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!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 33

Out of the mouths of babes....

On the subject of hair loss... tonight I took a big step (HUGE step for me) in my BC battle.  I went out without hair!!!!!!!!!  Granted, I had a scarf-type hat on and you can still see my little wispy bangs, but still.  I was majorly proud of myself.  Until I showed up at K's softball game.  Leave it to second graders to tell it like it is.

"You look DIFFERENT!"  ("That's because my hair is short.")
"No, you look DIFFERENT!" <wrinkling nose>  ("I know, my hair is short.")
"Why are you wearing THAT?" ........... walk away.

"Why do you have that on your head?"  ("Because my hair is short and thin." after which my lovely daughter chimes in "And it's falling out!")
"Well, you look good with that on."  (Thank you sweet A)

"What is THAT?"  ("It's a hat.")
"Really?  A HAT?"  <<sigh>>

I know they are kids.  I know I look different.  I knew the risks when I ventured out into their territory armed only with my do-rag.  That doesn't help my bruised and battered self-esteem.

I miss my hair.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 32

Some odd musings...

  • The hair on my legs has quit growing, the hair on my head is falling out, and yet I still have all the hair on my arms?!?!?
  • My taste buds have gone on strike, but apparently only with drinks.  For the most part I have no problems eating, but beverages that taste good to me are becoming few and farther between.
  • Foods with strong flavors (spicy, sour, sweet, etc) are the best because I can actually taste them.  They are also the worst, because they aggravate my sore mouth.
  • SDBC (stupid dumb breast cancer) has at least temporarily cured me of my addiction to Diet Coke.  And chocolate.  Neither of those tastes very good at all.  Blech.  Except for M&Ms mixed with almonds.  Yum.
  • My little girl asked me how I know if something will taste good or not.  Huh.  Good question.  I don't know until I try it, and then I hope if it's nasty, it's not something that will taste nasty forever.
  • My oncologist's office in little ol' Abilene has a hard time fitting my appointments in the schedule.  The huge medical center in Dallas where I will have my surgery was able to fit me in for THREE appointments all on the same day.  With three different doctors.
  • Almost all of the SDBC patients & survivors that I've come into contact with truly hate the month of October.  Why?  They call it "Pinktober" because of all of the breast cancer awareness craziness that is everywhere.  I don't know why, but even though I will be going through treatment during Pinktober, it does not bother me.  If someone wants to sport pink in support of the cause, or walk a few miles, or buy products with a pink ribbon on them, more power to them.  I am not naive enough to think that very much of the money spent on this kind of thing actually goes toward breast cancer research.  However, just having people be supportive and making others aware is a good thing in my book.  

Kicking cancer's ass - day 31

What is the one thing just about everyone thinks of when you mention chemotherapy?  Yep - hair loss.  Ever since d-day, that was my biggest fear and it is now my reality.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I was trying to save my hair using a product called Penguin Cold Caps.  Unfortunately I will not be a cold caps success story.  I knew going in that my chemo cocktail of adriamycin and cytoxan is not the ideal combo to be on with the cold caps.  AC is a harsh regimen and that goes for the hair, too.  Whether it was just because of that, or because my super thick hair kept my scalp from getting cold enough, or just dumb bad luck, my hair is a goner.

I had a couple of really, REALLY rough days leading up to the decision to not use the caps for chemo infusion #3.  Of course, successful cap users and the Penguin rep urged me to keep using them.  The idea is no matter how much hair you lose, you are still able to protect your hair follicles and it will grow back faster.  That sounds great, but for my peace of mind, I chose to forego using the caps any more.  I wasn't just "shedding" hair, I was losing hair by the fistful.  Going through a tremendous amount of time, effort and money to keep using the caps while still looking like a pathetic cancer patient isn't something I could make myself do.  This wasn't a decision I made lightly.  I SO wanted the caps to work.  Even if I had ended up losing 50% of my hair by the end, I would have been happy and considered it a success.  Sadly I lost more than that before I even had treatment #3.  End of the line for my relationship with Penguin Cold Caps.  

