Tag: bilateral

How can it be, Yesterday was June, today is October

How can it be, Yesterday was June, today is October

No matter how hard we try, we can’t stop time, and it really seems the older we get, the faster it goes.

For me, time has been flying by in nano-blinks (new term, but seems to make sense).  Since i last wrote so much has happened in my life.

  1. I had my final reconstruction surgery (I hope), removing the tissue expanders and inserting the permanent implants, have to admit, the expanders felt like rocks, as far from real as could be, the implants do feel real, or at least as real as can be expected. 🙂
  2. The Herceptin isn’t toxic to the veins like the harsher chemo, so i had my port removed with the final reconstruction surgery.  The surgeon was able to remove the port from the inside, without having to re-open the incision used to insert the port, what good news 🙂
  3. I am back to work full time.  Only missed a month 🙂
  4. I am on just Herceptin for my chemo treatments which means side effects are much lower and fewer sick days !!!  🙂
    1. Hair is growing back
      1. It started coming in gray, then started getting dark, darker than anything I ever had, now, like my oldest daughter says, it looks like a Dalmatian.
      2. Hair is growing very slowly, started growing around first of July and now it is reaching the equivalent of the ‘terrible twos’, it truly has a mind of it’s own
      3. Doc told me that since my hair is normally very curly it would come in straight, and be straight for a year… well, it was straight for a month, now that it is long enough to wave, it is waving all over the place 😦  I was really looking forward to straight hair after spending so many years with keratin treatments.
      4. Ugh, i have to shave my legs every day again!!!  It was so nice not having to shave, if there was a way that I could possibly bottle the no hair from neck down I think i could be a bajillionaire 🙂
      5. Not wearing the wigs anymore 🙂  The blue wig was the best, you couldn’t help but feel better when you looked in the mirror and saw yourself with blue hair 🙂
    2. Fingernails are growing back, yes, you heard me right, the chemo took my fingernails too.  they didn’t fall completely off, but they receded drastically.  what was left from the nail bed was so weak and shredded they were terrible.  They haven’t grown to the end of my finger yet, but they certainly are growing.  And believe it or not I am getting ingrown fingernails, like people do on thier toes.  They really are painful but i think i am getting past them.  My fingernails split down the length of the nail, very painful.
    3. Nausea is much less frequent and my meds that i am taking are greatly reduced
    4. I still go through puberty during each chemo cycle, breaking out on my face, but it is a much smaller period.
    5. My neuropathy isn’t getting worse, but it isn’t getting better eirther.
      1. primarily on my right side, right foot and leg the most
      2. what good luck, the hot tub actually makes it feel better 🙂
      3. what bad luck, being on my feet for extended periods makes it feel worse
    6. Fatigue is very real, your get up and go, got up and left. . .
  5. Mom had to get a new aortic valve and a double bypass the first part of June.  I could see her room from my chemo room, at that time my chemo was taking 8 – 9 hours, now i am in and out of there in an hour and a half.  🙂
  6. We went to Alaska for my nephews wedding, what a beautiful place, we would love to go back.  We were there the longest day and went to the midnight sun baseball game.  the game is in Fairbanks and starts at 10:00 and is played without lights. 🙂  Crazy awesome having such long days in the summer, think it would be crazy bummer having so little light in the winter.
  7. 8/20 I got married!!!  🙂  Married to my best friend and soul mate and couldn’t be happier!!
    1. Looking forward to honeymoon in November
  8. 8/22 Alaina, my oldest is back to school at IA state
  9. 8/22 Anna, my youngest shipped for Marine Boot Camp, Parris Island
    1. I cannot believe how dependent we have become on cell phones, now that Anna is off to boot camp, the only way to communicate with her for 13 weeks is via good old pen and paper!!!
    2. I have been one of those that will actually go days without looking in my mail box, now i find myself stalking my mailbox!!! waiting for the next letter and reading and re-reading those letters she has written, they are very dog eared and very loved.
    3. How bad am I, I have printed sheets of address labels so I can quickly zip off cards and letters to Anna.  I have even sent Anna some stamped and self addressed envelopes… lol, she ran out of stamps and stationary, she has been wonderful about writing to so many of us, i feel very fortunate, i know there are many parents that go weeks waiting on communication from their recruits.
    4. Looking forward to her graduation date 11/18.

So here is the question – what can I do to help those that are going through or about to go through what I have experienced and continue to experience…. I share these nuggets with you.

  1. Never give up your faith, i know that my faith continues to pull me through.
    1. Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to good people.  Stuff happens, we need to keep our faith always and know that God is always with us, He will never leave us to endure alone.
  2. Don’t give in to that crummy sick feeling, force yourself to get out and do things, but remember everything within moderation.
    1. think about it, if you are going to feel crummy no matter what you are doing, you might as well at least try doing something fun 🙂  Unless of course you are feeling so crummy you can’t leave the bathroom… that happens 😦
  3. sometimes you just feel like crying, that’s o.k.
  4. Keep working your brain, chemo brain is a real thing that affects the short term memory in a strange way, it makes you feel like you are walking through a dream
  5. Take up those offers from family and friends to help out, they want to help, but you need to tell them it’s o.k.
    1. One of my favorite things during chemo is a friend that took me to lunch each Wednesday before chemo Monday’s, it really meant a lot to me and got me out when i wouldn’t have otherwise gone out.
  6. Get back into your normal gradually, if you have read my previous blogs, you will know that i have had a problem with this one, get back on the horse, leave the bronc in the paddock for another day…  🙂
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Seriously, if the roof leaks, the cheese got moldy or you didn’t make your bed, it isn’t the end of the world, those things are easily corrected and we move on.

