Waiting for Savasana


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That Time I Got Scared

I went for my quarterly Oncology check in.  I have been going every three months since treatment ended in December of 2013.  Every. Three. Months.

The main reason why my visits have remained so frequent is because of all of the pitfalls I have experienced; weird stuff in my lung, struggling with antihormonal medication, surgeries, switching oncologists, firing my oncologist and finding a new one, moving across the country.

I usually don’t mind the visits.  I go in.  We talk. I disrobe.  The doctor feels me up for lumps and bumps.  It’s not a big deal.

I like my new doctor here in MN.  I mostly love the practice.  I do not love the scheduling process. For whatever reason, I am often unable to schedule the next visit on the day of my most recent visit.  Three months is too far out so they tell me I have to call.  But their calling system is horrible.  It takes forever to get connected to the scheduler and then they put you on hold and…hang up on you.  Accidentally, of course.  But it blows.  It is so bad that often I just show up to the office in person to schedule because it’s easier.  It’s easier to drive 25 minutes to the office than to call.

But there is even a problem with that.  Most of the schedulers are very nice, accommodating and kind (qualities I feel are critical when dealing with cancer patients).  But there is one woman scheduler who is just awful.  She is sour and curt and unpleasant.  I can only assume that she is a friend, relative or spouse of some higher up at the medical practice because I honestly have no other idea how she got this job.  She is just awful.

Anyway, I realized I was overdue for a checkup when I got a letter from the practice reminding me to make an appointment.  Oops.  So I called…and then lost an hour of my life.  I was placed on hold, hung up on, transferred to nothing numbers and then hung up on again.  45 minutes in, I lost my patience.

There was a lot of confusion because my oncologist was out on maternity leave.  I told them I didn’t care who I saw, that I just needed to get in.  But apparently, my flexibility was causing mayhem.  I am still not sure why.

“Listen,” I told the operator,”I am trying to make a simple appointment, it shouldn’t be this hard.”

She agreed and then promptly hung up on me, by accident.

Eventually, an appointment was made.  I would see a nurse practitioner.  All would be well.  I felt ok about it.

Then I showed up for the appointment and they had no record of it.  Not only that, the nurse practitioner wasn’t even there.  So they sent me to make a new appointment.

Guess who I had to deal with?

Yep, Ms. Sourpuss.  Golly is she unpleasant.  Ugh.  She is the worst.  In the four years of this cancer experience, Ms. Sourpuss is the most unpleasant professional I have encountered and that is saying a lot.

She made me an appointment after giving me the run around, 2 weeks out.

And then I said,”May I speak to a manager?  I really need to give someone some feedback about this experience.”

Her eyes got really big and she said, “Yes.” and went to find someone. I sat and waited.

And suddenly, this very kind person came to me and apologized for my experience.  She told me she could get me in right then and there to see a different nurse practitioner, if that was ok.

Of course it was ok.

I felt the urge to stick out my tongue at Sourpuss but I only did it in my head.

The rest of the visit was standard.  We met, we chatted, we joked around a bit.  He told me that after this visit, I would not need to be seen for 6 months.

REALLY?!  Awesome.

Yay.  I graduated!

I was happy.

Then I disrobed and got on the table.

We chatted some more while I was poked and prodded.  Right armpit.  Then left armpit.  And then there was a pause.

“Have you felt this?  This…knot?”

No.  I hadn’t.

And that’s when the weather changed.  That’s when the room started to swirl.  That’s when I closed my eyes.  I had to.

He told me I needed to schedule an ultrasound.

I asked if it was cancer.

He said he didn’t know.

I protested that the bump was on the other side from my original cancer.  It can’t jump, can it?

He said he didn’t know.

I closed my eyes again and took deep breaths.  The world around me swirled and dipped.

I made the appointment for the next morning. 7:20am.

I walked to my car. I got in.  I knew I couldn’t drive.  I texted my husband.

Me: Are you able to talk?

Him: Yes.

Me: Oncologist found a lump in my armpit.  I have to go in for an ultrasound.

Him: Calling you.

We talked.  It doesn’t have to be cancer.  We don’t know until we know.