However traumatic you think losing your hair might be, it's a hundred times worse, I promise you.  Since I still have quite a bit of hair despite all that came out, I chose not to shave it entirely off.  Who wants to sleep on a head full of stubble?  Once I made up my mind to throw in the towel (or the cold cap...ha), I sat down & gave the kids the go-ahead to snip away with scissors.  So now I am sporting a super short, super thin man-style haircut that shows off all of my gray.  Lovely.  What makes this even worse is now I look sick.  Before, I could put on a happy face and pretend, even when I felt awful.  Now my kids look at me and see their mom almost bald and it's a harsh reminder that I have cancer.  It has affected them both and brought some emotions to the surface, and that just makes me MAD.  At cancer.

Thankfully I was prepared in case the caps didn't work, and I have a small assortment of hats and tie-on scarf type head coverings.  I even bought a wig online and lucked out that it's very close to my normal crazy hair, only without the highlights.  Here's a pic of me with my pretend hair:

Not bad, right?  Do I love it?  No.  It's itchy.  It gives me a headache.  It's darker than my normal hair.  However, it is close enough that I don't feel like a complete imposter in public.  All I have left to say about it is STUPID DUMB BREAST CANCER!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 30

Sleep is a girl's best friend.
I swear I have slept more in the last two days than I have since d-day!  I don't know if they changed up my pre-meds this time, or if it's just a cumulative effect now that I have three treatments under my belt.  Whatever it is, I'm getting tons of beauty sleep these days!

Kicking cancer's ass - day 29

Today was chemo #3.  As far as medical things go, it was pretty humdrum.  The whole thing only took two hours, and I basically sat there texting with friends (and hubby who sat across the room from me because there were no chairs close enough).  I don't know if they changed anything in my premeds (they usually give anti-nausea and steroids), but I was KNOCKED OUT by 4pm and slept for three hours.  Wow.  The up side to that is I slept through the usual nausea that kicks in three hours after I get home.  Unlike the other day, my nap did not hinder my sleep last night.  I went to bed at 10pm and slept until 7am.  If only the next two weeks were as uneventful as actual chemo day!

Since we're talking cancer, I would like to take the time to mention something close to my heart.  My dear friend A who has been a wonderful friend to me (and a very smart knowledge base when navigating this whole new cancer world) has some tough choices to make.  She is pretty much at the end of the line as far as treatment goes.  Her doctors told her there isn't much they can do since her cancer is resistant to almost all chemotherapy drugs.  She was sent to Sloan Kettering in NY, who then directed her to Oklahoma for a clinical trial she may be eligible for.  Unfortunately she learned this week that she unable to participate in the trial.  My heart breaks for her, but at the same time I am praying mightily for some other miracle to fall into her lap.  She is smart and funny and so, so faithful to our God.  She's a wonderful mommy to her three boys and was my first "mommy" friend here in Abilene.  If there ever was a women who deserved prayers and a miracle, it's her.  So please keep her close to your heart and lift her and her family up in hopes of some healing coming her way.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 28

Today is day 28.  Wow.  Four weeks since I started this chemo journey.  Day 56 since "D-Day".  Time flies when you're having fun, huh?

One thing I have learned already (or perhaps I knew it but it is now being reinforced) is that people want to help.  Most of the time when they say "What can I do?", they really mean PLEASE TELL ME WHAT I CAN DO BECAUSE I REALLY WANT TO DO SOMETHING!  Sure, sometimes there is only a half-hearted attempt at offering help because what else do you say when you find out someone has cancer?  "Oh, I'm sorry.  Please let me know if you need anything."

For the most part, though, if you are blessed with amazing people in your life like I am, you find out that not only do people WANT to help, but they expect you to ask for help.  That's the hard part for me.  Letting people do things for me?  That's all good.  Asking over and over again for a meal or a ride or a babysitter.... yikes.  And my journey has really only just begun.  I have two more months of chemo.  Then major surgery.  Then weeks of radiation.  I will be calling in favors until the cows come home!

