium levels were low and, subsequently, magnesium was added to the fluid IV I received overnight.

By the time I’d had my X-rays and been attached to IV fluids and a syringe driver it was 1.30am. I was exhausted but I felt safe. Despite not wanting to be admitted, there is something so wonderful and nurturing about the care and compassion shown by the nurses that treat me. When my husband left to go home they sat with me, they held me and they listened until I felt calm enough to sleep. I’m sure they were busy, I’m sure they had a million things on their mind but in that moment they made me feel like I was all that mattered and that’s a gift. That’s real care.

The next morning my oncologist came to see me. Both of us were unsure what had caused this ‘blip’ after being so well during my preassessment only hours before. Perhaps it had been because my magnesium levels were low or perhaps I’d just inenvertently had a tiny amount of gluten at lunch with my parents (I have a gluten allergy). Whatever the cause, by morning I felt much better and my oncologist agreed that my chemo could go ahead but just a day late (Thursday) so as to allow my body time to rest.

I was happy and releived. Once again I felt supported by a whole team who see me as a patient and not just a condition. They understood my concerns, the comforted me and they put plans in place. Most importantly they removed my fears. The greatest gift of all.

Love and light, Fi xxx

Please spare two minutes to nominate me for a justgiving award.

ovarian cancer

Fact: Smear Tests DO NOT screen for ovarian cancer…

Smear tests DO NOT screen for ovarian cancer. In fact there is NO reliable screening test available for ovarian cancer!

Shocked?!!

Don’t feel bad…one research study states:-

More than half of women think a cervical smear test will detect ovarian cancer. [However] a cervical smear is designed to detect pre cancerous changes to the cervix, and it does not detect ovarian cancer. 

Wow! Scary thought?!

So what can you do?

  • Know the symptoms.
  • Be aware of your body.
  • Notice changes that aren’t normal for you.
  • Visit your GP if you are concerned.
  • Be persistent – regardless of your age and family history!

Remember I was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer at 30 years old and I DO NOT have a BRCA gene mutation. I exercised daily, never smoked, rarely drank and I ate healthy non processed, gluten free food.

Cancer does not discriminate!

What symptoms should you look out for?

  • Persistent bloating.
  • Eating less and/or feeling full faster.
  • Abdominal pains.
  • Needing to pee more often.
  • Change in bowel habits.

What were my symptoms?

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Needing to get up to pee a couple of times a night.
  • Weight gain.
  • Tiredness.
  • Sugar cravings.

Looking back, I had all of these symptoms for over two years. 

The survival rate of a woman with a stage four ovarian diagnosis like mine is low. In fact, just 18% of us will survive five years.*

In contrast 46% of women diagnosed at an earlier stage are still alive after five years.

Think about that for a minute.

That is some difference in life expectancy. 

How different could my story have been if there was more awareness about ovarian cancer symptoms made publically available…

Don’t let my diagnosis be in vain. Be the Change. Save lives.

  • Listen to your body.
  • Take control.
  • Don’t become a statistic.

By sharing this blog post with your friends, family and loved ones together, just maybe, we can ensure ovarian cancer receive the attention it deserves.

Together we can educate women.

Together we can empower women.

Together we can save lives.

Thank you!

Love and light, Fi xxx

*Statistics don’t phase me and they certainly don’t change my positive outlook. They are just numbers. They can’t provide guarantees for either life or death.

Instead I focus on each day. If I wake up feeling good then it’s a good day. If I wake up feeling bad then I spend it looking for the joy.

I’m positive but I’m realistic.

I live in the moment. I practice gratitude. I make happy memories.

I hope for the best but I’ve made my peace with the worst.

It’s the only way to live a fulfilling and happy life xxxx

Uncategorized

The Joys of an Oncology Ward

You may expect an oncology ward to be a sad place. A place of suffering and tears. Pain and death. A place where people have lost hope and with it their spirit, their vibrancy taken by the many drugs, treatments and procedures.

You’d be wrong…

I remember at the start of the film ‘Love Actually’, Hugh Grant describes the love you see in an airport; people greeting one another with hugs and kisses and happy stories of fun and laughter. I liken this to an oncology ward.

