Giving Thanks – November 26, 2015

On this Thanksgiving Day, I have much for which to be thankful. You may not think so – after all, I have breast cancer, and this year, at times, has stretched my limits for tolerance.

But this year has also shown me that I am blessed. I have a wonderful family. My sisters are rock stars and support me no matter what (well, except for my desire to have more cats). I can count on them for anything. I have nieces, a nephew and goddaughters who I adore. I have friends who give everything and ask nothing in return. I have a good job in a profession in which I believe deeply, and a staff which is hardworking and fun to be around. My volunteer work – animal rescue transport – allows me to make a difference in both two legged and four legged lives.

Looking back over the past 11 months, I am amazed by all the support and love I’ve received. Whether it was a comment on a Facebook post, a note, a card, a gift, a gift of time, or knowing that work was humming along even though I was in and out, I had support in my corner. People I’ve never met IRL uplifted me with their words and gifts. Friends gave generously of their time and talent: whether sitting with me at the infusion center, bringing me Jamba Juice or Boost in my hour(s) of need, making or buying me meals to relieve the pressure on Ted – all of it is staggeringly wonderful. Thanks to each and every one of you.

Most of all, I am thankful for Ted.  My love, my life partner, my light – you epitomize what it means to love “in sickness and in health.” I can’t imagine what this year would have been like without you there by my side. I don’t say it enough:  I love you.

Radiation All Done! – November 18, 2015

Last Friday was my last radiation treatment. It was a little bittersweet, actually – you get into a rhythm, going every day to see the same technicians.  I am happy that it’s over, don’t get me wrong!  The technician said that the way my breast looks now, after 5 weeks of treatment, is what most women’s breasts look like after a week. I’m blessed that I tan very easily. I also have tremendous sympathy for those women:  if this was week one and I was facing 5-6 more weeks of treatments, I’d be wondering how to get through it. My breast and armpit were extremely sore all weekend, and now they don’t hurt, but itches like crazy.  Makes sense – essentially I got a burn, and it’s turning into a tan (which is what happens with me) but in the meantime it’s itchy. So if you see me rubbing my breast or armpit, well…you’ll know what’s going on!

I got to keep the mold. The mold kept me in roughly the same position every time during treatment. I surprised the technician when I got excited about being able to keep the mold. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but for now it’s a cool keepsake.

I’d wanted to keep my head shaved until I was done with chemo, but I’m letting it grow out a little. In order to stay bald, Ted needs to shave me at least every other day. Now that I’m feeling better and life is returning a bit back to normal, it was just too hard to find time to shave my head every other day. Right now the hair is a super cool length – like peach fuzz. I’ve had people ask if they could rub my head, to which I say “of course!” because I do it all day long myself. I’ll probably try to keep my head buzzed, at least, rather than shaved. It’s still pretty cool.

I’m still pretty tired from radiation. Today was the 3rd day of full time at work, and I’m pooped. At least tomorrow and Friday I work only half days because I have an appointment with Dr. Priya (tomorrow) and chemo on Friday. I got my blood draw on my way home and Dr. Priya already released the results. Unbelievable, my magnesium is 1.6! It hasn’t been this high for a while. I’d read somewhere that drinking soda could lower magnesium because the phosphates in soda binds with the magnesium. I thought what the heck and am trying to drink less soda (I am a Diet Coke addict). Who knows whether drinking less Diet Coke is what’s helping or just feeling better in general, but the magnesium level is going in the right direction.

What about my favorite topic, diarrhea?  Well, I still have it. It’s not every day, and usually not terrible. I noticed that if I forget to take a probiotic pill, I have diarrhea the next day.  Who knows what’s going on, but if I can stop the diarrhea by taking probiotics, so be it.

With the end of radiation, I feel as if I’m 90% done with my cancer treatment. I have 6 more months of chemo, but it’s only every 3 weeks and the infusions aren’t 6-8 hours long. I also usually feel okay afterwards, which is so different from all the “regular” chemo I had. I think I’m allowed to believe I’m almost done!



Week 4 of Radiation Done! – November 9, 2015

Things are moving right along!  I finished week 4 of radiation with no difficulties at all.  I finally saw Dr. L on Thursday (he was busy Tuesday and Wednesday) and he told me that I’ll actually only need 25 treatments.  This means that this week is my final week of radiation!  The time has actually flown by, all things considered.  I really do think that Dr. L was able to increase my doses because I’m tolerating the treatments so well.  I don’t have any burns whatsoever; other than feeling more tired than normal (and feeling like I could take a nap any time), things have been “normal.”  Exciting!  I feel that when radiation ends, I’m 90% done with my treatment.

I mentioned in my last post that I hadn’t had to take any Imodium for almost a week. Well, I spoke too soon.  Almost as soon as I hit “Publish” I had diarrhea, and it didn’t really stop until today. I decided to take Imodium when I go to bed which helps the diarrhea in the mornings. I did contact Dr. S (GI doc) but I haven’t heard back yet. I think that this round of diarrhea is the result of chemo; the only way to test the theory is to see what happens after my next round of chemo. In the meantime, I’m managing the diarrhea.

My joints are sore, which leads me to believe I have a mild case of myalgia, which is a possible side effect of Herceptin. It’s hard for me to move if I haven’t moved in a while, such as driving to work (typically a 50 minute drive) or sleeping. It’s hard for me to take off a shirt, too. I’ll ask Dr. Priya about it again when I see her next week. I’d asked her about it before, but I talked about my knees only.  I can deal with it, but I’ve learned to ask rather than keep silent.

Only 4 more radiation treatments to go!