This again is Joshua Radin...my soundtrack to my journey. Available for purchase on my "recommended links" on the right hand side of this blog or thru Itunes....
- Just a small town Canadian dreamer... This started as the diary of a young woman's experience with breast cancer and continues 5 years later as the diary of a woman, like many other, who has decided to take her lemons and make lemonade. **If reading this blog for the purpose of learning about my breast cancer experience, PLEASE START AT THE OLDEST POST (October 2009) AND WORK YOUR WAY FORWARD**
Thursday, April 29, 2010
It went fairly well tough over all. My friend D was in for her last chemo and her friend brought me some treats and D brought me a homemade necklace from a local girl PLUG: hojodesigns on Facebook or http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=121205667895666#!/group.php?gid=240514347061&ref=ts is the exact Facebook link....she has some beautiful things and does home parties I believe!! These things all cheered me up...
I did feel sorry for myself a bit, sometimes I see all of the support all of these other cancer friends of mine have and I feel a bit shunned. I mean, don't get me wrong I have a good tight little group of friends and family that have come in full force for me, but I am even having a hard time getting people to support and join our Relay for Life team....where I am seeing other cancer survivors with hundreds of people biting at the bit to join....I just wonder, is it because I am new to Nelson and don't know many people? Is it because my acquaintances are all young and busy? Is it because I didn't make a good enough impression or bond with these people when I was healthy and too busy? I think it's the latter. Which is something I can change in the future....I must make more time to love and help and smile and listen and come out of my comfort zone to meet new people and make new bonds....this I vow.
at my appointment my oncologist showed me the stats on doing my 6th chemo I was trying to get out of....he explained it does make a significant difference to complete it. Where as I was left with a different impression after talking to my specialist in Kelowna....I feel pretty good today after my 5th and I felt pretty good after my 4rth so I am going to get the last one in. I think I can handle it and then I can say I did everything they told me to, like a good little girl. My stay at the hospital was easier. And it makes all the difference in the world...I recommend it to anyone having a hard time. I feel refreshed and day 2 seems to feel more like day 5, which is a miracle. This I will do on my last cycle as well....
Lots of things coming up to look forward to, like trips and gardening and geocaching and the fair and get-togethers and camping!! I am excited, though it\s going to be a whirlwind, it will keep me busy!!
Love Love Love
Monday, April 26, 2010
Some survivors of cancer experience trauma-related symptoms similar to symptoms experienced by people who have survived highly stressful situations, such as military combat, natural disasters, violent personal attack (such as rape), or other life-threatening events. This group of symptoms is called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and includes avoiding situations related to the trauma, continuously thinking of the trauma, and being overexcited.
People with histories of cancer are considered to be at risk for PTSD. The physical and mental shock of having a life-threatening disease, of receiving treatment for cancer, and living with repeated threats to one's body and life are traumatic experiences for many cancer patients.
**Very interesting......more at the link
Got the sunburn to prove it!! (Just a little one)
It was a lovely day and I filled up on my vitamin D!! Yahoo! Just cause I am not allowed to take vitamins, doesn't mean I won't find a way!! Take that chemo!!
Wednesday is my next and final chemo. Different thoughts run through my head from excitement, to nervousness (as always) to fear about my treatment coming to an end.
I mean, once it is all done, then what? It's like they push you out into the world "There you go kid, have fun waiting to see if it comes back or not! Hopefully we got it all, you'll find out soon enough!"
I mean, I know it sounds negative, but realistically that's the case!!
You have to (and I do) believe that you are cured and go on living like you will live forever, but the cloud will always creep in from time to time and remind you of what you have been through and what is a possibility for you. It's reality. A sick mind game no one should have to be a part of.
In a way I guess I am glad I have a year on Herceptin, because it makes me feel like I am still being treated (I am) and it's still a little army left, fighting off the leftover cancer if any....
My friend K in Vancouver, one of my "cancer friends" has just finished her 2nd treatment of 8...she is losing her hair now and is going thru the rough times....I wish I could lend her my eyes to see that is gets better...it's so hard when you are in a dark hole and can't see a way out. I hurt for her. It makes me angry.....every time I see anyone go thru it, because I know how helpless they feel and it just isn't fair. I hate cancer for this.
But. Like I have said before....if we beat the cancer, if we really beat it....it will be the greatest journey we could have ever taken, as we will come out stronger and wiser and clearer than ever before. So we will take our lemons and make lemonade....that's all we can do!
Friday, April 23, 2010
We went to meet the plastic surgeon who will perform the major part of my surgery.
On the drive up to Kelowna (which I usually love) I started getting butterflies in my stomach.
This is all coming up so soon and I am starting to get scared...up until now, it was a distant plan of action, a "no big deal" so to speak. Now, I am starting to freak out.
When we rolled into town, we went for dinner and a movie. It's always a nice excuse for a date away from the kids...which has been very VERY rare lately.
