Friday, December 4, 2009

Six Months Later

This week was my six month follow up mammogram and with the help of a Vicadin, it went just fine. The Dr's reviewed the images and everything looked good! Today was my annual with my GP and she recommended I get the H1N1 flu shot, so that was my big adventure today.

On a side note. Thanksgiving was a weekend of travel and visiting. I went to Grass Valley OR where I used to live, Pop 160. Lunch consisted of a group of 5 women and one more came in and joined us. I was the youngest, 47, sitting around the table. Then we ranged in the 50's, 60's and 70+. A total of six women sitting having lunch in a town of 160 people. This is where I met these ladies, where they grew up and raised their families. Some were from the town north of here, but all from the same county. We had a lovely lunch, and on the drive home to my friends she casually said, "That was interesting" and I replied "What, that 4 out of 6 of us had breast cancer?" "Yes", she replied.
And that was the end of that conversation.

Today after getting the flu shot they asked me to sit in the waiting room for 10 minutes and during that time my phone rang. My g.f. had just has the same shot yesterday so we chatted abit about how my arm may be sore. After hanging up the phone, the lady sitting next to me asked about the flu shot. I told her I didn't plan on getting it, but since I'd dealt with breast cancer this year, it was recommended for me. She asked how I was doing, I told her, "great, just on the one pill a day" She replied "I tried that, but the side effects were terrible I quit after one year. But I'm a survivor too" She said this as she started to walk away. I told her I'm not a survivor, I'm LIVING. She replied "Thriving, that's a better word"
Yes, Thriving is so much better, because that is what it is all about. Surviving sounds like you're dragging your butt across the floor and are just making it through the day. That's how I felt some days during treatment, but not anymore. THRIVING, That's my new answer on "how ya doing?"
Enjoy the weekend, deck your tree, hang your holiday memories and enjoy your friends and family!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good news all around

Yesterday was my follow up with Dr. Kominsky, my Oncologist. He is such a nice guy, I'm glad they put me with him. My follow up appointment was easy and no stress. We had a chat about how I was doing with the Tamoxifen, and since I've got very few side effects, things will stay the same. I have a follow up with him every six months for the five years while on Tamoxifen. Next spring I go for a blood test to check my hormone levels, then go see Dr. Kominsky. Easy Peasy!
My follow up mammogram will be coming up next month, I'm hoping later rather than sooner, as I'm still sore from the radiation. The thought of them taking my breast and trying to flatten it like a pancake between two metal plates is not pleasant! Maybe they'll do a "gentle" mammogram? And maybe I'll loose 40 lbs before Christmas!
The UPS truck arrived at my house just minutes after I got home yesterday. I opened up my box and it was full of goodies. As everyone knows, October is Awareness Month. There have been a lot of articles about corporations just using pink as a draw for customers, so read the fine print if you choose to shop pink to support the cause. My choice is the Komen Foundation. I did a little retail therapy there, and I know 25% of my purchase price goes directly to their organization.
Pictures to follow
Have a great day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Follow up from Follow Up

Things are going great. I've had terrific results at physio with my arm and the swelling, (or lack there of). Now my program is wearing the glove* every day, and the sleeve two days on, one day off. Today is an off day and it feels really good. Measurements are all in line with what they should be, now the goal is to KEEP it this way. Moving and lifting and generally being more physically active has made the difference.
New tests are showing that moderate exercise with weights is a positive for lymphedema patients. Moving and unpacking boxes falls into that catagory. So does Longarm Quilting. Standing with my arms at bust height, pushing and pulling and dragging the machine in all directions also counts as exercise. I need to exercise more!
This weekend has one chore on the job list. Sort and organize my fabric. I'm hoping to have that done before bedtime on Sunday. And the cable guy will arrive Sat morning and I'll be back to the land of the telephone/internet/cable.
Have a great weekend,
* I want to cover it with rhinestones and sell it on ebay when I'm done with it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beta Testing Complete

Yesterday was my physio appointment and the results were exactly what I had expected. My arm became more swollen from the elbow to the hand, yet my upper arm had reductions of almost 1 inch in some places. Plus, the extra soreness that I was experiencing under my arm, along my rib cage and around and under my breast had greatly diminished. I still have the soreness from the radiation, that will take months to go away.
So now what?
Wrapping is a great method to reduce the swelling, but it's a PITA. Compression sleeve is so easy, but giving me side effects that are not good. So my new test is now going to be wrapping one day and compression sleeve the next day. Doing nothing at night is still on my adjenda, as I need to sleep. That is a priority in all of this.
Why am I posting? Because I don't know who will read this or get directed to this blog. Maybe it will help someone else realize that things happen in this journey and you have to roll with it. It sucks, I wish my arm was "normal". But it's not, I have to deal with this. If I leave it, it swells, becomes uncomfortable, and will increase my risk of infection from small issues like a cat scratch or a hangnail. So I am continuing in my quest to make this better with the least impact on my day to day life.
Lymphedema is a strange deal, everyone is different. But it's something that is manageable. Cancer isn't. Would I change any of my decisions, not a chance. I needed the surgery, I needed the radiation. These things have given me life. Without them, I might not be here typing this right now.

^^Click on picture for a better view. From Innovations in Tacoma 2009^^

I'm moving forward, I'm moving into my new home this weekend. My first home, mine! How great is that. A fenced yard for my dog and cat.
Yes, life gives some crap some times, but the best flowers need fertilizer!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Test results tomorrow

Tomorrow morning I have my appointment with the physiotherapist. She has no idea I've bailed on the sleeve/wrap situation so it will be very interesting what my measurements are. My underarm area is feeling really good. I still have to continually stretch, the radiation is still working it's fun effects on the muscles under the arm, but the tenderness to touch has been reduced. I've been packing and moving boxes, I quilted a huge quilt this weekend, and I have not been wearing my sleeve, nor wrapping. So the results will be interesting. I think my lower arm has swollen, and my upper arm has gone down. The proof will be in the tape measurements!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beta Testing

I'm free, finally free....of any bandages, gloves, compression sleeves. Well, don't get too excited. I'm beta testing why my shoulder and underarm area is so sore and why my upper arm has gotten bigger. OK, I know I need to knock off the bread, but since only my upper arm is bigger, I have to run with "swollen" rather than weight gain!
I know this isn't going to be a long term deal, as my hand is swelling enough for me to notice it as soon as I wake up. But I'm persevering, and LOVING the feeling of freedom that this brings. My arm is as "naked as a jaybird". Hmm where did that expression come from? Wouldn't all birds be naked? It's just something my mom would have said.
The down side of all this is that I may end up back at the wrap, and that will not go over well with me, but I will do it. This month is going to busy with moving and unpacking, I'm hoping all this will help build up more strength in this arm. I know, that's why they have gyms, and weights. Ya, ya, not my deal.
Until next time

Friday, October 2, 2009

October is Here

This is October, so it means that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's not like we need a dedicated month to be aware of breast cancer. We are female, we have boobs; that should be enough for us.
There are a ton of places that are involved in supporting the "Race for a Cure" and it doesn't matter who you are, there are companies and products out there that you can buy to support the cause. Do you like chocolate? Buy pink M & M's. On the healthier side? Yougurt with the pink lids Click here. Yes, it's only 10 cents per lid, but they add up. Every dime helps. Lots of people making a small contribution adds up to a very large amount, so be part of the process.
Feel good about "buying PINK" and know that when you hear the news that your sister or friend or aunt or mother has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, that you have helped work towards a cure for her!
Because it will happen.
You will hear this news again, it might even be you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Finally, but I'm a little behind

Yes, I finally got my sleeve and glove. It did not arrive via Mr.Postman but I got it the morning of my first vacation day. We stopped in Bellevue, WA on our way south and picked it up from the office. Just on the off chance, I called the office and she had just received it and was getting ready to put it in the mail. Please don't, I'll come by and pick it us as we pass through your city!
What a relief to have this. I understand all the wrapping is necessary to reduce the swelling, but this makes it so much more consistant during the days. I have wrapped a few times for the night, but I have to be honest, it's a pain in the backside, I don't sleep as well, so I've slacked off that part of the program. I called back to the office the next day to inform them of where it was irritating me and I was asked to come back in when I got home. So yesterday was another trip to Seattle. The good news is that my arm is getting smaller and it is working, I just have to get used to wearing the sleeve and wash it every night to soften it up.
I have been away on a quilting "working" vacation. I taught in Tacoma on Wed, in Stevenson, WA on Friday and was a student on Sat. My whole trip was absolutely terrific, it was great to be away from work & home for NON medical reasons.
Girlfriends are Great!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Still waiting....

