Ok, so I’m over a week late with this. Happy New Year! As with everyone else, I reflected back on 2020 quite a lot. It was hard not to be bitter and not focus on the negatives…even my 8 year daughter cried when watching a recap of the year on tv. It was a horrible year in so many ways. But I have to take the positives. I can’t waste my energy focusing on the negatives. So I took the positives and poured my energy into those. I’m grateful to be here. Alive. Thanks to modern medicine. Thanks to the amazing team I have behind me at the Gleneagles. Thanks to my family and friends. Without them, I’m not sure how I would have gotten through 2020. Now we have to face 2021 and the unknown. I’m hopeful for this year. I have to be. I’m hopeful my treatment will come to an end and that the melanoma doesn’t raise it’s nasty head. I’m hopeful for travel. I need to see my family….I think we are all desperate for that. So let’s just try to focus on those positives…even if they are small. Xx
A few weeks ago I had my routine PET scan. It showed some activity in my right breast which needed to be investigated. So I had a mammogram and a core needle biopsy to rule out any satellite tumors. Thankfully everything came back benign.
Yesterday saw me have cycle 14 out of 18. It went smoothly. During my treatment I was looking at my Timehop and it bought up lots of photos from 1 year ago. We went on a trip of a lifetime. We had planned to take the girls to northern Finland (Lapland region) to see Santa and hopefully see the Northern Lights. The trip was the BEST trip we have ever done. I have never cried whenever I’ve left a vacation before, but this time it was different. The whole trip was so magical. When we landed back in Hong Kong we were totally in the Christmas spirit; super excited for Christmas. Unfortunately on Christmas Eve I was told I had cancer. I did my best to make it an amazing Christmas for my girls, but for me, it was torture. I just can’t believe it’s almost been a year. In true me style, I wrote a poem about this time last year. I’m really hoping we can have a much happier Christmas this year despite Eve that’s going on. I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and let’s have hope that 2021 is a much better year for us all. Xx
Yesterday I completed cycle 12. During my examination my oncologist felt a lump in my neck. We’ve also been watching a small lump in my abdomen, so it was decided to bring forward my PET scan. I will have that tomorrow. Other than that, my infusion was well tolerated. Whilst there, I was thinking a lot about the situation the world is currently in. The UK are about to go on its second lockdown. It’s quite unbelievable. We were hoping to be going home to the UK for Christmas to spend time with our families; obviously that can’t happen now. Not seeing my family is something I’m struggling with. Badly. I think even moreso than my cancer. I wrote this poem to try to put into writing how I’m feeling. Enjoy. X
Friday I attended the hospital for cycle 11. I was feeling a little apprehensive after the trauma of last time, however it was a really positive experience. Bloods were all good, no vein issues and the chemo suite was nice and quiet. It gave me the opportunity to reflect. I was thinking how I haven’t seen my close friends for over a year now. I’m so thankful that my parents came over in January this year as I really don’t know when I will next see them. It’s something I’m really struggling with. I was hoping to go home for Christmas, but that won’t happen now. I decided to write a short poem about it. Hope you enjoy. X
I turned up to the hospital exhausted today. This week I’ve done a couple of early morning workouts followed by full days of teaching. It’s been nice to get into a routine again, it occupies my mind and enables me to sometimes forget about everything else that’s going on.
Today started off really positive, until the nurse tried to insert the cannula into my hand. For some reason my hand completely swelled and bruised. It was really painful. Of course there were tears and moments of anxiety. After a bit of a break we tried again with success. During my treatment I began to reflect on my journey. I was looking back through my blog; and it really hit me how much I have been through. I used to struggle with people calling me ‘amazing’ or ‘incredible’ but today it really hit me that actually I am incredible…this body of mine is bloody incredible. And it’s refusing to give up this fight!
Yesterday was cycle 9 which means I’m officially half way through my treatment. I’m not going to lie, the first half has been traumatic. However I feel I’m now in a much better place, I’m no longer anxious and scared when I attend my appointments. Instead I’m just focusing on that finish line. I’m hoping and praying that once I pass that finish line I can finally travel to see my family and friends back in England. So many positive things to focus on now…let’s hope the second half of my treatment is less traumatic than the first half.
As the new academic year starts for me tomorrow, I have been feeling apprehensive. A new class of year 1 students and teaching online. In Hong Kong we started teaching online back in February. Just when I was in the midst of my surgeries. I was actually in a dark place but I kept going. I don’t know how I did it. But I did. The last few weeks I have had a dark cloud hanging over me. The thought of going back online bought back all the trauma I’ve been through over the past 6 months. Also the possibility that I may need more surgery depending on my recent biopsy results. Today I got those results and they were clear. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can go into this new academic year with a clear head and focus on my job. This may be a little premature, and I hope I’m not jinxing myself; but there is a possibility that my body could actually be cancer free right now. How awesome is that? On that positive note…good luck to all the teachers going back to school in the next week or so….we’ve totally got this! 💪🏻
They say that dogs can sense when we are down, when we are happy…even when we are not very well. Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer in December 2019 I’ve seen a change in my dogs behaviour. They have become my guardians. I am unable to move without them by my side. I go to the bathroom and all three will be waiting for me outside the door. I honestly believe they know I have an illness and they are comforting me through it all, even at my lowest points. Animals are just the best. Do you believe they can sense this too?