But all I was thinking was, “How can I put those boys through this again?”

We hung up.  I sat in my car, with my eyes closed, just breathing.  Just breathing.

Eventually, I drove home.  And I pretended.  I pretended my world was not collapsing.

My husband and I texted.  We would drive to the appointment separately.  I would tell the boys I was meeting a friend for coffee.  He would tell them he had an early meeting.

The boys fell for it.

And the plan worked.  At 7:30 the next morning, I was on a table with gel on my armpit.  My eyes were closed.

They called my husband in when it was over.  The photos were on the screen.  The lump was huge.  I showed him.  It was huge. I wanted to faint.

The doctor came in.  Smiling and kind.  He explained that my lymph node was enlarged 3 centimeters.  3 centimeters?!!  What the what?  The biggest lymphnode in 2013 that HAD cancer was only 1 centimeter!  This was terrible! He then showed us that even though it was huge, it was not looking necessarily like cancer looks on an ultrasound. It was not round and the center was not black.  The node had normal fatty tissue in it.  Still he wanted a biopsy because of my history and because there was black in the node, though not much.

Through a random cancellation, I was able to get in later that morning for the biopsy.

Another doctor came and spoke with me.  He was also very nice.  He said he would guess it was benign but with my history and the size, we needed to be sure.

This biopsy was much easier than the one I had 4 years ago.  That one was crazy.  This one was much calmer.  I got numbed up and then he took five samples.  Five needles. Five clicks and done.

I was told to go home and rest.  Do nothing.  Drink wine.  Really.

I got back in my car.  I was not ready to go home.  My armpit was already starting to hurt. I would not be able to hide this.  I would have to tell the boys.

So I went to Target.  And I channelled my birth mother.  She was big on gifts.  It used to make me nuts when she would bring us all these gifts but I’ve changed my mind.  We didn’t even get ten years of her.  Those gifts take on a new meaning in hindsight.  I wish I could tell her that I finally understand.

So, yeah, I went to Target.  And I bought a Rip Stick, a badminton set, some nerf bullets, a nerf gun and some other rando stuff.  And you know what?  I actually felt better!  Shop therapy?  Who knew?

And I drove home.  And I gave the boys some gifts and told them what was going on.  I told them I didn’t know what to do so I decided to channel their grandmother.  They got it.

And we waited.  Hubby came home early.  I cooked.  I baked.  I watered my plants.  And we waited.

They said it may take two days to get the results.

I thought a lot.  If it was cancer, I decided I would get chemo.  This was a revelation.  I had been swearing I would not do chemo again.  It almost killed me and it made all my hair fall out which really sucked.  It was the worst!  But no.  I would get chemo.  For them.  I would do it.

But you know how this story ends, right?

I got a call from a very happy person, informing me that the node was not cancerous.  We both laughed and rejoiced.

I called my husband.  We told the boys and we were happy.  I texted friends and family who were in the know.  Everyone was happy.  We went out that night to see my old friend and we were happy.

This is my fourth biopsy since I finished treatment but this has been the only one that truly terrified me.  My world shifted on Monday.  It blurred.  The pain, the nausea, the anguish came rushing back and all I could do was close my eyes and breathe.

What else can you do?  Cry a little? Get angry? Eat pizza?  Pray? I did all of those things too.

But this is the nature of living through cancer.  I will probably never be out of the woods, but I don’t think I will ever be comfortable living in the woods.  Every ache, every pain, every lump or bump is now a cause for concern and sometimes even panic.  And the only choice I really have is to put my head down and get through it.  I have to meet it head on.  I do not take a single minute of this life for granted.  I can’t.  And I will do what I can to be here for my boys another day.  That is all I have.

 

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Round 2 of Zometa

I told you that we moved, right?  Yes.  We moved.

Goodbye sunny California.  We lived there for 16 years.  2000 was a big year for us.  My husband graduated business school in May of 2000, we got married in June of 2000.  3 weeks after the wedding, we drove across the country to the land of my dreams. See, my family took a huge vacation to California when I was seven and it stuck with me.  I wanted so badly all my life to live there and finally in 2000, my dream came true.  California was my home and I loved it.