Mr. Postman , please have today be the day you deliver a package of relief to my home address! I'm leaving town for a few days of teaching and taking quilting classes and it would really make my trip easier and more relaxing if you delivered my package today. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Checking my Mail

This ritual has never been a daily routine, even in the weeks leading up to my birthday. I figure the mail and the bills will be there when I get to them, and if I collect everything a couple of times a week, then I only have to do my paper recycling a couple of times a week. Plus I can then line up all my bills and know exactly what I need to deal with in the month.
But this week I shall be checking my mailbox with anticipation. My glove and sleeve has been packaged up neatly in a little box and dropped in the mail. And in that little box with be the MOST relief one can imagine. Relief from sitting in front of the tv without being able to do any hand quilting! Relief from wrapping my arm one or two, or three times (on a bad day)a day, relief from wrapping my fingers with gauze bandages that catch on things and get dirty and look yucky, relief from the stares of well meaning people who come up to me and ask if I've burned myself and then want to know what the deal is with everything.
Geez. Total strangers asking what happened and when I share "a side effect from my cancer surgery/radiation", they start asking all kinds of questions about that. So far I've been patient, I haven't flipped off at someone by saying "none of your business" even when they are staring at my boob, wondering if it's mine or not!
Life will get back to some normalicy once I can move forward with this treatment and the compression bandages have been doing their job, that is the up side of all of this. Measurements are smaller every time I'm at Physio so that is the driving force to keep at this!
So Mr Postman, please look and see,
If there's a package in your bag for me,
Please look and see........Mr Postman.....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just one day

That's all I want right now, just one day where I do not have to think about the fact that I had cancer. I'm very tired and the tamoxifen is interrupting my sleep. Every night I bounce right off my pillow thinking I've slept through the night, then I look at the clock and it's 12:30. I go back to sleep then look at the clock several more times during the night. Some nights I don't get back to sleep and that makes for a very tired Sharon.
And then there's the arm. Wrapping, unwrapping, rolling bandages, wrapping and rewrapping. OK you get the jist. I know that all the right things are being done to get my back to my previous health, I know the compression is working for my arm. I just can't wait to get the glove & sleeve fashion accessory to eliminate the wrapping during the day.
As for the Tamoxifen keeping me from sleeping through the night, I'm going to work on that with some natural remedies. I've tried changing the time I take my pill and that made no difference so I'm back to the a.m. pill. Now I"m going to try Melatonin and/or Volarium (sp?). I know this is my life line, so not taking it is not an option. I just need to see what I can to do minimize the impact it is having on my daily life.
I'm off to physio again today. Since my appt is at 2:15 and is was supposed to be at 8:45 a.m. I didn't wrap this morning. I can sure type faster and better but I can also see how my hand and arm continues to swell......but I am living with that side effect for the day. I needed to feel productive at work this morning. That's a great feeling for me!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Thought for the Day

Cancer, it's not for sissies!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In case you are wondering

This is what it means to "wrap" my arm. Click here At least I use cotton quilting batting instead of foam, I couldn't imagine using that! It sucks! Friday I go to Seattle to work towards "the next stage".

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Working towards a new goal

This should be my last week of having to wrap my arm in compression bandages. Thank goodness I wasn't doing this during the heat wave in July. Wrapping your arm with quilt cotton batting and then bandages from knuckles to the armpit is not high on the "hot weather" attire! Every Physio appointment my arm is measuring smaller and smaller....hmmmm, I wonder if I could use this for my thighs ;-).
Friday the 28th, I head to the Seattle area to get measured for a custom glove and sleeve and that will be great. I'm having quilting withdrawals, but on the up side, I have given up housework. I figure if scrubbing floors, toilets and doing vacumming is going to aggravate my arm and quilting is going to aggravate my arm, I'm going to pay someone to clean so I can quilt. It was amazing to come home from work this week to a shiny house. The cleaning fairies came while I was at work and did their magic.
I am looking forward to having some more mobility in my arm, at this point I can't even scratch my nose, the lipstick is a little crooked these days, and I would have thought this would result in a few lbs. being lost, not so much!
It's Sunday, we are heading towards the end of summer and that means my favorite time of year is just around the corner. More new beginnings.....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Caution, Speed Bumps Ahead......

Or it could just be my arm that has been mistaken for a speed bump. Lymphedema, the wonderful side effects of the radiation. This started quite innocently. In case you didn't know, I'm a stress eater, so everything it tight! (What a surprise!) but when my arm seemed tight to bend it at the wrist, I thought it was was worth mentioning to the doctor. Skin should not feel too tight!
I'm now at physio and what a joy that it.
1. Take one long cotton tube and insert your arm into it....all the way to your armpit.
2. Take cotton quilting batting,(ok, even for a quilter this is tough to take), cut into strips. make a thumb hole and wrap whole arm in cotton batting.
3. Unwrap batting and insert the foamy disks in hand and inside elbow.
4. Re wrap arm, getting right up under the armpit.
5. Cut all your tape.....necessary to do this now!'
6. Take the narrowest compression bandage and start wrapping, making sure you are NOT bending your arm.
7. Keep wrapping, keep it all even, and keep wrapping until you have finished all the bandage rolls, (4 to be exact). Tape and just try to get a fork to your mouth.
8. Do this every day, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. Don't get it too tight,your fingers will turn purple. Don't get it too loose, it will shift down and be very uncomfortable. Like it's really comfy when it's on correctly!
9. Enjoy!
10. Wear to bed at night. (I LOVE this step in the program)
All this is to get me to the point of using a compression sleeve. 3 - 4 weeks? Who knows when. This is a long drawn out process and it's a real pain. Advice? Yes, put on the bra BEFORE wrapping the arm in the a.m.
As me how I learned this one!
I'll save my Tamoxifen fun for my next far this "new normal" isn't very normal!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


These lilies are from my co workers garden and they smell fantastic. She brought them in for me to celebrate my completion of radiation. It really was a big day for me. 35 mornings driving almost 50 miles round trip. I didn't miss one appointment, because I knew they would tack it on at the end. Believe me, there were mornings I sat at my kitchen table staring into my coffee cup wondering if it was worth it. I know it was, I'm cancer free and I'm done!These beautiful flowers were sent to my office by my dear friends Paula and Jeff. I know they have bee cheering me on from the middle of their wheat fields in OR. Paula and I have talked and emailed our way through this journey together. She traveled higher mountains and rougher roads with her son, who turned 30 this year. Paula, you've been such a support to me, and I thank you for your friendship!
So once again, I close by saying,
Take time to smell the roses....or lilies...or whatever flower you happen to be passing by.

It's really here

My last day of treatment at the Cancer Center was Tuesday and I couldn't be happier. There is a little bit of sadness in this ending, and that is knowing that someone has been on the waiting list for my time slot. May they travel through their 35 days and quickly and smoothly as I did.
I had an early appointment on Wed in Bellingham so today was my first day to be at work at 8:00 a.m. It's crazy when having to show up for work on time is an exciting thing in your life!
I will continue to post as things all wind down and then I will leave this blog out here in blogland. Hopefully no one will need to read it, but I know better. There is a steady stream of new Breast cancer diagnosis going on all over, not only in North America, but all over the world.Click here to learn more about being a friend/support to someone diagnosed. It will happen again in your lifetime.
We are women and every day we get older. Those are the two biggest factors.
Smell some flowers today, I will!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Graduation day

Tomorrow is my big day, it's my LAST day of radiation. It's not my last day of waking up and thinking that I have to drive to Bellingham though. I start my physio appointments on Wed, the first of four. (if necessary) I'm thinking, yes, there will be four as any time I do anything for over 10-15 minutes my wrist and hand swells a little bit more. Like typing a bunch of emails, or quilting on my big machine, or doing some hand sewing, or, typing in numbers using the keypad on my keyboard at work. So work or play, they both bother my wrist. Maybe an attractive arm sock will be in my future. Once again, I can be thankful for some things; thankful that I couldn't get into the physio last week when it was over 90 degrees outside! Now that would have been fun with a nylon sock on my arm!
Things are definitely on the healing path, I'm peeling in more places and the "hot" has gone away. Now I'm just warm. If only the twinging, jabbing, twisting itches would disappear. They happen whenever, it doesn't matter what I am doing. Sometimes if I bend over it will happen and be strong enough to take my breath away, and other times, like right now, when I'm sitting down doing some typing, I just feel a "pinching" or "twisting" inside. The first reaction is to try to scratch, I've learned that's the LAST thing to do, that just stirs up a whole other situation!
OK enough of the nitty gritties for today.
Hip Hip Horay,
Tomorrows my last day!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

How do you spell relief?