You see here there are no arguments, no stress, no hatred. There is only room for love.

The patients have a certain appreciation of life that comes with a cancer diagnosis. They laugh and joke together and quickly bond. They have a connection they don’t share with their friends and family. They know the pain they each feel, the daily struggle they each face and they see through it, sharing stories of how far they have come, supporting those at an earlier stage in their journey and learning from those who have been walking this road for many years. It is truely inspiring to watch. I am so touched by the strength of my fellow warriors.

Likewise the visitors, the friends, the family members don’t bring stress or drama or judgement. They bring hugs, photos, stories and laughter. They bring hope and a reminder of life outside the hospital walls. Most importantly they always, always bring love.

I am most inspired by the partners [mine most definitely included of course]. They are pillars of strength for the person they love. They comfort and sooth. They bring smiles and laughter to faces stained with tears. Then partner no longer looks the same and yet they look beyond it. They show the importance of loving a soul and not a body.

There, of course, is a sadness too in their eyes. Sometimes they cry with their loved one. Sometimes they just hold them, offering a comfort that no one else on this earth could match. It’s a real test of a relationship to witness. While their partner goes through treatment they have to take on every role in the family home, whilst also caring for an incredibly sick loved one and emotionally dealing with the implications of their diagnosis. Some of these relationships have children and they are called on to care for and reassure them also. I struggle to find the words about how beautiful and wonderful these relationships are to witness but the words ‘soul mates’ comes to mind, after all, once cancer strips your identity and everything you’d expected in your life together what else is left apart from two connected souls.

The same can be said of the staff. In an oncology ward there is time to get to know your patients, what makes them laugh and cry, what they are feeling, who they are as a person when you look beyond their diagnosis. Many of their patients have been on the ward more than once and, almost always, for extended periods of time. Watching the nurses as they laugh and joke and comfort the people in their care it is sometimes hard to remember the pain these caring souls also deal with too. They connect with their patients on a long and challenging journey then, all to often, are at their side when they pass. Yet despite this they smile, offering strength and courage, hope and determination to those in the greatest of need. In minutes they can go from hearing a patient be told they will soon pass to making jokes with another patient whose soul needs to be enlightened with positivity once more. These are true angels at work and I am so blessed to have witnessed them. I have so many stories of the support each of my oncology angels gave me whilst in hospital. We’ve shared hugs, jokes, tears and laughter. They have been true blessings on a challenging journey. I send so much love to them all.

I once again reflect on the gifts cancer has given me, most importantly the gift of seeing true love in the everyday. We truly live in a wonderful world filled with hope and possibility and love – you just need to know where to look.

Love and light, Fi xxx 

Uncategorized

What is Person Centred Care?

I’ve spent the vast majority of my working life talking about person centred health care. About putting ‘the patient’ first and adapting services to meet their needs. I thought that’s what it was all about. I thought that’s what pateint’s wanted.

I was wrong.

Having just spent two weeks in hospital I’ve realised that person centred care isn’t just about creating individually tailored care packages – although, of course, that’s important.

Person centred care is actually much simpler. It’s just about seeing the person behind the condition.


For me during my stay in hospital there were many examples of person centred care, each aiding my recovering in magical ways:-

  • It was the woman who cleaned my hospital room sitting with me every day, holding my hand and asking me about my home and my pets.
  • It was the same woman crying with me when I was in too much pain to get out of bed; telling me she couldn’t sleep for thinking about me; kneeling beside my bed, rubbing my arm and telling me she loves me and wants me to get better.
  • It was the auxiliary nurse who sat with me for over an hour in the middle of the night talking about her grandchildren and showing me pictures to keep me company because I coudn’t sleep.
  • It was every member of my care team who asked what my job was, what my hobbies were, if I had pets or children or basically anything about me and not my condition or diagnosis.
  • It was the other woman who cleaned my room seeing a pile of photos by my bed of my beautiful neice and nephews and putting them on the wall for me without being asked.
  • It was then every person who asked about the smiling children in the photos on display.
  • It was the Dr who talked to me about what had been happening in a shared favourite TV show while she took a heart trace which involved her seeing me naked, rather than making the situation unnecessarily awkward.
  • It was the nurse who told me she thought I was beautiful when she saw the framed wedding photo in my room, rather than just seeing the far from attractive ‘cancer patient’ lying in front of her.
  • It was the nurse who sat with me during her breaks, even when she was working on a different ward because she had supported me through an anxiety attack soon after my surgery and now knew me as a person.
  • It was the surgeon who released me from hospital for a couple of hours to visit the beach to help me feel less anxious.
  • It was every person who took the time to know me…

This is quality care.

