Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Smile through the tears

You know, a lot of crap is spouted by the ‘media’ about feral youth and uncaring youngsters etc., and whilst I am sure there are areas of inner cities that are terrorised by these groups, I am constantly unsurprised by just how caring and kind this much maligned section of society is. Since starting teaching in the 16+ sector, these teens (and up) have consistently brought me joy, happiness and pride. 

I have seen them starting as shy first years in their first week of induction, where they are thrown together with others who have nothing in common apart from their age and the subject they want (or are made to)  study. Then I’ve witnessed them blossoming away from the somewhat constricting typical school system. Some of them blossom a wee bit too much away from the discipline and have to be reined in slightly, but never stifled. Then the magic of the first summer holiday happens and they return somehow magically transformed into mature (mostly) young adults, ready to take their first steps into employment or onto higher education. I love being their UCAS referee as I get to read their personal statements which give me more insight into their dreams and aspirations. Then comes their joy at being offered that treasured (un)conditional offer or the offer of a trainee position, or an advanced apprenticeship. Then the realisation that they now have to really buckle down and get the rest of their work up to the desired level.

I know I’m probably on a soapbox now and I do tend to talk too much about ‘my’ students, but then I do have the luxury of being in a job I love, surrounded by amazing colleagues and these great kids(sorry; young adults) and  I was vindicated somewhat today by a really lovely gesture from one group of students

I’m giving up work on Friday, before I start the gruelling business of getting down to beating Terry the Tumour and I won’t see my 2nd years now, apart from the ones I’ve added to my social networks and I’ve been giving ‘farewell’ tutorials to them this week. Today I was surprised when I was presented with this little lot:

 They have conspired with other teachers and themselves to hold a collection and get the presents; apparently they were hidden in the staffroom under my nose at lunchtime, and I have to tell you, reading the card brought me so close to tears. I did succumb at home when I re-read it in private. So if any of 2B are reading this (probably not) then thank you so much; you’ve really made it all worth it!

Back to the medical stuff now( yawn); I had my pre-op assessment yesterday, where I was poked with needles again, wired up to ECGs, had my BMI done(I didn’t dare look) and my CO levels taken.  Apparently cutting down the fags is working as I’ve dropped from a level 4(in 2010) ‘highly addicted’, to a level 2; #’frequent smoker’. I get my nicotine replacement therapy on Friday and as of Saturday; I will be a non-smoker (gulp!). Then my consultant; the wonderful Lucie Jones, measured me up for my new implant and took my consent for the operation next week. It really feels real now and I’m glad I’ve had this time to adjust and say goodbye to my left boob as I know it. I’m going to lose a good third off the bottom of it and I’m going to have to wear a chicken fillet to make sure it’s even in a bra until I have the other one reduced to match sometime next year.  The silver lining though is that I can buy pretty bras without spending a fortune in Bravissimo as I’ll probably go down to a B or C cup from an unfeasibly heavy E cup.

I also lost 2 of my nails this week in a frenzy of Amazon Black Friday parcel unwrapping so have to have a major cut-down, which is probably a good thing as I won’t be spiking my scars with them!! 


I’m wearing 2 coats of Nails Inc. Portchester Square here and I think it suits the new shorter length?

Sorry for the long post. I’ll try to do a shorter one next time and then there’ll probably be a break when I have my op.

Elise XX

Thursday, 22 November 2012


After the disastrous fail of using PVA glue as a base coat earlier this week (involving nails pinging off, in one instance into an old lady's hair on the bus) I decided to re-do them.

This time I used Essie 808 'Skirting the Issue' which I got from Atelier To Go, for signing up to their site here; http://www.atelier-to-go.com/
Then I blinged them up with some pretty appliqués from Revlon called, appropriately, Nail Lace.


Oh and I went to the GP over my weird dizzy spell, and apparently it's probably a combination of a virusey cold I've got and stress. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

One thing after another!

