Week 4 hasn’t quite gone to plan, you could say I’ve had a bit of a hiccup.
Diet and fitness
It started a week ago. Before I’d even posted week 3, I had fallen off of the Dry January wagon. I did have every intention of climbing back aboard, but that didn’t really happen. Intake of wine has been much lower than before, but I have had at least a little each evening. Food intake has been pretty average and we have had some lovely meals. So my half a pound gain is directly due to alcohol. Plan for next week is not to drink at home on week day evenings.
In terms of exercise, I had an amazing day on Monday. After my radiotherapy, we headed into London for an exhibition at Tate Britain. I really enjoyed the paintings and the walk through London afterwards. My step count by the end of the day was just shy of 15,000. That’s the best in a long while. Unfortunately the rest of the week hasn’t been so good. A combination of feeling tired and the weather (cold then snow yesterday / today). My average though was 6600. Once the snow goes I plan to step things up. In fact, we will be in London on Saturday and Sunday and will be walking lots.
The radiotherapy is finished. It is difficult to imagine that 15 short bursts of radiation can cause such weariness in a person. But I really have been lacking energy this week. Also the skin on the right side of my chest is pretty red and sore, so I have stepped up the moisturising. Apparently I received some bolus does at the end of treatment which account for the skin issues. Effects are expected to continue for a couple of weeks. It is a month till I have my hospital follow up appointment so I can enjoy the freedom from hospital waiting rooms and car parks (and so can Master).
The slug at the top is from outside the Tate Modern. Rather fetching for a slug wouldn’t you say?
So many people have commented and indeed congratulated me on my strength. It is true that I have surprised even myself on how I have coped. Much of it is to do with my personality, the no fuss and drama me (though I can create both when provoked). Also because I like to have information before panicking and try to be optimistic in these matters. But make no mistake having breast cancer was the worst and scariest thing I have ever had to face. Losing one of my lovely breasts has been terrible, I morn it every day. In this post I will try to explain my then and now. There is no need to be sorry about any of this, I don’t need sympathy, just the chance to tell.
Until pregnancy I was quite small busted, but while pregnant they grew and never went down. I always had a good cleavage and many people, men and women have admired it. High necked clothes don’t suit me, my face and neck look too fat in them. I prefer a lower cut dress or top. My bras were all plunging, not padded as they made me look bigger than I wanted, but underwired for support. Not that I was sagging especially; I was told I had great tits for my age (former relationship) and great tits full stop (this one). To me, with my expanding middle and puckered hips, my tits were my best asset.
Once I gained confidence with my blog and began posting pictures of myself, they were often of my breasts. My pierced nipples, me bulging out of a leather waistcoat or wearing a leather harness. Master called them my jugs and played with them a lot. My nipples, especially the right were very sensitive and I have had nipple orgasms more than once. To me my breasts were my best asset and I am fucking angry and mightily sad that I now only have one.
The skin around the wound is soft and smooth, but the scar line itself is kind of puckered with little folds. The area under my arm remains numb and puffy. No one can tell me if and when it will recover. I touch the wound area quite a lot. During the day the area under my bra gets hot and itchy and sometimes I can’t help but rub it. Obviously not out in public but in the comfort of my living room. Lying in bed too, I stroke it. You see, most of the time I can’t really tell I don’t have a boob there and of course neither can anyone else.
I have a silicone prosthesis that fits inside my bra, it looks (and feels according to master) pretty realistic. But you can’t wear this kind of thing with a skimpy bra with a plunging cleavage. This means that I have bought several new bras, but not thrown any of the 15 or more old ones I have away. However I may soon move them into a box under the bed for the future (see below).
Master still loves to play with the breast and nipple on the left side. He strokes and nibbles, pulls and pinches. He also strokes the place where my right one used to be. But it isn’t the same. Even when I am aroused by what he is doing, I am thinking of what I have lost. His fingers on my wound area and surroundings are pleasant, but there is no sexual arousal from it. Instead he concentrates on the left and my other erogenous zones.
The biggest challenge for me now though is looking at other people’s tits. While I still love to look at everyone’s Sunday and other day blog and twitter posts. I can’t help but feel a twinge when I see a lovely pair of tits staring out at me. Likewise looking at old photos of myself makes me happy that I have so many, but sad that there will be no more like them. I also find myself looking for signs of the cancer within, of course there was never any sign.
