What about tomorrow?

I feel bad I’ve not felt up to blogging recently. Odd really as I have started to feel a bit better, or at least I did at the start of last week. Even did some walking and a home workout (though I think the latter was too much as I was wiped out for the rest of the week and had a bad knee on top of everything). But I’ve been busy working on my coding – I completed Gorgon Zhu’s Watch & Code Javascript course (the free version – may do premium at a later stage) & I’m nearly 60% of the way through Colt Steele’s Udemy Web Development Bootcamp. Loved/loving both courses and have learned so much. When I need a break I play Hearthstone and I’ve slowly progressed to Rank 14 which is good for me but probably rubbish for any half decent player and rubbish for someone who has playing as long as I have.

But not felt up to writing. No idea why. But today I thought it was important to get something down as tomorrow I have my first chemo session. I’m feeling ok about it. I just need to get through it & hopefully not have any side effects when I’m there and not feel too bad afterwards (although I expect the latter is unlikely – I’m going to feel like crap).    I’m hoping I’m still up to coding and Hearthstone. If I need to sleep I hope the pramipexole/chemo combo doesn’t cause any contraindications because if the pramipexole doesn’t work and I cannot sleep it’s game over. I cannot cope with my RLS without pramipexole. I just can’t.

So I’m a little apprehensive tonight and kind of wish it was already tomorrow night and that I’d already been, gone & done it. But I know I just have to take it step by step. It will all come to pass.


Random Fun

So today bookmarked 500 Greatest Albums of all time & 200 Greatest Novels of All Time and asked Alexa to give me two random numbers to start me off and as a result I am currently listening to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and just about to read Martin Amis money.  Both things I wouldn’t have thought about selecting. Good to try something new.  Think I might be turning into The Diceman though,

Programming wise working through this Javascript course. Simply brilliant.

Still can’t sleep. Going to see Dr tomorrow to see if they can give me something.

Oh and chemo starts week after next. Strangely excited about this.


Coding with Cancer

This week I meet with my oncologist to find out when chemotherapy starts.

It’s weird looking forward to the year ahead and wondering if/when you will lose your hair. It doesn’t seem real. Perhaps that’s why on New Year’s Eve my thoughts were more preoccupied with what programming goals I was going to set myself.

Last July, before I found out I had breast cancer but just about when I was starting to wonder why I felt so lousy, I changed departments in work and moved to IT. I had held various senior management positions in the organisation in both operations and policy but at home over the past 2–3 years had found myself obsessed with learning coding. It started as a hobby. I discovered some Python courses on Coursera and loved then. Then I tried out Codeacademy and found myself sacrificing World of Warcraft time to work on that instead (a sure sign I was hooked — I am no longer even subbed to WoW although Hearthstone still has me in its grip). From there I moved onto Udacity, Pluralsight and Treehouse, focusing mostly on Java although now and again trying out Javascript, Ruby, React etc. I was and still am like a kid in a sweetshop when it comes to everything you can learn online. I started getting up at crazy o’clock to study before going into work and then studying every evening after work. I was consumed with software development. At some point I started to wonder if I had developed my skills to a point where I could consider working in IT. I knew my organisation’s IT section needed team leaders. I thought that the business knowledge I already had from twelve years in the organisation would be beneficial there as well as my new technical skills (albeit beginner level) and my desire to continue to develop in this area. So in July I ended up moving to the IT department to head up a new squad. Skills wise I was on a very steep learning curve. To start with my role was more focused on the leadership/people management side of things. But I was in the right place — I was surrounded by people I could learn from and be inspired by. I felt like my dreams had come true.

Then I started feeling unwell. Then I found the lump. Not the greatest start to my new career.

