Bad Right Breast

I've Always Hated My Right Breast!

Chemo started, and I’m fine…..physically October 27, 2011

Filed under: cancer — Bad Right Breast @ 10:06 pm

I arrived at 10am, got vitals checked, meet with oncologist’s assistant who at this point has too much joy in her voice, so much I’m ready to throw her out the window. She didn’t even read my chart before coming in. She said I was getting one form of chemo when I had to correct her.

Then Dr. Goel came in and asked if I took my steroids. I said that I had never been given any. She looked confused and Graham, my advocate, was there to back me up. See, at least in my case, you’re supposed to take a steroid pill morning & night the day before, they give you your morning dosage morning of, you take the pill night of, and the again morning & night day after. It’s to relieve the major side effect of water retention from one of the chemo drugs. I looked at her & nearly flipped my shit. I said that I couldn’t walk out of there without starting chemo, I had the whole day off, and that she needed to figure out a solution.

So, I took double dosage of steroids over double the amount of time (2 hours). Then took pills for anti-nausia, and pepcid (relieves the lining of the bowel system). Then chemo started. The first was the one to react with the steroid. Instead of one hour, we lengthened the time to 1hr & 45min. Any side effects, I’d feel there at the hospital. None to be had. So far so good. The second chemo drug was an injection into my IV, 100ccs (2 large viles). Took some time because my veins weren’t cooperating. The third took a little over an hour.

Over all the day lasted almost 8 hours. Won’t be that long next time, but was a bit tiring. I mean, I like to lay in a recliner, but I was on the verge of going batty. I had my iPad & laptop for work, but there was only so much I could do before I started to tire out. Graham brought me lunch, woohoo you can eat through chemo! Becca came by & dropped off water & ginger/lemon tea (yum!). Amber came & relieved graham when he needed to leave for class. I slept for about 2 hours (apparently she left for a Starbucks run & I had no idea).

So far, just tired. No pain or nausea. Side effects usually don’t start until several days afterwards, and then the Nadir time (1/2 way through treatment) is the hardest because your white blood cells are at their lowest. The nurse practioners did say that if iI could keep up some exercise, it’d help my system bounce back faster. Can everyone say bike ride to work!

And mentally, in a bit of a funk, but i know it’s understandable. Having family, friends & work get me through. So thank you all for your support. Now, going back to sleep.

Love you all.
Laurie

 

Day Before Chemo October 25, 2011

Filed under: cancer — Bad Right Breast @ 10:05 pm

Well, the next phase is nearly here.

Chemo starts tomorrow, and I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I mean, how do you prepare for this? I’m tired of making lists. I’m tired of planning (never thought I’d say that, right?) so I’m hoping this feeling is just another phase. I want it to just be done and over with, but I know it will be one of those things that will seem like it’s forever in the moment. But when it’s over it’ll be as if it were just a blink of an eye. I hold on to that – this too shall pass.

So what do I do? I throw a party! A pre-chemo party, a pseudo birthday party for Graham, a last hoorah for the girls. Full of close friends & playgroup families. Kids were held in the back rooms (under supervision, of course) while the adults actually had some fun. Thank you to all who came!  Kinda like my own little mardi gras.  (FYI, fridge is full of beer and bar is full of wine, so when you visit, it’ll be guaranteed good times.)

For today, I go to work, like any ordinary day. Get as much done as possible. It does feel a bit like ‘dead woman walking’. I mean, I know I’m not gonna die, but there is a sort of ‘last rights’ feeling before I embark on this next, shall we call it journey? Of the unknown, really. Because who knows how I’ll feel, react, look like. And yes, scared. But I do my best to stay out of that part of my head. I do breakdown at times, but I try to only let it last for a moment, afraid that if I cry for too long that it’ll be harder for me to bounce back and stand up straight again.

And I can’t say enough about the support and love and prayers. Throughout life you know that you’ve made friends along the way, but iI’ve never truly known the love that can exist until now. I mean, I thought I did when I met & fell in love with graham, and then when I had the girls. But this, this is different. No words can express my gratitude and appreciation, and yes, love. I know it will carry me through. So thank you.

I’m taking tomorrow off, more for my mental health than anything. And then we’ll see how my body reacts.  The next waiting game.  Ah, wait and see.  I think I will have to create a posting of all the bullshit sayings that run through my head, and sorry for my sarcasm, but I’m in a ‘who gives a shit’ mode right now.  So yes, wait and see, this too shall pass, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  BULLSHIT SAYINGS.  How about ‘suck it up’.  ‘better you than me’ ………..ok, I’ll stop before I offend anyone.

