Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I met with my oncologist yesterday. It's been 3 months since chemo ended, and 1 month since radiation ended. I had blood work done prior to my appointment.
We discussed my remaining symptoms:
- blood work is good, liver enzymes are still a bit high so they will check them again in 3 months.
- tingly toes are an unfortunate side effect, they may still get better or may just stay like this.
- achey joints are another side effect that should get better in time.
- tiredness / fatigue is normal and will gradually get better. Keep walking.
- forgetting things is normal enough, but the feeling of ringing in my ears and light headedness isn't, so they have ordered a head CT.
We talked about when it makes sense to go back to work, and it was suggested a year from my original surgery (March). The thing is, when I first had surgery, the surgeon said I would be off work for a year, and I thought that was completely crazy. I didn't realize the treatment would take so long and take so much out of me.
We talked about future follow-ups, which will be every 3 months for the first couple of years. Bloodwork will be done each time, and an annual mammogram (February already!) I will also continue follow-ups with the surgeon and the radiation oncologist.
So that was it, everything was good, but then I asked a couple more questions. I mentioned that a friend had her similar follow-up and was told she is in remission. The doctor agreed and said I was too. Remission. Not cancer-free. Breast cancer isn't curable. I knew that, but it still sounds weird. Remission means there is no active cancer.
Second question was about my blood - since my counts are back to normal, when can I give blood. Again a surprise answer. Never. There is always a chance there are cancer cells floating around in my blood, which could transfer to another person through a blood transfusion, and actually grow into a cancer in the other person.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
That seems to be the question now that I'm done treatment. Actually, I think I am the only one asking (that's me with my high expectations I put on myself). Answer - no idea. I know I'm not ready yet. When I meet with my oncologist in mid-December I think we'll set some goals so I'll know when I am ready. They did say at the very beginning that it would likely be a year off of work, I am finally starting to realize it may take that long (or longer).
Not complaining, but just listing the things that still 'bug' me:
- all 10 toes are numb (pins and needles feeling)
- fingertips sometimes get that lack of feeling too (especially right baby finger)
- right arm gets achey and tires easily
- right underarm still sore from radiation burn
- still a little sore where port was removed
- fingernails have those ridges and can get brittle (but not nearly as bad as other fingernails I've seen)
- tire easily (the couch is my friend)
- vision and hearing are not what they were - need to get these checked out
Chemo Brain issues:
- when speaking, can't think of the right word, or I say the completely wrong one (kids laugh a lot)
- when writing, misspell easy words or write the wrong word (shopping lists are interesting to decipher)
- when asked to do something, I turn around and completely forget (not only what I was supposed to do, but that I was supposed to do anything at all). Example - Brad and Zach carrying something heavy from truck to garage - I was to go inside and open the garage. La la la, I went inside and had no idea why Zach came in and asked me if I forgot to do something. No idea.
- no ability to mulit-task (those who know me, know I used to be a very organized person who can accomplish amazing feats in a day).
- can spend an entire day accomplishing nothing: Open mail, go to get a pen, open drawer and see address book, think of someone I needed to call, look for phone, see magazine, remember recipe I was going to copy out, look for pen, notice kids room a mess, pick up laundry to take downstairs, see boxes of christmas decorations in basement and remember I need to sort through that, wander aimlessly back upstairs, get a drink of water, notice fridge is pretty empty, need to start a grocery list, look for pen, see open mail pile, feel overwhelmed, take a nap.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Weather has been great, still no snow.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Two more sleeps until my girls getaway...
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
7 days until my girls' getaway ... other than that, its a focus on getting my strength back. When I see the onc in December we'll discuss when I'll be going back to work.
Brad and the boys celebrated the end of treatment with me at Dairy Queen.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Halloween night was fun. Another couple came over, we ordered chinese, and we had a fire in the front yard and handed out halloween candy there. Some neighbors came by for a drink, and some other parents came by as well. Then Carter and the 8 kids he was trick-or-treating with finally ended at our place (bringing our 'kid count' from 20 up to 29).
...okay, those of you who know Brad, know our fire was a little bigger than this...
Friday, October 30, 2009
For now though, I'm doing really well. My skin is pink, and where the scar is, is very tender to touch, but no broken skin or blisters. I'm definitely tired, but that's still leftover chemo too. So really not bad, this treatment has gone by very quickly.
