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?