Thursday, February 26, 2009



I think I know why I'm happy right now. Funny that I've had this need to figure it out. I think I'm happy because I'm sick. First of all, being sick with a cold makes me feel so NORMAL. I simply have the same sickness that many people in Eugene have right now. And, when I started chemo, I was scared to death of getting sick. I thought that if I caught a cold while on chemo, it would end up turning into something awful and I'd end up in the hospital and the chemo would get delayed and this whole nightmare would go on forever. I'm HAPPY because I feel just like I always do when I'm sick- a little run down and tired. It has NOT turned in to a big hospital ordeal. Of course I'm taking extra efforts to take it easy so I'll get better. Overall, though, I'm starting to believe that I'm pretty healthy and strong. My finger tip pain is mostly gone, replaced by a weird rash on the back of my hands. Just a side effect I'm told. Not as bad as the poison oak I had a few years ago. So, even though this was supposed to be my good week and I ended up sick, I still FEEL GOOD!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The 3 Hour Blood Draw


The good news is that I got my blood drawn today and my counts were fine. My blood is holding strong! The bad news is that Nurse Rugby took one look at me, heard my hoarse voice and my cough, and said I was probably dehydrated and needed fluids. Oh no, I thought, here we go again. I remembered what happened last time I needed fluids. He missed the port-a-cath the first time and the needle hurt really bad and I had that terrible nightmare that night and I was so depressed afterwards. I agreed to the IV, but asked to have it in my hand instead. Nurse Rugby looked at me like I was crazy, but agreed. He tried in my hand and it hurt SO MUCH and I remembered that IV's in the hand DO hurt and I remembered all the trouble I had in the hospital with them. Well, it didn't work in my hand, so I agreed to getting it in the port as long as I could ice it up first. I iced it for awhile, but it still hurt anyway. But, for some reason, my spirits were better today and I wasn't so freaked out. Nurse Rugby talked to me about the power of positive thinking, and he even sang to me while the needle went in, just like D did for me last time, so it was ok. But then, I looked at the bag of fluids and it was HUGE. I then thought to ask how long it would take and he said 2 HOURS!!! I guess I should have asked that first. He assured me that I would feel much better once I had fluids in me and that being dehydrated in the middle of chemo would cause big problems. I understood all that, but I had nothing with me to keep me occupied and I was surrounded by a bunch of chemo zombies and I wasn't getting any benadryl, so I couldn't be a zombie myself. Luckily they have a shelf full of books and I found one and read and had some gratitude for getting 2 free hours on a work day to read. The whole thing took a total of 3 hours. I treated myself to a nice lunch, some wheat grass, and a jamba juice afterwards. I don't think I'm going to have nightmares about it.

A few interesting things happened today. First, a beautiful woman walked into the treatment room. All the staff greeted her warmly and I tried to figure out what her relationship to the office was. She had long brown hair tied back in a pony tail, so I knew she wasn't a patient (you can't tie wig hair into a pony tail). She was dressed professionally and she had great perfume on, which I really appreciated because I was fighting down medical smell-induced nausea again. All the staff hugged her and even Dr. T came out and hugged her. They all talked about how long it had been since they'd seen her. I finally figured that she probably used to work there and was just in for a visit. Then, she sat down in the blood draw chair and had her blood drawn! Which must mean that she was a patient, long past her chemo, in for one of her yearly checks or something. It gave me so much hope to see someone on the other side of what I'm right in the middle of. I also read a small booklet written by one of Dr. T's former patients. It was on the bookshelf. It was about a woman who had breast cancer, a mastectomy, and chemo. 3 months after she was finished, there was cancer in her liver. She had more chemo and it made the liver tumor disappear. Then cancer was found in her brain. I this point I just knew she was going to die. But, this book was dated 2007 and she was writing about this happening in 1999. She went to OHSU and got some sort of laser treatment and the brain cancer was gone. She ends the book talking about how important it was that she got all her treatment and how she feels it's what's kept her alive. I can't imagine going through chemo twice. But, again, I got to see a glimpse of the other side. And, I spoke with a man today whose wife went through breast cancer last year. He told me how hard the chemo was, but how vibrant and alive and healthy she is now. So, many, many messages today about life on the other side. It doesn't seem terribly far off to me right now.

So, I am still sick. But oddly enough, my spirits are good and I feel happy. I can't stop coughing and my voice is hoarse. I've got an ok appetite and I've been drinking lots throughout the day. I had acupuncture yesterday and she did some points for the cough. She said it would get worse before it got better for the first day, so I guess today is my "worse" day.

