Cancer is isolating…

I had typed up this long post, then deleted it. I’m all about truth on this blog. Real, raw, truth. But I felt like the post was too “woe is me” when I feel anything BUT that.

The gist of it was that I spent a lot of time during my cancer treatment alone. A lot of time. Brad had to work, he obviously couldn’t stay home with me all the time, so I was alone a lot when I was home sick. I was alone for several of my chemo treatments. I was alone a lot in the hospital, too.

It was what it was.

So in short (very short), when you go through something like this, you find out who your friends are, and I am extremely grateful for the ones I have.

Coming at you live from my LAST treatment!

I can’t believe it’s been a year already and I’m done!

All is well on the doctor front. I saw all three of my docs today and everything is great. One more month to see the plastic surgeon before we schedule surgery. Also, it looks like I’ll have drains for the flap removal. Boo! And he’ll be straightening things up around the mid-section, so I’ll probably have a drain there, too. So it’ll be a slightly bigger recovery than originally planned, but it’s all good because it’s almost over!!

I’ll have more surgical info after that appointment, and I’ll share it then. Dr JB will also be there for that appointment so she’ll translate whatever Dr H says. Haha.

So good stuff here!! I’m healing and I don’t have to see my oncologist for three months. I asked him what I’m supposed to do now, and he said “live your life.” Haha, what does that even mean anymore?!?

I guess we’ll find out!!

F*ck Cancer

This is my super late post I made from the plane two weeks ago. Just got around to posting it. My bad!

I’m on a flight home from New York, typing this post into a Word document because I don’t feel like paying for the in-flight WiFi to connect to the blog. I’ll copy and paste it later. I was in New York for the wake and funeral for my Aunt Eleanor. She was diagnosed with cancer and we lost her quickly. I feel blessed that I was able to make the trip with my parents thanks to my sister’s frequent flyer miles.

It was nice seeing my family. I realized on this trip that it has been too damn long since I’ve seen any of them. And not just my family, but my friends, too.

I got to visit very briefly with my friend Melissa while I was there. She was so gracious to meet me at the hospital where I was visiting my other aunt and spend about fifteen minutes with me. I hadn’t seen her in twelve years. We’ve talked on Facebook and I tag her anytime I see anything that has to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer because that was our thing years ago. Anyway, when I last saw her, she was pregnant with her twelve-year-old daughter, who I got to meet today. It’s crazy.

I’m not really sure what the solution is because I’m not made of money and certainly can’t afford to fly to New York with any type of frequency, and taking off days from work to make the drive just isn’t realistic either.

Speaking of which. Huge shout-out to my job and the people I work with because they are amazing. I mentioned in our group chat that I was going to see if I could find a sub for my Friday shift because I had a death in the family and wanted to see if I could make it out-of-town for the services, and they rallied and texted me before I could even do anything with a solution. Pretty amazing. I mean, I’ve worked at places where there was literally no impact whatsoever if I didn’t show up for a shift and received more grief over taking time off. Just one of the many things I love about my job.

It was really great seeing family, though. I hated that it was because of a funeral, but it was what it was. Maybe the next time it will be because someone got married or had a baby, which was the reason for the last three times I saw my family, which still sucks, but again…it is what it is. My wedding and Kerry’s wedding in 2008, then Kerry’s baby shower in 2012. I might not be able to visit New York every year, but surely I can head up there again in less than six years.

So blah blah blah, cancer sucks. We all know this. It has taken the life of yet another loved one. A woman who I always remember was so incredibly full of life. Always laughing and smiling. A woman who I hadn’t realized helped me learn to swim. This is something that was revealed to me through an old family video shared by my cousin Debbie.

I hate it, and it’s moments like this, when I’m reflecting on someone else’s journey that didn’t end positively, that I realize how lucky I am to have gotten through my cancer. Not everyone is so lucky.

