shaved head

shaved head
Channelling GI Jane

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 22: Day Before Last Chemo

So, here we are the day before my last round of chemo. I'm excited and so happy. BRING IT ON! I have had the most wonderful week beginning with my cheerful meeting with the oncologist (on Wed), then Thanksgiving, and my cousin Mike's wedding on Friday. I am feeling the love for my family and for the holidays. I hear my grandmother's words in my head, "Life is short," and, "What good is a large family if you aren't close?" I have never felt closer to my extended family than I do today. Illness has taught me to love, accept, and cherish my family for who they are. I feel I am a gentler, more accepting Riquel. I cannot look at my boys without welling up. They are still rambunctious hooligans, but they are my blessed hooligans and I love every crazy, energetic moment with them. I am happy and blessed to have a disease that is cureable. Thank you, God. I know this journey is not over yet, but for me the worst part is coming to an end (chemo). This round my sister-in-law will pick up the boys from school on Friday and keep them with her until Sunday. Erich is out of town from Friday until SUnday. My mother is picking me up on Thursday and taking me to her house until SUnday. I'm looking forward to the jacuzzi when my bones hurt. After the bad week I have the MRI and meet with my surgeon. Next Sunday at this time will be a happy day.:)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving: Round 5 Chemo

I saw my oncologist yesterday and I have to say it was the best meeting I have had with him yet. My mother, Jeffrey, Erich and I all met with him and left smiling. His criteria for radiation therapy is if any of my lymph nodes show positive for cancer cells. He plans to speak with my oncology surgeon and ask her to biopsy several other nodes besdies the centinal node. But, he feels that the need for radiation therapy is probably nil. He also said to have the full surgery. I won't find out if I need radiation until a week after the surgery. I f I need radiation it won't affect my reconstruction. He has had women go through this before. We also spoke about tamoxifen (anti-hormone pills) follow-up. Taking this drug for 5 years decreases my odds of developing cancer again by 5-10%. He feels that weight gain can be managed well with diet and excercise, and other side effects are really minimal. If I began tamoxifen and found that the side effects were so awful I couldn't live with them, we could re-address the situation. So, when I'm healed from surgery I will start ani-hormone therapy for 5 years.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 15: Round 5 Chemo

I'm less bitter now and really happy to be facing my last chemo a week from tomorrow. I'm in deep thought considering nipples or no nipples. My second reconstruction surgery is in part to build nipples. I kind of like the idea of always having high beams as I walk around braless.:) These are the thoughts that keep me going. Next Wed. we talk with the oncologist. Dec 7th is my MRI appointment and follow up with Dr. Chung. I had a message from my plastic surgeon's office that they had a surgery date set, so I need to follow up on Monday. I'm so excited! Today I have a cold so I'm laying low. I do not want to get sick.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 10: Round 5 Chemo...Follow Up Appointment With the Plastic

Met with my plastic surgeon again today. She took pictures of me in my underwear, oy. That's not a visual I wish on anyone right now. So, her assistant is looking for the first Friday available in January for surgery. A few kinks in the plan...1. If I need radiation therapy I cannot do the reconstruction. 2. I will need two surgeries to reconstruct my breasts, three if I need radiation. My understanding is that if my tumor after chemo is 5cm or larger, I will need radiation therapy as well. On a good note, however, according to the report of my last Cat Scan a few weeks ago my tumor was "non-existant." I have an MRI scheduled on Dec. 7th, oredered by my oncology surgeon, and that appearantly will tell us exactly what size the tumor is and where it is located. The second surgery is a follow up to the tummy tuck/breast filling surgery. In the second surgery Dr. Grunwald creates a nipple, pulls in the areola section even smaller, and lipos & restiches the ends of my tummy tuck scar so the result is flat and smooth. That's right, bring on the lipo. I'll take what I can get and I might just commission a tad more while she's there. I asked her today if it was possible to cover scar tissue with tattooing, she said it is it just takes more passes of the needle to get the ink dark on scar tissue. I'm thinking of a long thin vine, or mayan snake along my scar. I will confer with my friend Mike about this. Erich once forbade me to ever tattoo my body while married to him. My first reaction was to run out and do it then. Who tells me what I can and cannot do with my own body? That may be a juvenile response, but it was my first reaction. I brought up the possiblility of tattooing my scar and he didn't immediately say no. I want to wait and get comfortable with the end result of a scar that goes from hip to hip before I decide on the tattooing.

