Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Get Me Outta Here

Sept 30

The count down is on. The prep work is almost complete. Lists, upon lists, upon lists, have been created and checked off.
  • Rubber gloves - to protect nails so they don't discolor or fall off should I ever do dishes.
  • Imodium - no explanation needed; just a little side effect of one of the drugs
  • Senokot - no explanation needed
  • Hand sanitizer by the gallon - ought to last a week
  • Call the dermatologist for the sore, itchy hands from being extremely conscious of hand washing and hand sanitizing this week.
  • Vaseline - to coat the hands before using the gallon of hand sanitizer as the dermatologist suggested
  • Apple juice, grape juice, Gatorade in 6 flavors, Emergen-C drink powder, Ginger Ale - 2 gallons a day, that's all we ask
  • Clorox Wipes - wipe, wipe, wipe!
  • CoQ10, B12, B6, B Complex, Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin D, Melatonin
  • Biotene Toothpaste, Mouthwash, dry-mouth gel - to prevent mouth sores; another side effect
  • Two egg custard recipes made - hate them both; I'll find another protein source should mouth sores develop
  • Whey Protein Powder
  • Ginger snaps - not something that I would ever crave but suppose to help nausea
  • Take back the icky-tasting herbal/supplements to the health store
  • Pick up more vitamins and stuff at health store per Naturopath's request due to zinc and calcium being low
  • Call onc nurse - confirm cortisone and anti-nausea med schedule for Wednesday and Thursday
To say that I am overly prepared for my first chemo session is an understatement. Now I just need to get mentally over prepared! I'm close, but not overly.

I am not as freaked about the "act" of chemo as I was earlier. But of course, I've been just a tad busy thinking and creating lists. The "act" having a needle in the chest and the unknown on the allergic reactions while the chemo drugs are going in. It has helped to have the visual of Mario and Luigi jumping on the Goombas. Imagery helps so much - or at least in my world it does.

I start the mega doses of cortisone tomorrow morning and evening. Ought to be a fun night of no sleeping or . . . . .

Almost finished reading and highly recommend the following books from the library:

It's Not About the Hair: and Other Certainties About Life and Cancer . A great book even if you don't have breast cancer. It is hilarious and inspiring.

I Am Not My Breast Cancer. Frank and informed voices of over 800 women on topics of Love & Sex, Mothers & Daughters and Being a Woman with Breast Cancer.

P.S. I mailed out thank you cards early last week and they were returned today by the P.O. Apparently, they can't be machine stamped due to the size and request additional funds. lol My apologies for delay in sending them out in the first place!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Sept 27

As I was driving home last night from work, it hit me that we are now in the second season (Fall) for this cancer. And I will go through a third season for the treatment. I might have at least an inch of hair by the 6th season. Just some musings . . . .

It is final and true. The city has approved me for shared leave! Many of my co-workers and other's in City Hall have already donated. I know God had his hand in my position being eliminated from the bank and the door opening at the City of Auburn. I had applied 2 other times and never got an interview. The timing wasn't right, no matter how much I prayed. Sometimes we wonder why it seems God hasn't answered prayers or isn't listening to us, but it's His timing, not ours.

I have decided to go ahead with chemo. From what I've read and heard from other breast cancer (BC) survivors, digging in the heels and not wanting to do chemo is normal. I can finally say I'm normal. Don't snort when you laugh at that, please.

I met with the oncology (onc) nurse Thursday to review the side effects, what the chemo does to each healthy part of my body and what to expect during chemo. Our body cells replicate every 21 days, thus the every 3-week regime. Onc nurse said that as the cancer cells start to grow, the chemo is injected and jumps on them. Isn't that a nice picture? Kind of like the first Super Mario Bros.

Yippeee!! It just came to me . . . a visual. Isn't blogging great? Damn!

So here it is . . . Instead of thinking that the chemo as poison (which it is, but work with me here), I will think of it as the Super Mario Brothers. They are jumping on the Goombas (cancer cells) killing them. Mario and Luigi just have to do it again 3 weeks later, but eventually, they will have saved Princess Peach (which is me).