It’s beautiful.  Just a beautiful place full of beautiful people…many of whom are quirkier than me…which is saying a lot.

But it’s gotten really hot there.  And the drought.  And the traffic is crazy.  And the expense.  California is expensive.

And we moved… to Minnesota.  Yes.  Minnesota.

And we are doing ok.  Mostly.

I’m a weirdo here.  I’ve found a few of my people but my weirdness sticks out like a sore thumb.  But I have decided not to change.

It is beautiful here.  Winter was tough at the end because of all the grey.  Everything was grey, especially the sunlight and it was difficult. I got depressed and didn’t even know it…until we took a trip back to California…AAAAAHHH!  The golden sunlight healed my sad brain.  Good stuff.

One of the worst parts of moving was finding all new doctors.  I like to stick with what I know and if you remember, I had found and oncologist in SF that I loved so much.  I considered keeping her and flying to SF for appointments.  But that just isn’t realistic and if I did end up having a recurrence (bite your tongue!) commuting to SF from Minnesota would just be ridiculous.

So I put on my big girl pants and found a new oncologist.  And I like her.  She’s pretty good.  One of the first things she did was order a bone density scan.  Aromasin can sap the bones of calcium so it was a necessary check.

The dexascan was a no biggie.  No dyes to inject.  It didn’t take long and was fairly noninvasive.  I just laid there while the machine scanned me.

And guess what?!  I have moderate osteopenia.  Blergh.

My bones are depleted.  Not as much as a person with osteoperosis but enough to be noticeable on a scan.

My oncologist recommended Zometa.  It’s a bone strengthener that has also shown promise in preventing a recurrence in the bones. I am to get it once every six months for the next two years.

But I had to get it as an infusion in the chemo room.  Not so fun.  Going back in that infusion room can be triggering.  There is some trauma around that period in my life and the infusion room is not the funnest place.

My first oncologist had told us what a happy place the infusion room is.  With everyone laughing and talking and reading magazines. Yeah… She was full of shit.

It is not a party.  We’re all there getting filled with medicine that might save our lives but believe me, it’s no party.  We’re all just trying to get through.  Everyone is tired and sick and not very talkative.  Except me.  I’m always talkative.

My husband is still annoyed by the party depiction.  He really believed her bullshit story so he’s a little bitter about the reality of the chemo room.  “Some party”.

Anyhoo, we moved into our new house in October and about three days later, I had my first infusion of Zometa.

And it sucked.  So bad.  So very bad.

I got the lobster pinches I associate with Taxol.  It felt like a lobster was randomly pinching me all over my body.  It started out slowly.  A pinch here.  A pinch there and then it began to speed up until I was just one big continuous pinch.

Tylenol and Advil couldn’t touch it.  The pain got pretty intense.  I was also feeling really weak.  It was not fun and it lasted a little over a week.

Every time I get really sick, I get a bit traumatized.  I mean, it takes me right back to the days of chemo.  But I got through it.  It helped that I wouldn’t get the next dose for 6 months.  I had time to forget about it.

But six months came and went quickly and here I was due for another round of crap.  I talked to my oncologist about the intense pain I experienced last time.  Her eyes got really big and she seemed flustered.  She assured me that the next round would not be as bad as the first one but told me to speak with the nurses about making it easier.

Ok.  I planned to do that but I am nothing if not proactive so I talked to my friend who has been through many rounds of Zometa. I reached out to her on Facebook… And here is what she told me.

1.Take Benadryl before the infusion.

2. Ask for the infusion to be on super slow drip so instead of it pouring in for 15 minutes, have them draw it out to 45 minutes.

3. Ask for fluids in the iv after the Zometa is finished.

I did all of these things.  The nurse was very understanding and did everything I asked.  She also offered to contact my oncologist but I explained that my oncologist knew about my pain and didn’t have much to offer and told me to talk to her.

I returned home and took a Claritin and then slept for four hours.  I started taking Advil right away too.

My friend then commented that she took Prednisone on the first day and hey, what do you know, I have some of that!  So after calling the nurse, I took 10 milligrams of that.

And you know what? It’s 24 hours later and I feel pretty good!