I know these feelings will pass. It has, after all only been 3 months since the operation and my treatment won’t be completed until the end of this month.
In the future I hope to have a breast reconstruction. To be able to show two breasts to myself, to Master and this little area of the world would be wonderful. I know any reconstructed breast won’t be the same. It is likely that the surgeon will have to reduce the size of the left one, so I would be smaller than before. But I know it is what I want. To be able to wear any bra, or to be able to go braless. Summer days with no bra, that has to be something to aim for.
Before that, well I will try to be as body positive as I can. But don’t imagine that this has been easy or that it ever will be again. I loved my boobs and I will have to learn to love having one again.
This is a time of year for celebration, but also reflection. My blog has been pretty reflective of late, but that doesn’t stop me joining in. This week’s Food For Thought Friday asks the following questions:
When do you feel happiest in your skin?
Whatever the problems of the past few months, I am pretty happy. There are no specific pressures on me and my time. We are spending more time together and there have been few arguments. Over time, we have settled into a routine and things are easy going. It is good to know that we don’t have to go away from home to be together, but do like to do so. Some of our happiest times have been while travelling and there is a lot more of that to look forward to in 2019.
How do you maintain balance in your life? Is there anything you need to change?
Not really. As anyone who reads my blog regularly will know, there have been a lot of changes over the past year or two. It felt as if I was talking about my move for ever, but now it has happened. We have a balanced life and plan to keep it just that way.
What has been a particularly challenging situation that you have faced? How did you handle it? What did you learn from it?
The break up of my marriage was extremely challenging. Taking place over a protracted period meant that it was very stressful. There are many things that could have been done differently. I should have been clearer with my husband when I no longer wanted to be with him. But managing the emotions of a grown man at the same time as working out how to move forwards is not easy. We are still married to each other and that is the next job. But because he is now living with his new partner in what was our house I believe he is ready for divorce. It has taken over 5 years to get to this place and that is far too long.
What does it mean to live authentically?
I guess living authentically means being true to yourself and those around you. For so long I lived something of a lie. Even though I knew I was unhappy, I did nothing about it. Fear of being alone and of what others might say, led me to stay in an unhappy relationship. But I can now say that has changed. Family don’t know the nature of the relationship Master and I have, but that doesn’t feel like an issue. We love and care about each other and all can see that. But there is no need to go into details, anyway they definitely wouldn’t understand.
What are the things that inspire you and how do they work for you?
I am inspired by some of the great writers and bloggers around and I have a desire to try to emulate some of them. Also the way in which people manage to juggle different aspects of their lives. However, I have no desire to continue to be the person I was. There is no longer any need for me to have a full-time job, I have no children to bring up, house to run and family to keep happy. To coin a phrase; been there, done that!
If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
If I could turn the clock back I would get myself to the doctor more quickly and get the lump I had in my breast removed sooner. Then I could have had a lumpectomy and not mastectomy. But, there is no guarantee that those few weeks would have made a difference. In future though, I will put myself before work, packing up a house and all the other things that made me delay.
The thing that I would like to change though is my weight. 2019 has to be the year I get to grips with shedding some pounds. I’ve been attending a slimming club for 4 years and am only a few pounds lighter than when I started. That is a waste of money. Though I have made some great friends there!
This week we received the best news possible, a real cause for celebration. The Oncotype test, which identifies the risk of cancer recurring came back with a score of 3. Ranked out of 100, 3 is almost as low as you can get and means I have a 1% chance of dying from cancer in the next 5 years. This means I can now get on with living my life and pretty much forget about cancer.
First though there is the small matter of radiotherapy, which will start in the middle of January. I will have 15 treatments, daily except for the weekends. This is necessary because the tumour was larger than 5cm. But there is no need for chemotherapy, which is one hell of a relief.
The tumour was highly oestrogen and progesterone receptor positive, therefore I have been prescribed a drug called Letrozole. This inhibits the production of oestrogen which is still produced by women like me who are post menopausal. This is something I hadn’t known before. So a tablet a day for at least 5 years. There is a possibility of side effects which I’ll talk about if and when they happen.
