Scanxiety

Yes this is a real thing! An anxiety caused by scans and waiting for scan results. I had my scans on Wednesday afternoon and my Oncologist appointment on Thursday morning.

I haven’t written for a couple of weeks I think mainly due to my scans last week and waiting the results.

Not good news but not bad news, mostly everything is just status quo. Nothing is getting smaller but nothing is getting bigger. We have decided to take on 1 to 2 more months of chemo (4 more cycles) and see where we’re at then.

I found out last minute I have a blood clot in my leg and so I have to inject myself everyday for 3/6 months. I’m not sure if this is something that will ever become ‘normal’. Before I found out I had cancer I would pass out just at having going to get blood tests for my iron levels and now I’m injecting myself!

Its amazing how far a person can come in such a short time.

Although we are doing more chemo this doesn’t add years to the life span they have given me it hopefully just prolongs the quality. We also have to make sure the body doesn’t become resistant to the chemo and balance the chemo and fatigue levels to see if its still worth it after a couple more cycles.

After I have finished then we will talk about what happens going forward. Maybe nothing, maybe maintenance chemo. Its all pretty up in the air really and I’m not to sure what other options we have post chemo. .

I’m not 100% how I feel about the outcome of the scans. I guess I wish it was more one way or the other so decisions are easier to make, but other all I guess we are fighting the good fight and maybe not winning like we had hoped but we are definitely not letting it beat us down.

Despite chemo I am still managing to run and walk, ride my bike and I even went for a swim a couple of weeks ago which was really nice and kind on my body.

Despite the fatigue and nausea we seem to be trying to find that balance and make it work for myself and everyone around me.

I think following the scans I took Thursday and Friday and did nothing besides trying to process everything that had gone on following the scans Wednesday and the results Thursday.

I’m glad its done and it will be interesting to see what the next set of results show.

Picked up a in a big way on Saturday with my girls Lydia and Ester being in Christchurch for a track meet and going out to brunch with them and the lovely Julia. I really needed this and they are all such inspirational people in their own rights. Lydia has helped me so much since meeting her at One Step is All it Takes last year. She is my inspiration and motivation, being so kind and just smashing out the races and making me want to get out there and run.

Julia runs the One Step Is All it Takes group on a Monday morning 7am by Argham bridge at Hagley Park. It was lovely to get to meet a new face and a such an inspirational human.

One Step is a great initiative set up by Lydia O’Donnell about moving for our minds and mental health awareness. Moving to help depression and anxiety along with meeting new people and making new connections. These are run all over the country and overseas from Auckland to Sydney, check out their website: https://www.onestepisallittakes.com/ for more information. Its such a good idea and way to get out there and move the body whether its a walk or jog, its for everyone!

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Got home after that super motivated and went out for a run with my furry friend Fergus who I got to look after from Wednesday to Tuesday!

Also went out for a walk Sunday and ran 10kms Monday! 32.5km on the bike Tuesday and Wednesday despite chemo, round 7 on Monday.

The next big thing on the bucket list is The Relay for Life on Saturday from 10am until 10pm at Brookside Park out in Rollestern. Its a major fundraiser for the Cancer Society and I am so excited and proud to be apart of it.

I am team captain for Cancer Can Trigirl aka team 9. Today which the nausea and fatigue I made it to our creative hub! The letterbox looks awesome, our T-shirts are handmade and look amazing, our baton is well decorated and is a cycle seat, the candlelight ceremony bags look amazing and everything has come together so well! Thank you so much to Di, Raewyn and Josie for taking the day and making this all happen!

Also a massive thank you to John for making stands for my epic TT bike that will be there, all the articles and the letterbox. Our tent I don’t know if you can guess ,but is cycling themed!

I’ll have all my new colorful Toot cycling kit hanging up (new collaboration and exciting things to come!) as well as a Pure Nutrition flag for all the help they have given me over the last few months (this stuff really works!).

Feels like we’ve been talking about this event for a while and its finally come around so quickly! Hopefully the weather comes to the party too and is beautiful to match all the hard work everyone of the teams have put in.

Luckily we have a camper at the back of our site so I can go and have a nap when I need It is my bad week and its going to be a long day (thank you so much Tony for providing and helping with this!).

Next weekend sees another big bucket list item to tick off the 14km City to Surf in Christchurch. So looking forward to it and hoping I can run/yog the whole way (fingers and blisters crossed!).

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Then its a bit of a break until the St Claires half marathon up in Blenheim on the 11th of May (birthday week!!!!).

So if anyone has any challenges of ideas, or events you think I might be able to do between these events please let me know! I’m keen to try and give most things a whirl especially if I can raise awareness for young and old along the way.