As a survivor, I feel like I need to do good things with my life. Make some kind of an impact. Big or small, I don’t know. Just something. One of the reason I’m doing the fundraiser for Susan B. Komen and why I will likely do more fundraisers in the future. I know I don’t owe anyone anything. I know that. I know I’m not responsible for anything. But losing people you love hurts, and if there’s just one thing I can do to help ease that suffering for someone else, why not do something?

So enough deep thoughts for now. Our trip was crazy, an absolute whirlwind. I’ve literally been on this plane for like 4 hours already and the flight is only like one and a half hours long. We sat on the tarmac for nearly three hours at LaGuardia. Bananas. But we’re almost home now…

Keeping it cool 😎

I’ve talked a bit about perspective here, and I’m sorry if any of this is repetitive, but thoughts on perspective keep popping in my head throughout my days.

Today, I was driving to the doctor and I was stopped in a right turning lane, the light had just turned red. It was one of those intersections that has two right turning lanes, where you can turn on red from the one on the right, but not the one on the left. So me and a few cars are stopped in the right lane, no one is in the left. A pickup truck came running down the left turning lane and made the right, straight through the red light.

It got me thinking, what’s the rush? Why are we always in such a rush? Don’t get me wrong, I rush around. Sometimes I want to be somewhere or do something yesterday. But since facing cancer, I’ve become a lot more laid back…slower, if you will. Maybe it’s because I’m not keeping myself nearly as busy as I was before (I thrive on a loaded schedule, I don’t dig downtime) or maybe it’s because I’m looking at the bigger picture when I consider things now.

I didn’t beat cancer just to die, be maimed, or hurt/kill someone else in a car accident because my errands or appointments or work is so much more important than a traffic light or lanes in the road or whatever.

And I’ll give the driver of the truck the benefit of the doubt and say that we were near a hospital, so maybe he was trying to get there fast. Maybe.

But every vehicle that runs a red light or drives erratically doesn’t have an emergency…but they might!

Anyway, those are my deep thoughts for today.

10 Months

It’s surreal to me that I’ve “been there, done that” with cancer already, and it’s only been ten months, give or take a week.

Maybe it’s because I still have the port, maybe it’s because my hair is so short, or maybe it’s because I still see my oncologist every three weeks.

Before my diagnosis, I feel like I always thought you had cancer forever, you know? Well, maybe not forever, but not that you’d get diagnosed, blink, and then not have cancer anymore. Ok, so all the middle stuff wasn’t a blink…chemo, multiple surgeries, side effects, etc…all those things took time.

But still…Dr. JB told me in the beginning that one day, this would all just be a blip on my radar. Just a piece of my past. I’m not quite there yet, I still have 4 cycles of Herceptin to go and this Lupron shot, but chemo is done and the last surgery removed the cancer. Blip. That’s exactly what it feels like…a blip. Like it’s surreal that I even went through chemo. I can’t believe that’s behind me. If it weren’t for the short hair and the scars and the soreness, it would be hard to believe it happened at all. I feel like that’s all that’s left to remind me sometimes.

I’m not naive, I know reoccurrence is always a possibility, but dang…ten months ago I would have never guessed that ten months would go by so quickly! That I’d be cancer free in under a year. Before I knew anything about anything, I figured I’d have cancer longer. It just seems like people have cancer for a while.

I don’t know…it sounds dumb, but I don’t know how to better articulate this feeling.

I’m relieved. I’m hopeful. I’m surprised.

It’s just weird. I feel lucky. So lucky.

I saw a picture of Brad and I from the solar eclipse last year, just days before I was diagnosed, and it reminded me of how things can change so quickly. Now, we’re about two months from that same date, and things almost feel ((dare I say it?)) normal.

Crazy.

Crazy crazy crazy.

Post-Vacation Blues

I had a great time on vacation. Getting to spend some time with Brad without work and doctors and having to adult was wonderful.

I ate three burgers (one of the restaurants at the resort has the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life, no lie) over the course of the week. That’s about two more burgers than I’ve had so far this year. They’re so good. If you find yourself at Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee, hit up Legacy Grill for a Smokehouse Burger. Ah-mazing.

