Friday, July 25, 2014

Treatment aftermath

After chemo today I couldn't get home fast enough. The whole process was slow today and When I finally left I was feeling less than my best. 
My favorite nurses weren't there.  Christina transferred to the Irving office, and I am going to miss her. 
Her deep belly laugh and sweet heart. 
And Miss H was on vacation with her family. So, new nurses were being trained and they just started using a new medical software. 
Today was my first of two doses in the cycle and followed an extra week off. Sometimes that extra week off impacts my response to chemo. Today's that meant having the scarf on my head make my skin crawl. Everything touching my skin was bothersome. Thankfully I am a linen snob. I rushed home and climbed into luxuriously soft sheets and slept it off for a while. 
I wanted to go get a little exercise, but I don't think I can make it tonight. Everytime I think like this I remember reading Lance Armstrong's story about cancer in his book "it's not about the bike". He was taking one of those life-sucking chemos- the ones that leave you barely functional. He was also still in denial, so he went out to ride his bike. After repeated falls he couldn't even get up, so he had to call home and have someone come get him. I don't want to colapse on the side of the road, but I do find his dedication inspiring. And, this summer I committed to myself that I will be active as part of my holistic approach to treatment. 
During the year I save my energy to be a mom, but with the kids off in their own summer activities it doesn't matter if work and exercise are the only thing I can manage- I have no other responsibilities. So, I guess I just talked myself into some exercise tonight. Then it will be back to sleep.  Wild weekend night, eh?
Another reason to push myself- I am finally ready to start dating again. It has been a long time since the divorce- but I wanted to be sure I could have a different type of relationship. And, most of that time I didn't want to be in a relationship again. Too much vulnerability. 
I don't think a lot of men (any men) want to date a woman with cancer, so I have to kick this and grow some hair. Keith, my other nurse, doesn't think they would care. What do you think? 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My dynamic life

I have to say - one thing I love about raising my kiddos in TX is the diversity - something that was lacking in Idaho.  They have best friends from around the world and of every ethnic and religious background. 
In the last 12 hours my circle has expanded too.  At 10:30 last night I had a man with a grill (not as in BBQ) over at my house.  He was fixing the A/C.  Today I spend the morning in Chinese as we recorded an engineering video for the Chinese market.
Beauty comes in millions of forms.

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's graph time.  I haven't posted one of these in a long time.
So, if you are new to my blog - I when I have a drop in my CA27.29 I like to chart it. (find out what CA27.29 means here and my reason for charting here

I love seeing the line slope down and to the right.  I am also a very visual person.  I can get through a spreadsheet pretty well, but I would still rather get top-level information in a graphic. 

Unfortunately today's graph does not look like I thought it would. Yes, we do have a pretty good trend going here. But, I flat-lined this month, see that little straight tail on the end?  I thought for sure I would drop that tumor marker again and be so close to 0. 

What does this mean?
Not anything bad.  I didn't spike like back in Feb 2012.  But, it may be that I have built up a resistance to this chemo. My tumor marker is very telling.  When it stops dropping then a switch in chemo is on the near horizon.

Dr. J has been wanting to go back to Xeloda. (read about how this worked before here or get scientific about it with clinical info here) The up side of this is that I already have a bottle full of Xeloda right here at home, so if we go back to this I can start poppin' pills, no waiting for approval from insurance or going to the pharmacy.  And taking a pill means not going to the oncologist every week for an IV. Also, even though I didn't feel very good on this medicine, it was working great.  Maybe it will help me knock out cancer.

I am also working on my yellow rice recipe.  Turmeric (the yellow of yellow rice) & ginger are thought to help fight cancer.  Once this week it turned out great.  The second time I made it strong because if a little is good a little more is better, right?  I ate it because I wanted it to kill the cancer, but it didn't taste good.  Since I ate that over seasoned rice I know I can manage Xeloda.

I have to keep my head in the game and enjoy every day, because being here with my three wild angels is what I want most in the world. 