^My New Best Friends^

E-P-S-O-M Salts. Wow, what a difference. The heat and the tenderness has been dramatically reduced by these short soakings of epsom salts. It's an old remedy that still works today. Tuck this in the back of your brain in case you get a sunburn sometime in the future. I have started to peel in some areas so the skin is now brown instead of red, and in other areas I can see the changes, things are on the mend.
Only 2 more days of radiation to go.........whoohoo!
Remember, next weekend is the 3 day walk so check out this post. Glo is walking for me and for everyone else out there who is dealing with this "crap". Help her make a difference, it will make you feel good if you do!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Pass the salt please

That's Epsom Salts. My new treatment for the heat radiating from my underarm. I bet I could soft boil an egg if I tucked it under my arm for a few minutes. I had my Dr. follow up on Wed as usual, but I got a new Dr. this week. I like him, he actually looked at my underarm/burn area and suggested I use an epsom salt solution to bathe this area. Last night I did it two times and again this morning. Wow, what a difference! Thank you, new doc.
As for my timeline, I have two more treatments of radiation and then on Wed I start my daily dose of Tamoxifen and I also have my first phsyio appointment to help me deal with my arm swelling. I'm hoping for some resolution there. The hot weather makes it a bit of a challenge as well, but things are cooling down every day now. I think we have peeked in our heat wave.
One big struggle that exists right now it that as soon as I open my eyes, well, before I even open them, I am reminded that I'm dealing with breast cancer by the pain that I feel from my underarm. I know this will heal and it will pass, but I'm really looking forward to the morning when I wake up and just think about what I need to do to get ready for my day. I won't be thinking "when is this going to end", "when am I going to not feel this under my arm" "won't it be nice to move my arm and not feel anything different". Not having to go to Bellingham every morning will start this process. This ends on Wednesday. After this day, my trips to Bellingham will be for appointments at various dates and times, or the trip will be purely for pleasure; if you call Costco and Fred Myer pleasure trips ;-). I actually avoid going to Bellingham on the weekends, just because I've been there every single week day for the past 8 weeks. Again, this shall pass and be a distant memory in the journey of life.
I went away over night last weekend, and it felt like I was away for days and days. It's amazing what a day with a friend doing a little retail therapy and a night in a hotel can do for the soul.
Go enjoy your day today!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some Thoughts About Cancer

Well, I am in my last full week of radiation, the time has gone by very quickly. Today was red sharpie day. How is it when I get a Sharpie mark on me somewhere I cannot get it off for days, and if I get it on any clothing, just consider it part of the outfit from there on. Yet today, my boob got all marked up with a red Sharpie, many lines zig zagging all around the area that is the new bullseye for the radiation. And today I wore a white cami with a white linen shirt over top. And now my cami has a soft pink circle the size of my boob! How is it that THIS Sharpie came off my skin right away, no washing, no trying, it just did! Oh well, if that is the worst that happens to me then I guess my week is going to be great!
My friend and co-worker gave me a book a few weeks ago, a big Thank You to you, as it is a wonderful book full of really insightful words. I'd like to share one page with everyone.

"Nobody every flunked breast cancer.".... Anonymous

We want to know if we picked the right options in breast cancer treatment, as though breast cancer was some big math test in the sky. We want to know how we've done. We think, God knows, and we'd know too if only we could sneak a peek at the answers in the back of that big black book.
We want to know in order to return comfortably to an illusion. What we are seeking is a way to reembrace the fantasy that we will live forever. But sooner or later we face the fact that when it comes to life, there is no single and certain right answer except the acceptance of uncertainty.
"The only certainty there is in life is what I discover about myself in the process of living it."

So go live your life today, it's here and it's real!

Friday, July 24, 2009


the 28 days of full radiation with no blisters. OK, my arm is swelling, but if that is the worst reaction I have to everything so far, well, I can count my lucky stars. Today the Rad. therapists started realigning my treatments, taking more xrays, and they are getting me ready for Monday, a new day of treatment. They will finish all the marking and measurements and then proceed with the targeted radiation for the next seven days and then I will be DONE!
I told the therapists earlier this week I was sick of visiting them every day and that the next time I see them I'd like it to be in the shopping mall or grocery store. They got a chuckle out of that. Thank goodness for the personalities of the whole group of them, I have had Kris, Laura, Joan, John, and Liz as regular therapists and due to their caring and kind and humorous attitudes and how they treat the patients, they have been the shining light in this ordeal.
Now as for the Dr. , that is a whole other story. I am finished seeing this one, partly because I am at the end of treatment, (almost) but mostly because of his complete disinterest in me as a person and a patient. So I'm skipping my last visit with him next week and will not bother to follow up in a month. I will have appointments with Dr. Kominsky and Dr. Kaufman and I trust that both of them are capable and willing to look at my treatment area and confirm that I am doing fine. The deal with radiation is that no one can look and "see" if it's working. All we can see is the burn lines and see the area that has been targeted and "know" and "trust" that is will work as planned. I have full confidence that will do the job as required.
Today I dropped off my "bitch" prescription, the lovely drug that will give me mood swings and hot flashes and the "effects" of menopause. How wonderful, I will get to test run menopause and then actually GO into menopause in a few years, whoohoo. One of the lucky ones, everyone has to just wait and see how it feels, I get to test drive the effects. So lucky.........
My gal pal Paula K. arrived in town yesterday and a little retail therapy has been booked for this weekend.
Enjoy the day!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Update on my arm

Thursday morning started off with my regular treatment at the Cancer center then I was off to the hospital. The East tower is just a block from the Clinic so the timing was perfect. I got checked in downstairs and then the nurse took me upstairs to the waiting room and told me someone would be out to get me. A few minutes later I hear a male voice call my name. I got up and looked over to see a very good looking man, tall, dark and handsome, standing in the doorway waiting for me. He introduced himself, Fabian. I couldn't help comment, I asked him if the women teased him about his name. I followed him down the hall and we entered a room. He closed the door and after some small talk, I started to unbutton my shirt. He dimmed the lights and directed me to a freshly made bed. I got comfortable and he started to cover my throat with warm gel..........and then did the ultrasound! Ha! Makes for a good intro. Well, he went from my neck to my wrist and back up the other side of my arm and double checked me out and there are NO signs of a blood clot so that is great news. The bad news is that I can't get in to the Physio office until Aug 3rd. Both staff are booked up solid and since this is the best place to go for this type of arm swelling, I'm going to have to wait.
Apparently these therapists are the top people when it comes to working with breast cancer patients who experience swelling of this nature. I am back to see Dr. Kaufman this week for another check up and if this plan needs to change, I'm sure he will advise accordingly.
Only 5 more days of full radiation. I'm hanging in there, but the energy level seems to drop a little every day. The full radiation is under my arm and around the back of my underarm and down my side, and of course my full breast. Once this week is over, the radiation becomes "targeted", which means the beams will be focused on the specific spot where the tumor was removed. The tech's at the clinic mentioned that when it gets to this time, most people are very glad to be done with the whole area because their skin has been compromised so much. As much as mine has changed color and a few other things, I'm doing really well.....aside from having a swollen arm.
I'll update in a few days. Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm hitting a rough patch on the highway

Just when I hit my "hump" day, some things started to go a bit off. Friday I felt my right arm swell a bit and by the end of the weekend, well, I definitely knew something was not right with things. Since I was seeing Dr. Kaufman on Tuesday, I decided to wait and discuss it with him. Seems like this is NOT a normal side effect of either the surgery or the radiation. That's not to say some people don't have the swelling of their arm, they do. But it shouldn't be happening in my situation. I did not have any lymph glands removed or disturbed in the area that would cause the swelling. Radiation may cause swelling, but not when one is just four weeks into the process. If it was 6 - 9 months after the treatments, and if they were radiating a larger/higher area, then OK, but again, not the case with me.
So now I'm off to the hospital tomorrow at 9:30 am for an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot. Dr. Kaufman has an office admin staff that is FANTASTIC. Laurie ROCKS. She always gets me my appointments right away and she works so hard at making my life a little easier with the timing of appointments. Like tomorrow, I asked for the a.m. since I'm already in Bellingham. I told her I could waste an hour or so if she could get me in sometime in the morning. So she gets my appt at 9:30. I finish Radiation at 9:00, I'll be able to let Annie go for a little run around, drive next door to the hospital, park and go check in.
I also need to get my appointment at the therapist's office to show me how to wrap my arm/hand to try to reduce and eliminate the swelling. I am waiting for that office to call me back with a date/time. Meanwhile, I try to remember that it really hurts if I reach too far for anything, and I'm doing my best to keep my arm elevated as much as I can. That also helps things. As for the other side effects, I'm starting to see the "burn" area on my skin and am seeing a few tiny blisters. I have 14 more treatments and then I am done with this. Until then, I continue to drive the I-5 and enjoy the banter of the 92.9 FM morning DJ's. They make my trip so much better. Check them out if you get this station!
Thanks for stopping by today, I'll update as I can.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And the journey continues