Why am I writing my blog when I should be at work? Because I now have something wrong with my balance. I had a quick look on t'interweb and it looks likely that I have labyrinthitis. I don't know for sure, because when I rang the GP saying I couldn't walk properly and I had double vision, they offered me next Tuesday!!!!  Or alternatively I can ring up tomorrow and try for one of the emergency slots!!! Gee thanks so much. I'll try not to walk into traffic! 

Lovely Col gave me a lift home at lunchtime after I staggered down the stairs and tried not to bounce off too many students in the carpark.

That's what my head feels like!

Anyway, everything seems to have gone quiet on the BC front now. No appointments until I get radio-active isotopes injected into me for Sentinel Node mapping on the 4/12. Then my big op on the 5th(ugh!) I keep waking up, hoping that everything is a nightmare and it will all go away. I have put all my pretty bras in a bag to take to Oxfam to take advantage of the £5.00 off M& S voucher, as I don't want them filling up my drawer unnecessarily now. I will be able to wear pretty ones again but the sizes will be all wrong, and I want my other one reduced to match so hopefully I'll be a more sensible C cup when this is all done and dusted. 

My weekly mani has gone a bit wrong as well. I thought as I have so many glitters, I would try using PVA glue as a base coat as described here

China Glaze Dorothy Who? with a stamp from the new Bundle Monster plates and Konad Psyche Pink. They're supposed to be blue but they've turned green in the photo.

Only this morning, as I was struggling with my socks, they decided to start pinging off! 
Very neat, but NOT before work please!!!!!!  I managed to quickly re-do them (no stamping though) and got through to lunchtime before re-doing them all a few minutes ago. Hopefully they'll last a tad longer this time.

For the next update(if there's anything to update)I've decided to do a blog entry about me and my hair and why it's upsetting me to think about losing it, than actually losing my boob, complete with lots of 'me and my hair' picture through the years.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Am I getting too blasé now?

I'm starting to feel a little guilty for feeling normal now. I'm getting condolences and commiserations from everyone at work, plus all the lovely comments on here and other social media, but I feel fine!!!

I know I won't feel this way in a months time, but still..........

Anyway, I went to see my consultant today. She really is a lovely lady, who I am sure is about 5 years younger than me(she makes me feel old anyway) and I've never met a doctor like her! She isn't patronising or condescending, but makes me feel at ease and entirely comfortable. We discussed my options again and we're definitely going for the skin saving mastectomy that I posted about last time.

I have to give up smoking(I know I should have anyway, years ago) so that the healing process isn't impeded, as there will no longer be any blood vessels going through my boob. The only ones left will be the small surface ones on the skin, so I have to do all I can to make sure that the flow isn't constricted. So that means no smoking, keeping my chest warm and keeping everything super clean. Worst case scenario is that I get a deep infection and the implant has to come out and I have to wait to months and months to have a new one put in. But that means the dreaded skin grafts from my back, which I really don't want!

So I'm going back to the GP to try the inhalator's again as I was nearly successful with them last time, and I use them at airports and on planes anyway. Faced with smoking or no boob has sort of decided me. I also lost out on the chance of a free tummy tuck as well, because of the smoking and healing issue. So if you know anyone who can't quit, you might want to pass that one on. One for the 'things they never tell you' list!

I've also been having a few dizzy spells. Hopefully it's just me getting over the bug I had last week, but the tested my BP anyway and it's perfectly normal, considering I was in a hospital and I usually get 'white coat' syndrome.

Thanks to some advice, on here and other sources, I'm going to stock up on Jergens paraben free lotion and Vitamin E cream so that I can keep my skin soft and looked after in the eventuality that I have radiotherapy. The Dr said its highly likely that it will damage my implant and I'll need it replaced when treatment is finished but that's another bridge to cross, along with a reduction on my other breast so that they match in size.

I've also done loads more clearing out. This time my shoe collection!!!! I have a bookcase in my hallway which was stuffed with shoes, and that has now been reduced by 3 recycling bags! No more stacking of shoe boxes, just one layer of shoes per shelf. Even my Prada trainers went but the 2 pairs of Miu Miu dolly shoes are safe in my wardrobe now. The kitchen has been slightly re-organised as well, with my Muji drawers full of nail polish now residing in the living room, where I do my nails anyway, and the kitchen table is finally clear of rubbish and sundry paperwork, with a lovely clean table cloth. Col's going to put up some shelves in there for me so I can get rid of the other sundry bits cluttering up the work surfaces.