In other news:
Aches and Pains
I’ve mentioned before about the shooting pains in my right arm that suddenly started about a month ago. These are, thankfully, beginning to subside. I am trying to use my right arm as much as possible and this week managed to vacuum the stairs without too much trouble. Irritatingly I still can’t comfortably lie on my side, not due to the surgery but because of the pain in my arm. Lying on that side seems to start up the pain. Hopefully though that will soon resolve.
I have now bought 6 new bras. 2 are the front fastening soft ones I bought for post surgery. They may come in handy when I have radiotherapy as my chest is likely to become sore. They may also work well under tee shirts. I have 2 really lovely bras (one pink and the other black), that are really a bit small. I realise I was deluded to think that I was still a 36, though they aren’t massively tight. But my new bigger bras definitely fit better. Interestingly the size 42 I bought from the NHS prosthesis fitter is too big. Even on the tightest hooks there is room for it to slip up. So I am not convinced that 4-5 inches on top of your chest measurement is right. So this week I bought myself a new bra from a company called Nicola Jane. They have a fantastic range of underwear and swimsuits. I’ll be buying more from them in anticipation of our holiday after I finish treatment. This new bra, which is black is particularly for my son’s wedding in 2 weeks.
I haven’t thrown out any of my old bras, because I don’t yet know which I will be able to wear in the future. There are still plans for a breast reconstruction and I am trying to lose weight. It is coming off, but very slowly. For now though, I am unable to wear anything that doesn’t provide full coverage of my prosthesis. It looks good under my clothes, feels like a breast and so having to wear different bras is a small price to pay. Unfortunately though they don’t hide well under all of my clothes, however I refuse to start wearing high neck tops. They don’t suit me and I hate to have my neck swaddled too much.
Fun and games
Last weekend we attended a social event at a club and were able to play. Master took along a number of implements and seemed to use most of them on me. I was able to comfortably get onto the bench and lie on my front while he flogged and otherwise hit my bottom. The endorphin rush was wonderful as it had been 3 months or so since the last time. The marks even lasted a few days, which is unusual. It was also good to sit and chat to friends and eat cake. My first for ages since in the main I have given up sugar.
After the news on Wednesday we decided that a celebration was in order and so went out for dinner. We are out a lot anyway, but this was different, special. When Master suggested it, I realised that we should mark good news like this in some way. The next milestone will be after radiotherapy and for that celebration we are planning a holiday to warmer climbs. More of that once we have dates etc.
For now, I leave you with a picture of my latest bra purchase. I can’t promise there won’t be more…..
This month’s Sinful Sunday prompt is Bokeh. This is about producing an image where a blur is produced through parts of the image being out of focus. I thought this would be an ideal way of showing my body in a way I haven’t yet.
We love to have a bath together and having just bought some new bath bombs, Friday was the night. This was taken by the man of the house who then produced a series of edits. The reason there isn’t much water is because he jumped in soon after. Otherwise I would have had far more of my tummy covered! I love the different colours – my suntan, still visible, contrasted with the purple water.
I delayed writing this week because of my oncology appointment, which took place on Wednesday. My assumption was that I could detail the treatment plan here. Unfortunately not (see below). But there has been plenty of progress.
Over the past two weeks my recovery really has gathered pace. The wound has now completely healed and the swelling is reducing. For the past almost 7 weeks, I have been walking around with what felt like a cushion under my arm. It would swell during the day and reduce a little over night. Now though that has improved a lot. The past 2 weeks though, I have been getting shooting pains at the top of my arm, just above the armpit. My oncologist reassured me that the reduction in swelling is causing this. The nerves which had been compressed are jumping to life, and this is exactly what it feels like.
As I mentioned above, the oncology appointment was on Wednesday. After surgery a small sample of the tumour should have been sent to USA for analysis. This test predicts the likelihood of recurrence. For some reason, it was omitted, so no result and therefore no treatment yet. If the likelihood of recurrence is high I will need chemotherapy and this must be done before radiotherapy. This is very irritating as I want to get things done and over with. The doctor wasn’t best pleased either because it delays things. Plus he spent 20 minutes chasing results that didn’t exist.
The up side is that I get to enjoy Christmas with no worry about treatment. But it does prolong the uncertainty. I can’t control it, so I don’t plan to worry (too much).