We saw Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. It was fabulous!! I needed the laughs and I got them. I highly recommend this movie!!
The next day we went to the plastic surgery center.
It was fancy and a bit intimidating.
I had to fill out the necessary forms and wait.
Then we were taken into another room to watch a video on reconstruction options...it didn't have any gore, but it made it all so real, I started to feel panicky and my husband had to leave the room because he felt like he was going to puke and pass out.
It was just a lot of verbal explanation of where they take the fat and tissue from and how they reattach it and so on....plus they explained the complications one may have from the surgery.
I decided they should change the system. They should have you sign up for the surgery and signa waiver and then once you do, they will come int0 your room while you sleep on some random day, and gas you out without you knowing and do the surgery...surprise!
Because for me, the worst part of it all, is the anxiety leading up to it.
When the doctor finally came into the room, he examined me, measured me with a tape measure, felt my boobs, felt my belly fat and then spoke.
He explained that the Trams Flap surgery is my best option. My breasts will be made of my own tissue so it will feel natural and age with me naturally. It will also give me a tummy tuck and rid me of my baby belly that I have never been able to get rid of. He will make my breasts perkier and firmer but they may be a bit smaller than they are now (which I am fine with).
He explained that there is a chance the new tissue won't take to the breast area but it is a very small chance. He explained that I have no need to worry about being on the table for 8 hours (cringe) because the chance of dying from that is so small, I have a much higher chance of dying in a car accident on my way to the hospital (that made me feel better).
He told me I will be in the hospital for about 7 days after the surgery...3 of which they will want me to lay there to avoid disrupting the blood vessels, then after that, I will need to get up and walk around lightly to get blood flow to this are and avoid clots.
I asked him if the pain is manageable, and he said it was and if it is really bad, they can give me an epidural (yikes!) but I don't think I will need one, I have good pain tolerance I am just a baby about the gross stuff...like the drains and stuff :(...
The surgeon was quiet, but the nurse explained that he is that way but not to let it put us off, he is very detailed with his work and he takes his job very seriously...he always takes the challenging cases which don't pay anymore than the easy ones, so it is proof he does it cause he loves it and not for the money.
I believe her, and my oncologist highly recommends him, which is all I need to feel good.
Next the nurse took me into a little room and photographed me in my panties only..to get before shots for the surgery. I felt like a naked criminal in for a mug shot....lol.
The whole experience was very emotional. I kept thinking, why do I have to go through this at my age? Why me? and it's not fair....I had fantasies of me running away to a deserted island and hiding...like hiding would ensure my cancer would dissapear and never comeback.
The bottom line is I have NO CHOICE, and maybe that's where the anxiety stems from. The loss of control. I have no choice, I need to have this surgery done to ensure my cancer is gone and drastically reduce any chance of recurrence.
Verging on tears, we left the appointment and got in the elevator. When the door opened, out walked a young lady, probably 25, with a pink breast cancer scarf over her bald head....going in for her consult...
It isn't fair, and I broke down into tears.
It was a hard trip home, I did a lot of thinking and feeling sorry for all of us women who have to deal with these extremely stressful situations. Coping is hard.
I read a quote once that helps me cope, and reminds me to take a challenge and pull the good things from it, like I have been trying to do for months now...
"Don't let the Dark swallow you up..instead, light a candle."
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Crazy geo-caching excursions with my husband that left me on the edge of a cliff over a river crying (I know, "enjoyment" you ask?)... and just poking around my yard soaking up the sun. It had been 27 degrees Celsius the last 2 days!! Not too shabby for April in Canada!
Yesterday I had a phone appointment with my specialist in Kelowna. She is the one who drew up my treatment regime that I have been following with my oncologist here in Nelson.
I called for this appointment to talk to her about the fact that I had my allergic reaction and therefore had interrupted her original regime. I wanted to see if I need to do 6 full cycles of the FEC drug I have been doing...or if it is even necessary, seeing as all my tests are clear of cancer and I am moving on to a mastectomy. I know it all sounds confusing but basically I wanted to know if the chemo at this point is doing more harm than good and if it is necessary that I continue with something that wasn't the original plan and is not as effective.
We spoke, and she was great. She said that it is completely reasonable to stop at 4 FEC (which I have already had) and continue with my mastectomy and my year of Herceptin. But she said I have another option and that is to try another taxane type drug that is still in studies....HELL NO! First off I am not a guinea pig and secondly my body doesn't like taxanes and I am not going to offer myself up for another allergic reaction when the last ones gave me asthma!! Then she said my third choice is to complete 6 of the FEC. When I asked her if this was even effective she replied...." we usually prescribe 4 cycles but if you tolerate the chemo well then we say why not 6, just in case."