This is what makes a difference.

This is what I’ll remember during my recovery and always.

I’ve learnt that when at your lowest, lower than you thought humanly possible, this is all that matters – the compassion of one human to another. The care, the time and the consideration to show love to another spirit.

How blessed I am to have seen this on my journey.

I can only hope that more people will realise that this is the care that gets people through hard recovery times. Yes, I’m not going to lie, of course the drugs help(!!) but it’s compassion and love that give you something to live for.

Love and light, Fi xxx

Uncategorized

“The Cancer Whisperer”: Chemo 4 – Day 20

Today I was feeling much more tired than normal…a sacrifice I’d made after some early birthday celebrations with friends last night. Which, as a side note, was a lovely evening and exactly what I needed. The restaurant even surprised me with a birthday cake and balloons 💜

Anyway….I digress…

As a result I wasn’t up to doing much today and so spent most of the day reading a new book that I’d bought under the recommendation of a friend – “The Cancer Whisperer” by Sophie Sabbage.

Well, the book is incredible…I’m already nearly half way through it!

Since my diagnosis I’ve read lots of books about cancer. These range from books written by Drs or researchers or even survivors. This book was different though. It was the first time I’ve read a book by a person who still has cancer. A person who, like me, is living with stage four cancer and is aware that, medically speaking, her cancer is ‘incurable’.

More importantly, however, despite this (or perhaps because of this…) she shares my positive outlook on life.

It was so inspiring for me to read her story and her approach to her diagnosis. I felt every word on the page spoke to my soul. Whilst reading her words, I was no longer the ‘unique case’ my oncologist and surgeon describe, but instead I felt like I was reading the words of a kindred spirit.

There is so much comfort in knowing that there is someone else in the world with stage four cancer who isn’t giving in to nor fighting (a term I loath!) the disease but is instead letting it allow her to grow as a person whilst healing her life. I am sure (or at least hope) that there are many others who share our outlook but, whilst I have read the positive outlooks of people who have recovered from stage 1, 2 or 3 cancer, stage 4 cancer patients don’t often appear to share this outlook…or indeed share their story…with others.

The thing that resonated with me most in her book is the emphasis she places on taking control of your disease and taking ownership of the decisions being made. This is also encouraged by Kelly A Turner in her book “Radical Remission”  and something I do without thought – I mean why wouldn’t I want to know everything there is to know about my illness whilst also being involved in the decisions about my treatment and care. However, I am becoming increasingly aware that this is not something I share with all cancer patients and this unsettles me. How can people be expected to heal without all the information? Sometimes people don’t even want to know what stage their cancer is – I can’t relate to this at all. I want to know everything…I mean everything!… about my illness and possible treatment. However, when I recently asked one of the surgeons if I could see my scan results I was told that I was the first person ever to ask. Ever?!

I’ve found that whilst my Drs are initially surprised by my calm and rational (and often emotionally detached) questioning, they also appear refreshed by the opportunity to talk openly about my illness with me in a way in which I am made to feel welcomed as a contributor rather than a bystander. However, I still have the impression that they hold back, perhaps unsure if my ’emotional detachment’ is denial or a front – it is in fact neither and merely an ability I hold to detach myself and reserve dealing with the information emotionally at a later stage (usually once I am home and talking through the facts with my husband). I hope that as I progress through my journey that my Drs become more comfortable with sharing information about me with me (ironic really when you think about it).

I truely feel that one of the most valuable lessons from my journey is to take total ownership of my health. I can only hope that in the future integrated, person-centred treatment of cancer patients will have become the norm in cancer care.