Since the operation I have been wearing a soft cushion thing in my bra. They call this a stuffy. It gives some shape, but rides up and definitely isn’t the same size as my remaining boob.
Yesterday I went to be fitted for a silicone prosthesis. It is larger, a better shape and is the same size as my left boob. It weighs a pound (yes, it has been on my kitchen scales), but you don’t notice it once it is in the bra.
For this procedure I had my bra size measured. It may come as no surprise to find that I have been wearing the wrong size bra, probably for 20 years or more. So, rather than a 36D apparently I am a 42C!!!! Funny thing is, a 42 bra doesn’t seem much looser than a 36. The world of bra measuring seems weird and further investigation is needed. Plus hopefully weight loss!
Over all, I am feeling better about myself. I am used to the way I look and feel. I don’t exactly love the look of myself but it is who I am for now. For that reason, I will be sharing photos soon. I just need them to look as good as they can and the lovely Molly has offered to help me with that. There is no one I would rather have to photograph the new me.
The new me is really the old me. I have lost just a small part of my body, not an arm or a leg. In terms of body mass or weight it is nothing. But when it comes to the impact of the removal of a breast it feels enormous. Breasts are not sex organs as such, but for a woman they are important elements in the act of sex. My nipples were always very sensitive and I loved to have my breasts touched. To experience that connection to your cunt, the enlarging of your clit and a flow of moisture from within is wonderful. Of course, I still have one nipple and one breast. The connection is still there and when he nibbles or sucks my nipple the reaction is the same.
Learning to love the remains of my breast
I want him to touch the area around my scar now it is healed. I know Master found it daunting, he was frightened he would hurt me. What’s more it took longer to heal than we expected. Fluid found its way out from the suture line and a dressing was required, right up until yesterday. He strokes me gently, running his fingers across and it feels pleasant.
There seems to be no sexual connection from that area and my cunt now. The breast tissue has been removed, but there is feeling. Along most of the scar line now, the sensation is normal. But under my arm the flesh feels as if it belongs to someone else. What’s more, there seems to be more of it than there was. The nurse told me that it’s because the breast previously held it in place. I’m not sure it can be toned through exercise or lost through dieting. Neither of those ever work on the exact areas you want them to.
Over the weekend I developed some weird and not pleasant pains in my right inner arm. It feels like the numbness is subsiding and in its place over sensitive nerves. They are quite the worst pains I have had over the past 5 weeks. But they are short lived, momentary even and happen at the oddest moments. When I stretch my arm our, when I lean forwards, when I try to lie on my right side. Not every time I do those things but often. This is making me a little irritable right now.
Diet, exercise and fitness
There are a host of exercises that I am meant to be doing to make sure my arms are mobile. As I lift them up to my head and above, there is a tightness on the right side, a pulling. The sudden jolting pain is new, but localised and definitely not muscular. I have a hunch I need to increase, not reduce the exercises and so I am trying that. I want to be able to go swimming, I think that would help. But since my scar is still a little vulnerable, I won’t do that yet. So I will try exercising my arm in the bath.
Over the past weekend we stepped up exercise levels in general. The weather was glorious; beautiful crisp sunny if cold days and no rain. We walked miles around London and only took public transport a few times. Walking is great for me and something I need to do daily, a challenge in winter but something that can be done.
Our other source of exercise has been sex and lots of it. That he feels horny most mornings and wants to have sex with me is making me feel good about myself. My mood is pretty good and I feel positive. He tells me how much he wants and needs me and has me tell him how much I want and need him. That affirmation is an important element of our M/s relationship and also part of this healing process for us both.
Finally to diet. I am making the changes previously mentioned, though sticking to them is proving challenging. Mainly because in trying to eliminate one thing you can easily find yourself eating something else almost as bad. Plus over the weekend I ate more cheese than I maybe should have. However I am on the right track as I have lost 3lb over the past 2 weeks. A long way to go to get to a healthy weight but progress none the less.
Next week I see the oncologist and then we can start to plan. The radiotherapy of course, but Christmas and perhaps a trip to some warm weather in the new year.
This has been a wonderful weekend, spent in central London. We are staying in our favourite London hotel. We have walked among the tourists and in the quiet back streets. Enjoyed lovely food and wine. Sat at the hotel bar eating cheese while someone argued over their bar bill. We attended the viewing of a silent film about the first world war in a museum.
