In 2012, the year I call my Annus Horribilis, the stress I suffered caused a brain aneurysm to nearly explode and kill me. I really was just seconds away from dying. The surgeons at Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital saved my life and I thought that was that ...
After I'd had my second aneurysm embolised in June 2013, I developed a terrible sore throat that lasted for months and months. When I moved to my beautiful cottage in Hanslope, I told my new GP and they thought I may have a blocked sinus so prescribed nasal steroids.
The sore throat continued into 2014 and I started getting really tired in the afternoons. I'd get up at 6am full of the joys of spring, do all my sharing and editing in the morning then head out for meetings or visit Costa for some blog writing. But by the time I got home, between 1pm and 2pm, I'd be knackered and my head would be feeling woolly. The only solution was a few hours sleep.
"Work in my business in the mornings and work on the business in the afternoons; that was the plan, but I wasn't able to do it. I was just so tired all the time!"
At the end of February my sore throat disappeared overnight, but I had a lymph node come up in my neck at the same time. That really worried me, so I asked to see the most senior GP at my surgery. He was immediately concerned and tried a course of antibiotics to see if it would clear up the apparent blockage in my sinuses. It didn't work so he quickly referred me to the ENT team at MK General Hospital for a consultation.
The specialists there took biopsies from my lymph node, stuck cameras up my nose and did a load of blood tests. I was eventually asked to come in for a meeting with their senior consultant who told me that he believed I had a Post Nasal Space Carcinoma.
We'd need a proper biopsy of the mass growing behind my nose to confirm it, but he was pretty certain. Now I knew why my sinuses were forever blocked, why I was getting a woolly head and feeling tired all the time.
I went into the Treatment Centre at MK General and had a biopsy of the mass taken under general anaesthetic. Following that, he confirmed it was a malignant cancerous tumour and the very next day, I found myself meeting the Oncology team at Northampton General Hospital.
My friend Kirsty has been incredibly supportive and was with me for the meeting with the Oncology team. I wanted her to come in with me because I knew I wouldn't be able to absorb all the information they were about to give me.
"The most shocking piece of information was that if I didn't receive treatment, I'll be dead by Christmas!"
And that was his maximum estimate! It suddenly all got real for me and the tears started to well up. The laughing and joking stopped and I was very glad Kirsty was there with me to hold my hand.
He said it's been growing for a couple of years and is the result of infection with the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) whilst I was going through all the stresses of 2012. Although it causes Glandular Fever normally, in times of incredible stress it can mutate and cause Cancer. He believes it's been growing slowly throughout 2013 and my sore throat and tiredness were early symptoms. Now it has become highly aggressive.
So I'll be starting Chemotherapy in the next week or so. My specialist said that he's "going to throw the chemo book at me" to shrink the tumour by giving me all three types. And it's important that he does, considering it stretches from the bones in my skull, just beneath my brain, all the way down through my neck and into the top of my chest. It really is that aggressive!
Then I'll have combined Chemo and Radiotherapy, then another course of Chemo and possibly another dose of Radiotherapy. He thinks I may also need surgery as the tumour is growing into the bones of my skull.
Even with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and with surgery, the odds of me surviving this are 50/50 but I'm going to fight it!"
50/50 are pretty good odds considering this has been growing undetected for over two years. Yes, it's a shame it wasn't caught earlier and could be more easily treated; I can't blame my GPs for missing it. But I'm in good hands and being looked after by the best people.
Experts in the medical community will use the latest advances in science and technology to save me. I don't consider myself a sufferer or a victim, it's just something I have. But this really is going to be the biggest challenge of my life.
It's so awesome that my friends are rallying around me offering whatever support and help I need. Kirsty has become my 'Rottweiler' (her word) and won't let anyone or anything stress me out anymore!
"It's nice to have so much unconditional love in my life. I feel blessed to know I have good people I can rely on!"
It will be business as usual for sblogit.com though. No one knows how the Chemo and Radiotherapy is going to affect me so I'll stay optimistic, but I have people around me to edit and share if I need them to! My clients are so important to me and an uninterrupted blogging service is vital.
I do have one request though. When you see me, please don't be sad. Yes, I'll always appreciate a big hug, but make me laugh rather than offering me your sympathies, ok? A smile always help more than a frown.
So, I'm Steffi Lewis and I have Cancer. This is the start of my journey.
Love, light and logic ...
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More about Steffi Lewis ...
Foodie, sci-fi nut, cat lover, brain aneurysm & cancer survivor, countryside dweller, SaaS entrepreneur, developer and networker.
I've also worked as a professional photographer in Los Angeles, USA and been a vision mixer and producer for live television in my time.
I live in a village north of Milton Keynes with my two cats, Baggins and Gimley, and a large planted aquarium full of unruly tropical fish.