I've also learned that it is a small, small world.  I've been welcomed into an amazing community of fellow breast cancer patients in an online discussion forum.  One woman going down this road is a single mom of three kids, one of them severely handicapped.  She has had no family or friends step up to help her.  In talking with her, I almost feel guilty for the amazing support system I have.  I can't imagine going through this without my wonderful husband and the friends and family who love us.  This woman has nothing and nobody except her kids' babysitter.  Well, it turns out that she lives not far from where one of my friends lives.  Here's where the asking for help comes in.  I don't know this woman, and my friend sure doesn't know her.  But I do know what it's like to face what she's facing, and I know how grateful I am for help.  My amazing friend is bringing this woman and her family dinner tomorrow night.  How cool is that?  I'm so grateful for people's willingness to help, even when the person you're helping is a stranger.  I'm thankful to be able to "pay it forward" in some small way by connecting someone in need with someone able to help a little.

Cancer sucks, but God is good.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 27

Today was a pity party day for me.  I woke up with a headache, and am still dealing with some unfortunate side effects, even though I'm feeling well overall.  I think my body just needed a day of nothing - no work, no errands, no housecleaning, NOTHING.  I also took a three hour nap this evening and woke up to an empty house.  Hubby and J had gone to football practice and K went with them.  Not necessary, but very much appreciated all the same.  Obviously part of my fragile emotional state resulting in the pity party was exhaustion, because I am not a napper.  After a cancer diagnosis and especially during chemo, even a good night's sleep is not really a good night's sleep.  When this is all over and I have moved on from this "bump in the road", I will never take sleep for granted again!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 25

Today I am having a little bit of a pity party.  One of the unfortunate side effects of chemotherapy is mouth sores.  I escaped them after my first round, but they are making up for lost time.  Mine seem to want to play hide & seek, too, because they are in the nooks and crannies in my mouth that I can't even see.  I sure can feel them, though, and it is very painful to eat, chew and swallow.  I've been trying to use other people's tried and true remedies, but I think I'm going to have to cave and call the doctor tomorrow.  They apparently have this nifty prescription for "magic mouthwash" and I'm hoping that's the answer to my prayers.

It's also depressing today because I am shedding hair at an alarming rate despite the cold caps, my mom left to go back home and J's football team got clobbered by the Eagles of all teams.

I don't think I did much ass-kicking today, but tomorrow is a new day.

Kicking cancer's ass - day 24

What a glorious day in west Texas!  After two straight days of rain, the sun is shining and it was actually almost chilly this morning!  The weather is so nice that Grammie, K and I went for a walk this afternoon.  Granted, with a seven-year-old along, it wasn't very strenuous, but that word isn't in my vocabulary lately anyway!

Today is Grammie's last day here.  Boooo!  We will miss her.  I am so fortunate to have such a great relationship with my mom, and that she has such a wonderful, close relationship with my kids, despite the distance.  Thankfully she is coming back for her regularly scheduled Thanksgiving visit in two months.

Happy Fall!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 23

TGIF!  We have had two days of rain.  In west Texas.  In case you don't catch my drift, that is highly unusual!  I know we need the rain, but two endless days of dreary, wet weather and this solar powered girl is ready for some sunshine!  Thankfully the weekend looks good with a forecast of sun and temps in the 80s.
Unfortunately, the rain has put a damper on our weekend plans.  Grammie is here until Sunday and was very excited to finally be able to see one of J's football games.  Who knew that a soaking rain would mess up a football game?  Apparently the fields are too wet and all of tomorrow's games have to be rescheduled, so now the game isn't until Sunday afternoon.  Grammie leaves Sunday morning.  Hmph.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 22

Today I am thankful for my mom.  She is here visiting (an extra "bonus" visit as she normally comes in November and May) and it's been so nice.  The kids are extremely happy to have Grammie here, and I am grateful for all of her help.  She is doing all of our dishes and laundry and getting the kids in bed each night.... leaving me to my couch and a book.  Bliss!  I love my mom, and I love that she is my friend as well as my mom!