Oncology is interesting.  My first oncologist knew her stuff and she was tough and really good at measuring doses and doing checkups but her nurse was the one who helped us through all the crazy side effects.  My second oncologist was an arrogant butt head.  My third oncologist was awesome and had excellent support staff but I never had any infusions with her.  My new oncologist also seems to know what she is doing but acted like a deer in headlights when I brought up side effects.  I had forgotten that side effects aren’t necessarily what oncologists deal with.  You think the oncologist is the expert on everything but really, they are the ones who figure out the doses and medications and their support staff are the ones who get you through it all.

My best advice is to ask people like my friend what worked for them to get them through.  Crowd source cancer treatment.  Who would have thought?

Of course, you should also check with the professionals and don’t do anything dangerous or stupid.

Or maybe I feel ok because my oncologist was right after all.  The first time was just the worst time and now it’s going to be smooth sailing. That would be awesome.


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Pushing Through

I think I had the flu.  Fever, body aches, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fatigue.  Oh! the fatigue.  Not fun.

Around day four I was worried I was going to die.  No really.

I had not felt this bad since chemo and the thing with chemo is you know most likely you will recover from the side effects.  They suck but they aren’t permanent.

It’s different with a virus.  The virus could win.  It happens.  It happens a lot.  And people die.

Every night, I went to bed thinking I would feel better in the morning and every morning I awoke feeling worse than the day before.  It just kept going until about day 7.  I woke up day 7 feeling the same as I did on day 6.  I slowly recovered.

It is now day 17 and I am still recovering.  I think I am working at 70% right now.  It stinks.

I remember when I was a kid, I would get fevers and sickness and it lasted four days, tops and I was back in school.  I miss my strong immune system.  Getting old stinks.

I found an acupuncturist here in MN.  I did not like her one bit.  She was inappropriately abrupt.  She accused me of lying about being from California.  Told me 408 was not a CA area code.  Ummm…yes it is.  Weirdo.  I need to find a new one and fast.  I miss California.

But today is Pi day.  I am off to the store for pie ingredients.  Later, we will go pick out glasses.  We all need glasses now.

I wish I felt better but I have got to get out of the house.

I did not feel well last night and ended up on the couch, crying because I get scared that the cancer has returned.  My husband got sick a week after me and he still feels badly too so he talked me down.  Scared and sick is a cruddy way to live your life.

And I am still taking the medicine so I never really feel good.

I am having a pity party today.  But I’m not crying.  Gotta keep going.


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Gone

My birthmother died at the very end of  August.

She died.

It’s been several months and I am still processing this.

I could say it happened quickly but that is not the truth.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer eleven months before me.  We were not really speaking at the time of her diagnosis.  We did not have an easy relationship.  At the point of her first diagnosis, we were about six years into our reunion and half of that time, we were not speaking to each other.  That was just how it was.

We kept trying.  I think we were both hopeless optimists about what we were to each other.  Either that or we were masochists.  But we kept trying.

She was there for me eleven months later during my own diagnosis and treatment.  She showed up.  She cooked.  She helped.  She cared for us.  She took me to appointments.  She showed up for my last chemo and sat with me even though she had flashbacks to her own chemos and really didn’t want to be there.

For 18 months, we did not fight.  We did not disagree.  We just were.  We talked on the phone.  She would visit.  She drove her little Prius up the coast for 8 hour stretches to help me.  I accepted what she could give.  And I got through it.

Spring of 2015, she called me.  She had been struggling with abdominal pain and had visited an er in the winter.  The doctor looked at her scans and told her she was ok.  The doctor was wrong.  Misread scans.  It was ovarian cancer and it had been given some months to spread.

She had another fight.

She did everything she could.  She did all forms of conventional medicine including IP chemo which is just a grisly treatment.  She had a special port placed in her abdomen and her organs were given chemo baths as she was filled with a cocktail that flooded her abdominal cavity.  This was in addition to traditional chemo.  She suffered and she fought with her eye on the prize of living.

After months of chemo, she visited a healer in South America.  She placed my picture in the healing room when she was there and strangely, I felt better.  No really.  I still feel better than I did before she placed my photo in that room.  Can’t make that up.

