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!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

kicking cancer's ass - day 64

Today begins my tenth week of chemotherapy.  If you've never had chemo before, let me tell you, ten weeks  of this fun stuff is a long freaking time!  In some ways, I look at the calendar and say "Wow, it's almost November".  But in other ways, I feel like I've been on this journey for eight hundred and ninety-six days with one hundred ninety-eight thousand to go.  It's a long, winding, seemingly endless road that nobody wants to be on.  Sometimes, though, normal everyday life inserts itself and I'm allowed to forget that I have cancer for a little while.  Last night was one of those nights.  I managed to cook dinner for my family, and let me tell you, home-cooked meals do not happen often around here.  I even washed the dishes!  After dinner Hubby and I helped the kiddos carve their pumpkins.  K wanted hers to have hearts for eyes.  J designed his with a Minecraft theme.  After they created the masterpieces below, my little family sat around the table and played a game of Trivial Pursuit (which we'll have to continue tomorrow because that game takes forever to play!).

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

kicking cancer's ass - day 63

The other night while we were eating dinner, J looked at me and said "I miss your hair."

Such simple, innocent words, and yet they made me mad.  Mad at cancer.  Mad that my not-so-little boy has to feel that way.  He wasn't being mean, and even said seeing me without my hair doesn't make him sad.... but just the fact that he thought that pisses me off.  Stupid cancer.  What right do you have to mess with my children and their feelings?  Do what you want to me, but leave my babies and their emotions out of it.  I know in the grand scheme of things, an innocent comment is nothing.  Cancer may do its best but I am winning day by day and I will be victorious.  Little things like that, though, teach me not to be complacent in my battle.  My fight isn't just against the disease inside me, but it's against anything threatening the well-being and happiness of my family.  Stupid dumb breast cancer.  Don't mess with me.  Or my kids.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

kicking cancer's ass - day 62

Silence.  This takes on a whole new meaning when you have cancer.

Silence is what fills my nights when I can't sleep and thoughts of my own mortality fly through my mind.  When insomnia hits, it's rarely happy thoughts that fill my head.  You know the type of insomnia that little kids get (ok, and even big kids) on Christmas Eve, where they are just too excited to sleep?  I wish that was my sleeping problem.  Unfortunately, my insomnia is caused by anxiety, or pain, or sickness, or sadness, or stress, or all of the above.  And when I'm wide awake in the middle of the night, the silence is deafening.  (Well, aside from the incessant meowing from my cat.  )

Silence is what fills the many, many hours I spend in waiting rooms and doctor's offices during the dozens of appointments I must go to.  Yesterday I had an ultrasound to check out my ovaries and other female parts.  As I lay there on the little table while the radiology tech did her thing, I stared at the ceiling and listened to the silence.  I wished for some kind words.... or some soft music.... and I really wished I had asked for my hubby to come in with me.  He was in the waiting room (of course, because he refuses to have me face any part of this journey on my own), but I really wanted him WITH ME.  Even though it was a minor test, and I wasn't having any problems with that part of my anatomy, I felt really lonely in that room undergoing yet another procedure that I wouldn't have to do if I didn't have cancer.

Silence is what fills my mind when I hear of yet another person close to me battling this awful disease.  Even with my own illness, I'm not mad.  I don't want to rage and shout.  I know, being on this side of it, that there are no magic words or "right" things to say.  I'm mostly just baffled and my mind is blank.  Silence.  And then... "Really?  Again?"  It's staggering, really, how many lives are touched by cancer.  What can you do when you hear someone has cancer?  Show them love, and tell them you will pray for them.  You might not be able to cure them, but you can make the journey easier on them with your support.  One of the girls on K's softball team prayed for me the other night.  Her mom asked her to say it again so she could record it to show me.  Knowing that this sweet little girl (on her own) chose to ask God to use His power to heal me warms my heart.  Another girl on the team went to a birthday party where there was face painting.  She asked for a pink ribbon on her cheek... for me.  I can't ask these little girls for help, but they give it anyway, in their own way.