I am a little confused as Dr. P said it would be a 6-8 hour day the first time. However, the onc nurse scheduled me for 1:20 pm on October 2nd. I asked her about it and she said one drug would take 30 minutes to flow into my system. The other would be about 3 hours as it will be dripped very, very, very slowly. She was going to check with Dr. P to find out why she said 6-8 hours.

While I think these onc nurses are going to be a butt-load of fun, I do have my concern that the nurse I'm working with isn't "up" on the drugs I'm taking. In fact, she said that I was her 2nd Triple Negative Breast Cancer patient. Hmmmm, it's a reputable hospital and the oncologist knew all about TNBC. Onc nurse said I may thin on the hair, but not lose it. This totally goes against what the literature shows and what Dr. P said. There were some other things said that contradicted literature and Dr. P.

I have been researching the Internet to find some natural ways to help with the side effects, as well as nutritional foods that I can eat despite the chemo nausea, possible mouth sores and gastrointestinal tract issues. The research data was too much overload; I went to a naturopath yesterday and I'm very glad I did. Some of the things the Naturopath doc told me I already knew, but I did gain a wealth of information. I met with her colleague, an acupuncturist, to see what she could do for nausea and fatigue, etc. Acupuncturists can do a lot! Isn't it weird to hear me talk about acupuncture? Ummm,
needles. Yeah, that's it. Needles.

If anyone goes through breast cancer, and I pray you don't, get to a naturopath and acupuncturist early in the diagnosis. There is much they can do.

Work has been a good thing. It's an escape from Cancerville. As much as I dreaded surgery and was freaking myself out with it (I hate surgery and needles, did you figure that one out already from the blog?), I am very, very nervous about the chemo. The idea of a
needle being punctured into my chest just makes me so nauseous. I can puke just thinking about it. But the other alternative, having multiple sticks of an IV to find a vein each time, plus the cancer cell attacking drugs ruining the arm veins isn't great. Having the port catheter right into the subclavian vein is much easier. So, I will stop complaining about the port. Amended: I will stop complaining about the port today. Yep, that's better. One day at a time.

The port doesn't hurt as much anymore, but it does feel weird when I raise my arm above my head . . .sort of like when the arm goes down, the port doesn't.

I had to have lab work on Thursday and the onc nurse said she could do the blood draw from the port. No siree! I had to go to work and I think I need to be pretty well medicated for the first time that needle goes in.

In fact, the nurse agreed to order some pharmaceutical assistance to just get me in the door of the oncology department next Thursday. Remember, I'm going to win the "BS award for the most excuses for not starting chemo."

They will give some lorizapam/xanax to relax my stomach during chemo. She said that a tight stomach and body makes the nausea worse. I find this stuff amazing.

They also prescribe a numbing creme that I rub onto the port area on my chest an hour chemo starts. Onc nurse said she could also do a lidocaine shot and her dentist showed her the best way to give lidocaine. lol

Part of the pre and post chemo regime is prednisone (cortisone) and benadryl to reduce, or is it eliminate, any allergic reaction. One of the chemo drugs,
Taxotere or Cytoxan, can cause severe allergic reaction that can cause breathing problems. I like to breathe. They have found if the cortisone and benadryl is given and if the chemo drug is given extremely slowly, it reduces the chance of reactions. I like to breathe. I need to remind them of that fact.

But good news on the stress/tension/anxiety front. I found a couple of great imagery recordings on iTunes. Imagine that! I downloaded them to my iPod and used one last Monday while at the dentist. It helped tremendously!

One of the anti-nausea meds causes constipation and one causes diarrhea. Do you think they'll cancel each other out? Okay, is that TMI (too much information)? Either way, I'll have Imodium and laxatives here in the house in case it swings one way more than the other.

I can't remember everything else the onc nurse said. But I'm sure as those side effects and effective treatments I use to combat them come up, I'll be sharing with you. It would be nice to help other chemo patients with developing their own self-care treatment for BC.

Vic is doing well. He says he doesn't feel that he has 100% of his energy back from his surgery. I think he is as tired of cancer as I am. I've noticed in the past week or so that it seems he doesn't want to hear about it . . . so I've been keeping some of the "constant talk to make it not so scary" talk to a minimum. You can hear a pin drop in our house, it's so quiet. :-)

Vic needs to read up on the home care for chemo. Such as drinking buckets of water so I pee every couple of hours for the first 72 hours. The goal is that I drink so much water that I have to get up several times during the night. Doesn't that sound lovely?