She continued with naturopaths and massage therapists and acupuncture and…well…everything.  She tried everything.

And for a few months, she had remission.  And then it came back.

She called me to let me know.  We were in the middle of our cross country move.  She was leaving for a clinic in Germany.  We talked for awhile.  I told her I admired her strength and fortitude.  No, I really said that.  God, what an ass I am.

She soldiered on.  I got text updates from her.

Eventually, she returned to the U.S. feeling worse for the trip.  My brother told me later that eventually the German clinic said there was nothing more they could do for her and sent her on her way.

She went into hospice.  By this time, my family and I living in temporary housing in our new state.  I came to see her and my siblings who were caring for her.  She was feisty and stubborn and mad as hell.  And I did not blame her one bit.

Who wants this?  Nobody.  Nobody wants this.

62, man.  62 years old.  She’d been all over the world.  She’d done so many things.  She had just received her master’s degree a week before the breast cancer diagnosis.  Nurse Practitioner.  She had worked so hard.  All she wanted to do was get out there and help people.  Help mothers and babies and families.  She had so much more to do.

She kept getting out of bed.  She didn’t want to be in that bed.  The problem was, she kept falling down.

One morning, she announced she wanted to go to breakfast.  So we went.  My sister and I packed her small children in the minivan.  My brother took her for a walk there in the wheelchair.  We drove past them on the way.  My brother walking along while she sat in the chair. Her eyes closed.  Her face tilted toward the sky a small smile on her lips.  I wished for a camera but I did not want to intrude on the moment.  I never want to intrude.  It was a beautiful exchange between mother and son.  Heartbreaking and palpable and real.

She ordered a BLT.  Took one bite.  Held it in her hands.  I watched her close her eyes again and feel.  I do this too.  We had done it before, together.  It was after my last radiation that she had driven up for.  Me looking and feeling a wreck, bald with a cap, dark circles around my eyes, engulfing my eyes.  Her, healthy, vibrant, strong, and I assumed safe.  We went to my favorite breakfast place in my town.  I always say this place is like eating in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.  The decor and waitstaff are similar.  It’s awesome and as a bonus, the food is quite good.  We sat.  Holding our coffees. Feeling and smelling and savoring the warmth of cup in hand.  She told me then that I was opening a new chapter.  She sang the song about the rest being still unwritten.  She laughed.  It was a nice moment.  It’s what I think about when I think of her.

She enjoyed that bite.  We took the other half home.  She never ate it but that was never the point.

Later that day, she awoke from a well deserved nap telling us about her strange dream.  She had dreamt that we had gone to breakfast together.  All of us.  Wasn’t that funny?  And we tried to tell her that we really did but I am not sure she believed us.

I stayed a few days.  Tried to help where I could.  This was my mother and she was going to die and die soon.  I wanted nothing but to be with her.  To help.

It was hard to leave but I had to.  My boys were starting school in our new state.  I had to go.  I didn’t want to.  I hugged her.  I cried.  She cried.  We hugged again.  I told her to listen to her children.  All they wanted was to help her.  We all loved her so much.  But in the next sentence.  I told her to remember that she was the captain of this ship.  And she looked at me and I could hear her thinking “You’re damn right I am.”

Days passed.  Text.  Phone. Skype.  Facetime.  These modern conveniences that help connect us.

And then the final late night text, “She’s gone.”

Gone.

The first time we met.  After I found her.  She got on a plane the very next day to see me.  She called me from the airport.  And I said to her, “Are you really coming to see me?  Are you going to do it?  Aren’t you scared?”  I was scared.  And she paused and said to me, “I’m no chicken.”  And she wasn’t.  She was brave and strong and tough.

