Never forget 9-11-13…

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It was a no brainer for me. I wanted them gone. I never really liked them anyway. “Lefty” was bigger than “Righty”. They were both saggy. They never even wanted to feed my children, their whole purpose for being. Ok, I might miss them a little, but only during certain moments. And why would I want to keep them if they were trying to KILL me! Really, my own body turning on me and they don’t think that they are going to be cut off or let go, they are expendable. I think back on that day, a year ago 9/11/13, the day my “Twin Towers” fell (ok, I know, really bad 9/11 angolgy) and I feel some conflicting emotions.

I am glad I chose to have the double mastectomy, I don’t regret that. For me having the mastecnomy was not only about removing the cancerous tumor I did have, but also a bit of piece of mind that by removing not just the tumor in my right breast, but the rest of the breast tissue and also removing my left breast I would hopefully not have to relive this particular nightmare again. (There is always a chance of reoccurance however in either left behind breast tissue or in other areas of the body, no one with breast cancer ever forgets this.) But at least in my mind, if I had the double mastectomy I would not kick myself in the ass later for not being agressive with such an agressive beast to begin with.

So, what do i regret? Fake boobs or “Foobs” as they are called in the breast cancer world are not your own. They don’t look the same, they don’t feel the same. In general, they are fake. Reconstruction of your removed breast, however you chose to do it, is a loss. Have I cried over losing my breasts? No. But I still grieve that the ones I have know are not my own. As imperfect as they were, they were still mine, God given. There were no scars cutting from the middle of my chest to almost the side of my back. There was feeling and sensation. There were nipples.

Now it is like a blank, unnaturally round canvas of skin. They are tight and uncomfortable most of the time. I describe it to others as this feeling that you have to run home and take your bra off as soon as you walk in the door because you just can’t stand it anymore. During the first few months after surgery and still every once in a while, with out thinking, I lift up my shirt and reach around to unhook my bra, thinking that will make it feel better. Funny what kind of tricks the brain can play on you. But I guess when you have been doing that practice daily for almost 30 years it becomes habit and your brain hasn’t been told that they are gone yet.

Now, don’t get me wrong… my breast surgeon and plastic surgeon did a fabulous job. My breast surgeon removed all seen breast tissue, which was her job. On my cancer side she removed tissue up to my collar bone, making sure all of her margins for cancer were clear. She also did me a favor by removing the fat roll I had on my side, you know ladies, that little roll that sometimes over tops your bra strap. Thank you Dr. R! My plastic surgeon chose an implant for me that has the most natural look. She steared me away from other reconstructive procedures that would have moved valuable muscles in order to recreate a new breast. And with two young children that like to be held and carried, it was the best decision. (Minus, I just really wanted that free tummy tuck with those procedures!)

I will most likely need another procedure once my “foobs” settle. As time has gone on since my reconstruction on 5/21/14, they have become a little softer and have dropped into a much more natural shape. The procedure would be to fill in what I call my dents. Since my surgery did remove so much tissue, there is actually what kinda looks like a hole between say my collar bone, “foob” and breast bone. My plastic surgeon will remove fat (yippee) from most likely my thigh and inject it into the area to “plump” it up a bit. My plastic surgeons office also offers nipple reconstruction. I think I have decided to have the 3D tattooing done. A local tattoo artist comes into the doctors office and does it there, covered by insurance.

I am happy to be alive. I’m grateful  that there are so many choices for women facing breast cancer, in surgery, treatment and reconstruction. One thing that having this cancer has brought to my life is to not take anything for granted, even your saggy, not the same size boobs.🙂

Ready... OK!

9/11/2013~ pre-op for my Bi-lateral Mastectomy with Tissue Expander placement. Happy just to kiss the cancer bye-bye!

Me and the Bear

First day home after two days spent in the hospital after surgery. So good to be home!

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The morning of my reconstruction~ 5/21/14.

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A few weeks after reconstruction.. I love this shirt!!

If you would like to read about my Mastectomy… go here…https://cancerandcasseroles.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/two-months-post-op/

365 days later…

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Today marks one year since my Cancer diagnosis. 365 days ago I had my mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. I didn’t have full confirmation that I had Cancer that day, but I knew I did and so did my Radiologist. And he confirmed it three days later. So I choose to use this day, August 2nd as my “Diagnosis Cancerversary”.