The suggestions from the onc nurse and other cancer survivors is to eliminate cooking odors. I guess he'll have to warm up dinners in the microwave or cook out on the BBQ. Sometimes the nausea is caused by smell, or seeing food or thinking of food. By the way, once I know what triggers the nausea, the naturopath has some things I can use. I don't want to be asleep the entire week after chemo, gorked out on anti-nausea meds.

I've laid paperwork out about the home care for chemo . . . and hopefully he will read it. Otherwise, I'm calling on those people who offered to help to, well, help!

We anticipate the chemo cycles will be:
First week - feeling crappy.
Second week, not so crappy but fatigue is still around and I should be at work. This is also the nadir time (see below).
Third week, feeling zippity-do-dah. We will need to plan for some fun things during this week just to have something to look forward.

The biggest concern of the oncology world is low blood counts - which is what the chemo drugs cause. The nadir is between Day 10 and Day14 after treatmnet which is when I will have low blood counts. It's the time that will put me at increased risk for infection, anemia and/or bleeding. I asked the onc nurse about the surgical masks if I wanted to go out or if someone was sick around me. She said no - the masks are a breeding ground for bacteria.

If you thought I was a germophob before, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Vic will need to have some breaks from care. So if you like to golf, attend rock concerts or see scary/gory/sci-fi movies (Harry Potter, Slash, Indiana Jones type), please invite him out for a few hours. He needs as much support as I am getting . . .and probably more. It's tiring being the caregiver.

Love to you all!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Digging In Your Heels

Sept 21

I'm going to try to find a link to the songs of the titles and add them to the date of the blog entry. I may even go back and update the older ones. I think it's fun finding the song titles to fit the blog entry.

I guess I'm just digging in my heels over this chemo because it isn't over after the last infusion. The chemo and side effects can stay with me for 6-12 months. That isn't right. I'm going to be checked every 3 or 6 months, so why not wait to see if something else grows? By that time, I will have had more time on my job and gotten over the shock and terror of having been diagnosed with cancer.

I'm also mad at myself for acquiescing to having a 2nd surgery. For 1 mm, it wasn't necessary (to me). If there was something there, then the chemo should be able to knock it out. At least that's how I think it would be. The 2nd surgery has done much more damage than I expected. I should have gotten a 2nd opinion. Every blasted thing I've read about cancer says get a 2nd or 3rd opinion!!!! And I didn't. I didn't go with my gut about not having a 2nd surgery.

Also, I wanted chemo first to shrink the tumor so they would take less tissue. I acquiesced to the doctors saying I didn't need it. It didn't warrant it. . . I would look okay in clothes. When I heard that, I should have put a hold on the surgery at Virginia Mason and gotten another opinion. I didn't.

NOW, I want to get a 2nd and 3rd opinion on this chemo.

I haven't heard officially that I have been approved for shared leave. The HR person said I might hear early this week. I had heard through the grapevine that I was approved, so who knows.

We really wanted to get away to the ocean this Friday to have a 3-day break between surgery/recuperation and the next leg of this journey (chemo). Of course, that's IF I have chemo.

But it isn't right that if I am approved for donated leave, to use that leave for a vacation. My colleagues have had to pick up the projects/tasks I would have done for over a month (guilt talking). That's another thing I'm hating about this blasted cancer. It controls everything! While I will be very, very, grateful should the donated leave come through, it would be nice to rejuvenate at the ocean.

Stay tune as the Cancer World Turns . ...

Peace to you all and many blessings.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Putting up a Resistance

Sept 19

We met with the medical oncologist yesterday and the infusion room nurses. We already knew we liked Dr. P, but the nurses were awesome! So funny and my type of humor. The nurses were very excited and happy to see that I had a port. It makes their lives easier. My life still sucks with the port in my body. I've kept my left arm sem-immobile and now it's frozen a bit. I don't have full range of motion, which can be fixed with some exercise/physical therapy. I may come to like it over the next 12 weeks. But stay tuned to see if I do a "yippee-do-da! I love my port" blog entry - but don't hold you breath.

The first infusion aka chemotherapy is scheduled for October 2nd. I will have four infusions, once very 3 weeks. By my calendar, that last infusion is right around Christmas. Bah humbug!