It was that time…skin check. Because of everything that’s happened I will now have three month skin checks…but will conduct my own skin check mostly everyday. It was decided that I needed to have some kind of mapping as my skin has too many moles. During my check two moles on my back were identified as suspicious, so we decided to take one off and watch the other. I had it removed yesterday and now I wait for the biopsy results. I’m feeling positive. On another note, today was cycle 8 of 18! Nearly half way there…and there were NO tears! Bonus. 😊
Yesterday it was time for my biopsy results. I was mentally preparing myself for the worst, let’s be honest, I haven’t really had any good news during this journey. So I was ready. I wasn’t sure how I was going to react but I was in fight mode. Walking into my oncologists office I felt sick, I thought I was going to pass out. As soon as I looked up he met me with a lovely big smile. I knew instantly it was going to be good news. I had got used to ‘the face’. It was indeed good news. The biopsy revealed there were no cancer cells even though the PET scan had revealed it was a hot spot. So officially at the moment I’m NED (no evidence of disease) but as we all know with melanoma, it can be hiding and just not big enough to reveal itself. So I’m trying not to celebrate too much yet. I’m only on cycle 7 out of 18 treatments. Nearly half way there!!!!!!
On Timehop the photo popped up. 10 years ago. 10 years ago I had bragged to the world that I was stupid enough to burn my skin to a crisp. But I justified it with a good day out on a boat. Reading this back mad me angry and my immediate thought was…what a fool. It got me thinking. If I could give advice to myself 10 years earlier, what would that be? It’s all in my poem. X
Yesterday I got my PET scan results. Not as clear as I had hoped. Basically there is a hot spot in my right axilla. This needs investigating. So next week I will go for another needle biopsy. I’m just so over this. It’s totally relentless. I haven’t had a break for seven months. I just want the old Adele back I miss her. Surely I can catch that break soon?? Reflecting on everything I think I need to speak to a professional. I need to look after my mental health. It will help me come to terms with all of the emotional turmoil I’ve been carrying. Here is a poem I wrote about my experience.
Last week I went for my 7th cycle of immunotherapy. However we had to postpone it as my white blood cell count was quite low. My oncologist also found a lump in my thigh which he wanted to investigate. That has since been declared benign thank god! However today was PET scan time. It’s always an anxious time getting the scan and waiting for the results. I get my results tomorrow…fingers crossed all is ok! X
I’m still here….7 days on. I was moved out of ICU and now in a normal room. Monday was a HUGE challenge for me. One of the antibiotics that they had been injecting me with was extremely irritating my veins. Every time the nurse walked in with the syringe I would almost have a panic attack. The pain was excruciating. So on Monday all I could focus on was the clock. Counting-down and dreading the next injection. I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying with anxiety. I couldn’t speak to anyone, I shut down. I hit the lowest point I have hit since all of this began.
On Monday evening it was decided to look for another site for the cannula. My right arm is out of bounds, so only my left arm to work with…then the mention of my leg. I freaked out. Anyway, a lovely nurse was able to calm me down and we managed to find a new site higher up my arm. That was 4 days ago and so far so good!!! Here is a poem a wrote about the experience.
Yesterday morning I woke up at 5am in the worst pain. My body shivered, every joint ached, head pounded and my heart was pumping fast. I stumbled to the bathroom to find myself lying on the freezing cold tiles. If I stood up I knew I would be sick. hours later I was the same, only this time vomiting. My heart rate wouldn’t go below 100. I noticed a rash on my leg. I called the dr and he told me to get to the hospital. By the time I got there I had a high fever. I had to wait to be seen in a consultant room as the staff were afraid I had covid-19. It turns out I was very sick. Cellulitis had progressed to sepsis. I’m still in hospital now and will likely be here for another 5-6 days.
Since being diagnosed, I’ve never mentioned the cancer word to my children. They are too young to understand. All they know is that mummy has some bad skin that has made me sick. I wrote this poem so that one day they can look back and understand why I made the decision to protect them from the horrible truth.
Since my diagnosis I’ve looked at the sun and sunbathing in a different way. I used to be a sun worshiper. Whenever I had the chance I would lay in the sun. I wouldn’t tan, just burn and peel. I never learned. Until now.
As the weather is glorious in the UK, I watch on social media numerous posts of people sitting in their garden, soaking up the rays. I’ve seen some posts of people showing off their tan lines and even their sunburns. I watch and I feel sick. Just because this was me. Even up until last year. I knew the warnings, but I refused to listen. Maybe it’s too late for me. Don’t let it be too late for you.
I am often asked the question ‘will you lose your hair?’ People automatically think of chemotherapy when I say I’m having cancer treatment. When I tell them I’m receiving immunotherapy it starts a whole new discussion. So I decided to try and write an educational poem to describe what it is. I wanted to keep it short and not too technical. I hope this helps people to understand what immunotherapy does.
May 13th 2020 I completed cycle 5 of my immunotherapy. I was happily informed by my oncologist that we are now quarter way through the treatment. After cycle 6 I will have scans to see if everything is ok. Today was also a special day for me. On May 13th 2019 I lost a very special lady, my lovely nan. It’s been one year since her passing. It was weird but I felt her presence more than ever today. She was with me, holding my hand. I wasn’t afraid and it was the first time during treatment that I didn’t cry. Here is a poem I wrote.
Feeling like a burden. Complaining that your hurting. Always in pain but trying to hide it. This is how I feel at the moment. I’m constantly being asked if I’m ok. It doesn’t offend me, it’s a perfectly acceptable question. But it’s hard to be honest. This poem explains why.