That day... August 2, 2013.

That day… August 2, 2013.

The day is still so fresh in my mind. The thoughts, feelings, the pain… both physical and mental. My biopsy hurt (Don’t ever let someone tell you that Breast Cancer doesn’t hurt!) and my soul hurt that day. On my hour-long ride home, a trip we would take so many more times in the next year for treatment, I visualized my life, it flashed before me so to say. First my girls, “If I don’t make it, they won’t remember me… they are too young to remember me!”. Next thought was of my husband, “We haven’t had enough time together, I want to be with the love of my life for more than six years!”. To God, “Ha, funny! I kinda knew I would have my turn with this beast, but really??? NOW??? Before age 40, with a young family?”. So much more went through my mind that late afternoon, as I drove 90 mph home to be close to those that would be with me as I fought for my life.

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My love and I a few days after diagnosis.

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My girlies and I that weekend waiting for the official word. Karis (3) and Mattea (14mos.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say that the hardest part of having Cancer for me has been the waiting and the unknown. You wait for your diagnosis, for me it was Invasive Ductual Carcinoma. You wait for an appointment with your surgeon, where you decide how and when to get this crap out of your body, I chose a Bi-lateral Mastectomy. More time passes before you meet with your plastic surgeon and decide if you want boobs back, for me Tissue Expanders with Permanent Implants at a later date was the way to go. Then after surgery you really learn how good or bad it is, in my case this Cancer was moderate in the level of Breast Cancer seriousness… IDC, 2.7cm tumor, Grade 2, Stage IIB, ER/PR+, HER-(2+), 2/13 lymph nodes positive for Cancer. Next the healing begins and I had a little time to breathe. I was happy to have the Cancer out, but fear remains… where else could this beast be hiding??

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September 11, 2013… the day of my Bi-lateral Mastectomy with Tissue Expander placement. Bye-bye Cancer and bye-bye boobs.

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Truth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear, fear remains today. It comes and goes of course. I didn’t experience much of it while in active treatment. I guess when you are seeing medical professionals every week and they are injecting a deadly cocktail shakin and not stirred just for you, you feel like you can win that battle. In the beginning of treatment you almost have no fear, I was in the fight, the fight for my life. People refer to this process as “Beating Cancer”, “Winning the Fight” and in the end you hope to be called a “Survivor”. But as time goes on, the days get long, and your body begins to break down, that “Fear” is never really that far from the front of your mind. And a year out now from my diagnosis, it continues and I believe never really goes away. The fact is that Cancer can and does return sometimes. No matter how hard you fight, whether you’ve won before, it is a real possibility.

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Shortly after my diagnosis, Clint would write quotes on the mirror of our room for encouragement… This Dr. Suess quote became one of my favs.

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Go… Fight… Win! It is the Cancer motto, right or wrong, it does help get you through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons and Blessings abound when you get a Cancer diagnosis. I quickly learned who was in this “fight” with me and whom I knew I was going to be able to rely on in the months to come. Diagnosis and treatment also brings with it the fact that some people are not good with illness, death and their own mortality. Some whom I thought I was going to be able to call upon distanced themselves. I don’t fault them, Cancer sucks and is hard to handle. I guess one of the great lessons learned is take care of yourself, your family and those that are on your side. That is what you will need to get through the journey. Blessings… oh my, sooo many! Old friends that come back into your life to lift you up, show support and give whatever they can to see that you are OK. New friends that you have to hug you, pray for you and to be rocks through the hard fight. The greatest blessing I’ve found through it all is that God is never far. He has a plan for me. He has given me everything I need to make it through. Life is precious, love and live in the moment. I take time now to watch my girls more closely. Hold my husband’s hand a little longer and enjoy each and every day He allows me to be here with them… and only He knows how long that will be.

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Taken the week before my mastectomy, September 2013.

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My friend of 25+ years. Joanna taught me through all of this that time moves on, things change, but friendship and the love of the Lord never do.

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So thankful for the Andersons. I know they were praying for us. And extra thankful for their company during my last chemo infusion on April 3, 2014.