Two big weeks ahead but I am so excited and an hoping the steroids and the adrenaline get me through!

Last donations for relay for life, however big or small it all helps an amazing cause:

https://relayforlifeselwyn2019.everydayhero.com/nz/cancer-can-trigirl

Until next time,

Keep smiling,

Britt xx

Ticking off the bucket list….

The last couple of weeks despite having chemo have been really busy.

I fly up to Auckland on my ‘bad week’ Friday and spent the weekend catching up with family and friends. It was a good trip but flying home on Monday and the after effects of fatigue were pretty brutal.

I struggled a bit last week with my get up and go seeming to have got up and gone.

Going up there really reminded me that although I may miss aspects and people up in Auckland, Christchurch is now my home and my happy place and I was really looking forward to getting back there.

I tried to run last Tuesday and it was DISMAL!! I manged 2km before my heart rate was through the roof, I sounded like a smoker with a smokers cough and I could barley get air into my lungs.

I walked a bit and felt pretty annoyed and angry at my body at this stage. I manged one more km before calling it a day and walking home from the park.

This didn’t bode well for the 1st upcoming bucket list activity, the Christchurch 10km ‘Run to Remember’ for all the earthquake victims 8years on.

I managed a walk up the bridle path with Kristy on Friday. It was steep and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it but I’m so glad she got me out there and to the top as well!

Saturday the weather was not ideal and race day didn’t seem like it would be much better.

I was woken up at 645am with ‘run morning!’ (thanks for the enthusiasm babe ;)).

It was raining but I was determined to get this run done as it was something I had really mean looking forward too and would have not forgiven myself easily if I hadn’t done it. I was going to run, walk or crawl but I was determined to get to the end.

The rain eased and actually stopped for the whole race! I was rugged which was just as well as it was freezing southerly.

Signed up and got our numbers on. A bit of waiting around and we were underway!

There was a lot of uphill to begin with up to summit road, but managed to jog in patches with a few hundred other runners trying to get through the walkers.

Managed to run a lot of summit road despite the rolling terrain but the views were next level and I was completely in my happy place, heart rate was good, lungs felt good, legs felt fine and the moral was even better.

I was so so happy to finish the 10.6km in 1hour 8mins when I thought Id be walking most of the way!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Josie for picking us up and dropping us off and the different start and finishing places, John for trying to hold me back knowing I had chemo the next day but also knowing I was in a good place and just let me run while running a long side me and to Cameron my partner in crime that could have run that in half the time but was determined to stick by my side and know I was in my comfort zone and just let me be. You all made the day happen for me and I was so so happy and just buzzing from getting to compete and complete something so cool!

To be fair brunch after was just as good!

 

Chemo Monday, I am now officially half way. I get my scans next week and officially find out in chemo the chemo is working and whether Ill be having another 6 rounds of 3 more months of chemo or whether its not worth it and I can just be and not worry with it anymore.

I am not sure which way I want it to go to be honest. Chemo is awful and so draining but then if its giving me longer and better quality in the long term maybe its worth another bad 3 months.

Its definitely a catch 22 and will be very interesting to get the results from next Thursday!

On a completely different note I have a wee addition to my bucket list…..The St Clair’s half marathon run by Bowel Cancer New Zealand on my birthday weekend in May! I am so excited to be able to enter this year! Last year I didn’t have people to go with and it was half way through my 9 months of chemo. I just wasn’t in the best head space to complete it.

This time am we are driving up and I will know so many people and just the entertainment like atmosphere is going to be awesome! It will be my last round of chemo when we get back that Monday, assuming my chemo continues after this week.

I know its a bit of a way but what 21.1km when you’ve done over a year of chemo and are terminally ill. It should be a breeze right? And really how could I miss the official Bowel Cancer New Zealand event and being able to raise money for such an amazing organisation who have done so much for me. I hope I can raise the money and awareness this event deserves.

My everyday hero fundraising page for this epic organisation that is Bowel Cancer NZ is:

https://saintclairevineyardhalfmarathon2019.everydayhero.com/nz/cancer-can-trigirl

Even a couple of dollars goes a long way. Thank you everyone!

 

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On a side note these last few days have been tough with a lot of fatigue and not a lot getting achieved.

Thank you to Kristen Ellis from Global PC for enabling me to finish this blog after my charger decided to blow up yesterday half way through! Absolute legend.

So far I have ticked off a bucket list item, and have added another to the list!

Next up is the Relay for Life which is going to be a long but absolutely awesome fun filled day with the opening ceremony to the candlelight ceremony as it starts to get dark! I am really looking forward to being apart of this event to not only raise awareness but raise money for the Cancer Society.

