Reflections

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!

Time to be

Since I gave up work at the end of August I have had much more time just to be. To think, to write, to cook and to have sex. But to be honest, I haven’t really used the time I have to full advantage. There are many reasons for that.

Tiredness

It has been a busy year. Starting with my mum’s move in January at times I have been like a whirling dervish. Clearing out and packing up at her old house then helping her move was a crazy time. This was followed by clearing out and packing up at my place and then moving in with Master in July. By then I was working my notice and apart from a moving day, I had no holiday days left during that 3 month period. 

Since then I have had plenty time to rest. The enforced slow down brought on my my cancer diagnosis has been a blessing. For a few weeks I had little energy and lacked motivation. This was I imagine, my body’s way of telling me it needed to repair. So, I had little choice to give in. And it has served me well as I feel better in myself than I have done for ages. I don’t always sleep well at night, but now I can sleep in later this is less of a problem. I also feel less stressed about things like managing my mum. Indeed my illness has helped her to rely on me less. 

A new environment

It has taken time to get sorted in my new home. Master still has work to do in sorting out some of the clutter. This means that not all of my stuff has found its way from the garage to the house. But many of my kitchen gadgets are now in place and I intend to use them. When I brought the Christmas decorations in at the weekend I also found some cookery books. So, no excuse but to get cracking on producing more interesting things in the kitchen.

Blogging and writing

I have found the time to do more writing and have spent more time thinking before I write. For one thing, I have just completed a piece of paid (professional) work and am invoicing for that this week. I plan to look for some work in the spring, but am wondering how I might take a different approach. Whether in the future I could write for money rather than needing to work in an office environment. Certainly something to explore for the future. 

As for the blog, well the additional time means I am keeping up with writing regularly. The next thing though is to plan more. Having the headspace to think about writing is much more important than I realised. So when I am not writing, even if you can’t see anything I am thinking (unless I am on twitter, and then I am engaging). 

I have bought myself a freelance planner and will be using it for my writing plans, paid and unpaid. 

Sex and play

We have had more time for sex and in the main we have used it well. We have been more sexually active especially in the past few weeks. It is likely there will be a lull in the new year, when I have my radiotherapy treatment. But I am sure we will get back on track quickly. We have only played the once since August and that was at the fem sub social we went to a few weeks ago. We definitely need to make more time for play.

Travel

It is unusual for us that we haven’t been away since our time in Oxford post surgery. But we have plans to travel to warmer climbs as soon as the radiotherapy is finished. It feels a wonderful luxury to be able to do this  and not worry about time off work. We also have plans for an extended trip to France in the summer. 

I always imagined that after I stopped working time would drag. But it really doesn’t. Doing things at a slower pace and not rushing about help this. That isn’t to say that I don’t still have my moments. But I am enjoying having more time to just be me. 

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Celebration

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. 

Bra buying

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…..

I am wearing my new black bra

Bathtime

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.  

Sinful Sunday

Progress – Week 6 & 7

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. 

Physical recovery

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. 

Oncology appointment 

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).

Body image

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. 

#SoSS November 2018

It is a very long time since I wrote a #SoSS. It isn’t that I don’t read and comment on other blogs, I do. But I am not so good at getting my shit together to work out which ones I want to share. Let alone writing about it. But in an attempt to start my new years resolutions early I’m planning to write one each month.

It was reading this post of May’s about shadow banning that prompted me. When I was shadow banned, it irritated the hell out of me. Lately though since I have other things to worry about it had all slipped my mind. I’m picking up new followers so I don’t think I am on the banned list right now. I shall make a point of sharing more posts on Twitter though so that they get seen. 

This week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt was writing, it was great to read about everyone’s writing and blogging history. I particularly loved Modesty’s post (and accompanying photo), and hadn’t realised she had published her Modest Diaries. They certainly seem worth a read. Also worth checking out is Floss’s post. Not only is she a wonderful writer of fiction and non fiction, she is also a poet. I am in awe of the talent that is out there amongst our blogging community. 

On the theme of writing, the Smut Marathon reaches the final voting round tomorrow. I haven’t written any fiction since the round where I got knocked out. The monthly assignments certainly made me get on with writing and I know my style and content improved over time. Marie will be running the competition again next year (as she tells us in her #SoSS today) and entries open quite soon. I am undecided as yet whether to enter. But I will give it serious consideration. 

when I write these blog sharing posts, I try to include something new. I didn’t so much find The happy Kinky Couple, as they found me to ask to swap links, which I am happy to do. They are a couple, like us in their 50’s who found kink relatively recently and have just begun to write about it. Their blog can be found here – go have a read. 

Finally I would like to thank everyone for the support you have given me over the past couple of months. Discovering I have breast cancer is the definitely the worst thing that has happened to me and to us. The love and support from fellow bloggers and twitter folk has been a great help. I plan to continue to write my weekly diary. It is important for me to be able to describe the physical and emotional effects. But also, as many people have said it may help others in the future. This is the link to the posts (if I can’t self promote on my own blog, then where can I)? I don’t know if people are ready to see my new body, but I am almost ready to share. But that will be on another day. 


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.

Making lifestyle changes

I have to admit that I have been resistant to making changes to my lifestyle. I know full well that I am over weight, that I often make poor food choices, over eat and drink too much alcohol. But over the past few years I have been enjoying myself and it didn’t seem to be doing me any harm. My view has changed. While the things I put in my mouth and the fact I am over weight may not have caused my cancer they certainly haven’t prevented it.

Supplements

Soon after my surgery May More, who has a nutrition background suggested some supplements that might help with healing. I looked up the ones she suggested and have been taking two of them for a couple of weeks now. I don’t know if they are helping or not, but I am pretty sure they are doing no harm. So, I’ll continue for now. I may even add others in. 

Diet

Over the past couple of weeks I have been reading a book called the Rainbow Diet. This was suggested by a good friend whose brother is also using it. Written by a biochemist whose daughter has recovered from brain cancer it makes interesting reading. It looks at the scientific evidence for how the food we eat and the way we cook it contributes to cancer development. It doesn’t advocate diet changes instead of traditional cancer treatments. But rather using them to support treatment, mitigate side effects and eventually to prevent recurrence. 

As a health professional myself, I have always been sceptical of the use of diet and supplements as a means of treating illness. Nor have I ever considered they may have preventative qualities. However, it is a fact that my cancer was oestrogen dependent and that there are some foods that support the production of that hormone. The book suggests that a diet high in fat, protein and carbohydrates encourages oestrogen production. It also says that if you are over weight then even more is produced. This seems a good place to start. So, I have begun to reduce my protein and calorie intake, and increase my fruit and vegetable consumption. We are also going to reduce our consumption of processed food (not that we are big consumers). And I am trying to cut out sugar and aspartame. 

The rainbow diet is about eating food of all colours and making as much of that food plant based as possible. Eating whole grains rather than processed and cutting down on animal fats. I am not planning to stop eating meat or bread or pasta. But I am going to be thinking much more about the quality of the food that is going in my mouth.

Exercise

I plan to increase the amount of exercise I take. But at the moment this will mainly be walking. Hopefully in the new year I can begin swimming. Maybe I might even do some other exercise, though I am not a lover of classes. 

The conventional treatments I will undergo in the coming months are vital to make sure I can remain clear of cancer. But I believe that I can help things along by making changes to my lifestyle.

A glimpse

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. 

Sinful Sunday

Getting the balance right

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. 

Wound healing

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. 

Rest

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.