I told her I have to stay in the hospital for my chemo and she seemed to think I was ok stopping at 4. Basically she can't tell me if the 5th and 6th chemo would benefit me more or damage me more because she can't tell if there is any cancer left in my body. She told me once I have my mastectomy, they will look at my tissue and nodes and if there is a significant amount of cancer that hasn't been killed by the chemo then she will put me back on chemo and suggest radiation as well. So the mastectomy is the real test!
I sat around trying to decide what to do. Personally I feel like I am cancer free and that stopping chemo, and focusing on my health (eating right, getting back on vitamins, getting back to qi gong and exercising properly, many of the things chemo has been stopping me from doing) will be more beneficial to me.
All in all, I believe the chemo did it's job and now it's time to do mine and rebuild my good cells and start to medicate myself with natural methods. I can't tell you how I am looking forward to taking vitamins again and being able to consume anti-oxidants and just live to help my body rather than sit back and let the poison take over, like I have the last 4 months....
HOWEVER, this was a hard decision to make, it's a gamble! I mean people keep reminding me, "What if there is one cancer cell left floating around your body and you need that last chemo!" first off, I don't appreciate the reminders or visuals of that. I am quite aware and think everyday of my life of that possibility. I just don't think you can live like that, I mean, even after 6, 8, 12 chemos this is a possibility, there is no magic number, when do you stop?....you'll drive yourself crazy thinking this way, it's not healthy.
I believe that if all of the tests have shown you to be cancer free, and in your gut you feel it...you must trust that feeling and live like you're free, it's the only way!!
I called my mom and husband after my phone meeting and discussed the conversation my specialist and I had and we all came to a consensus.
I am going to meet option 1 and option 3 halfway, I am going to do ONE more chemo (for a total of 5) and then move on to my surgery and continue Herceptin (which apparently acts as a mild chemo over the course of a year, protecting me from recurrence and metastasizing) I am also going to go to my qi gong healer and get him to do some clean up on my body, as I believe he will clear me of any leftover cancerous energy that may be in me. Then, after surgery, FRESH START! Look out world!! I am going to get REALLY annoying with my health obsession...juices, veggies, diet, vitamins, super foods, yoga, swimming, qi gong, meditation, prayer....whoo wee!
THE BOTTOM LINE:
I can do this. I have had 9 months to sit in quiet and talk to god and myself and get really in tune with myself. I am and will continue to be cancer free...I am ready to live a long healthy, positive life. I vow to only do things that feel good to me and not over tax my body or mind again. I promise to try everyday to improve myself both emotionally and physically. I am ready to live again, in a new way.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
So I had a bad day. There was stress and there were tears. Normally I would want a drink or even a cigarette, but no, not anymore...
I self-medicated with a relapse on my heroin.
Trail is NOT may favorite town, it is dirty and smelly, but MAN! They have great food there!!
We saw a "pastry shop" on the main street and stopped. I needed some comfort food. I know, bad girl...but...
It was amazing! I bought a homemade whipped cream filled donut covered in real chocolate. It was unbeleiveable!! Kerry bought a layered flaky pastry with whipped cream in between each layer. Please go there if you can, it was even cheap!!
Then we went to the Star Grocery. My doctor recommended it to me, so we went! It was crazy!! A little Italian deli/butchershop/grocery store. It had everything from fresh handmade sausages (which we bought and tasted and were delicious!) to cheeses to bruschetta and figs and ouzo candies and pickled beans and any kind of fresh dried pasta you could ever want! Pasquale is the owner and he works in the back all day making fresh sausages and cutting meats to perfection! In order to get what you want, you have to walk to the back room and talk to him...it's pretty nostalgic! He won't let you buy meats in the summer unless you bring a cooler, because he DEMANDS freshness!! We loaded up at this place, I bought a bunch of stuff for my doctor (as a gift) and we bought a lot for ourselves also...
Then it was time for lunch. We were told to go to "Dee's" a little Italian place on the main street apparently loaded with Italian meats, cheeses, and fresh baking. When we drove past, it was closed. Boo. Next time! We pulled into a little diner called "The Spot". May as well, I had already thrown my new lifestyle out the door, and I still felt pain, sooooo.....
What a great little place! Not only is the decor beautiful! Old robin's egg blue, retro-style booths and tiled floors...but the food was great! I had a chicken burger (lol, the "healthy" choice) it was a fresh chicken breast battered in a homemade mix then deep fried. It was served on a bun with butter and pickles only! It was dreamy! Melt in your mouth! We also shared homemade onion rings, and they too were to die for!
I felt like Racheal Ray from her traveling food show, where she goes to a town and samples all the best fare. It was fun!
But! I am back on my health train tomorrow, unless, of course, my results aren't good. Then lookout! lol. I am sure they will be fine.
So, if you ever get a chance, don't slag Trail! Go there and eat!! It's BELISSIMA!
Then the phone call that changed my day.
My family doc (the new good one) called and as I expected he and my oncologist decided to further look into my wheezing situation, and send me for a Chest Xray and blood work. I was annoyed cause I just wanted a day at home to feel normal and relax.