I really have a pretty awesome life. My babies are the most amazing people.  They are so sweet and good.  I have a rockstar family - we live far apart but I know they care and are praying for me. And, everywhere I go I am surrounded by friends and people who care. 
It was hard for me to tell the people at work about my cancer, but when I was going to loose my hair it was time.  They have been AMAZING! I love going to church because those people are like family. Every week I know there are people who will come and find me to ask how I am doing and so many hugs.  And, I have friends all around the world who stay in touch and cheer me on - thank you Facebook.

How did I get so lucky? How can so many people love me?  I am just an average girl but I have it so good.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wear my hair for Thanksgiving

My new goal is to be able to wear my hair by Thanksgiving. I can't do a whole lot about it, but I am doing what I can. A lot of dreaming about it, visualizing it, meals packed with Protien and praying. 
I am hopeful that on turkey day I will be NED (that highly coveted status of showing no evidence of disease) and have my own hair. Oh, wouldn't it be nice? I dream of being like Rapanzle, long hair that ushers in a new life. 
However, for every step forward that I take a part of me feels something like guilt or sorrow. I think of my friends who have died  or my friends who lost a parent because of their cancer. I also think of my friends who battle today with hope or doom on the horizon. I can't help but wonder, why me?  Why am I so lucky? There is no answer to this question. I have heard of many cancer patients who feel the same. This is one of those things that only the mercy of Jesus Christ can resolve in the next life. 
So, I keep setting goals and holding on to hope and the love of my family and friends. And, I try to live a life worthy of the miracle that I am alive. There have been times death was so close but I am raising my babies and working full time. Truly, a miracle. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

8 years post diagnosis

Today is my 8 year cancer-versary. My baby was only 6 months old and every symptom I had could easily be explained away by being a new mom. In fact, after I called to make an appointment with my OBGYN I was chatting with my sister on the phone and explained why I should cancel the appointment and not waste my time, or theirs. Thankfully Jenn convinced me to go, even if it was just to ease her mind. Silly sister, but I couldn't disappoint her. 
The PA kept the visit very short and rushed me out the door for a mammogram and ultrasound. Tearfully, the PA told me it wasn't good news. I assured her it was going to be ok. I didn't have cancer and they would see that in the tests. 
It was cancer. But, I didn't cry that day. At least, I don't remember crying.  I do remember everyone around me crying and I assured them it was going to be fine. 
Then I did cry. I cried at my chemo treatments for months, I cried during the biopsy, I cried when I looked at my babies who I couldn't hold because of the intense pain of surgeries and the fear I was dying an ugly death. 
My treatments began with 6 months of chemo, surgery, radiation and continued herceptin. Then I stayed on hormone therapy for 5 years. During the time of hormone blocking therapy my official diagnosis was breast cancer, NED (no evidence of disease).  
About this time 3 years ago I was having intense back pain and, like the first time, I chalked the problems up to something else. Foolishly ignoring my risk for a recurrence of cancer. I ignored it for months, until in an effort to be responsible with follow-up treatments and being hopeful that I could have an oncologist tell me I was cured, I went in for a check-up and found out the cancer growing again.
This diagnosis led to a change in the hormone therapy. I went through several until none of them worked anymore. Then I started chemotherapy again. I am on my third type of chemo since being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and it is looking good so far. 
I am still in active treatment, but have seen some success recently and I am hopeful that there could be a break for me in the future.  However, since the cancer has metastasized to distant sites, I am a permanent cancer patient.
Cancer sucks! But, life with cancer has given me many gifts. First, the people who aren't true friends go away. I didn't have to do anything, they just faded away. I have found wonderful friends and have seen the good in humanity. I have been able to encourage others in the same journey. 
What's in my future? I don't know. 
But, today is a sad day.  A reminder of bad news and rotten things. Tomorrow is another day. And I will pull myself up and cope.  But, today I get to be sad.