Love and light, Fi xx 

ovarian cancer

Mixed Emotions: Chemo 4 – Day 2…

Today is the day before chemo four and, as always before a chemo dose, I had a mixture of emotions ranging from excitement that my cancer would be receiving another hit to dread at the prospect of the onslaught of the subsequent side affects – I’ve just begun to start feeling like a normal human being again over the last couple of days how can it be time for another dose?!

As a result of the mixed emotions I also became terrified of my phone ringing today…let me explain…when they take my blood tests on day one there is always the possibility that my blood count will not be high enough for another dose of chemotherapy. If this is the case then the chemotherapy ward will call me to let me know. Normally they would call on day one, however yesterday was a holiday and so they would have been calling today. So, whilst I am dreading another dose of chemo it turns out that I was dreading not receiving it even more – crazy I know!

I class the day before chemo as my ‘last day of freedom’. It’s usually the day I feel my best as my white blood count should be at its highest point in the cycle. Although still suffering from fatigue and in pain from where my tumours are I wanted to do something nice for my couple of hours of exertion today and so had lunch with the most special little lady in my life – my four year old niece! We had a lovely time filled with giggles, play dough and stickers! Exactly what was needed to take my mind off of things. My favourite point was when out of the blue she said: “you are beautiful Fifi…but you do have no hair”. I love her!

After returning her home I was absolutely knackered! Unfortunately, however, the day before chemo also involves a late night as I am required to take 10…yes 10!…steroids at midnight. This is to help prevent me having a reaction to the chemotherapy tomorrow (I also have to take 10 more at 7am!). Thank goodness I have no issues swallowing tablets!

12952855_10208638448536940_1548944650_o

Tonight also involves getting my ‘chemo survival kit’ together. My chemotherapy is administered over 7-8 hours and during this time I am sitting in an armchair unable to leave the ward so it’s good to have a range of activities to hand! This time I am taking a couple of books I am reading just now about cancer, a fiction novel, an adult colouring book (because they are amazing and sooo relaxing!) and a portable dvd player. I’ve learnt that sometimes receiving chemo can make me really tired meaning that I only have the energy to watch a rom com, whilst other times I am able to read quite easily…so now I take a range of things to cover all eventualities.

Having already had three treatments I now also appreciate the importance of feeling comfortable so I always bring slippers and a blanket too!

On a practical note I take gloves to wear on the way to the hospital – this is to help make my hands warm and subsequently help to make my veins come to the surface so that it’s easier for the nurses to get a cannula in. I also take anti-bacteria gel and tissues. Finally I take a notebook and my diary because I am likely to be given a lot of information and dates that my chemo brain will never remember!

12962680_10208638377495164_1074889468_o

I also take some food with me. This is for two reasons…firstly hospital food is disgusting(!) and secondly as I have a gluten allergy and now also limit my dairy and sugar intake it is much easier to control what I am eating if I make it myself. This time I am taking a homemade buckwheat salad (yes buckwheat is gluten free – news to me too!), some seeds and some fruit.

12922340_10208638377215157_247514102_o

So for the next 90 minutes I will be fighting sleep and tiredness until I can take my steroids and go to bed. In the past this dose of steroids causes me to wake me up about 2am with a burst of energy and I am then unable to sleep the rest of the night – we will see what happens tonight…

Love and light, Fi xxx

 

Uncategorized

The benefits of exercise… 

After years of doing research and writing research papers I’ve now been given the opportunity to be in one…Macmillan are doing a national study to look at the affects of exercise on cancer treatment and prognosis.

To do this they have employed and trained personal trainers across the UK to work with cancer patients to develop a specialist program of exercise. In Scotland they are working in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee and the Borders. Patients involved in the study will be given 12 free sessions and then unlimited sessions for a low fee each month for the rest of their lives. In exchange their fitness, response to treatment and side affects to cancer and treatment will be monitored every three months. The results of the study will be published by Macmillan later next year. It is hoped that the evidence will demonstrate that exercise has a positive impact on all aspects of a cancer patient’s care, their response to treatment, and whether or not they relapse. If proven effective, this scheme will be spread across other areas.