Silence is what happens to some friendships when someone has cancer.   Cancer not only ravages bodies, but it can destroy marriages and it can create distance in other relationships.  People get busy and forget about your struggle.  Life is busy.  Some are afraid to stay close to you because they can't handle serious illness.  Maybe they don't want a constant reminder that someone close to them might die.  Most people who care about you want to help but don't know how.  That doesn't mean they don't love you, or they don't think about you.  Not only for the patient, but for those around them, cancer will definitely show you what you're made of.  Do you suck it up and face each day head on, or are you a bury your head in the sand kind of person?  If you know and love someone with cancer (or any other major illness or challenge), realize that sometimes just breaking the silence helps.

I'm extremely fortunate that I have a husband standing by my side through it all.  He is with me each day as we face whatever challenge comes our way.  My friends and family help however they can - bringing meals, watching the kids, stopping by for a chat, etc.   Sometimes, in the midst of all of this support, I need to take a step back and just be.  I may have cancer, but I'm still me.

The definition of silence is "the absence of any sound or noise; stillness".

I might not always welcome the first part, but I am learning to appreciate stillness.  Sometimes.

Monday, October 28, 2013

kicking cancer's ass - day 61

Random musings...

  • Tonight is K's last fall ball softball game.  While I love her team to pieces and enjoy watching her play, I am ready for a break.  It will only be a little break, though, because she will play in a tournament in November and then another in December!
  • Had a very nice lunch and chat with a friend today.  So good to catch up (and the meal delivery was a bonus).  I would have preferred that we get out and walk and THEN have lunch as intended, but a sick kid foiled that plan.
  • Speaking of sick kids....this is day #3 that J has stayed home because of a stomach ache.  Why is he not sick on the weekends???  I think I'm a pretty good judge of when he's faking, and he was not faking this morning.  However, I really struggled with keeping him home when he already missed two days last week.  Normally in my Book of Mom Code, if you're not throwing up, coughing up or burning up, you go to school.  He insists that he loves school and there's no reason he doesn't want to go.... he's just not feeling good.  We'll see.  I told him if he's not throwing up tomorrow, he's going to school.  It might be mean, but he can sit at his desk and work with a stomach ache just as easily as he can lay on the couch!  
  • I'm already tired of uncomfortable medical procedures.  I'll spare you the details, but let's just say my appointment this morning may have been quick but it wasn't exactly painless.  Hmph.
  • I probably sound like a broken record, but I have the best husband.  Ever.  He won't be happy that I keep singing his praises, but he is by my side on this journey no matter what is going on.  He shows up whether I think he needs to or not, and I love him so much for that.  
  • They should call Taxol "the clear devil".  My new chemo buddy makes me HURT!  I'll take that over the sick, pukey, gross feeling any day, but it's no fun when everything aches (and I mean really aches)!  
  • Have you gotten your flu shot?  I haven't.  Mostly because I'm not allowed.  But also because I've never, in forty years, had a flu shot!  Unfortunately my family is not so lucky.  They were instructed by my oncologist to get the shot, and it must be the shot.  The nasal mist is a live vaccine and I'm not allowed near that.  So to protect their mommy's (and wife's) delicate immune system, Hubby and the kids are going to have to suck it up & get over their fear of needles so they can get a flu shot.  Good luck with that Hubs!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 60

One of the things I've learned on this journey is to know my limits.  Some days I can push myself into doing most of what I'm used to doing.  Other days I'm lucky to manage a shower.  Yesterday I felt ok and was able to go to J's football game.  Today I ache from head to toe thanks to my new chemo buddy Taxol.  (Ache might be an understatement but who wants to listen to me complain?)   I had tickets to take K to see Angelina Ballerina downtown today but I knew I probably wouldn't feel 100% just a few days after chemo.  Not only that, but cancer patients have to be extremely careful to avoid germs, so going into a theater packed full of little kids probably wouldn't have been a bright idea on my part.  Enter Aunt Susie.  She was happy to step in and go on a Sunday afternoon date with my girl, and K is always thrilled to spend time with her Susie!  Here they are getting ready to head out:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 59

My daughter loves to text.  This was part of our conversation tonight
 (she's in her room, I'm on the couch):

There is too much joy in my heart for cancer to bring me down.  I'm so blessed by my family.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 58

Channeling my inner Allyson & doing some "Insomniac Blogging" today.

