LGFB

aka Look Good, Feel Better.

Today I was lucky enough to attend a workshop available to BC patients to help deal with the physical changes ahead. If you meet the criteria (…you have BC), you can attend the workshop at any stage during treatment. Today there was a mix of people either waiting to start chemo, or part way through. As usual, I like to be ahead of the game….so of course I went before.

Originally I was going to attend this workshop alone, but I decided to put Little Miss Independent Rochelle in the corner and asked my sister to accompany me. Apart from being my sister, she is also a beauty therapist, so was definitely the best person to join me.

When registering for this workshop you are asked for the following information: skin type, preferred makeup colours and eye colour. On arrival, we had our own beauty station with mirror and products. As I sat in front of my station, I saw a VERY PINK lipstick and silver eyeshadow…I WAS WORRIED.

We worked our way through skin care – how to adapt to changes that may occur, then makeup application – how to draw those eyebrows back on if they start thinning…ekk. Now, I have attended about 4 makeup sessions in the past 7 years with Qantas, I will be honest, my eyeshadow application hasn’t improved! Lucky my sister was there to fix my dodgy work.

After learning about skincare and makeup tricks, it was onto wigs and headwear. This is where things got interesting. I have been blonde for 99% of my life, the 1% I was dark only lasted a few days..I AM A BLONDIE.

The volunteer decided she wanted to try a specific wig on me…okayyyyyy

Here it is….and the crowd goes…..

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Ummmmm I’m still not convinced….but hey, you gotta have some fun 🙂

Today I was pampered and spoilt with lots of goodies. No complaints from me!

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IVF – Tick

Today I was back in another recliner chair, having another general anaesthetic. Today was egg collection day.

All the hard work paid off and I can report that I have 12 ‘could-be’ babies frozen (the original count was 15 but 3 weren’t mature enough – must have been boys….)

Next…

I’m 32 not 50

…no offence to all friends and family over 50

I thought it would be a lot easier being a young Breast Cancer patient. I’m fit and healthy, I’m in the best possible shape to take on the battle. I am not denying this to be a very positive thing, but sometimes I feel I have to work harder to remind people THAT I AM STILL FIT AND HEALTHY. The problem I have – and I use the word “problem” very loosely  – I can’t relate to the majority of resources available. There are a range of support groups available for young woman, but what if I don’t want to just meet to talk about the illness, what if I want to be active and do what makes me happy to get through the illness…(note to self: develop a recovery programme for active young people!).

I’ll try and explain a little better…

I was so excited when I received a DVD from the hospital – “Strengthen your recovery: Pilates for Breast Cancer Recovery”. I quickly jump into my gym gear, pop in the DVD and worked my way through the programme: week 2-5 recovery, it had only been 3 weeks since surgery. I don’t want to sound negative so I will keep my reaction to myself…let’s just say the next day I moved onto the next programme: week 6-10 recovery. Again, I struggled to even feel a stretch in most of the moves.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sounds smug about having recovered well from my surgery, I understand people recover at different rates and they need a blanket programme to offer patients. The DVD was designed for people who have had either Mastectomy or Lumpectomy – that alone is such a broad spectrum.

Before being diagnosed I was training for triathlon, I could deadlift 95kgs and do full range push-ups (thanks Des).  I was fit – probably the fittest I’ve ever been. I knew I would have to be patient with recovery and getting back to my normal life…but 5 weeks on and I’m getting itchy feet.

Today I received another DVD – Yoga for Breast Cancer. It offered a good series of postures to build up strength and stretch the affected area *minor victory*.

If you stole my mac and Googled “running after lumpectomy”, “weights after lumpectomy”, “exercise after lumpectomy”…you get the idea…you would find all the options have been viewed already. I have spent HOURS on the Internet trying to see what other people’s experiences have been – recovery times, training through treatment etc. Out of all the searches, I have stumbled across TWO positive links. One woman continued with CrossFit through treatment, another continued to train for Ironman! *gleam of hope*.

After finally finding some inspiring articles I am even more eager to meet with my physiotherapist, yet I am still waiting for an appointment. I have asked if I can start back swimming freestyle – they are a bit hesitant until I have been assessed. I have always been a law-abiding citizen, so I haven’t done anything they have advised against. I do however, like to prove to anyone willing to listen, that I have my full-range of movement back. So if you see me in the street talking to someone and swinging my arms randomly in the air, you can guess what the discussion is about.

In the meantime I am settling for some lower body exercises – a few squats, hip bridges and lunges can’t hurt (CrossFit lady did 100 bodyweight squats in her hospital room the day after her Mastectomy! Now THAT is inspiring…what have I been doing the past 5 weeks!!!).

The physiotherapist at Ipswich Hospital has never met me before, and will probably wish they had been assigned to someone else. Number 1 rule, always have your questions ready:

“Hi, I’m Rochelle, when can I…”:

  • start running
  • start swimming again (freestyle)
  • lift weights
  • do push-ups
  • ride my road bike

So far the recommended exercise is walking. I have even been googling walking speed records, competitive much?

I wanted to try to get as much physical activity in before Chemo starts the next week. It seems I may not get the chance *sad face*.

My body may be limited, but my mind is still as active as ever…

My name will be on this one day…

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The Great Shave

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Have you ever wondered what you would look like with a shaved head? “Will I have a strange shaped head?”, “Will my ears look funny?”, “Will I have lots of scars on the back of my head from 7 years trying to keep a french roll in place?”…ok, maybe the last one is only relevant to me.

When I talk about treatment with people, doctors included, the topic of hair loss always comes up. Usually it is accompanied with a sympathetic tone, with which I reply (in a little too excited tone) “I know, I am going to shave my head anyway”…in which they usually smile at me, cautiously.

It is no secret that I have been excited about shaving my head – does that make me a little strange or crazy? When else, at 32, would I be able to shave my head with no regrets? I have read many comments from people who have gone through Breast Cancer treatment – the hair usually goes within 2-3 weeks after starting treatment and usually in not-so-elegent large clumps.

Now, I have never been one to wait around and let things happen to me – so why would this be any different. I made the decision that I would shave my head before I started my first round of Chemo – I didn’t want to wake up every morning and be wondering if today was the day when it would start falling out.

A few friends put their hand up for the opportunity to perform the shave. I am putting my trust in good friend, Man Cheung (he has a shaved head, that has to be a promising sign that he knows how to use clippers, right?).

To join in the spirit of the journey, I have had a few friends commit to shaving on Sunday also. There is no fundraising behind this, just a nice way to have friends involved in the process. So, if the hair is in need of a trim, or you feel like a change, shave away and share your photo on my facebook or Instagram.

Note: my mother has decided that she will colour her hair instead of shaving. I’ll allow it…

 

Superheroes

As chemo approaches, I have found myself reading on what to expect, and how to manage the side effects – probably more than I should. One interesting side effect that most people mention is mouth sores…strange, but true. One recommendation is to use a child’s toothbrush during treatment as the bristles are even softer than an adults.

So, I ventured to the shops to get some supplies ready…and look what I found!

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SUPERHERO TOOTHBRUSHES!!!!

4 rounds of chemo = 4 superheroes

I will assume a different superhero identity for each round. Now which one to start…