I'm pretty much back to normal. I will start excercising tomorrow. The plastic said eat lots of protein and work on my stamina. I gear up to go round 6 a week from MOnday. Oh baby, bring it on!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 9: Round 5 Chemo...Who Am I?

Had a heavy day today. I saw my shrink and came upon a picture (pre-chemo/cancer diagnosis) that the kids took on my phone. When I looked at the picture of me, before my world was turned upside down, I immediately took a current picture of me with my phone and compared them. All I could think of was, "I wanna be that girl again!" My face is changed with the weight gain and the roundness you get when you are on steroids, but more than that, the light is gone from my eyes and my smile. In addition, my therapist asked me how Erich and I were answer: we occupy the same space but we haven't connected in weeks, maybe months. We don't have sex because I'm out of commision physically, mentally and emotionally. And our lives revolve around my chemo sessions, that's all we talk about. Fuck! I'm so done with cancer. I don't wanna be the chick undergoing chemo anymore. Who else am I? I don't know anymore. My final chemo round can't come soon enough, although having just completed the hell of round 5 I'm not exactly counting down the days til round 6. Everytime I think about the final round being less than 2 weeks away it makes me cry. Of course my eyes tear pretty constantly anyway from the Taxotere and lack of eyelashes. But it feels good to know that the end is in sight. And thank God because I only have a few eyelashes and eyebrow hairs left. I'm not feeling the chola drawn in eyebrows much. It feels strange to be looking so forward to a major surgery and all that it entails, but I am. It is the silver lining in my melodrama. I have dreamed of smaller tits since I was 12 years old and I developed over night from flat to a "D" cup. I look forward to playing (and losing weight) in December.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 7: Round 5 Chemo

It's Sunday morning and I have come out from under the "haze." This round was kinder and gentler than the rest, I think. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I have only one more round of chemo left. I sit here tearing up just thinking of it. Step-by-step one can deal with anything, but I can't describe the relief that is beginning to wash over me at the thought of the end. We have all suffered so much in the past four months, my kids especially. December will be a celebration month, after chemo and before surgery. I woke up this morning at 4am with body aches and rolled over every 15 minutes. Finally I thought to stretch in bed and that helped my body relax and sleep until 6:30. Next round I think I will stay with my parents and try getting in the hot tub to ease the body aches. I'm left this morning with what feels like a mild sore throat and swollen glands. My head is clear, no headache, and I have energy. I will rest today. :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 6: Round 5 Chemo

Last night hit medium hard. My day was good, but my evening was rough. I went to sleep around 8pm with night sweats and body soreness. I woke up once to pee and found I was shivering with cold. Erich had to wrap himself around me until I stopped shaking. Then I slept until 6:60am. I'm drinking coffee and getting ready to eat breakfast. I feel like I'm slowly coming out from a sleeping drug. Evan is still at his auntie's house and Fred has been enjoying his stay as an only child. The kids have soccer games today. I will take it easy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 5: Round 5 Chemo

Wow! Maybe I have become a pro at this as my girl, Jax, has said, because I did not go down hard this time at all. I was awake all day yesterday and alert, and in no pain. I drank all of my water. I went to bed at 8pm and slept through the night with only minimal leg pain this morning. My head is full and heavy, but I can lift it off the pillow and do stuff. Oh thank you God for this little reprieve for round 5. May round 6 be this easy as well! Time for breakfast...:)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 4: Round 5 Chemo

Feeling really well this morning. Slept 12 hours last night. Jumped out of bed, took a shower, ate breakfast, and got dressed. TiTi will be checking in on Fred and I this morning and Lupe is bringing me Costco food around 11am. My mother is due around 3pm. I think we will be alright. Erich took Evan to his mom and sister, he will stay there until Sat. Heard back from Dr. Chung's office. I have an MRI follow up appointment with her Dec. 7th at 1pm. Lets get this party rollin!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 3: Round 5 Chemo

Feelin good this morning. Fell asleep around 9:30pm, woke once in the night to pee, but woke this morning after 7am. I am now currently perched on the couch with my remote, phones, coffee, water and meds. All I'm missing are my bon bons.:) Yesterday my blood was low in potassium, so they added some to my IV, I took only 1 steroid on Sunday, but went back to 2 pills yesterday. Hopefully it will help with the symptoms and give me some energy. I also managed to call Tower Imaging for an MRI appointment Dec. 7th at 9:30am. I'm waiting for Dr. Chung's office to call me back and OK an afternoon appointment with her on that same day. I see Dr. Grunwald next week to go over details about my new body! Yeah.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 2: Round 5 Chemo...Couldn't Fall Asleep Last Night