I also ate way too much chips and salsa at Chuy’s, and let’s not forget the margaritas. Yum. I had bought Malibu rum because that’s sort of my go-to alcoholic beverage – I like it in Diet Coke or fruit juice. But I had a margarita at Chuy’s, then cheap margaritas at the resort during happy hour, and I fell in love. I think tequila does that to you. Well, I guess it’s a love/hate thing since tequila kicks some people’s butts.

I read, was totally lazy, and drove the cart while Brad golfed one day. It was a nice time.

So I’m home and this week is back to reality! I’m happy to be home with my pup, she missed us and we missed her. I think our best vacation ever was when we went to the Outer Banks and were able to take her with us. Pets deserve vacations, too.

I had an oncologist appointment this morning, got my Herceptin and Lupron. Nothing new to report there. Everything is “normal” there.

I’m returning to work today for real. I’ve got a few line therapy sessions this week, and I’m looking forward to that.

So I’m feeling good and healthy. I’ll be thankful when the rest of the soreness is gone. I’ll also be thankful when I can start exercising again and lose this ache I’ve got in my joints again. I hate that I went steps forward and then steps backward in regards to activity, but I know that extra strength I built up before surgery has helped me a lot over the last several weeks.

Being at the oncologist now is weird. I remember going and dreading what I knew was to follow. I don’t have that anymore, which is great – not complaining over here! It’s just weird because I’m in and out of there, and I used to see some of the same faces, but now there’s often new faces in various stages of treatment, and it’s weird. I want to say something, something motivating, because I was where they were, but I don’t know their story. I don’t know if they’ll be where I am now one day, or if their situation is more dire. So I don’t want to pull something straight off one of those top-ten-not-to-do lists for cancer patients. So I just keep to myself and smile.

But I want to do more. One day I was there and someone had put together little comfort packages and handed them out to all the chemo patients. I think I’m going to do something like that. Put together a list of things that truly gave me some comfort during my chemo and make little care packages to hand out. There are other, grander things I’d like to do, but for now this might just do. Little things mean a lot, at least they did to me. So maybe these care packages will brighten someone’s day.

Drains and Pains

A little update…tomorrow I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon, so I’ll probably have more news then, but venting is cathartic, so here comes random stuff.

I’m over these drains. Over them. I’d kill to be able to lay on my side, even if only for five minutes. My butt is over all this supine nonsense. They’re still putting out about 30-40 CCs a day each, so I’m doubting they’ll be removed tomorrow. Yay. I can’t remember the magic number from my doc, and the web ranges anywhere from 30-50 in a 24 hour period. So my hopes are not up for removal. The most frustrating deal with the drains is accommodating them. I have to be able to clip them or tuck them somewhere. It’s annoying.

I’m taking pain meds less frequently, so I’m starting to feel more soreness in my chest and tummy. It’s more of a discomfort than anything else.

And it looks like the part of my tummy incision we’ve been watching, the spot where Dr H said I’m most likely going to have necrosis, seems to be living up to the hype. I honestly can’t tell all that well because the incision still has the suture tape over it, but it is peeling a little bit in some spots, and from what I can tell from peeking underneath the tape in that specific spot, is that there’s necrotic looking stuff happening. And that’s about as technical as I can get, since I literally have no idea what I’m talking about. I happened to Google images for “necrosis” and “tummy tuck” (which I don’t recommend ever doing, ever) so I’d have an idea of what to look for, and basically it’s a break in the incision, like an open cut, and there’s yellowing of the tissue. If you don’t heed my warning and do Google the aforementioned terms, I swear on all that is holy (hole-y, get it, har har), my stomach does not look like that. The spot I can see is about an inch worth of the incision, if that, and like a millimeter wide. It’s like a dash, not a gaping hole the size of Rhode Island.

Anywhoo, all signs point to no swimming for me when I go on vacation in a couple weeks. Or when I step out in the backyard… Totally sucks, but whatever. I can dip my feet in and I guess that’ll do for now.