I lost her when I was three days old. She was there and then she was gone and I wasn’t supposed to talk about it.  Not ever.  Even though I talked about it anyway.  Everyone told me I was bad for wanting to know the truth about myself.  My whole life.  So I waited…and waited.  I waited to know her name.  Her laugh.  Her voice, that is so much like mine.  I waited to know my chapter one because everyone told me I was disloyal for wanting to know it.  Eventually,  I searched and searched only to discover over three decades later, that she had been looking for me too.  And we met and we loved and we fought and we struggled.  But we always kept trying.  I came from her.  And she did for me what she thought was the best thing she could do under the circumstances.  And people can judge as they often do.  And tell me their unsolicited opinions on all things adoption.  But all I know is that she was my first mother.  And I feel empty again without her.  I feel the ache I felt my whole life and I wonder if it will remain there forever.  I really never thought it would end like this.  We didn’t even get ten years.

I still can’t believe she’s gone.

 

 

 


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Back on the Sauce

So I went back to my sparkly new oncologist and told her the Femera didn’t fly.  Meaning that I lasted one week and it was so awful I had to stop.  And I said that was it and she said that was fine.  Quality of life and all that. But then she told me she had been thinking of me and she wanted to try something out of the box.

What?

Hmm…

SHe suggest that I try Faslodex.  It is another antihormonal but it is usually only used for people who are Stage IV.  It works in a different way than the others I had tried.

But there was one other thing.  It is not a pill.  It’s a monthly shot.

I don’t mind needles.  I haven’t cared about needles in years.  Needles shmeedles.  Bring ’em.

But I have had such bad luck with the pills that amonthly shot concerns me.  Because if a pill makes you feel horrid, you can stop taking it but with a shot, you are screwed for a month.

And then I did some quick research for info about Faslodex and there was a lot of talking of black and blue tushes.  Hip pain.  Swelling.  Not being able to sit down.

Ummm…

My doctor needed to get approval from my insurance which was honestly dubious since I amnot stage IV.  But we made and appointment for me to come back the next week for the first shot.

Then I went for a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was nice but really noisy.  Traffic is noisy!  And I thought and thought and thought about it.

golden-gate

Yep.  I walked the whole thing both ways, end to end. It was fun.  It’s a stock photo because I could not figure out how to upload my photo.  Blergh.

And I thought about Aromasin.  Aromasin.  I started taking it last June.  It was ok in the beginning but then it started to get rough after about a month.  Joint pain.  Dark thoughts. And then there was the price.  Ugh!

It was all good until our insurance changed and our deductible reset.  The price at the drugstore that starts with a W and ends with JERK was something like $425.  For one month. Yikes.  I stopped taking it in October.  I had some illness that made the aches even worse than what I had been living with and then after I recovered from the illness, I felt so much better that I stopped taking aromasin because I was tired of paying a ton of money to feel awful.

But you know, compared to a shot of Faslodex, Aromasin didn’t seem so bad.

So I decided to retry the Aromasin.  Why not?  And it’s been not so bad so far.  Better than Femara.  Beats a shot in the ass.  So far.

And I found I could get a 3 month supply through mail order pharmacy for $187.  So that’s good.

And the yucky pharmacy people(Rhymes with Mallgreens) I heard they recently got sued for overcharging patients.  Jerks.  They lost my business forever.  I won’t even buy a candybar from that place.

That is where things stand in my treatment.  I am currently being a good girl and taking my medicine.  I do not feel totally horrible.  Not even mildly horrible.  So far.

So far.


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Loss and Recovery and Loss

A woman in my support group died.  Last time I saw her, we were in the same boat.  Done with treatment, told we had no evidence of disease, trying to get on with our lives. Waiting for our hair to grow.  I  eventually stopped going to group. I heard from a friend she had a recurrence locally in her breast and gone through the torture of treatment again. And then I heard it had metastasized. And then I heard she died.

And it hurt to hear it.  Like a punch in the stomach.  I didn’t know her well.  We were acquaintances.  Two members of a club no one cares to be in.But I am sad for her and her family.  Really, I am sad for all of us.

From what I knew of her, she was nice and funny and gentle and kind.  She had a lot of hope.  She, like the rest of us, stared down a life threatening disease and went a couple of Saturdays a month to talk about it.