I've been getting repeated messages from the universe about starting a meditation practice of my own. I've tried meditating in the past and it hasn't really worked for me. I now know many different breathing techniques and a bit about meditation. I've been thinking I'd like to set up a regular time each day. Early morning, before the kids get out of bed would be best. But, how am I going to drag myself out of bed? I'll have to think more on this.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Down Time


It's been an interesting two days. Karina has been home sick, and I caught what she's got yesterday too. It's not as bad as some people have right now, but it's not fun either. It's a cold/cough/upset tummy thing. So she and I have been hanging out at home together, resting and watching movies. Part of it has been nice. It's fun to just hang out with her with nothing that we have to be doing. Part of it has been hard, though. This week was supposed to be my good week in between treatments. I have some fear around whether or not I'll be well enough to stay on schedule. It's so important to me that I stay on schedule because I want to finish sooner rather than later. I know full well that it is out of my hands, but I'm hoping to be ok anyway.

Karina has been working on some tough, long homework assignments and I've been helping her. It's SO NICE to have the time to help her. And, I've realized these past few days why I can't be super mom. It's impossible to work full time and still have the time that she needs for homework help when she gets these long assignments. I am envious right now of the parents that get to pick their kids up from school, have some free, fun, play time, then have the time to help them with their homework, all before dinner. One of my quality of life dreams is to be able to work less hours so I can do that for them for a few years. I need to put it up on my vision board.

I am missing my energy level right now. I am missing playing soccer right now. It's been FOUR MONTHS of taking it easy, and I'm so ready to be done! It's hard not to get frustrated at times. I am hanging on to my gratitude, though. I'm SO GLAD I went into this healthy and strong. Just like I've got a spare 20 pounds that I could lose, I also came into this with spare strength and wellness that I can lose and still be ok.

I have a blood draw tomorrow. I'm hoping on either high enough counts, or a super shot if I need it to beat this sickness!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Softer and Slower


I had a rough weekend in terms of learning more lessons from cancer. The girls were away last night, so it was just me in the house. It was very quiet and I had time to reflect and think, probably too much time. I had a hard time sleeping. What did I reflect on? Partly the book I'm reading right now- "Eat, Pray, Love" I'm on the part where the woman is in India developing a spiritual practice. I realized last night that when I'm not busy and distracted by life is the time when I find to talk to God. I had a nice long conversation last night about lots of stuff, especially the state of my finger tips. I was asked recently what I want out of life when this is all over with. The thought that popped into my head was, "close, loving relationships". When I'm well, I focus so much of my time on getting through the day- getting the house cleaned, getting the chores done, getting the girls to do their homework, all in the mad rush to get them to bed and get my hour of alone time before bed. Today I was feeling so run down and tired and I had been missing them, so I just decided to try an experiment and slow down. I talked to God about what it would take for me to have close, loving relationships, and I guess I'm going to start finding out with the girls. I am very close to them, but I want to enjoy our time together in a different way. Today I tried to follow their lead. We ended up buying some art and material supplies and both girls created some clothes for the cats. They are in bed now, and the house is not in order as it usually is before bed. Instead, we've left some things out for them to come back to. I was softer with them today, and more at their pace. I took my time with Kaycee tonight, reading to her and tucking her in. She seemed to appreciate not being hurried off to bed. I sat with Karina for almost an hour and helped her with her homework. Before all this, the thought of slugging through 5th grade homework for an hour was the last thing I wanted to do. But tonight I focused on how lucky I am to be feeling well enough to participate with her homework. She seemed to appreciate the company and the help and we didn't fight at all like we sometimes do when homework gets frustrating.

I had the chance to participate today in an amazing womans' circle. It gave me a glimpse of how important relationships are to my quality of life. Again, it was a chance to slow down and really look at what matters in life. Lots to think about today.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Finger Tips


One of the side effects of this chemo that gets some people is nerve damage in the finger tips, causing pain or numbness. As much as I hoped it wouldn't happen, it seems that my finger tips are being affected. They aren't numb, but they do hurt. I decided to try typing to see if I still can. I can, so it must not be such a big deal. I just keep wondering if I'm going to come through this unscathed or not. I still have my fingernails, so that's a good thing. I had a pretty good couple of days, all things considered. Very tired, but not sick. I went for a nice long walk this morning with Kaycee and it was SO NICE to be outside in the woods. We had a nice, relaxing time and I feel like we got to reconnect a bit. I've been missing the kids. I am looking forward to summer when I can just relax with them.

I tried cleaning out the garage today and found that I had no muscle strength to lift bins up onto shelves. But, I had the energy to get out there at least! My eyes are doing that funny thing again where it's not too easy to see to type. I am very tired right now. But, I'm typing! As long as my fingers don't fall off I guess I'm doing ok.

Something about being past the half way point really cheers me. I know I've got a week and a half to go before I have to do this again, but right at this moment I feel like maybe, just maybe, I can handle three more. I just hope my fingers don't get worse. It's not actually physically too terrible. More than anything it's just scary. I find myself asking how did I get to a place of being bald and having nerve damage in my fingers and being a single parent with breast cancer? The world can be a scary place. Tomorrow it will be ok again I know, after a good night's sleep. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and just need some moments of peace.

