Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time for a cool change (only this is not so cool)

Half way there and gearing up for the next type of chemo. The good news is that this next chemo side effects aren't as bad as the last - no nausea at least and I shouldn't be quite as exhausted - but these sound like fun: potential bone pain and numbness or tingling in my extremities. Fun, huh? Well, I am hoping that I don't feel those side effects and the rest of the summer is uneventful. Also, I don't like the idea that I have to sit with an IV for 5 hours each treatment, so I am trying to relax about it. People keep telling me that I should just bring things to take my mind off of the treatment, books, movies, etc., and I know I'll be fine once I actually have the first of these long treatments, but I don't care what anyone tells me, I am FREAKED out to have a needle in my arm and sit there for 5 hours while poison is put in my body!

And, after hearing from another survivor who had cancer much further along than I had, but who didn't have to have as much medicine as I do, when they got EVERYTHING (all of the cancer) out and the cancer hadn't even spread to my lymph nodes, I get pissed off! I KNOW the reason that I'm doing what I'm doing is because one of my hormone receptors came back positive and that IF a microscopic cancer cell got somewhere else in my body, this receptor tells the cancer to grow stronger, faster, harder (like the 6 million dollar man, but not nearly as cool as that) but I can still act like a pre-schooler and stomp my feet and say it is not fair, as long as I continue with the treatment, which I know I will do.

Okay, enough bitching for today. I'll post after Friday and let you know that everything was fine, because I know everything will be fine. But, just like it took my 5 year old until this past Monday to put his head underwater at his swim lesson without crying, so it will take me until I have my first treatment with this chemo before I will feel comfortable. I know, bad analogy, but when your 20 month old wakes you up at 5:00 am screaming, sometimes the pen doesn't flow as smooth. Bright spot - tomorrow we head to Sesame Place and all the kids are psyched (and so am I!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why is it that I am so touched by the outreaching (is that a word?) of friends & acquaintances that I find myself in tears by their support? So touched...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Can You See the Real Me?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I finally got the guts, so here it is...I guess if my kids aren't afraid or upset to see my bald head (they sometimes request to see it) then I shouldn't be embarrassed...even my husband shaved his head in solidarity. No kidding, my son was more upset (he was almost in tears) when he saw his dad's bald head, but he does not do that when he sees mine!

I can honestly tell you that I hate what I look like without hair. My clothes don't look as good, I feel fat, it is really embarrassing. So why am I posting this picture? I guess I just feel that some day I am going to look back on this time and regret not taking a picture. Maybe my kids will want to see this strange time in my life. A blip on the screen, as one of my good friends puts it. But here's the proof that I have some real crap going through my system. You can't make this stuff up...Good news is that as of this time, my eyebrows and eyelashes have not fallen out...though I was right in waiting on a bikini wax (too much information, I know).

But my title isn't correct. This isn't the real me...this doesn't feel like me at all. Ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I haven't felt like me. I've just been this "being" going through the motions to get rid of the cancer forever. And my cancer was the size of a grain of rice, yet I STILL have to endure the pain and humiliation of not just having foreign objects in my chest but poison in my body that makes me sick just thinking about it. And I hate that, while I only have 8 more weeks of chemo, I still have a year of having some IV medicine every three weeks AND I have another surgery in November to get final implants and then another surgery to create nipples...yeah, you didn't know that, did you? It doesn't just end with a double mastectomy, even if you don't have to go through chemo! Sometimes it is truly hard to feel positive and thankful for all of the good things when there is such angst in my own body...but outside of writing this down, you will not hear me speak such things. I know there are too many other women who have to suffer this without the help of a spouse, supportive family and friends. I cannot sit and feel sorry for myself because I DO have it good! It is just so hard, when your body feels so crummy, to remember the good things. So I am thankful every day for my husband who takes care of the family when I do need to lie in bed and for my three young kids who don't allow me much time to lie in bed or dwell on this stuff...and who really love me for just being there for them and being their mommy and not someone sick with boo-boos...

To my children's credit, I must mention the important things that happened today: I listened to my 20 month old sing "We are the Champions" with the radio, got to sing into a princess radio and make up song lyrics for my almost 4 year old, and got to make Lego houses for some Clone Troopers with my 5 year old. That's what matters and that was fun. We laughed today all together and separately and I got them to bed all by myself tonight. My house may be a mess, but my heart is happy and full!

I am so thankful for my good fortunes in life. I know I thank my friends and family often, but it is not often enough. I will never be able to write thank you notes for all the kindness that has been bestowed on me, not in my lifetime. All I can do is look forward with a smile on my face and remember the important things in life.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Accentuate the positive

Well, I haven't written in a week, more so, and so I've missed all of the good things that happened. Like, taking some long power walks both before and after chemo sessions, taking Sarah (20 month old) and my dad blueberry picking up in New York (never heard my dad laugh so hard from watching Sarah devour blueberries up and down the aisles), going to Jacob's camp visiting day (he was so happy to have us there and even wanted to hold our hands to take us from the different activities), to going to the beach with the kids this Saturday and watching them bury Rob in the sand...