From the chemo, most of my muscle aches are gone, although my right arm is very achey (which is also where I'm being radiated so who knows...). The only other thing is my toes are numb (the pins and needles feeling). All 10 toes, all the time. That's common too from the taxotere, but gets quite annoying. But I've heard some people end up with bad nerve pain in their feet, so I'm not complaining (much) about numbness...
Have a good weekend and a fun Halloween everyone!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The best part was when they gave me my schedule for next week, there's a happy face after Tuesday's treatment, since that is the last one!!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women.
In 2009, an estimated 22,700 women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer. On average, 437 women will be diagnosed every week.
In 2009, an estimated 5,400 women will die from breast cancer in Canada.
One in nine (11%) Canadian women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime (this means by age 90).
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
I am off to radiation #9 today (out of 20). Still doing okay, its going pretty quickly. And I got the call for my appointment to get my port out!! Oct 30th (just in time to be out for my birthday!)
Anyone have anything to say about getting that port-a-cath taken out? It sounds pretty simple - in the doctor's office, local freezing, about a 15-minute procedure. Any after effects?
Have a great week everyone!
p.s. this picture shows where the port is (surgically placed under the skin allowing direct access to a large vein near the heart for chemo).
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
7/20 done, this is going pretty quickly.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
My hair is slowly starting to come back on the sides. Nothing on top yet, but I hear that is the usual way it comes back. My eyebrows are completely gone, but I'm quite comfortable with my eyebrow pencil. My friend's mom who is 5 months ahead of me in treatment just had her 2nd haircut, and she looks great!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Got the call last Friday to start Tuesday morning, so yesterday was the 1st radiation treatment. First thing I learned was that I am not doing 25 treatments, I am doing 20 (16 to the whole breast, and 4 'boosts' which are targeted to where the tumor had been). So that gives me a bit of breathing space to complete this before my 'girls getaway'.
I go every day, except weekends and holidays, so I should finish on Nov 3rd.
First time took about an hour and a half, with meeting the doctor first, then the treatment (which takes longer the first time) and then meeting with someone after to discuss skin care. Future treatments should be much quicker, as the actual radiation part is only two 90 second blasts. I should be in and out in 10 minutes.
The most common side effects are sun burn (varies between people) and fatigue. And there is also a 1/2000 chance of the radiation causing sarcoma, a different type of cancer. Of course, they reminded me that chemo also had a small chance of causing leukemia. Obviously they have determined the risks are worth it.
They recommended using Glaxal Base, a moisturizing cream, on the affected area, 3-4 times/day, starting day 1. Other than that, they just say to let them know what problems occur and they can recommend something specific for that (dry, itchy skin, burns, blisters, open skin, etc.). Sounds fun (not).
Really though, I have no worries going into this. I am planning to drive myself everyday, and then do something while I'm out. Today, I am going for lunch with my dad.
Have a great day everyone!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I'm still enjoying my walks, even as the weather gets colder. No complaints about the weather here, compared to the Philipinnes, Indonesia, etc. They are having crazy, dangerous weather over there.
I went for bloodwork on Tuesday, and its coming along. My white blood counts are back in the normal range, and my hemoglobin has come up quite a bit. It's at 115 (120 is the bottom of the normal range, so I'm getting closer). Good enough for them to put my name on the list for my port removal.
I was told radiation was tentatively starting Monday, then Wednesday, then Thursday, but no confirmations. Today I got a call saying my 'plan' is ready and I should get a call later today with my start date/time. No call.
So, I am heading to the lake early tomorrow and hopefully I'll get a message that radiation will start Monday. Normally I wouldn't be so rushed to get started, but I'm on a timeline. We have a little 'girls getaway' planned starting Nov 11th, and now I'm worried my 25 treatments are going to get very close to that date.
Have a good weekend everyone!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
And here I thought this would be when I would be feeling the best - 4 weeks after chemo and not yet started radiation!!
I am going for bloodwork on Tuesday so I will talk to my nurse about it as well. The bloodwork is to see if my counts are high enough to put me on the list to get my port removed.
Still no word on when radiation starts, although I've heard I may only get 1 day notice.
Hope everyone is having a good weekend!