Friday, February 20, 2009



I'm managing to do ok this time. No nausea! And I haven't even taken anything for it today. I've been super tired yesterday and today, but not really able to sleep. Got restless and bored yesterday. A good sign I think. Today was a gorgeous spring like day and I put the hammock up and ate lunch outside. I even had a short walk and saw my first crocuses of the spring. And, I have a happy daffodil blooming in my back yard.

My eyes aren't working to well right now. Not sure why- hope it's not the chemo. It's a bit hard to type. The nurse called today and said I may be getting bone and muscle aches as a side effect from the chemo and the shot tomorrow and that I could rely on my old friend vicodin if needed. Hope I don't need it! I don't miss the vicodin days! I've got two basketball games to get through tomorrow then the girls may have another sleep over. Which is so nice for me, even though I really miss them.

More later when my eyes are working better.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Made It!


I made it through ROUND 5! I woke up this morning feeling pretty happy and good for some reason. I think having a chance to process through some grief and sadness yesterday cleared the way for feeling upbeat this morning. And, I think the acupuncture really helped. I am going to stick with that even after all my treatments are over.

I went in and my blood counts were good- white was perfect and red was just a tiny bit low. So, I feel like I've been doing something right to take care of myself. My cold is hardly there at all today- must have been the mugwart (sounds like something out of Harry Potter). I started off with an IV with more steroids and anti-nausea medication, followed by benadryl. Within a few minutes of getting the benadryl I was feeling drugged and sleepy and could hardly keep my eyes open. Soon I turned into one of the chemo zombies that I'm always getting freaked out by. I ended up drifting in and out of sleep all through the actual chemo treatment. The ice packs turned out to be not nearly as bad as I'd imagined. Instead of buckets for my hands and feet, they wrapped them in a flannel wrap with ice packs tucked inside. I was able to use my hands as needed. I wasn't up for watching a movie or writing or reading because I was so tired. My feet got pretty cold, but nothing unbearable. I brought a flax seed bag from home and had that heated and kept that on my body. D and M took turns reading to me, so it was all ok and the 4 hours passed pretty quickly. My chemo book of choice has been the Succulent Wild Woman and what I remember from today was a bit about getting together in groups of women for different purposes- to eat, to create art, to talk about finances in a fun way, to clean, to have fun. I would really like more of that in my life. I had such fun creating bras with the group of women (and of course the wise man F, who actually came and made a bra!) and I've gotten really good feed back from other women who were there about how much they enjoyed it too.

After the chemo I came home and had a nice long nap. It was so nice to be able to sleep and my house had been cleaned today and my bed freshly made, so I was super happy and comfortable. My counselor came for a home visit and we had a nice long talk. We talked about ways to get more involved with groups of women, and I like the ideas we came up with.

I took the steroids last night, and again today. I haven't felt any effects from them at all and they are just tiny little pills. I guess I won't be competing in the Olympics any time soon, but I can live with that. Two more doses tomorrow and I'm done until the next two weeks.

I was given the fund raising money yesterday from the Valentines Day fundraiser where my co-workers did a parents night out and babysat a bunch of little kids. I am so touched and happy about it. I would like to thank all of the women who gave up their Valentines night to do this for me. It means so very much to me. I have gotten enough fund raising money through that and other events to pay for a big chunk of my medical bills. This frees me up to continue with the alternative stuff- acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, etc. that I think is really helping to manage the side effects. So, a big THANK YOU to all who have helped me in this way.

Also, a big THANK YOU for all those who have helped with the girls. I think they do better when they don't have to be around me when I'm sick in bed.

And, a big THANK YOU to the yummy meals I've been getting for months now. It is so nice and helpful to not have to try to cook for myself and the girls when I'm just not hungry most of the time. The food has been nourishing, healthy, and delicious.

I truly believe that I live in one of the most amazing communities in our country. I am SO HAPPY that I decided to settle here.

All things considered, it was a good day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chemo Eve


I had another up and down today and these extreme emotions, and my mild cold, have left me exhausted. I was so very tired when I got up this morning. More nightmares- this time too awful to even write about- and awake again at 3:00 am. I made it into work and tried to get started, but couldn't bear sitting at my desk. I left for a bit, called my counselor and left a long, rambling message, called a friend and talked for a bit, then went for a drive. I got myself a good juice drink and a sweet treat to eat and went back in to work. I was able to work for a few hours, but then hit a wall and started crying again. It really sucks to cry at work, so I went for a walk. I walked around the blocks near the college campus, and the sun was shining and there were lots of young, vibrant college kids out walking too. All the signs of life cheered me up a bit and I was able to go back and work for a bit. I ended up calling Nurse Rugby to talk about tomorrow. He explained how the day would go and what exactly I'd be getting. Three different pre-medications in my IV- stuff for nausea, steroids, and benadryl. Then they want to put my hands and feet in ice and start the chemo. He said that one bad side effect is pain/numbness/tingling in the hands and feet that can last for months afterwards. The ice is supposed to reduce or eliminate that side effect. Well, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I go in at 8:30 and I'll be done by 12:00. If I start to have any bad side effects right away, the chemo is stopped and I get a different kind. I told Nurse Rugby how nervous I was and he pointed out that I've done quite well so far and I'll probably continue to do quite well. My friend pointed out that I'm playing soccer in the middle of chemo. Ok, intellectually I know I'll be ok, but my emotions weren't buying it. I even prayed on the bathroom floor this morning and felt......nothing.

