The spinal surgery fixated my spine with a massive titanium structure running through my neck and right down my back. There's 2 main areas of support engineering. A little bit at C2 to C4 then a great huge load of scaffolding, screws, plates etc at T2 to T9. I spent a couple of days in a high dependency unit and then a month in total in the spinal trauma unit. Post surgery the pain was immense, I still had no feeling in my left leg and numbness across my midriff and arms. When I was discharged I was in contact with MacMillan nursing and because the relationship had broken down with my GP. The MacMillan consultant and nurse were brilliant in helping me with a considerably improved pain management regime and to such an extent I was able to get on top of it. I then was seen by a breast cancer oncology consultant at the Freeman (Northern Cancer Centre) and had further scans including a bone scan and told that it was most definitely a primary breast cancer which unusually was an occult one: oestrogen positive (or E+), HER2 negative (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2).
In addition to my spine I also had metastastic cells in my skull, hip and ribs. I was told I’d be put on palbociclib and Leterozole and with 4 weekly denosumab via injection. After a couple of months at home to allow healing where I had surgery I went for radiotherapy and had treatment on 3 areas of my spine. Initially it was planned to do this over 6 sessions but because it was so difficult (painful) sitting in the car for the 120 miles round trip to hospital a decision was taken to give me a very high dose blast in one treatment. I was sick as I left the hospital and was very shabby for 3 months. I’ve never known tiredness like it and had no appetite at all.
My neuro spinal consultant and oncology consultant and the cancer nursing team at the Freeman have restored my trust and I’m now in a routine of going every 4 weeks for blood counts and 4 weeks supply of palbociclib and denosumab. My blood counts are all good now I’m properly diagnosed and treated. My consultant has me on a regime of having a minimum of 6 monthly bone and CT scans and already they’re showing positive signs. So far there’s no further metastises and there’s sign of lessoning in the skull and the bone in my spine is also improved. No signs of any jumping to soft tissue or organs. I’ll never be as I was because of the damage to my spine and the titanium fixing but I now know where my left leg is and can walk and my balance is hugely improved.