I am now on the down slide for my treatments, and the side effects are on the up side. I guess it would be too much to hope for no side effects. When I see the other women and men at the Cancer center, I count my blessings at how lucky I've been along this process.
A stranger, (fellow blogger) stopped by my site and left a comment. I backtracked to her blog, 60 Magnificent Miles, and it amazes me at what people are doing to support the research and funding for Breast Cancer. If there is anyone who wants to get involved in one of these fundraisers, Susan G. Komen is the place to check out! They do amazing things here.
Later today I go to see Dr. Kaufman for a check up. The timing is perfect as I need to see about my arm. It has decided to swell up and my wrist isn't like it should be. I am hoping this is a side effect that will simply "go away" but the concern is that I still have 15 more treatments. Is it going to get worse before it gets better? Only the Dr. and time will tell.
So for now, if I'm exhausted at work, I will go home. I did that yesterday, got home, flipped on trashy afternoon tv, and just relaxed for a few hours. I don't like to nap for fear that I won't fall asleep at bedtime. Today I woke up and felt quite rested. Maybe the afternoon off did some good!
Until again,

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's Hump Day today

Yup, it's "hump" day. I know, today is Friday and usually we refer to Wed as "hump" day. But it's my middle point of radiation treatment. I've gone 18 times and I have 17 more treatments before I can say adios to the Cancer Center.
My skin is holding up very well, partly because I'm being very diligent in the care and the product I'm using is excellent, Aquaphor. What's starting to happen now is my mobility is starting to slide backwards. After the surgery I had been working on the stretching exercises and was thrilled when both arms went up the same distance. Things were great, I had terrific mobility in my right arm and shoulder. Now it's not so good. The radiation causes a new round of swelling, which in turn, affects the nerves and muscles and it's a bit frustrating to be sliding backwards. I'm starting to feel the fatigue, I really could use a nap in the afternoon. I struggle to get past 5:00 p.m. Miss Molly and Anna Banana need fed and walked and that is what keeps me going and I get past the "I just want to sleep" feeling.
The other side effect is my ability to sleep through the night. Every time I roll over in the night, I am awakened by the soreness. I hesistate to use the word 'pain' as it's not that bad. I'm starting to feel the tenderness in my side along my ribcage and in my shoulder. It is whas it is, I am thinking it will get worse before it gets better, and I just have to work through things. Once the treatment stops my body will start to work on the healing process and I have confidence that I shall return to my "new normal" in August. Then I get to deal with a whole new round of issues. But until then.......I keep doing what I'm doing!
The sun is shining this weekend, I see a walk along the ocean and some time spent on a farm!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday the 13th

Today was my 13th treatment so now I only have 22 left to go. So far things are ticking along. I notice that something is going on inside, but it's nothing too much. Every so often, usually in the afternoon, I'll get a few twinges, but other than that, things are good.
Enjoy the 4th of July if you are south of the 49th, I'll be at the parade and then soaking up the small town festivities at the waterfront. Following this, it's off to a BBQ. The good part of the small town is that I can walk everywhere. It's going to be a hot one this weekend, don't forget the sunscreen!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

As a Quilter......

....and a Breast Cancer survivor, I challenge all quilters and NON quilters to take a look at this magnificant quilt. With a donation of just $10, you could be the owner of this quilt. Just look at who has contributed to this amazing work of art. Plus your reciept is tax deductable AND the whole amount amount will go to the most amazing organization. So far the Susan G. Koman group has donated over a billion dollars in the race for a cure.
Because of this amazing group of people, my journey dealing with BC has been so smooth. I've been fortunate, and will make this organization my first choice when looking for places to donate time and/or money.
Please join me in making this quilt project an overwhelming success. Please feel free to mention this on your blog, or direct people over to this post. Either way it will help spread the word.
Sew amazed at the generosity of quilters!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weekend Reprive

The clinic is closed on Sat & Sun so no treatments, whoohoo. Even though it would make the process faster, I'm very glad that I get the weekend off. I can feel the radiation working, it's like sharp little spasms that just seem to happen for no reason. Plus there is a bit of achiness, I don't even know it that's a real word, I'm not even bothering to look it up, it just works to describe what seems to be going on. So far I'm good on the skin area, I don't have any visible burn, just a tenderness in the area. I worked on a bunch of quilting projects all day on Saturday and today Annie, Lisa and I went for a very long leisurely walk down at the ocean. It's good for the soul to be near the water.
I'm heading into week 2. I say 2 because the treatment is 35 sessions and if you miss one, it gets tagged on at the end. Since the first week has 3 days and the last week has 2 days, by the calendar it would be 8 weeks, but that just sounds too long. So, it's week 2 tomorrow, and the other way of counting is 8 down, and 27 more to go. I'm looking forward to having the down number larger than the to go number!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

7 down, 28 more to go

In no time, I will be posting 28 down and 7 more to go. This is referring to my 35 scheduled daily radiation treatments that I partake in. Every morning, Mon to Fri, I leave my house, load up Anna Bananarama the superdog, and head to Bellingham for my 8:35 appointment at the Cancer Center. They process 25 patients per day on each machine, there are 2 machines. Each patient has a 15 min time allowance, so this is one busy treatment center. I like the a.m. appointment, that is working for me. I put quite a bit of thought into what would work for the travel, my job, and my energy level. I made a good choice for me.
So far I have only mild symptoms from the radiation, but the area is starting to show and feel the effects. I"m being very proactive with lotions and potions, cool showers, Dove soap and patting the whole area dry. I have also found the most amazing cami/tank made by Calvin Klein. I bought the only one Macy's had and now have their staff searching for 2 more for me. Three other styles and brands have made their way home and gone back to their retail homes, so I'm holding out for style D3135 :-)
Every Wed I meet with the Dr. after my treatment, and every Friday I meet with the RN. So far everything is on track and I'm doing OK.
Dr. Kaufman gave me stretching exercises to start doing on June 16th and I have full range of motion with my right arm now. It's not pain free, but I certainly won't be going for any physio.
Even though we are in the longest days of the year, my head is hitting the pillow by 9pm or shortly after. I'm keeping myself rested as the longer this goes on, the more tired I will be.
Thanks for following along,

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hurrah for volunteers!

The volunteers put together a box for new patients and this was in my box, along with a few other goodies. Thanks volunteers! The fabric rolls behind the bear were from Paula K, Thanks again!
Although Wednesday was a crappy day, Thurs was a bit better, and Friday was tolerable. This is not a physically difficult procedure and now I have the routine down pat. Once they call my name, I can be walking out the door within 10 minutes. Seriously! I start my regular time slot on Tues and Monday is also an early appointment.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Getting to a schedule

Today is Friday, whoohooo! I've been bounced around with my radiation appointment times and today is at 11:45. From there I go to the courthouse where I have a 1:30 appointment to go in front of the judge and, hopefully, have the court approve the settlement of Donnie's estate. Then I can box and shelf this part of my life. Monday's appointment is 9:20 and then Tues I start my regular time of 8:35 a.m. This will work out very well. Get up, get dressed, drive to Bellingham, go to work and go home. This will become my new normal for the next 6 - 7 weeks.
I've got some quilting hand work packed in a take along for the few minutes of waiting, then is doesn't seem like waiting!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First day of Radiation

Worst day so far.........for no particular reason, it just was!

Today's appointment should be easier........

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

And the journey continues

Yesterday was my "last" follow up with Dr. Kaufman. I say "last" in quotes because in reality I will see him for the next five years. But this appointment was the last one discussing and dealing with my surgery and all my test results. He explained my OncoTypeDX results, (all pretty good) and took all the tape off my incision. Everything is healing very well and will continue to get better.
As for my arm, before I could even ask him any questions, he went on to explain all the soreness and pain I have been feeling, told me how normal all this was, then gave me the 2 exercises I need to do to get back to my regular self. This should take a month or two, the stretches are very simple and take 10 minutes twice a day.
The last thing we discussed was the next 2 - 3 months of moving forward. This part of the journey can become a roller coaster of emotions and questioning "why". I'll just have to take it one day at a time, just like usual. Life is a "no peek" journey, if we knew what tomorrow will bring, we might not have the fortitude to get through today!
Speaking of today I start my radiation treatments. I don't have a set schedule, but someone is working on it and I will have it figured out today at my appointment.
On a side note, Friday at 1:30 is the final hearing for settling Donnie's estate. That door will close and I can put the stacks of paperwork into a box, label it, and move it out of my day to day life. This will free up some of my energy.
That's all for now,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Answer to a often asked question

Tamoxifen. What is it and how does it work? Here is the clearest explanation.

I copied and pasted this......

How tamoxifen works
The way in which tamoxifen works is quite complicated and not yet fully understood, but its main function is as an anti-oestrogen drug.

Most breast cancers need supplies of the female hormone oestrogen to grow. Cancer cells have proteins called receptors on their surface that the sex hormones attach to. Cancers with oestrogen-receptors on the surface of their cells are called 'oestrogen-receptor-positive' (ER-positive) and tamoxifen is most effective against these cancers.

Under normal circumstances, when oestrogen comes into contact with the receptors, it fits into them and activates the cancer cells to divide so that the tumour grows.