Love you all.

 

USA Today Article October 17, 2011

Filed under: cancer — Bad Right Breast @ 9:59 pm

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/medical/health/medical/breastcancer/story/2011-10-16/Double-mastectomy-A-cancer-survivors-story/50796360/1

 

Oncology & Work October 14, 2011

Filed under: cancer — Bad Right Breast @ 9:53 pm

Well, it’s Friday…….4 days since I’ve met with the Medical Oncologist. It’s taken so long to post because it was also the first day I went back to work!

It was the day we’ve been anticipating ever since this whirlwind started, finding out what this chemo, and now radiation, plan will be. Dr. Anu Goel, a beautiful young Indian woman, is revered by both my breast surgeon & plastic surgeon so I knew I’d be in good hands. After she went through my history – how I found the lump, all of the tests and results – she asked, ‘So tell me what you think will happen next.’ My heart skipped a beat, a knot in my throat and I stopped. My first breakdown in front of a doctor. She assured me it was ok, that she needed to understand what I thought and knew about the process. I said that I knew I needed chemo because of the cancer found in my lymph nodes, and then the radiation because of its agressiveness, and that all in all I thought it would be about 6 months. She then said something that was spoken to me for the first time by a doctor. “We’re here to cure you.” A weight like no other was lifted.

We went through the different types of chemo ‘plans,’ like it was a cruise line option – 4 day/3 night cruise or a 7 day/6 night cruise. Seriously. There’s the AC-T option that’s every 2 weeks for 4 months, the TAC every 3 weeks for 4 months, or the research option in which the computer randomly puts you into either the first option or TAC for 2 months then weekly for the following 2-3 months. All side effects the same – same nausea, same numbness, same hair loss, same mouth sores. The latter option in the research is believed to have lesser side effects, but it’s a gamble as to whether you’d be chosen. Even though I’m a supporter of modern medicine & a believer in research, I’m being, I’ll say it, a bit selfish. It’s my life, my kids’ lives, my husband’s life, and all of my supporters’ lives. I don’t want anymore gambles. After talking it over with Graham, we chose the TAC option.

So, starting 10/26 (I made that the start date so that I could still make my plans to return home to Louisiana for the holidays without a chemo interruption), I’ll go in every 3 weeks for 4-5 hours. Then the next day for an injection to boost my white blood cell count. This will run me to the first week of February, and then I’ll start the radiation. She mentioned how there’s internet so I can bring a laptop and still work while I got the IV injections. (Was something mentioned in my medical reports that I don’t know about?)

Then there’s the reminder to always have your advocate present. And in my case, it’s Graham. He talks through concerns or questions that aways slip my mind. Nausea medicines, cold cap questions, how it will all affect me.

The cold cap, still being researched, is an actual cap that you put on your head the day before, of and after your chemo. It lowers your body temperature to about 70 degrees, and is thought to freeze your hair follicles enough so that you dont have any hair loss. Some people swear by it. But after all of my research & talking to specialists, if there’s any microscopic cancer cells floating around, even in my brain, why would I want to do anything to prevent their death. Plus, I can’t imagine wearing that during the coldest of New York’s seasons. AND I have a sassy new wig. So no cold cap. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it all the way. And plus, it’s my only chance to see what I’d look like bald!

As for the nausea, she asked if I had nausea during my pregnancy. Graham laughed and said, “She didn’t have a normal pregnancy, even with twins.” (For those of you who don’t know or remember…..no nausea, no cravings, gained a total of 26 pounds, went to 37 weeks and worked until the day before. So in the end, what’s a little chemo, right?) I said to her that as long as I didn’t have any nausea, I’d be able to eat. But the slightest nausea, I knew I wouldn’t put one bread crumb into my mouth. So, she prescribed 3 separate medications. One she said was going to be expensive, but if I have extreme nausea, it’ll work. (It damn well better be worth the one time usage of over $350 after insurance! The other two costs $55 after insurance. Ugh, our health care system!)

Anything else? She said that I would be at about 70% of my energy. Graham laughed again, and said that it’s still twice as much as normal people. And then she looked at him, and said that he’ll have to pick up the pieces. That I’ll be tired, may not be able to cook, will need to lie down a lot, will be moody and that he’ll have to look after the kids. We both laughed. Besides the cooking, Graham already does everything. That’s how amazing HE is! He’d normally shrug all of this off, but without my cooking he knows that that’s what we’ll be asking for from our local supporters. Who, from now on, I’ll call the Brown Brigade. (still not a pink person) And then she mentions the sterilization. The fact that this may throw me into pre-menopause, and may not be able to conceive again. We have two beautiful girls. We always wanted one more, but if it didn’t happen, there’s plenty of babies that need homes. We’ll deal with that when it comes.

