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CT Scan…finding the cancer

Following the news I had cancer my consultant asked me to come to hospital the next day and be admitted as an inpatient. This was so I could get a CT scan, some medication to manage the pain and sickness and a drip to manage my dehydration.

I was told to arrive at 10am and, because I didn’t know how long I’d be in for and because I love an excuse for some nature time, I went for an early morning walk with my husband. Isn’t there something magical about the cold winter air when you are feeling down and crapy?!

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It was a beautiful day and really helped to give us some perspective, and time away from our constantly buzzing phones(!), to just be alone together and talk about what was going to be happening over the next year.

When we arrived at the hospital I was put on a drip as planned – cue a million attempts at getting a cannula in my hand!…hard to believe I used to be a blood donor with the hopeless veins I know have!

I was told I’d been booked in for my CT scan at 2pm so in the meantime I sat and chatted with my husband and two sisters playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’ – if you’ve not played it before I can only warn you that it is not for the faint hearted(!!) and probably sums up my dry sense of humour entirely! It is a great laugh!

There was almost a sense of relief in going for my CT scan – it may sound crazy but I knew it was taking me one step closer to my recovery and although I knew it was likely to uncover news I didn’t want to hear, it was all part of the necessary process. However, once I was in the CT room I had what we will call my first ‘moment’. They had to put dye in the cannula in my hand and it was so painful! I am pretty good on the old pain threshold side of things but wow was that a sore one! I cried and think I may of actually screamed at one point as the poor nurse injected the dye and rubbed my hand for comfort.  On reflection, this was the first time I had been alone since my diagnosis and I think what actually caused this reaction wasn’t the pain but the reality of a long journey in which often only medical staff would be able to hold my hand.

The CT scan only lasted about 10 minutes and then I was able to go back to my bed on the ward. I was exhausted – it is amazing how much cancer (and not being able to eat because of cancer) exhausts you!

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That evening my husband and I met with two oncologists and were told the early results of the CT scan. They explained that they review the suspected primary sites first (in my case my ovaries) and then your vital organs (head, liver and lungs) and then the rest. Whilst we knew we would get the full results the following day following their multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting they wanted to let us know that it had been confirmed that I had cancer in my ovaries and that my head and liver were clear – well thank f%&k for that…some monumental good news in a sea of crazy!

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That night I didn’t sleep well – a result of having a bed next to the nurses station and the anxiety of waiting for the full results the next day.

love and light, Fi xx

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“we’ve found cancer cells”

I’d like to say Monday 18th January started like any other day…but it didn’t. It followed another weekend of pain, bloating and throwing up…and sadly not because of overdoing it in the pub! I’d been in the hospital the week before having 4.5ltrs of fluid drained from my abdomen and although that had briefly relived the pain I still felt crap!

That morning I was having an MRI to try and find out what was making me so unwell. Drs had told me that they expected to find some infection or scar tissue from surgery I’d had last summer but, as I’d told them and others, my gut instinct was screaming that it was something more….and more specifically that it was ovarian cancer…however my concerns were silenced for months despite my CA125 blood levels rising and ultrasounds showing masses on both my ovaries that were increasing in size.

The MRI was pretty straight forward, just lying down and listening to some Katy Perry for 45 minutes while the machine did all the work. They put some dye in my arm, but other than it making my cheeks a wee bit rosy I can’t say I really noticed.

A friend’s wee girl had sent me a ‘buzzy bee’ to keep me strong – isn’t that the cutest! – and so I snapped a cheeky wee pic afterwards to keep me smiling (he’ll be making quite a few appearances on this blog I’m sure).

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Following the MRI I went to the ward to see my consultant about my sickness. He suggested some more(!) blood tests which, as a result of my dehydration and the fact I have crap veins anyway, took 12 attempts involving three nurses and a dr! Although feeling like a pin cushion, I was still able to have a laugh with the lovely staff and really enjoyed taking to the nurses and Drs about their day.

Before I left my consultant explained that the fluid they had taken the previous week had shown no signs of infection and they were waiting on one more test result and he would call me with the results as soon as he received them.

I left the ward set on going home for a rest but that’s when things started to change…10 minutes after leaving the ward I received a call from my consultant. I’ll always remember I was sitting in a supermarket car park about to buy some GF bread. Random I know but it will stick with me forever. He didn’t say much but I knew then what was coming. He told me to meet him on the ward at 3pm and to bring my husband because they had some test results. I’d been speaking to this consultant nearly every day for two weeks and he always told me everything over the phone – although he didn’t confirm anything on the phone I knew things were no longer looking good and that my instincts had been correct.

I cried all the way home.

Two hours later my husband and I were on the ward where we were shown to a private room to wait for my consultant. When he arrived he explained that they had found cancer cells in the fluid that they had drained from my abdomen. Cancer. Such a small word. Such a huge impact. I knew then that nothing would ever be the same again.

I looked to my husband, his face just a picture of stunned disbelief. We’d just celebrated our two year wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago, how could this be happening?

The consultant started to explain the next steps but I’m not sure I heard any of it. How would I tell my parents, my sisters, my friends, my work – I was due to start my dream job in a matter of days? So many questions running through my head.

The consultant left us and a nurse brought us cups of tea.

I don’t know how long we sat there but I know that I wanted out as soon as possible. I had to tell people, I wanted it out, I wanted to scream it from the roof tops. Like that was going to make it any less real?! any less painful?!?

The hardest part of having cancer isn’t the diagnosis, it’s having to tell the people you love. Having to hear them muffle tears as they try to stay strong for you. Having to break so many hearts. That’s where the pain comes from.

My family and friends rallied round as always that night and I felt an overwhelming sense of support and love. I spent the evening phoning and texting close friends and sitting with my sisters before coming home and lying on the sofa crying with my husband – even I can’t be strong all the time…

My parents were in Spain and I had to tell them over the phone. That was the hardest call…knowing they were so far away and not being able to tell them face to face. How do you tell two loving parents that their youngest has cancer?…

love and light, Fi xx