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, February 28, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 549

That's funny, right?
But not so funny because that's totally me.  I am now officially the heaviest I've ever been except when I was pregnant.  Chemo + menopause + Tamoxifen + laziness = my clothes don't fit anymore!

Things will get better once I find some energy to exercise.  I keep waiting for a burst of "let's get skinny", but so far it's not happening.  If you have any extra motivation, please send it my way!

(Thanks to my BFF for pic)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 548

My kids had a snow day today.  That's quite an unusual event in west Texas.  
This was their third snow day this week.  That is extraordinary!

I had a six month checkup with Dr Au the other day.  He seemed rather surprised that I haven't had any scans done in about a year.  Dr H said he won't order any unless I really want one, or if I'm symptomatic.  Dr Au said that was a valid point of view, but I still get the feeling that he'd like to see some imaging.  In a way, so would I.  It would be nice to have peace of mind and hear "all clear".  

I have two more checkups next week.  Tuesday we go to Dallas to see Dr K.  That's the fun "female doctor" appointment.  Then we see Dr H on Wednesday.  That's the fun "wait forever" appointment.  Lots of fun on the horizon.  I am curious as to what my labs will show.  I've felt better lately, so hopefully my anemia has been resolved.  The iron infusions made me feel awful, so I don't want to have any more!

Today's good news:  Mom went to the doctor and her counts are good - all systems go for next chemo on Tuesday.  After that she will be halfway through her treatment.  Atta girl, Mom!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 545

This is what happens when you drag a teenager away from his Xbox to do his homework:

I am aware and truly alive
I wonder what the future holds
I hear the rights and wrongs of the world
I see the mist that clouds minds
I want to have everyone accept me
I am aware and truly alive

I pretend there is no bad
I feel the darkness around others
I touch the hearts of others
I worry about everything
I cry for others
I am aware and truly alive

I understand what life is
I say my forgiveness
I dream about multiple lives
I try my best always
I hope for the best always

I am aware and TRULY alive…
                                     ~Jared Burleson

Monday, February 23, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 544

This was the saying on the little plaque that my friend S gave me the other night.  I asked her what the gift was for, and she said to think of it as a late birthday gift or a going-through-a-rough time gift.  What a blessing she is.

I haven't blogged in a week.  I have been incredibly stressed and incredibly busy.  I posted that quote about courage because I recently had to do something that took a lot of courage.  Even though I did the right thing, a lot of people were hurt and friendships were altered forever.  I've been sad, embarrassed, mad, confused, frustrated, anxious.... the emotions are all over the place.  Your prayers for me as well as everyone involved in this situation are greatly appreciated.

Speaking of prayers, please keep my dad in your prayers.  He is in the VA hospital because they can't get the swelling in his legs under control.  They've run all kinds of tests, tried four different antibiotics in case of infection, done ultrasounds to check for any blockages.... the doctors are perplexed.  Dad is in good spirits and doing well otherwise, but they need to figure this out and pronto!

Today we had a snow (ice) day.  It's been nice having an extra day to be lazy with my family.  Hubby even stayed home from work - a bonus!  The kids have a two hour delay tomorrow, too, so it's nice to know going to bed that I don't have to set my alarm for 6am.

Happy Monday everyone!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 537

I told K I wanted a hug.  She hugged me, pulled away, then came back for another hug.

She said, "You smell good."
I said, "What do I smell like?"

She said, "A mom."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 531

Nothing like falling on your face going into a public building....

Ok, so it was more like I fell onto my hands and knees, but still.  I somehow missed a step going into the post office this afternoon and I was carrying a heavy box.  The box is fine.  My knuckles, wrist, elbow and knee are not.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 530

I really despise my hair lately.

There.  I said it.

No, I don't need to be reminded that this time last year I didn't have any hair to speak of.  I know that!  Would I rather have the crazy 'do I have now or be bald?  I'll take the hair, of course.  I am grateful for my hair.  But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Of course it makes me feel guilty complaining about it.  I spent almost a year of my life with little or no hair.  I know what that's like, and I never want to go there again.  I have friends who are going through chemo yet again, just when they were getting their hair back.  I know they would take my stupid hair over losing theirs all over again.  I know that hair is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.  I'm alive, and I'm grateful.


Naturally curly hair looks great when it's shoulder-length.  It looks puffy and round like an old lady's perm when it's only a few inches long.  Even my son knows this, because the guy who is oblivious to everything said, "Mom, you're getting a 70's afro."  Nice.  

I don't know what to do with it.  It's too short to be long and too long to be short.  It's too thick to straighten but too curly to just leave as is.  I'm beyond frustrated with it.  I can't even wear a hat and look cute.  Yesterday I put on a baseball cap before going to K's softball practice because it was windy and I didn't want my hair blowing all over the place.  You know what I looked like?  I had a mullet.  