Monday, September 21, 2009
I joined an art therapy class, along with seven other cancer survivors. Our instructor is a trained art therapist, and stressed that this is not an art class, but a way of using art as therapy. I enjoy art, and was actually kind of hoping it was an art class.
Our first session's assignment (a week ago) was to use colors and shapes to show 'strength'. We had colored construction paper, scissors, and glue, and an hour to be as creative as we could. I was happy with my result, which was a very calm outdoor scene (a big tree, and the lake with the sun setting). I get my strength from the outdoors - trees, flowers, the lake.
Our second session's assignment (this morning) was harder to get started. We used pastels (both chalk and oil) and started by closing our eyes and 'scribbling' until she said stop. We then had to examine our scribble and see something in it, and then continue working on the picture. She encouraged layering the colors, blending, smoothing (using paper towel), etc. It was fun, even though I think my result looks like something a young child would produce. I saw two butterflies in my scribble, and so I added more butterflies, dragonflies, and some flowers. I used very vibrant colors. The second part is to talk about what we see in our pictures, what we felt as we were working on it. To me, the butterflies are flying away, signifying that I want to fly away, or escape. That suits me well right now as I am absolutely sick of everything cancer. I'm worried about starting radiation (still tentatively next week), which means being at CancerCare 5 days a week for 5 weeks, surrounded by cancer.
That's why I haven't posted in a week, just really avoiding it all, taking a break. But I've been walking and do feel like I'm getting some strength back. I notice my arms and legs feel very heavy, and I do get very tired, but at least it means I'm sleeping better at night.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I had an appointment with my oncologist this morning, to see where my blood counts are (two weeks since my last and final chemo). My white blood count is low (no surprise since I didn't do the neupogen shots with my last chemo). My red blood counts are still low (anemic), although a little higher than last time which is great news. He had done extra tests to see if my iron or B12 or something else was a problem, but nothing showed up. He feels it is all just caused by the chemo and will come up on its own.
I really ran low on energy on the weekend, to the point that my legs felt really heavy and hard to move. I'm just waiting for the energy to come back now so I can start a more regular walking routine.
Looks like radiation will start on Sept 28th, but no confirmation yet. I'm also waiting for the appointment to get my port removed.
Coffee tastes good again...
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Feeling good, spent the long weekend at the lake. Am enjoying coffee again!
I went for my radiation markings this morning. It didn't even take 30 minutes. I changed into the ever-fashionable hospital gown, laid down on a hard surface, and the two technicians marked me and moved me in and out of the CT scanner a few times. Then they tattooed the 4 markings (permanent, but tiny dots) that will help the radiation technicians line me up properly for my treatments.
They said 25 treatments, tentatively starting in 3 weeks, but that I will get a call to come in and meet with the doctor first. So I don't know too much else.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I got a call about radiation therapy and have an appointment on Tuesday to get my markings. Guess I will find out more then.
Have a good long weekend everyone!
Monday, August 31, 2009
I just want my energy back now... very soon...
Friday, August 28, 2009
and some more happiness:
and no neupogen shots required!
Chemo is behind me now - just need to recover so I can really celebrate in a week or two. I actually made it through them all (there was a while there I really wanted to quit - after # 3 and # 4 especially). Brad came with me to each treatment, and got me through the bad days (except when he was at the lake working on the cabin, then my sister and mother-in-law and boys got me through). And all my friends are so good with walks, baking, phone calls, etc.
With my low hemoglobin, they say to keep walking, but just to listen to my body and go slow. I really only notice the racing heart when I walk up the stairs. They'll put in my referral to radiation, but they may want to wait 6 weeks to start instead of 4. Similar with the port removal - they won't do it while my counts are low (and the wait right now is over a month anyway).
So I will just lay low (and call all of my friends who want to go for walks).
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
And what I've learned: Hemoglobin is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs. A low hemoglobin is referred to as anemia. I am anemic.
My symptoms are that I'm tired and my heart starts pounding at the smallest amount of activity. It's nothing too terrible, just means I'm on the couch a lot more. They've warned me to get up slowly because I may get dizzy, but that hasn't happened yet. Since the anemia is caused by the chemo, there is nothing I can do (other than to ensure I am eating normally, including protein). They will schedule me back for more bloodwork in 3-4 weeks to check it again.