However, I am still trying to decide if I want chemotherapy. No, don't get alarmed and call me. Unless you are calling to volunteer to come over and do windows or pull weeds.

I know the percentages are in my favor if I do chemotherapy - 18% chance of recurrence if I do chemotherapy versus 30% chance of recurrence if I don't. But let's say it another way, like the political spin doctors. I have a 70% chance of NOT having a recurrence and I get to keep my hair, not poison my body, not miss work, not miss out on life.

This is a tough decision. And I am so mad that I have to make it. I am so angry that cancer has invaded my life, my husband's life, my children's lives, etc. I know there are people out there with worse cancers than mine and I do feel so whiney/wimpy for feeling the way I do right now. It could be a lot worse. I'll get my fighting attitude back in a while, but right now I'm angry. And that's okay.

If you would like to be alerted when Vic or I update the blog, please click on the "Subcribe To" in the blue area, then click on "Posts".

Peace - over and out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Donate Your Heart To A Stranger

Sept 17

Back at work this week, which is wonderful but, oh so tiring. I told a co-worker that it felt like Cancerville at home, but when I come to work, there is no talk of cancer. Coming to work is a break from cancer. Doesn't mean cancer isn't in the back of my mind, especially when some pain creeps in or tiredness makes me want to take a nap.

Great news! I found out that the city has approved me for shared leave! Whooo hoooooo!!!!!! Not sure if it will go retro to cover last week's 40 hours without pay, but I'll take it. Thank you, Jesus!

I was lucky to get an appointment yesterday with the dentist for a cleaning and a very thorough going over. Seems dental work has to be done before chemo given that the body doesn't heal during chemo. I need two crowns (for the implants I had earlier this year), but the dentist wants to wait to hear from the oncologist if it needs to be done now or if it can wait until after chemo. Right now, I'll just have a little dental work on Monday.

I'll see what else I can come up with to delay chemo. lol I think I should win the "B.S'er award for the most excuses for not starting chemo".

We have an appointment with the oncologist tomorrow afternoon to create a treatment plan. I am going with so many questions about the drugs, side effects and things I can and can't do to help with the side effects. Not sure if we will get it all covered in the allotted 40 minutes.

Chemo is very scary for me. I've read that other cancer survivors felt the same way, so it's a "normal" feeling. . . part of the "unknown". Not sure if I said this in an earlier post, but I think I'd rather go through 10 surgeries before going through chemo. It's not just the hair, either. It's the blasted side-effects and the fatigue/nausea.

Please continue to pray for my neighbor, LeRae. I visited her last night and the Parkinson's was pretty bad. Such a sweet woman of God, it just breaks your heart to see the body degenerate.

What you appreciate, appreciates...what you resist persists.
  1. I appreciate my friends and family who have sent emails, cards and voicemails.
  2. I appreciate that I live in Washington.
  3. I appreciate a wonderful husband.
  4. I appreciate my job and my coworkers.
  5. I appreciate my cat and the comfort he gives in the dark of the night.

Peace to you and your household!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Birthday Party

Sept 15

Thank you all for the birthday wishes and cards!! Reading the emails and cards and listening to your voice mails just brightened my day.

I will add the cards (I've saved the voice mails and e-cards) to my Journey Support Reservoir basket with the other "get well" and "thinking of you" cards that you have sent. I pull a card from the basket to remind me that we are not alone in this journey.

Isn't it sad that even tho I'm thanking you for birthday stuff, cancer has to enter the conversation? That sucks. It's so amazing to me how much cancer over-rides even the happy times. I need to figure out a way to "be here now" (BHN) and enjoy the time that I am IN when doing fun things, i.e., seeing friends and family, going to movies, etc.

I wanted to share with you what Vic wrote in my birthday card.

I feel bad that this year's birthday isn't much to look forward to. I'm so proud of how you have handled cancer so far. You have won the first stage of the triathalon, surgery. Just remember that I'll be there by your side to the finish.

Doesn't that just melt your heart? Okay, I'm going to BHN with him for a while.
I've added a Journey Support Reservoir counter at the bottom -- did you see it? We plan on drawing from this reservoir in the months to come. Feel free to click on "Follow This Blog" . . . you can use your account ID or remain annoymous.

