Waiting for Savasana


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Thanksgiving

Of course I am Thankful.

But I am also kind of scared.  This little voice whispers to me.  Is this my last Thanksgiving?

Morbid.  I know.  Depressing.  You bet.

But the thought is there all the same.

All I can do is take it day by day.

I know there is that whole “Get hit by a bus” theory.  You know, “I’m perfectly healthy and I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.”

That truly is always a possibility.

There is something about what I have gone through.  What I am going through.  If I am not careful.  Well, I just get scared.  It is scary.

Today I made cranberry sauce.  And two pumpkin pies.  Later I will roast the yams.  Tomorrow morning I will get up to roast the turkey. I will boil potatoes and make stuffing.  Bake an apple pie.   And the day will be lovely.

I hope it’s not my last.

We went to the library and got some movies.  We went to the store and bought some socks for the youngest child whose feet will soon be bigger than his older brother’s feet.  How does that work? Almost four years difference.  Big puppy feet that child has.  His feet are so big that his toes put holes in the old socks.

I am so thankful.  I really am.

And I want more.

I was supposed to go to a party tonight but I am exhausted.  I am still recuperating.  My pajamas are calling me.

I can hear Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in the other room.

My life is so good.

I want more.  Please. I want more.


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What to do?

There is a study that says drinking three cups of green tea a day can help prevent recurrence.

I thought that would be an easy little thing to do.

Green tea provides a great deal of antioxidants and it is different from traditional tea because it has not been fermented.

There is just one problem… I do not like green tea.  At all.

But I forced myself.  I added lemon.  I was drinking it and I discovered another problem.

My intestinal tract does not like green tea either.

My husband made me stop drinking it when I  was at my lowest.  I have not restarted.  And I feel kind of down about it.

I found an article that said this is a common problem.  There were some ideas for making green tea more palatable.  Like putting milk in it.  I hate milk.

I am going to try again with decaf green tea which seems a bit gentler and has a bit lesser of benefits.  Gotta start somewhere.

But it’s funny because you can read studies and try stuff but I believe a lot of it all has to do with your own body make up and metabolism.

And really, do I need to beat myself up because green tea makes me nauseated and after 6 months of perpetual nauseation, I would like a break?

No.  I think that is fair.

I am trying very hard to be good.  Make better food choices and exercise.  But mostly, I’m just trying to enjoy myself and be happy.  Green tea does not make me happy.  Coffee does.  And hey, i just read an article that says coffee can be beneficial too.  I’ll take it where I can get it.


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Update

I am doing pretty well all things considered.

I did not get out of radiation unscathed.  Two days after I finished, I developed a deep red mark in the place between my neck and collar.  The skin was creasing and sticking together and then pulling apart when I moved my head and became quite irritated.  It is still a deep red and is now beginning to peel.  So I guess it’s a burn?  I don’t know.

In the last couple of days, I have some new redness about an inch below.  It’s a bigger area but so far it is not as deep a red.  The first wound looks like I got burned on my neck with a hot poker, this second one looks like a bad sunburn.  The first wound is beginning to peel.  I am not touching it.  I just put aloe and calendula cream on it and the occasional dab of neosporin.  The nurse said it will probably take two or three weeks before anything really heals.  The burn is coming from the inside out.

It looks much worse than it feels.

I am walking for exercise.  I just started yesterday in earnest.  Last week, I did 1 mile walks several times.  Yesterday I walked three miles with my friend and my dog.  Today I did it again with the dog.  Can I just say, the dog is thrilled?  She loves her walkies.  I am hoping to continue these walks daily and increase the mileage weekly.  I have to get ready for that 15k I signed up for that is happening mid-January.

As expected, I gained thirty pounds during treatment.  That is a lot.  I blame it all on the steroids.  It is coming off already and I am not as moon-faced as I was even a week ago.  I didn’t actually know how much I had gained until my last day of radiation.  I looked for the first time in months when I was weighed and even though I knew I had put on a lot (as non of my clothing is fitting me) I was shocked to see how much I weighed.  I weigh more than I did on the day I delivered my second child.  Yikes.

