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The C word

No, not Cotton Headed ninny muggins.  Or C**t. But Cancer. Today I’m writing about cancer.

Before it feels too click baity, first up, I don’t have cancer, so no panicking!!! But I’m in the middle of a bit of a scare, so here goes…

A few weeks ago I had a CT scan to take a closer look at my hernia and then a couple of days later I ended up seeing my GP as I was having terrible acid reflux along with lots of stomach pain. I’d assumed it was all linked to the hernia.

The GP pulled up my CT scan results and told me that it had been noted that I had a very pronounced ovary. He started asking more questions about periods, pain levels, weight etc and then told me he’d like to do some blood tests. He explained that it was probably nothing but he wanted to check my CA125 tumour markers, that this marker looked at ovarian cancer and he just wanted to rule it out.

He explained that I could get an abnormal result simply as I’ve had abdominal surgery this year but he wanted to look.

I usually have regular (if very heavy) periods, but the past few months have been off kilter, being up to 3 weeks late which never happens! I’ve been having trouble eating as I’m getting heartburn and indigestion and a lot of bloating along with peeing a lot and lots of stomach pain but I’d put this all down to my usual problems.

A week later he called to tell me that they had come back high (a normal result is 0-35, mine was 68). He explained that this number can go into the thousands and so though mine were above normal range, they still weren’t sky high and still could be explained by other things but it was concerning him and he wanted to book me in for an urgent ultrasound.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Though I’ve tried to not get worried it’s hard to not let your mind run away with yourself and panic.

I started thinking about how I take painkillers every single day, how I’ve used a hot water bottle daily for months to ease the pain, how the pain in my stomach is often so bad that I can’t stand. I thought about how I’d put all this down to post surgery pain and the hernia and I’ve been scared that perhaps I’ve missed something bad.

Today I had the scan, I cried a lot in the morning, thinking that this could change everything, I was shaking and scared. I was hoping they’d see nothing and I could go back to just worrying about my stoma and chronic illness!!!

They found a large cyst on my left ovary, it’s about six and a half centimetres which apparently is quite big and so it is a concern.

The GP called me this evening and said that it could be just a normal benign cyst, but due to the size and the high blood tests, he wants it checked and so has put me through for an urgent referral to the gynae clinic.

Their course of action could be:

Rescan and more bloods

More scans/MRI

Surgery to remove it

But we’ll have to wait and see. There’s still a good chance this is a run of the mill cyst that will cause no more trouble but he had to warn me that it could be cancerous.

But the good thing is that due to catching it accidentally on the CT scan means it can all be diagnosed and treated early and I’m staying positive that whatever the little bugger is, I’m in good hands.

The past few weeks have been worrying and scary, even though I KNOW you should never google symptoms, I have done and it’s scared the pants off me.

Im just so fed up, my health has been one shitty thing after another and this year has been pants! Two surgeries this year alone and now the possibility of not just one more to deal with the hernia but potentially two more! I’m done in.

I am weepy, impatient and frazzled. I really must have done something bad in a past life!!! I’m scared. I know I need to think positively but it’s hard to not think the worst when it comes to people mentioning the big C.

But I must shake it off and keep my game face on because whatever the results, I will smash it!

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

 

Public cervix announcement

Right, people with a cervix, let’s talk about vaginal health!
Not a usual topic for me, but today I wanted to share my latest escapades and remind you all to think about your cervix.

I am up to date with my cervical smears, but for the past six months I have been having odd symptoms ‘down there’. Bleeding and spotting inbetween periods, bleeding after sex, weird discharge and pain.

I went to my GP who examined me and sent me for further tests. I had swabs for infections that all came back negative and had an ultrasound scan where they looked both at my abdomen and groin and also internally.

From there I was sent for a colposcopy where they found some cell changes in my cervix and an area of bleeding.

We had to talk about the possibility of cervical cancer as well as abnormal CIN cells that could be Pre cancerous. It’s been a few very tense weeks of waiting for results.

I’m over the moon to say that there are no signs of the big C, just some cells that have changed slightly. I am going in to have cryo cauterisation where they’ll remove all those cells and the area that is bleeding.

It was easy to ignore these symptoms, to put the pain down to my IBD and operations. After all, my smears came back normal 2 years ago.

But I did the right thing and got it all checked out, all though it’s been a scary, old time, I’m so glad I did.