Thank you again!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

Sept 14

Today is a special day for me as it marks where I was this time 24 years ago. My father passed away on this date in 1984. . . the day before my 30th birthday. Now you know why Sept 14 is always a day that I cannot forget.

Yep, I’m 54 (24 + 30 = 54) and I was born in 1954. Okay, 54 and year 1954 hits me as ironic? Or geesh, I’m so smart? Whatever . . .

I hope that next year on this date, I will be without cancer cells, have hair and eyelashes, and back to 100% me.

I told Vic what today was and he said, “We’re thinking of you, George”. George was smart, self taught in computers and other things, totally in love with his grandchildren, and loyal to friends (which were few). I chose not to focus on Geo’s bad points, but he had a few as we all do. He was stubborn, ornery, and sometimes a fighter. I believe I’ve inherited some of his better qualities, including these last 3. I think I’ll need them for a few months, don’t you?

I wonder if Wonder Woman had bad days?

I return to work tomorrow. Not sure how it’s going to go since I was tired today with cooking. After chopping the veggies and getting the soup to boil then simmer, I was exhausted. I had to sit down!

Vic says he feels he is at 80% of “normal” for stamina and energy since his surgery. He is a peach! He hasn’t gotten crabby once during this ordeal. He just finished a book that we highly recommend to a spouse who is the co-survivor of cancer . . . Cancer for Two.

We meet with the oncologist this Thursday afternoon. The incision – the 2nd as well as the 1st – is not healed enough to start chemo, IMHO. I have a few questions for Dr. P and maybe I should research more. But I’ve learned along this journey that questions lead to answers which lead to questions, which leads to answers, which leads to testing, which leads to waiting, which leads to stress, which leads to answers, which leads to breathing. Aaaah. . . breathing. I enjoy breathing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

You Are Always On My Mind

Sept 12

You are all on my mind and I hated leaving the blog on such a negative note. I know I have said it before, and I'm not sure how to say it differently . . . but I appreciate the support. Tremendously!

When I first started this blog, I wrote whatever was in my mind. It was all out there; fears and swear words alike. Then I started worrying about my mother reading the blog; and I began to filter/censor what I wrote. I even went back and edited what I wrote in previous entries! I needed to be "me" in this instance on Wednesday. I cannot apologize for it. I know that I will continue to find humor in the upcoming months and will share it with you, as well as some of the not so funny things.

Wednesday was a day of reality. It was the first time I’ve looked at my breast after the 2nd surgery. It was small; noticeably smaller compared to the other one. The what-ifs and kicking myself kicked in. What if I insisted that we do chemo first, would so much tissue have been taken out? Kick, kick – you were too passive on this Renee. What if you just said NO to a 2nd surgery? Kick, kick – you should have talked to the oncologist before agreeing to surgery. Kick, kick – you should have done a bi-lateral mastectomy, and then you could have gotten perky ta-tas. The start of the black hole.

On Wednesday, I took the pictures and descriptions of wigs that I found on the Internet to my hairdresser. We went through them, noting the length of the “hair” and finally found one that matches my current hairstyle. This was huge – and to have made a decision with Becca just further cemented that I have cancer. Further into the black hole I go.

Coming out of the black hole of depression, for me, takes processing time. I needed to take each thing that was bothering me to find the things that I could change or control. It’s like walking each item through the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
(ta-ta is smaller and you can’t add on to it);
courage to change the things I can
(buy a wedgy or use Vic’s sock to pad the bra);
and wisdom to know the difference.

On another note . . . .I have found getting into a comfortable position for sleep to be a challenge since the first surgery. The only position I’ve been able to sleep is on my back, with a pillow under each arm – and that is in 2-3 hour increments. Needless to say, lack of sleep doesn’t help the healing process, let alone the emotional part of me.

The port on the left chest area just feels weird. Not quite a “pain” feeling, but there is discomfort. So that leaves sleeping on the left side out. The surgery is on the right breast so laying on the right side is uncomfortable and/or painful. I’ve tried wedging a pillow underneath the breast, but then the position tweaks out my neck.