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My co- workers… who saw me through each week with their friendship and support. Besides my immediate family, they saw my ups and downs the most and were there with me every step of the way.

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My co-working girls… Laurie, Rachelle and Rogine. My party planners, shoulders to cry on and my kicks in my butt when needed.

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Love is all there is. Still not sure I deserve his love, but I’ll take it, cherish it and never let it go. Just like he did for me during this journey.

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20 plus years for these graduates of Chelsea High School. Cancer can bring out friendships from the past and make the present again. Scott and Joanna heading back to Colorado after a day trip visit a few days after my 40th birthday in June 2014.

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My mom, who I know would have given anything to have this Beast instead of me. Showed her support during my Mastectomy and celebrated my 40th.

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I seem to pick up at least one friend from each segment of my life. The beautiful lady in the middle is Beth. So glad she hung on to me and visited in June of 2014.

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Even though they had their own family and health struggles in the last year, the Martinez family called, texted and prayed for us through out the journey and visited with their family in July of 2014.

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It must be hard to watch your child go through Cancer, but I’ve been blessed with this guy, my dad and his wife Norma. His calls and visits during the last year have meant more than I can say.

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The only way to kill cancer is to go at it with full force. A few weeks after my surgery I met with my medical oncologist. You learn quickly that things are serious when they plug your numbers into a computer program and give you statistics as to your survival rate based on the course of treatment you choose. No further treatment for me meant an over 70% chance that I’d have a reoccurrence. Adding Chemotherapy would decrease the likelihood of a reoccurrence to around 30%… I’ll take it! So I was set to be slowly poisoned in order to live. And let me tell you… IT SUCKED! If you could get a side effect, I did. During my course of AC (Adriamycin and Cytoxan) that was to be administered every other week, I slept for about 72 hours straight and was hospitalized with Influenza A, do to a weakened immunity. During my weekly infusion of the drug Taxol, I had such severe joint and muscle pain that they suspended my treatment for a week and lowered my dose to reduce the effects. All of this, along with so many other nasty feelings lasted from October 24, 2013 to April 3, 2014.

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You are a name and a number when it comes to Cancer Care.

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This was a bag of Taxol. I received Taxol every week for 12 weeks. The stuff has brought me some long lasting joint pain and neuropathy in my right foot.

This is what you can look like if you have cancer, are knee deep in one of the nastiest chemo treatments and get Influenza A... It's not pretty!

This is what you can look like if you have cancer, are knee deep in one of the nastiest chemo treatments and get Influenza A… It’s not pretty!

Banded up. It's the new status, cool kid bracelets, don't you know :)

Banded up. It’s the new status, cool kid bracelets, don’t you know🙂

This is Adriamycin... if it gets outside that tube and on your skin you are screwed. The chemo ladies suit up and it comes in a paper sack. Lovely as it is going into my body into a major artery. Good times! :)

This is Adriamycin… if it gets outside that tube and on your skin you are screwed. The chemo ladies suit up and it comes in a paper sack. Lovely as it is put into a major artery. It also makes you pee red a few times after it is given… Good times!🙂

Along the way you come to rely on your team, made up of doctors and nurses and support staff. Trusting your team is important. Knowing that they have your best interest in mind was important. To be honest sometimes I felt I was supported, but there were times when I felt I wasn’t. But in the end I was happy with my outcome and would tell other Cancer patients to advocate for yourself for whatever you feel you need.

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This was one of my favorite nurses. She was my first chemo nurse… I guess we always hold a spot in our heart for our first.🙂

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This is Rapid City Regional Cancer Care Centers Breast Navigator… long title! She was around to offer support, to talk to and to hand out some money for traveling expenses.

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Here is the Cancer Man, Dr. Michael Robinson. With is DRY sense of humor and throw the whole kitchen sink at Cancer attitude, he was a great man to have on your side.

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This is ex-Texan, air force boyfriend, chemo is my passion Becky. She was the nurse I had the most during my time at Cancer Care. She was sweet, caring and really knew her stuff.