According to charity Jo’s Trust, 1.12 million people did not take up their screening invitation in the past year and figures show cervical screening coverage in England is at just 72.7%, meaning one in four women may be at risk of a potentially life-threatening cervical cancer diagnosis.

Please guys, if you have a cervix, then look after it. Go for your regular screenings, they save lives. Check now, yes right now! When was your last smear? Are you up to date? If not, call your doctor and book it in now.

And if you are up to date, but are having any symptoms that aren’t normal for you, then go get it checked. Don’t wait for your next planned smear, do it now.

When you have other illnesses, it’s easy to forget about the rest of your body, or to put symptoms down to your health problems. It’s easy to forget about the regular screenings you should be having when your life is taken up with Drs appointments, meds and treatment. But it’s so important to take care of yourself.

I was terrified that my results were not going to be healthy, that I had cancer and it was going to be terrible. I’m lucky and I am going to have a minor procedure and have no huge concerns.

But even if the news had been that the big C was lurking up there, the sooner it is detected, the better the treatment.

So please, go check your dates and if you’re overdue, get booked in TODAY! And if you have anything not quite right going on, get it checked out.

There are some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer that you should be aware of. These include;

  • Abnormal bleeding: during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods
  • Post menopausal bleeding: if you are not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or have stopped it for six weeks or more
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Lower back pain.

These can all be symptoms of things other than cancer, but they do need to be checked out.

If you are concerned about embarrassment or discomfort, know that the staff are so well trained and understand that it’s not the easiest or most pleasant thing to do, but they aim to put you at ease.

Also if you aren’t cisgender and don’t identify as female but have female genitalia, don’t overlook this important part of your health.

If you’re under 25 and not been called for a smear but have any concerns, call the doctor and speak to them.

If you’re over 65 and aren’t up to date or have issues, call now!

Basically I’m speaking to all your cervix owners! Look after yourself and get checked.

And so this ends your public cervix announcement.

Much love

Sam xx

Pancreatic Cancer Petition

I don’t usually share petitions on the blog but I got a message from Ellie this week with a plea for me to share this one and I just couldn’t say no.

“Hi Sam,

I’ve been following your blog since I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis last December and if it hadn’t been for your straight talking and awareness campaigns I think I’d have found it harder to accept.

Unfortunately since then I’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and started chemotherapy 2 weeks ago. As I’m sure you are more than aware that there is a link that someone who has an IBD has the increased chances of getting pancreatic cancer. Sucks doesn’t it!

I found out today that the only life extending drug for people with advanced pancreatic cancer has been scrapped from the CDF list which means it will not be available for free on the NHS. There is a petition.

Please, please could you share this with your followers, not just for my sake but for everyone who is at risk of or has this awful disease. Thank you so much. And thank you for everything you do to raise awareness of these invisible disabilities.

Yours sincerely, Ellie x”

 

pancreatic cancer petition

 

Thank you so much Ellie for bringing this to my attention, the petition says this…

“On 4th September 2015, NHS England made the shocking decision to remove life-extending drug Abraxane®, one of the first new drugs for treatment of pancreatic cancer in 20 years, from the Cancer Drugs Fund. This reduces an already limited choice of treatment options for patients in England.

Abraxane could have a considerable impact on one year survival rates of pancreatic cancer in the UK, which are the worst in Europe. Trials have shown that in some cases, the drug can extend a patient’s life to over 2 years, allowing patients with advanced pancreatic cancer to resume a normal life, taking part in everyday activities, and more importantly having valuable extra time with their loved ones.

NHS England and the Department of Health need to review this decision immediately.”

Please go sign now.

Cancer affects so many people, but those of us with IBD have a higher risk of cancer and we need to stand together and fight for those of us who are already suffering.  You can follow the group championing this petition over on Facebook and get involved.

So please, sign.

 

Sam x

 

 

If only for a second…

The Mimi Foundation supports the health and well being of cancer patients.  This video shows 20 cancer patients who participated in a unique makeover experience.

mimi foundation

They were invited to a studio. Their hair and makeup were completely redone.

During the transformation, they were asked to keep their eyes shut.
A photographer then immortalized the moment they opened their eyes.

This discovery allowed them to forget their illness, IF ONLY FOR A SECOND.

 

So beautiful xxx