I feel both honoured and privileged to have been asked to be a part of this study. Not only will it allow me to bring back one of the joys in my life but it also gives me an opportunity to play an active part in the growing research in the importance of providing holistic patient care. More importantly it enables me to be a part of shaping what holistic cancer care may look like in the future.

I am really excited about this opportunity and hope to see some good results in recovering my fitness, strength and lung capacity.

Watch this space…

love and light, Fi xx

Uncategorized

Valuing Friendships…Old and New…

I am so blessed and happy to have so many wonderful people who message to see how I’m getting on – I never knew how much love there was in my life until now.

I often say that I view my cancer as a blessing and I truly mean it – it’s changed my perspective on life; showed me what really matters; and let me see where the joy, love and happiness is. Things we all too often take for granted until it’s too late 💜

It has also brought old friends back into my life – rekindling friendships lost or forgotten but still full of love and happy memories.

I’ve also developed some wonderful new friendships with people who have had or have cancer. The support we can offer each other is priceless.

These friendships fill me with hope and bring me positivity every day. I love you all, Fi xx

1936355_10208323768270130_5727323338250357270_n.jpg

Uncategorized

Pain, drain and a friend’s baby

Today was another busy day. I knew I was to be admitted to the oncology ward but didn’t have a time and had been told to just wait for a phone call. However, instead I woke to the wonderful news that one of my best friends had given birth to her baby girl during the night – and in the hospital I was being admitted to! Nothing brightens your day like meeting a brand new baby!

Barely able to concentrate after that awesome news, I spend the next hour reading through the information sheet on the drug trial my oncologist suggested I enter and writing a list of questions. I had so many! My poor oncologist underestimated asking someone who is a researcher for a living to enter a drug trial!

The hospital then called to ask me to come in just after lunch – I was to have another abdominal drain to remove the fluid that had built up in my abdomen (again) and then tomorrow a biopsy of my cancer and then on Thursday a kidney function test for my chemotherapy – so a few days in hospital were definitely on the cards again!

I had already booked a head and foot massage at my favourite salon a few days ago for this morning and I wasn’t away to cancel it so the owner very kindly squeezed me in a wee bit earlier. This meant I got to have an hour of something nice happening to my body, rather than the needles and tests it had been constantly subjected to over the last few weeks! I’ve been told I can’t have a body massage because of my tumours but the head and foot massage were utter bliss! This may be something I’ll include in my weekly treatment to help ground me and give me something nice and relaxing to look forward to.

After that my husband and I headed to the hospital where the labour suite made an exception, given the circumstances, and let us sneak in for 15 minutes to meet my friend’s new baby. She was utter perfection! And it was such an honour to meet her whilst still in hospital! Wonderful and definitely a highlight of recent events!

When we arrived on the oncology ward I was taken for an ultrasound to mark where would be best to put the drain in my abdomen to remove the fluid. This was painless and just involved a big black marker pen!

I was then subjected to countless nurses and Drs coming for chats about my diagnosis and treatment, including my oncologist coming in to answer my questions about the drug trial. During this chat she explained that only 60 people in the UK will be given the drug and only 9 of these will be in the hospital that I am being treated in. She also explained that I would be the first in this hospital to be given the drug. I felt reassured by her answers though and encouraged that she said if she were in my position she would enter the trial. On this basis I have initially agreed to enter the trial – although I can change my mind at any time.

She also filled out my cancer insurance forms – yes I have cancer insurance and I highly(!) recommend that anyone with a family history gets it! It costs about £5 a month and, let me tell you, cancer is an expensive lifestyle and money is definitely required! I sadly discovered that my life insurance doesn’t cover me because I only have critical illness cover and not terminal illness cover – also something I suggest people look into while they are still fit and healthy! It’s not morbid – it’s sensible!

The meeting with my oncologist was also really upsetting. She explained that she can’t cure my cancer. She can get me into remission but the cancer may come back and then I may go through this process again. When you are 30 and full of life this is not easy to hear and take in. It didn’t physically hit me until two hours later though when I saw my husband and I just cried and cried. It’s something I knew but hearing it was part of accepting it.