I was too busy the last few days focusing on how crummy I have been feeling from the chemo. This stuff can really mess with your mind! I mean, I literally got home from the afternoon at the beach and laid down in bed...I barely moved for the next 36 hours or so. The energy literally stripped from my body. I started feeling so sad about all the crap I've had to go through...then, I stopped myself again and thought about all of the good things that I have going on through this ordeal:

I have the most amazing husband, who, thankfully is successful enough that he can be at home to support us all without having to actually work right now. I mean, I know this is so incredibly hard on him, I cannot imagine how, but he is not only amazing to our children, but he is so caring to me. Words cannot express how greatful I am to him. My actions will just speak louder than words.

I have three wonderful children who very rarely make mention of my hair loss and energy loss. We talk every now and then about my boo-boos and how I take medicine so they won't come back, but they honestly just want to play with me and be with me. It makes my heart feel so at ease to know they just want me to keep being their mommy and be with them.

I have both of my parents who come up at various times during the chemo process to help me and the family get through this. I am so thankful that they live close enough and have enough flexibility to make these trips...I know they have been through enough themselves and I am sorry to have to put them through any more pain, but it means the world to me that they can come and help when I need them.

And my other parents, my in-laws, who want only what is best for us as well. They treat me like a daughter and I know they truly care for me, and not just because I am the parent to their grandchildren and wife to their son. We have a good relationship and they are here with me every step of the way. I could not ask more from them.

And my family who calls and checks in on me and I don't get back to...I hope they understand that I truly mean to reach out to them. I just get lost in all of this sometimes...

And my friends who call constantly and check up on me, even if it is just a phone call they know I might not return, or a text message to route me on...I could not get through all of this without them as well.

So, as I praise, and forget to mention so many other people who have randomly sent me messages because they heard the news, I wake myself from this depressing fog that the chemo leaves me with each week.

I still sit here and wonder what this lesson is supposed to do for me for the future. I cannot believe that god would plague people with stuff like this without some special lesson to learn from it. I know I want to smile more because my family and friends deserve it...and so do I. I also know I should get a nice rack after the final surgery in November, but that is a long way off and I have a bit more agita to endure before that pot of gold at the end of that rainbow...but I digress.

It is good to feel good. I think I appreciate it even more, especially after I go through the down times that are so rough for me (though probably lots better than other people fare). I have now finished 4 of the 8 chemo sessions. I am halfway through. I hope these last 4 sessions are easier, like I have heard they should be. I just want to feel like I can go out with the kids and just have fun...of all the summer lists I made earlier, I think I just need to focus on the one thing - smile.

To everyone else, feel strong and push yourself just a little harder thing that you didn't think you could do before the end of the day...I did about three of those today and now I finally appreciate that I did them. I am ready for bed!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Don't stop believin!

So, after a week of playing some tennis, and thinking my heart was about to jump out of my chest, and power walking, and walking to town to run errands and thinking my heart was about to jump out of my chest, I decided to call my doctor's office to see whether I was okay or needed to go to the ER. So, I speak to the nurse and tell her that after strenuous workouts (though not like I used to and not for long periods of time) I feel like my heart is working overtime and popping out of my chest. After we get past the fact that I am not having chest pains and need to go to the ER, she informs me that I am "not the typical chemo patient that they see". That most of their patients don't take power walks and don't play tennis with their husbands. Most of them "take it easy". She said that while my blood counts are still in the normal range, they have been tending downward. 14 in May, 11 in July. Red blood count, I guess. I asked her if having more iron in my diet would help, and she said this is not that type of anemia. So, at the end of the conversation, I asked her if I was supposed to take it a little more easy and she said, "yes". So, while I am ultra proud of myself for doing all of the things that I am doing, I guess I need to listen to my body more and do a little less these days. That's okay, this will all be over in 60 days, at least the chemo part of it, so I can handle that! I'm not sitting on my duff all day, but maybe a little more yoga and a little less tennis...though I was hitting so well that day!

On another note, I am reading the book "Twilight" right now. It is easy to read, but I am on the fence as to whether I really like the book. I think it is a bit too teen-oriented for me. But, I am reading it nonetheless! In fact, with my husband out of town celebrating his sister's 40th bday and my in-laws in the TV room, I am headed upstairs to read until I pass out. Now that sounds like a hot Saturday night, does it not???

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chemo be damned!