Kicking cancer's ass - day 21

Today I am midway through my first "round" of chemo.  I am supposed to have four "AC" infusions (adriamycin, or "the red devil" and cytoxan) and then I will start Taxol.  There is still some debate about whether I will have twelve weekly infusions or four "dose dense" biweekly infusions.  Can you figure out which one I am hoping to have?  Let's see.... twelve more weeks of chemo versus eight?  Twelve more infusions versus only four?  Completing chemo before Christmas as opposed to after?  Unfortunately my oncologist is not quite on board with this, but I have about a month to convince him.  In the meantime, I am feeling good.  My taste buds are still on strike, most beverages taste like dishwater and I have the energy of an eighty-year-old diabetic.  However, considering I am well underway in the chemo portion of my treatment, I can't complain.  I don't think I look like a cancer patient, and I don't feel like a cancer patient.  (and yes, I am knocking on wood with every positive thing I say!)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 20

One of the best things you can ever say to a cancer patient is "You look great!" and mean it.  I heard that tonight and it made me feel really good.  I need to remember that feeling when I'm fighting nausea or worrying about hair loss or brushing my teeth ten times a day.  I'm kicking cancer's ass and looking good doing it!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 19

I know I've said this before, but chemo makes you TIRED!  Holy cow.  Mom and I went to Target this morning for a couple of things.  Ok, we went in for a couple of things but ended up spending $30 (how does that happen anyway????).  Seriously we were there for about half an hour, and by the time we got back to the car I was winded like I'd competed in the Ironman.  Yikes.  I know I'm out of shape but not THAT out of shape.  

Today was another good day.  Kind of a humdrum day, actually.  I did some laundry.  Had a nice lunch with Mom and my friend R.  Wrote a book review.  Made mashed potatoes (with bacon and cheese per K's request) and ham for us girls to eat before going to K's softball game.  The Lady Diamonds won 10-1, and my girl had a hit that knocked in two of those runs.  Fun times.  Hubby and J had football practice but made it there to see the end of K's game.  Fall ball schedules are crazy, so we get to do it all over again tomorrow night.

No rest for the weary!  Or the cancer patients, apparently.

Kicking cancer's ass - day 18

Today was a great day!  It was great because I felt great!  It was great because my mom is here visiting!  It was great because the team that my son plays on and my hubby coaches got to play football in Cowboys Stadium!  We had a fantastic trip to Dallas, complete with a Cracker Barrel breakfast on the way and a yummy meal at J's favorite Boomer Jack's after the game.  The guys played two scrimmages - lost the first but won the second.  A successful day all around!  (Yes, I used an annoying amount of exclamation points because it was such a wonderful day with my family)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 17

Ok, so yesterday I posted about how hubby and I entertain each other and keep busy during my infusions.  Perhaps I should explain.  When I first found my cancer (yes, I knew in my heart it was cancer from day 1, before any tests were done), the one thing I struggled with the most was needing chemotherapy and losing my hair.  I did not want to be a walking advertisement for this disease I am fighting.  I don't want to be bald.  It may be vain, but the idea of losing my hair is more traumatic for me than losing my breasts (which I will during surgery after chemo).

In one of my many forays into Google medical school, I stumbled upon people talking about Penguin Cold Caps.  What are they?  You can visit their web site (www.penguincoldcaps.com) and learn all about them.  In short, they are gel-filled "caps" that you freeze and keep on your head during chemo.  The theory is that by freezing your scalp, you keep a majority of the chemotherapy drugs from entering your hair follicles, hence your hair doesn't fall out.  Now, of course it's not that easy.  People who use the cold caps still lose hair - some just a little, some up to half of their hair, and some have unfortunate results and still end up needing a wig.  In hopes that I will fall into one of the first two categories (because face it, I have a LOT of hair!), I talked to hubby and told him I wanted to do this.  Of course, hubby being hubby, he immediately said, "Whatever you need to be more comfortable through this."  Did I mention that I love him?

Anyway, there is nothing easy about the process.  First of all, it's very expensive.  You have to "rent" the caps from Penguin, and it's $500 a month for three months, then $100 a month after that.  Also, if your facility doesn't have a biomedical freezer, you have to purchase 100 lbs of dry ice for every treatment.  That gets very expensive!  Second, it is a huge process.  You have to wear a cap for twenty minutes, then another for twenty minutes. and then ten minutes into the third cap the nurse can start the infusion.  The nurses at my facility are VERY helpful and willing to work with us, for which I'm thankful.  Throughout the chemo treatment, we have to change caps every 30 minutes, which is a LOT of work for hubby.  He has to keep track of the order in which we use them (we have eight caps), check the temps with an infrared thermometer, knead them (and even sit on them!) if they are too cold, and then change out the caps on my head every half hour.  This continues for another four and a half hours after my chemo infusion is finished.  Luckily we only live five minutes away, so we are able to change a cap then come home and finished the rest here.  Third - those suckers are COLD!!!!!!!!!  Think brain freeze on steroids.  The caps have to be at -34 degrees Celcius when they go on my head.  The first couple of minutes of the first cap or two are very, very uncomfortable.  If it works, though, it will be more than worth it!