The final process for me in my Breast Cancer journey was to complete my reconstruction and get new Foobs (fake boobs) before my 40th birthday. I wanted to start out the next decade of my life “Cancer Free” and fabulous! I had my final surgery on May 21, 2014. Are my new foobs all I had dreamed of, not really. But now they are a part of me and a reminder of life and death. I also had a Tubal Ligation that day. As my Cancer was mostly driven by Estrogen and progesterone in my body, I will take for the next five plus years Tamoxifen. A pill that strips my body of Estrogen to not give Cancer any thing to feed off of. Thankfully I already had my two beautiful girlies. Chemo also put me into a menopausal state called chemo-pause. Being 40 now and being in menopause has been interesting. I pray daily for my husband and my girls that the crazy lady doesn’t come out too often. And the hot flashes suck!

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Pick a size, any size! I have 620cc teardrop silicone breast implants.

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Don’t mess with me… I’ve had Cancer! Loving this shirt too!

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Hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain… all the things to look forward to as I continue to fight my Cancer with Tamoxifen.

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Thanks to a law passed during the Clinton administration, any women with Breast Cancer has the right and shall be offered reconstrative surgery of their breasts.

Now, a year later I am considered a “Survivor”. I have gone through one of the hardest things that someone will go through in their life time. I pray everyday that my Cancer does not return, it could, but I refuse to live each day with that on my mind!  My time with Cancer taught me to slow down, be present and to care more deeply. Cancer showed me new ways to know that God is always present. After all, I do believe He set me up in the most amazing of situations in order to find my Cancer in the first place. There were times during treatment that in the dark spaces the only one to rely on was Him. Cancer brought me closer and deeper into my faith, another blessing. Again, I have experienced so many lessons and blessings from my time with Cancer. I would have never had asked for it, but I truly believe that Cancer has brought me more fully into the women God intended me to be. I pray that at sometime Cancer will be null and void in some many people’s lives. My Grandmother was a 22 year Breast Cancer Survivor. Through this journey I have made connections with other women who know… really KNOW what this experience is like. I think of a former co worker, Nancy, that was my first sounding board and rock, who has been dating NED (no evidence of disease) for two years now. I think of Brandy, a school friend, that was diagnosed with breast cancer I believe over ten years ago now when she had a young family and the supportive messages via facebook she would send. And Sarah, a follow mom and Hot Springs, SD resident to I pray will continue to fight the good fight daily as she works hard at becoming a Survivor herself. Cancer affects too many more to mention, but my hope is that my story, my struggle and my blessings can show that in life’s most deepest depths, there is life, hope and a smile. I will continue to celebrate each and every day, along with all the Cancerversary dates I have to come…hopefully for many years to come!

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Sara and I at this years Relay for Life. I am blessed to know her and call her a friend. Fight on Sara, Fight on!

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It’s not just the person with Cancer that is effected, the whole family is. The Walker’s are all survivors!

 

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Me TODAY, August 2, 2014! Cancer Free!

 

 

 

 

Taxol Week Twelve~ The end…

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Ok… so it has been nearly two weeks since the end of my chemotherapy treatment. Taxol treatment #12 is over. Since October 24, 2013 I have been poisoned to be kept alive 16 times. I have been poked by over 36 needles just for blood work and chemo, not to mention 4 shots to the stomach for Neulasta, many pokes during my five-day hospital stay for Influenza A, and the many needles used on me during my surgeries. I have had 7 Tissue Expander fills for a total of 14 needles being shoved into my “Breasts”. If I never see another needle again I would be happy. Thank God I do not have a fear of needles, I guess people with Cancer or health problems that require so many must get over that fear very quickly, or take Xanex before every appointment. By the end of my Taxol treatments I had a permanent bruise from blood draws since I am now only able to use my left arm for that or for blood pressure due to the lymph nodes being removed from my other arm.

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I am happy to say that the last two weeks have brought about more energy, more concentration and the ability to go to the “bathroom” more regularly (I know, TMI).

Leading up to my final treatment I had a lot of anxiety about being done. Since then, it seems like that has lessened somewhat, maybe it’s the new medication, or a sense that I have accomplished something, something hard and I feel like I did it by the grace of God. Because I know without prayer, friends and family and my stubbornness, the last almost seven months could have been Hell… and really they weren’t. Was it fun everyday, was I fun, loving and kind everyday… Heck NO! For as my amazing husband often says, “The alternative is much worse.”

