As we navigate our way through lockdown 4.0, I’m left wondering – how it is March again already? This time last year I was recovering from breast cancer surgery (lumpectomy and lymph node removal), and wow, what a year it has been! It’s been almost a year since our first Covid-19 lockdown to level 4, and we’ve been fortunate to have much more ‘life’ available to us than in other countries. We never imagined we would be jumping into lockdown again a year down the line.
The good news is that I had my one year check with my wonderful surgeon, Erica Whineray, last week – along with my first ultrasound scan and mammogram since my diagnosis – and everything came back all clear! No cancer, no rupture, leak or infiltration of my implants, and beautifully healed tiny scars that are barely visible. I was worried that the intermittent fatigue I continue to experience might have been from breast implant illness (this is not officially recognised as a diagnosis, but I have had multiple friends who experienced relief from non-specific symptoms like fatigue and headaches after having their implants removed). My concern was that the radiotherapy may have degraded my breast implant, but there is no evidence of that in the scans, so yay! My bloods also came back normal, which was very reassuring.
My dad finds out this week whether he is accepted for bone marrow transplant. Whichever way it goes, he seems very at peace with his options. I also visited a dear friend in the weekend who was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer last year, just a few months after I had my diagnosis and she supported me. Sadly, she has had metastases to the ovaries and now potentially has only a month or two of this life remaining. She has been so incredibly graceful and calm throughout her journey, despite her body’s suffering, and it is truly awe-inspiring to witness her acceptance of the inevitable. It is so powerful to see the peaceful acceptance that has come into both my dad and my friend, and interesting that they have both planned their funerals.
On a more positive note, our team celebrated ‘Love Week’ in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. This has become a major event in our annual calendar, where every person on the team gets randomly allocated another team member, and becomes their secret ‘Love Angel’ for the week! It’s a wonderful opportunity to find out what that person is into, and then tailor thoughtful surprises for them – we had everything from notes and poems, to home baked goodies, a tab for a week’s coffee at their favourite coffee shop, a breakfast burrito kit, flowers, chocolates, naughty novelties, and even a treasure hunt! Not only is it super-fun crafting the perfect Love Angel surprise (and receiving them), it’s also great team building as often other team members are seconded to secretly deliver surprises which often just magically turn up – and keeps us all guessing! It’s such a lovely week, and we all come away with warm fuzzies from it 💓
We have had more and more people over the years seeking to treat their hair loss with us with PRP, and we are so thankful to Marilou’s patient who allowed us to share her before and after photos. It is yet another life-changing procedure that we are honoured to share.
It’s also coming up to that time of year where we start IPL again, so now is the time to start prepping your skin (if you’re not already). We are unique that we insist on having your skin prepped with Vitamin A and C products before any ‘big project’ for the skin – whether it is peels, needling, vampire facial plus, or IPL. This allows you to achieve better results with fewer side effects with your treatments. I will often use the analogy getting you to think of when you are stressed and stretched already, and someone gives you a big project to do – you won’t do the project well, and your usual tasks will also suffer. Skin is exactly the same, so by feeding it with good topical nutrition it gives the skin the tools and building blocks it needs to achieve the best possible results from your treatment. Our full skin team has just had three intensive days of refresher training at Ruth Nicholson’s NZ Laser Training Institute, and came away with top marks!
It’s been a lovely summer watching the America’s Cup action down at the viaduct village, or Silo Park, but my favourite event this month was the cowboy-themed 50th birthday party that I went to at Piha Bowling Club with one of my girlfriends. Not only was there a hoe-down band, line-dancing, an incredible Dolly Parton impersonator (complete with Kenny Rogers in the band), and a whip-cracking way to ‘cut’ the birthday cake, it was fabulous to see everyone taking the theme to the max with their cowboy outfits, and hilarious to see so many ‘cowboys’ playing bowls! I played bowls for the first time, with a great tutor who turned out to be the birthday girl’s dad, and we had a rib-tickling hoot of a night. Yeeehaw!
While we wait to see whether this latest outbreak is contained, remember to be kind – to yourself and others. You never know when life might change, and as we’ve all learned this year, it can change in an instant!
Love and hugs always, make every moment count,
Dr Cat 😻