When I went into my doctor's office to get the requisitions the receptionist told me he needed to talk to me. I went into his office and he told me that though he believed I was fine, it is best to make sure the cancer hadn't spread to anywhere else in my body and be sure I hadn't had a pulmonary embolism when I had my allergic reaction. "I get it" I said. But then he proceeded to tell me that I was booked in today for an emergency CT SCAN in Trail to check my lungs and stomach and liver. That freaked me out.
The fact that they wanted me in right now and could get me in right now, made me wonder if I should worry. So naturally I did just that.
My husband stopped work for the day and took me to the hospital for a chest xray, blood work and a ECG (electric cardio-gram?) and then we drove the hour to Trail for the CT SCAN which I must say was NOT a pleasant experience. First off the staff in Trail tend to not have very good "people" skills and are always quite rude and cold. The guy seemed so rushed and didn't explain anything to me though it was obvious I was nervous. He made me sign a form saying I was aware I could have an allergic reaction to the dye (they would pump thru me intravenously) and croak. Though these odds are low, I still freak out because I tend to fit in to the little "unlucky" bracket and allergic reactions are becoming "my thing".
Then he handed me a cup of clear liquid and told me to drink it (not explaining anything) I thought it was water and......it WASN'T. I asked him what it was and he said some weird name and told me "you need to drink it so we can see your stomach." and he literally stood there, basically tapping his watch while I tried to choke it down.
The IV for the dye hurt, and he felt good pointing out how beaten up all my veins looked (thanks) the whole ordeal only took 15 minutes though the dye going in was weird and warm and felt like the start of my allergic reaction to the chemo I did, so I panicked a little. All in all it was stressful and didn't need to be, if he would have just slowed down a little and explained things to me I wouldn't have felt violated when I walked outta there. He ripped the IV out and said "Hold the cotton ball so you don't bleed, we put a big hole in ya." like seriously!! I am a human being faced with a scary situation, have a bit of tact and grace!!
I left there feeling like they just raped me. Seriously. They poisoned my body with some sick drink and dye and pushed me out the door with a hole in my body...I felt like cattle.
I will go tomorrow to my doc to get the results...please pray for them to be good results.
My dream definition: To see calm, clear water in your dream, signifies that you are in tune with your spirituality. It denotes serenity, peace of mind, and rejuvenation. It is also symbolic of knowledge and healing.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Spent part of the day at the organic market, I could spend my life savings ($0) ok, my entire bank account in there. I just love it! I find shopping and preparing healthy food a hobby now. Almost empowering, because it is control I have over my health. I am really going full force now and I am guessing I will be almost vegetarian by the fall. I am keen on making my diet a 80/20 split of veg to meat. I feel the difference when I eat whole foods, veggies and I have cut out a lot of dairy (never all, I love cheese) and meat and pretty much all convenience foods with preservatives. If it has weird ingredients that I don't know, I won't buy it or eat it (except for the occasional mini egg here and there :) I am hoping to stick to this way of life and continue to improve it even. I think I may be addicted to healthy eating! Mind you, I was like this at my diagnosis for a few months and fell a bit off the bandwagon...so I don't want to jynx myself!! Soon, I will add exercise to the mix and in a year I should be the woman I have always wanted to be. HEALTHY and EMPOWERED!
I took my pooch Shabba to the vet today. Looks like we were working him to hard, by throwing his ball down the hill for him to fetch. He is suffering from some sport-related injuries...poor boy. I will massage him later and he should be better soon.
I put on my IPOD and waxed my car (to sell it). Looks good and it was beautiful soaking up the sun while I did it. I needed that! When I was done, I didn't want to stop hearing my Wayne Dyer, so I went into our new trailer we bought. I just love it. I just opened cupboards and layed on the bed and thought of what I could pack it with for camping next month!! I also prayed.
I have been debating quitting chemo.
Something in me tells me it's time to stop. But I am scared that something is just me wanting it to be over with....on the other hand, I haven't felt healthier, I am in control of my diet and I have energy and am ready to get back to yoga and Qigong...I just feel like I don't need the chemo.
And if I don't need anymore chemo, then having it is only harmful to me. I mean, it gave me asthma for god's sake! So anyway, I prayed, and asked for an answer, a sign of sorts. Something to help me make my decision!! Heaven forbid, I quit now and a cell gets away and plants itself somewhere, I would never forgive myself....
When I came back in the house I had an email from my Qigong healer. It was a warning to me that lots of naturopathic healers are ripping people off...he wrote about a local woman with breast cancer that the doctors can't cure and the naturopaths drained her of her life savings and now won't treat her because she has no money. He, of course is treating her for free...and seems to be making progress. I don't know if this is the sign I asked for, but it seemed like good timing. He doesn't email me many personal emails anymore....hmmm....