I have felt so unwell over the past two months that I’ve needed to take time off work. This has not been easy for me — I’ve always been very career and work focused and I hate letting people down. My manager and colleagues have been amazing but I’ve struggled. However, I have still been determined to continue to develop my skills at home whenever I can, even in my darkest days when I’ve genuinely wondered whether I’m going to get through this. I’ve not been able to do much. Before the surgery I felt sick and tired most of the time and since the surgery, although I’m definitely starting to feel stronger, I still tire very easily. But every chance I get, if I feel up to it, I get out my laptop and I code.

Today I’ve decided that one of my 2018 goals is to work through The Odin Project. I’m not sure how easy it is going to be once chemo starts but I’m going to try. I like the “no zero days” idea that I read about earlier in this fantastic inspirational post. Every day do something that gets you nearer to your goals. My main goal this year is to live of course. I want to get through chemo and radiotherapy and come out the other side. I want to return to work fit and well. But I also want to return to work feeling more confident as a software engineer. I don’t want to lose what I’ve already spent so much time developing, and I don’t want to waste any chance I get to hone my skills further.

All this programming stuff — it turns out it’s still important to me even as I prepare to face the biggest battle of my life to date. I have to believe I have a future. And I’d like to believe it includes coding.

So no zero days. I will complete the Odin Project. And the A Cloud Guru Dev course. And the Android Head First book. And the Udemy web development course I started recently. And so on. No matter how lousy I feel in the months ahead each day I’ll do something. Coding with cancer. It has such a ring to it.

If I were one of the 7 dwarves…

I’d be Grumpy,  as the following blog post will show. Had the Muga scan on Monday to see if heart is strong enough for herceptin. Won’t have results until the new year when I see my oncologist. Not been feeling too great lately. Really tired if I do much physically. Was hoping I’d feel  stronger by now. Also not sleeping well at all. And emotionally not great. I keep bursting into tears. And if I’m not crying I’m snappy.   Today I have the worst headache ever and painkillers don’t seem willing/able to shift it. Feel a bit sick too. Oh woe is me!

Ok let’s have some positives:-

  1. On Sunday I made up a Bach Rescue Remedy blend. I chose remedies recommended for exhaustion after illness, lack of focus, issues with self esteem and guilt and mind overloaded with too many thoughts. All things I struggle with.  Hoping this can help me emotionally at least. It  felt good to be taking action.
  2.  Yesterday I got the urge to start doing some Android development. This surprised me as up until then had not felt up to anything like that recently. I really enjoyed it too.
  3. I’m looking forward to Xmas and glad I don’t have any more hospital appointments before Xmas.

There we go. Better to look on the bright side!  This might be my last post in 2017 so to anyone reading I hope you all have a lovely Xmas and a very happy & heathy New Year.

Mine’s a Goldfish

I’ve had a few up and down days lately. Been feeling very emotional and irritable.  The worse thing has been how snappy I’ve been with husband.  I also cried on the phone to my line manager which was really embarassing. Not good. Some of it might have been caused by the fact I tried to do some Xmas shopping and exhausted myself. Then I went into work to pick up some things and walking two flights of stairs nearly killed me. I also tried to start dieting (I need to lose about 2 stone and I have heard chemo puts weight on) but I think the calorie deficit did me no favours. Then I tried to come off my pain killers but probably it was a bit too soon. I have now reduced them though (just one cocodamol in the morning and two through the night) and my armpit is hurting less and the swelling is coming down, so those things are better.

Other news – I’ve had a date for the MUGA scan (it’s next week) but not heard from the oncologist yet (although it’s only Monday and he was off work last week).

Also after a long chat with my husband I agreed I’ve been overdoing it a little with all the studying I’ve been doing while still trying to recover. It’s wearing me out. For about two years now  I’ve been studying software engineering  every hour I can get including sometimes getting up at 4 in the morning to do some before going into work (although that was mostly because I couldn’t sleep and I’d rather be doing something than lying in bed). Even before I discovered I had breast cancer I was feeling completely worn out. One Friday I went to the Dr with a facial twitch and he said I was overdoing it and burning myself out. He told me to slow down. Then I had sternum pain (diagnosed as costochondritus) and then I discovered the lump.