Hopefully after my couple of days rest I’ll be running into this weekend with a bang (in a good way) and keep up the training for all this bucket list excitement that is coming my way!

Until next time,

Keep smiling,

Britt xx

 

I just want my life back….

Cancer.

To most people its just a word, maybe they know someone affected by it, maybe that person is close or maybe its a friend of a friends mum’s aunts best friend. Most people have a story for you about that person and it normally ends with “but they survived and are doing so well now”.

Most people mean well and are just trying to connect with you on some level. I don’t love the stories. They mean little to me and rarely make me feel better.

See until you have heard the words yourself you will never know what they truly mean.

Cancer.

That one word changed my whole world. It made everything different and it could never go back to how it once was. It rocks your word in a way that is completely unexplainable. No words can truly describe the feelings and emotions you go through.

The mirage of words all the doctors threw at me made no sense. I understood I had a reaccurance and that it being so close after I had finished chemo it definitely wasn’t a good thing. The fact palliative care was being bounced about wasn’t didn’t sound good either. I knew the amount of doctors and nurses present probably wasn’t leading to anything positive either but no one said the words.

Terminal cancer.

I guess telling someone they have a timeline, especially someone that is only 32 isn’t easy.

Non curative chemo.

Something that I am currently going through. Its not a cure. I got that bit loud and clear, but it might slow the growth or even better shrink the tumors that are there. Maybe even stop new ones from forming.

That is the only reason I am putting myself through this hell.

Why else would you willingly go in every 2 weeks to be poisoned. I was advised to do 6 rounds of FOLFIRI before more scans were done. I am coming up to my 6th round on Monday. Once that’s complete these scans will determine if I have to put my body through another 3 months of the hell that is chemo or not.

I want my life back.

I am facing extreme fatigue and nausea week in and week out. I look so well people have no idea the pain I am going through. FOLFIRI you keep your hair, a blessing and a curse, I have color in my cheeks and hair on my head. I don’t look sick at all. But inside I feel like I’m dying.

I look to ‘well’ to be sick and yet I am so sick I am dying.

Its a cruel world.

I sleep 10-12 hours a night and I am still tired. Not I’ll have a nap and feel great tired, tired to the bone, to the very core.

I question its validity on the daily, surely I can’t be that sick. I look fine, there’s nothing wrong with me, I just need to get on with it. If I was just more motivated and driven I’d be able to do it, I’m just lazy, its not that bad. Well that’s how I feel and what I tell myself anyway.

Every single night I go to bed and I tell myself, I will wake up at a reasonable time, I will get up and go for a walk, I’ll come back check my emails and socials and have breakfast, I’ll get on my bike and at least ride the flat route to Sumner and back (31km), I’ll have a break and a bit of a lie down and then go for a walk in the park or a 2-5km run. I know that’s a big ask on chemo but I should at least attempt  a couple of those things. I mean comeon! I used to swim, bike and run in a day, I could even go to the gym. I’d do things, I’d get things done, I’d achieve stuff.

And then I wake up.

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I struggle to wake up. Its a long process. It starts with only being able to open one eye. Its already well past 8am closer to 9am. I’ve already failed my ‘to do list’. I need to use the bathroom but I can’t move. Everything feels heavy, even my eyelids. It takes more than 10mins to convince the body it needs to move. I get up, it doesn’t feel like my body. Everything is heavy, its hard to get going, it aches, not your traditional something aches kind of way but in a way I cant even put into words.

I get back in bed because that feels like the only option. I take my pills, yes there are a lot of them, I scroll through my phone. I should be getting up, at least to make a cup of tea, but the tea is down the stairs and I’m not ready for that walk just yet.

I should be walking, I should be getting ready for a bike ride, I should be going for a run, I should drive to the pools, I could at least do an ‘at home’ workout. Yet I’m still in bed, upstairs not able to even make a cup of tea yet (if you don’t know me, my bloodstream is made up of 90% tea and hot choc).

Why can’t I just do it? Why can’t I just be like before? Is it the chemo? Is it the cancer?

I feel like there’s no time. There’s not enough time in the day. If I don’t do a run, ride or swim before a certain time I’ve failed. But then I can’t do them anyway so really I’ve failed before I’ve even started. I do something else and it feels wrong or bad because I should be training, I’m wasting time.

I have my bad week and then a ‘good’ week. The good week is slowly disappearing before my eyes. I’m still tired, but I shouldn’t be. I should be good, its my good week. I need to do things, I need to be doing things. Why am I not getting things done? Why am I still so tired. I should be fine, I look fine, why am I not fine?