  • I learned yesterday that Benadryl given in my i.v. knocks me out, but only after giving me a horrible case of restless legs.  Hmph.  I ended up standing and walking with my little i.v. pole for the first hour of my taxol infusion.  Not fun.  I thought it was just because of my tendency to have restless legs syndrome anyway, but I've since learned this has happened to other people, too.  Misery loves company.
  • I also learned that taxol takes a long time.  We closed down the cancer center and were the last patients in there yesterday.
  • My oncologist complimented me on my hair and he told me I did a good job because it looks very close to my old hair.  He was disappointed that the cold caps didn't work for me, too.
  • Speaking of hair, the lab tech was ASTOUNDED that my wig wasn't my real hair.  She had to come find me and ask me to be sure.  She said she was arguing with someone else there, insisting it was my real hair.  She asked me if I had someone make the wig for me.  I told her it was just dumb luck because I ordered it online.  This maybe makes me hate my wig a little less.
  • My mom is in Texas this weekend but not seeing me!  My cousin is getting married in Austin tomorrow and Mom and D flew down to attend the wedding.  They are only here for the weekend, so no time to fit in a trip to Abilene.  I wish I could be at the wedding, too, but traveling and being in crowds are really iffy for me right now.  Sending love and huge congrats to L & K this weekend.
  • I love having a cleaning lady.  Normally I look around my house and see all of the things that need doing and wonder when I'll have the time and energy to do them.  Now I look around and see these things and think, "Oh, E will be here Friday."   It pretty much takes my whole paycheck each week to pay for her, but it's worth every penny.
  • My son will be twelve in four short weeks.  How did that happen?  That means in one more year he'll be a teenager!  He's almost as tall as me, his feet are as big as mine, he has "man hair" on his legs and recently announced he has hair under his arms.  Yikes.  Where did my little boy go?!??!?!
  • My hubby has been my rock throughout this whole journey.  He is there to talk to me about anything, anytime, and give me a pep talk when I need one.  He also has been to EVERY SINGLE appointment with me, even when it means sitting around the chemo infusion room watching his wife sleep for hours.  Can I just tell you how much I love this man?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 57

Today I am hitting the bar before noon.  The chemo bar, that is.  I would much rather be hitting another type of bar, but unfortunately cancer kind of puts a halt to those kinds of activities.  I feel like a chemo rookie again.  Despite having four treatments under my belt and making it to the halfway point, in a way I am starting all over again.  Having said goodbye to the red devil last time, my next (and hopefully last!) four infusions will be taxol.  I've heard mixed reviews about this.  Plenty of people who have done the AC-T say that taxol is a breeze compared to AC.  I certainly hope so.  I don't want to be the oddball who bucks the trend and does worse on it!  I've been known to jinx myself, though, so I'm not holding out too much hope that this will go easy on me.  I've also heard that some people have a hard time with taxol and they hate it, so I think it's a crap shoot how your body is going to respond.  I'm hoping for better, but if I can only tolerate it as well as I have the first four, I'll be happy.

For those of you with children... why do they have the WORST timing when it comes to being sick????  Today is not only a chemo day, but I have an office visit with my oncologist first, and he is not known for short office visits.  We are most likely going to spend the whole day at the cancer center.  What fun!  How to do that with a sick child at home and nobody to watch him?  Hopefully Hubby called his dad to see if J could spend the afternoon with his Peepaw, but he was pretty groggy when I woke him up with the news that J was sick, so I'm not sure anything about the situation registered with him.

