shaved head

shaved head
Channelling GI Jane

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Aug. 3, 2011: Life Lessons

I'm grappling with a head cold that has left my brain plugged with muccus. Through this haze I have picked out some nuggets of wisdom I have learned this past year.

The key to happiness:
A) First, you must choose to be happy. No one else will do that for you.
B) Forgive everyone who has ever hurt, humiliated, or traumatized you (including yourself) and let that pain go.
C) Finally, love your life. And if you can't love every nuance of it (I struggle with the cranky kids, housework, and cooking), then find aspects of it to love and endulge. Some of my favories are music, being with friends and family, being alone with my husband, designer sunglasses, and playing with my boys.

What has cancer taught me?
A) To surround myself with loving friends and family- with their love and strength I can conquer anything.
B) Ask myself "Why NOT me?" I'm learning to get through tough shit with as much love and grace as I can and to take note of life lessons I've learned. They are always imbedded in "tough shit."
C) Don't be afraid to live. My Mama said, "life is short," and it really is.

A final thought (I'm not sure which category it should go in); if you find someone especially hard to love- love them all that much more.:)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

One Year Anniversary

Wow! One year ago, almost to the hour, I received the phone calls from Dr. P and Dr. G informing me that my biopsy had tested positive for breast cancer. Deep breath. In some ways I have changed, but really life just goes on.

Psychological issues that bother me now:
1. If the cancer comes back I cannot think about going through all this again.
2. If I were to receive a terminal diagnosis; would I feel that I had lived my life to the fullest?

Physical results from chemo, surgery & radiation:
1. Toe fungus
2. Sensitive to waxing
3. Affected breast is lumpy, hard & painful.
4. My skin is super dark brown where I burned and I have a scar on my left shoulder from burn.
5. I have gained 20 pounds during this process.
6. I must wax my face every 3 weeks because I am really hairy.

My hair is about 3 inches long now and super curly, like an afro. My long lashes & eyebrows are back to normal, thank God! My skin is good, but I still have traces of dark circles under my eyes. I sleep well. I was cleared to excercise at the end of June, but it has been difficult with my kids out of school. I am looking for work so that I can fund my passions (boots, concerts, and travel). The boys are doing really well. I think they have recovered. I'm not sure that Erich will ever be the same. This year really affected him. I think it would be good for us to find a group of cancer patients and their partners to join. I look forward to final surgery in December so that I may be complete.:)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dr. G's expression when I took my robe off for her today was enough to make my gut hurt and bring tears to Erich's eyes. I look as if I've been to war. I'm left wondering if I will ever be pretty again. Of course I will heal, it will just "take time." I'm 43. I don't have many more years in which I can be pretty. I don't have time. As I was buying compression t-shirts to hold my dressings in place, I purchased a pair of fake areolas with nipples, since I won't have my own for 6 months or so. Why the hell not buy fake nipples to join my hair extentions and fake eyelashes? We are the sum of all our parts and I'm so tired of missing mine. God help me if this cancer ever returns because I really cannot imagine going through this again. This warrior is ready to hang up her bow and arrow.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

So, the good news is I won't get any worse. I have one more session of radiation on Monday and then I am home free. I'm told my skin will continue to cook after my last appointment, but I should see a big turn-around in about two weeks. Good. My skin has gone from gooey to crispy. I am still in pain, but my pain killers are helping out. I spend my days on the couch while Erich plays single parent, a role he can only play well for a week at a time before he starts short circuiting. My boys are running wild and we are still living out of boxes in the new house. Life is crazy. I keep reminding myself that it could be worse. I still find I'm filled with selfish desires, but my shrink (bless him) says that's OK as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. Still no long eyelashes with Latisse. Maybe they're lost forever. My eyebrows are good and my hair is slowly coming back. Thank God for beauty technology because when I have had enough of waiting I can have extentions put on my head and my eyelashes damnit.:)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Long term pain is starting to fuck with my head. Maybe it's the tylenol w/codeine I'm taking. Or maybe it's the date, but I am having a bad day. I don't know who I am anymore, or what makes me happy. I'm hungry, but food isn't comforting like it used to be. I took off my t-shirt to shower just now and peeled off several layers of my breast tissue and began squirting blood. I've already lost the top layers of skin from my armpit to my side. God, I can't imagine how burn victims endure, but I think it must include retreating into a heavy fantasy life in your head. I can't tell you how many ways I've had Alexander Skarsgard in my mind! And I've read trough 4 books in the last 2 weeks. I have only 2 more sessions; today and Monday. I can get through 2 more appointments.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day to me. Radiation was cruising smoothly until this last week. I began with a slight rash that itched on Monday to black skin that hurt on Friday. This morning I woke up to find that my tight, burned skin had split in two places under my arm. I am covered in second degree burns from the left side of my neck & shoulder, my entire left breast, my cleavage, and under my left arm and side. It hurts to do anything. I have 6 more days and I'm told I will continue to cook for 2 weeks after my last radiation. For the love of God! I'm basically bedridden again. Erich takes care of everything involving the house and the kids. I'm so depressed and overwhelmed by the pain that I spontaneously burst into tears.