In the afternoon I went to the acupuncturist and started bawling in the car on the way over. Talked to F on the phone and he reminded me of how far I've come and of how far away I am from my surgeries and all the trauma of first getting the news. I got to my appointment and was still bawling and I realized that I was feeling the same way two weeks ago on the day before my last chemo. Just like then, I'm feeling pretty good physically and my body must think that's a great time to process emotions. She did a bunch of needle points for various things, and a really weird, cool thing for my cold. She took something called mugwort, which is kind of like a thick stick of incense, lit it, and put it into a metal tube called a tiger...something. She then rubbed the tube along my sinuses. It felt really good but smelled like pot. She then did some points for depression, just like last time. I was SO relaxed while the needles were in and I thought about how different acupuncture is than getting needles at the doctor's office. I sank into a light sleep and when I got up, I felt calm, tired, and refreshed.

It is evening now and my uncontrollable crying has stopped and I feel much better, just very tired. Not so nervous about tomorrow. Not sure how I'm going to cope with my hands and feet being in ice for an hour and a half. I'm bringing my own blankets and flax seed pillows for heat. I HATE being cold. How am I going to type, read, etc. with my hands trapped? Luckily D is going with me and also my new friend M will be there. I don't think I'd want to do this one alone. The kids are all taken care of for the next few days too. I bought flowers today, and have some from Valentine's day and my room is full of the most beautiful spring flowers and pink roses. I'm ready. As ready as I can be anyway. Time for BATTLE.

Monday, February 16, 2009



I'm discovering that it's possible (but feels weird) to feel two opposite emotions at the same time. I've been on the verge of tears all day yesterday and today, although I can't really say why. It's been a nice weekend. I've been feeling good, I had an AWESOME date on Valentine's Day, and I've been able to spend lots of time with the girls doing fun things. I even slept well last night- no sleeping pill. Although I did have another crazy dream where the bad guys were chasing me and trying to stab my breasts with needles. They finally got me and began stabbing me, and the needles held a deadly poison, but it turns out I had had a double mastectomy, so they were just stabbing my fake boobs. Weird, weird, weird. I woke up and had a terrible sore throat and stuffed up nose and my eyes felt all weird, like when I've been crying. I think it's a cold trying to take hold. I got my self back to sleep by telling myself over and over again, "Sleep is for healing. Sleep is when I heal." I'm so sick of having a nightmare every time I don't take a sleeping pill. I wish I could control my dreams!

I woke up this morning and I had no energy and just felt so sad. I felt like I could have just stayed in bed all day. Which sucked because I had this grand idea of taking the girls on a day trip to the beach since we had no other plans and a free day off. I decided not to do that today, but I knew if I stayed in bed I'd just be sad, so I got up and took the girls out to a yummy brunch and we went roller blading a little bit. It was way too cold and I was way too tired, and it didn't cheer me up any. But, I know that it's WAY better to be sad outside on roller blades with kids than it is to be sad in bed with the door shut. I stopped off and got another beet/veggie drink and am drinking it now hoping it will perk me up. F tells me that I need to have lower expectations of my body right now. I suppose he's right, but I hate it. And, it's hard when I've got two active kids who are used to me being active with them.

So many friends have gotten together and had some fundraisers for me and the girls. Again, the duel feelings. I am SO GRATEFUL for this, and I'm a bit embarrassed to be someone who needs a fundraiser. I went to the bank today to deposit some of the money and I felt like such an impostor. It's the same feeling I had at the Y when I was asking for a scholarship. I feel like I'm lying about having breast cancer. It still seems so unreal to me and so far removed from who I am that to get money from people for medical bills feels really, really weird. Of course I am so very grateful, because the bills come on an almost daily basis, along with the insurance statements. I tidied my room yesterday and put all the bills and insurance statements together in a folder and there must be about a hundred pieces of paper there. It's really unbelievable. Sometimes I feel like I'm at a place of acceptance, and other times I feel so disconnected from this, like I am really still me and I'm trapped away somewhere and there is this impostor walking around in my body having cancer. I wish she'd take a hike so I can have myself back. I especially want my energy level back and my sunny outlook on life. I'm so restless right now. I want to be hiking Spencer's Butte, but instead I'm back in bed again and my body just wants to stay right here forever.

