Ascent Complete!

Ascent CompleteSnow 0 Tracy 6

Ascent Complete
Snow 0 Tracy 6

That’s it. FEC-T is over. Everest has been ascended in flip-flops and a sarong – entirely inappropriate attire but it was all I had on me at the time so I had to make the most of it.

It was snowing this morning and had snowed all night. My handsome prince was a no-show so I guess he accepted the crone’s apple!  I managed to stay awake all night thanks to dexamethasone.

Fortunately the journey to chemo camp involved traversing sparkling powder snow but at 8.30am it wasn’t too treacherous. By 1.30pm the situation had moved on.  I’m glad the journey home wasn’t later in the day as it wouldn’t have been feasible; folks had already abandoned cars in many areas.

Snow didn’t defeat me today and I’m happy about that but above all else I’m so glad the chemo part of this adventure is over. Bye-bye FEC-T hello return to normality.

The journey, however, is not yet complete.  I still have to master the descent to base camp via successful completion of the Persephone herceptin trial plus some further surgeries. I’ll make a date with Miss M (oncoplastic surgeon) and Mr Ch (gynae specialist) so they can extricate the remaining female parts of my anatomy during 2013.  Miss M will create a new silicon masterpiece matching the one she gave me last August. With up to a 90% reduction in the risk of further sinister developments in my presently human left side, this is a surgery with ‘do it’ stamped all over it.  Mr Ch has offered additional risk reducing surgery via removal of bits and bobs that are likely to go wrong – ovaries and tubes!

Unfortunately breast and ovarian cancer mounted a dual assault on my ancestors decimating them all at an early. Miss M, Mr Ch and my own GP all recommend these additional surgeries to improve my odds.  For my part I intend to do as much as possible to avoid another tango with a small dark stranger who isn’t handsome, charming or in any way a pleasure to dance with.  For me, more surgery is less daunting than the prospect of early recurrence/metastasis; HER2 positive breast cancer is renowned for these traits.

I know surgery isn’t a silver bullet but I will know in my heart I did everything possible to keep the stalker of evil intent at bay.  For now though I can’t get too excited about my Everest descent because I have to deal with a huge parcel of drugs plus a bright yellow sharps box designed to see me through the aftermath of TH-3.  I’m adverse to drugs especially when copious quantities are involved; the weather and my dangerously high temperature incident a few weeks ago have changed my mind just this once.  I can’t afford to be snowed in with neutropenia because the emergency services can’t get here at the moment. Dying of neutropenic sepsis will never be on my to do list, so I’m having BONC.   (N.B. this is not to be confused with having ‘a bonk’).

BONC includes dexamethasone, the insomnia inducing beet steroid that turns me into an overgrown version of the Ready Brek Kid complete with deep Beetroot coloured glow visible from c.3 miles away 🙂 . Ondansetron to combat sickness.  11 days of Ciprofloxacin (preventative antibiotics) and 5 days of Neupogen injections that I’ll self-administer.  Neupogen forces the bone marrow to produce neutrophil precursors, a very good thing following Taxotere. The downside is that it can cause pain inside bones, especially long bones and the sternum.  As ever I’m hopeful any side-effects will be minimally disruptive.

Nurse L (one of the loveliest people on our planet) said my return to normality will begin very soon now… I can expect to see some hair putting in an appearance. This will be weird. I’ve finally become accustomed to the bald cone-head look though I find it very chilly.  I’ve been tempted to borrow Elizabeth’s rain hat, complete with its warm ear flaps but I don’t trust UK customs officials to get it here undamaged. So the sooner my hair decides to show up the better and I don’t care what colour or texture it is, I’ll be fine with anything that delivers a nice warm feeling in the upper head region 🙂

One final word before I sign off. To everyone out there faced with an aggressive breast cancer diagnosis, a conversation that says it’s treatable (not curable) and what seems to be a very long, daunting and arduous journey ahead, please know that you can do this.  I’m not going to say it’s easy or enjoyable but equally it is not the end of the world.  You can get through it and you can take your life back – whether it’s many years or a  few months it is still your time. Cancer cannot be allowed to ruin it.  As my dear friend Kozo (call in on him at Everyday Gurus) advises, this applies to many of the adverse situations we face in life, it is not restricted to the uninvited stranger that began stalking me with evil intent last May. So please don’t forget, you can do this.


26 thoughts on “Ascent Complete!