In the midst of my radiation break-down I had an amazing day yesterday (E's wedding day). She was radiantly beautiful and he was literally speechless at times. They were so happy and in love it did my soul good to be around them. I'm so happy for my girl-she deserves such a kind and generous man to share her life with.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 11 Radiation, April 21, 2011

Every day is a little bit different. Some days I barely make it home and nap for to hours and some days I drag my ass through (with the help of coke & black tea) until bed time. I gained a pound last weak. Really? Although Dr. G cleared me for excercise, Dr. W (my radiology oncologist) does not want me to lose weight during radiation because all my measurements would change. I must be a vain MF because I'm tired of being ugly and fat. Thank God my hair is growing in quickly now (although not fast enough for my liking), my eyebrows are as good as they're gonna get I'm afraid, but still NO lash length. Latisse is failing me and I'm gonna let the world know! They are thicker and fuller, but still half the length they used to be. Thanks to Obagi eye gel my eyes look better. No lines! And my dark circles have cleared up. Now, however, I have noticed dark spots forming under my eyes. I don't get it. I wear hats and sunglasses any time in the sun.

My breast is really completely healed now. No hole, just scars that may not go away until after radiation. I'm no longer feeling nauseated after treatments. My "chemo brain" is worse with  the zapping. Some days I can't beieve people allo me to drive and operate heavy machinery. My sleep pattern has changed in the last few days. I'm not falling asleep until midnight (maybe thats due to my new vampire book) and I'm waking at 4:30-5:30am (hence this post). Some good news: when I last saw the nurse she mentioned I was on a 28 day regimen instead of a 33 day one as I thought (or dreamt, who knows?). I will clear that up with Dr. W this Tuesday, but that may mean I'm done a whole week sooner. Trying to keep my sunny side up. I have come such a long way and the end is so near. Some days I'm really angry that I wasted an entire year of my life, but then I have to remind myself that by losing this last year of "normal" life- I may have gained a lifetime.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011: Day 3 Radiation

I'm happy to say that the nausea/headache wierd feeling that I got after radiation has pretty much dissapeared. All I need afterwards are some crackers and a bubbly drink. My breast feels harder than before. I cannot tell if it has stopped healing. I see Dr. G tomorrow, she will be able to tell if there is a difference or not in my healing. My hair continues to grow. It's time again to color my roots. My eyebrows are back in, but my eyelashes haven't grown any with the help of Latisse. It has been 4 weeks since I started using the hair potion, I better start to see results. My ID has quieted down a bit, so I'm not feeling so narcisistic. Maybe that's because my girlfriend and soul-sister lost her mother two days ago.

This woman was a force to be reckoned with in her day. I will never forget waking to the sound of chopping, bright and early on a Saturday morning, only to find her with an axe, chopping down a tree on our property. And that was when she was in her 60's. She was kind, generous, and an amazing businesswoman. She gave me a home, where I felt safe and secure, during my most turbulent years. She was there for me when my own mother couldn't be. So many times during an "anxiety dream" I have found solace in the soft, warm arms of this woman. My heart aches for her children and her husband. She was an angel here on earth and I can only imagine what wonderous acts of love and kindness she is committing in the great beyond. I am blessed to have known her.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

1st day of radiation! Yeah! Finally. I checked in at 1pm sharp, led myself to the changing room, put my clothes and bag in a locker, put on a gown, and sat and waited to be called for 10 minutes. I was led into the treatment room and positioned for treatment. That took about 10 minutes. I was then radiated for 5 minutes. It made me feel hot and gave me cotton mouth. I can't seem to get enough water in me. My lips feel sunburned and my throat hurts slightly. I am not to take vitamins in pill form. I am not to use deodorant at all under the left arm. I am supposed to use aloe vera and Aquafor ointment liberally on my left breast, but not 4 hours before treatment. I don't feel sleepy, but my head feels heavy in front and behind my eyes. And, I feel a little more cloudy-headed than usual. Great! 1 day down, 32 more to go.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wed., April 6, 2011

Tues., April 5, 2011
Visited St. Joseph's today to meet Dr. Williams. She wants to start radiation this week. Friday is 3 months from my surgery date. They measured me again and took x-rays. And appearantly, for reasons I'm still not clear on, they had to give me 3 more tattoo dots. I now have 7 tattooed dots circling my left breast.