I'm starting to get nervous about the next round on Wednesday. This new stuff has a good chance of causing an allergic reaction, so they automatically give benedryl with it- I can't spell it and I've never taken it, but I hear it causes drowsiness. They give this next chemo slowly over half and hour, then wait to see if there is going to be a reaction, then give the rest of it. I have this irrational fear that it could kill me. It would really, really suck to die getting chemo in one of those gross chemo chairs. I know it's irrational, but it's a fear that's there any way. And, I HATE that feeling of being all doped up and not in control of myself. I hate not knowing how I'm going to react and when I'm going to feel better. This is extreme powerlessness. Which I know means I should be turning over my fears and the next few days to God. And I will. Once I'm done trying to manage it all.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Roller Blading!!


I had a chance to go roller blading today. It was a beautiful, cool day and I had the energy and the time, so off I went. At first I thought I'd take it easy, then I had this sudden desire to go 4 miles like I always used to along the river. I got to mile 2 and turned back and was exhausted. I actually started getting tired about 1/2 mile into it and my legs started aching. This never used to happen. I struggled with the last two miles and actually had to sit on a bench and rest for a bit. I kept hearing my acupuncturist's words in the back of my head, "save 20% of your energy for healing". Today I thought to myself, "screw that! I need to be able to still go my usual 4 miles". I made it, but felt like I was roller blading through deep snow. It took over an hour and usually takes me about 30 minutes. I am still exhausted from it, but I am SO HAPPY that I did it and that I could do it. It's early evening and I've collapsed into bed, but I feel good! I had a chance to pray some while I was out, and I gave a great big THANKS for feeling so good and I mentally listed all the side effects that I've had, but was not having at the moment- mouth sores, stomach ache, gross poop, bone ache, urinary tract infection. I was SO HAPPY to be free of these! By the time I got back to the car, I was developing a mouth sore and could tell my poop was going to be gross. Go figure. But, I don't care! I can lie in bed next week after the chemo and feel like crap and remember that I roller bladed 4 miles along the river on a gorgeous day. And, I'm planning on playing soccer this weekend, so I'll have that to remember too.

I had a good appetite today and treated myself to some good food. I discovered that Jamba Juice sells the cheapest wheat grass juice I've found so far- $2.00 for an ounce and today the guy made too much and gave me 2 extra ounces for free! It tastes so gross- it taste like drinking grass. But, it's supposed to be a good detoxifier and my liver needs to be detoxified, so I drink it and am grateful.

For some reason I'm back to wearing the wig. At home I take it off, but feel the need to wear a hat. I had gotten used to my bald head, but I dislike it when I see it now. The stubble is almost gone and it's just so babyish and bare looking and it makes me sad. I saw a picture of myself in the wig and thought I looked normal. And, it's not so uncomfortable now. In fact, it's kind of comforting having it on. I saw a picture of myself right after the last chemo with a scarf on and I looked tired and sick. Of course I was tired and sick at the time, but it still bothered me. So, the wig's back for now. Who knows how I'll feel next week.

The flu is going around Eugene right now and I'm obsessively washing my hands. I wash them so thoroughly and so carefully and so often that they are drying out some. I am NOT going to get the flu. I'm trying to put HEALTH into the universe. I figured it out and I'll only have 1 1/2 months left after this weekend. I can do anything for 1 1/2 months. I can do it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009



Stout. My doctor called me stout today. What a funny word. I immediately pictured a German barmaid I remember from Octoberfest in Germany years ago. I was in a really crowded bear hall in Munich and this woman was beautiful and sturdy, with big boobs spilling out of her dress, and she was TOUGH! She could carry 5 full, huge bear mugs in each hand and maneuver her way through thick crowds of people to deliver them. She just sort of parted the crowd with her ample hips and plopped the mugs down. Whenever I hear the word "stout", that's what I picture.

I went in for my half-way visit with the doctor, whom I haven't really seen since he yanked my tube out. I asked why I was getting 8 rounds of chemo when other people I know at the cancer center are getting 6. He said that because I was stout, young, and healthy, I could tolerate a more dense dose, and that it would give me a better chance of survival. I knew this already, but was sort of hoping he'd tell me I could just have 6 doses and be done. I've never thought of myself as stout before, but maybe I am in some way?

I went in for acupuncture yesterday and she did several points for depression (meaning she stuck needles in my bald head- weird I know, but it just felt like a little finger flick, then nothing). She also did some points for bone marrow and for appetite. I left there and was craving a Spanky's Bowl from Laughing Planet. I got one, and also some beet-apple-carrot juice. It all tasted SO good and I ate way more than I've been eating lately. I woke up this morning feeling so joyful. Also nervous about my doctor visit. But my white cels were up to 16 (no more shots when they are above 10!!!) and I was just so happy not to be getting any shots. Somehow I was happy talking to the doctor. I didn't have any major side effects going on, and I was able to report that the chemo had been over all getting easier rather than harder on me. This is amazing to me. Amazing. I felt really good and healthy (and stout) talking to him. It still stank in the office like medical stuff, and I had to keep sniffing my flower essence that D gave me. Dr. T said he'd investigate the smell- none of the office staff can smell it.