Oh yeah I have cancer. The kind that doesn’t get better.

So really I am running out of time. I should be doing things, why am I not doing things, why can’t I just get on with it? Why am I not getting on with it? Why am I so lazy and unmotivated? I need to be busy. Everyone is busy. Busy doing things and living. Busy, the word people use like a badge of honor, like the more busy you are the better the person you are. I want that badge of honor. I want to be busy too.

Meanwhile my reality is I’m over here and I havent’ even made it down to make a cup of tea.

I try not to think about it but I am sad. I try to be positive and put a positive spin on everything and be upbeat, try to turn this illness into something good.

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But I am sad, I miss my life, I miss having energy, I miss training, I miss being motivated, I miss being able to make a cup of tea without even thinking, I miss being busy, I miss that badge of honor, I miss doing things without a second thought, I miss being tired from being busy and getting to put my feet up because I’ve achieved so much, I miss doing that and knowing I’ll have a really good sleep and wake up fresh and ready to go.

I miss my life.

I miss it so much it hurts. My heart hurts.

My heart hurts for all the things I am unable to do and for all the things I’ll never be able to do.

I ache everyday in every way, for the life I’ve lost, for the life I’ll never have.

I don’t let many people into this part of my life, I like to try remain positive and happy and smile. I try to put a positive spin on things, I try to show people anything is possible. I keep it light and bright.

I want to help people.

But in the same way I wish I wasn’t in this position and didn’t have to help anyone.

I just want my life back.

I want to be normal.

But unfortunately that isn’t on the cards for me.

So I just

Until next time (and the last round of chemo before scans!),

Keep smiling,

Britt xx

 

The F word….

The F word- FATIGUE.

This word gets thrown around fatigue this, fatigue that. But I don’t think a lot of people actually understand the concept other than another word for just being tired.

Damn do I wish that was the case, to just be tired, like I could nap and wake up and feel fresh and energetic!

This is not the case at all when you’re dealing with real life, full blown fatigue.

Fatigue is like this energy zapper that no matter how many hours sleep you get you’re still flat, its tiredness that’s right to the bone.

The whole body feels like you’ve gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. The aches are like nothing else. You can’t walk around without the aches making you limp and feel like you’re 90, at least.

I never really understood the full concept of fatigue until this last couple of weeks. I wish my chemo was more predictable but unfortunately not to be.

Every round is different and besides the constant background noise of nausea my body reacts differently each time. Last Monday I received round 4 of FOLFIRI. One of the worst side effects of Ironotican is known to be fatigue.

Until now the nausea over ruled and over rode everything, being so debilitating. Lucky for me I have (hopefully, you can never be 100% sure how the body will respond to the toxic poison that’s being pumped into it every 11days) found my solution to the nausea and with the help of a combination of drugs and Pure Nutrition hydration drinks, I seem to be coping a lot better with that aspect of the side effects.

Fatigue on the other hand, well that is in a league of its own.

During chemo the body is being depleted of everything, essentially chemo is killing everything in your body, good and bad. Couple that with a bit of nausea and being unable to eat much more than toast the body really is left depleted of most things.

Chemo day is ever 2nd Monday. We walk to and from the hospital as we don’t live far and parking is a nightmare. I usually feel OK on my infusion day. I then get ‘Bruce’ my pump for 48hrs. Last week I during my time with Bruce I didn’t actually feel to bad so along with Mondays walking I backed it up with taking Bruce for a 9.5km run on the Tuesday , a trip out on the bike to Sumner, 31.5km, on the Wednesday before walking to Nurse Maude to get Bruce taken out. Then I thought it would be a really good idea to ride again on Thursday (same ride).

By Friday I was starting to feel pretty achy and sore. I thought it was tight muscles from training more than I usually do on a chemo week so I backed off and did a 5km walk instead.

At this stage walking up and down the stairs was starting to become a problem and my legs just ached like Id run a marathon on no training.

I was making sure I was sleeping and drinking loads to keep hydrated. I was eating as much as I could manage, which admittedly isn’t much more than toast on my chemo weeks and sleeping 12 hours a night.

In my mind I should have been recovering, I took Friday easy, why was everything so sore? Why did it feel like I had been run over by a truck?

I just couldn’t make sense of it or understand, yes I know fatigue is a side effect but isn’t that just been tired? I couldn’t understand why I was so incredibly flat. Like couldn’t move, everything hurt, ached, pain like when you’ve done a 30hr training week but without being able to recover.