I don't look like me, and it's depressing.  I don't feel good about myself.  Even after a year and a half my self-esteem keeps taking hit after hit.... scars, fake boobs, weight gain, and now every morning I have to figure out what to do to my hair besides cut it all off.

Thank you, cancer.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 527

I wonder if there's a correlation between hemoglobin levels and hot flashes?

I had a lot of hot flashes during chemo, and during that time my red blood cells and hemoglobin levels were up and down (mostly down).  After chemo, the hot flashes settled down some.  During my surgery in November my hemoglobin tanked.  It went lower than my lowest chemo level.  After vitamins, protein shakes and three iron infusions, my numbers are hopefully much better than they were two months ago.  I won't know until I go back to Dr H on February 17th.  However, for the last month or so, my hot flashes have gotten progressively worse.  The last few nights I've been kept awake going from hot to cold, hot to cold.  I also have a headache that won't go away.

The estrogen-blocker that I take (Tamoxifen) is known to cause hot flashes, or make the ones you already have worse.  A lot of my fellow survivors who are also taking Tamoxifen complain about their hot flashes being bad.  I've been on Tamoxifen since last February and until now I didn't have much to complain about.  However, I haven't been on it consistently because I had to stop for radiation and both surgeries this year.  Now that I've been taking it daily for three months, maybe the side effects are getting the chance to take hold.

What's your guess?  Rising hemoglobin equals more hot flashes, or can I blame them on Tamoxifen?  Or a combination of both, plus the fact that I was instantly thrown info menopause six months ago thanks to surgery?

Either way, I'm ready for some relief.  I've had a headache nonstop for four days and every day my hot flashes get worse.  Enough already!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 526

After all of the upsetting breast cancer talk lately, let's change subjects. 
A lot of people have been asking "how's your dad?" and I realized I haven't given an update on him in quite a while.  I just talked to him Monday when they called for my birthday.  It does my heart good to hear my dad's voice, and to be able to carry on a conversation with him.  It was six months ago when I got the call that he had had a stroke and heart attack and his condition was critical.  I think I actually felt my heart stop when the doctor told me I "might want to make arrangements".  

Fast forward from that August day, and my dad is doing so much better than I could have imagined during those dark early days in the hospital.  He still has a lot of issues, both mentally and physically, but his recovery has been amazing in my opinion.  He is home and able to get around on his own (with the help of a walker when he's tired).  He sounds like he's in good spirits when I talk to him, and he has a team of VA doctors and therapists working with him to get him healthy.

The major problem he has now is swelling in his legs.  The doctors say this is an after-effect of the stroke.  He's supposed to keep them wrapped, as well as elevate them whenever he is sitting down.  Those are two things he's not very cooperative about.  I tried to nag him a little bit the other night and he kept changing the subject, saying "So anyway...".  He laughs it off, but it's serious and Marion has her hands full trying to make him follow doctor's orders.  

He is going on Monday to the VA hospital in Albany for a full physical with the doctors there.  I know he still has issues with his blood pressure and his prostate is enlarged.  Those are the most serious of his physical issues.  

Mentally he is doing well for the most part.  He usually knows what's going on and can hold his own in a conversation.  For instance, the other night I said something about them getting snow, and he said, "Yeah, we got quite a bit.  I think we got around fourteen inches."  He does still get confused, though.  He sometimes has a hard time thinking of the right words, and sometimes it seems like his thoughts are all jumbled.  When we were talking, he was telling me something that Marion did but couldn't think of her name.  I told him, and Marion was there telling him her name, and he kept saying, "No, you're not Marion."  He truly couldn't think of her name and didn't believe us.  Those times are hard.  I try to keep it light, correct him when needed and then move on, but it's sad when you see glimpses of just how much his brain was injured during the stroke.

I'm so grateful that my dad pulled through.  Life is not easy, for him and especially not for Marion, but considering we didn't know if he was even going to live, I'm so thankful that we still have him in our lives.  He's not the same, and may not ever be, but he's still my dad and he has a lot of life left to live.

Thank you for the prayers, and keep them coming!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 525

Self-induced insomniac blogging, thanks to my four hour "nap" this afternoon.

In my little group of breast cancer survivors (all diagnosed around the same time I was), there are now three who have been diagnosed with a recurrence.  Three out of forty-seven.  That scares the crap out of me.  Two of them just found out this week.  The other is already going through chemo again.  Two others were on their second (or more) go round with cancer when most of us were initially diagnosed.

Cancer is scary business.

Forget Everything And Run.  I'm guessing that would be my initial reaction if I were one of those five women who heard the words "you have cancer" for the second time.  Doing this once is no picnic.  Doing it twice (or more) is unthinkable.