Tamoxifen fits into the oestrogen receptor but does not activate the cells to divide. The tamoxifen stays in place and stops oestrogen from reaching the cancer cells so that they either grow more slowly or stop growing altogether.

Tamoxifen can greatly reduce the chance of oestrogen-receptor-positive cancers coming back after surgery. It can also be used to shrink large tumours before surgery so that they can be removed.

Welcome to the weekend

The weather last night was perfect for sitting outside and relaxing. Judy T arrived, we enjoyed a bevy, my neighbour came over for a chat and then we headed to Bob's for my birthday dinner. Burgers and Brew, it was delicious! Thank you!
And if it's the weekend, then I don't have any medical appointments. Tonight is a big night for hockey fans, game 7 for the Stanley Cup. I really don't care who wins, but I do hope the game is a barn burner!
I have a very important engagement Sat night. My gal pals from forever ago are all getting together for a bbq and bevies. Whoohoo! It's going to be a beautiful day, the table will groan with the plattters and bowls of food, the bbq will be hot, the beer will be cold. What more could I ask for!
Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ho Hum.....

Today was my big day, my first modeling job. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. How many people would be in the room, would the lights be hot and blinding, would they have the right kind of bottled water on the set or would the photographer throw a hissy fit?
Really, it's just a lot of hype. Things seem much more glamorous from the outside but when you get right down to it, I'd rather keep my day job at TC Trans. It's much more exciting there that it was at my modeling gig. ALL I did was lay down on a bed, get pillows plumped under and around me, they slid the bed back and forth through the big camera a few times, and voila, I was 80% done. They marked a few spots (tattooed me) to make sure they got some good photos and to make sure my spine and hips were all aligned. I didn't even have to pose, they positioned me exactly how they wanted the shot. There was no room for creative ad libbing.
After that, the assistant whipped out her digital camera for some nudie pics, (I hope they don't end up on the internet!) and just before going out the door, she took a head shot....... so they can match the boobs to a face!!!!!
So remember, the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
I go back to the clinic next Wed for my first radiation appointment, 1 down and 34 more to go!
And another "never say never" I now have a tattoo.
Happy days.....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

All Exits to Chemotown are CLOSED.

Who knew one could be so fabulous at 46? I am a 10, certified and documented. I always knew I was, and now I have the papers to prove it. My OncoType DX score came back and I am a 10. To top that, Dr. Kominsky, my medical oncologist informed me that I am cancer survivor who will not derive any benefits of chemotherapy. WHOOHOO! The test results show a very low reoccurance score and there is no benefit to me having chemo. However, I will be doing radiation for 15 min/day, 5 days/week for 7 weeks. Dr. Kominsky told me to get started on it sooner rather than later, so I called Dr. Taylor today and I have my appointment for my breast modeling tomorrow at 2:30 pm. Wow, a 10 AND a breast model, who knew??? (Hey, if I can't throw some humor at this crap I'd be a basket case).
Radiation will not be a walk in the park, but it is much easier than chemo and I know I will be fine. I might be sore for a while, it might take a kick at my general well being and maybe take my energy level down a notch or two, but that's all tolerable in the grand scheme of things.
This treatment will be followed up with 5 years of drug therapy, I'll be taking Tamoxifen on a daily basis. The side effects of this drug will just have to play itself out over time, but of all the options of all the treatments, I have been blessed with the easiest of them all.
I have my next appointment with Dr. Kaufman, the captian of this journey, on June 16. I called his office right after finishing with Dr. Kominsky, just to let Laurie know I had the results of the Oncotype DX test and she told me her and Dr. Kaufman were just looking at it and they were both so thrilled for me! Whoohoooooooo!
Be thrilled for me too!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And the good news continues......

I just got the results back from my bone scan and there is NO sign of cancer anywhere. These results were cross checked with my CT Scan and NOTHING is looking out of the ordinary. My blood work also came back with nothing showing. Last stop on the superhighway is next Monday, Dr. Kominsky, the Medical Oncologist. After this appointment I will recieve my OncoType DX score and I'm expecting a very low score. This is a test where the lower the number the better things are and I want to be under 10. After this comes back, then I will meet with Dr. Kaufman and we will chart out the next few months of treatment and set the cruise control while I travel the highway to being cancer free!
Whooohooo for todays news!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thank you's!

I need to take this time to thank so many people, Kim B. for the beautiful card, I think you made it especially for me! To my blog followers and commenters, when I see comments, I know you are following along, cheering me from the sidelines! Wanda H. yes, the card said it all, I am on the list! Debbie S. and Chuck S. the flowers are still blooming and your card is looked at every day! Jo B. for the phone calls and cards, I know you are keeping me in your prayers! Kelsey N, wearing pink on surgery day, not just you but your friends and co worker, terrific! Paula K. & Norma T. for the phone calls and cards, we will laugh about a lot of this in Sept! Muriel F, constantly lending me your ear and your support and for making me soup! Michele R. and Eddie L.for following along from the vineyards in Eastern WA, Maizie T. for the laughs we have, yes, my chin is up and my dark circles are gone! Sandra L. and Shelley G. I still have the flowers, they are still thriving and they are beautiful! Lori P. for the pink roses and daisies, I know you are out there cheering me on! My so-workers and drivers ROCK, thanks for the support! The Gorge Guild, I got your card, thanks so much, I'll see everyone in September! Christine N. thanks for the phone calls and the visit, Bill T. for the phone calls and the hugs through the phone lines. Pauline and Shelley, lunch was fun, we should do this more often! Dani F. for being there when I woke up after surgery and driving me places! Annie P. for coming to every appointment with me, giving me kisses when I finish with Dr's and tests, and laying by my side when I had my afternoon naps every day, and for making me go outside for short walks when I wanted to stay under a quilt. And to my Dad, for being with me and helping me out during and after my surgery. Always on the other end of the phone, supporting my decisions, listening to my concerns, keeping me grounded and focused on the issues, not letting me spin with all the "noise" that can surround you in waiting rooms and from people who mean well.
I still have a ways to go, but today I felt the need to send thanks to you all. If I missed you, I'm sorry, Some of the above mentioned won't ever see this, but I needed to say it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Final Countdown!

Today was my last test (that I know of) and I'm glad to be finished. It consisted of arriving at the hospital at 9:00 am, doing a tiny bit of paperwork and then heading down to the Nuclear Medicine wing of the hospital. There I got some type of medicine injected into my vein and it was over in about 20 seconds, seriously. Super fast, it took longer for the staff to find a vein in my arm.
Next stop, The Little Cheerful where they make the best breakfast in Bellingham. Yum, I had the mini bacon and egg breakfast with their wonderful coffee, along with a huge glass of water. I had to drink lots of water before going back to the hospital.
After breakfast I made my way to Dr. Kaufman's office for a check up and things are good, still sore, but as my Mom would tell me, "I guess I'll have to keep it till it's better".
Back across the street to the hospital for my Bone scan at 12:30 and I'm right on schedule. They gave me a jazzy pair of striped pj bottoms, but it would have been nicer if the opening in the front actually met together! So this test is super easy, I just layed there and the machine took images of my bones. After the first part was done, the tech started to ask me questions, routine ones. Have you ever broken any bones?
Hmmm, broke my right arm 2 times, bone in my right foot once, fingers on right hand, might have fractured some ribs one summer, yeah, I think that's it. Geez, that sounded like I'm a bit of a clutz!! or accident prone. Anyways, he walks away, comes back and I say, "Oh yeah, I also broke the middle toe on my right foot" We both just laughed. They just want to know for a point of reference.
They finish the second part of the Scan and then sent me off to xray for a few more tests, just to have a secondary look at some of my bones.
So now I wait for this to be read, I should have the results by Wed night, then on Monday I go see Dr. Kominsky, the Medical Oncologist. That is the 8th and then I have booked an appointment with Dr. Kaufman for June 16th. This is when I will have all my results back from every test, including the OncoType DX and make my list and weigh my options and make decisions on my treatment.
Once that is done, then I can get the plan set in motion and get on the road to being cancer free!
Sounds pretty pink, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Another week.....

