Welcome to my world

I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and a friend.
I've learned that who you have in your life matters more than what you have.
Thank you for stepping in to my world!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 3

Did you know that a cancer diagnoses means instant insomnia?  I had no idea.  Since the day I was diagnosed (well, before that actually, since I discovered my cancer myself), I suddenly went from sleeping like a baby to being up ALL NIGHT LONG.  Now that I've had a month to digest all the facts and get used to the new "normal" in my life, I'm still having a hard time.  Last night was one of those nights... for some reason my restless legs syndrome was worse than normal.  I'm not sure if it's something in the chemo or the meds I'm taking, or just from laying around and resting so much.  If it wasn't a gazillion degrees outside, a walk would probably do me good!

Hubby laughs because he has become my drug supplier.  I have raided his bottles of xanax and ambien a little too often, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!  I ended up taking a stroll around my living room at 1am last night, eating a banana so I would have something in my stomach after taking my two new medicines.  That seemed to do the trick, because then I slept until 8:30am.  Bliss!

Today has been an ok day.  I managed to put away some laundry and get caught up on bills, while keeping my nausea at bay with medicine and an interesting variety of food.  I've taken tips and tricks I've learned from other cancer patients, but really I found that you have to discover what works for you.  I agree with them on the mashed potatoes (yum!) but disagree on rinsing with salt water (gag).  Biotene mouthwash has become my new best friend.

Since I already bragged on my hubby, I now have to brag on my friends.  I think the people who care about me have taken my diagnosis harder than I have.  My friends are MAD.  I hate it, but it's good to know so many people have my back.  My friends have sent me flowers and gift cards, a lovely "chemo bag" full of stuff I will need, a soft and snuggly pink blanket.... they have rallied behind me by having t-shirts made, watching my children when needed, and bringing food to my family this weekend so I don't have to worry about what everyone will eat.  I'm beyond grateful, and there are no words to properly express my thanks.

Kicking cancer's ass - day 2

Chemotherapy is no joke.  You listen to the doctors and read as much as you can about the treatment you will receive, but I can tell you NOTHING will prepare you for how it makes you feel.  The "yuck" feeling is similar to morning sickness.  It's a 24/7 constant queasiness that is only temporarily abated by eating or drinking something, then you're right back to feeling yucky.  The bad taste in my mouth is probably my biggest complaint.  The nausea was sort of controlled by phenergan, but I wouldn't say it made it better.  A call to the doctor resulted in two new prescriptions... a new nausea drug and a steroid.

I had to go back to the oncology office today for a Neulasta shot.  If you don't know what that is, it's a painful shot in the arm that will boost your white blood cells.  Unfortunately it can also cause severe bone pain.  Thankfully in my hours and hours of research, I came across a bunch of knowledgeable women on the www.breastcancer.org message boards, and they mentioned taking Claritin to ward off the bone pain.  What an allergy medicine does to prevent bone pain is beyond me, but I've taken it and have NO aches or pains.  I'm declaring success!

Hubby took the kids to the first home high school football game, leaving me to my own devices tonight.  I had briefly entertained the idea of going, since I wasn't feeling too badly, but it's a good thing I didn't go.  I ended up sacked out on the couch before 9pm with a 99.6 fever.  Not a big deal, except in the world of a cancer patient, a fever of 100.5 is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY.  Needless to say I warily watched the thermometer every time I checked my temp, and thankfully that's as high as it went.  I really didn't want to have to make two calls to my oncologist on my first day after chemo!

No bone pain and no more throwing up - I declare that my success from day 2!

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1

When I think back on what August of 2013 was like for me, I probably won't remember many details... just the stress, the anxiety, the sadness, the fear.  On August 1st I was diagnosed with "invasive ductal carcinoma" - a.k.a. breast cancer.  So many things went through my mind after my diagnosis.  I don't want to die.  I don't want my kids to have a mom with cancer.  I don't want my husband to have a wife with cancer.  I don't want to lose my hair.  I didn't plan on spending the next year of my life in a battle FOR my life.

One of the strangest things for me so far has been how surreal all of this is.  Even though I've been to all of the appointments, gone through all of the testing, can actually FEEL the cancer in my body, it still seems like it's happening to someone else.  I've met so many nurses, doctors, surgeons, radiologists, etc... and yet it is so weird that this is MY body we're talking about.  I'm going to lose my breasts?  I'm going to need chemotherapy?  Radiation?  Seriously!??!?!   I wouldn't wish this on anyone, ever, but I am grateful to have people in my life who have fought this fight before me (and some continue to do so) - they have been a huge source of support for me, giving me advice, knowledge and love.  I compare this journey to pregnancy and motherhood (only without the cute, snuggly baby at the end!).  You can read all of the books and listen to your doctors, but some of the best things you learn come from other women who have been there, done that.  Allyson, Trudy, Susie... I'm sorry you've been down this road, but I'm thankful for your wisdom and support!

One of the lowest points of my life was having to tell my children that I have cancer.  Many young kids might not understand the significance of that, but mine do.  They've seen their grandmother die of cancer.  They've seen their aunt and my good friend go through breast cancer treatment.  Having been exposed to it and realizing that their MOM has it are two different things, though.  I hated that conversation with everything in me.  I hate putting that burden on them.  Who wants to scare your children like that?  Who wants to make your kids cry?  Who wants to have to try to be strong when inside you are breaking apart?  J was his usual stoic self, being strong and quiet and sweet.  K was a mess (she is her mother's daughter) and cried that she didn't want me to have cancer.  Yeah, no kidding.  I pretty much wake up every day saying to myself "I wish I didn't have cancer".

After going through the routine of testing a new cancer patient goes through (mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, CT scan, bone scan, MRI, genetic testing, yet another ultrasound and biopsy, and PET scan), my treatment plan was finally in place.  My breast surgeon is located in Dallas, but my medical oncologist is here in Abilene so I can have my treatment here.  Chemo (four rounds of adriamycin/cytoxan followed by four rounds of taxol) first, then surgery and followed by radiation.  This chemo "cocktail" is not exactly desirable... they call adriamycin the "red devil".  After one round, I believe it!

My first chemo session on August 29th was unremarkable actually.  The nurses are wonderful (it helps having some family connections there!) and were very helpful and supportive.  They answered all of our questions and worked with us on how to proceed.  The actual infusion only took a couple of hours and then we were sent on our way.  Unfortunately the unremarkable part only lasted until that evening.  They warned me to start taking my anti-nausea medicine around dinnertime to stave off the oncoming yuck feeling.  Unfortunately mine came on even sooner than that, so by 5pm I was miserable.  The medicine they gave me (phenergan) didn't help much.  The second medicine they called in for me (zofran) made it much, much worse.  I decided to stick with phenergan and try to get some sleep.

I need to backtrack a little bit, to brag on my husband.  I always knew I had a winner, but hubby has gone above and beyond in so many ways these past few weeks.  He has gone to every appointment, taken notes and kept track of prescriptions, makes all of my phone calls for me, held my hand when I needed it, lets me cry on his shoulder (a lot!), and taken over my "mom" duties thanks to chemo.  Kids, school, dishes, laundry, etc - it's all on him until I feel better, and he is doing everything without complaint.  In fact, he gives me the evil eye if I do something myself!  I already knew I was a lucky, lucky lady to have him in my life.  I can honestly say I don't know how I would have survived the past month without him, and we haven't even gotten to the really hard parts yet!  I love you to the moon and back, hubby!