Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Such is the way of life (I feel blessed to have it)

The last few weeks have been crazy busy in my life. I have been coaching Ryan's soccer team along with running Ethan to his soccer practice once a week and baseball practice twice a week. Sydney comes home late from school 2 days a week for Leap club and journalism club as well. Not to mention Mondays I go to the doctor for chemo. So, needless to say, life is REALLY busy. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining; in fact, I am so greatful that I am able to be apart of all of this.

A few weeks ago, I started having back and neck pain (yes, there is cancer in the spots that I am experiencing pain). I hate to complain about it, but I finally had to ask the doctor for some pain pills to help me out (milder than what I had in my arsenal since I still have to function). Anyway, while I was dealing with this, I started to think about what cancer has taken from me. Near the top of the list was my ability to move freely and pick up my children. I don't want to go down that depressing path, and may need to address it later, but my point is God works in mysterious ways...

Last week, Ryan, my 3-year-old, was jumping on the trampoline at a friends house. We were there approximately 5 minutes and he was on the trampoline approximately 2 minutes. He started crying and when we got him off the trampoline, his knee was swollen horribly. I took him to urgent care right away, the whole time he cried and would scream. When we got to urgent care, he was crying so bad that the doctor came into the waiting room to find out what happened and see if he could give him some pain meds (Yes, please do). Well, we found that he broke his tibia near the knee joint and through a growth plate. The orthopedic said he does not need surgery, but will be in a cast for up to 6 weeks. During that time, he is not allowed to put any weight on his leg. So, what does that mean? That means, we have to carry Ryan EVERYWHERE. We did find a wheelchair to use while we are out, but it just doesn't work while at home. We carry him to bed, to the bathroom, to the car, to the dinner table, everywhere. Now remember, I was just complaining that cancer took my ability to carry my son. Or so I thought. I have since learned that I can carry him (yes, it is painful, but I CAN do it!). When Shawn isn't home to help, I have to be the one to get Ryan around.

So, my lesson learned is this: Cancer hasn't taken anything from me that I haven't allowed it to take. I AM IN CHARGE OF MY LIFE, NOT CANCER! I just need to remind myself of this little tidbit of newfound knowledge once in awhile.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hangin' in there

3 weeks ago Ethan had the flu. Within 24 hours, I had it too. It was a rough time. Chemo was delayed since I had a fever so I spent a good portion of the week in bed (from the flu). The following Monday (Jan 24th), chemo was again cancelled because my white blood cells were down to 1.6 and my ANC was 0.6. The doctor decided that I needed 5 neupogen shots to boost my WBC's. So everyday last week, I drove 40 miles (one way) to the doctor to get my 30 second shot. Thursday (27th), I woke at 4:30 a.m. to my left hip throbbing horribly (I do know there is a little cancer there as well). I chalked it up to the wonderful shots and continued on my way.

Each day, the pain continued to get worse. In the past week I have taken vicoden, percocet, tylenol, valium, ativan...ANYTHING I could find to stop the pain. It was horrible and NOTHING cut the pain! The only way I could sleep was to pick a position and wait, with tears, until the throbbing eased enough so I could sleep. When I did finally get to sleep, I would wake continuously because I couldn't move without my hip hurting. My whole demeanor was changing too. I was so hateful to everyone because I couldn't take the pain anymore. I finally called the doctor yesterday and he wanted me to go to the ER because there was apparently something going on. I didn't go because I felt this was a 4:55 p.m. answer (if you know what I mean). I ended up taking 600 mg ibuprofen (which I am NOT supposed to take while on chemo), and it helped. Weird huh? I wonder why the hardcore drugs wouldn't cut the pain, but ibuprofen would. I hope that it doesn't come back as I really can't take anymore ibu.

Now that the pain is tolerable, I feel back to my old self! Yay! I am so glad things are finally looking up. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wow! It's been awhile

Hi all! It has been such a long time since I have written anything. Since my last post, I have almost completed my reconstruction process. The week after my final surgery (in September), I found out that the cancer has spread :(

My L1 vertibrae is completely covered. T8 vertibrae is a new spot. I started chemo again at the beginning of October along with radiation to help with the pain in my spine. 2 weeks before Christmas, I had another PET scan and they found that the chemo regimine I was on was not working. The radiation did stop the growth of the tumors at L1 and T8, however, there is a 2 cm tumor in the lower lobe of my right lung, my left hip now has tumors and T1 vertibrae has a tumor as well. I have again started another chemo treatment and I am crossing my fingers that this one will work. I go in to the office every Monday for 2 weeks and then I am off for 1 week. On the weeks that I go in for a "bag", I also take 7 chemo pills a day. That part is the hard part because I HATE taking pills.

In September, I started down a weird depression road. I was sure that I had this stupid cancer beat for awhile, but when I got the news that the cancer was active again, it was like a slap in the face. Radiation was also hard this time because they were focusing on my spine and I had radiation burns on my esophogus and stomach. It was like the worst case of heartburn I have ever had. I couldn't eat or drink anything for 2 weeks. Since this incident, soda is no longer one of my favorite drinks.

I am doing what I can to get past the depression. I have way to much living to do still and I will not let this cancer stop me from that!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reconstruction...not so fun

It has been about a week and a half since I went into surgery to start reconstruction. I did a right mastectomy and then the plastic surgeon came in, took tissue from my latissumus dorsi region, shoved around my ribs (under the skin) to the front where he stitched it to the areas where the mastectomy took the skin. He then put in some tissue expanders, filled them up abit, gave me 6 drains and plenty of pain pills. 5 hours later, he sent me on my way. I actually stayed in the hospital for 4 days (it was supposed to be an overnight thing only).

