shaved head

shaved head
Channelling GI Jane

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.