shaved head

shaved head
Channelling GI Jane

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 15: Port

Still feeling great! Spent the weekend in Santa Monica with the family. This morning Erich and I were at Cedar Sinai by 8:15am for my port insertion. The port, it turns out, is a titanium device the size of a quarter and 1/2 an inch thick with a catheter line. So, they gave me a local anaesthetic, sliced my arm open and threaded a small hose through a vein up my arm and down into my chest not far from my heart. Appearantly I don't have the best veins and chemo tends to make them shrivel up and disapear. A port is an easy way to administer chemo, draw blood, and administer IV fluids and meds. I had no idea what it all entailed and it was probably better that way. Feeding the catheter into my chest reminded me of my epideral with Frederich. That sensation of pushing a tube through a part of your body is strange to say the least.

After Cedars we went to visit my oncologist. No BRACA gene results yet. That test will tell me if I am at super high risk for developing cancer in the other breast and/or the uterus. I have already decided that if I test positive I will have the surgeon take the entire other breast as well, and basically obliterate my ovaries. My tunor has shrunk significantly already, which is a good sign, however, my doctor informed me that the plan will not change: Six rounds of chemo (which means the end of Nov) and then surgery.

I woke up today to clumps of hair falling out as I brushed my teeth. So, tonight I had Erich shave my head with a number 4 catch. I'm chanelling my GI Jane now. I feel kinda bad ass. I like it.:)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 11: Blood tests

Checked in with my nurse practitioner today. Drew my blood. White blood cell count is 14,000 (great), hemoglobin count 14.3. Blood platelettes at 308,000. My counts are high which means the drug Neulasta (the shot I receive the day after every chemo infusion) is working really well for me. I have been cleared to have my teeth cleaned on 9/30. 2nd chemo set for Sept. 7, and 3rd chemo set for Sept. 30. I'm told that I will receive another scan after the 3rd infusion to see how much the tumor has shrunk. As soon as it is small enough I can have surgery to remove the breast, maybe both, and reconstruct them. Again, I feel great today. Chances are I will continue to feel great until my next chemo. Tried to color my roots this morning cause as long as I have hair it won't be gray! Color didn't take. hhhmmm and grumble.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 10: It's a Miracle

OK, so I opened my eyes this morning and took a deep breathe and waited a few  minutes, then hopped out of bed feeling almost completely "normal." Oh please let me feel this way until my next transfusion. I have energy, I can eat, and I don't hurt anywhere. I spent an hour layng on the couch luxuriating in feeling so well. While I'm feeling so peppy I would like to take a moment to wish a Happy Birthday to my favorite actor, Alexander Skarsgaard, who turned 34 today. Shwing! I'm running out to watch Evan play soccer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 9: Glued to the Couch

I got up and took the kids to school this morning. I didn't brush my teeth, didn't put on a bra, threw on some clothes, put on my Prada shades, and slowed down just enough in the drop-off circle to let my kids out. I turned around and came home, plopped on the couch and napped until 12 noon. Wow! The sleepies came out of nowhere today. There goes my one errand I set for myself. I have just enough time to brush my teeth, put a hat on my crazy hair and go pick my darlings up from school. I'm keeping food down today (the little bit I have eaten). I have developed light sensitivity. I can't sleep with any light coming in to my room. It's like the sun is blazing through my eyelids. I must pick up eye shades. Chemo is turning me into a diva!

Day 8: Scrap Diet From Day 7

Today, all bets are off. All the foods I thought were friendly yesterday came back to haunt me today. No cottage cheese, and no yogurt. Appearantly I have developed some sort of lactose intolerance. Great, I'm left with carbs. I had saltines and a cherry Icee for lunch yesterday. However, I was able to eat 4 small bites of grilled chicken breast and an apple. Looks like its Atkins for me! I was in a lot of gut pain this morning and afternoon, but by the evening I felt pretty solid, but tired. I laid in bed and re-read 8 chapters from my favorite book series. I noticed today that my fingernails are hot. The literature I was given speeks to nail color change, but didn't mention heat. What else, oh yes, I have a sore in my nose and I'm fairly certain I an starting to get a cold sore on my lip. But, hey no hair loss yet.:)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 7: More G.I. Blues

So, it's not nausea so much as it's painful to eat, followed by stomach cramps, and nausea/car sickness. I actually got sick smelling my kids' bread toast. Out of my tummy troubles have emerged some favorite foods that sound tasty and go down well (of course that's all relative), malt 'o'meal with a little milk and touch of brown sugar, toast with smidge of butter (but I can't be around while it's toasting), bagels with cream cheese, apples and cheese, cottage cheese with peaches, oh and cottage cheese burritos with avacado. Wow! Kinda sad, BUT, I'm very pleased that I can eat something. Eating a half cup of cottage cheese with peaches feels like a whole large pizza going down (yah I've done that. That's how I know what it feels like). Today I went to the beach with Erich and the kids for a few hours. For a little while I actually forgot about the cancer and felt "normal." It was beautiful.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Aug. 21, 2010: Day 6