Talking of nails, I did a pretty mani on Sunday night. I got some lovely OPI trios in TKMaxx for £14.99 and these are 2 of them. OPI On Air Perso-nail-ity and Y'all Come Back Ya Hear? on alternate fingers, and then some pretty water decals from Kiss that look like stained glass under daylight.
Not the greatest picture but they look so much better in real life. water decals are fun but they can be really delicate to work with as they break up if you try and slide them around too much. You also have to be careful with the topcoat and let it drip on first or it will smoosh the decal up. I got mine from Ebay but I've also had some from KKcentralHK in the past. Hing King, but fairly fast delivery and good service. They also sell all sorts of goodies, such as false eyelashes, brushes and hair accessories.

So a weird start to the week. I'm sort of hopeful, fearful, a little bored of waiting but also dreading it when it does all kick off. I do have the dentist tomorrow and a flu jab to look forward to though :/

Thanks for reading and all comments welcome as always.

Elise XX

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Week 2 and I've got my surgery date!

Ugh! Starting to think about surgery now and I'm finding it harder to sleep at night. One of my biggest fears(phobias) has been about having an operation and waking up 'under the knife'!!

So you can sort of imagine what I'm lying there thinking about now.

However, yesterday, we went to see Sue (my Breast Cancer Nurse). She is so lovely and reassuring and told me about the different type of anaesthetic used, which means that they don't use a paralytic agent. In other words, if I wake up, the whole team will know about it pretty sharpish ;)  I also have my date now; drum roll please........5th December!! So 3 working weeks away!!

I found another blog from a lovely lady who has had the same procedure with the same consultant that I'm having so if you want to have a peek, look here, but NOT if you're squeamish as they are Mastectomy pictures!  We're going to meet with Lucie, my consultant, on Monday afternoon and we're going to discuss the treatment, surgery and different types of implant. The inflatable one looks 'interesting' but I'm not keen on the idea of having the valve left in my armpit after it's all finished.

We also discussed post-recovery options after I looked at the photos and I might be able to get my other one reduced so at least I have a matching pair, which is nice, but purely cosmetic so I'll leave that thought alone for now.

I'm determined to try and keep going as normal at the minute,which entails going to work and keeping busy, but I don't know if it's stress, slight depression or insomnia, but I am so darned tired all the time. I had to take Wednesday off as my voice went and I had the scratchiest throat ever. Of course it could be that I had told most of my work colleagues the news and I got so many hugs that I probably picked up a germ or two! I was shopping in Tesco's after work today and had a little 'moment', where I was so tired that I just wanted to sit on the floor and cry! Not like me at all!

As part of my keeping normal routine I also did my Sunday evening nail paint. I used China Glaze Good Witch, from the Wizard Ohh Ahz collection,  with a Bundle Monster Stamp, as I was in a definitely pink mood.

I also got some of my wedding pictures from Nikki, who is my son's girlfriend (currently studying photography). I've cropped the kids out of my absolute favourite one as I don't want to be showing them to the world without permission, but I love how she's captured our absolute happiness that day.

And that picture encapsulates my feelings for Colin perfectly and that is what is going to keep me going through these next yucky, painful months! People at work and other friends have said how 'chipper' I am being, but I think that's the only way to be. If you fake the smile then eventually it sticks and feels real. I actually don't have to fake the smiles too much though as I keep forgetting about it, either that, or I'm making sick jokes about it. It's only at night time when I'm alone with my thoughts that I waver. So I just pop downstairs and have a cup of tea and read my Kindle until I get tired again. Colin has been an absolute angel about everything, even buying a book on how to cope being a husband to a wife with Breast Cancer. He has been helping to tidy up and clean which is probably more stressful than everything else, given my hoarder tendencies. I hate getting rid of my 'stuff', even though most of it is probably junk.