People say we are brave.  We who have faced cancer.  But is it bravery?  I don’t think so.  It’s just a need for self-preservation.  We endure treatment for whatever reason, our families, our children, or maybe just to see another sun rise and set.  And we sit in a chair and get pumped full of poisonous medicine in the hopes of having a few more days.  And it wasn’t a battle.  It wasn’t a fair fight.  I got my ass kicked people, and kicked hard. And Yes, I believe the definition of bravey is doing things even though you are scared but this was kind of a forced bravery.  Because none of us who face cancer and want to live really have much of a choice. And even then, there are people who go through treatment more than once  and they die anyway.  This is not about bravery,  it’s about something else.

What would you give for another day?

Whoa, that’s deep.

Now I am trying to separate the compassion I have for this woman who died, with my own ego which can be a monster.  Am I sad for the loss of her?  Yes.  Of course.  But am I also sad because, well, this is the first person I have known in real life since my own breast cancer diagnosis who has done the unthinkable and died?   Yes.  I think that is part of it.  It scares me.  We were in the same boat at the same time and she died.  That is what happened.  While our lives are only barely intertwined, a part of me is taking her death  very personally.  Honestly, there is also this anger at how stupid all of this is.  Why her?  Why not me?  We got the same treatment so why am I here?  And more importantly, how do I stay here?  Dear God, how do I stay here?

And I have no answers.  No more than I had last week, last month, last year.  All I know is that I have today and I try not to waste it.  Better than that, I try to make use of it.

I try to be kind.  I try to make a little something of my own every day.  I try to avoid the pitfalls of my human nature.  I try to be a better person than I was before even if that is a person who is sitting on the couch because she has another bit of upper respiratory ick.  I try not to harm others.  Even when I really, really want to.  Even when they have harmed me.  I try to laugh and sing and be happy.  I try not to be scared.

I am sad for the loss of this woman I knew, who with a group of others, helped me through a devastating moment in time.  I hate this stupid disease that takes and takes.


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New Drugs

My visit with my new oncologist went well.  She agreed that I should try Metformin and she convinced me to try yet another antihormonal.  This one is called Femara.  It is used a lot with infertility.  I started the Metformin first.  It was rough going at the start.  Tummy troubles, nausea, dizziness.  I actually cut the dose in half for a day or so and then my body seemed to adjust just fine so I am now back to the full dose without problems.

I had a blood test about two weeks in because some people on Metformin can get something called lactic acidosis and it can kill you.  But my blood test came back ok.

Metformin is a diabetes drug but studies are showing that it is helping prevent some people from recurring with cancer.  I have no idea if it is doing anything for me.  But it is giving me some peace of mind.

After the bloodtest, I was given the go to take the Femara.

Yeah, I lasted a week.  It was really bad.  Aches and pains, foggy brain, dark thoughts, depression and I kept falling asleep everywhere.  I stopped talking too.  I stopped being me.  I felt like I had a really bad flu.  Oh, and my eyes itched and my hands swelled.  So I stopped taking it.

I am going to see my new doctor again this week.  Hopefully we can brainstorm a solution.

I have also been seeing a naturopathic oncologist.  I have been taking supplements since I finished treatment but she helped me to streamline to the most effective and third party researched supplements.  She added DIM and another concoction with Reishi mushrooms.

My husband is not completely on board with me seeing a naturopath.  First because it looks like our insurance will not cover my visits and secondly because…well… he is skeptical of fakery.  Totally understandable.  My naturopath has given me excellent care and advice and her work experience is impressive.  I am kind of shrugging my shoulders about it though.  I have no idea if any of this is going to work.

I am still trying to workout at least 4 times a week.  That usually looks like a nice long walk for at least 30 minutes.  I was doing cycling classes and lifting weights and doing Body Pump but all of that got pushed to the side after my week of misery on Fermara.  That was over 6 weeks ago and I am just now feeling  back to myself in terms of energy.

Tomorrow will mark 3 years since my surgery.  I feel pretty good about that.  It was a rough day and I really doubted I would be here 3 years later.  But I am.  Honestly, were it not for the Facebook memories that keep appearing, I would have forgotten it was even an anniversary of sorts.

As always, I am thankful for the friends and family who care about me and for me and make the effort to reach out to me and let me know they care.  It brings great comfort.

Life is good and it keeps moving forward.  I am just living and savoring and loving.  I hope you are too.