I met with Dr. G this morning. My breast has done a miraculous job of healing this past week thabks to bed rest. She gave me another deep stitch to help the wound close and gave me the thumbs up for radiation tomorrow. I get to move on with my life! This holding pattern has been tough on me. 33 days from tomorrow I will be smiling.:)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I have been on bedrest the past 5 days, AGAIN! I'm still not healed enough to start radiation and my indo is running out. I have an appointment at St. Joe's on Tuesday, but no one thinks I will start radiation. Maybe next week. It's down to a deep hole the size of a dime. It's really amazing how far I have come. The buying and selling of houses has made us crazy, but all is good. No excersise and I have put on 4 pounds since January. Lord, I have never wanted to move my ass so badly in my life. I no have the boobs of a 19 year old, but the ass of an 80 year old!

I bleached my hair platimun a couple of weeks ago. Aubrey did a beautiful job and it looked hot. I decided to lighten my roots at home and turned my hair silver. Thank God, Aubrey came to the rescue via text. I am no some sort of golden blonde. I like it. I think I was born to be blond and smaller chested.

I made an appointment to see my shrink, it's been 3 months. This disease is beginning to play games with my psyche. All I want to do anymore is follow my ID. I want what I want when I want it! I have tickets to 3 concerts this summer and I bought a pair of white 20 eye Dr. Marten boots. Why? I wanted them. Erich confronted me with the boots and my response was, "You could have lost me. It's a small price to pay." I really feel that way. I want to buy nice things and indulge my senses by hearing great music live, and eating gorgeous food. I really don't want to work, or buy groceries, or cook dinner, or clean house. Life is short, why spend it doing mundane chores? I want to travel and I want botox. The truth is; I may be cancer free right now, but what does the future hold? How long do I have? I'll be discussing these issues in therapy next week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wed., March 23, 2011

It's been 6 weeks since I last saw my oncologist. I felt guilty that I hadn't phoned him to tell him I had not started radiation yet. He expected to see me fully radiated and finished. My breast cancer blood test from 6 weeks ago was negative. He feels that my alcohol consumption (2 drinks per week or 4 a month, depending on who you ask) is fine. My breast is so close to being healed. The wound is the size of a dime. I see my plastic tomorrow and I see my radiologist on Tuesday. Let's get this party rolling!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday, Mar. 8, 2011

Today I journied to St. Joseph's Hospital to be measured, filmed, scanned and tattooed for radiation. It took about an hour and a half. I had to prop my left arm up and back during that time and it was really painful. I was wearing the equivalent to a hospital robe to enter the scanning room, but once in the top came off. The poor young guy, who happend to be interning today, was made to look at my mangled upper body for that entire time. The female staff members thought I was being modest. I was just trying to spare this kid!:) I have a start date for radiation if all goes well: March 22nd.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sat., Feb. 26, 2011

Last Thursday, in Dr. G's waiting room, I met a woman named Jeanne. We hit it off immediately. She just had a bilateral mastectomy with implant reconstruction due to lobular sarcoma stage 3 and will follow up with chemo and then radiation. Her tumor was 6.5 cm at surgery. We are almost twins. We exchanged phone numbers and she asked if she could call me with questions about chemo. I think I just became a mentor. I'm happy to lend a hand. I put a smile on my face, ignored the pain in my heart, and told her chemo had several hard days every three weeks, but overall it wasn't so unpleasant. She too has a sunny disposition regarding her diagnosis, which is even more amazing given that her mother was just diagnosed ith stage 4 breast cancer.

My reason for not wanting a breast cancer mentor was that I didn't want this disease to define who I am. I wanted to be able to lean on my own girlfriends for support, not strangers. Yet this world of CANCER seems inescapable. It's around me everywhere. I feel moved to attend breast cancer walks, and I'm happy to lend my insight to a chemo newbie. I'm reminded twice a day when I take my anti-estrogen medication or when I look down at my still healing breasts that although I'm cancer free, I'm still dealing with cancer. And after all of this- The chances of not developing breast cancer in the next five years is 67%. I guess I could think of that number as close to 70%, which is really pretty good, but I can't help but feeling it's just too close to 50%, which really doesn't feel so good to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wed., Feb. 23, 2011