And for work? How could I not? I’m fine physically, except for a little soreness on my right side that I just need to work out. I get a bit tired, but then I just stop and slow down. I have a desk job, it’s not like I move boxes for a living (although I have been known to move a 5 drawer filing cabinet on my own). So it’s been good to keep my mind busy. And plus, we need the income. It’s reality. I can’t just stop because of a little cancer. And as soon as the rain stops – I’m biking to work. My lower body works fine, the upper body needs the work. I’ll only do it on the 2 days a week I don’t pick up the girls from pre-school.

As for my new tatas, they’ve been healing nicely. The underlying scars itch a bit, and the intersection where the single stitches were still have some healing to do. I’ll get one more 1/2 injection in order to stretch them a bit more, but in the end, a small C? I think? What do I know about anything lower than a DD! I mean the last time I think I was a C was what, 8th Grade? My right breast still has a bit fluid in it, that we’ve been aspirating weekly. But the doctor says that if it’s not gone by Tuesday that I’ll need a small catheter to take care of it before the chemo start. So, I’ve been pressing, squeezing, inserting gauze inside my sports bras, in order to get the skin to seal to the tissue. It’s been morphing my breast a bit, but he says that it’ll go back to a normal shape. Just make it so that fluid has nowhere to fill.

So if you see me walking around New York with hand pressed against my right breast, you’ll know the reason.

Now for you? It’s been a month since I last asked. Have you done your self-exam? Be familiar with and know your body. Don’t be afraid to asks questions to your doctor, no matter how silly you think they are.

There’s more on my mind, but my subway ride is coming to an end.

All my love,
Laurie

 

Pathology Reports October 3, 2011

Filed under: cancer — Bad Right Breast @ 9:51 pm

Well, another week of waiting. I meet with the Oncologist next Monday to figure out the path of chemo.

But today found out the pathology reports. Turns out cancer was in all four quadrants of my right breast, not just in the upper quadrant. The grading of the tumors totaled 8 out of 9, which means it’s stage 3 and very aggressive. The tumors ranged in size of .3 cm to 2.5 cm, the largest of which is what I most likely felt. And understandable as to why we (me and my gyn) didn’t feel anything three months earlier. So, go ahead and measure what’s 2.5 cm. Pretty tiny, right?

They removed 24 lymph nodes, 8 of which came back positive for cancer. I was on the edge of freaking, but she assured me that it was a good thing. The lymph nodes go through your entire body and only a third in that area were cancerous, so with the results of a clear PetCT scan, it’s a good thing.

Also, confirmed that there was absolutely no cancer in the left breast. So even though it’s aggressive, we caught it at the earliest possible time.

But because of the stage 3 and lymph nodes, I’ll go through both chemo and radiation. And since I won’t see her again until 6 months, my guess is that’s the estimate of time I’ll be on chemo. But 6 months can fly by right?

Whew, doing well though. Was preparing for this. Wish I’d know more about the chemo, but all in due time. Recovering nicely, the right arm/side is still, and will problematic (most likely for the next year or two).

Did a little fashion show with my current wardrobe. Good news is that I was so much in denial about my DDs that I stuffed them into outfits I most likely shouldn’t have, that everything fits better than ever before. Bad news? I DON’T GET A NEW WARDROBE!

NO TUMMY TUCK?
NO NEW WARDROBE?

Chemo better put me on a weight loss program and not have me be the 1 in 100 that gain weight. Seriously. Somethime good MUST come out of this. You know, besides my nice, new perky tatas and actually surviving it. Ok, I understand what I just wrote. Don’t judge.

And the meals? Thanks go out especially to Amber Ford, Becca Ayers, Scotte Hardin, Jen Conley, Margaux Laskey, Chris & Lydia Kindred, Katie Nicholson, Mara McEwin, Melissa Caolo, Erin & Tim Butterfield, Chelley Conales, Hillary Reeves, Carol Anderson and Lisa Jaeger. You’ve no idea how much we’ve all appreciated it, and how big of help it was to me and my family. And to my mom who came up to help me recover.

anyone up for another 6 months of this?