Tuesday, April 12, 2011

10 Days Later

That's right, 10 days was in my mind. I figured I'd go in and have this surgery and in ten days I'd be back to normal. Just like having your gall bladder out. Not quite true. Fast forward to the treatment decisions. No chemo, based on lab results, whoohoo! Now to "just" do the radiation. Cake walk, right? Cus I'm not having chemo. Everyone kept saying, "great, you're only having radiation". Yes, well, look at Japan these days. Do we hear anyone saying, "Oh, it's only radiation"?
So I went for my 35 days of treatment, then started dealing with the lymphadema in my right arm and hand. I continue to deal with this today. As I'm getting ready to celebrate my 1 year from surgery, my boob breaks. After a few months, things settle down but I just don't feel right. I'm always feeling one notch off. I don't have anything specific to tell my GP other than, "I'm just not right". Blood work reveals an underactive thyroid. Great, take a pill a day and things start to get better. I quit gaining weight. I haven't lost any, but not gaining 3 or 4 lbs a month is a great thing!
I got through the winter with no issues, had my mammogram and all my follow up appointments and things are going ok. But I'm still very sore. I thought I would be fine in 10 days. Early February, I go back to Dr. Kaufman and express my concerns about how sore I still am. I'm not worried about cancer, I'm very confident that I'm cancer free. It's just that every day before I am out of bed, I am reminded of this. I roll over to hit the alarm and I feel the ache in my muscles and underarm and breast. It's like my Good Morning Wake up Call. Seriously, it's been 18 months since I finsihed the radiation. After a discussion with Dr. Kaufman, I'm reassured that this is from the radiation treatment, that it's ONLY been 18 months and that I have 2 more years of healing. He would be concerned if I felt this way 3-4 years after the treatment. So I go home, assured that this is the way I'm going to feel and that I AM going to continue to see and feel improvements.
So what are the things that can happen to a breast?
lumps/tumors/cancer - check
lympadema from the surgery - check
swelling - check
infection - check
scar tissue - check
fluid build up - check
I'm through the list. Is this normal, absolutely not. But it's all happening to me. As I said, I've been reassured all is healing and it's a slow process, but one that is going to happen.
And now I'm adding a new chapter to the story. Mid March, I'm sitting on my couch, watching some tv, and I feel a strong muscle ache under my arm, I've had these before, so I rubbed it a bit and went back to my tv show. The next day my breast was sore, but in a brand new way. The sensation was like someone was stabbing needles into my nipple. Just putting the blankets over me at night would make it zing. The slightest touch around the nipple would get my attention.
I'm going to listen to my Mom. Keep it for a week and if it doesn't get better, then go to the doctor. Well, I was going away, so I called and made the appointment for the day I returned. There had been no relief so I was glad I was in at the appointment.
Diagnosis is a pinched nerve from the radiation fibrosis. So did you see that on the list of things that can go wrong with a breast? Nope, because it's so far down the list, it's in the miscellaneous category. Since the Vicadin didn't do a thing for this, I am now taking a pill for nerve pain.  Very few side effects with this drug, and it's easy to take with my other pills.  Started out with one a day for a week, and there was no difference
in the pain, but I was feeling a little woozy.  After 5 days, I doubled down and started taking 2 pills in the morning. My breast still hurts, but I don't care now!  I say that because this drug just makes my loopy.  By the time it kicks in, I would not want to drive anywhere or run with scissors.   I'll take them until the end of the week, but another road has to be traveled to find a solution.
When Dr Kaufman told me I'm on to the miscellaneous, well, what was there to say.  He summed it up by saying "you're writing a book"  You should see how big my file is!
Why did I post all this? Because you might need to know these things one day. No one talks about it, no one told me about all these potential side effects from the radiation. People kept saying "only radiation, good!" Are you kidding me? If I knew then what I know now, well, let's just say my decisions would have been different. I'm now at the point of wanting to donate my breast to science.
If you're still reading this, and you feel it's been a long post, you are right.  Times it by 1000 and you'll feel where I am.  I'm not looking for a pity party, I'm just looking for a day when I'm not physically reminded that I had cancer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