All in all, I am just waiting to hear back from the BCCA in Kelowna. I have a consult with my plastic surgeon next week and I am trying to get in to see my oncologist (the specialist) the same day. I just want to talk to her about my allergic reaction and possibly quitting chemo early seeing as I am not taking the chemo I am supposed to be anyway. I mean I AM cutting both my breasts off too, I think that allows me to cut out 2 chemos early, especially since I have no signs of spreading!! We'll see if I can convince her of that and then I will make my decision.
Last thing I wanted to write about was my massage yesterday. I went for a massage and I was told I couldn't have one. I don't know if this is the universal reaction but she told me that during chemo, having a massage can spread the cancer (if any left) by pushing it into and around the lymph nodes etc...kinda makes sense, but I wonder if this is true!?? Anyway, I had a 30min foot and scalp massage instead and it was awesome!!
Off to cook Mexican Lasagna!! YUMMY!!
Ps...My friend D posted this video on Facebook...it is a MUST WATCH!! Please watch it, it's powerful!!
PPs. I apologize to everyone for all the cancer related posts on facebook lately...I don't mean to bum you all out, it's just a big, inspiring part of my life right now....I am sure it is getting old for some of you.....
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Looks like I have developed asthma of all things!!
This diagnoses was mad in about 10 minute after examining me and asking questions.
Though I am hesitant to have not gotten another chest XRAY, I trust my doctor.
He says it doesn't seem like pneumonia or bronchitis and has all the signs and symptoms of a type of later in life develpoed asthma. In normal people it is brought on by mold or pets or what have you, but in my case he is pretty sure the chemo brought it on as he says it often can.
So, he gave me a puffer and sent a memo to my oncologist (who I am sure will still order me for an Xray) and sent me on my way....
PS. it is supposed to be temporary and should go away when chemo is over...hopefully!!!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Other than a corroded vein (from the IV, so sore!) I don't have many complaints this round.
Except last night, I was having a hard time breathing...
I have had this cold lingering in my chest, but last night I was wheezing and couldn't stop. It felt hard to breathe, really freaked me out.
I took cough syrup and turned on the humidifier and fell asleep eventually.
Today I feel ok, so I will just keep my eye on my breathing and hope it gets back to normal.
(see when you have cancer, things like this really freak you out...all I could think last night was, it better not have spread to my lungs...)
I have been having some moments of clarity.
Reading Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips still and it reminded me I have been slacking on my veggie intake. When I first was diagnosed, I was juicing everyday and cramming veggies down my throat!! But since chemo, the juice doesn't sit as well, nor does the veggies....chemo wants crap food for some reason. But I need to keep my eye on the prize. That is, lifelong health, cancer free life! To do this, I need to do everything possible to stay healthy and fight my disease (if it is even still there!) and that means VEGGIES! MORE VEGGIES!!! So I made a juice yesterday again, and I will continue juicing everyday and snacking on veg every chance I get.
I am also going to make a list.
A list of things I want to do. Big fancy things and small, normal, easy to do (though I never do them) things. like horse back riding, and hosting a murder mystery party, and driving to Seattle.
Just so I keep focus on living. I need to squeeze everything I can out of a day. Why not!???!
Yesterday afternoon, we were invited to a friend's place an hour out of Nelson. They have a chunk of land on the river. A big acerage with trees and beach and a 360 degree view of mountains!
It was just what the doctor ordered.
Fresh air, good company, delicious homemade bbq, roasting marshmallows by the bon fire!! Just a really really good day. If you are reading this, "Thank you for having us, it was amazing!"
Today I am off to get some errands done, and write my "list" later, which I will be focusing on completing in the coming entries.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Aside from the taste of metal in my mouth and the serious "shakes" (my hands mostly)
I feel pretty darned good.
I got up early, cleaned and made healthy chili black bean burritos for dinner tonite.
Then, stopped by my mom in laws to say Happy Birthday to a most beautiful lady.
Now, just relaxing, then eat and off to the In Laws again for cake!!
That's all for now.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I did it!
No, not the chemo...that's no big deal...
I posted a BALDY BALD picture of me on here and I am ok with it.
This is me today, a few hours after returning from the hospital.
Ok, I added a little under eye conceler (you wouldn't want to see my with out!!) but all in all, this is me post chemo.
The day yesterday was LONG! BLECH!
Other than the fact I got to meet my "bosom buddy D" for the first time, I had a pretty lousy day.
I did have another allergic reaction to the new taxane (Paclitaxol) though the nurses were right there to stop it before I fully lost my shit.
So, we decided to stop Taxane treatment all together and go with the FEC regime again (Pukey Mc Pukersons).
They gave me no choice to than to stay at the hospital overnight (though that is what I would have wanted anyway).
I don't puke when I stay there, though I get a weird anxiety from the chemo that makes my skin crawl and being in a hospital kind of makes me feel cookoo! It is bad overall, but they drug me so heavily that I sleep the majority of the time.