And yet, what choice do they have?  They are strong, courageous women.  Warriors.  They are having to put on their armor, Face Everything And Rise.

I'm only human, though, and this really gets to me.  I'm fearful for them.  I hate that they have been through the war and are now back in the trenches.

I'm even more fearful for me.  Obviously I know recurrence is a possibility.  With my stats, it's probably more than a possibility.  I can't live my life thinking like that.  I don't want to sit around waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But five out of forty-even.  That has to be above average, don't you think?  Is it really just bad luck or a matter of chance, or is it just a matter of time before most of us will be in that same situation?

I'm so proud of myself for kicking cancer's ass.  There isn't a day in my five hundred and twenty-five day battle that I'd care to repeat, and I am afraid.  What if?  As Hubby said, I have kick-ass doctors.  I threw the book at cancer, did every treatment and surgery available.  But.  What if that's not enough?  What if it's just luck of the draw that some tiny little cancer cell somehow survived and is just waiting for the right day to rear its ugly head?  What if I develop a different type of cancer?  After all, my genetic testing was positive, putting me at higher risk for other cancers.  What if, what if, what if?

This all just sucks.  I don't want to be afraid.

For now, all I can do is keep living.  Make myself stronger and healthier.  Give love and support to those who need it.  And try not to let the fear overwhelm me.

I think fearless is having fears but jumping anyway.
 - Taylor Swift

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 524

A little Tuesday philosophy for you.

This is so true.  

Life is hard.  Sometimes it's harder than other times.  Sometimes you can't just take it one day at a time, you can only tackle one minute at a time.  And that's ok.  Sometimes it seems like the whole world has it easier than you.  It's hard to remember that everyone has their struggles.  Some are just more visible than others.  Sometimes the scars on the inside are more painful than the ones on the outside.

When you are faced with a challenge, don't give up.  Don't ever give up.  Sometimes giving in is the best option.  Most of the time, giving it all you've got is the best option.  Don't live your life regretting something you didn't do.  

I'm giving it all I've got.  Every.Single.Day.

Two side notes:

- Today is Mom's chemo #4.  After today she'll be a third of the way finished.  Way to go Mom!

- A friend of mine received bad news yesterday.  She is facing this beast again after just finishing treatment last year.  K, we've got your back - go kick ass and give it all you've got!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 523

Today is Groundhog Day.  (Six more weeks of winter, people!)
It's also my birthday.  I am twenty-nine.
Ok, I'm thirty-nine.
{sigh} I'm forty-two.

I'm forty-two years old.  How can I be forty-two?  I still feel like a kid!  
Well, except for the whole husband, kids and cancer thing.  Honestly, does anyone else wonder how they became a grown-up?  I know I went through a rough year and a half (40 isn't all it's cracked up to be!), but where did these wrinkles come from?  Where did my energy go?  Why is my hair more gray than brown?  My knees crackle when I stand up, I gain weight just by looking at a piece of chocolate and I rarely sleep all night.  

When you're a kid, birthdays are right up there with Christmas.  You get a party.  You get cake, and you get presents!  Once you hit the milestone 21st birthday, things kind of settle down.  Birthdays aren't as exciting.  You start to dread the big 3-0.  Then you realize that wasn't so bad, and then you start to dread the big 4-0.  In my case, I should have dreaded it a little more!  Things went downhill fast for me when I turned forty.

Funny thing is, in the cancer world, forty is young.  Very young.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard "For someone your age" from a doctor or nurse.  So while my body seems (to me) to be falling apart, all it takes is one trip to the cancer center and a look around the waiting room.  That makes me feel like a kid again.  It makes me grateful that I am "young" and that I was healthy before I got sick.

One thing is for sure...after you've had cancer, birthdays are right back up there with Christmas.  I don't care about the party or the presents.  I care about being alive and well.  I try not to worry about my scars or how my meds make me feel.  Instead, I'm grateful for each day.  

And I care about the cake.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass - day 522

Iron infusion number three is kicking my butt.  I never knew getting iron through an iv would be so harsh on my body.  The only thing I can figure is that the side effects are cumulative, kind of like chemo.  I have had the same exact side effects in the same exact order each time, but they have gotten  progressively worse with each one.

Yesterday I woke up feeling like I had the flu.  My head was pounding, my ears hurt, my throat hurt and my stomach was off.  It didn't help that it was raining and forty degrees outside, so I couldn't get rid of a chill.  (Where are the hot flashes when you need them???)  

I can only hope that my numbers are much better when I go back to Dr H (on 2/17).  I really don't want to have to do this again.

Happy February, and happy Super Bowl day!