I woke up feeling so much better. My energy was almost all back and my aches n pains in my limbs were at a minimal. About an hour after I leapt out of bed I realized why God gave me some strength back...It was to run to and from the bathroom.  Ah, the G.I. blues; nausea, stomach cramps, and of course the runs. I took my first anti-nausea medication, Zofran. Made me feel so good I actually ate cheetos at Evan's party. My son's 6th birthday party was an amazing event put together by my Long Beach Mommy Friends (The Sassy Seven). All I had to do was show up with the camera and my check book. Nothing like a little cancer to make you realize how much your loved by family and friends. And I do feel the love from you all. I am the luckiest woman in the world to have such wonderful people in my life. My Mama who just passed a week ago told me two things before she left this world...1. Life is short. and 2. What good is a large family if you aren't close? I hear you Mama.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aug. 20, 2010- Day 5

Five days after chemo I am slowly gaining strength and I'm able to stay awake. Dove picked me up this morning to have coffee with Stacey, Lupe, and Jax. I really didn't want to move from the couch, but I'm glad I did. It felt good to get out into the daylight. Today is Evan's birthday, he is 6 years old. Tomorrow I will drag myself to his party that my girlfriends arranged. Thank God for friends and family, and my husband who has become a saint in my eyes. Do Jews worship saints?

Aug. 19, 2010- Day 4

I woke up with slightly more energy than yesterday. I managed to drag myself to the couch and watch TV. My mouth and throat hurt alot today. I never stated the glutamine supplement. No mouth sores, it just feels like swollen glands. Stacey was kind enough to pick up the supplement and bring it to me. After she left is when the real terror began. I had not given my bowels much consideration. I assumed they were just fine, but when I ran to use the tolilet and realized it couldn't come out I began to panic. I hadn't pooed in three days! I don't want to get to graffic for any poor reader beside me who may be reading this journal, but let me just say you do not ever want to encounter impacted stool. I was able to remedy the situation after 3 hours of intense pain. I crawled into the shower and then passed out for the night. I have a new bes friend: stool softner.

Day 3 Took Me Down

Day 3 I spent in bed sleeping. When I got my strength together I moved to the couch. My appetite is down. Greek yogurt is my favorite right now. And I drink about 12 glasses of water daily.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Fluids

Aug. 17, 2010- Back to the center I went today for 2 more liters of fluids and a shot to increase production of white cells. No nausea or fatigue yet on day 2. Experiencing mild mouth and throat pain. I go back in 9 days for labs on my white blood cell count.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aug. 16, 2010: First Day of Chemo

I started chemo today. Actually in my case it is called neoadjavent therapy. I have a 3-5 year old cancerous tumor in my left breast. The doctors tell me it is about 10cm in diameter, which means it is too big to operate on right now. I am to receive a lovely cocktail of Taxotere and Cytoxan (referred to as TC by those in the "know") every three weeks until the tumor shrinks to an appropriate size for surgery. My doctor tells me 4-6 doses should do the trick.

I arrived at my appointed time and was led to the chemo room which is large with approximately 50 chairs and a couple of private rooms. Each chemo recliner is equipped with two side tables, a television, WiFi, a telephone, and an extra chair for any company you may bring. As I reclined; holding my book in my left hand and being infused in my right arm I was offered drinks and snacks. Maybe it's because I have 6 and 7 year old boys at home, but I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't at a day spa. Is that taking my positive perspective too far? I spent 4 hours in the office today. While receiving liters of fluids, benedryl, xanax, and TC intravenously I was educated on my chemo; the process and the side effects, and on nutrition. Prevention is the name of the game! It is important to stay healthy, stay away from sharp objects, raw food (that means NO SUSHI!), and sick people. I will return tomorrow for more intravenous fluids and a shot to boost my white blood cell count. So far, so good.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Diagnosis

July 28, 2010 was to be a regular yearly mamogram. My doctors and I had been following what we thought was "cystic tissue" since March. My radiologist didn't like the results of my mamogram, so he performed an ultrasound, and then a biopsy. He braced me for bad news which came the following day. My biopsies had tested positive for breast cancer. I am 42, married with two small children. I had just graduated from my master's program in school psychology and was looking for work. I had no idea I was to embark upon a 12 month journey following in the footsteps of too many remarkable women before me.