Cycle 11 done and dusted.

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

Please leave COVID
Cycle 11. Wearing my cape which makes me feel that someone is constantly hugging me. X

We are into double digits…Cycle 10!

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!

Ready for cycle 10
Before the cannula incident
After many tears..we got there!

Half way through!!!

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.

In my chair.
Number 9!
My latest poem.

Biopsy results are in…..

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! 💪🏻

What if?
Thumbs up for the good news!

Unconditional Love

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?

My Sophie
The best cuddles
Always at my side
My three amigos
Scarlet & Alfie
A poem about my loyal friends

Another mole has been cut off.

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. 😊

Poem about my latest skin check
Ready for cycle 8!
Cycle 8 done!

Finally the break I’ve longed for!!!!

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!!!!!!

Says it all
Never been so happy to be back in the chair!!
It there in black and white!!

Advice to the former me….

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

Infuriating
Advice to the former me.

The relentless journey

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.

In a dark place.
I’m still smiling!

That time again……

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

That time again…
PET scan time!

The mental battle

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.

Anxiety
New site
Feeling better
Beautiful flowers

Back to hospital I go.

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.

My poem
In ICU
Selfie!

Will protect you.

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.

I will protect you.
Me and my babies.

The sun is out

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 won’t let this happen again.
At least my arms are covered. 🤦🏼‍♀️

What is immunotherapy?

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.

Cycle 5 complete….

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.

Cycle 5

A trend of two halves

Moving to Hong Kong almost 13 years ago I remember looking for self tan. I was baffled. I couldn’t find any. I went to all the same cosmetic companies I knew sold the products from back home in the UK but I couldn’t believe that instead of self tanning products they sold skin whitening products. I soon learned that the trend was the reverse here. People would envy my pale complexion. I was laughed at when I asked for self tan. Why would I want to have darker skin? They were also baffled.

I wrote this poem when reflecting on the different trends. Why can’t we just be happy in the skin that we were given?

A trend of two halves.

The thoughts of a mum

When you are told you have cancer you immediately ask yourself, will I die? Before I was staged, all I could think of was my girls and what would happen if they lost me. The thought of it would make me feel anxious. I couldn’t even look at them without thinking ‘what if I can’t see you grow up?’

Nothing in life is guaranteed, but for the time being I feel that I could happily stay at stage 3. I’m hoping my immunotherapy will keep this monster at bay and that once treatment finishes we can go back to some normality. But really truthfully thinking about it, I will always be checking and worrying if this will return. I have hundreds of moles on my body. It’s scary. So with this in mind you can’t really blame me for thinking the way I do at times. This is a poem I wrote at a time that I was fearful for the future. Xx

The virus….

I’m sure you are all feeling the same. Social isolation; not being able to see friends and family, stuck at home. It sucks. It’s sucks that I had to break the news to my 6 and almost 8 year old that they won’t get to go to England this summer; the highlight of their year. It’s sucks that I won’t get to hug my mum and dad, something I need right now. Everything about it’s sucks. I understand why it has to happen but there are so many consequences of social isolation. I recently learned that in the UK the NHS are having to stop cancer treatments in certain areas, it’s become a bit of a postcode lottery. This is unacceptable and shocking. It makes me really appreciate the care I have out here in Hong Kong.

This is a poem I wrote about the current situation regarding covid-19.

The virus.