Monday morning is my last test, the Bone scan. This will check to see if there is any cancer in my bones. I go to the hospital at 9:15 for the injection of medicine and then return at 12:30 for the scan. In between I have an appointment for a follow up with Dr. Kaufman. My under arm area, shoulder and chest area and parts of my arm are still sore. This is from the nerves being cut/damaged during surgery and also from the swelling. This is a natural process and over time the fluid that is causing the swelling will be absorbed back into my body. So it's ice and IBprofen. It's taking much longer to feel better than I thought it would.
Oh well, today was a 45 minute walk with Annie and the couch all afternoon, catching up on my taped tv. I'm going to make my best effort at work this week for Tues to Fri 8 - 4:30.
I'll post following my test/results.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

And the appointments keep coming

Wow, I thought that today I would just meet Dr. Taylor and be gone. Not so fast. Once I arrived, reception got me checked in and the volunteer Elsie got started with all her information and paperwork.
Next came the appointment with Dr. Taylor, who seems very nice. He gave me an overview of radiation and how this part of the treatment has evolved over the past 4 years since we now have the option of having a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy. Based on my situation, the 15 minutes per day, 5 days a week, for 7 weeks is his best advice. They will make a model of my breast, (now who ever thought I would be a breast model) and use this for a targeted plan of attack. I need to have radiation to seek out and kill any free floating cancer cells that may have broken from the pack and are out traveling around in my breast, looking for a place to set up camp and multiply. The radiation is excellent at killing off the individual cells, it just doesn't work for attacking a lump of cancer cells, hence, the surgery.
Third up was Mary, she does counselling and has all the program information. I spent some time with her and when I left, I had a binder full of color coded tabs and sheets of information. I am now set to organize things and keep track of appointments.
Last stop was Cheryl(?) who is in charge of clinical trials. Since Dr. Taylor mentioned the OncoType DX test and I told him I had already signed up for it, he suggested I meet this lady. She works with all the Dr.'s and Dr. Kominsky is also part of this big clinical test. It is being conducted all over the US and Canada. They are trying to collect data on the validity of Chemotherapy for patients who score in the "medium" chance of reoccurance. Half will have chemo and the other half will just have drug therapy. I told her I will be getting back a very low score so I'm sure they would rule me out, but I took the literature just the same.
All this took me until noon, so much for bringing McDonalds back to all the office for breakfast!
I'm going to BBQ this weekend, steaks will be pink in the middle!

It's my Lucky Day (yesterday!)

Yesterday I had my CT Scan to check my liver and lungs for any signs of cancer. I went in at 8:30, was out by 9:15 am. Later in the day I went back to Dr. Kaufman for a quick check up. I just wanted to have him check and make sure that the swelling and pain I have been having is in the category of "normal". Yes it is, and ice and IB profen will be my new best friends. While I was there, he checked out my reports and my CT Scan came back perfect, just like I expected.
Today I get to explore a new place that will become a destination point for many days to come, the St.Joseph Hospital Cancer Center. My Radiation Oncologist is Dr. Michael Taylor, his profile is second on this list.
I am confident that Dr. Kaufman would refer me to the best people for my particular situation as a positive outcome is also in his best interest! We were discussing that it would be optimum if my OncoType DX results are back before I meet with Dr. Kominsky, the Medical Oncologist. I agreed, but also confirmed with Dr. Kaufman that I would not be making any treatment decisions until this report is back. That appointment is for June 8th, and that is just shy of the 10 - 14 days that it takes to get back the results.
But the way my luck has been holding out, who knows! Yesterday at Costco, Ric pulled me out of the line up to put my order through, he told me it was my LUCKY DAY. I was quick to agree with him.
If you are following along, post a note, it's quiet in comment land!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Passed with flying colors

Okay, so I had to have a pre bone scan test. If things come back ok then I can process with the scan. I am positive that this test will come back was a PREGNANCY test. So I guess I'm on track for that appointment.
As for the next step, yesterday I picked up 2 bottles of "chalky" milkshakes. I got to drink one before bedtime and then one more for breakfast. I don't think they have WhiteSpot's recipe for milkshakes!
Up and at it this a.m. and like a good patient, I drank the whole second bottle of chalky milk. Really, it wasn't that bad, they've come a long way in disguising barium! Annie and I got on the road to Bellingham and as soon as I was checked in, the hostess with the mostest greeted me in the testing room with......a nice cold chalky milkshake. "Just to make sure your stomach is full" she says. Hey, the bottle I drank was sitting at my throat, I was SURE I was full :-)
This test was a piece of cake, it took 3 seconds for the first pass and 8 seconds for the second one, and then I was done! Piece of cake..... But I would prefer if they held the milkshake on the side!
I'm going back to Dr. Kaufman this afternoon, I'm feeling that my arm and underarm is more sore than it should be, so I'm going to err on the side of an extra appointment. I also got a call from the OncoType DX lab. They have my sample, they called to double check my authorization and verify my info. That test should be back in 10 - 14 days. I watched the short video on their website, very interesting.
I am back at work as much as I can be, but Friday will be the test of a full day as I have no appointments that day! Whoohoo, I'll be the only employee glad to put in a full day on a Friday!
Things are moving along, I continue "to do the next right thing", (I took that line from Michael J. Fox's show on Optimism) This show was worth watching and I'm glad I taped it. I might need a refresher along this journey.
Staying positive, even with my quilting withdrawals.

Friday, May 22, 2009

GPS to follow along?

Today my job was to call Dr. Kaufmans office to find out about the next appointments and when I called, Laurie had just finished leaving a message on my home phone. It took me three rounds of listening to get everything we go!
May 26 - pick up a prep kit for CT Scan and a lab slip for blood work.
May 27 - Check in at 8:30 am for CT Scan
May 28 - Check in at 9 am for a 9:30 appt with Dr. Taylor, Radiation Oncologist
June 1 - Arrive at 9:15 am at St. Josephs and get an injection at 9:30 am
June 1 - 11:30 at Dr. Kaufmans for a follow up appointment
June 1 - 12:30 go back to hospital for my Bone Scan
June 8 - Check in at 1:10 for a 1:30 appointment with Dr. Kaminsky, medical Oncologist
Who needs a social life with a calendar like this? I feel like I'm on 24 where so many things happen in a very short time span. I think I did use the word Super Highway when I started this blog, I'll have to go back and check.
For now, it's a beautiful sunny long weekend.....I know I'm going to be at the water!
Sunny days......

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Latest and greatest news

So tonight was my first follow up face to face with Dr. Kaufman. It felt really good to hear him explain everything to me again, as well as a bit of new information. The best part of my visit was finding out there is a relatively new test, Oncotype DX, that is being performed on tumors and the results are very helpful in making decisions regarding future treatments. Of course it was my choice to request this test, and he informed me some people do not want to know the results. I chose to have the test done. The tumor has already been removed so it requires no more from me other than my consent. What this test does is give one more piece of information to add to my file when everyone sits down to discuss my further treatments.
In the meantime, I am going to have my CT Scan booked. Once this result is in, along with the above mentioned result, then the Dr.s who will direct me along this journey will be armed with every available piece of information regarding my specific case. This just makes sense to me!
As for the bandages, they are now off, but the incisions are still taped up. To me they look nasty, but to Dr. Kaufman they looked great. During the surgery Dr. Kaufman decided to take some extra tissues which has made the incision bigger than what he had anticipated. Thank goodness he did this, those samples tested positive for Stage 0 cancer cells, aka Pre Cancer cells. I can live with a higher nipple, thank you very much :-)
My arm and underarm is still very sore, I'm still napping 2 - 3 hours a day, but I'm still getting good news along the way.
Staying very positive

It's all about the F word

Food, friends, family......fooled you! Yesterday I went to the office for an hour, then met with Pauline and Shelley for lunch at Bob's. They serve so much food that I saved 1/2 my burger for Ryans dinner (our night guy at work, he's the best!) All that excitement led to a 2 1/2 hour nap at home. It's amazing, I never nap, yet I've had to sleep every day in the afternoon. It doesn't even feel optional, it's more of a necessity. It must be part of the whole process. Judy T and Jesse T arrived about 7:30 and we made our way over to Paso Del Norte for some of their fine Mexican food. I passed on the Margarita, tequila with a Vicadin appetizer, maybe not! I ordered chicken enchilada's with their home made green sauce and they did not disappoint!

It was a great day with no medical issues to report about! This afternoon is the big reveal, Dr. Kaufman will detail all the findings from the lab reports. I think the super highway to recovery is going to have some unexpected exits and some construction zones that will need navigating..... but until I have all the facts, I'm traveling on cruise control! The great news is that I DO NOT have any more surgery and that he removed ALL the cancer that we know about. I'm sticking to this positive news.
Have the best day today

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Surgery Town is in the rear view mirror!

Got the Good News! Whoohoo, let the healing continue. That was the best news I could hope for and Dr. Kaufman called me at 8:35 pm to confirm that there was NO cancer cells in the Sentinel nodes and there were CLEAR margins around the tissue that was surrounding the lump of cancer.
He discussed the details of the lump, it measured 2.2 cm so it will be classified as Medium in size, Small is 2.0 cm or less So the good news about that is it was on the very small side of medium. The scale for medium is 2.1 to 5.0 He also removed some extra tissue as the lump was very close to the skin and this tissue tested positive for Stage 0 cancer. Again, the good news is that Dr. Kaufman removed it.
The best defense in this journey is a great surgeon, and rest assured, I have the best. He has been pro active in things and so far the news I am getting is what I wanted to hear. I follow up with him on Thursday and set up the next action, a CT Scan to check my bones, liver and lungs. This is a routine test and I expect all the results to be negative, no reason to expect anything different!
The Pink Journey continues!