I think if it causes problems, they can do a blood transfusion. He also mentioned shots that can get your body to generate more hemoglobin, but I really don't want to go there!
It was left undecided whether or not I should be doing the neupogen shots following this chemo (to get my white count back up quicker). I was hoping it was a 'no', but I will find out Friday morning.
That's it for an update - one more day to enjoy before chemo...
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I made it to my support group last week - it is so good to see other normal people going through this (well sad, but if we're all going through it at least we've found each other). Anyone walking into the room would probably think we were a book club, not a cancer support group.
I had a busy week - after our Toronto company left, we had some unplanned visitors for a few days - two of my favorite extra kids. Their parents dropped them off while they went to Edmonton to deal with a family situation. It's nice to be able to do that for them, and to know that I have friends that would take my kids in, and my kids would be totally comfortable in their homes.
And, school supply shopping is done!! I must admit, with the boys going into grades 7 & 10, the lists are a lot simpler, and things like backpacks and pencil cases can be salvaged from last year. Of course, those special oil pastels that I had to search everywhere for last year, and probably paid too much for, came back untouched at the end of grade 6 (and are not needed by either child this year). Sigh...
The earring fairy dropped off another beautiful pair of dangly earrings for me...
Sunday, August 16, 2009
A couple of people asked if I had got sunburnt since there was a red area on my face. After 3 days of it not fading away, I've decided it must be a rash from the chemo. The other thing is I am still not sleeping at night. I am walking every day, getting my fresh air and exercise, avoiding naps, but it still feels like I'm either up all night or waking up every 10 minutes. I tried the ativan last night and had a wonderful sleep through the night.
The watery eyes continue, along with the sore throat. The eyebrows and eyelashes get thinner each day, and my bald head is very smooth, but no complaints about any of these...
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I also talked to her about my low hemoglobin counts. She said again its the chemo doing it, there's nothing I can do to adjust for it. I'm anemic now, and will feel more tired, and light headed or dizzy when I get up. The hemoglobin will pick up on its own about a month after I complete treatment.
Last (ever) neupogen shot this morning.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Speaking of taste buds, I had 3 glasses of peach flavored stuff for my CT scan today. Wasn't as hard to drink as I thought it would be, really no big deal. The ladies in CT had planned to inject the contrast dye into my vein but they were willing to call someone from oncology to come and use my port instead. It didn't go real smoothly (I ended up with saline and dye spraying on my neck), but we got it done. The CT was of my whole abdomen area, and I will get the results when I see my oncologist in 2 weeks.
Missed my support group AGAIN today because of the CT scan, but I should be able to make it next week.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
I'm trying to be thankful that it's not as bad as last time, and I don't have the nerve pain some people get, but I still hate it and just want it to be done.
Last chemo scheduled for Aug 27th.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Have a good day everyone!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Yesterday's girlie lunch at Pine Ridge Hollow was so nice - cute restaurant, great gift shop, a huge flower garden and a petting zoo with pigs and goats.
Thanks for all the suport and hello to my new followers!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
He also made sure I was ready with a new anti-inflammatory medication, and some ativan to help me sleep at night (as well as the percocet I have from last time). I guess I'm as prepared as I can be.
We had a nice weekend at the lake, visiting with our friends. I have guests in this week, so we'll go for lunch and shopping tomorrow (and I'll miss my new support group). Have to enjoy that last day before chemo!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
It was great to meet someone who has recently completed treatment and looks great (hair and everything!)
I think this support group will be something good for each of us that was there today. I'm already looking forward to our meeting next week.
Monday, July 27, 2009
From other people's tips, it sounds like I will recover much quicker by staying on top of the pain (and be ready for our Toronto friends who are coming to visit with their 3 boys!!)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Like too many others, I can't/won't ask for help. I found this pic on Renee's blog (she finds the most amazing pictures):
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I am walking funny (and slowly) because my hips hurt as well as my lower back. Oh and I had to report I had a sore throat (I really didn't want antibiotics because I just have too many different things I'm taking right now). Luckily he said it looks okay and gave me some mouthwash that numbs the area so it won't hurt when I eat.
Last neupogen shot for this round was this morning!
