Ballet and opera in Russia
What happened to Vi?
In 2012 I’d had a major shoulder injury which required invasive surgery. I’d swum 32 lengths in my local swimming pool on the day, and after a careless fall on sand, managed a full thickness tear of a major tendon. I couldn’t lift my arm at all above shoulder height. All a few days before Christmas!
My arm was in a sling all day, every day after surgery. It was at this time I noticed a lump. After tests showed it was indeed breast cancer, I was booked in for surgery – a lumpectomy and lymph node removal. Of course, due to the nature of treatments, recovery was slow and radiotherapy delayed the healing process further. So, at the time, I had cancer to contend with, and a shoulder injury to recover from!
It was depressing for someone who likes activity. No swimming. No Pilates. Painful physiotherapy treatments.
How did Vi overcome it all?
After a while, I decided to treat myself for getting through such a rough and stressful time. I’d wanted to visit St Petersburg for years so I booked a holiday with a music and arts travel firm linked to my local orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and made plans for a sightseeing holiday combined with two ballets and two operas, one conducted by star Vasily Petrenko.
I was scheduled to go abroad two weeks after my last Herceptin treatment for breast cancer – these treatments are usually given as a drip into a vein or as an injection under the skin. However, I was the first to be chosen to try a new method – a self-administrating device. It was plastic, about the size of a mobile phone. It had an adhesive back and was attached to my thigh. There were two buttons on top; pressing one would activate treatment. I felt a few small pricks, and then five minutes later it was ready to be removed.
Although Herceptin carries mild side effects, it can leave a patient feeling weak or fluey afterwards. The device, though, means it could be issued to breast cancer patients to administer themselves, without taking up valuable bed space or needing a plethora of nurses around. It’s an expensive treatment but could change how cancer treatment is managed in the future.
Despite my shoulder injury, breast cancer surgery and the ongoing treatment, I’m pleased to report the trip went smoothly. It was a superb mix of travel, rest, sightseeing and culture. Just wonderful!