So I’m a little whiny and mopey because I feel like this will never, ever end. Then I read an article on my local news app that a news anchor and a photojournalist from a Greenville County news station were on route to do a story in NC when a tree fell on their vehicle and killed them both. Sort of puts things in perspective. I survived, you know? This is just the bumpy road back to my normal.

Thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of those two individuals.

Officially Cancer Free! Like for real, this time.

I may have jumped the gun in announcing that I was cancer free back in January.

It was the initial thought after the lumpectomy, that whatever cancer was left after the chemo, was removed during the lumpectomy. But when the pathology cane back for that, the margins weren’t great, so it was assumed some was left behind. Not a big deal since the mastectomy was in the works anyway.

Fast forward to today, when I saw Dr JB and got the results of the mastectomy pathology, and now we know it’s really gone! There was even more left behind from the lumpectomy than they’d initially assumed, but that was completely removed and the margins were great.

So hooray! I can officially say I’m cancer free! ❤️

Feels good.

High-Five!

I’m at the oncologist at the moment, and I wish I’d brought some of the things I have to do from my to-do list! All this idle time! I’ve been updating my lists of things to do in between blood draws, meeting with the doc, and now sitting here for my infusion. I feel so organized.

Anyway, things are still looking good for me. I’m going to have to get another echocardiogram soon, so it’ll probably be planned for next week so I can get it done before surgery.

Dr YB told me to eat at least a fist-sized portion of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts) every day. I was like, I’m already doing that. I eat 5 portions of veggies, and one is almost always cruciferous because that’s what I like. He also said he wants me exercising, heart rate up to 150, 30 minutes every day. Well, I’m doing that already, too! He said he wants me to build to 150, I told him I’ve been doing this for weeks. He hive-fived me. So yeah, I’m ahead of the game, which is exactly where I hoped to be.

I’ve had 2 appointments with the PT where I’ve done different exercises. I’ll share about that in a separate post.

Some fun stuff…over the weekend I did the autism walk in Hampton Park in downtown Charleston with my nephew. I also attended my niece’s 6th birthday party! Then we had a funeral for a Brad’s Aunt on Sunday. It was a nice weekend spent with lots of friends and family.

At the birthday party was our friend, James, who was diagnosed with colon cancer several months before I was diagnosed. He’s had chemo and surgery, and is starting chemo again because it’s starting to come back. He’s in good spirits, like me, and it was actually really cool talking to (commiserating with) someone I know well, and who is going through something similar. We have a similar sense of humor, which only people going to through cancer or who are close to someone going through cancer understand. It tends to freak people out when we joke or laugh about stuff, but when you deal with the variety of BS cancer brings to the table, you have to joke and laugh. Some people get that and some people don’t. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Anyway, I’m trying to wrap up a bunch of things before surgery…tie up lots of loose ends! Wednesday is our 10 year wedding anniversary, and we’re going out of town for the weekend to a concert in Charlotte. I’m looking forward to the break before the surgery!!

And here’s a cute baby goose butt before I go. My view at the oncologist.

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Super cute siblings!

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Sprained Ankle

Because again…why not?

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I think I twisted it getting out of the car and sort of falling into a hole…long story…and no, I wasn’t drunk.

Anyway, I’ve been exercising on it and I finally did a little Google search to see why it felt like something was bouncing around the outside of my ankle bone, sort of like a rubber band. Believe it or not, I’ve never had a sprained ankle before, so I had NO idea.

Dr. Google diagnosed me, and I was at the chiropractor later that day or the next day and I mentioned it. They confirmed it sounded like a sprain and suggested an exercise, so I’ve been doing that. They also suggested I get a stabilizer, which I did and it helps. I don’t wear it all the time because it doesn’t hurt all the time, but I do put it on when I exercise, or if I plan to be on my feet for a while.

I skipped one day of exercising, but it was my “rest” day anyway, which was yoga. I probably could have done the yoga without a problem, but I figured I’d just chill out instead and keep off the foot.

I’ve been super busy finishing up the semester (last day is Thursday, yeah!!), but I’ve got lots more to share, so stay tuned for more posts in the next few days!