Today was a crisp and sunny day and the view from our room shows that. We are only on the third floor but I doubt anyone one was looking up while this photo was taken. Well who knows?
A month after surgery and I feel ready to give the merest glimpse of my body.
I was never symmetrical, indeed the right side was larger than the left. Now, though things are different. I am getting used to the look and feel of my new self and might even grow to like it a little.
What I would like though is to slim down that area below my chest. Diet and fitness is my new focus. A blog post about this will follow.
This third week since surgery, has been about getting back to normality and reality. But also about getting the balance right. I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s responses to these posts. They are essentially for me, a way of recording this journey. But as many people have pointed out, they will (hopefully) be useful to others in the future.
Once the wound drain had been removed and I had got the all clear from the doctor, we returned to our Airbnb in Oxford. The two-week festival of song (Lieder) was still going on and we finally immersed ourselves in it. Finally free of the plastic tubing sticking into my side, on the bra line, along with the vacuumed bottle in a handbag, I could again wear dresses and longer tops. At last it was possible to lie comfortably on my side and even turn briefly onto my right side for the first time. We returned home on Sunday and later, took a relaxing jacuzzi bath together. Sipping Prosecco, and allowing the water to lap around my skin was heaven. After the bath I left all the dressings off as everything appeared to be healed.
Over the course of the week, the area around the wound seemed to be swelling up. A cushion was building under my arm once again. I wasn’t immediately worried about all of this, and anyway wasn’t really sure how it should all look and feel. The worst part was that my new pretty pink bra was too tight. Had I bought the wrong size, or perhaps put on weight. On Wednesday night I discovered that a small area of the suture line was oozing serous fluid. I put a dressing over it and went to bed. Luckily I had a hospital appointment the following day.
The doctor drained about 100mls of altered blood from inside the wound area. Luckily I didn’t feel a thing (a mixture of using the stitch line plus the residual numbness). I was pretty surprised, not to mention irritated that the small bump on my chest had gone. I wasn’t meant to have a baby breast, it should have been flat. He told me that it was likely I would need the area aspirating again. I will, because the area has swollen again. Luckily though it hasn’t spread under my arm. It’s pretty obvious the physical healing process is taking longer than expected. Not surprisingly this is getting me down a little.
Sex, drugs and rock and roll
Since the operation, I have been anxious that G would no longer find me attractive. To begin with he was nervous of the wound and dressings and also of hurting me. He was clear though, that he still found me attractive. During the course of this week we have resumed our sex life and thankfully that has meant many orgasms for me. I am reluctant to get on top yet because my wound area is a bit sore. The gravity pull when leaning forward is quite painful. It is weird that I have had more pain this week than after the operation. I have even resorted to taking a few pain killers (that is the limit of my drug use).
There is no doubt I feel more positive about my body and his reaction to it. He has begun to touch and stroke my right side and that means a lot to me. I don’t necessarily like what I see when I look in the mirror, but I am getting used to it.
Our lifestyle right now isn’t exactly Rock and roll. But we have been able to return to socialising. On Wednesday we attended our local Munch and I caught up with Molly, Sub Bee and others. Thursday my brother visited and we had dinner out. Then on Friday I returned to my slimming group, had lunch with a friend and in the evening G and I went out to a concert. A busy few days indeed.
Until the middle of this week, I was pacing myself well. I have been sleeping well at night and resting between activity. Even while in Oxford I didn’t feel especially tired.
But yesterday I woke feeling exhausted. The emotional energy required to tell people about the event of the past few week is enormous. Doing so much on Friday was in hindsight a mistake and I see that I need to make sure I balance rest and activity.
Feeling tired and emotionally drained made my mood low. I could easily have gone back to bed before lunch. Instead we walked into town and did a little shopping and then had lunch. Afterwards I took a nap and woke feeling much better.
This coming week, I am going to try to work on the balance between rest, exercise and other activity. I have taken on a small piece of work that involves interviewing people by phone, collecting and reading some data and writing a report. It isn’t onerous but it is something else to juggle. There are also hospital visits once again.
Over all, as I reach the end of week 3 I feel well. But recognise that as I increase activities I must take care not to over do things. Or to be too eager to get completely back to ‘normal’ life.