I was overjoyed to wake up this morning to find that I had slept over 8 hours! Whoo hoo!! I thought last night was a comedy routine, though. I arranged a couple of pillows so I could sleep on my right side. Okay, a “couple” isn’t quite right. It ended up being 6 pillows – in front of me, behind me, underneath me and who else knows where. There simply was no room for Vic in the king sized bed! (Sorry honey for kicking you out). And it took about 2 hours of adjusting and re-adjusting pillows to get the right support. But, aaaah, what relief it felt to sleep on my side. It’s the little things that give pleasure sometimes.

The report from Monday’s re-excision was benign . . . no cancer cells found in the extra tissue that was removed. Yippeee!!! Waiting for the results are the hardest part of this journey and hopefully this is the last time we have to wait.

The extra test on the actual tumor came back the same as the test on the biopsy. The diagnosis remains Triple Negative.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Black Hole

Sept 10

Today isn't a good day. I have fallen into a black hole. It feels like I will never get out of this mess I am in. I know I will, but right now it looks bleak. And that's okay. It's part of the grieving process.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Soul Survivor

I had to share this story with you. UPDATED

It is from one of the Triple Negative Breast Cancer support sites that I follow. This is a scary journey, but with people like yourselves and the people on these support forums, I will make it through to the end.

Please note, what Gina writes is about hope and faith and believing that all cancer survivors get to NED -- No Evidence of Disease. That's where I will end up at the end of this journey. It's just not going to be overnight. As with any journey, there will be potholes and detours and construction along the way. Some I will go around and others I will have to slow down and just "get through" to NED.

Your notes, cards and emails are what keep me going when the road gets too bumpy. And I thank you for that!

Resting Place

Sept 9

Romans 8:28 is true. Not EVERYTHING that happens in life is "good," but somehow, when God takes everything "together," He makes it become good.

Imagine if you took the ingredients for homemade brownies and tried to swallow the eggs, and the oil, and the salt individually, it wouldn't seem "good." But mixed up together, it IS good (borrowed from another cancer survivor).

Surgery went quickly, which is oh so good. The pain was more intense than before. Not sure if it hurt just as bad last time, or if the pain from the other two incisions clamored for more attention.

Vic has gone back to work since I am able to take care of myself. I believe he has taken the knives with him to work as I am a little dingy on the pain meds. And some of you brattier people would reply with, "when aren't you dingy". But I love you still. I have table knives that I can use . . .wonder how long it will take to cut an apple with one?

Today is just a resting day and that is what I am going to do!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Deja Vu

Sep 8

This is Vic

Here we are again at the hospital, seems like yesterday. Surgery is scheduled for 8:40 and is estimated to take 30 minutes. Even though Renee may have been saying she is prepared, I think this one is hitting her pretty hard.

They finally called for her at 8:30 and this time I could go with her. Turns out that last week they opened a brand new outpatient surgery. I was able to stay with until they wheeled her out for surgery which was about 9:20.

I grabbed a quick breaksfast and stopped to talk with Pathology to verify they received our request for additional testing. They did and we should have those results any time. I then tried to catch up on some work and before I knew it, Renee was out of surgery and I could be with her immediately.

Here it is 1:15 and I finally get a chance to update the blog. We arrived home at 12:30 and just finished some lunch. The surgery went well according to the surgeon, but that seems to be standard lingo when referring to their portion. We have to wait for the Pathology report which should be out in 2-3 days. According to Renee, they don't get another opportunity to cut on this breast again, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Here We Go Again

Sept 7

I thought I had updated the blog to give the date of the 2nd (and last) surgery. It's tomorrow, Sept 8. Check in is at 7 am - which was the same as last time. We are hoping that we get in and out right away and no long waiting times in the waiting room. Vic will update this blog as the day progresses.

I hate these type of articles. This is about the type of cancer I have - Triple Negative. Doesn't it just scare the you know what out of you? It is a fear/thought in the very back region of my mind all the time. While I am not thrilled about going into surgery for the 2nd time, I don't want to give the cancer cells a chance to spread to other areas.