But the good news was that I had already lost two pounds from the previous weigh in the week before.

I am trying not to beat myself up about the huge gain.  I plan to lose it slowly over my recovery.  It stinks that nothing fits but I keep telling myself it is temporary.

My hair is also slowly returning.  I would say it is about 3/4 of an inch long.  Long enough to ditch the wigs and hats.  I am just glad it came back.

My eyebrows originally came in white but are now beginning to darken up.  My eyelashes are back and about half their normal length which is still pretty long.  I feel myself again.  It’s a good thing.

I am eating better, sleeping better and getting exercise so I feel pretty good.

I feel like it’s almost time to get out in the world again.


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Today Was Better!

Woke up NOT feeling nauseated.  Hooray!

I saw the “Survivorship” case worker (it WAS the same person I saw last time!).  I went to the grocery store.  I picked up the boys from school.  I did laundry.  I made banana bread.  I made dinner.

Good for me!

I told Ms. Survivorship about my Oncologist issues and that I was not feeling heard.  And that I am certainly not going to just lay down and “be comfortable” if anything dire happens.

She was very empathetic and set me up with a second opinion from another oncologist.  She also gave me excellent tips on handling everything.  She was extremely supportive and I feel good about the visit.

I am kind of freaked out at the moment.  Being done with treatment is wonderful but also scary.  Very scary.  I over think a lot and I can freak myself out.  But really everything needs to be one day at a time.  And I have to work on keeping gloom and doom and worst case scenarios out of my busy monkey mind.


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I was Waiting To Take It…

The Tamoxifen.  I was waiting until I felt a little better.  But last night, I had nightmares all night because I hadn’t started taking it and really, my brain knows I need to do it.

So I took it tonight for the first time.

Tamoxifen has some crappy possible side effects but you know what would be worse than side effects?  Metastasis.

Physically, I am feeling better than I was but still not great.  I am about 60%.  Honestly.  60% and I feel better now than I have in awhile.  That’s saying something.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the “Survivorship” person.  It says online she is a nurse practitioner.  I don’t think she is the caseworker I spoke with a little over a month ago but it says it is a return visit so maybe I have already met her but don’t remember?

It’s funny.  I don’t remember much of the summer.  The four AC chemos I had were really tough on my brain.  The Taxol was tough on my body but I remember more of that time even though I felt horrible.

I am tired of talking about how horrible I feel…how tired I am.

I am impatient for recovery.


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The Next Step

I got my first bottle of Tamoxifen today.  It is an estrogen blocker.  My tumor had receptors that were responsive to hormones.  In other words, hormones fed the cancer.  So now for the next ten years, I am to take an estrogen blocker in order to starve any microscopic cancer that may be lingering and looking to grow.

I have read a lot about Tamoxifen.  Some people have a lot of side effects like joint pain, hot flashes, and other fun stuff.  Some people have no side effects.

My oncologist wouldn’t really talk to me about side effects.  It was strange and uncomfortable.  I mean the fact sheet lists tons of possible side effects but she insisted the only side effect I should expect is an occasional discharge (Ewww!).

I left her office a bit frustrated.  I am a very direct person and I appreciate when others are direct with me.  I don’t like things sugar-coated.  Seriously, just be straight with me.

She also told me that under her care, there will be no tests, no scans, nothing.  Because according to her, if I did end up with metastasis, I would just get Tamoxifen and they would make me “comfortable”.

Huh?  What?

No.  I am not cool with this.  And I am even more frustrated.  I mean, I am not Stage IV but I know from my reading that often Stage IV breast cancer patients feel discarded.  They feel let down by research who do not spend a lot of time or money, comparatively, helping them.  They often seem to feel let down by modern medicine.

Now I know I just finished treatment and no I do not want to go through what I went through in the last seven months any time soon or really ever again, however,  IF I were to become Stage IV, I don’t think I would be willing to just “be comfortable”.  No.  I am not cool with that.