My final treatment was a mini PARTEE! My dad and his wife were visiting from Michigan, our friends who are also in ministry from Huron, SD came and many of the nurses stopped in to congratulate me on completing one of the hardest things I have had to do. For my nurses my reply was, ” I have loved getting to know you and thank you for everything, but I hope to NEVER see you again!” And with a little laugh and a hug, most of them said I could come and visit anytime.

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The final chemo selfie… have I said I LOVE this man…

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The wonderful and beautiful Carrie Anderson. It was great to have her and her husband Marc with me on my final day. They kept me awake through the whole treatment, that had never happened before, with their humor, friendship and love.

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Hooked up to the pole one last time… no more “pole dancing” for me!

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This is how excited we are to be finished!

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This is one of my favorite nurses. Even if she wasn’t taking care of me that day, she would stop into my chemo cube and chat to see how I was doing. She told me on my last day that at the beginning of the day when they are assigned patience I was the one on Thursday that they fought over… so blessed to have had great care by such loving professionals.

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My dad and his wife visited from Michigan during my last treatment. During the day they prepared a No Mo’ Chemo Party for me, with balloons and cupcakes!

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By the grace of God I have this wonderful family to hopefully spend many more years with… I can’t wait to see what adventure we go onto next…

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Karis was so excited it was Mommy’s last Chemo… she even made up a song about it!

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Wishing with my magic wand for boobs not as big as these balloons. LOL🙂

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Karis painted my nails for me, she called it “Chemo Pink”.

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The ribbon says it all…

 

Taxol Week Eleven~No funny ryhmes, it’s just time…

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To Be DONE!!

I can feel the excitement building in me as I get closer to the day, which as of right now is about 72 hours from now! I’ve actually had a relatively easy week. My last few treatments have been better than my first few. Since I got that week reprieve and a lower dose it’s made a big difference in my pain level and such. Not so sure what the last treatment will bring, physically, emotionally, etc… but I’m ready to find out!

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The famous Chemo-Selfie. Going to have to make a timeline selfie shot post at some point!

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This man is the bestest! Cancer is hard, hard on everyone, especially when you love someone with it… but he has been my rock, put up with my #*%$ and I love him a little more everyday.

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Two thumbs up for almost being done! My eyes look a little wonky in this pic… the Benadryl must of kicked in!

Taxol Week Ten~ come back again…

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Week Ten of Taxol was a go. After spending some time with my research nurse Janna, a 4th year medical student and my MO Dr. R my tenth of twelve taxol treatments commenced. I have been feeling much better after taking that break from treatment three weeks ago. We discussed my anxiety and depression, which all three medical professional thought was “normal”. I had been concerned about my blood sugars, but my fasting sugar yesterday was only 91 with my other labs that were good as well. We talked about what was next after I’m done with active treatment in two weeks. I will return to see Dr. R on April 21st, three weeks after my last Taxol. We will then discuss hormone therapy. After that he stated that he will see me six months later, so in the fall. Wow… what will we do with ourselves without weekly doctors appointments??? Dr. R thought that it was OK for me to continue with my reconstruction process and have my permanent implants done in May and to have my port removed at that time too.

So we are nearing “the end”. And here’s to hoping and praying that we don’t have to come back to this place more than once a year…

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This is my Medical Oncologist Dr. Robinson. He’s a Cancer fighting doc, one of the good guys. I believe he cares for his patients in an appropriate way, using all the tools he has to get his patients through this battle. He has a dry sense of humor, which we appreciate and was nice enough to smile for a pic. (after he straightened up his suit and tie of course)

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I’ve had this nurse several times during my chemo infusions. She is sweet, with a Texas accent, a military boyfriend and as she says, “chemo is her passion!!”

The making of the Foobs

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As I’ve said before, when deciding on having a bi-lateral mastectomy my first thoughts were not about reconstruction. But thanks to my husband and great surgeon I was assured that some day I would want boobs. So after deciding that I should have both breasts removed, even though there was only cancer in one to help prevent future situations like this, I met with my plastic surgeon. After looking at me, taking pictures (awkward!) and drawing diagrams she informed me that it would indeed be better to have a bi-lateral mastectomy if only for “appearance” sake as well as cancer prevention. So thanks to the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (http://www.cancer.org/treatment/findingandpayingfortreatment/managinginsuranceissues/womens-health-and-cancer-rights-act) a federal law put into effect in 1998, I get two new boobs, breasts or Foobs (Fake Boobs) as I like to call them.

