Sunday, September 21, 2014

A new adventure begins

Chemotherapy finished, and feeling pretty pleased with myself. Unfortunately 2 weeks post chemo I started getting quite bad peripheral neuropathy, to the point that my fine motor skills are seriously compromised and my feet feel like I'm walking on very gritty beach sand all the time. Doctors aren't sure it will improve completely, but as of this week I have slight improvement. I'm teaching Absolute Beginners Dressmaking and Intermediate Dressmaking classes at the Parramatta College 2 evenings a week in 8 week blocks and managing to demonstrate to the students, as long as they do the pinning that is LOL ! Hand sewing is slow and very frustrating although not really painful. My regular costuming clients have had to find other seamstresses, but I have signed up to make Angel Gown garments with a great new organisation in Australia. NICU Helping Hands Angel Gown Program Australia is a fully volunteer group who receive donated wedding wear and upcycle them into memorial/burial gowns for babies who "grow their wings too soon" as we say. With over 2000 still born babies in Australia a year, neo-natal deaths (first 8 weeks) and late miscarriages happening more and more there is unfortunately an ongoing need for our services. I've been helping (slowly) to refine our patterns for the gowns in my capacity as award winning patternmaker (dating from 1996 State medal winner for Custom Clothing at TAFE) and many years practical experience with sewing wedding fabrics. We have some fabulous work coming through from all over Australia, Our remote seamstresses in country areas are "topping the list" at the moment although we don't see it as a competition of course. The families who are offered our garments when that sad time comes at the hospitals are very grateful for the beautiful garments made with love and compassion by our passionate ladies who are supported by their partners and families with logistical help too. We are getting ready to fundraise to ensure ongoing supply of our special white presentation boxes and cards which go with every gown placed in a hospital or funeral home. If you've read this far you'll see that I'm very passionate about the cause, LOL, and see this as a way to repay my good fortune to be looking forward to many more years with my husband and family thanks to the doctors and nurses who looked after me in the past 11 months. My diagnosis anniversary is next weekend, does this call for a celebration ?
See more about Angel Gown Program here

Monday, May 05, 2014

2014 catchup

My world has certainly changed since my last posting ! I was just settling in to providing Nanny day care for grandson Seth when I started getting some nasty twinges in my abdomen which needed checking out. To cut a long story short, I was sent to a gastroenterologist as a precaution and she recommended a colonoscopy as I was coming up to 60 years old. Unfortunately she discovered a colon cancer which we hoped was early stage. 2 weeks later the surgeon had removed the cancer which tested as stage 3B, not so early. He recommended 6 months of fortnightly chemotherapy so we decided to "go with the flow" and began chemo 4 weeks later. As you can see quite a whirlwind of testing, results and treatment ! My surgeon recommended I use a private oncology service rather than the public hospital which although very good is quite clinical and not the best option for someone with anxiety problems ! So glad I could afford to take his advice. I formed a lovely relationship with my chemo nurse and the director of the Western Sydney Private Oncology Centre at Westmead over the 6 months. I had a PIC inserted in my chest wall so that I could have regular infusions and also so that I could go home for the second phase of each treatment which required 4 hours in the clinic once a fortnight then going home with a small bottle of chemo drugs attached through the port. I quickly got into the routine of fortnightly blood tests on the Friday before treatment, then Monday for treatment and Wednesday for de-access of the line. The port will stay in for another 6 months in case I need plasma or a transfusion at some stage. Have a follow up CT scan of chest, abdomen and pelvis in a fortnight, then hopefully just regular flushing of the port and an occasional blood test. Fingers crossed we have stopped it in its tracks, the doctors were all calling me the "model Patient" as I had very few side effects and tolerated the chemo fairly well. I have very thin hair and short nails at the moment, and a bit of peripheral neuropathy (tingling and numbness) in my hands and feet which is typical and usually temporary. The fatigue levels are very debilitating so my stitching and sewing has been minimal this past 6 months, and I've had to pass my dressmaking clients to other people. On the whole though I feel very blessed and extremely lucky that I insisted on following up my pains and that the doctors reacted swiftly to the results. It certainly pays to listen to your own body, know when there's something not right and insist on tests until you are satisfied that you've done all you can. Best wishes to anyone else going through similar at the moment, I believe in Karma so I'm sure all will be well if it's meant to be. XX