On a chemo side note, two of the most common complaints about taxol are neuropathy (tingling in hands & feet) and nail issues.  People have said that their nails turn black and sometimes even fall off.  Ick.  I do NOT like that one bit.  Two helpful hints were to have dark polish on your nails which helps protect them, and to "ice" your hands and feet.  So I am armed with dark purple nails and bags of frozen peas...not your usual weapons of choice when going into battle, but hopefully they work!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 56

Today was our annual visit to the pumpkin patch.  These two cuties are the main reason I am bound and determined to kick cancer's ass.  How can anyone look at those sweet faces and NOT want to do everything you can to stick around for a long, long time?  I plan on this journey being just a blip on my life's radar when all is said and done.  When things get overwhelming, I try to remember to just take each day at a time, and remember that no matter how bad I feel, every day is a gift.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 55

Every day, at least twice a day, I think of my BFF.  I have known T since we were twelve years old, and for as long as I can remember, she has hated taking pills.  I mean, gagging over the smallest of capsules kind of hate.  Each morning and evening (and some days in between) when I am systematically swallowing the little pile of pills I have to take, I think about her and wonder how she ever managed to do this.

I am not a fan of having to down big horse pills.... I literally drink a whole bottle of water each night in order to swallow the five prescription and supplement pills I take before bed.  My gag reflex is nowhere near as bad as hers, but I still have a hard time taking this much medication every single day.  If you ever have cancer, be prepared to become a pill swallowing expert.  I went from having NO daily meds to having a list longer than Hubby's.  I even had to buy one of those old people daily pill containers.  Oh the joys of being a cancer patient.  The fun never ends!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 54

I've said it before and I will say it again - I love fall!  After a summer spent in west Texas, the cooler temperatures are more than welcome.  I love long sleeves, fuzzy socks and hot tea.  I love football and baking and comfort food.  The one thing I DON'T like right now is the stupid mouth sore that chemo gave me.  Despite doing everything right (taking the right supplements, brushing after every meal, rinsing several times a day, etc) my tongue HURTS.  And of course it's right on the side next to my teeth, so every time I chew or swallow = instant pain.  Even the "magic mouthwash" that my doctor prescribed isn't helping.  I know having completed half of my chemo regimen, I could have it so much worse, but sometimes even a small thing can seem huge.  Woe is me.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 53

I wish I could be one of those brave women who look stunning without their hair.  There is no denying it, though - I'm not a beautiful bald person.  My scalp is too white and my eyes are too close together and my ears stick out.  Besides all of that, I'm way too self-conscious to ever try to pull it off.  For someone who rarely changes her hairstyle by more than an inch here & there and who waited 40 years to color her hair, I have made being inconspicuous an art form.  Being a woman and being bald garners instant attention.  Not good for someone who prefers being a wallflower.

Unfortunately I've discovered that finding something to wear on my head every single day is almost as annoying has having to fix your hair (when you have it).  Wearing my wig sometimes gives me a headache, and even though it looks like my hair, I don't look like myself when I see me wearing it.  So unless I'm going to work or the store or the doctor (or the casino!), I end up wearing a cap or a bandana.  I even wear a little hat to sleep in so my head doesn't get cold.  It's getting old real fast, though, and that's frustrating since I have months of not having hair to look forward to.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 52

This week is Homecoming for J's pee wee football team.  Last night we were supposed to have a parade and pep rally.  Unfortunately, the timing of a thunderstorm cut out the pep rally part.

Here's my boy and his teammates getting ready to ride.

Justin was the coach nominated to ride with the boys, and K decided she needed to be a part of the parade, too.

After last night's weather debacle, today was a perfect fall football day.  When I woke up the temperature was 36 degrees (which I didn't notice until I looked at the weather on my phone because I was nice & toasty in my bed with K under my electric blanket!).  This afternoon it was in the mid-60s, perfectly sunny and no wind.  Couldn't ask for a nicer day for homecoming at Bulldog Stadium.

Hubby decided to egg each of the boys on at halftime when their names were announced.  Here's my boy hamming it up.

Unfortunately they didn't come away with a win, but the boys played hard, moved the ball and found the end zone.  I was presented with this homecoming mum from the team.

The boys all received goody bags after the game, and J even got a great Bulldogs equipment bag with his name and football number on it.  It's great to be a Wylie Bulldog!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 51

I found out today that someone from NEW YORK is opening a BAGEL SHOP in Abilene, and they are supposed to have REAL New York BAGELS!  I am more than a little excited about this. 

I received a box of Macintosh apples from my mom in New York today.

Happy Friday to me!
Now if only I could get some real NY pizza......