Man down! Or woman down I should say. I arrived at Dr. G's at 11am last Friday happily hopped up on 1 vicodin and 1 valium, per her instructions. I have to say that's a very nice combo. I was reclining in her beautiful white leather medical chair, sipping a cup of green tea, and feeling the love from my meds combo, until she came to escort me into the surgical room. I quickly understood why she had me doped up. She had to close up a rather large area which meant detaching skin, pulling it, and stiching it together. Most of my left breast is still without feeling, but MUCH feeling is coming back I learned. She would be stitching along and Oh I feel that. It hurt, I was sore. I was told to take it easy and rest, but I didn't understand that meant I was to lay flat for a week. I over did it on Sunday and wound up with chills and high fever for 2 days. I'm now on antibiotics and starting to feel better. I will see both Dr. C and Dr. G on Thursday for check-ups. Radiation has been postponed until March 3rd.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wed., Feb. 16, 2011

So far so good with the meds. No side effects that I have noticed. Maybe a little hungrier than normal. Oh wow! I had a sleep attack yesterday. I didn't sleep so well the night before, drove the kids to school- no problem, then driving home I began to fall asleep at the wheel. It was crazy. I came home and napped til 10:45. Today Eileen and Annie are coming to help me pack closets. Stacey packed up my entryway and Jackie packed up my extra kitchen stuff. With a little help from my friends I'm making a dent.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011

Day 7 on Tamaxifin. Yesterday morning I commented to Erich that I felt really good, no symptoms but the occassional nausea. A couple hours later I had to stop and wonder if that was true. I lost all patience with my boys and could think only of fleeing the country never to return. Yes, they are out of sorts because we bought a new house and they know we are moving, but I couldn't seem to find any piece in that knowledge. Thank God Minnie came to watch them last night while Erich and I spent an early Valentine dinner with my cousins Micah & Jesse. We had a lovely time eating, enjoying the ocean air, and I threw back a couple champagne drinks and an ice cream cone. Afterwards, I felt much better. Last night BOTH of the boys crawled in bed with us. This hasn't happend in a very long time. It was really crowded so I ended up on the couch. The move is really unsettling them and I must understand that. I have been diligent about my arm excercises and massage, and therefore, my armpit has dropped back down. Micah says push to push on my lymphectomy scar to the point of pain (so as to reduce scar tissue), UGH!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011

We did indeed buy a new house in Rossmoor! I'm so excited. It will be nice living in the same community the boys go to school in. Plus, I will be closer to all my Sassies, escpecially Stace and Lup. I'm ready to leave the ghetto behind. I am following Dr. Song & Dr. G's instructions for my left arm rehab; raising it higher and massaging my lymphectomy scar so that scar tissue doesn't build up. These movements hurt like hell, but I'm making progress.

Dr. G wants to stitch up my open wound on the left breast next week. That sounds so gross. It just won't heal before I start radiation on its own. She has advised me to take a vicodin and a valium before I see her next. That can't be good. : /

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wed., Feb. 8, 2011

I met with Dr. Paul Song out of St. JOhn's in Santa MOnica yesterday. Nice guy, great bedside manner. Tall, young, and handsome! Anyways, it turns out my second opinion (out of Beverly Hills) is in his same practice and they have colleagues in my area. I chose a Dr. Williams out of St. Joseph's in Orange. He had no problem with my prolonging radiation another 2-3 weeks, so my breast can heal, and he thought 28 days of treatment would do it. Ah, an end in sight. I will meet with Dr. G this afternoon. I hope she doesn't cut me again. I'm so sore.

I'm still getting over my cold, which has got me coughing like a pack-a-day smoker. Ugh, and Erich came down with it, so I'm dragging my ass around and caring for him. Yesterday, I went to have my cancer meds filled (Tamoxifin) only to have my insurance company deny payment. My oncologist had to get on the phone and set some people straight. In the end they paid for it. Gotta love Blue Cross. Life continues to be good though. I think we bought a house. Won't know for sure until today. I'm so excited I'm jumping up and down. Erich is doubled over with ulcers, of course.:)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011

Today I'm grappling with the concept of death. It has taken me a couple of weeks to digest the information that came out of my surgery and to read the faces of my oncology surgeon and my oncologist. I'm getting it now: I am lucky to be declared cancer free. That my tumor was still 6cm in size after chemo means it was probably 10cm when discovered. My doctor can only speculate, but feels the tumor was at least 6 years old and that I had 2 positive nodes after chemo probably means I had 3-4 prior to chemo. My cancer was big and aggressive. My oncologist is clearly worried that I have been 9 weeks since chemo, even though the cancer was removed. I understand he is nervous at the prospect of even a few stray cancer cells drifting about in my body without the benefit of radiation or Tamoxifin. My doctors' solemn nods and monotone voices have meant that the fact that my cancer did not spread to other areas of my body is nothing short of a miracle. I'm lucky to have dodged the bullet this time, but what if I don't the next time it comes around? How am I supposed to digest this information? What do I do with it?