We talked about what would happen after chemo. First I decide if I want to keep my ovaries and take a drug that starts with a T for 5 years. It may be associated with a big increase in uterine cancer. Or, I could decide to have my ovaries removed and take a different drug that stops my pancreas from creating estrogen. This option has a greater survival rate for people with my kind of cancer, and doesn't increase the rate of uterine cancer. I decided in about a minute to have my ovaries removed. This will happen after the last chemo, once my white blood cells are back to normal. Probably a few weeks after the last chemo and I'm thinking it will be somewhere around the third week in April. It will be a 45 minute surgery where Dr. T makes some small incisions in my sides and clip/sucks them out somehow. He said the recovery is way easier than after breast surgery, but that I wouldn't want to play soccer for a bit because I'd be sore. The first time, way back, when he mentioned having my ovaries removed, I remember sobbing and feeling so sad. The thought of going through menopause sucked and scared me, and the thought of another surgery terrified me. But today, I was able to hold on to my good mood and so far I'm not bothered by it. The surgery doesn't scare me right now and losing my ovaries doesn't even bother me. I've already been having hot flashes at night (it's gross- I wake up soaking wet and bathed in sweat), but it's really not a huge big deal in the grand scheme of things. Dr. T asked me again to consider whether or not I wanted to have more children before deciding, and he went on to describe what can be done to preserve fertility. There is NO WAY I would want to put my body through a pregnancy after going through breast cancer, and I think I'd lose my mind if I had a third child to raise, so I told him again that I was really, really done having kids.

My good mood is still with me, even though I'm exhausted and the kids gave me hell again tonight and I lost my temper. I LOVE acupuncture and have a strong sense that that is what is helping me to feel over all pretty good. The acupuncturist listened while I described the possible side effects from the next chemo, then she pointed out to me that only some people get them and that they have to list all of the side effects anyone has ever gotten. Dr. T went over them again with me today and he said the same thing. He also said if the side effects suck too bad, he would stop that type of chemo and switch to another one. I'm still not thrilled with the 5 doses of oral steroids before each treatment (not even my good mood can cushion that), but I keep telling myself it'll only be for two months.

He also talked to me about radiation. I will meet with a radiation doctor and have another CT scan and a mathematical formula will be used to determine exactly how may days and how much radiation I will get. Dr. T said it will probably be between 5 and 6 weeks, beginning somewhere around the beginning of May. Looking at my calendar, I should be done by June 12th, my birthday!! This is way sooner than I had originally thought, so I'm really happy. I should be done with everything just in time to enjoy summer!!!!

Ok, the fatigue has won over. Time to stop for the night.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not Ready Yet


I've been waiting to feel better before reading about the next type of chemo I'll be getting. I was feeling better so I read about it a few minutes ago. It's called taxotere and I imagine it being toxictear because it sounds horrible. I had to laugh, though, because one of the side effects is hair loss. But, the steroids I'll be taking along with it have a side effect of hair growth. Maybe I'll get even more bald, but grow a beard. Could be fun! Yeah, right. This one has the nail loss side effect too, so I may not be in the clear yet. I also have the opportunity for hand and foot rash and pain, bloating weight gain, and fatigue. Maybe I should have waited to read about this till after it was over. I'm not feeling too positive at the moment. Oh, the other funny thing was when to call the doctor while taking steroids. It says if I'm experiencing stressful events while on the steroids, i should call. I guess I'll be calling him every day!

On a more positive note, I went to a make-up class at the cancer center where we got lessons on how to look beautiful and feel good during cancer treatment. We also got a free, very nice bunch of makeup and skin care stuff. I feel bad for noticing, but the group was a bunch of women quite a bit older than me and the facilitator asked if she could help me when I entered the room, like I didn't belong there. I so badly wanted to say I was in the wrong place, but it turns out I did belong there. The women were all very nice and friendly. One woman came in late, and she was about my age. She had just started her first chemo. She and I were the only ones with hair (I wore the wig) and I kept checking her out to see if her hair was a wig or not. Turns out it was her own hair that she hadn't lost yet. The woman helping me with my make-up pushed my hair back to get to my forehead and was surprised to see that it was a wig. All the ladies said they thought it was my real hair. Then they all wanted to touch it. They all said nice things about how pretty it was. I told them a bit of my wig story and passed around a picture of how I used to look about a million years ago. I now own a 12 step guide on how to put on makeup. It was kind of fun, but my face felt like it weighed a million pounds and I felt better when I washed it off at home later. I did get some stuff that I can use. I also noticed my first wrinkles on my face today. I knew I'd get wrinkles some day, but today was not a good day for it. In fact, if they could have waited till next year, that would have been best. Oh well, I guess I don't get to choose the timing on anything.