Kicking cancer's ass - day 50

A post for day 50 - better late than never, right?  
  • When you have bad luck at the casino, it helps when your hubby has good luck.  Thanks Hubby!
  • The menu prices are pretty ridiculous at Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar & Restaurant".  That being said, it was really really yummy.
  • For the first time ever, I had nude photos taken of me.  Did you know that's what they do when you see a plastic surgeon?  (Yes I just put that on my blog. Nothing is sacred in the cancer world.)   I thought after having two kids my modesty over stuff like that was long gone.  I was wrong.
  • The only positive thing about cancer is feeling how much people love you.  Nothing else about cancer is fun.  Nothing.
  • My gynecological oncologist called my breast surgeon and my plastic surgeon "the dream team".  I guess if you have to have major surgery, that's a good team to have!
  • Speaking of my gyn onc - she's from New York and she also turned 40 this year.  Hubby just sat there rolling his eyes as she and I bonded over our Yankee-ness.
  • At our next appointment I then had to sit there and roll my eyes as Hubby and a nurse bonded over good old Abilene (her hometown).
  • Even though I'm kicking cancer's ass, I discovered yesterday that I still cry when people hug me.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 49

Seven weeks of chemo DONE!  Only seven more and I will be finished.  That's cause for a celebration.  Good thing Hubby and I already planned an overnight getaway!  Ok, we're really going because I have three appointments in Dallas tomorrow and we didn't want to have such a long day on top of a three hour drive there and back, AND we figured we'd hit the casino for a little anniversary celebration.  But marking the halfway point of chemo is just an added bonus.  After numerous days of feeling rather icky and under the weather, I am starting to get my Michelle mojo back.  Good timing for our road trip.  Who wants to travel when you're wanting nothing more than to be glued to your couch?

Anyway, tomorrow is a big day in my cancer world.  First we will meet with a plastic surgeon who will take part in my breast (hopefully) reconstruction surgery.  There are so many options and methods and he will examine me and my case to help us decide the best route to go.  We've never met him and I can't even pronounce his name, but I hope we like him.  Then we will see a gynecological oncologist to discuss removing my ovaries.  Since being positive for the BRCA 2 gene means an increased risk of ovarian cancer, we want those out of there!  When this surgery will be done will be determined by the type of reconstruction I choose.  It may be before, or it may just be something done down the line.  Finally we will visit with my surgeon again.  She wanted to see me halfway though chemo to see how I'm progressing and discuss my upcoming surgery.  It will be a busy day, but I'm grateful they were able to squeeze us in for all three appointments in one day so we could get it all done in one trip.

As always, thank you for the prayers and support.  If you have any to spare, please send some to my friends K & D as they begin their own cancer journey.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 48

Dear Hubby,

Twelve years ago today, we stood side by side at the courthouse and said "I do".  You were nervous.  I was not.  We had both been down that road before and yet we still had the courage to try again.  Since day one it has been you and me against the world.  We have been a team and have had each other's back, no matter what.  We've faced down each challenge thrown at us and we've been victorious.  Our love not only remains true, but it grows stronger each day, each month, each year.  You are my best friend, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my partner in crime, my lover, my love.  You are the best father I could have hoped for for our children.  You are someone I'd want to know, a friend I'd want to have and the man I still fall in love with every day.  You make me feel beautiful even on days when I know I'm not (stupid dumb breast cancer!).  You pick me up when I'm down, you make me laugh when I want to cry, and you never, ever give up on me.  Thank you for twelve wonderful years.  I'm so glad you chose me to spend your life with.

I love you to the moon and back.

One little aside - today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  As part of the ups & downs of life, hubby and I experienced this loss twice.  Today, in addition to celebrating our love, I also want to remember the two little lives we didn't get to meet.  Hugs to anyone who has experienced this.  It's not often talked about.  It's devastating.  Life goes on, but I haven't forgotten.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 47

Have you ever had a really bad hangover?  Well, I haven't.  But if I had, I'd imagine it feels like how I feel today.  My stomach is queasy.  I have the most awful dirty sock taste in my mouth.  My eyes won't stop watering.  I woke up to a pounding headache and I'm as weak as a newborn kitten.  I started running a fever last night.  I'm hoping and praying that I don't get any worse.  In the cancer/chemo world, a fever higher than 100.5 warrants a call to the doctor and is considered to be "life threatening".  Huh.  I feel like something the cat dragged in, but I don't feel life-threatened.