I promise not to be so long before the next post.  Keep faith and know that you are never alone, God is always walking with us.  We can all beat this thing called Cancer.  My prayers are with you. 🙂  Til next time. 🙂

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Words from a first time Chemo recipient

Words from a first time Chemo recipient

I walked into the whole cancer world very ignorant….  I thought cancer was cancer and chemo was chemo.  Seriously, I could have never been more wrong…  that is like saying that a car is a car and we definitely know that isn’t true, no one on this earth would compare a Bentley to a Prius – no offense intended.

Well, just as there are many different models, manufactures and options on cars, there are just as many different types of cancers and subsequent treatments.

Like I told you in an earlier post, my cancer is HER2 positive, because of the aggressive nature, i will be taking chemo for a year, however, after the first 6 cycles i only need to take the drug that is specifically targetted at HER2.  Good news, Immune system won’t be compromised !!!!  Yeah!!!  Hair will start to grow back, Yippee!!!

Let’s talk about hair… I learned today that typically hair will grow back opposite of what it was, i.e. straight goes curly, curly goes straight! That is great news for me, huge timesaver in the hair straightening department and I also learned that it could come in dark… 🙂 no gray 🙂 i am totally good with that, now the bad news (again, ugh) everything typically goes back to the way it was originally in about a year after chemo 😦  Notice typically all over this paragraph, that is because there aren’t really any knowns.

My first experience with Chemo –

I was blessed that Alaina was home from school over the weekend and didn’t have any classes back at IA State until 1:00, she was able to take me to my first chemo, she even went down to the starbucks kiosk for me and brought back not only coffee, but treats 🙂 especially liked the hummus and pretzels.  Gerry was able to stop by between cases and spend the end of the day with me and Deb (who was intrumental in getting Gerry and I together in 2014), stopped by and brought some great reading materials.  Thanks to all of you for helping me through my first chemo 🙂

  • Arrived at 8:30 for blood work
    • Prior to surgery I had been told that regardless of how the surgery came out, I would need to have chemo for a year because of the HER2 positive.  I elected to have a chemo port put in during my mastectomy.  The Chemo port is on my right chest.  The dark over the incision is still the skin glue, it will look better when the glue is off.

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    • When I was called in for blood work I was a little nervous, this would be the first time using my port…
    • First question, do you have the card that came with your port – me – deer in the headlights
    • Second question, do you know if you are saline or heparin flush – me – deer in the headlights
    • I made a quick call to the surgeon’s office and found out that it is saline flush, whew, who knew???
    • The nurse has a special needle that goes into the port –
      • Deep Breath
      • Punch – and yes, punch is the right word, as the needle punches into the port, it has a metal back, so you don’t need to worry about it punching through the port… lol

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  • A syringe of saline is injected into the port
  • Two vials of blood are then pulled from the port
    • First is thrown away, as it will have too much saline
    • Second is used to evaluate the blood prior to chemo
  • 9:00 – visit dr.
    • vitals
    • review blood results
    • Q&A
  • 9:30 – chemo starts
    • Since I was going to be receiving chemo all day I elected to be in a private room (as you can see it became my office) vs. one of the chairs in the main roomIMG_20160201_164716547
  • The first time you receive chemo (or at least my first time), they have slow drips and observation periods, my next chemo sessions will be cut by 3 hours 🙂
  • 5:15 – chemo ends

So, what were the main ingrediants to my chemo and their possible side effects –

  • We started with Steroids and Benydril to help my body adjust to the Chemo and then sequentially went through each of the following
  • Perjeta
    • Common Side Effects
      • Hair Loss
      • Diarrhea
      • Decreased white blood cells
      • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
      • Rash
      • Fatigue
      • Nausea
      • Decreased appetite
  • Herceptin
    • Common Side Effects
      • Fevers/Chills
      • Pain at site of disease
      • Nausea
      • Shortness of breath
      • Headache
      • Dizziness
  • Taxotere
    • Common Side Effects
      • Decreased red and white blood cells
      • Hair Loss
  • Carboplatin
    • Common Side Effects
      • Decreased white blood cell and platelet counts
      • Hair Loss
      • Fatigue
      • Nausea and Vomiting

22 – 24 hours after chemotherapy

  • Neulasta – this is a shot to promote white blood cell development
    • Common Side Effects
      • Bone Pain
      • Nausea
      • Fatigue
      • Weakness
      • Fever

I had several medical staff and fellow cancer pals tell me that no matter what, stay on top of the anti-nausea medication.  I have found that to be very true, a couple times I have run over on time and almost lost my cookies.  It is easy to forget, when you are feeling fine, it makes you think maybe you don’t need to take it after all… WRONG!!! listen to those who have already tread that trail…  they are speaking from experience.  I am now setting the alarm on my phone to remind me when it is time to take the next tablet, better safe than sorry.

Will be signing off for now, thank you all for your support, I know that God has brought you into my life and I will always be eternally grateful for each of you.  May God’s Love go with each of you throughout your days and stand by you through all your journeys.

Til next time!