I find I am overwhelmed with the beauty in the world these days. When I think of how my friends & family have driven me to appointments, donated money, taken my kids, cooked my family meals, and just sent me messages or calls to lift my spirits; I cry. When I watch my boys (including my husband) play and carry on and think that I might not have been here long; I cry. When I think of my brave cousin who lost her young husband to lymphoma; I cry. When I am surrounded by friends or family; I cry. Sometimes I look out the window to watch the blue sky and bright sun and I cry. Is this what they call the will to carry on?

Even through this haze of contemplation, though, I am overwhelmed with selfish thoughts and desires. As my gran said, "Life is short." Mine may be shorter than average. There is so much I want to see and do. I have a mad desire to fly to Sweden for the Love & Peace Festival and hear Kings of Leon. I'm fixated on trips to Europe, San Francisco, New York. I want to shop Melrose Ave. and catch every Indie concert performed. None of these plans include my family. And it all reminds me that I'm being so incredibly self-centered. I owe my husband a lifetime of gratitude and devotion for his single parenting and caregiving for the last 6 months. I hope all these feelings shake out into a comfortable compromise in the next few months. Radiation therapy outa zap this energy right out of me! :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday, Feb.4, 2011

Oh boy! Woman down! I have this nasty little cold that has me coughing up green stuff and has taken my voice (which Erich says is a nice thing). That didn't stop me from looking at houses today, though. We found one we liked very much and are going to make a bid. So exciting. Next week I have a ton of appointments. Tuesday, I see Dr. Song, and Wednesday I see Dr. Tao and then Dr. G. I will make up my mind Wednesday night as to which radiology oncologist I will go with. I was given my perscription for Tamoxafin, but have not started taking it yet. I want to consult with the radiologists before I do. I have been eating only protein so my breast will heal before radiation and I'm scrubbing it with a washcloth every time I bathe (ouch). I can't wait until I'm healed.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mondy, Jan.31, 2011

Just came back from Dr. G. She is concerned that I heal before radiation. I must meet with the radiologist first to get a feel for his plan. If we can slide a bit on the timeline I can heal on my own, if not (I'm due to start in 2 weeks) I will need a stich or 2 in my left breast. My last drain was pulled out. OUCH! But, I am so happy to be free of the tubes. No baths or jacuzzi until my drain holes heal completely and my breast tissue. Dr. G informed me that radiation therapy will last 5-7 weeks and I need to heal for 4 months before the second surgery. She suggested that we may complete the second surgery on all my body parts BUT the left breast, so that I don't have to walk around unfinished until the summer. That would leave the left breast and nipple only to finih in the summer. Argh, 5-7 weeks of drining daily to Santa Monica. Next year at this time I will look back and laugh. And be proud of the hard work I have put in.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011

Went house hunting yesterday with Jax. Soooooo exciting! We saw some vintage specimens, just beautiful. But, after putting in so much work into this house, I not sure I want to do it again. We will see. I was distracted so I didn' hurt so much and that was nice. My fluids are way down the past 2 days, so my last tube is comin' out tomorrow! Paula has graciously offered to drive me to my appointment tomorrow, so I look forward to a visit with her. I had my first dream last night that included my new body. My unconscious has appearantly accepted its new digs.:)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday, Jan. 28, 2011

I continue to heal nicely. My single drain will surely be able to be removed on Monday, it is hardly draining anymore. My breasts continue to hurt where the dead flesh was cut away. I assume that will continue for a little while longer. Please God, I hope she doesn't do that again. My stomach really is healed, at least the outer incision. I can see the pretty, thin line just under my mini tire. I ocurred to me yesterday, as I was looking in the mirror and noticing that my neck/chest area was smooth now, that she pulled that skin tight when constructing my breasts. Dr. G, you are a talented and generous woman! I'm still plagued with thoughts of; will I ever heal? But, I'm sucking it up and I'm resigned to the fact that it will take another two weeks to get over this hump. I can do it. Considering the alternative I can get through this, no problem.

Hair: Eyebrows grow in over night. It's amazing. I no longer have to pencil them in. Bottom eyelashes have sprouted, but seem to take their time in growing. Top lashes have thinned again, but also have many sprouting. So, do I go for Latisse? It's $125 for a tube that lasts about 3 months. I can't believe I'm actually considering the money aspect after all the crazy money that has been spent on medical bills thus far, but I am. Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Yes. The hair on my head is growing in, my eyebrows have grown in and I look funny without eyelashes. What a fabulous position I'm in that this is my biggest concern right now! I'm a lucky girl and every day I recognize that fact.

Weight has stablized. I'm slowly losing, but not very quickly at all. As soon as this drain comes out I will start walking. And, I need to get a compression sleeve for my weak arm. It's all good. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

This mornig my heart aches/breaks for friends of mine. I am praying for them.