Most chemotherapy patients are completely bald by day 15-20 (after their first treatment).  As you can see from the title of today's post, I am on day 17 and have not lost ANY hair.  With the caps, I can only wash my hair two times a week, but I wet it in the shower every day (with cold water - brrrrr) and comb it out before letting it air dry.  I think this morning there were maybe five hairs on the comb.  Much less than I'd lose in the shower on a normal day.  Realistically I need to be prepared for hair loss.  Even with the caps, almost everyone thins out, some with up to 50-60% hair loss.  However, even with this much loss, the caps "preserve" your hair follicles and your hair will most likely grow back more quickly than without the caps.  Some people have even said their hair started coming back DURING chemo.  With my thick curls, any really thin spots should be quite hidden.  Hopefully.

Right now it is too soon to tell if they will work for me.  I have a long, harsh chemo regimen in front of me.  However, I have already had two treatments and no hair loss.  That's enough to give me hope!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 16

If you ever think you are tired, and you haven't been through chemo, trust me, YOU DON'T KNOW TIRED!  I went to bed last night at 9:45pm.  I was exhausted, probably a combination of the drugs they gave me to control the side effects as well as the chemo drugs themselves.  Insomnia has become my middle name since I was diagnosed, but not last night.  I SLEPT!  And I mean SLEPT slept!  Hubby woke me up once to take my medicine, and I got up again in the early morning to take it again, but over all I slept from 10pm-10am.  That is the most I've slept in one night in months.  Bliss!

You would think I'd be well rested, though, right?  Wrong.  I feel like I've been through a marathon (running, not sleeping!).  I have been on the couch all day.  I don't even have energy to talk.  (Though obviously I have energy to type!).  Luckily the queasiness is only about a 4 on a scale of 1-10.  I haven't eaten much, but I'm not getting sick, so I'll take it.  I do have to work my way up to a shower because I have an appointment at 4pm.  Ugh.  I have to go get a shot that will boost my white blood cells.  Since my white blood cell count was lower than low last week, I know I need this shot, and that is about the only reason I'm willing to get out of my pjs today!

Huge thanks to hubby for going to work late so he could get the kids up, dressed and pack lunches before taking them to school.  I'm blessed.

Kicking cancer's ass - day 15

So yesterday was my second trip to the chemo "bar".  It's quite anticlimactic, actually.  You hear all of these horror stories about chemo, but in all actuality, nothing much happens until you're back home!  Due to all of the "stuff" we come with (which is another whole post), I'm lucky that they put me in a private room.  My treatment center has an infusion room with a bunch of recliners sort of (but not really) sectioned off.  It's depressing, really.  90% of the chemo patients are old, frail, bald and they just sit there snoozing in the recliners while the chemo drugs flow into them.  Ugh.  Being in a private room away from all of that is MUCH better.  Hubby and I actually laugh and joke our way through the hours we are there.

Thankfully the actual infusion isn't long at all.  Once they start my IV, they give me 20 minutes of  "pre-meds" and then about 30 minutes of a saline drip.  I receive 2 chemo drugs - adriamycin (the "red devil") and cytoxan.  The red devil is a "push" where the nurse basically injects it with a syringe into my IV line.  That only takes 5-10 minutes.  The cytoxan is a drip which takes about an hour.  After another 10-15 minute "flush" I'm good to go.  Yesterday we got started around 1:45 and were home by 4:40.  Not too bad.

