Everyone is in the same boat
I had butterflies going into the Look Good Feel Better workshop in Galway but once you’re in, you find that everyone is in the same boat, everyone is going through the same thing, everyone has cancer. I found out about Look Good Feel Better workshops through my sister who had breast cancer and she went to a workshop and she encouraged me to go too.
I was diagnosed early last year. I had found a thickening in my breast before Christmas but thought nothing of it, I wasn’t worried but I knew it was something different. In January I had to go to my doctor about something different and I showed him my breast and the doctor said that it was probably some fibrous tissue. So, I had a mammogram, then an ultra sound, a biopsy and by the time they were talking about a targeted biopsy I knew something was really wrong.
Treadmill of appointments
The surgery was scheduled quickly which was great and, once I got over the initial shock, I was on the treadmill of appointments and treatment. I was scheduled to have 6 sessions of chemotherapy and with the first two I struggled with chronic fatigue. I literally found it hard to get out of bed, I’m an energetic person and I wasn’t expecting that. I have a five year-old son, Eli, and it was all I could do to wave him off in the mornings and then I would crawl back into bed. No amount of sleep was enough. So, they adjusted my treatment which worked and meant that I was tired and in a fog for the first seven days and ok for the remaining time in between sessions, leaving me back to picking up Eli and dropping him off. Until the last session, that really floored me but I knew it was the last so it was ok.
We called her Buddy because we didn’t know her name
In-between all of this we had moved house and it was a really hot summer so when I was tired I’d drag the bean bag out and lie in the sun. Our next door neighbour’s dog would come and lie at my feet, we called her Buddy for ages as we didn’t know her name. She would snuggle into me and lie there gently, it was like she knew.
It’s scary Mammy
I was always honest with my son, he didn’t really understand what Cancer is so I showed him my scars and told him that I needed to take strong medicine which would make me sick and my hair would probably fall out. It was the hair that worried him most. So, I showed it to him bit by bit as it was falling out. Then, when I shaved it I wore a wig, he didn’t even notice it, so I asked him if he wanted to see it off and he said yes. When he saw my bald head he said ‘It’s scary Mammy’ but he got used to it. In fact, I only wore the wig for a week, then I went around the house with it off and I had a scarf on when I went out to protect me from the sun.
I came out of the workshop with a spring in my step
The Look Good Feel Better workshop was on in the last few sessions of Chemo, I had hoped to finish my treatment in early June in time for Eli’s birthday at the end of June but I got an infection. I was gutted but in the end we just worked Eli’s party around my treatment. At the workshop I was sitting next to a lovely woman from Clare and she had no eyebrows, well the ecstasy and excitement as the Look Good Feel Better volunteer drew them on. When the volunteer had finished, she let out a shout ‘I have eyebrows’. I loved the goodie bag, it was filled with really good stuff and it lasted for ages after the workshop. I came out of the workshop with a spring in my step, just really, really happy. It was a lovely day in amidst all of the other stuff. People ask me if cancer has changed me, and it has, it has stopped me from stressing about the small things.