Don't the chemo gods know I can't be sick this week?  Tomorrow I will celebrate 12 years of wedded bliss with Hubby.  I do not plan to be sick on the couch for the third day in a row.  I want a lunch date!  Also, Thursday is a biggie as far as my treatment goes.  We will be going to Dallas to see my surgeon.  She wants to see me halfway through chemo to gauge my progress and discuss a timeline for surgery.   I also have appointments with a plastic surgeon and a gynecological oncologist that day.  All of these doctors are going to be in charge of the next phase of my treatment - surgeries to get rid of any stubborn cancer cells still hanging around after chemo and removing anything that might increase my chances of recurrance.

Obviously being couch-bound with a fever and a headache won't work, so GO AWAY!!!

Kicking cancer's ass - day 46

Looks like I missed a day of posting.  Oh the horror!
Usually I can try to be witty and clever and have no problem coming up with something to write about.  Today, a day I have to write not only one but two entries, I'm drawing a blank.

Let's just post some cuteness instead.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 45

I continue to be astounded by the amount of love and support that surrounds me on this journey.  I would never wish this situation on anyone, ever, but for anyone who has to walk in these shoes, I only hope that they have the kind of people around them that I do.

This weekend there was a softball tournament held to help support breast cancer awareness (and yes, part of the proceeds will be donated, so it's not just fake "pinktober" marketing).  K's team already had shirts made up to support me (they say "Beacon of Hope" on them with a lighthouse.... how perfect!!) and had little pink sparkly breast cancer ribbons put on their uniforms in honor of me.  When I arrived at her game yesterday, I saw this hanging on the dugout:

You probably can't read all of the small print, but each square is a message from one of the girls on the team, telling me they love me, they're sorry I have cancer, they hope I feel better.  There is no way in the world I can sit around and feel sorry for myself or NOT be inspired by the pure hearts of these little Lady Diamonds.  I'm humbled, honored and touched beyond measure.  Team Michelle ROCKS!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 44

I AM SICK OF CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There, I said it.  And I'm not even talking about me.  Luckily I seem to be tolerating this latest round very well.... mostly just sleepy from all of the nausea medicine I'm taking.  Unfortunately I received news today that someone else in my little circle of family and friends now has to face the cancer monster.  I hate that anyone has to walk down this same road, especially someone I know and care about.  ENOUGH ALREADY!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 43

Want to know what chemo looks like from a patient's standpoint?

This is Adriamycin - a.k.a. "the red devil".  I've been on a very harsh chemo regimen of adriamycin and cytoxan for the last six weeks, and I'm happy to say that I have kicked that one to the curb!  After today's infusion, I am halfway through my chemo treatment.  So even though it's not Wednesday, today, October 10th, is hump day for me.  I'll switch drugs after this and have four biweekly treatments of Taxol starting in two weeks.  Continued prayers that I tolerate that as well as I've done so far.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 42

Want to know what happened to me today?  I went to Walmart (looking like I did in this picture, and yes, I know, I do not look like the typical Walmart shopper.  I forgot and actually got dressed & put on make-up today!).  Anyway, while I was perusing the apples, there were two people working in the produce section near me.  I heard the girl say something about hair, but since I don't technically have any hair, I didn't pay attention.  Then I heard her again, a little bit louder.  She said, "I really, really love your hair.  Ma'am?  I LOVE your hair."  I looked up & saw to my surprise she was talking to me.  O-kay..... I smiled and said thank you.  What else do you do?  (My mother voted for whipping off my wig and telling her she could have my hair if she loved it so much.)  Considering my body has not really been my own for the last 2+ months, the fact that someone would compliment me on how I look (ok, she was complimenting my fake hair, but still...) was a huge ego boost.