Let me tell you, this was the worst surgery I have ever been through. The pain is intense and as long as I am conscious, pain pills don't work so well. I spent an extra 3 days in the hospital due to tachycardia...which developed due to the pain and a pnuemothorax. I missed Ethan's graduation, his last Tball game of the season, tball party and Sydney's softball closing ceremonies. All in all it sucked.

When I made it to my room on Wednesday night, I kept telling the nurse I wanted to go home Thursday night because I had to be at E's kindergarten graduation. He kept telling me I was a Hallmark Card commercial...everyone on the floor knew my story and thought so.

Since I have been home, I am constantly in pain still (although I am trying to slow down on the pain pills now). I am asleep most of the day. It is starting to weigh on me. I'd rather have my independence again. I want to roll onto my side and sleep rather than propping 10 pillows around me and sleeping sitting up. I am ready to ride my bike again and I am ready to crush my children when I hug them. I only hope that this pain and discomfort improves soon or I fear I may spiral into a horrible depression. One that I am not sure I could come out of:(

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pity Party, My House 1:00p.m.

I had my PET scan last week and received my results on Friday. There is no cancer in the hip, or the chest area...great. However, there is a small spot on L1 Vertebrae that they believe to be cancer. The doctor says it could be a healing spot too. The current plan: we will keep an eye on it (I'm sorry, let's take care of it NOW!). I guess a decision will be made at the next PET scan 3 months from now. In the meantime, this will continue eating at my sanity until then. I have had some slight hip pain and lower back pain (let me tell you about the power of suggestion!).

I am having a really hard time with this. I think it is because I had it in my head that I had this thing beat. I mean I was in remission...I planned on staying that way until I was 50 or so. So now I have to deal with this blow (minor, yes, but disheartening nonetheless). The positive in this is that it is a small spot AND none of my major organs are affected. I guess until it is confirmed CANCER, I am still in remission.

I keep thinking about the 5 year survival rate for Stage 4 Breast cancer. It's like 16 - 20 %. Ryan will only be 7. Will he even remember me? How is Sydney going to survive teenage-hood without a mother? Will my sensitive little Ethan be ok? How will Shawn survive being a single parent of 3 kids? These are the questions that constantly go through my head right now.

Why don't I deserve to raise my kids and see them grow up? Why must I fight for something that so many others take for advantage? This is the pity party part. I planned on keeping my cute new 'do because it was cute. Now, I just want to have less that falls out through the next round of chemo (this hasn't been discussed yet, but I am preparing). Is this going to affect my reconstruction? What about my new gym membership? This is so frustrating. Pity Party.

Once I am able to get a hold of these emotions, I will be able to continue on my fight and beat this stupid "intrusion" on my life. Until then, please excuse my little pity party. I hope it doesn't last long :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Radiation is done!

Woot! Radiation is now complete! I am so happy that I don't have to get up early and drive down Ironwood with the crazy morning rush hour traffic any more. I was really starting to get nervous...I can't tell you how many times I was nearly rear ended. The skin on my side is peeling horribly. It is no longer bright purple/red, but a very dark tan look. I can now get almost completely dressed. :) I will miss the radiation therapists though. They were really nice.

As of now, I am patiently waiting until I can get my next PET scan. I believe it will be sometime towards the end of March. I have to wait until the chest wall heals from radiation. I guess the inflammation from the radiation will cause the area to "appear" hot when it really isn't. I have been having some pain in my hip again. It isn't anything like it was, just an annoying ache. I am hoping that it is due to the arthritis affect rather than anything else.

It's funny. Once I got this diagnosis, I became a hypochondriac. I am so scared with every new ache and pain. I don't want to live with that fear, so I am hoping that with the next PET scan, my fears will be alleviated some.

I am hoping that I can start reconstruction sometime in May. I will most likely have the other breast removed (precautionary) and then go for the new "girls". I understand that reconstruction can be rather painful too. So not looking forward to that.

Things around the house are great. I have recently started the addicting habit of scrapbooking. I love it so much! (Although it can develop into an expensive habit). I have also been going to the gym so that I can work on my health. I want everything in my corner as I continue to fight. All is good and I am happy :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Radiation, Tamoxifen, Zometa...oh my!

I went to Dr. Cavalcant's office on Monday for my monthly exam. He said my blood work looked great and all seems to be going well. (WHEW!). There is a small lump around the center of my scar and he believes it is just scar tissue (very good!). Dr. Cav thinks that 2010 is going to be a much better year for us...can I get a WOOT!? I then went into the chemo room to get my bag of Zometa (the bone builder). I don't know what it is about that room, but I STILL get nauseous when I go in there. My heart starts pounding and a small panic attack ensues. Anyway, I have noticed that the chemo room is much more crowded now than it was before. This makes me so sad that so many people are having to go through with this. After my 20 minute bag of Zometa I was happily on my way until next month.

This morning, I woke up and my hip was aching terribly. I actually needed to take some Tylenol for the pain. It has ached all day now and I am frankly quite tired of it. I am positive the pain is from the Zometa.

I am so horrible at remembering to take pills that I was concerned about the Tamoxifen. I can tell you that I haven't forgotten any of those "lifesaving" pills. I am quite proud of myself. The Tamoxifen hasn't been too bad actually. I half expected to be thrown into menopause, but all has been well. I haven't even had hot flashes (yay!)

Radiation is starting to get on my nerves. I am tired of getting up early everyday to go in. I realize it is a necessary item, but it is also a daily reminder of cancer. I have been feeling so good that I can't believe I still have cancer...even if it is in remission. Which means that I will always have cancer, it just isn't growing right now :)