That's when the fun begins, though.  Most people do pretty well for the first couple of days, and then the crappy stuff starts around day three.  Apparently I'm not "most people", because for me the crappy stuff starts around HOUR three.  Luckily they changed up my anti-nausea meds this time and it seems to have helped.  I still got queasy right on time, but it was manageable and no sickness yet.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 14

So... two weeks into this chemo journey and I FEEL GREAT!!!!!!!!  I don't have a headache.  I don't have any nausea.  My body feels normal.  I'm not even tired!  I washed the windows in my car.  I changed the sheets on my bed.  I spent $267 at Walmart!  Ha!  The irony, considering tomorrow I go for treatment #2.  Ugh.  Let the downward spiral begin again.  On the plus side, my house is completely stocked with Sprite, Red Hots, chicken nuggets, french fries and ice cream.  (The first two for me, the second two for the kids and the last for hubby).  What more could we need?

I'm optimistic that I'll do even better this time.  They have given me different anti-nausea medicine, and from what I understand it is the Mercedes of anti-nausea medicines.  Hopefully it works and I'm not sick tomorrow night!  Since my biggest complaint after that first day has been my headaches, I'm waiting for a call back from the doctor's office about giving me medicine for that, too.  I do NOT want to end up in the emergency room with a migraine again!

People are still sad for me.  My friends are depressed when I talk about my chemo appointments.  I'm not sad.  I'm not even mad.  I have cancer and I'm kicking its ass!  Let's get this show on the road!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 13

I almost channeled my inner friend A and did an "insomniac blogging" post at 4am this morning.   If you don't follow her blog (MyThreeSons), you should.  Not only is she one of my sweetest, dearest friends, but she is a wonderful mommy, a talented and often funny writer, and another cancer warrior.  Enjoy her words and pray for her!

But back to me.... For someone who has never had sleep issues, this not sleeping is for the birds!  My body is working hard to fight cancer (not to mention process all of the many medicines in my system) - how can someone so tired NOT sleep?!??!?  Ugh.  That and my constant headache are my biggest complaints.

Tomorrow I have to go in and have my blood counts checked.  Never having had a medical condition before, this is something I am not used to worrying about.  When I was in the ER Friday night, my white blood cell count was really, really low.  If any of your counts are too low, they will postpone chemo.  Postponing  ANY part of this journey is not in my plan, so please say a prayer that my blood cells are happily multiplying and that I am healthy enough for chemo #2 on Thursday.

I have said it before and will probably say it a million times more, but I have the BEST friends in the whole world.  I have so many people praying for me, shopping for me, buying t-shirts and bracelets to support me, taking my kids to various places, taking over my softball duties (thank you Kala!!!), and just BEING THERE for me.  I am humbled and overwhelmed.  Truly.  God has truly blessed me with a husband, a family and many friends who mean more to me than they will ever know.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 12

Today I am grateful...

- to not have a headache

- that my daughter loves softball, because I SO love watching her play

- that I finally made a dent in the mountain of paperwork that has been accumulating on my bar

- for my husband who without a doubt loves me

- for sunshine and NOT a hundred degrees

- for good friends who are picking up the slack on things that I can not do right now

- for the teachers who are instilling a love of learning in my children, while fostering their creativity and imagination

- that despite an ugly, sloppy, mistake-filled game, the Dallas Cowboys FINALLY, FINALLY beat the Giants in Dallas!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 11

It's NFL day!!!  Fall is my favorite time of year.  Football, cooler weather (maybe eventually?), apples, baked goods, yummy smelling candles, and did I mention football?  I managed to go to J's football game for a little while yesterday (against hubby's protest).  It was very hot and I was very tired, but this mama had to make a showing!  His team lost (and hubby almost got thrown out of the game in his coaching re-debut!), but I'm glad I was able to be there to support my little guy.  Today I am starting off the NFL season doing laundry, eating donuts for breakfast and spending the day with my family watching football.  I declare today will NOT be about cancer.  I only have a minor headache which I am choosing to ignore.  I am determined to win this round and enjoy my day!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 10

In continuation of yesterday's post... apparently the heavy-duty meds they inject you with in the ER only last for about eight hours, because I woke up at 6am and the pain was back.  Ugh.  Luckily I have been able to keep it at bay with a little bit of caffeine and a lot of medication.  Unfortunately that meant no driving for me, so good friend S came to chauffer me to J's football game.  It was very hot and I only lasted three quarters, but at least I was able to go for a bit!

I think day 9 and 10 go to cancer... but tomorrow is another day!