During my mastectomy, after my breast surgeon had removed all (I hope) breast tissue, the plastic surgeon came in to implant Tissue Expanders into my chest wall underneath my pec muscle. Now, these TE’s are a hard bag with a metal magnetic port in them that over a course of time are filled with saline and expand the skin to allow for permanent implants to be put in at a later date. I have to say, TE’s are rocks. Hard, unmovable rocks. And as I’ve been expanded over time, are actually quite unsightly. They have shifted off to the side a bit, causing a look of armpit boobs.  One is higher than the other. If I wasn’t so modest I’d show a pic… don’t worry.. I will never post pics. But the look of my chest at this time caused me to ask my plastic surgeon this week if she thought she could “fix” me. She went into an explanation about how she conducts her surgery, the size and shape of the Foob I would need. Now, I’m not looking for perfect boobs, God didn’t make my original ones that way to begin with, but I’m hoping when all this is done, maybe they just might look a little more even and perky than before or now!🙂

I am currently on the schedule for my exchange May 21, 2014. After this procedure, there are always nipples to think about…

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Here are the example foobs. The one on the bottom is the one my surgeon thought would be best for my body. A wide tear drop shape.

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Me with the saline back. Right now I have 525cc of saline in my TE’s. My surgeon is hoping for a couple of more fills to get me a little over 600cc for my permanent implants are placed in May.

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I could use a few of the other services that my plastic surgeon’s office provides… maybe later… just call me Barbie.🙂

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Can you say “FOOBS”???🙂

Taxol Week Nine~ Getting closer to fine?

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I know that people are excited for me. I’m excited too! Only three more chemotherapy treatments to complete. But it is still hard to think that this will all end soon. But it is, it will and hopefully in the near (distance) future it will all be a memory. Week nine has given me little joint and muscle pain…woohoo! My fingernails are starting to lift up from the nail bed, they are very brittle, orange in color and really short. My hair continues to come in… white! I have to say, one of the great things about chemotherapy hair loss is not having to groom, shave or whatever the rest of your body hair. I haven’t purchased a razor for myself since October. It’s about time to go shopping, boo. Before I had Bariatric surgery in May of 2013 I was on oral medication for diabetes. I left the hospital after two days on no meds and my blood sugars had been pretty stable. I’ve notice in the last few weeks signs of my blood sugar being too high or low. So thanks to the steroids I get every week and the ten pounds or so I’ve gained in this Cancer process my blood sugars are out of control. I’m going to ask my oncologist next week what I should do about this.

Ok, here is another side effect of cancer that no one wants to talk about… the big “D” and I don’t mean Detroit! (Gotta show my home state some love!) Depression. Like the commercial says, “Depression hurts.” I’ve been getting more and more anxious as the end of active treatment nears. I keep telling myself that there is no reason for this… you are almost done. And it is true. But like I said in a blog post a week or so ago, am I really? My husband, the ever-reading book lover has read more books about cancer than most I think. As he pointed out this week, I have Cancer. Not only Cancer, but I’m undergoing a treatment for Cancer that puts you in a menopausal state and at my age will most likely remain. So let alone having depression and anxiety from having a life threating disease, I am also unbalanced hormonally. And this is not going to change anytime soon. Since my BC was both Estrogen and Prosterone feeding I will most likely be on medications for the next five to ten years that will remove these two hormones from my body in hopes of the Cancer not returning. So the joys of menopause before my 40th birthday are real and with us for some time. This week was a tough week on the depression front for me. I was very tearful most of the weekend. At one point my soon to be four year old was stroking my hair, rubbing my arm and shhhh’ing me… she is such a sweet and loving girl!🙂 On Monday I was still feeling blue and just really couldn’t work. I decided to call my nurse to see what I should do. Making that phone call to tell a health professional that you are not feeling like yourself, you’re crying all the time and angry all the time too is not an easy call. It has and did this time leave me feeling more out of control as my nurse seemed to think that it was all “normal” and that I had been struggling with these feelings since my first chemo treatment. Which is true, but I still felt vulnerable and just wanted to be told it was something they could fix. She had my oncologist send in a script for Zoloft, told to take my ativan that had already been prescribed when I felt anxious and that I would be set up with a psychologist at the hospital that specializes in Cancer patients.