Sitting at home, unable to drive, has given me too much time to think. By the end of the day yesterday I had begun to feel low. I'm healing so quickly and now my nerve endings are repairing and I'm in constant pain. I was feeling like this journey has been one long journey through pain. Every step of the way has been brutal so far. So, how do I get through it? What motivates me? My family, epecially my boys.

Last night I confided in my husband my fear (and understanding) that he may be tempted toward a transgretion at this point in time. Our lives have been consumed by my sickness for the past 6 months. Marital relations are almost impossible and non-exitent. He is a single dad and my nurse-maid. His response to me was that he "never felt closer to me in the 15 years we have been together." Yet another gift that cancer has given me. These past months have been hard for Erich and me, but we have also laughed a great deal during this time. Cancer has brought us closer in ways I never imagined.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday, Jan.26, 2011

Gettin' a little stir crazy in the house! I'm lonely and bored. Even my favorite striking Viking isn't destracting me today. I 'm having Target withdrawal. I've decided wearing dresses are good way to deal with my hanging drain, although I think I have an idea now of what it feels like to have balls (or a ball). My breats are sore and beginning to bruise, but my left arm is lifting better and less painful. OH! I was able to color my hair and take a shower by myself. I can't tell you how good that felt. AND, my eyebrows are growing back (and fast) and although my eyelashes are falling out, new ones are sprouting up. Finally I feel like I'm back on the road to normal. And have I mentioned how much I love my boobs?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

Yesterday was my second check-up with Dr. G. I had the distinction of becoming her second patient (ever) to lose a drain. I didn't really lose it, my body expelled it and I carefully placed it in a baggie and brought it to my appointment. Dr. G was so pleased.:) She left the second drain in because it was still raining fluid out of my tummy and she said it would do the work for the second drain that fell out as well. She was pleased with my healing and she was kind enough to show me how pleased she was by whipping out a pair of scissors and cutting away flesh from my new breasts! And she says it hurts her feelings that I only take a vicodin before I see her anymore. My new breasts were constructed with layers of my tummy skin anticipating that a layer or two would peel off. I slather on a burn cream that keeps the layers healing and guarantees no scars will form on my new boobs. I'm convinced Dr. G is part magician.

No driving yet. And after she explained why I'm OK with that. I do not have full movement of my arms yet, so driving would be dangerous. I have some lymphedema in both my arms, but we remain concerned with my left side where they removed the lymph nodes. My new lifestyle will include propping my left arm up above my heart as much as possible and wearing a compression sleeve. We discussed radiation therapy. She too is a fan of Dr. Song. She says he does exceptional work and does not alter tissue in "real breasts." After all as she put it, "they are half mine now." I continue to sit at home on my rump eating fruit instead of bon bons and whatching my beautiful TV, resting, napping, and healing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011

I am amazed at how quickly the human body heals. I can walk around and move freely on my own. This morning I scrambled eggs for the boys and myself, and even folded a few pieces of laundry. Holy crow I tell you. My drains have hardly any fluid in them which means I have a very good chance of having them removed on MOnday. I have slowly been losing weight (and fluid I'm sure) and I am 2.5 lbs away from the weight I was when I began chemo. That is still some 40lbs overweight, but a goal none the same. Baby steps.

I miss staying at my parents' house. I got used to the comforts and the pampering. Aint none of that at home; not with two healthy boys and an overwhelmed husband. But it's still nice to be home with MY family. My boys are doing really well and I know they are happy to have me home. They no longer want to see my re-constructed body, which is fine with me. I wasn't sure I should show them in the first place, but they really wanted to know and it felt like they were letting their imaginations run away by not knowing. I hope this won't be a major topic with their therapists in the future.

The hair on my head continues to grow as does the black hair on my face. Can't I catch a break? However, the few botton lashes that held on through 6 rounds of chemo just fell out. What the hell? Top lashes holding strong and eyebrows slowly growing back in. No more chola look for yours truly. I'm finally losing the round, pudgy chemo face: Nice. My stiches are healed in my tummy and breasts, but the lymphectomy stiches continue to be very tender. The skin that bubbled on my breasts, due to the tape they placed on them, is pealing off and revealing a beautiful layer underneath. Dr. G says this is to be expected. I continue to be very pleased with my body. I'm even more pleased that Erich seems to be elated with my new body. That man has loved me through many bodily changes (weight gain and pregnancy) it feels good that this change is delighting us both.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