I had my nice hot stone massage and it was wonderful. And my back is back to hurting again tonight. And I'm still losing weight. Today I brought a lunch to work, and my stomach was telling my brain that it was hungry, but my mouth was saying no way am I going to eat. I was finally able to eat a bit around 4. I can still spare another 15 pounds or so before I look emaciated, so I'm ok.

I wish I could cheer up. I've got a week and a half of down time and over all, I'm feeling pretty good for being half way through chemo. I thought it would be a lot harder than it's been so far. So of course I'm dreading the next go round, thinking that NOW is when it will get hard. Surely I'm not going to sail through this. Well, I haven't exactly been sailing, but it's been way better than I imagined. I read a cool quote recently- something like "You never know how strong you are until you have no choice but to be strong." I like that one.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Long Weekend


It was a looooonnnnnnngggggg weekend with me feeling like crap yesterday and still needing to get Karina to a game and run a few errands with the kids. No terrible nausea, but I had some bone/body ache thing going on. My back hurt so bad that I felt like a hunch backed old lady trying to stand up straight. I ended up dropping Karina off for her game, then going home to lay down, then coming for the last bit of it. I was sad to have missed so many of her baskets. I felt guilty about not getting the girls outside much. Kaycee spent most of the day watching movies. But, it was just one day and today she got outside and so did I. We played in her sand box a bit and looked at tiny buds on our fruit trees. I went to a bra decorating fundraiser today and it was so nice and relaxing to do something with my hands. I love how creative and giving this community is.

I'm still tired, but not the fatigue tired of the past few days. I took both girls to their games tonight, and did a lot of driving, and I felt mostly normal. I did not get the super shot this time, instead I got 4 days of shots and a blood draw on Wed. If needed, I may get 3 more after that. When D gives them to me, they really don't hurt at all. But the anticipation is hell.

I appreciate the kind comments I get on this blog. It is nice to hear that I appear healthy to other people. Sometimes I'm surprised when I look at myself in the mirror. I do look healthy. Maybe I really am healthy? I think maybe I am.

My hair is almost all gone and my scalp skin feels weird- there is something infant-like about it.

I've got a hot stone massage tomorrow that I am SO looking forward to!

Friday, February 6, 2009



Part of me wonders how in the world I will be able to do 4 more rounds of chemo. It totally sucks and I don't want to do any more. especially not 4. Another part of me is so happy that I've done FOUR and I made it and got through it and I'm half way there.

Today and yesterday I felt very, very tired and have had lots of naps. No real nausea, except for Wed when I came close to throwing up right afterwards. Trouble focusing today and trouble typing, must be the medicine I'm on. Don't like taking the drugs, but I sure do love not feeling sick to my stomach!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Half Way Party!


Yesterday was a hard day, and today is an easier one so far. Yesterday I was able to sleep without a sleeping pill, but I woke up early in the morning to bad nightmares about getting chemo again. In my dream I had to bring the girls with me, and Nurse Rugby was jabbing at my chest with a needle while the girls were bouncing off the walls and I was trying to get them under control while screaming from the needles. I was all hooked up and I said I was leaving to go to the bank. I left and got lost in the fog. I left my car and was walking through the woods with an IV hooked up to me. It was foggy and muddy and creepy. I didn’t want to find my way back to the office, but I needed to get the kids. I finally could see the building way across a muddy creek. Some creepy guys came out of the fog and offered to show me the way. They sort of seemed like vampires. Anyway, I woke up scared and super sad. I had a hard time getting ready for the day and finally just got back into bed and cried and cried and called a friend. The girls came in all concerned about who was going to get them to school. I had about 10 minutes to cry, then I had to suck it up and get them to school and myself to work.

Work was a nice distraction until afternoon when I was all caught up. Then the tears came again and I had to get out of the office for a little bit. I went to a park to eat my lunch and again had no appetite and couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t really figure out why I was so sad. Physically I’m feeling quite well. One of my wise woman suggested to me that maybe since I’m doing well physically, my body has time and energy to process all my emotions. She said if I feel my emotions now, then I won’t have to un-stuff them years down the road and feel them then. Ok, that makes sense. But it’s not too convenient to be trying to get kids off to school and to be functional at work when I can’t stop crying. I finally got home and took ¼ of an ativan, and it calmed me down. I also went to my mind/body class- the last one, and it was nice and relaxing. We drew pictures at the first class and again last night. It really made me reflect. The first one was a picture of how I see myself now, drawn right before my first chemo. Last night I drew myself again how I see myself. A few months ago I saw myself as a chaotic, fearful mess. Last night I saw myself as calm and pretty and carried along in a big red heart. There were needles and storm clouds outside the heart, but I was sheltered from them.