What the hell? I could not fall asleep last night. After reading til 11:30 in my own bed, then tossing and turning until 1:30, I finally moved myself to the couch where I read until 3:30am, then woke up at 7am. I feel pretty good except that when I got up to walk to the bathroom I kept bouncing off the walls. I had no equalibrium. I seem to be better now, which is good because I need to drive to Beverly Hills for fluids and Neulasta shot in half an hour. Erich had to get the boys ready for school and drop them off. Time to take my meds.:)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 1: Round 5 Chemo...Here We Go Again

Wow! Round 5 administered today. Only .5 liters of fluid intravenously. I will get 1 liter tomorrow. Took only 1 steroid tablet yesterday and I will take 2 tomorrow. I'm tapering off my steroids so I stop retaining water & bloat and stop eating everything that isn't bolted down. I weighed in today and I have put on 15 pounds since starting chemo. My nurse practitioner tells me it only gets worse with hormone therapy (Tamoxafin). What the f**k? I mean really talk about adding insult to injury. So as soon as I can I will excercise every day and subsist on boiled chicken and a green vegetable. Tomorrow I go in for fluids and that nasty Neulasta shot. Mom is coming to stay with me Thurs. late afternoon until Friday night. Evan is going to his auntie's house Thurs. morning until Sat. afternoon. Fred is staying with me and my mom. The kids have Thursday (Veteran's Day) off and Friday is a furlough day. Erich is working. I asked my NP if I could start coloring my stubble because it is coming in all white. She said I could if I used a natural hair color, but I really should wait until after my last chemo. Damn. I met a very nice man in the cubicle next to me today. He was getting his second round of chemo and complaining about shaving his head because his hair was falling out. He said to me, "It takes a very strong and beautiful woman to go bald." I immediately deflected his compliment by saying I didn't think I was either of those I just couldn't be bothered to do anything else. He assured me that I was indeed both. He has no idea how good that made me feel. I had decided weeks ago that anytime I saw a woman clearly bald from chemo that I would make sure to pay her a positive comment. You walk around feeling like a biological defect. Most people stare at you and then turn away. I think our reptilian brains are still programmed to flee from those who are sick/damaged. I have a defferent perspective now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 17: Round 4 Chemo...Oncology Surgeon Consult

Wow! Do I have a fabulous surgical team. Dr. ALice Chung is amazing and wonderful. Her bed side manner is the best. The whole time she spoke to me she patted my shoulder, laid her hand on my leg, and smiled constantly. My initial consult started at 10:15am and lasted until 1:30pm. During that time I was examined by her fellow (another doctor learning from Dr. Chung) and her, given another breast & lymph node ultrasound, and another mammogram. Dr. Chung thought she mmight have felt something in my lymph nodes, hence the extra scans. Thank God the ultrasound confirmed what all other scans and doctors have shown all along...No swollen lymph nodes! She does want a breast MRI to get a better idea of the exact location, size, and make-up of the tumor before surgery. So, I will make an appointment for an MRI after my last chemo and another visit with her to consult on the MRI findings.

I learned that once she cuts into the breast, she puts a blue dye in it which will run into the main node and into any subsequent nodes if they have cancer clusters in them and glow bright blue. She will biopsy the first node (and any others that might show up blue) and send the specimin to pathology. If all of the nodes turned blue and she had to remove them (not at all likely in my case) we could still proceed with both surgeries in one day. If the specimens came back with a high content of cancer cells several days later, another surgery to remove them would be necessary (again, highly unlikely in my case). Dr. Chung thinks radiation therapy will be necessary after surgery if the tumor is still 5cm or larger in size. I will speak with Dr. Rosenbloom about that at my next appointment.

Meanwhile, I continue to wake all night long. My neck and shoulders hurt, so I roll over every hour or so. My snoring is not only keeping my husband awake, but is waking me up all night too. AND if that wasn't enough...I'm drooling with my nightguard and wake to turn my pillow around because it is so wet! This whole experience has been one lesson after another in humility. I must make an appointment with an ENT now for my snoring. And, while we are on the subject of secondary ailments, wire my jaw shut so I stop gaining weight. I'm the Michelin Man! Steroids suck big time.