Treat the feet......

...when you can't take the wait. As much as I don't ever want to wish away time, this afternoon has really stretched itself to the limit, and it's still only 3:22pm. No siesta today, the brain won't take a break, but my feet did! mmmmmmmmmAlthough my paperwork said to call at 4 pm, you all know I was dialing the doctor at 1:15 today. "My guy" is stepping out on me today, he's in surgery this afternoon, being someone elses "guy". I have no problem sharing ;-) However, Dr. Kaufman is the one to give me my lab reports, so I must spend the rest of the day clinging to my cell phone. Yes, I plugged it in as soon as I found out he would be calling! He has to get out of surgery and start on the paperwork part of his day before this will happen. So here I sit, typing away with my cell phone sitting in front of me, willing it to ring!
I'm off to Piecables Quilt Guild meeting in Lynden tonight, Dani is picking me up at 4:30 and we will grab a bite to eat before the meeting. At least my toes look good!
Staying positively PINK today!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Siesta Fiesta

Wow, I've been napping every afternoon since Thursday, but today was exceptional! Ryan picked me up and we went to the office for Randy's Bday lunch. After having delicious Chinese food, I came home, put on my pj's and went to bed. My siesta lasted all afternoon. Watched the hockey game, made a sandwich and fed the 4 legged kids, and hit the couch again. Then I bundled up and headed out in the rain with Annie, pj's and all. Oh well, so what if I'm the crazy lady with her dog and pajamas in the alley! I was comfy and warm.
Big day tomorrow, I'll get both my results back in the afternoon. Positive thoughts, as I am well into the healing process, I don't want to go back to surgery town. Visited, got released and I'm back on the highway.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ding Dong, Delivery lady!

So beautiful.......even the delivery lady was dressed in pink, Thank you Thank you, Thank you! Shelley and Sandra, the flowers are beautiful. Thank you!Dr. Kazmyra, my GP called to check in on me today, so did the clinic. Both were glad to hear how I have been healing and feeling.......And a big "shout out" to Petie, she came over and checked me out! Not a job for my Dad! And I got a full report, Harry B with a pink ribbon, Kramer, thanks for the flowered shirt!, and Brian, well, I heard all about the pink post it note saying "Go Sharon" Thanks to everyone at work today, You know your support has been felt all the way over here!
You guys are the best!
Thinking Pink!

Best results one could hope for!

The best support! Kelsey and her co-worker in pinkAll went exactly as planned during the surgery. We all put on our matching party hats, the great anethesiologist gave me wonerful drugs, Dr. Kaufman performed the surgery, the lab gave us back NEGATIVE results on the lymph nodes, they sewed me up and sent me to recovery.
That's when the party really began. They serve THE BEST soda crackers and cranberry juice you can imagine (they come with a side of Vicadin).....and that's where Dr. K gave me the great news. This test is 85% accurate, so now we hsve to get the next 15% cleared. That will come on Tuesday.
Kelsey and her friend Kayla, THANKS GIRLS, JOB WELL DONE!
I am very glad my dad was with me, Ry guy showed up at the surgery center and gave me a great big hug before things started,(he just wanted to squeeze my boobs one last time) ;-) Dani F. came down and stayed the whole time. How fantastic to wake up with friends and family by my side.
I'm pretty sore, one hand typing here. Dad took me down to B'ham and we got some steaks. He's wearing thin of my turkey for five days plan! Plus for $13 you can get your hair all cut off next door to Fred Meyers!
Bye for now, thanks for all the support.
Think Pink

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A great day yesterday!!!

This was my last full (sort of) day of work and Debbie and the staff were so fabulous. First Debbie shows up with bunches of pink ribbons and decorates my office door along with a few other doors in the office. We are a trucking company so the craftiness of this is pretty amazing!

Next she shows up with this......WOW, it is amazing. And the card that goes with it could not have been better. I has a special drawer for cards that I save, yes, I know, a bit of a pack rat with paper, but this card will be in the box forever and when I am having a tough day in July or October or even next year, I will pull out that card and put my chin up! Thanks Debbie and Chuck!

Just when my day was about to end, Petie comes in with flowers. Since she was waiting for me to open the card, I quickly pulled out the note and they were from my dear friend Lori P. We've never been close girlfriends in the sense of that statement, but we've known each other almost "forever". The best thing about Lori is that when we all get together, it feels like I just saw her last week. She is one strong lady! These flowers are beautiful, the roses are just like her, pretty and petite.

Now on the to medical stuff. My MRI was AMAZING NEWS. It clearly showed the exact spot of crap (my new C word, Thanks Lisa J.) NOTHING ELSE SHOWED UP. That was the best news possible. So now Dr. Kaufman is going to get a good nights sleep tonight and be well rested for his 8 am patient, me! He does beautiful work, I'm in great hands with him, my dad will be with me right up until I go into surgery and then afterwards Dr. Kaufman will report back to Dad. He will also speak with me before I leave the clinic. Yup, clinic, no hospital for me, that's where people get sick!
Think pink, in fact, us quilters have a color called Double Pink
So double up tomorrow and let's all hope for clean test results!
Have a Double Pink Day

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My last day of work...

Today is my last work day for awhile. It will be a short one, for more than one reason. First off, I didn't drag my body into work until well after 8 am. It was one of those nights where I was awake and thinking it was time to get up.....until I looked at the clock and it was 12:23 am. Geez. And that went on throughout the rest of my sleep. I really do need eight straight to make my way in the world the following day. Guess things are weighing on my mind.

I have a 5 pm appointment with Dr. Kaufman. We will be reviewing the MRI results and then discussing all the options regarding my surgery. Before leaving for work today I grabbed a notebook. There have been a few questions coming into my mind and I want to make sure I ask about all my options for Thursday. Most of my questions are What if.......? Then what? I'm trying to make sense of the best options based on outcomes, but I think what is all boils down to is that "you do the best you can with what you know". Regardless of what I choose for Thursday, I have no control over the cancer if it decided to rear its ugly head in 2 or 5 or 9 years from now.
Start planning your wardrobe for Thursday. I'd love to have some photos emailed to me to show your support. I am asking all the staff here to wear pink on Thursday and today I'm picking up a spool of pink ribbon to tie on all the mirrors of our trucks.
I wish I'd seen this site prior to yesterday, Save the TaTa's, I would have ordered a few things from here. I will definitely be shopping here next week. I was telling some people about these t's last night and one woman looked at me funny and said "why would you want to save them?" I guess we all think we know what we would do if we were walking the walk, but let me say this, for all your friends and /or family that you have seen deal with cancer, and for all the news and tv reports about all the advances and all the good news that is out there, you have NO IDEA what you will do when you put on these shoes. That is a fact.
So on Thursday when you put on your pink, regardless of what it is, say a little "Save the Ta Ta's" It will make you smile!
Today I am leaving work early, first to go to the surgery clinic and fill out all my paperwork and then over to Dr. K's for my appointment. I have a few things to do in B'ham so I'll get those errands done. I have Wednesday off, Dad is arriving, I'm putting a turkey in the oven and getting my place all in order.
Think Pink

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just way too cute.

I know most of us have seen this email picture before, but I wanted to share it again. Thanks to Maizie for sending this to me, nothing like a big smile from your Monday morning email! Although "cure" isn't a word that is used right now, it would be great if somewhere in the near future it could be used. Survivor is the word, and people are called that right from the beginning of a positive diagnosis
Surviror is the only term to use, we are all surviving our own issues and life circumstances, yours just are different than mine, and now some of my circumstances are the same as some of yours. Because you are all out there cheering me on, I know I will do just fine. I'm still with the mind set that I have had all good news since this trip started, no flat tires, haven't run out of gas, I'm still on the highway with a direct path to the end. Let's hope tomorrow keeps me in the fast lane.
Start planning your Thursday pink!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pretty pink picture

A small part of a larger piece of work. This is silk embroidery, one of the most amazing pieces of needlework I have ever seen.
Enjoy the sunshine today, I know I will!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pass the boob basket please.

This morning I had a date with Belinda and Michelle at the MRI clinic. Once again, this was at Mt Baker Imaging and everyone there is so nice and polite. I got checked in very fast, I didn't even have time for basting any Hexi's. (for you non quilters, these are little pieces of fabric I baste onto paper, sew them together, then take the paper out, a perfect take along for waiting rooms!)

The first part of the exam was a cake walk, I layed on my back, they fluffed the pillows all nice for me, strapped me in so I didn't fall out of bed, and slid me into a big white hole. Since I had my eyes closed, I had no idea how contained I was. The second part of the test was a bit more than I expected. It involved needles! I dislike needles, well, I'm sure none of you like needles, but it's a bit hard to find a good vein in my arm and I've had some unpleasant experiences.

Had I known, I would have drank a lot of water prior to the test, but oh well. Michelle did a great job, got some hot packs and had both arms prepping. She started on my left side and Michelle was preparing my right arm, just in case. I told them they could take one try on each arm!