Today is my half way treatment. I brought D along to help keep me calm when the needle goes in my port. She brought me some stuff to numb my skin. It didn’t help too much. I begged the nurse to get it on the first try. And I tried the positive visualization that I’ve kind of forgotten about. I brought my Himalayan salt crystal lamp and it’s sitting on the table next to me lit up and beautiful. There are 4 other people surrounding me, getting chemo also. They all commented on the lamp and seemed to like it. I explained that it gives off negative ions (whatever that means) and that it’s supposed to make us all feel good, like we’re sitting next to a waterfall. I also brought my beads that my brother gave me from a Buddhist monastery retreat he went on. They feel nice in my hand and make me feel peaceful. I also have my crystals with me, and my Alanon coin, and a chestnut seed with the word “hope” on it. The seed was a gift from a woman in my class.

The needle went in on the first try today! It still hurt, but D sang to me and kept me distracted, so it wasn’t so scary. Plus, I took more ativan this morning. My new best friend. The first bag of chemo is dripping away as I type this. Nurse Rugby played the crystal bowl again, even though the room is so full. I think the other people liked it too. I am wearing a soft pink scarf right now that is covered in rose/sandalwood essential oil. It is wrapped under my nose so I can avoid the nasty medical smells. The rose is supposed to be healing, and the sandalwood is supposed to be grounding. It reminds me a little bit of the day Kaycee and I rode our bikes through the rose garden when it was in full bloom. It smelled so good!

Time to unplug so I can use the bathroom.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Good Blood Draw


It's February! Yeah! I went for a walk in my neighborhood and there are bulbs shooting up everywhere- Oh how I am looking forward to spring. Two people today emphasized the importance of exercise for me, so I was motivated to walk. My legs are so sore, but it felt GREAT to get outside on another beautiful day.

My white blood cell count was way high today. Which I guess is good. I didn't need another shot anyway. Normal is between 4 and 10 (I think). Last time I was at about 2, and this time it was in the 40's. Not sure what happens if it gets that high, but the nurses weren't concerned, so I won't be either. It gets harder and harder walking into the doctor's office. Today while I waited the chemical, medical smell was grossing me out so much. It's like my feet get encased in cement when I walk in the door and I have to drag myself up the stairs. I tried reciting my gratitude list today while I was waiting. I am so grateful to be past my surgeries and I'm so grateful to have that damn tube out of my body. I think overall I felt much worse right after the surgeries than I do with the chemo. This is just dragging on and that makes it hard. Plus, it's hard when I feel so good and I just want to keep feeling good forever, and I know I have to feel bad again for a bit.

I got a video today in the mail about Mexico. It looks so beautiful! There was a little clip on swimming with dolphins. The girls and I watched it and it's giving us something to dream about. The sand looks warm and I would love to spend a day building sand castles with the girls.

I have never appreciated my finger nails as much as I do now. I've never even really paid attention to them. They are way high up on my gratitude list.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Back to Running!

The weekend turned out to be a good one. I have felt quite good for the past 3 days. I went for a walk/run today and it felt great! I ran for half a mile and walked for a mile. I also got some soccer coaching from F and played with the girls with the soccer ball and a bit of basketball. The run was interesting. My lungs felt fine, my arm was fine, and my breast didn't hurt, but my leg muscles felt so weak. We went to the mall afterwards and my legs were just aching while I was walking around. It felt like I had just run a hard 5 miles. So, I've got a ways to go to get back into shape. Right now I am just so grateful that in the middle of chemo I'm still able to have some active days.

I've been wearing the buff head scarf thing all weekend, and I am comfortable in it now. I still have a bit of self-consciousness out in public, but not much. I got two new ones that I really like- one pink and one red. I still have some hair stubble, but it is getting thinner and thinner every day. I still have just as much leg hair as ever, and I still have my finger nails!! Yeah! Life is good.

This morning was a bit hard. I've been trying really hard to focus on just one day at a time, and to be grateful for the days when I feel good. But, today I was moving around under a cloud of dread about the next chemo. It is so hard to be feeling good for just a few days and to know that it will be gone again soon. I don't think I'm as freaked out as last time, but I am scared again, and full of dread. It's like all the fun I have been having this weekend was happening underneath a cliff with a giant boulder poised to crush me. I find myself looking up all the time, wondering if the fun is about to be over.

The girls had a happy weekend and have seemed very peaceful and kind with each other. It is so nice to just get to hang out with them and play with them. I think that's what I miss the most when I'm in the chemo cave- not being able to really be present with the girls.

I planted some bulbs this weekend and I'm reminded of one of the quotes from the cottage. The one about being careful to mark the places where you've planted flowers because they can look like weeds when they first sprout. I know this cancer is like that- it looks like a big weed but some wonderful things are coming to me at the same time. I am so excited for spring and I can't wait to come home to a yard filled with flowers. I've been keeping pink roses in the house during my chemo week, and piling them up in a spot in the back yard when they get dry. My pile is quite big, and soon I'll put it in the compost bin and the chemo flowers will fertilize my garden this summer.