Six weeks ago, when I started this chemo journey, if you told me I'd be laughing about my hair (or lack of), I'd have given you a dirty look and said you were crazy.  Score one for me, cancer!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 41

Apparently I am in a big hurry to return to the cancer center.  I came home from work today and immediately started getting ready for tomorrow, planning wardrobe choices for me and the kids and packing my chemo bag, thinking tomorrow was Thursday.  I even rushed to do a load of laundry because K's uniform is dirty and I thought she had a softball game the next day.  Ha!  I finally realized that I was jumping the gun and I have another day until chemo #4.

I don't know if it's because I have felt SO good for practically the whole time since #3 or because I had my follow-up appointment with my oncologist a day earlier than usual so I haven't been to a doctor's office in over a week, but I feel like I have been waiting for this Thursday for a long time.  I am scheduled to have four rounds of AC (the "A" is the red devil) and then four rounds of Taxol.  I have no idea what my experience with Taxol will be, but I am really, really ready to be done with the "red devil".  My experience so far hasn't been nearly as awful as I expected, and I feel like I am tempting fate by dancing with that particular devil any more!  I want to get this infusion in the books and get through the first few days after when my side effects are the worst so I can safely say I am halfway through chemo.  When you're facing sixteen weeks of chemotherapy, reaching the midway point seems like a huge accomplishment.

Please say prayers that my body handles this next round as well as it has the first three and that I bounce back just as quickly.  Having ten days of feeling pretty much like myself is amazing and I am greedy enough to want that again!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 40

One of the arguments that my surgeon gave for wanting me to do neoadjuvant chemotherapy (chemo before surgery) is that this way they are able to actually see the cancer respond (hopefully!) to the chemo drugs.  If you have chemo after surgery, you are basically just hoping to zap any remaining random cancer cells in your body, without any visual evidence that this actually happens.  A lot of women have a problem with that because they just want the cancer OUT!  ASAP.  I can understand that to some extent, especially considering that I could feel the cancer in my body for two months before I even started treatment.  That's a horrible feeling, let me tell you.  However, I had no problem with doing chemo first.  It sort of gives me the power to say "DIE, CANCER, DIE!!!!!!"

Today, a few days before chemo #4, I am happy to say that my tumor has shrunk.  A lot.  Is it still there?  Yep.  But it's in its withering, dying, crushed-under-the-falling-house, last gasping breath days.  I feel that with every bone in my body.  I can still feel a lump.  Of course I can.  It was huge to begin with.  But where before it was a multi-headed, snarling, growing monster spreading its poison everywhere, now it is a cold, black lump of coal shrinking day by day.  I am almost halfway through chemo and I would judge that my cancer has been reduced by half.  Cool coincidence, huh?

Kicking cancer's ass - day 39

Two softball games and a football game Saturday (in windy/wet/rainy/cold weather) and three more softball games Sunday did this mama in.  I was channeling my inner Grammie and crashed out on the couch before my 6th grader even went to bed last night.  No big blog post for day 39.  However, here's a picture of my pretty catcher with her newest softball bling:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 38

In my normal day to day life as a wife and mom, I try not to let my role as a cancer patient take over very often.  There's always dishes to do, errands to run, games to watch, etc.  Considering I am feeling okay most days, this isn't a problem.  Do I forget that I am sick?  No.  But I try not to eat, sleep and breathe cancer unless I have to.  Today, though, I was honored by some people around me for nothing more than my fight against breast cancer.  The thoughtfulness and generosity of the people around me (both near and far) continues to astound me.

I received not one but TWO deliveries of flowers today.  One was a beautiful flowering pot from my mother simply because she loves and misses me.  The other was from my cousin and her soon to be husband, just saying they are thinking of me.  Then at my son's football game, I was given a pink sash to wear, on which was written "Playing for Michelle" from the team.  Most of the other moms were wearing them too.  I also received a beautiful little bouquet of little pink ribbon candies.  I was so touched.

p.s. L & K - I hate that I am so close (by Texas standards) and unable to be there for your special day.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 37

Random Friday musings:

  • Each of my chemo infusions cost $3300 (according to what insurance is billed).  The injection I receive the day after chemo to boost my white blood cells?  $9900!  I'm not kidding.  For that kind of money, my white blood cells should "boost" into orbit!
  • I am not a fan of Arsenio Hall.  His nighttime talk show is horrible.
  • It's ironic that this is the first Friday night of this fall football season that A) the weather has been good and B) I've been well enough to go to a game.... and it is the BYE WEEK for our team.  Bummer.
  • I'm too tired to read, there's nothing on tv and yet I'm not sleepy enough for sleep.  Lucky me.
  • This afternoon it was sunny, windy and 90 degrees.  Tomorrow morning it is supposed to be cloudy, windy, maybe rainy, and in the mid-50s.  Welcome fall.  (Finally!)
  • We really want to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.  Unfortunately work, softball, football, school and cancer take up too much of our time!
  • I know school fundraisers are necessary.  However, maybe they would be able to raise more money if they lowered the prices just a little.  It's hard to justify paying $15.00 for a small tub of cookie dough!  (But yes I'll do it)
  • K told me that she already knows what she is going to name her kids when she grows up.  Her daughter will be Brooklyn and her son will be Andrew.  When I asked her what happens if her husband doesn't like those names, she told me, "Well, he'll just have to work it out!"  Ha!  Love that girl. 
  • Want to know what MY Friday night entertainment was?  A sixth-grader playing Mary Had a Little Lamb on his trombone.  Five times.  Jealous?  (Seriously, it was great.  I'm a proud mom.)  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 36

I may be kicking cancer's ass, but I think life is trying to kick MY ass this week!  This mom is exhausted!!!  Between working and laundry and dishes and homework and errands and softball and doctor's appointments and allergy shots and .... SHEESH!  I'm sorry, but this chemo girl needs some rest!  Thank God tomorrow is Friday and I have no plans.  Oh wait, I have to wash my wig.  Maybe I can fit that into my schedule.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 35

Day 35.  That is 840 hours, or 50,400 minutes, or 3,024,000 seconds since I started kicking cancer's ass with my first infusion of chemotherapy.  Wow.  How time flies when you're having fun!

Today was a normal day for me.  No sickness.  No fever.  No aches or pains.  No bad side effects at all.  I even went to work, went to the health food store (for prenatal vitamins...but that's a whole other post), and had lunch with a friend.  All totally normal!  I even wore my big girl hair so I'd look like a normal person instead of a cancer patient.

If only I could get over the feeling that I'm an imposter when I wear my wig.  It's just weird.  It makes me wish I had worn more costumes or played dress up more when I was little.  Or joined the circus.  Or performed historical re-enactments.  Anything that would have gotten me used to wearing fake hair on my head.  Because it's just NOT normal.  Or comfortable.  I see why so many women choose to go "topless".  Unfortunately I am not one who can "rock the bald", nor do I want to.

Anyway, I digress.  It felt good to just be myself today.  I didn't have any doctor's appointments or forms to fill out.  I didn't take any medicine other than my vitamins & an allergy pill.  I didn't even get any medical bills in the mail!  It's moments like this when every little minute is NOT about cancer that make me happy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kicking cancer's ass - day 34

After several posts in a row where it seems like cancer has been kicking my ass, let's get back to ME doing the ass-kicking!!  I had a good appointment with my oncologist today (as if any visit to an oncologist is a good one?).  Apparently <knock on wood> I am on the lower end of the chemo side effect curve and we are all systems go for the next round.  This is huge to me, because the next one is the LAST visit with the "red devil" and that means I will be halfway done with chemo!  Woohoo!!!

I will visit with three different doctors in Dallas on Oct 17th.  We'll meet again with my surgeon and discuss my progress & make a plan for surgery.  I also have to meet the plastic surgeon who will play a big role in that surgery, as well as a gynecological oncologist (say that three times fast).  Since I tested positive for the breast cancer gene, that ups the ante a little bit on my risk for other cancers, including ovarian.  That means I will be having my ovaries removed (good riddance!) either before or after my breast surgery.

So... a lot of major medical stuff in my future, but right now I just feel good that I feel almost GOOD being almost halfway through the dreaded chemo.  Take THAT, cancer!

P.S. In case you missed all of the pink ribbons, October is breast cancer awareness month.  Please get checked.  Do some checking.  Be aware of any changes in your body.  <stepping off my soapbox>