Back home today. Mom dropped me off, shopped and cooked dinner for all of us before headin back home.
LAst Tuesday I saw Dr. C and Dr. G. Dr. C reported again to me that she removed 2 regions (a total of 18) of lymph nodes, 2 of which were positive for cancer. The fact that I had 2 positive nodes and a tumor sized at 6 cm, radiation therapy is a must. She refferred me to a radiology oncologist fromSt. John's hospital who she works with and highly respects. Dr. G took out 3 tubes (all from my chest) and left the 2 in my abdomen until MOnday when they should come out. When she took the small ones out it didn't hurt, but I gotta say the big tube smarted a bit when she pulled it out. She also took out the stiches in my new belly button, which I must say is a piece of art. It looks like a real belly button. I got the OK to raise my arms a little bit, ditch the pillows propping my head up and the ones under my knees. I can walk standing straight now although my stomach is stretched so tightly it feels like it might rip. I'm still in love with my new body. I was born to be a "c" cup. Every day I get stronger, have more energy, and am in less pain. In fact I am on just ibuprophen these days, no more vicodin. I plan to meet with my oncologist Feb 2, when we will talk about his recommendation for next steps. Then I make a decission as to which approach feels best to me. Radiation therapy in about 4 weeks, recovery, then second surgery, and more recovery....And the beat goes on....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday, Jan. 17, 2011: MLK BDay

Slept well last night. Had a hard time falling asleep, but slept in late. Erich claims I was talking in my sleep. I've had many nightmares since surgery, mostly guilt ridden dreams about my children like it's been my fault for getting sick. Erich took over the nursing details yesterday and we gave my mom a well-deserved break. So, Erich took to clearing my drains like one might take to cleaning a public toilet. He was so disgusted at first I thought I might have to do it myself, but ultimately he continued with much love. If I ever doubted my husband's love for me I do not anymore. The drains fill a bulb at the end of their tube. I have 5 drains in me now. Through the drains flow bodily fluids; blood, proteins, tissue, etc. When you pull the tubing off to empty the bulbs there is quite a bit of suction, as my mother found out the other day as she sent a bit of soggy tissue flying across my bed and landing on my pillow. Well, Erich experienced a similar situation only the soggy bit landed on him. Gross, funny, not for the faint of heart (sorry E). Oh man, we have cried some, shouted some, but laughed a whole lot through this journey. I laugh with a lighter load these days knowing the worst/hardest parts are behind me now. Tomorrow I meet with my surgeons.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011: My 43rd birthday

I'm 43 today and cancer-free! Life is good. Before I forget I want to chronicle the past 10 days.

Jan. 7, 2011:
4 am Papa J woke me up in time to brush my teeth, take my pills, and dress myself. He dropped mom and me off at St. John's at 5am where we arrived at surgery admitting/registration. It was standing room only and took forever. Afterward we were ushered into the pre-op area. Mom got to come with me because she's part of the medical community. I undressed and slipped into a thick gown, which had a heating hose attached to it pumping hot air through it, and kept me very warm. I was suited with an IV in my arm by the cutest, young male nurse from Louisianna. Dr. Parker came to visit and wish me a speedy recovery. I was weighed and had dropped 14 lbs. in the month of December. I gained 23 during chemo. I was met at the entrance of the O.R. by the aneasthesiologist (sp) who shot something into my IV to make me calm. That's the last thing I remember. Then I was waking up at 10:50pm in the recovery room.

Jan. 8, 2011:
I was alert in recovery room although I was aware of the moving walls the entire time I was there. I spoke to my surgeons, my mom, and Erich. Erich then went to wait in my room for me. It was Friday night in the O.R. at midnight and it took awhile for the 1 attendant in the hospital to come push my bed into my hospital room. It was after 1am when I arrived according to Erich. I was situated and Erich went back to my parents house and I went to sleep. I was up by 8am that same day. I had excellent nurses who came to me hourly to check my vitals (blood pressure, which was extremely low post surgery, temp, pulse, and then to listen to my heartbeat through my new breasts). The rest of the day I was alert and happy to receive family. By Sat. night I was itching all over my body, we think from the Dalotid (narcotic) I was receiving through my IV. I asked for Benydryl and slipped into a sleep that lasted 2 days.

Jan. 11, 2011:
I began to wake up Tues. And I woke with a headache. I was finally given a Cymbalta with water and I threw it up. I had been without food and water since Thursday. I finally had the OK to eat and drink. I loved water, but didn't want to eat. Popsicles were the best. Tuesday the physical therapist came to get me walking. That was the first time I felt pain. Walking felt like I was tearing apart. I began to force myself to eat what ever protein was on my food plate.

