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Chemo Brain Days

My name is Donna, I am 45 and from The Midlands, England. I was diagnosed with Triple Negative MetaplasticBreast Cancer in October 2017. This rare breast cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all breast cancers. We all like to feel special, and if you’re going to do it, go big or go home! I am still in the middle of treatment, I’ve been through surgery with three months of recovery due to infection and although chemotherapy is hovering over me, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My husband Dean, my rock, and I, have been together for 26 years and are chomping at the bit to move on with our lives. We have always lived life to the full having lived in five countries and we can’t wait to find the next adventure!

This has been one of the toughest challenges to face in my life to date, but I am strong and a fighter and life is waiting for us just around the corner!”

When asked to share a humorous story from my cancer journey, I had to stop and think.

There are many giggle moments, from waking up with my bed hat poised on my headlooking like an Irish construction worker to mum telling me that as a baby I had more hair on my head, but to think about a single story that could raise a laugh or two, I can only think of how chemotherapy affects your brain functionality, known as “Chemo Brain.”

Finding my breast lump in July 2017 came when we were enjoying living in a beautiful sea-view apartment in Spain. My first reaction was “Well that’s inconvenient”….how dare this break into my currently idyllic life.

From then it was a rollercoaster ride of miss-diagnosis in Spain, emergency mammogram in Portugal and being back in the UK in October, at the start of our first British winter in 12 years. What fun!

This meant leaving behind our luscious Spanish life to move in with my mum. I’m not complaining as my mum is the best in the world, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be on this journey without my two best people either side of me!

So a month back, after clocking up more than 50 hospital visits, we hadn’t had much opportunity to have any time to ourselves. A guy and gal in their mid 40s need their own space once in a while!

This one week Dean’s brother took off for a week’s vacation and we had a key to the house - result! We probably should have asked, but it was just a stop off from yet another hospital visit for a timeout as the sun was shining (rarity) and they have the best private back garden. Soaking up the vitamin D, we suddenly looked at each other and said why don’t we just stay the night?

Fuelled with excitement like a couple of teenagers we stripped down to our smalls, hair and all in my case, like the mad-dogs that us English folk are at the first peep of sun, we laid out on the loungers and breathed a sigh of relief.

It was so amazing to feel the sun on my face (and bald head) and for a brief moment we weren’t thinking about cancer or where life had temporarily stuck us.

We sat around planning our little smorgasbord of treats to indulge in to celebrate our mini vacation and off we popped to the store. On our return as the headlights hit the front of the house my heart stopped as I thought to myself “I’ve locked us out.”

With a look of sheer horror on my face I looked at Dean, the smile slid off his face and he said “What’s wrong?” How do I tell him our beautiful evening was about to come to an abrupt end?

I said “I’ve locked us out, the key is in the keyhole on the other side of the door.” Once he realised there was nothing wrong with me, his brow furrowed. He asked, “How’s that possible?” I just said,“I don’t have the key, it’s locked inside.”

Devastation hit as we prepared to head back to mums, then in his wisdom, Dean said, what about the neighbours? With some newly found hope I was like yes go ask!

Now you need to understand that the neighbours were Polish with limited English. However armed with this new chance of the evening being saved, Dean, using lots of hand gestures and mouthing “I’m his brother do you recognise me?” They agreed and let him in. It was at this point we found out that there was no way through from next door to his brothers, well not directly anyway. The only way was to climb onto their roof and jump over onto the little bedroom balcony. They offered him the use of what once upon a time may have been described as a ladder, but now resembled more like rusted contorted modern art.

After a while, a lot of noise, falling and groans, his head bright red appeared through the small window right of the door. With a big smile on my face, proud of my hubby saving the day, he said “There’s no key here and it’s locked!”

He wasn’t looking amused at this point; he had bits of tree in his hair, a scratch on his face and a twisted ankle. It was then that I reached down into the small pocket of my handbag and located the door key. I slowly revealed it as a smile began to crack across my face as a totally un-amused one spread over his. All I could do was fall into giggles and claim “Chemo Brain.” His response: to hobble silently away from the window without a word!

And that folks is an example of the mush your brain becomes with the effects of chemotherapy!!

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