I spent Saturday and Sunday in bed or on the couch, I didn’t leave the house. I didn’t go outside, getting up to make a cup of tea was a massive effort (and for anyone that knows me knows I love my cups of tea), I felt lazy, massive guilt over the lack of movement and activities. I always feel like I need to be doing something to justify my existence and ever since I’ve been given a timeline for this existence I feel even more pressure to be doing things, accomplishing goals, or ticking stuff of this ‘bucket list’. I constantly feel like I need to be moving, like if I stop everything will fall apart. If I stop it I’m wasting time, and time isn’t something I have on my side.

Constantly having to fight day in day out just to feel some sense of ‘normal’ gets so overwhelming I don’t know what to do with it. Fighting all the time just to be half of what I used to be is tiring in itself without adding the fatigue and all the guilt it brings on top of that.

Nurse Maude are and were amazing, I got in touch with the palliative care team on Monday and Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting Moira the lovely physio. She explained that fatigue isn’t something that can be slept away. That this isn’t me being lazy and that in no way should I feel guilty about it one bit.

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She explained about the chemo depleting the body and then on top of that I expected my body to go over 85kms because my bodies always been able to do it. She asked me how I expected my body to do this when it has no reserves that not only is chemo taking everything from me, the fact that I’m not able to get in enough nutrients in, how am i expected to ‘perform’?

I never looked at it like that before. To me my body has always just had to do what its had to do. Unfortunately cancer and chemo don’t quiet work like that.  The body needs love, nurturing and kindness. Yes training for me is my happy place but having depleted everything I’ve left my body with nothing. The aching is the body crying out for rest and looking after.

She explained that during this time I need to slow down. That I need to conserve energy for the important things that I want to have energy for. That if i can do something sitting instead of standing sit. That walking up and down the stairs aimlessly because I forget things is a thing of the past and unless i need to go to the toilet I need to make sure I take everything down with me in the mornings.

I need to slow down. Instead of doing three things at once I need to only be doing one thing at a time. The brain expends the most energy and I’m trying to get it to perform two or three tasks in a row and that I need to just be concentrating on one thing at a time.

That instead of smashing out long rides or running for kms on end that I need to nurture my body and gently ride to a cafe, that a 10km ride is enough, that running 2km while taking in my surroundings is better than 10km ruining the body.

All of this is so foreign to me. I’m used to performing, to be able to have my body go day in and day out doing what its told and recovering like it should.

This is such a far fetched way of looking at life for me and its going to take a bit of getting used too.

Being kind and gentle to my body isn’t really in my make up. I’ve abused it for years. Getting my head around this is going to take time and a lot of work but I’m trying. I’m resting were I can, I’m sitting instead of standing, I’m trying to stop the endless aimless trips up the stairs, I’m conserving my energy for the stuff I really want to do, for the important things, for the important people.

So even though my mind is screaming at me ‘YOU’RE SO LAZY GET UP’,  I’m saving the energy and trying to change my thought process from that to a more kind and gentle tone.

It may take some time but I’m determined to learn to nurture my body, to love it and show it some kindness.

I think we all need to take a second and appreciate what our bodies do for us and learn to give them a bit of kindness and nurturing. To stop being so hard on ourselves and to remember we all do the best we can. Love you cos that’s all you have at the end of the day.

Until next time,

Be kind to yourself and keep smiling,

Britt xx

 

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I be famous……Kinda!

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to be interviewed for an article for The Press and Stuff. It was to bring awareness to Bowel Cancer and the lack of awareness not just in younger people but for GP’s dealing with young people and the huge amount of misdiagnoses that is going around.

Early detection is the best way to have a decent chance at fighting and living through this illness. Without early detection people like me are misdiagnosed for years. This has now threaten my life span on this earth hugely. 4-24 months is not a long time to be told you have left to leave a legacy or an impression in the world.

I took the phone interview and had pictures and a video done for the piece that was both online and in print.

I was extremely nervous about how it would come out and the message it would be sending to a very wide and largely uniformed audience.

It came out on Saturday morning I was extremely proud of how it had come across, the video online didn’t have to many ‘ummm’s’ and the article was very informative both in press and online.

The news article online:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/109989406/young-cyclist-dying-of-cancer-regrets-not-pushing-harder-for-diagnosis?cid=app-iPhone&fbclid=IwAR0ePyW-g-SAuzpv3RMxCsMoH8yh1c9f_oVRj4suxw0ivwqponm8RxGb4Eo

Please take a read if you have a moment!

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There were 100’s of kind, caring and compassionate people out there. There were also a lot of others who told me I should have seeked a 2nd or 3rd opinion or that I should have not been ‘cheap’ and paid for my own colonoscopy.