I am very proud to say that for the first time in over a year, and since I had reconstructive surgery and am taking chemo, I went and hit tennis balls with my husband today! Yahoo! I was TOTALLY out of breath, and I'm not sure if that's from the chemo messing up my body, my pectoral muscles just being tight across my chest because I haven't really worked them out since my surgery or I am just out of shape (hoping that's the one, sadly), but I did it and had lots of fun! I am going to try and do that again before my next treatment, because it is really good exercise, but today, I'll just revel in the glory of hitting tennis balls with my husband!

Still feel a little nausea, but for the most part, I am back in the swing of things and apparently ready for exercise! No more total exhaustion like Sunday. Man, was that rough!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Just to bitch

You know when you start writing something and after you read a few lines you realize what a whiny complaining person you can be when you don't feel well? I was just going to complain about something that is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things I felt petty and stupid, so I decided to try again.

I was going to complain about how jealous I am that my husband, who is totally the rock of our family right now, went off to play golf all day today and is turning around and doing the same thing tomorrow. Where as I feel like the only true rest I have right now is so chemo-induced that it's not even an enjoyable event to nap...But honestly, he is such a good guy and does so much for us around here, I cannot feel jealous that he wants to go play a bit of golf. I mean, I just need to pick up a good hobby post-chemo and I won't feel so bad. It's just now, during it all, when I cannot feel anger anywhere else, I can just be angry about something stupid.

Weekend was okay. Saturday afternoon I thought I was going to pass out, and pretty much did and didn't recover until Monday morning, but I think eating protein has gotten rid of some of the nausea issues and if I'm tired, I try to sleep, so that covers the exhaustion issues.

Just promise me, that when this is all over, someone is going to buy me a dozen cupcakes from Buttercup Bake Shop in NYC, 6 chocolate with vanilla icing, and 6 vanilla with vanilla icing, and those will just be for me to devour with some sort of ice cream shake to boot. Yes, from all that sugar, I just might boot, but I miss that devil, sugar, so much, I just don't know how I can last until this is over. I will have a sugar OD for sure, but it will be worth it! Oh, and it's not that I have been forbidden to eat sugar, I just get such a nasty after-taste from sweets that it really defeats the enjoyment of eating them. And, then I get nauseated...blah, blah,'s just not worth the effort sometimes...

Well, I have gone from here to there in this blog. I love my husband and I wish I was stronger and didn't feel jealous of his one true pleasure, but I guess sometimes, I am just a bitch! Maybe a bitch who really needs a sugar I understand why drug addicts have problems...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What am I doing up now???

It is the middle of the night. I had a treatment yesterday. I took medicine that should have knocked me out all night, yet here I am, eating saltine crackers 'cause my stomach is upset, writing on my blog. There is something wrong with this picture!!! Though, the crackers were mighty tasty, I might add!

Yesterday's treatment went okay. From the last time, I mentioned I had some tingling sensation on my scalp and ears, the nurse freaked that I was having an allergic reaction, so she prescribed benadryl for this session. Same thing happened but this time, I had a weird sinus sensation in my nose. I don't know why, this stuff is poison and just does things to me, I guess. Felt pretty crummy, but still managed to get in a walk into town with my husband and back, so that's good, right? But being up at 4:30 (up for about an hour before that) is just not right. Thankfully, my dad is here to help get the kids off to camp so I can sleep in a bit? Oh, and let me not forget that the red chemo makes me pee red...but I forgot so the first time I went to the bathroom I freaked out for a bit until I remembered that the dye comes soon they forget!

I had some funny thoughts I wanted to share, not just the mundane chemo crap that always pops up (But remember, this is also my diary so I need to put in some of this information) but now I cannot remember any of it. Except I did have thoughts of music running in my head at 3:30 this morning that made me want a catwalk and dance. Hair or no hair, I need to boogie! On a week when I'm feeling well, not poorly, because that wouldn't be much dancing but more curling up on the floor with a blanket not moving - not the image I had in my head. I think I was dancing to George Michael's "Freedom"...always a good catwalk song!

Of course, Michael Jackson is still in my head, with my favorite song, Thriller, running as background music. Sorry to say, my friends, but when a song is stuck in my head, I can have a full conversation with you, but that song is still playing like a radio in my mind. My station just switched to "Getting in Tune" by the Who. That's a good song and I need the kids to know that one. Time to make more CDs for the car! I wonder, for anyone who does read this blog, tell me what songs young kids should get used to from our youth (or before)? If you could put 5 songs on a CD, what would they be? Give some current, classic, country, pop...I wanna know!

Well, I am more awake than before, but now I have "Pulling Mussles from a Shell" by Squeeze as my background music so that ain't so bad! Keep that funky music playing in my head! I'm going to pretend to go back to bed...or I could just surf the computer instead...hey, I'm rhyming!!!