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer I have been off work. I know having breast cancer doesn’t automatically mean you need to be off work but I have felt so unwell. To be honest I’d not been feeling well for months before the  diagnosis but I’d put it down to all the studying I’d been doing, low iron and severe, nightly restless legs. But I now think  the tumour was playing its part. When diagnosed I realised I had to take some time off work to give myself the best chance of recovery. But at home I’ve continued to study-  albeit curled up on the couch with my laptop. But I never know when to stop and I’m still  wearing myself out. My husband thinks it’s too much so we’ve agreed I will try to cut  down to just an hour or so a day and I won’t stress and fret if I don’t feel up to it. Basically I will try and go a bit easier on my body – I know I’m going to have to once I’m having chemo anyway. And hopefully the hour or so I do will be a high quality and focused hour. I don’t want to forget everything I’ve worked so hard to learn but my brain feels very goldfish-like at the moment. So I have to keep going at a pace my body can handle and I have to hope I’m actually getting somewhere and not just swimming in circles.

Good Results

I had the results of the op yesterday. The tumor was 2.7cm, grade 3, removed with clear margins. An area of PASH & some lobular changes adjacent to the tumor were also removed. The two lymph nodes tested were clear. The consultant said that’s it from a surgical perspective. He will now refer me to the oncologist. He said once I have the blood tests sees no reason why chemo can’t start. But I do need a heart scan (a “MUGA” scan) before herceptin (and was told today I will need these every 3 months).

Really pleased with the results and the fact no more surgery needed. Still in some pain though. Yesterday the breast was still very swollen & fluidy. Consultant did not recommend draining but breast care nurse said that if it got worse to give her a call. Today it feels a little better so hoping it’s headed in the right direction.

Felt more positive yesterday and today than I’ve felt in a long time. Feel like a big hurdle has been overcome. I know I have chemo and radiotherapy area of me but at least the lump has gone and the lymph nodes were clear. Going to focus on getting strong for chemo. Part of that is losing some weight. Weighed yesterday morning and was horrified at what I saw – I have used not feeling well as an excuse to eat way too many biscuits and mince pies! It stops now. I am going to get fit and strong. Someday I might even get back to running. Not quite yet though…!


Head in the Shed

Nearly a fortnight after the operation and my armpit is still sore – every time I move my arm it feels as if the skin in my armpit is peeling away.  Even lightly touching the area makes it tingle in a very unpleasant way. Like sunburn in the evening. A most peculiar feeling. The breast itself is hard and firm. I had thought once the lump was removed I would touch the area and rejoice at how lump free it felt. But it’s now a rock hard mass that feels both numb and sore all at the same, if that’s even possible.

Back up the hospital Tuesday to find out what the pathology report has to say and next steps. Still really tired. Finding it hard to focus on much. In the space of a day I went from doing some Java games development to Javascript stuff then over to Unity before deciding I wanted to try Swift and SpriteKit and then changing my mind and delving into  Android instead! Yes all programming  but what a veritable hotch potch  of stuff. I am also now reworking through Free Code Camp – I am determined to do the Javascript sections properly this time. However, I’m tempted to just get stuck into some of the Java humble bundle books I just bought (a fantastic deal  – 15 books for under £12.00). On top of this though I’m  back enrolled on Coursera’s Responsive Web Design course which has a section on Meteor Js which is where my whole interest in software engineering started many moons ago so that’s nice and I’m looking forward to it. But as you can see I’m all over the place really. I’m trying hard to use this time to work on my programming stuff but my head just isn’t where it should be.

More positively though I have managed to do a lot of Xmas shopping (thank you Amazon) and was able to go to daughter’s school Xmas fayre which was nice (just being there for her I mean – the fayre itself was a nightmare – too many stalls, too many people, I walked round in fear of an elbow to the breast). I’m finally looking forward to Xmas and that’s something.