So… do I feel like I’m getting closer to being “fine”? In some ways yes, my body feels better and I only have three poisonious treatments left… but in other ways there is still a LONG road ahead. Prayers please🙂

Taxol Week Eight~ Getting close to closing that gate!

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Eight down, four more to go!! Can I get a Woohoo??? My eighth weekly infusion of Taxol has gone pretty well. I had a great nurse this week that doesn’t like the drug induced coma of benadryl herself and went easy on me, diluting it with some saline and pushing it into my port slowly. I was not as tired and out of it. I’ve had a little better energy this week. I go from being really tired to being an insomniac. I’ve had some muscle and joint pain, but much less than the previous weeks. The neuropathy in my right foot and hand are still present, but have not really increased. I have gone back to physical therapy for my lymphdema due to increase in swelling and shooting pain in my arm if I reach it above my head… blah, blah, blah… the pains of Cancer!🙂

So all in all week eight has been ok, and I’m getting closer and closer to being able to close the gate to active chemotherapy! Four more, I’m ready!

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Chemo cube light cover. The waterfall reminds me that with all the fluid they give you during your infusion, the sound of running water would surely make you feel like you have to pee. Glad it was just a picture!🙂

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Chemo cube selfie. Note the chick fuzz is increasing… going to be curly and white.

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Taxol round #8 was an early morning call. We had to be at the Cancer Center at 7:50 am. My husband doesn’t do mornings. I drove us to Rapid. I love him for always wanting to come with me and letting me take control when I need too.

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We both look a little sleepy. I got a great sugar pick me up in a McDonald’s Shamrock shake. My husband has given up pop for Lent, brave soul!🙂

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Some Walmart fun after chemo!

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Since I think that wearing a hat or scraf is starting to give me bald spots, I was trying out the girls hair accessories…stylish don’t you think?🙂

 

Taxol Week Seven~ Thank Heavens…

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Karis joined us this week for Chemo. She had a Peds appointment in Rapid that Clint took her to while I was in my Benadryl coma. The nurses loved seeing her and she was so cute when she would introduce herself as “Karis Hope Walker”.

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I know last week I called my husband a “Tattle Tell”. I take it back. I did feel better after not having an infusion last week. By the weekend I was saying that had I had one, I was pretty sure I would be knocked out in bed. Guess my husband was looking out for me!🙂

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With the Taxol infusion they keep me hooked up to the blood pressure machine. Which is fine, until the darn thing goes off and wakes you from your sleepy time nap. I’ve noticed that my blood pressure has been going up steadily over the last six weeks of so. I think it’s due to all the fluid I’m retaining from the steroids and other chemo related crap.

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The hanging of the bags.🙂

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This is my Taxol (paxiltaxel) bag. NOTE the HAZARDOUS MEDICATION warning!

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Man I’m looking more and more like a round face cancer patient… don’t touch me… I may pop!

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Chemo cube signage.

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Chemo cube light covering… reminds me a little of a picture I took of a river in Rocky Mountain National Park.

How time flies or slows down…

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So apart of me REALLY hates all the pink and BC related stuff… But I find this statement to be true!

Yesterday, 3/2/14 was the seven month cancerversary of my diagnosis. When I look back at the last seven months it either feels like the time has flown by or stood still. Lots of things have changed for myself and my family, but other times it feels like nothing has. But strangely the one thing I would say about the last seven months is I wouldn’t really change a thing. Ok, getting Cancer all together, I would change that! But what I wouldn’t change is how it has effected different areas of my life, both good and bad. Here are some examples…

Support: After my diagnosis there was this flood of support. It was surprising and overwhelming at times. People really do care about me! LOL🙂 I think it really helped to get through the initial shock and awe of the diagnosis, knowing that people were praying, reaching out or supporting however they knew how. In the beginning you have this “fight” mechanism that kicks in. A Cancer diagnosis bring out words like; fight, battle, win. (Kinda like a High School cheer) You want to “Beat” it. And other’s want to help. In the beginning people show their support by words of encouragement through letter, texts, facebook. Other supporters give gifts, lots of “pink” items, books, prayer shawls. All of this was comforting and built me up for the “Battle” ahead.