Jan. 12, 2011
Wednesday I got up to walk the hallways again. Dr. Grunwald came in to check on me and decided it was time for me to be released. Erich brought the boys to the hospital for the first time. Fred was immediately frightened by how I looked. He didn't want to come very close to me. Erich drove me to my mom's house and she drove the kids. I settled into mom's house and Erich took the kids home. I spent the next 2 days at my parents' home getting stronger and more energy.

Jan.14, 2011
On Friday I asked Stacey to pull Fred from school and meet my mom to bring him up to her house. He had been having a tough time without me, so I thought he should be with me. We spent the afternoon together and he seemed to be extremely happy to see me alive and better. Erich came to get me that evening and Fred stayed the night with his Nana. Friday night I slept through the night for the first time in a week! I was happy to be home. The only issue I had at this point was that I hadn't moved my bwels in over a week. Sat. morning, with the help of my ever-loving husband and a suppository, I finally pooped. Ah, yet another way cancer has brought Erich and I closer.

So, this brings us to Sunday, my birthday. Dr. Chung tells me I am cancer free. My tumor was found to be 6cm large. It turned out that I had one sentinal (main) lymph node infected with cancer and one small node next to it that was also infected with cancer. She removed a total of 18 lymph nodes, which included the 2 infected. So, they removed the tumor and had clean margins all around it as well as the lymph nodes. All other pathologies on several more lymph nodes in the left breast and tissue in the right breast showed no cancer. She tells me I am cancer free! I gotta say I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

And on the lghter side: My new body rocks! I love my new boobs. Dr. G was able to make me a FULL "c" cup. They are firm and sitting high and small and perky. My tummy, although still very swollen, is so flat. I can see my feet now when I stand up and look down. Dr. G told me that Dr. Chung found 2 very large, strong arteries in my breasts for her and that she was able to excavate 2 fabulous arteries to transplant from my abdominal muscle. Dr. G found a mountain of scar tissue from my c-section in 2004 and took a great deal of time to clean that mess up, which included using mesh to pull together my abdominal muscles that were severed in the c-section. She is very pleased with her work, which lasted a total of 14 hours. My new belly button is almost completely healed now. I sufferred from several blisters from the adhesive tape, but those are healing and ready to flake off. I see Dr. G on Tuesday so she can remove the 5 tubes and drains that are coming out of my boobs and abs. I am still laying down, but healing every day. Happy birthday to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Today is the dye test! I'm waiting for Dove to pick me up and give me a ride. My family will join me at my parent's tonight, which makes me feel good. I didn't want to have to say goodbye this morning. Everything is on course and I am looking forward to tomorrow. Finally, I get this "thing" out of me! I won't be awake until Monday, so I will write about the experience then.:)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Yesterday I met with my cardiologist (good God, another specialist I have added to my list!) for a consult and another EKG. This EKG was better, but he says I have a mild condition called tachycardia, basically a rapid heartbeat that comes and goes. I am going back today for an echocardiogram, a heart ultrasound, just to be sure there is nothing else going on. This will clear me for surgery. Yeah.

Kids are back in school today after 4 weeks at home with me. I have to say it is nice to be alone in the house once again. I enjoyed spending time with my boys. So, the week is full of doctor's appointments, coffee gatherings, a facial, and a pedi. Can't have my toes looking ugly in the hospital. I can't believe I really think of those things considering that I have no hair. I actually do have some hair and it is growing in quickly, but it has alot of growing to do. I'm still amazed at how gray it all is and I'm fighting ingrown hairs which can be a pain in the butt. I'm over my cold/flirt with asthma. I'm feeling good.:)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011

A new year! Happy new year. Several people have asked me what my new year's resolutions are and I am not sure. I want to get well and recooperate from 6 rounds of chemo. So, I guess that is my resolution for 2011: Recover from cancer, lose weight, get back in shape, live a healthy lifestyle, oh and yoga. And I want to remember the life lessons cancer has taught me: Don't sweat the small stuff, embrace my kids every day, don't do anything I don't want to. In essence, life is short, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. I have learned to keep my friends close and the importance of some sort of communication more frequently. I'm so bad at that, but I'm working on it. I couldn't have done as well as I did this past year without the support of my friends and family. I will always reflect on this year as one that changed my life. I have always believed that stuff happens for a reason. Where others may ask: Why me? I think: Why not me? Everyone has a path in life some with just a few more hills than others.

So, 2011. New boobs! The ability to go out in public without a bra. I can't wait to walk into any store and buy a top or a bra. I have already bought a few since I can't drive for 5 weeks. I can't tell you how easy it was to find a 36 C. NO more specialty shops for me. No more neck pain and divets in my shoulders from bra straps. I am so excited. I've dreamed of this since Iwas a kid. I'm battling a cold that wants to drop into my chest, so I'm taking it easy today. Laying low and dreamin' of smaller boobs.:)