Like a hot knife through butter, Michelle had things started so smooth that I barely even felt her. Wonderful staff. Then they put my boobs in a basket, slid me into the machine and I had a 15 minute rest while the machine did all the work.

Piece of cake! The tests have been stamped with RUSH; they usually take a week to be read, but mine will be done asap and the reports sent over to Dr. Kaufman and Dr. Kazmyra by Tuesday afternoon. Dr. K and I will go over everything at my pre-op appointment on Tuesday, May 12th at 5 pm. Before I left the clinic I wandered over to the Ultrasound/Mammo side and asked to speak with Nancy, the Ultrasonographer. She had a free minute for me and I wanted to thank her for recommending Dr. K to me. She gave me a big hug and told me he does BEAUTIFUL work, so I am in good hands!

Until then, have a fantastic Mothers Day weekend. I know I will, I'm spending Sunday afternoon it with my best friend....Betty! (inside joke and yes, it was alcohol related)

Think Pink

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

And the plans continue

I just got a call from Dr. K's office and have a plan. I have the MRI tomorrow and barring any findings here are my dates.
May 12, register for surgery then continue over to Dr K and discuss my surgery and lay out that plan.

May 14 check into surgery at 7 am

May 21 Visit Dr. K for Post Op appointment at 5pm

May 26 Return to work

Sounds like a good plan, so everyone get ready. I am asking everyone to wear pink on the 14th of May. Paint your toes, put on pink lipstick, put on pink panties. Just put on the pink, think rose colored thoughts for me, and with everyone out there cheering me on, I will do just fine. And remember, I GOT THE GUY!

So as mentioned, all these dates may change, but here's hoping we follow this path.

Think Pink!

At the Beginning....Part 2

Here is the explanation and the plan from Dr.K and the most important part of my story. Are you paying attention? This is VERY important. The mammogram did NOT detect my cancer. We know it is there, I can feel it and it has been biopsied. It is there. But even after very close examination of my breast area where the biopsy was performed, they cannot see the cancer. The spot has been marked by a metal "clip" the size of a grain of pepper, and when Dr. K blew up the picture the clip was about a 1/2" in size.........and still no sign of the cancer. So trust in mammograms, but verify with your own monthly self exam!

Here is all the good news that has come behind the one ugly word.
Early detection
Size is small
Type of cancer is estrogen fed which translates to SLOW growing.
I got the guy!

Right now I am traveling this cancer trip on the interstate. We all know there are many on and off ramps, but the quickest way to your destination is a direct trip. Here is my direct road map. Many things may change, but as I discussed with Dr. K, I can compartmentalize things very well, let's handle one thing at a time. He agreed, stating that there will be many "hurry up and wait" issues, ie having the biopsy, and these situations will give me plenty of worry. So let's focus on what we know and what can be dealt with in the immediate. No point in borrowing worries from the future, they probably won't happen anyways.

Step 1: MRI
Booked already for tomorrow, Thur May 7,2009
20% of MRI's come back with issues showing up on them and I might be one of the lucky ones. This is being done to ensure that there are no other spots of cancer in either breast. Since we can't see this spot, are there other relatives out there hiding in the hills? Just a precaution, we are not expecting to find any. There is some lag time from this appointment to the surgery appointment to give everyone time to do any further testing ie another biopsy. So we hurried up and got this appointment, and I'll wait through the weekend for some results.

Step 2: Book Surgery
During the surgery there is a 15 minute test performed on the Sentinal Node, this is the gatekeeper to your lymphatic system. This test is 85% accurate. If negative, they sew me up and send me to recovery. If it tests positive for cancer cells, Dr. K will continue with removing the lymph nodes and then send me to recovery. This will change my trip, I just don't know how. Then comes the wait game. The same node is then sent off to pathology for a test that is 100% accurate and it takes 2 days for those results to come back. If negative, I wait one month. If the results are positive, then I will get out the map and we will look for an exit off the Interstate and see what town that takes us to. Until then, that is not an issue for me.

Step 3: Take a month of no worries, but have a CT Scan done. This will ensure that there are no other cancers in my system, ie: bone, lungs, or organs. Again, not expecting to find anything, this is just a precaution to rule out things.

Step 4: I start Radiation treatment, 15 min a day, 5 days a week, for 7 weeks, and then start a drug therapy for 5 years and "ain't life grand!"

This will take me to the end of the summer. I have a trip planned for mid September and Dr. K has told me to keep my plans and look forward to the time away.

I feel really good, no different that I did 4 weeks ago. I am back to sleeping pretty good, I don't get my usual 8 straight, I'm waking up once or twice, but I just don't look at the clock and I roll over and go back to sleep. Annie and Molly keep good company for me and I have a great support system of friends, family and co workers. Who could ask for more.

So through this journey, THINK PINK! I just opened up my new spring/summer lipstick. I had purchased it last fall, it was sitting in my cabinet, just waiting for the right time to be opened up. It's a nice bright pink, MAC Chatterbox. Could it be any more perfect for me!
So let me close with a few photos. There is pink everywhere and it is beautiful!

That's all for now! Thanks for following along, knowing that you are reading along my journey is a fantastic support for me! Thanks

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

At the beginning....

For some this may be a repeat of information, but for those of you who come to this blog later in the story, this is the beginning.

I am 46 years young, and I do not need to go through cancer to find out that I love life, I already know that. I also know that I have too much fabric and too many unfinished projects (ufo's for you non quilters)to leave this planet, and besides, that's not in my plan.

So here is my plan, all based on EARLY DETECTION!

I found a bump in my boob in late March and dismissed it, after all, I had just had a mammogram, colonoscopy and a full overhaul, including blood work in Nov/Dec of 2008. Plus, I was raised that if you find something not quite right, keep it for a while and if it hasn't gone away, then deal with it. So when I felt this bump again in mid April, I called my GP (April 13) for an appointment (got in Apr 15th) The last time I saw Dr. Kazmyra, Blaine WA in January, I told her I would see her in a year, I'm healthy and all my tests/exams checked out just fine. Since I was in seeing her, she took me seriously, that this just didn't feel right to me. The next step was an ultrasound, and that was booked for Monday, Apr 20th. After the Radiologist, Dr. Barret took a look at the pictures and did a few pictues of her own, she suggested a biopsy. My response was, "What ever day at what ever time, the sooner the better" This was good news to the Dr as she noted that the clinic has a policy of being proactive and she was glad to hear I was on the same page. My biopsy was booked for Thursday, April 23rd. Nancy, the Ultrasonographer, and Dr. Garrity worked together and got 4 fabulous samples to send off to Pathology.

So then the waiting game. It takes 2 days for testing to be completed so I booked an appointment with Dr. Kazmyra for Monday 3 p.m.. I called at noon, and again at 1:30 p.m. and again at 2:45 p.m. and still no I had to cancel my appointment and rebook for the next day. Oops, Dr. Kaz doesn't work on Tuesdays, how about Wed? OK, I'm set for Wed......but you all know me and know that there was no way on earth I was going to stew in my pot all day Tues AND Wed. So of course I phoned the office at noon. Yes, the report was in, no, they couldn't tell me the results. Then they called back and told me sometimes Dr. Kaz stops in on her day off, and 30 minutes later they called again, Dr. Kaz is in and she will see me.

I called Debbie, my boss and she turned around from her way home and she met me at the Dr's. I had a plan. If we got good news we were going for drinks, if we got bad news, we were going for doubles! And doubles it was.

While having the biopsy, I asked Nancy who would be a surgeon, should I need one. The first name out of her was Dr. Kaufman, and then she listed a few others. When someone doesn't have to think about a response, you can trust there is a reason. So I asked Dr. Kaz to book me with Dr. Kaufman. She was concerned that I might not be able to get into his schedule as he is very busy and in demand, it might be up to six weeks. Debbie told her to call and get an appointment, and make is soon to make me better. Dr. Kaz came back saying that Dr. Kaufmans office will call me, they are booking into mid May and I might be placed with Dr. Bauchman. The next morning, I received a call from Dr. Kaufman's office and was marking down my appointment time. Saturday at 11:00 May 2nd with Dr. Kaufman Woohoooo! I got the guy!

The guy happens to be President of a consortium of 600 Breast Surgery clinics across the U.S. He is internationally known speaker on the subject, has written and published many papers on the subject, and many other things...AND HE'S MY GUY! So when you hear me say, "I got the guy", and give 2 thumbs up, this is why.

So I have met with Dr. Kaufman, now being referred to at Dr. K, and I have a plan.
I will post the plan later, I need to finish some work, leave early for the lawyers office to sign off on the financial report for Donnie's Estate. I am at the final stages of settling the estate.....

and then be back in Blaine for a meeting at The Wheel House. Bevies start being poured at 5 p.m......Go Canucks, Go!!