  1. Congrats Tracy! Just as your descent begins, I am on the other side of that mountain just starting off on my climb up. I hope to be as courageous as you and make this climb as quick as possible. Continue posting the loveliness of getting back to (mostly) normal. It is something we all look forward to.


    • I’m right there with you Gina to spur you on whether it’s going up or down the tricky mountain we’ve been faced with. There are many on this journey and like a number of the others I’m happy to offer any help and support I can. Be kind to yourself as you make the ascent and you’ll find you’ll soon be descending swiftly and smoothly to (mostly) normal. I’m rooting for you to conquer this peak, you can and you will.


  2. Fec-THis is over and your goal of completing your climb of ‘Everest’ has been achieved. Life’s journey continues as you descend. There is still much to do and the Tracy I know will overcome all adversity as she continues her travels. May life’s journey be rewarding, bring you much joy and be blessed with good health and success in everything you do. You have been, and remain, an inspiration to many people here. Keep up the good work, and keep us all informed of your continuing journey.
    With Love and {{{Hugs}}} for a better future. Silverback.


    • I agree with Dad, You are an inspiration for us all. I find it fitting that your final ascent was through the snow, and you tackled the task without a complaint. That is the most amazing thing about your blog, Tracy; there is no whining nor complaining. In the face of a torrential snow storm and chemo, you are as joyful and beautiful as Snow White.
      You scared the living daylights out of me when you said “FEC-T” is over. I thought you were ending your blog. I agree again with Dad, “keep us all informed of your continuing journey.” And I am not just talking about the descent to base camp. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo


      • I’m having problems with comments or chemo brain (or both) so I apologise that my replies are all out of order this evening. I try hard not to complain or whine but I am human and I fail sometimes – just like my disorderly comments and various typos! I’m no saint and I will probably never be one but it doesn’t discourage me from striving to learn from my experiences and become a better person each day. I won’t end the blog and I’m so sorry for scaring you Kozo…. the journey continues and the walk beyond base camp is calling me on, I think it holds some beautiful prospects. Big hugs to you, you are a truly wonderful human being.


    • It’s definitely the feisty-stick dearest Silverback, it’s seen me through a whole heap of dung (probably the best word for it) over quite a few years. 2012 seems to have been my extra big heap of dung year and I was the dung beetle tunnelling relentlessly out of the sticky stuff. In 2013 I will be a firefly, bright, brilliant and buzzing around again (but not from steroids!!). I consider myself very lucky. I have the most amazing family who have given me the strength to overcome many things and I have friends of the flesh and virtual kinds who spur me on. Together, family and friends give me many reasons to become old, wrinkly and white-haired so that’s exactly what I intend to do – in many years time 🙂


  3. Congratulations! I am so very happy for you! When you get to the bits and bobs removed know that I’ve been there already. It was the easiest operation I had…. for now I’m sending a virtual hug!


    • Thank you so much for letting me know about your experience and that it was not so bad. I wish you a much smoother journey ahead and hope you get to the South of France as wished. with hugs to you too.


    • Bizarrely I always perceive the downward stretch as easier than the ascent – possibly an illogical thought pattern in many instances but hopefully not in this case 🙂 thank you as ever for your support Dianne.


      • My girlfriend (who had the brain tumour operation) reached her peak on Friday when she was tested to get her drivers license back and passed! It was wonderful 😀 She’s now on the downward stretch as well 😀 Her next MRI is in early Feb and I’m wishing and praying and hoping it’s all clear 😉

        Take care xxx


      • Such good news about your girlfriend Dianne, I’m so pleased for her (and you). I’ll keep the wishes and prayers going from this end that the news is happy and healthy for her in February. Hugs to you both xx


    • I hope so Diane, there are so many tiny things I’m looking forward to having back in my life now and quite a few big ones I’m glad to see the back of. Hope things are going well for you on your journey and not too many adverse affects to contend with.


  4. Spectacular! Now I am ultimately impressed! Hooray! And my hat made your blog. I am touched. Is is a very special hat, so I guess I can’t be too surprised. (Who cares if my neighbor makes fun of me?)


    • Ah let them make fun of you, I know the true importance of a special hat and can fully appreciate its virtues. There comes a time when feeling warm and dry beats catwalk chic (I’ve never been too good at that). I’m thinking of you, I know your next step is coming up and am willing it to be a full success with a very speedy recovery for you.


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