Posted on 04/03/2020
Last Friday I had surgery to remove the two adjacent breast cancer lumps and the first few lymph nodes in my armpit (called a Sentinel Node Biopsy, it checks whether there is any cancer in my lymph nodes).
The surgery went well, with my incredible surgeon Erica Whineray-Kelly removing a 4.5cm lump of tissue that extended from my skin to my chest wall and implant in the outer (lateral) part of my left breast, and removing the lymph nodes though a second incision. I had a radioisotope dye injected into my nipple the night before to allow them to localise where the lymph nodes are in the armpit, with a pretty snazzy machine used during the operation that beeps more strongly with a greater concentration of radioactive dye, showing where the sentinel (first) lymph nodes are.
Because of the significant amount of tissue removed, she needed to mobilize some of the tissue around my armpit to fill in the defect, giving me a night in hospital and a couple of days lugging around a drain to keep excess fluid from gathering in the wound.
Despite that, I’ve had an easy recovery... possibly helped by understanding and actioning all the things to prep for surgery. I stopped my turmeric and ginger shots, along with anything else that thins the blood, for 3 weeks prior to surgery; have cut out all alcohol and eaten mainly plant-based to ensure I had optimum nutrition in my body; checked in with an integrative doctor (who agreed I was doing all the right things); increased my meditation practice and daily walks in nature to reduce stress; and took full advantage of the full-body LED sessions (similar to our Healite and Omnilux machines) offered to me by my friends Hisham and Marta Abdalla.
My team have been giving me regular high dose Vitamin C infusions intravenously to improve my ability to heal, and I will continue these over the next few weeks, both reduce the free radical damage in my body from both the cancer and the surgery, and to improve my ability to heal (Vitamin C is crucial to normal collagen production)
Social support and mindset also play a big role. I love the fact that our incredible GM, Dee, brought party hats and party poppers, and a ‘celebration’ sash for me as I went into surgery! We celebrated the cancer being out of my body, and had a wonderful time waiting for surgery, with lots of jokes and positivity.
It was really cool that one of our new nurses joining the team, Camille, also works at Southern Cross and was working that day, and she brought me a really thoughtful gift and card, and visited with me after surgery. We are so excited to have her, Nicole and Eve join our team this month!
What has been a huge support for me through this process has been the incredible outpouring of love, support and prayers that people have offered. There have been so many thoughtful gifts, cards, flowers and messages, all of which help me feel so very loved and supported - one of the key elements that cancer survivors list as being important to their recovery. So thank you, you have made my heart swell with all your support!
I have my follow up this Friday, and will hopefully then start looking at ‘what comes next’ regarding radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone blockers. We are crossing fingers that it is just localised, with no lymph node involvement, which would mean just localised radiotherapy, planned for late April/early May. We’ll keep you guys posted!
We are also chatting with Woman’s Day about the journey, so keep an eye out in the next few issues!
I found my lump through self-checking, so want to help women understand what they are looking for, so hopefully more women (and men) can get checked early and become a cancer success story, like me. One in nine women will experience breast cancer, and the earlier it is detected, the better your prognosis. Please trust your gut, and if you ever find your doctor isn't taking you seriously, get a second opinion.
If you haven’t already, please download the Pre-Check app developed by the Breast Cancer Foundation. Not only does it take you through what the nine symptoms of breast cancer look and feel like (which is fun, like a game!), it also reminds you how to self-check, and you can even schedule yourself reminders to regularly check!
I had intended to still attend AMWC Monaco, and provide the London clinic on my way there, but with the Covid-19 pandemic now spreading into Europe, the conference has been postponed into later in the year. With my recent surgery, we decided it’s probably best for me to not travel up to Europe this trip, and we will let everyone from the London Clinic know when I’m going to be up next. My sincere apologies for the rescheduling, but at the moment it’s important that we prioritise my health.
A couple of days before the surgery, the Northern Club ran a fabulous lunch workshop with Jessica (my co-author for the book ‘Grow Younger With Great Food’) and I talking about the principles in the book, and how we came to write it. They made recipes from our book, and served them for lunch to the 50+ Northern Club members and their friends who had paid for tickets to hear us speak. Lots of people bought our books, and we had a wonderful time answering some really interesting questions!
We have lots going on at work right now with a new software/booking system, new photo system at Takapuna, and lots of new team members! We are excited about all of them, as over the next few months, as they settle in, it should provide a better overall service for you. Please be patient with us while we are working out how best to get these working most efficiently for you... and feel free to try our new online booking system which should be infinitely better than the last one we had!
We have only launched phase 1 of five phases of the software capability, so over the next 6-12 months you should see some new and exciting functionalities coming through (once we have figured out how to make them work properly for you!)
We’re also thrilled to have our new skin therapists Michelle and Raechel on board in Takapuna, and excited for them to share their extensive knowledge and ‘magic hands’ with you. If you book for a skin consultation in March or April, you’ll not only get the benefit of their incredible advice, you’ll also get a $50 voucher to use towards your first treatment! If it’s been more than 12 months since your last skin assessment, now is the time to book - it will also mean you can order your repeat products online for the next 12 months!
It’s a big newsletter this month, and as always, a lot going on! Your health and well-being are so very important, so please make sure you have all your regular checks - smears and self-checking breasts for women, prostate and self-checking testicles for men - and see your GP if there is anything you are concerned about!
Sending you so much love and gratitude for the incredible support you have shown me, and The Face Place,
Dr Cat 😻😘 xxx
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