Last night I slept from 5:30 til 9:30 this morning!! I woke up a few times for pee's but other than that I was ok.
I am debating quitting the chemo now, only because the regime isn't going the way originally planned, so the effectiveness has already been interrupted. Doing 2 more FEC may help, but if I am cancer free right now (like I believe) then the FEC is only doing damage, and no good. I know it's a gamble, so I am going to listen to my body, pray and meditate over the next few weeks and see where I am at for the next treatment, then make my decision.
Plus, I am getting the full mastectomy anyway, and I feel that is going to be sufficient in my cure.
We'll see, I won't do anything drastic until I know for sure it is the right move to make.
I trust my intuition at this point.
I have become my own best friend!!
Shattered overnight by a quick discovery.
If I pretend I didn't feel it, would it go away?
The shadow is moving in now
Slowly pushing me down
sucking out the air and life as I knew it.
Let the battle begin.
Ready or not,
here it comes.
up days, down days.
circles all around days.
love pulls you up.
fears suck you back down.
What lies ahead?
You won't ever know.
Normalcy is gone,
you are never going to be the same.
So live like you have never lived before.
Grab life by the jowls and suck it in.
It won't be too late.
If you do it now.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
My husband will be there with me today, as will a wonderful local lady I have met thru my blog/Facebook. I will call her D, out of privacy. We haven't met yet, but have already bonded and exchanged emails and words. She was the one who left me a gift last week at my chemo appointment. There is extra peace in my visit to room 321, knowing she will be there and I will meet her. Hopefully I won't be too out of it (from the Benedryl) to chat a little.
I am also starting to bond with my nurses there. I just love them. They are always the same 2 ladies and really have my trust. Not to mention, they are a lot of fun to be around (and that's important, spending hours there!!)
Lots of things on the go right now. Safeway seems to be committing to helping out my breast cancer support group (who lost their funding!!) by donating monthy gift cards for us to buy our refreshments for the meetings!! I thank my Assistant Manager and Manager for this, they are amazing in everyhthing they have done to support local charities. So I have been running around getting this together and I have decided to purchase a credit for the group to advertise for a few years without worrying about funding.
I am trying to plan a garage sale in May, I have A LOT to sell. I am hoping I can make enough to donate some of the money somewhere I see a need and a connection. Probably in the breast cancer field somewhere. I am having to organize and price all that stuff out, and I want to sell our trailer and old car so I need to shine them up and clean them out to get them ready...so much to do, so little time!
Well, I am going to pack my chemo bag...then it's off to breakfast and a SMOOTH, SIDE EFFECT FREE day of chemo. To set the path for my last two....
I deserve an easy road now. I have put in my time!! DAG NAMMIT!!
I'll write later.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Above is a very important link.
There is a problem in some small towns right now in regards to the process in which one is diagnosed with breast cancer. I have written about it before, so I will just sum it up quickly.
The problem being, when a woman is told she has breast cancer, quite often she doesn't receive any other information on the process or disease until she reaches an oncologist (which can take a few months). This leaves the woman in a terrified state, reaching for answers through the internet (which is a BAD idea) and grasping at straws in the hopes of finding some information on the journey she is about to take. The problem is that too many answers on the internet are false. I have read so much crap out there!! So googling for answers can end up hindering the patient rather than helping.
There is a solution.
Above is a link to order yourself a FREE Breast Cancer Information Guide. This one is through the BCCA, but I assume every province has one. We just need to get the word out that this is available! All doctors and surgeons should know that when a patient is diagnosed, this is where they should be directed.
I have all of the material in this package, and it is all great! "The Breast Book" is awesome and has been a huge help to me.
So, if you or anyone you know has been recently diagnosed. PLEASE go to the above link and have this package sent ASAP. The questions WILL come rolling in, and you want to have the right answers at your fingertips!!
And so I did.
I bawled ALL day yesterday.
Absolutely ALL DAY LONG!
I couldn't stop.
In hind sight, it's kinda funny. To think about me crying all day on the couch. I didn't move by the way.
But yesterday, I was really sad.
I should have blogged, being that emotional, but it would have been so depressing you all would have sent over a "suicide team" to my house.
It was ugly.
So, "Why?" you ask...
Well, I think it was a mixture of reasons.
I am feeling serious anxiety about tomorrow's "retry" of my chemo. Knowing I have a higher chance for an allergic reaction again, freaks me right out. That event was too scary to sign up for again, though I guess I have to.
I am done with the poking and prodding and compromising my health to cure my cancer.
I mean I am NOT done (I won't quit), but I am getting really sick of it.
I have had a cold for 3 months and it just keeps cycling over and over again.
It is exhausting!
I am getting really puffy now from my steroids. So when I look in the mirror, I see bald and now "fat"!!! I gained like 8 pounds last week in fluid retention from the drugs.