Unfortunately I had no idea cancer was even in the realm of possibility let along that I would question a doctor I had the utmost confidence in. I never thought I should have 2nd guessed her to get a 2nd opinion let alone something like a colonoscopy.

There were also a lot of comments about the governments and who’s putting more into health and who isn’t. Yes both the current and former governments are at fault and everyone needs to seriously look at the way we screen for bowel cancer especially, and more so in young people.

In other news:

Since I last wrote I went to

https://www.facebook.com/breesglamourcake/

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This place is EPIC and has the most amazing donuts and sweet treats along with amazing pies (review from my pie guy ;)). It was on my bucket list and will defiantly be a place I go back too!

I struggled a lot with motivation last week even though it was deemed my ‘good’ week. This really took a toll mentally and really brought me down. I went on walks and rode around the park with Cameron while he did his runs.

Other than that I really struggled with motivation, fatigue and just feeling good about myself.

I had chemo on Monday, round 4. I still have 2 more rounds until I am able to get scans to see if the chemotherapy is having any impact on slowing the growth of my cancer. If it is I will continue FOLFIRI for another 3 months. Otherwise I will cut it out and just get on with living my life.

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Was able to walk to and from the hospital.

Tuesday I was attached to Bruce and still managed a 9.3km run! Wednesday before I got disconnected I made the decision to go for a ride and managed 32km before meeting a new friend and having an epic lunch, feeling like I’d known her forever!

To is usually when I hit a bit of a wall with my nausea but I managed to get on my bike today and do 31.5km!

I put this down to my new hydration godsend and help!

https://puresportsnutrition.co.nz/

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They reached out to me last week about their hydration products which are all natural and made in good ole New Zealand. They tried to get their products into hospitals in NZ which is such a shame didn’t take off.

They make a product specifically for nausea related symptoms. Honestly these electrolyte products are epic and I am blown away by their generosity and kindness.

Honestly this is the only thing I have changed this week and really stuck to just using Pure Nutrition’s electrolyte range and I’m out there on my bike in the heat nailing it!

Yeah the fatigue and nausea will probably kick in tomorrow until Sunday but having a at least a couple of good days when you’re excepting the worst is a godsend.

Thank you again to everyone who gets to the end of my blogs and that took the time to read the article and for the kind words that were said.

They really do make speaking out worth it and if I can change something for the better and help someone it makes all of this worthwhile.

Updates:

Relay for life: https://relayforlifeselwyn2019.everydayhero.com/nz/cancer-can-trigirl?_ga=2.237071744.1221091669.1548900486-2037045910.1547763067#

This is our team, the funds we raise are going to the Cancer Society who work completely on donations and do not receive any funding from the government. They have been awesome and got me involved in groups and offered support not just to me but the people closest to me, which I really appreciate from the bottom of my heart. The event is the 16th of March, please feel free to donate to any one of our teammates or to me. Would be greatly appreciated!

Rapha 500: https://give.everydayhero.com/nz/rapha-festive-500-bowel-cancer-babe

is is being put off until I get my scan results so we know where we stand with my health and whether we need to decrease the total kms I do in the 8days to make without putting my body at risk. It is still going ahead and all proceeds go to the Bowel Cancer Foundation. They do amazing work and also completely rely on donations and fundraising to keep them going as the government does not fund them either.

Both challenges are great causes and I feel proud to be involved and apart of both of them.

Until next time,

Keep smiling,

Britt xx

 

The curse of the ‘good’ week…

Last week I had chemo. Its deemed my ‘bad’ week. I have Bruce from a Monday until the Wednesday which limits the things I am able to do. Once hes removed Thursday, Friday and Saturday are generally a bit of a write off with nausea and fatigue.

This all then leads to the ‘good’ week. The week I’m suppose to get things done, the week I ‘should’ be getting out for runs and on my bike.

The week I should be trying to limit my loses from the week before. The week I need to live and make the most of it as my time slowly ticks away in the background and the time I’m loosing to chemo is ‘less’ so because I’m ‘making the most of it’ and doing ALLLLL the things.

And then the reality of my life hits. This golden ‘good’ week comes and the motivation just isn’t there.

The anger, frustration and sadness it causes is immense. I’m tired. I should be doing all the things but I’m tired. I feel frustrated and annoyed with myself and my body.

Maybe its in my head? Maybe I just need to take a leaf out of my own book and just harden up and get on with it. Maybe i’m just being lazy. I just need to ‘try’ harder and ‘do’ better.