Tomorrow's post will focus on thanking everyone who has helped me get through this one... I couldn't do it without you!!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday morning I called the oncology clinic, who suggested stronger pain killers (Tylenol-3's). I took them all day Monday and Monday night (meanwhile the pain was spreading down my legs and into my shoulders). They finally kicked in Tuesday morning. I slept for 3 hours. The nurse called back to check on me, and has assured me she'll work out a plan to get me through this better next time. The neupogen shots make it worse, but at least I only have one more of those to go tomorrow.
We'll see how the rest of the day goes (hopefully a nap and a real sleep tonight)...
Friday, July 17, 2009
Here's some pics of the progress Brad is making at the cabin - it's closed in, new windows on that side, a roof, even a deck... we should be able to go out and stay there next weekend...
here's what it looked like 2 weeks ago
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
On the bright side, I went for a very nice walk in King's park while waiting for the bloodwork to be processed, and had a lovely lunch with a friend from work after I was done with the appointments.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Have a great week everyone!
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
With it falling on a Wednesday this year, it's hard to make it into a long weekend, but lots of Winnipeggers head out to 'the lake' for most summer weekends. There are many lakes - huge ones like Lake Winnipeg as well as hundreds of smaller lakes. Brad's mom has a cottage we spend a lot of time at, a 2 1/2 hour drive East from home, into Ontario. (Winnipeg is near the bottom of Manitoba - close to the US border).
Brad wanted to spruce it up a bit to use this summer - he told me he needed 3 weekends to have it ready to go. For those that know my husband and his projects, he's a bit of an optimist (as well as a perfectionist). Here's some pics of the 1st weekend he worked on it (2 weeks ago).
I'll be staying at a friend's place 5km away...
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
A Study on how we all got breast cancer
Did you bite your nails? Are you left handed? Did you eat snow?
I'm feeling much better today - fatigue and nausea are gone, just the aches from the neupogen shots are left (hopefully will be gone in the next day or two).
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Nausea is mostly gone, biggest complaint now is achey back and 'restless legs'. Does anyone else get that? I'm thinking it's probably from the Neupogen, since I had it last time too after the shots. Could also be because I don't get out walking on my bad chemo days. Happy to hear any suggestions people have, since it's annoying and hard to sleep or sit.
Have a good day!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
"Hate" is a strong word. I hate chemo.
Sad about Farrah Fawcett, who died yesterday after a 3 year battle with cancer.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Had a busy weekend with company in from Kenora, and Carter in a track meet. The Manitoba Marathon was yesterday morning, almost 14,000 particpants. We were at the start line (bright and early), Carter was running the Super Run (2.6 miles instead of 26.2). I really hope to be running the half marathon again next year. I miss running...
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
My husband and kids keep rubbing my head and teasing me because its getting smooth (the bit of stubble left from shaving it is disappearing). My eyebrows are getting thinner too, but still good for now. We have briefly discussed options for drawing the eyebrows in once they're gone (unibrow, a V, or perhaps one raised higher than the other in an ever skeptical look).
Have a good day,
Monday, June 8, 2009
Last time my energy took longer to come back (assuming of course it's back to stay now). This time the queasiness lasted longer (wasn't as bad, but was still there and hung on longer). Hopefully this means I have 2 good weeks ahead of me before the next chemo. And tomorrow is the last neupogen injection (which must not have been causing the queasiness since I feel okay today).
I am amazed I can give myself the injections. Really amazed at the things we all do because we have to.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I feel a bit better today - no nausea, but no energy either. I picked around my garden for a bit, but the forecast for the week is rain, and never getting over 20C (again). Maybe the good weather will come when the kids are out of school (couple more weeks).
Friday, June 5, 2009
Side effects can be aching bones, and sometimes nausea. Here's hoping for no side effects since I'm still pretty weak from last chemo...
Chemo is evil.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
I've re-organized my sunporch - cleared out the junk and put in a recliner and some magazines. Even hung some big straw hats on the wall (thanks Brad!) to brighten it up. My new place to hang out and watch the flowers grow (if our temperature ever gets above 20C). It is June now, isn't it?
Friday, May 29, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
And no, eating differently or resting or exercising or sleeping - none of that affects the white blood cell count, I just have to wait (and not get sick!)
I did run 5km last night, so maybe I can get another couple of runs in before this next chemo...