After all these chats – which lasted over three hours! – it was time to have a cannula put in my wrist and  a drain put in my abdomen. The Dr came to put the cannula in and it was so painful I actually called him a bastard! Poor guy because in reality he was lovely but the word just came out! The research nurse then came and tried and put one in my other hand. This time we managed to get through without any additional profanities!

The Dr then came back (the one I’d sworn at) to put a drain in my tummy. This involves injecting local anaesthetic into my tummy and then cutting a small hole and inserting a tiny tube to be left in overnight. The hole is only about 0.5cm across but it goes through your abdominal muscle and, although I’d had a drain in the past, I just couldn’t take the pain at all and he had to stop after a number of attempts. In hindsight I’ve realised that when I’m feeling emotional about something, my pain threshold is lowered (like when I had the dye at my CT scan) and so I think this was a result of having just had a chat with my oncologist. So, we are planning to have another go in the morning in the radiology ward when they do the biopsy of one of my tumours – fingers crossed it goes more smoothly. Usually my pain threshold is very high!

Now I am, once again, worn out from all the prodding and so I’m having an early night to ensure I’m ready for another busy day tomorrow.

Before bed though I managed to squeeze in a wee bit of tomato soup with ‘buzzy bee’ and my husband by my side for company – I’m pretty sure the nurses think I’m weird but it brings me comfort and reminds me of friends and that’s all that really matters!…

love and light, Fi xx

img_1902

Uncategorized

Drug Trial…

So today was officially one week since my cancer diagnosis…although it feels like months because so much has happened and my brain is about to explode with all the new information it now contains!

Anyway, today was a busy one. First I had to meet with my GP and we talked about the support they can offer which includes them being available for calls and appointments if I have any questions, supporting my husband and putting together an anticipatory care plan for when I start chemotherapy incase I ever go into hospital out of hours. They were lovely and helpful and it was encouraging to see the NHS working as it should. She also signed me off work for 6 months as a starting point. Whilst this is great on one hand as it means I can focus on my health and recovery, it was also really challenging as work is a really important part of my life and I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoy what they do for a living! Madness I know! She also noted my husband as my carer. This is a weird one to get my head round – I’m a (very!) strong willed, independent 30 year old woman so the notion of having a ‘carer’ is totally alien to me but luckily I married a superhero so if anyone can do it I know he can xxx

Following this my husband and I went to our local Maggie’s Centre to meet with the volunteers and talk about the resources and classes that they have on offer. This is an amazing service and entirely free!! I was soon signed up to ovarian cancer support groups and hair loss groups and given lots of clear information on my diagnosis and treatment. My husband was also given loads of support and information and this is so important – since my diagnosis I can honestly say that I think it’s harder on my husband, family and friends as they try to find their role in my journey and as I try to figure out where I will need the most support…this is something I guess I will get to know more clearly once I start my treatment and figure out what I can and can’t do for myself anymore. In the meantime it’s just chats and messages and knowing that they are there – which they are in abundance! Cue teary sentimental moment!

It was then time to go to my oncology appointment to meet the oncologist who would now be looking after me. She is lovely! We chatted about my diagnosis and she had a feel of my tummy and then she talked about the chemotherapy drugs I’ll be taking (more on that when I actually start). She explained that chemo will work by destroying the cancer cells in my body and stopping it growing new blood vessels. I will be given three different types of chemo through a drip every three weeks for a period of nine weeks. After this I will have another CT scan and then she will decide if I have surgery or another nine weeks of chemo and then surgery.

She also explained that there is a clinical drug trial taking place in which patients with my type of ovarian cancer (a genetic BRCA gene mutation that has lead to stage 3 or 4 cancer) are given an additional drug during their chemo and for two years after, that aims to stop cancer cells coming back. Obviously it isn’t yet licensed and so definitely a lot to think about before making my decision!

She gave me a lot of information and sent me away home to chat it over with family and sleep on it. I was then told that I would be admitted to the oncology ward tomorrow for a couple of days for some tests before starting my chemo next Wednesday.

I felt completely overwhelmed with information when I left her office and so headed home with my husband for a serious chat about our decision about the trial with my parents. I have to admit I was knackered though and so decided to leave it till tomorrow – it never ceases to amaze me how exhausting I find everything just now!

love and light, Fi xx