60 Miles in 3 Days

My friend Betsy S. has headed to Seattle today. She's committed to walking 60 miles in 3 days. She will sleep in a tent on a bed roll, she's trained for this event for months. There was a send off last night, organized by her biggest fan, her hubby, Chris.
Before I left I gave her a huge hug, told her how proud I was of her and I fought back the tears. She's walking for her Mom, who will be looking down at her and Betsy will hear her mom's voice when she crosses the finish line on Sunday. I'm so proud of Betsy, this isn't for everyone. Did I mention how proud I am to call her my friend. She's amazing.
We hit the minimum goal for fund raising, but there may be some surprises by the time we turn in all the funds. We've been working hard with a quilt and we have a few more venues to visit before the big drawing.
I'm cheering you on from my little corner of the world,
Go Betsy, Go


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Observations of Humans

You might think this post title has nothing to do with this blog, but when you've finished reading it, you may look at things a little differently in your daily life.
Saturday I got up and got myself organized to head out to the grocery store 10 miles from my house. I stopped at Betsy's to pick up some things, a table and chairs and a cash box and headed off.
I got my little corner all set up, I had this quilt hanging as my backdrop and I was selling raffle tickets on this quilt to raise funds for the Susan G Koman 3 day/60 mile walk for Breast Cancer.
The tickets are $2.00 each and no one can argue the good work that the Komen Foundation has done over the past 20+ years.
OK, back to my human observation. There is a coffee shop, it's name is not relavant, but it starts with a S and ends with Buck, located in the grocery store and I noticed that quite a few people pick up a coffee drink on their way out of the store. Now I know that a plain cup of coffee starts at $2, the cost of the tickets at my table.
Here is the really interesting part of my story. NOT ONE person who exited the store with said coffee cup in their hand bought a ticket, NOT ONE! What does that say about us? I'm not sure, but I know this observation will stick in my brain for years to come. And it will make me more aware about what is going on around me.
I thought about it and realized I almost always stop and buy a ticket. Not that I think I'm going to win every time, but because my mom would stop and buy a ticket. She taught me that. It's a good lesson to learn. It's not about the prize, it's about supporting the people who are out donating their time and energy for a cause greater than themselves. Who cares if you don't win the quilt, by purchasing a ticket you will help win the race!
OK, so I'll get off my soap box. But buy a ticket next time you see someone selling one!
who is wondering how long it will take for her boob to not hurt!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Getting back to Normal

Or what my new normal is. I'm finally finished the antibiotics, 21 days of 2000 mg per day is more than enough to kill anything in your body. I was tolerating it quite nicely up until a few days before I called it finished. Dr. Kaufman figures that since this did not break open and drain, that the antibiotics won the race and started to work on whatever was inside my boob.
My body has started to absorb the fluids, which have been sterilized by the antibiotics. The scar itself peeled about 5 - 6 times during this process. The swelling has gone away and the scar area is now pink and tender. The whole area is still more sensitive than it was prior to this incident.
Why post the details? Because other breast cancer patients may read this blog and know that they are not the only one out there dealing with residual issues from their treatments.
So there you have it, getting back to my new normal. No mammogram in June, no massages when I am laying on my stomach, no big hugs. Protect the boob from pressure is the doctors orders. I follow up June 1 and again June 21.
But I still go back to the good news, I don't have cancer!

Friday, May 14, 2010

365 days........

Hip hip hooray, I'm cancer free one year today! What a day. It's been a journey, it's not over, and like Dr. Kaufman said, "You didn't buy this ticket". No, I sure didn't. No one does. It's just called life and you have to take what comes and keep your head up in the corner and your stick on the ice! Thanks for following along, making comments, and being supportive. Seeing comments on my blog would be the best thing that happened to me that day, so thank you for taking your time to make my day!
Celebrate your life today,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mothers Advise

Last night was my follow up appointment with Dr. Kaufman. Still no break through on the bump on my boob. The new update is that he feels the mass doses of antibiotics won the race here and settled everything down and my body is absorbing back all the internal fluids.
Right now I have what looks like a very large blister all around the scar area and it is diminishing every day. The pocket of fluid has reduced in size by 25% and the layer of skin between the pocket and the outside of my breast has doubled. This is all good news. Everything that is in this pocket in my breast is sterile from the mass doses of antibiotics and it will just take time for my body to absorb the fluids.
So keep it until it's better, it will take a few months, but it will get better.
This is just what my Mom would have told me!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All Talk, No Action

That's what Mt. Rightboob is doing at this time. I'm still hot and red and sore. Waiting for Mt. Rightboob to erupt and let off steam. And then throw in the "no alcohol because of antibiotics" and that makes me even happier. But what's a girl to do! Watch a hockey game tonight and do some hand quilting.