Maybe…

But maybe I forget my body is being poisoned on a two weekly basis for 48hours. I forget that FOLFIRI’s side effects are fatigue. I forget the more chemo I do ,the more it will accumulate in my body making those side effects even greater and more present. I forget that I’m sick. I’ve felt like this for so long it is my ‘normal’.

I forget I’m not ‘normal’ (whatever normal is), I forget I have terminal cancer, I forget I have cancer and all i feel is disappointment in myself for not being ‘strong’ enough to just get on with it.

I know I have a lot of goals and challenges I want to do and I sit here thinking of them often. I get annoyed with myself that I am sitting here thinking about them and not getting out and chasing them, that I’m not out there bettering myself, that I’m not out there getting fit and feeling the high you get from achieving something.

If you haven’t already picked up on it I am annoyed, mostly angry, with myself. Why can’t I just do it? Why is everything such a struggle? Why don’t I just get out and get on with it?

And then I remember I have cancer, terminal cancer. But to me that isn’t’ an excuse, it isn’t reason enough to not do it. I remember i’m on chemo, and again that still isn’t enough, its still feels like an excuse to not do the things.

Yes I am hard on myself, I always have been and I have a feeling I always will be.

I have a lot of people reminding me I have cancer, I’m going through chemo, I need to be gentle and kind to myself and my body. And yes if someone came to me in my situation I would say the same things to them.

I would tell them to take it easy, to give themselves a break, to be kind, to rest.

I can tell anyone that. I know how to be compassionate to others.

Compassion to myself? No, I didn’t learn that lesson. I’ve always pushed myself, always been hard on myself, always criticised and critiqued the way I do or don’t do things. I have seconded guessed myself my whole life.

I have never felt good enough, that I’m doing enough. I always need to do more, be more, be better. I don’t rest well, I’m in a constant battle with myself.

It’s hard.

Hard to accept that maybe I do need to dial back, I do need to be kind and gentle with myself, that I do need to rest.

But if I do that what does it mean? Does it mean I’m giving up? And if i give up that easily, does it mean I’m giving up on life? That I’m just existing, poisoning my body week in and week out without any real satisfaction from a life worth living?

I question on the daily about doing chemo again. I feel like with such a limited time in this world that I am wasting such a big part of it to being ill with something I am volunteering myself for. I willingly go every 2nd Monday to have this poison pumped into me.

It doesn’t make sense, I know.

But then again I am not doing it for myself. I am doing it for the people around me. I need them to be OK and knowing I did everything I could medically will help them be OK.

I have scans mid February which will essentially will show if the pain and suffering chemo brings is worth it or if its a waste of time altogether.

Until then I wait.

Trying to come to terms with this being kind to yourself malarkey, hoping I’m helping and making a difference to not only the people around me but the people that read this blog, or follow my Instagram or Facebook page.

Trying to remember something is better than nothing. Doing a 10km bike ride or a 30min walk might seem ridiculous and not worth the effort, it is better than sitting around doing nothing because I can’t go out and run for 30mins or ride my bike for 30km (a couple of years ago it wouldn’t be worth getting in my kit if it wasn’t at least a 90min ride! Oh how times have changed!).

So I guess the moral of this rambling-

  • something, anything is better than nothing.
  • be kind and gentle with yourselves, like you would be to your friends or family.
  • chemo sucks and has side effects no matter how much you try and will them away and pretend its fine and that you’re not sick at all.
  • cancer sucks whichever way you look at it.
  • whoever you are and whatever you are going through stay strong, you got this, I believe in you!

Until next time,

Keep smiling,

Britt xx

everything

 

Bit of a background and Intro…..

Hi I’m Brittnea (Britt) Chambers, I’m 32 and I have terminal cancer…..

Yeah a couple of years ago I would have introduced myself in a completely different way.

More like Hi I’m Britt, I’m 30 and I’m a triathlete…..

How times do change!

Anyway I’m Britt, in 2017 I was hospitalized for an appendix mass for 2 weeks in the UK and then was sent home. I came back to New Zealand to sort out a couple of things and the next thing you know I’ve had a major operation, lost 30cm of bowel and told I have bowel cancer.

And just like that my  whole world changed.

Cancer.

What?! Me?! How?! Never! I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, quite frankly I’m boring! I’m fit I train hard and race harder. I eat well (ish), I’m an athlete. No one ever mentioned cancer.

Yes I know I had a change in bowel motions but it was gluten and lactose intolerance right? And the anemia and fatigue? Well obviously its down to being an elite female athlete…… right?

Well that’s what I’d been told for the last 5 years anyway.

I stopped going to the doctor because this stomach pain didn’t show up in bloods or samples, there was nothing wrong with me and it was really all in my head. I was a drama queen and there was nothing to worry about.