The support continues when you enter into the surgery and treatment phase as well. Many sent cards and flowers after my mastectomy. Notes of support and encouragement continued to come in during my initial chemotherapy and Influenza A hospitalization. People brought food for the family and offered to clean our home. Friends visited, there were “pink” and “shaving” parties or sometimes it was just a hug on Sunday at Church, a quick facebook message from a long-lost friend or my husband and kids kisses that really pulled me through those first few months.

Now that I am getting toward the end of treatment that initial support has waned a bit. I still know that there are many out there praying for me and my family, at times I can feel it. But the excitement of it all is gone. It’s not an everyday thing anymore. Which for this introvert, makes life a little easier to handle. But at times you miss, for the lack of a better word the “excitement” that you’re diagnosis brought about. My days now seem almost normal, the new normal.

Physically: Almost ten months ago I made a big decision regarding my physical health, one that at the time I didn’t realize would ultimately truly save my life. In May of 2013 I underwent bariatric surgery. I chose this procedure to better my physical health, to reduce or eliminate diseases and medications and to offer my husband and children a more active and healthy women. But just two and a half months after my VSG I found my lump. I have been highly disappointed in myself since my diagnosis in August regarding my weight loss. I have pretty much stayed the same weight, give or take 20 pounds since August. My goal for myself was to lose close to 80-100 pounds this year. I’m at 63 as of today. I did have a huge loss in December during the Flu fiasco… I was down 75 pounds the first of January. But with chemo, steroids, bags of IV fluid every week and just poor eating habits I’ve gained those 12 pounds and seem to fluctuate every week. It probably also doesn’t help that I have ZERO energy, my body is in pain most days and now I have some neuropathy in my feet from the chemo. All making it pretty impossible to exercise. Gosh, even carrying my 25 pound almost two-year old around leaves me winded, or a basket of laundry up the stairs takes it out of me. When I speak to people about my disappointment I often get, “OMG, you have Cancer…don’t worry about it!” But I do. What I need to remember the most is that I do truly believe that me having weight loss surgery was not only about my health from weight loss, but saving my life from undiagnosed Cancer.

Mentally: Let me tell you, Cancer sucks! It not only takes a toll on your body, but your mind as well. As I get closer to ending active treatment I’m often told, “Yeah, you’re almost done!” Really?? Am I??? I’m not so sure. What I am pretty sure of is that my mind will never forget this Cancer deal. I’m pretty sure I will be reminded daily when looking in the mirror. I will be reminded of it’s possible return in the next five years by scheduled tests and scans. When I had Mattea in 2012 I got post partum depression about a month after her birth. I was angry, really angry and for really no reason. I’ve struggled with depression off and on through out my life. But having cancer brings on a new one for me, anxiety. Ugghh… I hate anxiety! For me, when it hits, it’s like a million people screaming at me and I can’t discern what is going on. I can’t communicate. I can’t hear. I can’t relax. Being anxious during treatment has made my house a little cleaner, but my mood and stability with my family messier. This part of the Cancer process I think has been the hardest on me and my family. There is hope that once every thing settles into a new pattern after active treatment that some of this anxiety will subside… pray for that if you will!🙂

Spiritually: Like in my post from last week about Blessings, there have been many wonderful moments during this Cancer journey. I pray more, I look for the little things in my day that make me smile, I hug and kiss my girls more and my husband and I get to spend one day a week together… even if it is in a drug induced state for me.🙂 I have said many times that I know that people are praying for me, I can feel it. It is almost like this calm that hits me every once in awhile. I feel more at ease in discussing how God has worked in me during this time and more open to sharing it with others. I know that God has been with me on this journey. I know that He makes all His plans to work perfectly. I recognize His plan in all the things leading up to my diagnosis and I trust that there is more to come from Him years after.

For the good, the bad and the “meh” of all of this I wouldn’t change a thing. Cancer has changed me and I’m ok with it.