I know it's temporary and I will "deflate" after chemo, but seeing a fat bald lady in the mirror everyday isn't exactly the "cheerleader" I am looking for to cheer me on through my treatment!!
I pretty much just hit rock bottom yesterday. It all came crashing down at once. Maybe I needed the day to have my pity party and cry all day. Though, I kind of feel guilty, like I wasted a day of my life sulking.
Regardless, it's back to normal today. I am off to get groceries, walk my dogs and prepare for tomorrow's chemo.
I will blog more later today....
Saturday, April 3, 2010
On Thursday, I received an email from the Director of the YACC (Young Adult Cancer Canada). She said she had been reading my blog and just loved it. She told me it would help others to read it and said she was going to post a link to it on the YACC site! I am so excited!! This means a lot to me, to have more people reading. Especially other women going through breast cancer treatment. Helping others makes me feel like having cancer has a purpose! It is my way of coping and turning a bad thing into a good thing. It is therapeutic to me.
So, therefore, I have changed the look of the blog a bit. The last thing I would want is for someone to have a headache after reading my posts!! I hope you all like it!
My blood counts were good going in, I had extra DECADRON (steroid) in my body, everything should be fine.
This was NOT the case.
They hooked me up IV style and let 'er' drip.
I wasn't expecting anything bad, and I was in deep conversation with a sweet lady across from me (who had been managing her metastatic breast cancer for 9 years!) when all of a sudden (about 2 minutes into the drip) I started to feel weird.
The first thing I felt was a warm feeling (like the drug itself) running from my IV site thru my arm into my chest. Then my heart started fluttering, then I started seeing weird balls of light flying around the room. I know, it sounds weird, but it was like little orbs of light jetting here and there all around the room and I couldn't see much else other than that. THIS is when I said something.
"I can't see!" I said. "Something is wrong, I am having a reaction, I CAN'T SEE!" I yelled.
Instantly, after I shouted those words it felt like someone tightened a noose around my neck so tight. I couldn't breathe, and it felt like my face and head swelled to 5 times its original size. My cheeks puffed out huge and I thought my head was going to explode! (My mom said there were veins popping out on the side of my head and I turned purple).
Within seconds there were a handful of doctors and nurses standing around me, they unhooked the drip and started taking vital signs. They also quickly hooked my IV to Benadryl to counteract the reaction. All of this happened within a time frame of about 1 minute. It was really scary.
I think it was so scary because I wasn't prepared or expecting it. Though I know that with chemo, every time you do a new drug you could have an allergic reaction, I wasn't really aware it might actually happen.
My oncologist started asking me what symptoms I was having, all the while I still couldn't see and was trying to catch my breathe. He was wanting to try the DOCETAXOL again, but slower this time, with more Benadryl, but when he heard my vision was affected, he seemed concerned.
He called my oncologist in Kelowna (the specialist) and they decided to stop treatment for the day and resume next week with a different (but similar) drug called PACLITAXOL. They are hoping I won't react to that one, though the chances are higher that I will react to it than a regular person (because it is similar to the DOCETAXOL). The doctor told me that I had a MILD reaction, which is crazy because I wouldn't even want to know what a severe reaction would look and feel like.
They kept me at the hospital for a few hours and continued to give me HERCEPTIN. Which is the drug I will continue to take for a year. The side effects are minimal and it was a piece of cake, in comparison. The amount of Benedryl they gave me, knocked me out and I was a zombie for the rest of the day/night.
Though my care was good, overall it was a bad experience. I am super sore from seizing up so tight. I feel like I had some serious brain cells damaged and now I am scared for next week!! I don't want to feel that again. I am praying I take to the next drug, because if I don't, they might try to put me back of the FEC for the last 3 cycles!! Nevermind the fact that this has put off my schedule and messed up my plastic surgery consultation. I am pissed at my body, and I am bummed out. I hope I can wrap my head around things before Wednesday so that it isn't so stressful going back in there.
I just hope it goes smoothly. As smooth as chemo can go anyway.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
If you are currently going through a cancer experience and are not having a "good" day this Blog title has probably made you throw up a little in your mouth.
I get it!
I have had MANY a day where I don't think there is anything good about it at all.
But I am seeing the light a little here and having a good day and am ready to put a positive spin on a depressing word.
The GOOD things that come out of this experience...
#1. The BEST thing in my eyes in the new outlook on life.
The "Cancer Goggles" (see above lol) we are given. I have spoken of this numerous time throughout my posts and in person to friends and family. But it is true. From seeing beauty in it simplest form, to appreciating the small stuff, to not stressing over the little things as much. It is all such a powerful eyeopening experience. And you know, if you read back to one of my first posts, I say that I have a lump and there was a part of me hoping it would be cancer so I could see life in this way....I hate that post. I feel ridiculous that I said that now, knowing how hard it has been and how serious of a comment it was. However, I may have needed this experience to be able to appreciate fully, the rest of journey through life. I am most definitely a happier and better person for it. TRULY.