I'm also really relieved at the way work are handling all this. I'm getting 6 months full pay, followed by 6 months half-pay if necessary and hopefully I'll be able to return back for the new college year in September as normal. Of course it all depends on whether I need chemo and how many cycles I'll need, how I'm feeling and my fatigue levels, but I'm keeping September in my head as my target recovery time. Everyone at work has been so kind though, to the point where I get a bit teary when they're nice to me :')  

I've told some of my more mature second year students that I'm leaving and why and they've been so adult about it, and that made me nearly well up, as well!  I'm just so sorry that I won't be there when they leave college and move onto Uni or going into full time employment next year, as that is always my favourite time of the college year; watching them move onto the next step of their adult life. I really hope that they get a good replacement(temporary!) for me who will do them all proud and give them the pastoral care that they need. I just hate the feeling that I'm rushing them through their UCAS applications, but I want to get all their references done before I leave, if possible.

Anyway, I'm going to stock up on of Bio-Oil this week, for my scars, and look for some comfy best style jammies, as it looks like I'll be leaving hospital with my drain in place (YUKKK!) and I don't want to be catching pipes on things! Also going to pop to Asda as they have some pretty cheap post surgery bras here for only £6.00!
Doesn't it look pretty?

So thanks for reading and I'll post an update after Monday's appointment.

Keeeeeeeep smiling!!!

Elise XX

P.S Thank you all for the lovely comments here, on Facebook and MSE. I will try and answer any questions you have as well.


Friday, 2 November 2012

Beauty & the Breast

Yesterday I was diagnosed with breast cancer

 Not what you usually read on a beauty blog??

Even though I haven't been the best of bloggers; too infrequent, too reliant on website descriptions etc, I am going to try & improve, in the name of education.

Breast Cancer is NOT a death sentence. In fact it wasn't even mentioned once yesterday. The focus was on treatment & reconstruction; how to get me back to normal as soon as possible, in fact.

Yes there were tears,especially when the doctor said the 'mastectomy' word. Eeeep!
The doctor and the nurse were the best ever team I could have had tell me the bad news. No beating about the bush, just 'Yes you have cancer, and this is how we will deal with it'

I've decided to change the focus of my blog now. I'm still going to talk about beauty products,hair and nails, but there will he a very personal slant now. There may be somewhat of a dear diary feel to it and there WILL be days when I won't post, purely because I will feel too crap!

I'm probably going to tell you about the search for the comfiest post.-op bra, the best cleanser & moisturiser for burnt & irradiated skin, how to cope with crapped out chemo-face and gross shadows under my eyes.

And I want to hear from other fighters, cos that's what we are; not pansy ass victims, about how they cope, what happens when the hair falls, when the steroids give you moonface (not looking forwards to that- ulp)

I might not have all these treatments, but the nurse told me that as I'm young, the treatment WILL be very aggressive!!

I hope I don't upset anyone but I don't want you to file that mammogram appointment under 'must get around to sometime'  or only have a feel when you remember. I couldn't feel my lump as it was buried in my ducts, but please, please have a good feel at least once a month, the week after your period as thats when they're not so naturally lumpy or sore. I had a letter inviting me for an early mammogram as they are now starting at 47 in Warwickshire, and it has literally saved my life as I would probably not survived an extra 3 years at the rate it's growing; 5cm when scanned last month and 6cm this week.

A final word, but by no means an afterthought; I got married on Monday to my long-term partner of 10 years, Colin and he is the love of my life. He is now, and will always be, my rock. I think of the practicalities and he deals with the emotions. I can never really vent or breakdown, but when I see him with tears in his eyes, it loosens the burden in my chest as if I have somehow transferred all my sorrow and pain over, leaving me free to deal with the physical crap. I do feel bad that he feels that he can't do anything, but he doesn't realise that he IS helping me. He gives me hugs when I need it, tells me that it won't matter about scars and an ugly boob and doesn't laugh at my silly ideas and fears.

My mum and family have all rallied around via text, phone and Skype from Cyprus, London, Glasgow & New Zealand. My new stepkids have sent me beautiful flowers. This is my Circle of Support and they will rally round and help brighten my life when things go dark.