I've told myself that I am okay with tomorrow's surgery, but I'm not really there 100%. I do have my fears about the IVs and the surgery. And it's okay for me to have these fears. Just when I finally reached about 85% energy and lack of pain, I'm going back to surgery to get knocked back down to 0% energy and lack of pain (aka 100% pain). This 2nd surgery just sets the trip back and I don't like it. lol

To manage the overwhelming feelings of this cancer, I have broken it down into 4 segments. Segment 1 - surgery and recuperation. Segment 2 - chemotherapy with side effects and hair loss. This is the scariest part for me (now). Segment 3 - Radiation with fatigue. Segment 4 - frequent tests and doctor visits every 3 to 6 months for quite a few years.

For each segment, there are things that I need to do before (and during) in order to survive that segment. Finding two forums for Triple Negative Breast Cancer has helped in my research on these "things". Having the control of these "things" helps me to feel that I am taking some of the caretaker burden off of Vic while he is carrying the burden of our "normal" life.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Sept 4

I got sent home from work. No, not because I was in trouble, but because I was pale (and those that know me can say, "So? She's always pale"). By 11 am, I was starting to have some pain, which is a step above discomfort. I ran out to get lunch so I could take a half tablet of pain meds and not get too nauseous at work. Figured I could sit at my computer, work on a report and the pain meds wouldn't be too bothersome.

Let me stop in the middle of this dialogue to say that it felt so strange to be at work. I have been out for 16 days. While my life was on hold with this blasted cancer, other lives continued and life at the office continued. Not that I expected them to shut down the city because of me, it just was a weird feeling walking in and trying to pick up projects that others had to take on.

Back to the story . . . .
About 2 pm, the director asked me how I felt and my filter didn't kick in. I said, "I'm in a little pain, but it's okay". She suggested that I go home. But I don't want to go home, I say. I've been gone too long, I feel guilty for creating more work for my colleagues and I just couldn't stand being in this house any longer. I argued with her (imagine that). She then did the director thing, "I am ordering you . . . ". When the boss says that, you gotta do what they say!

I will take care of myself better tomorrow, though. I need to keep up with the small meals every couple of hours and increase the liquids - neither of which I did today.

An odd observation. I've been apologizing for having cancer. I apologized to Vic. Today, I apologized for having a 2nd surgery to the colleague who has/was volunteered to go to my meetings, take and transcribe minutes. I apologized to my supervisor when the director ordered me to go home. I apologized to Vic, again, for being sent home and losing a few hours of pay.

Please join me in praying for my sweet neighbor. LaRay is 80 years old and is the funniest woman I know in her age bracket :-) She has a sharper wit than me! Ms. LaRay was a very active and a spry woman when we moved to our home 6 years ago. A year later, she fell outside, breaking arm bones, and just hasn't been the same since. She now has Parkinson's disease and her sight is going. But her mind and spirit are strong! The Parkinson's causes unsteadiness during the daytime and she said she is unable to turn over in bed at night.

Ms. LaRay is a prayer warrior and prays throughout the day for me and others (including my daughter's job search). She shared with me today, James 5:16: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Ms. LaRay doesn't pray so God will heal her. She prays because that is who she is and she is calling God on his word . . . so that you may be healed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tooth and Nail

Sept 3

Good morning! I get to go to work today! I get to go to work today! Two weeks out of work and not even on a good vacation. Shoot dang! I wonder if I'll remember my passwords?

This is like a tooth ache. This being the cancer and chemo. While I'm not wanting to think about cancer, the tooth is aching, so it never leaves my mind. It consumes my life. Everything that I do, my tooth reminds me that it is aching.

The re-excision is like the root canal. It's something that I don't enjoy and don't want to go through. But I know what to expect and I can do it without too much anxiety. But another tooth starts aching afterwards . . . and it never leaves my mind.

We took 5 days off of this blog and cancer. While it was a nice idea, it didn't really happen. Not sure about Vic's brain, but mine was still a tilt-a-whirl ride.

Talk to you tonight after the doctor visit and a few hours at work.


I didn't go to work today! I didn't go to work today! I have been released to go back tomorrow and Friday.

The surgery is scheduled for Monday. So hereeeeeeeeeeee we go again! I am hoping and praying that it will be an easy recuperation, with no hematoma or anything else that might hinder healing.

Vic will have the computer as before and will provide an update on Monday.

The sun is shining in Seattle, I might get out in the flower beds to pull a couple of weeds, how much better can it get? (No need to answer that, but I'm sticking to the positives right now.)