Kicking cancer's ass - day 9

Ok, so ending up in the ER to start my second week after chemo was NOT my plan.  I especially didn't plan on going there for a measly headache!  Alas... this was no ordinary headache.  You see, I am no stranger to headaches.  I've had them in all shapes and forms for years and years, ever since I was a teenager and hormones started doing crazy things to my body.  Unfortunately, it seems chemo has found a way to trump even those headaches.  After fighting with this pain off and on for three days, I ended up asking hubby to call the doctor last night.  Of course I have to decide this after 5pm on a Friday.  <sigh>  The on call doctor suggested I go to the ER for a migraine shot.  If only.  By the time I arrived at the ER I was in tears it hurt so bad.  (Before that, really, but if I'm crying in my bedroom I don't care).  We had to wait almost an hour before getting to a room, and then they informed me that since this was the worst headache I've ever had (WHY did I admit that?!??!!) they needed to do a CT scan before giving me anything.  Luckily we didn't wait too long for that, and after I was snug and comfy back on the hospital cot, the lovely nurse came and injected something in my IV.  Bliss.  I was immediately sleepy and NOT crying anymore.  Do I know how to show a guy a good time on a Friday night or what?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 8

I survived one week of chemotherapy!  I have taken more prescription medication in the past week than I've taken in my lifetime.  I have eaten hundreds of cinnamon red hots candies because they are the only thing that gets rid of the dirty sock taste in my mouth.  I have brushed my teeth enough to make my dentist proud.  I have rediscovered the joy of mashed potatoes and lost my taste for Diet Coke.  I have walked two miles, gone grocery shopping and even managed to work one day.  I found that being a chemo patient makes you an instant germophobe!  I have made it to a few minutes of softball practice and changed the sheets on the kids' beds.  I have learned to try to nap when I feel the need and I've raided hubby's sleepy pills for the nights when I can't sleep.  Do I feel good?  Not in the least.  Am I sick?  I would say not really.  Do I feel normal?  No, but maybe this is my new normal.  Even with my reduced capabilities, I am able to be hubby's wife and J & K's mom.  I declare that a successful week!

Kicking cancer's ass - day 7

Do you ever feel like you are smarter than your doctor?  Or maybe not smarter, but that you know more than they think you should?  See, that's the problem with the internet.  You can find out just about anything about anything.  The minute I suspected I had cancer I began researching like a fiend.  This is nothing new.  I do this with everything - buying a car, picking the best pair of shoes, finding a new recipe.  I can (and do) Google things to death.  Since the magnitude of this issue is so huge, my research has taken on epic proportions.

I've come to the realization that knowledge is power.  Given that I am fighting for my life in a battle I've never fought, I want to have all the knowledge I can.  This means I know more than I ever thought I would know about hormone receptors and tumor grades and stages of cancer.  I know the difference between a CT scan and a PET scan, and I can name almost every chemotherapy drug given for breast cancer.  I am only one month past d-day (diagnosis day) and yet I've spent countless hours with nurses, radiologists, doctors and my surgeon.

The down side to carrying the equivalent of a breast cancer encyclopedia (remember them?) in my head is that I probably know more than I should.  I know my options and weigh them.  Incessantly.  Maybe it would be easier if I was some little old lady who had never met a keyboard.  I could listen to my all-knowing doctors and just take comfort in the fact that they know what they are doing.  Unfortunately I have a hard time laying my life in anyone's hands, even those of a medical professional!  I want to know who, what, where, when, why and how much, and then I want to know again!  I will not sit here and blindly follow, assuming they know what is best.  Maybe the patients who do that rest more easily at night than I do (instead of having their hubby tell them to "shut the computer and give your brain a rest"), but I refuse to accept that I'm doing what's best for me just because the doctors say so.  Considering I want to live a long, long time, I will find out everything I can about cancer, treatment, side effects, prognosis, possible complications, surgery, you name it!  Breast cancer is my enemy and I'm adding my brain to the arsenal I'm using to defeat it!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 6

When life gives you lemons...make lemonade!  Or in my case, lemonade ice cubes!  Thanks to my buddy K, I am as we speak freezing lemonade into tiny ice cubes in hopes of finding something that will taste good and keep me hydrated.  In the few short days since my first chemo, my taste buds have gone on a riot and none of my favorite drinks taste good anymore.  Boo!!!  Even on these hot, late summer Texas days, water isn't refreshing in the least.  Ick.  Oh well, try and try again!

