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The Rock-itt : October 2011
Welcome to the fifth instalment of a story about Julie Knox, a courageous woman who is taking on the fight against the dreaded disease breast cancer, which began in 2009. In Julie’s last story she explained how she was having difficulties with some of the exercises she was doing to help lymphatic drainage and prevent lymphedema. Her right arm started to feel heavy. She thought that it might be lymphedema and did not worry too much at the time and continued on and enjoyed a lovely family Christmas....... However, after Christmas 2010, we became more concerned about the heaviness and lack of control in my right arm. I was feeling unwell again and was very unbalanced. A few days after Christmas as I was trying to get up from the lounge, I told Ed that my legs were heavy and I needed help to get up. That same night I could not walk in a straight line and could not use my arm at all. I asked my daughter to come down the next morning and we all decided that it was time that I went to the Emergency Department at the hospital. It was a very busy day for them, I was next on the triage list but we still waited 4 hours to be seen. We had just been taken into a room when I had a seizure and was taken to the resuscitation room and treated. They then did scans and came back to us with the awful news that I had a brain metastasi. I knew that this was always a possibility but did not expect it to happen so soon and we were all shocked but, as is usually the case with cancer, we did not have m uch tim e to decide what to do. It seemed that my only option was to have surgery as soon as possible and I was very fortunate that a top neurosurgeon had a vacancy the next day so I was transported by ambulance to his operating hospital. Again all the possibilities of what could happen were explained to us and of course I was very frightened that I may have a stroke and of how I would be after the surgery. Ed and my children knew of my concerns because we had discussed all the possibilities and I had done an Advance Care Directive Plan. I have memory blanks of much of the week after surgery but I was recovering well and it was then decided to send me back to our local hospital for rehabilitation. My legs recovered immediately, although I was very unbalanced for a long time, but my arm and hand needed lots of work to get back to normal. I spent the next three and a half weeks in rehab doing occupational therapy to increase my hand function and also sessions in the heated pool for my arm. The time went quickly because by the time I did my rehab sessions all I wanted to do was sleep, I felt exhausted. W e lived very close to the hospital so Ed visited me twice a day and my children and Crystal visited. The staff were wonderful and I made friends very quickly with other patients. All of the patients had their own stories to tell and I was amazed at the courage and resilience of many of them. I was still feeling unwell and weak from surgery but I still had another hurdle to overcome, whole brain radiation. This time I was not going to be rushed even though the radiation oncologist wanted me to start straight away as he was very concerned and he thought that I would refuse the treatment. He then asked me that if he gave me his opinion on my prognosis would it help me decide. He told me that I would probably only have six months in his opinion. I knew then that of course I would have it but I still wanted a week to go home and think and feel that I had some control over my life. There had been so much happen in the fifteen months since I was first diagnosed that I wondered when it would all slow down. At some point during cancer treatment you need to just take time to think what is important to you and how or if you want to go on with never ending treatment and weigh up the possible outcomes. I needed to talk to my family but also to some very close friends from my support group. No person’s circumstances or priorities are the same. You may make decisions but then choose to change them as tim e goes on. They do not have many statistics on the long term effects of whole brain radiation or many of the new cancer drugs. My daughters and I had been researching many alternative options and I decided to include in my treatment many herbs that I drink as an infusion. I eventually started brain radiation on 21st February, 2011. My Fight with Breast Cancer A serialised true account of one woman’s struggle to beat the odds By Julie Knox Julie with Ed and her children who supported her through her treatment From left, stepdaughter, Sally, daughter, Kim, Ed, Julie, daughter, Rachel, stepdaughter, Merran, and son, John