#2. Making and Renewing connections with friends and family.
I have heard this one out of many people's mouths who have been through a cancer experience. This one is great. Not only have a rekindled bonds with old friends and family I have thought of regularily for years (but never written or emailed or called) but there are so many new people I have bonded with as well.
I used to have a bit of social anxiety and avoid contact with people even though I liked them...I would certainly not approach a stranger and ask to be friends!! But this experience has pulled my guard down and what a gift! I have met some AMAZING people through this and I know for me, that helping them and having them there to help me has been THE most important thing to get me through this...BAR NONE. I recommend it to anyone, to come out of your shell a bit and contact and old friend or family member, or make a new friend on a regular basis (Facebook is great for this) it is so refreshing and you rid yourself of a lot of guilty feelings....
#3. Knowing how much you are loved.
Touching in so many ways...this was especially true with respects to my husband. I mean, what a test!! The support and unconditional love is a gift I will NEVER forget.
Thank you to all the people who have shown it.
Thank you to my husband.
#4. More time with my kids.
More time and the time being higher QUALITY!! I have been able to spend "un-rushed" genuine time and moments with my kids. Now, not in the early months with all the tests and preparations for chemo, that was hard and hectic!! But once I settled into my chemo routine, it has been great. Even if I am feeling sick, just cuddling in bed with a movie and a chat had been rewarding and I am grateful for this...it had been all of their lives I had been too over worked and busy to appreciate the time. And now I have been able.
#5. Having a healthier outlook on life.
I do admit I struggle with this off and on. I like my comfort foods when I am not feeling good and when I AM feeling good, I forget I have cancer and want to slip into old habit (like too many cocktails with friends) but all in all, I have educated myself so highly now through reading and through friends tips and so on, that I feed myself and my family much better than ever! In general our home has become much a much healthier place to live. Less chemicals, less plastics, more eco-friendly and natural products...abundance of healthy foods and juices and supplements. Plus we move more (on my good days) the dog walking and geo-caching really work for us.
In general I see myself really getting fit once this (and mainly my big surgery) is all over with. I hope to be in the best physical shape of my life in a few years (starting soon!!).
#6. Living like it's my last few years on earth.
I know this sound depressing. In reality, I feel like I am going to live forever! However, I have seen the dark place. I know now, you just never know when your time is going to be up. It is a reality to me now. And so, I have changed my way of living....I was always spontaneous, but now it is different.
I guess I would call it a responsible, realistic "living in the moment". In one way, I am not going to compromise my daily quality of life in order to "get to retirement" as in, saving every penny for it, and working my ass off and never enjoying myself in order to splurge and relax later!! Because you JUST DON'T KNOW if you will make it to that day, Plus! it's not necessary. You can enjoy it all!! There is balance.
On the other hand, I am not going to live as frivolous as I did before...I appreciate the small things I have now, I am not out looking for the next thing to please me. I am creating a "quality of life nest" around me. I am simplifying and prioritizing what I need and want to be less stressed and calmer (then in turn happier) on a daily basis. THIS! Has been a great eye opening gift that I have needed for a long time. This is going to help pave my future of happiness and clarity.
There truly are so many more things I could go on with, but most of them fall into one of these categories....for example, picking up on old hobbies again, getting in touch with charity, understanding people better, realizing our true friends...and so on.
So, I say, cancer is a real bitch. It is yucky and scary and yes, can kill you. It is a dark and bad place no one should have to experience. But! If you can reach in and pull out the good things, and search hard for what to be grateful for out of it, I think you have a better chance at survival.
At the very least you can be happy and positive for the majority (and I stress majority) of the ride.
I accidentally (chemo brain) was only taking 1 steroid at the times suggested rather than 2 steroids at the times suggested.
They take this really seriously, and won't treat you...I guess you may have an allergic reaction if you don't have enough steroid built up?? That's what I am aware of anyway.
I felt like an ass, becauseI have made these mistakes before and the instructions are underlined EVERYWHERE!! But I had been taking only one Decadron in the past 3 cycles, so I was in that groove and forgot.
Anyway, off to chemo today instead and it's a good thing I had that extra day because, I was hammered with a shitty cold yesterday and needed that extra day to get a bit better and some more sleep (the steroid messes with my sleep pattern). I was up at 2:30 yesterday (3hrs sleep only) and today I was up at 3:00, but had had a nap yesterday and went to bed at 9:30 so I'm ok.
My good Facebook friend has her first chemo tomorrow and she is my inspiration today to go in guns a blazing with a good attitude. I am feeling good..I will do it for her and all my other cancer friends (no use feeling sorry for yourself when there are so many others in the same or worse boats) We are strong women and we can do this!!
I will email later to fill you in on the deets!!
Ciao for now.