Did I mention that a cancer diagnosis immediately results in insomnia?  No?  Honest, it does.  It's like a little switch goes off - you find out you have cancer and you no longer sleep at night.  I have always slept really, really well.  Before d-day, I could sleep anywhere, anytime.  I could fall asleep within minutes most nights.  No longer.  Last night I was awake.  Not upset.  Not hurting.  Not sick.  Just... awake.  Listening to hubby snore.  And the cat whine.

One of the downsides to NOT needing your anti-nausea medicine after chemo is that you no longer have the added "help" of the drowsy side-effects.  Am I tired?  Yes.  Do I want to take a pill just to make me sleep?  No.  So I ended up with a restless night, and now it's a lazy Tuesday!  Oh well, there are worse things.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 5

I walked about 2 miles this morning.  I'm declaring that a huge victory over chemo!  I haven't been able to do much of anything except lay around on the couch most of the weekend, so I was MORE than ready to get out & get some exercise and fresh air.  But, I will confess, when "they" tell you not to overdo it, they really mean DON'T OVERDO IT!  We walked at a moderately slow pace, but by the time I got back, I felt like I had run a marathon.  Literally.  I was exhausted and out of breath.  Chemo leaves you weak as a kitten, no joke.  Thankfully my buddy R doesn't mind that we might have to walk at a snail's pace.  HA!  At least I'm out there, right?

Today is Labor Day.  I'm thankful to have hubby home with us for another day.  The kids have enjoyed the extra day off from school, and it's nice to have family time where I'm actually feeling good.  Tomorrow may be another story, but the kids are back at school and I don't have to work, so if my couch calls my name, who cares?

Cancer be gone!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 4

September 1st... exactly a month since my diagnosis.  It seems like forever ago and it feels like just yesterday.  So much has happened and yet now everything has taken on a new "normal".

Day 4 has been better than day 3, which was better than day 2, which is a trend I can live with!  I've always heard (from other cancer patients, from the doctors and even the chemo nurses) that you usually feel pretty good the first couple of days and then you will feel like you have the flu by day 3 or 4.  I think, at least for this round, that chemo knocked me down & out the first few days but now I'm rebounding.  I like that - get it over with rather than wait for the other shoe to drop, you know?

The hard part is trying not to do too much even though I'm feeling better, because even this "better" is nowhere near my 100%!  I see things around the house that need doing and I just go about doing them, even though I should probably just be resting.  But seriously, how much resting can one woman do??

Things I've discovered on this chemo journey - two of my favorite drinks (water and Diet Coke) taste horrible, and Sprite and lemonade taste better.  Mashed potatoes and Lipton chicken noodle soup have become my new favorite foods.  I am not a fan of mouthwash, but due to the chemo "yuck mouth", I'm having to brush constantly and rinse with Biotene.  Ugh.  All in all, though, considering there is poison running through my body killing cancer, I can't complain about how I'm feeling!  DIE CANCER, DIE!!!!!!!!

My shout out today has to go to my mom and dad.  I know it is so, so difficult for them to be so far away and not really able to do anything tangible to help me.  The other day I received a card with a check from each of them, to cover one of my expenses and also to pay for my housekeeper for a month.  How awesome is that?!?!?!?

Ahh... let me backtrack to my housekeeper.  As a stay-at-home mom (ok, part-time worker), I never really felt the need to have someone clean my house.  Did I WANT that?  Of course.  What sane woman looking after a house, two kids, a cat and a job wants to scrub toilets or mop floors?  However, it wasn't anything I ever couldn't handle.  Since D-day (a.k.a diagnosis day), my OCD cleaning tendencies have gone out the window and I haven't been able or willing to focus on anything aside from keeping up with the necessities.  Enter Elaine... housekeeper to the stars.  Ok, not really stars, but she does clean several of my friends' houses and comes highly recommended.  She came the day before my chemo infusion and let me tell you what perfect timing that is!  Knowing that I will come home and feel yuck for a few days but have a sparkly clean house??  Priceless!