If only…..

But you can’t think like that, it eats you up, and really you have to make the most of the time you do have. Only worry about the things you can worry about the rest will take care of itself. No point worry about things that you can’t change, its about moving forward, being positive and making the best of the situation you have been given.

I digress;

Long story short:

I had emergency surgery for a perforated appendix mass on Sunday the 3rd of December 2017. I was in hospital for 10 days. A few days after being discharged I was called by a nurse of my surgeons that I needed to come in and see him.

A follow up I assumed as I hadn’t seen him since the operation.

Cancer. Yes cancer.

Wow.

Everything moved very quickly after those words. I was told I’d have to do chemo and had surgery for a port as I was going to be on a regimen called FOLFOX (5FU an Oxaliplatin; aka the devil). This started mid January last year.

It entailed a fortnightly cycle. I would go into oncology in Auckland on the Monday get a 2hr infusion and then my pump (5FU) aka ‘Bruce’ for 48 hours. On the Wednesday I would go back in and get Bruce disconnected. The rest of the week was hell before the nausea and fatigued died down and then I would have my ‘good week’.

Unfortunately I  only lasted on the Oxaliplatin for 6 rounds. The side effects of neuropathy were to great and could lead to permanent nerve damage. I endured chemo for nearly 9 months when my body had just had enough and I was back in hospital and taken off chemo.

I had scans in August in Auckland and told I was ‘cured’! There was nothing to worry about, I was not sick and they had more important people to deal with who were sick and were actually on chemo.

This plus a few other factors lead me to make the move down to Christchurch. I was going to stay down here and try get my head back together and get fit again, get my life back.

But I was still sore, and I was still tired. It would be 2 steps forward 10 back.

Its just the chemo, its side effects, you’ll be fine, you’re better, there’s nothing to worry about, your bloods are good, yes your anemic, but you’re a female athlete.

To many things, to many coincidences.

Two trips to the doctors on consecutive days and the insistence of one of my biggest supports I was sent for a private ultra sound the Wednesday afternoon. Public wasn’t an option as it would have been weeks spent waiting and this had gone on to long now.

A call from the doctor the next day that I needed to be admitted to Christchurch hospital for urgent CT scans. There was nothing wrong with me right? I was told I was fine, I was cured! This was obviously just a precaution.

The 9th of November changed my world (if it could have been changed anymore!). After two CT scans I had a hoard of somber looking doctors, surgeons and nurses come into my room. I knew it wasn’t going to be great.

You have peritoneal disease.

What?

Peritoneal disease. It is a rare, advanced and aggressive form of cancer. It is usually only found in its advanced stages where there isn’t much that can be done.

Worst case you have 4 months, best case 24 months…….for what?

To live.

To hear that changed everything. Things people worry about or take for granted all go out the window. What someone might think of you, you just don’t care anymore, worrying if you’re fat or skinny, ate this or that, none of it matters anymore.

You have 4- 24 months to fit in everything you’ve ever wanted to do with your life. All those things you thought you had time for, you don’t. All those big buck list items you had time to get fit for and to achieve are gone. All those people who cause drama and bring you down are cut.

The only thing you have time for now is what can be done. What you can achieve. The people that love and support you no matter what. You find out the people that stick by and are 100% incredible and then those who just fall down the wayside, but you don’t have time to mourn or worry about those losses, they aren’t worth it.

You only have time for people that bring you closer to the sunshine and believe me those people are worth their weight in gold. I feel very lucky with the people I get to share my life with now.

Currently I’m back on chemo. This isn’t a cure. Its to hopefully slow growth and prolong quality of life. I’m not after quantity, I want quality and I want do do all the things that I can still do.

I’m on a similar regime called FOLFIRI (5FU and Irinotecan), fortnightly cycles with Bruce back for 48hours a time.

I get CT and PET scans mid February to see if its helping slow growth. If it is I will stay on chemo for 6 months if not I’ll come of it as the nausea, restlessness and fatigue with this regime are brutal.

I’m hoping for closer to 24 months than the 4 month mark as I have so many things I want to do and achieve before my time is up.

I want to raise awareness for bowel cancer in young people. If I can help just one person to get checked and not have to go through what I have had to go through that’s a win right there.

I want to inspire and motivate people. Show them that even though you may feel like you have nothing to smile for you have every reason to smile. To show people that no matter what you can get out there and do what you want to do.

If i can do it so can you.

Follow me on some of my crazy adventures and challenges I have lined up for myself, while I try check of a bucket list the size of  my room and make as many happy and memorable memories during that time!

Some challenges to come:

 

Until next time,

Keep smiling

Britt xx

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