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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kicking cancer's ass - day 1412

Vacation.... I'm using that term loosely tonight.  
What started out as a trip full of fun visits with friends & family, water parks, roller coasters and Jolly Cow ice cream has turned into a jumble of mishaps and medical issues.  

Before I get to the crap, let's share the good news.  My dad's lady friend is doing much better.  She came home from the hospital Monday night after getting good results on her CT scan and MRI.  She had a mini stroke (officially known as a Transient ischemic attack), but there shouldn't be any lasting negative effects.  She has to take it easy (instead of trying to be super woman.... a role she's been playing for three years) and get some help so she isn't doing 100% of everything.  My dad will not like that.... he acts like a temperamental toddler whenever anyone other than family comes over to help.  But he will just have to deal.

So after spending three days at their house on full time nursing duty spending time with my dad, cooking his meals, giving him his meds (he takes a LOT of pills!), checking his vitals, helping him up and down the stairs, getting him washed up and dressed, and dozing in the chair while he watched 12 hours of CNN, I came back to Mom's and woke up yesterday morning to this:

It started across my chest, and has since spread on my torso, down my left side and towards my back. 


I have not changed any of my bath or beauty products.  I have not been in a contaminated swimming pool or lake.  I am not wearing any new clothes.  The only thing new is my lymphedema, and I have to admit I'm a little freaked out because Dr. Google (and some of my breast cancer friends in the know) told me that cellulitis often goes hand in hand with lymphedema.  And is it an awful coincidence that the rash is mostly in the areas on my body where my lymphatic system is compromised?!?

I spent the afternoon at urgent care getting checked out.  The doctor said an infection like cellulitis doesn't usually present like this, that it looks more like a sensitivity or allergic reaction to something.  What that something is, we don't know.  The funny thing is, it doesn't itch.  It doesn't hurt.  Taking Benadryl doesn't help it, and cortisone cream doesn't either.  So what in the world is wrong with me?

Not only am I unnerved about having a mystery rash (no cancer patient wants a mystery anything when it comes to their health), but today I had to undress for a doctor unrelated to my cancer.  You would think after having two children, being examined by countless doctors over the last four years, having seven surgeries and undressing for 33 radiation treatments, it would be old hat.  It's not.  Even though I have admirable results from reconstruction, it's an illusion.  I'm scarred and have obviously reconstructed breasts.... my body is living proof of the wear and tear cancer and its treatment has on a person.  I've been seeing all of my cancer doctors for so long that I'm (sort of) comfortable with them, but someone new, not a cancer specialist, taking a look at my chest almost sent me into a panic attack.

Good thing they took my blood pressure before!

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  I started my first dose of prescribed steroids today, so maybe, just maybe, I will wake up and see some improvement.  If it continues to get worse, or other symptoms develop, then I have to be seen again.  I don't know what this rash is or what caused it, but I want it gone.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy spending time with my kids in my hometown, eating too much ice cream and finding fun things to do with my family.  We will be heading home next week, so I'm going to try and put away the worry and add the relaxation and joy back into my vacation.

Stupid cancer.

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