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Have a good day everyone!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
It started falling out exactly 2 weeks after my first chemo.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Everyone was there to have a good time - you would never know these are cancer patients going through treatment - everyone was smiling and chatting. Most of us don't wear makeup which made it more fun to play. Did I mention you get a box full of brand name product to take home?
The timing was great for me, as my hair started falling out yesterday. I'll leave that for another post, all I'll say is my head started tingling and the hair comes out when you run your hands through it. No bald spots yet but my friend is on standby with her clippers...
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I'm sure it was only 3C with a strong North wind as a couple of us parents watched soccer last night - exciting game but c-o-o-o-o-l-d! And of course afterwards Carter wanted to go for ice cream... It's sunny today and I'm sure its going to warm up!
Now that I feel so good, Brad (my #1 caregiver) must have let his guard down, because he has been hit with the dreaded "man cold ". He was proud to have a temp of 102F to show he really did require sympathy and attention. He's a bit better today, fever's down.
Have a great day,
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Farrah Fawcett's story of living with cancer is on NBC Friday night - will be a tear jerker...
Let's hope for warmer weather for our (Canadian) May long weekend this weekend...
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I went for physio yesterday for my arm again, its been really sore these past few days, but she said its improving, just that she often sees many people are more sensitive to pain during chemo. Interesting.
Have a good day everyone!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I had my own little room with a bed because they like to keep you by yourself the first time so they can take their time explaining everything step by step. They run saline first and give you the anti-nausea pills, wait about 20-30 minutes, and then started the first chemo. The red one. They push it into the IV with 3 big syringes. Then the second one, just one big syringe. Then the third one they use the bag because it goes in over an hour. Meanwhile they served coffee, and even some chicken noodle soup. We were there just over 3 hours, including the x-ray.
As they say, everyone has their own reaction, the most common being tired, achey, and nauseous. Will keep you posted... Beth.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
If you don't want to create an account, then you can post using the Anonymous option, but PLEASE sign your name so I know who it's from!
p.s. in my post today, I forgot to mention how wonderful the heated blankets at the hospital are (and the nurses who give them out!)
It's purple. Not that you can see it since its all inside me now, but it's purple.
The nurse was kind enough to bring me a much-needed coffee as soon as I got to recovery.
And hey, for you newbies that don't know how to post, I'll give you some instructions tomorrow. Have a good night!
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I've read such a mix of comments on getting the port, I'm not sure what to expect (pain and un-
comfort wise). But everyone says its worth it... I'll update tomorrow with my own experience...
Monday, April 27, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Started physio for my arm, painful but should get all of my motion back. Cath calls herself a "physio-terrorist". Says if I can't be tough enough on myself with the exercises, to go back to see her. She says its 3 vessels that are "caught" in the scar tissue, and need to be massaged and stretched until they are freed.
Update - I heard later this is called 'cording' - for more info see http://www.stepup-speakout.org/Cording_and_Axillary_Web_Syndrome.htm
We met with the radiation oncologist, who was very nice and informative, but gave me an overwhelming amount of information about a clinical study he asked me to participate in. I had to make a decision the next day in order to do the prep work and start it within a specific timeframe from the surgery. This would have put the radiation before the chemo, among other differences, but it was just too much info with too little time, so I passed on that. I will go ahead with chemo as planned, and meet with the radiation oncologist again when chemo is done. There will likely be other clinical trials open at that time. So I’ll save your radiation education until then :)
The port goes in next Friday (May 1st) and the first chemo is the following week (May 7th). I’m starting to collect cute head coverings in preparation for the hair loss :(
Here’s something interesting – Karen's mom (who just finished chemo!) tells me that for the second set of chemo, they put your hands and feet on ice packs during the IV to stop it from circulating to your fingers and toes, since it can cause your nails to fall off. Lovely...
Enjoy our spring weather!
Friday, April 3, 2009
My arm is much better. I don’t have full use back but it’s getting closer, and the pain is a lot less.