This is kind of bummer thinking for someone who has just finished something awful but I just had the appointment so it’s on my mind.

This just seems like something else to figure out.  Frustrating.


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One More

Oh my goodness.  Just one more radiation treatment to go!

I am getting crispy so it is good that I am almost done.

It just looks like a bad, bad sunburn… on my chest and my ARMPIT!  Yikes.  Ouchie.

Yes, it’s not just breast cancer, it’s armpit cancer since it got to the nodes there.  Armpit cancer.  Funny no one really calls it that.  Do they?  Next time someone asks I’m going to tell them I have armpit cancer.

Anyhoo, I had a blood draw today and the nosey lady doing the needle sticking was asking me a bunch of questions.

“So your only Stage 1, right?” she said casually.

“No actually, I’m Stage 3………C.”

The look of horror on her face.  Horror mixed with sympathy and pity.

I totally wasn’t offended because that’s how I’ve felt about it since the day I got the pathology report.

This is serious stuff.

But the look on her face was a reminder.  Because I forget that I am actually ill…and that it is really serious.

Someone said that once you are diagnosed with cancer people treat you differently.  Like that’s a bad thing.

I think I’ve been through so much that I deserve to be treated differently.  Yep.  I said it.

I do not expect to be treated like a princess but if people want to be nice to me because I was diagnosed with serious cancer, I am down with that.

And conversely when someone is mean to me, which has been rare but has happened, I’m kind of like, Dude, don’t you get it? I am really freakin’ on the edge!  Check yourself.  You know?

Even the other day, I was driving with my husband.  We were waiting behind several other cars to turn onto our street and this woman who was in her driveway started backing out and almost hit us.  I laid on the horn!  I was thinking “Hell no!  I did not go through seven months of treatment to get hit by some turkey in a hurry to get to Starbucks!!  No way!”

These are the things that go through my mind.

When I was very little, I told my grandma that I wanted to live to be 100 and she told me that I should never want that because I would just be a burden on others..blah..blah…blah.  But that has always been my hope, to make it to 100…like George Burns.

And I will be honest, I often get the things I really want, eventually anyway.  I’m not talking about diamonds and a money tree in the back yard.  But I AM a believer in “The Secret”  because it often works for me.

While I still hold out hope of living to 100, a dream I have had since age 4, I now have to deal with the reality of being in the hopeful percentage that makes it five years past diagnosis.  And that can be depressing.

But for me, it kind of isn’t.  Because I’ve had seven months to think about this.

We Americans, we don’t like to talk about death.  Even when I was little and asked about death, I was just told that everyone went to heaven.  Hush now.  I remember when a great grandmother died, I asked after the funeral how long it would take for the bugs to get to her and I was abruptly and perhaps appropriately shushed.

And since my diagnosis, there have been people who tried to shush me.  “Don’t talk like that!”  “You’re going to make it!”  “Hush!”

But the reality is that I might not.  I might not make it and the way out could be quite painful.  And that is something I think about but try not to obsess over.

If anything, I am just trying to make peace with it and focus on the here and now.

And there are silver linings to this possibility of dying young…I don’t worry so much about recycling (although I still do it).  I don’t worry about retirement (although we are still saving).  I don’t worry about how my kids are going to turn out. No really! I mean it! I used to worry about sex and drugs and rock and roll and whatnot.  I’m not so worried anymore.  I just want them to grow into the beautiful adults I know they will one day be.  I’m just more into letting them be who they are now instead of projecting my nonsensical worries onto them.  Does that make sense?

Regardless, it’s a good thing.  It makes me a better mom.

And if there is one thing I have learned in the last seven months (although really my entire marriage) is that if something ever does happen to me, my boys will be very well cared for by their father.  Because he has been amazing through all of this.  Amazing!

But I knew he would be.  That’s why I married him (that and the fact that he’s H-O-T, HOT!).

He’s going with me tomorrow for my last treatment.  And he will continue to be my rock and my strength throughout what has been a nightmare.

I don’t know what is going to happen.  None of us do.  But I refuse to let fear rule me.  I’m just going to live.