Here’s the details on the chemo (which will be at the brand new Buhler Cancer Centre at the Vic):
6 treatments, one every 21 days. It takes 2-3 hours for each treatment (administered through an IV). A mixture of 3 drugs for the first 3 treatments, and a 4th drug by itself for the last 3 treatments. Blood work is always done a day or two before each treatment to ensure the white blood cells (fight infection) and platelet counts (help your blood clot) are back up to normal, otherwise they delay. For those already familiar with cancer treatments – it’s the FEC-D regimen (Fluorouracil, Epirubicin, Cyclophosphamide, Docetaxel), with all of the bad side effects included for free (although they do add in an anti-nausea drug).
So when does it start? More to learn. First is the MUGA scan – a test of your heart muscle to measure the strength of it pumping the blood. Both to make sure you are strong enough to start the treatment, and as a baseline to ensure its not affected as you go through treatment. The years of running should have my heart pretty strong to start out here! Next is the decision of how to get the chemo – our little veins aren’t strong enough to handle the chemicals, so the choice is a PICC in your bicep (with a short tube hanging out) or a PORT surgically implanted just below your collar bone. Both have a tube feeding through your vein into an area close to your heart. Both stay in place for the length of your treatment (and can be used to draw blood or put in the chemo). I’ve decided on the PORT since I’m not good with tubes hanging out that could get caught on things and shouldn’t get wet :). It’s a couple of weeks until I get the PORT put in (quick surgery, just local freezing). Then a few days for it to heal, and then chemo starts.
I’ll keep you posted. Still waiting for all of our fresh new snow to melt!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
It’s been 2 ½ weeks since surgery. My right arm is still very sore, but I have some new pain medication so that may help. I met with the surgeon today, she is happy with the results which show all 12 lymph nodes that she removed are clear, and she got the clean margins around the tumor. For those that like details, it was a grade 3 (aggressive) cancer, triple negative, but it was caught early so my cancer is considered Stage 1c.
Next steps are to meet with my oncologist and determine a plan for chemo and radiation. Until that starts, I focus on healing. Hopefully this snow and ice will disappear so I can get out and walk more!
Take care and thanks for staying in touch!
Monday, March 16, 2009
They removed the drain today! Although Brad had nicknamed it my chia pet, I was very happy to see it go. I am not the most graceful person (really) and having a long tube hanging off me is a disaster waiting to happen. 'We' dropped it once while attempting to pin it to my pajama top (the stitches held it in place but it hurt!) and I caught it on the arm of a chair once or twice...
The nurse at the Breast Health Centre removed the drain and also the bandage from the incision. Pretty ugly looking to me, but she says it looks good. I only have one incision since the lump and lymph nodes were all taken from the same incision (horizontal, under my arm).
Feeling much better already without it always pulling.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
As for my surgery, in addition to the tumor, they took out 10-12 lymph nodes. That’s why I needed the drain, which stays with me for 5-7 days. I won’t have any further information on the stage of the cancer or if it has spread or not until my follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks.
I’m very sore and quite tired, but it’s only day 2 and I’m happy to be home. Thanks again for all your good wishes.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Beth had her surgery today and all went well. Beth’s spirits are good.
As a precaution they put in a drain and as such they have admitted Beth to ensure it is working properly and show her how to look after it. We expect she will get out of the hospital tomorrow morning.
Carter, Zach and I will go visit her this evening. I will try and send another update later tonight.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
My lake friends - the ones we party with - snowmobile, ATV, fishing, boating...
My Nancy that I run with...
My Vancouver friends Jan and Denise (and yes, Duane too) ...
My dad, my brother, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law...
My high school friends (yes, a group of us still get together, its only been 26 yrs since we graduated) were getting together Friday night so I blurted it out in the planning e-mail. Shocked them, but at least we could get together and have a drink Friday night...
My work friends - another tough one - I'm in a local office of 50 people, some of whom I've known for the whole 20+ years I've worked there. Plus lots of close friends in our Vancouver and California offices...
Okay, I'm feeling blessed for having all these friends to tell...
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Sure enough, he didn't like whatever he saw on the ultrasound, so he did the core needle biopsy, took 4 samples (yes there was local freezing), and back to waiting. Follow up with the doctor was scheduled for a week later. No hints...
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Brad and I went for the ultrasound... sat and waited for a few minutes... the power went out. Sat and waited 3 more hours and were finally told that the power was out in the whole block and they had no idea when it would come back. Phone back tomorrow to re-book.
Phoned back the next day and got an appointment for 2 weeks later... still waiting and worrying...