TELL YOUR CANCER STORY
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wish me luck. We'll take before and after pics. I won't post them here (sometimes my boys read this blog!) but if anyone wants to see the difference, let me know and I'll email them. If you have to go through this, it really does help to see pictures. I'll have an unveiling for my girlfriends (I can just see their eyes rolling now. Hee, hee.)
Sayonara man chest! Hello, boobs!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
As I was writing a blog post on my other site (mystorymoments.blogspot.com), I got thinking about spring and how much I love it, and why. It's a time for renewal. My diagnosis came during a season where everything dies and becomes dormant - the fall and winter of last year. Just like the winter season, my cancer journey seemed to drag on until I thought it would never end. It's a wonderful gift to me that I'm starting to bloom again, just like the trees and flowers outside coming back to life. I'm thinking now about the different seasons and - not just the outside seasons - but the seasons of our lives. There seem to be seasons within the seasons of our lives. Right now I'm in the summer of my life, but experiencing winter and spring within that summer. Does that make sense? This cancer journey has been a hard thing to go through. I'm just glad that I get to see a bunch more seasons come and go. And I have hope that I'll make it to the winter of my life.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
So, my life as an A-cup girl will now be over and I'll start the rest of my life as a large C-cup/small D-cup babe! Ok, admit it... if you had the opportunity to get a FREE boob job, you'd opt for way bigger too. And if you say "nuh, uh" I'll have to call you a liar. There have been a few people who have tried to tell me that I'll hate being big. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!!! Hold on for a minute while I laugh hysterically...
Ok, done. Now, let's start this countdown thing... Oh, and if you want to come visit me in the hospital, I'd love to see you. Of course, since I'll be on morphine, I won't remember you came, but that's ok. Or, you can just tell me later that you visited me and since I won't remember, you'll score a brownie point without having to do the work. :-)
One more thing... just to make you a little jealous... I won't ever have to wear a bra again! Seriously! Can you just imagine the huge smile that is plastered on my face right now? I'll be perky forever. I'll be a perky 80-year-old. Wait, that's kind of a disturbing thought. Scratch that. Let's just end with I'll be perky forever.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
In July of 2008, I became very sick. I was having some bad pains in my lower body and just didn’t feel very good. Earlier in the year, I had a bladder/kidney infection, and I felt the same way, so I thought that’s what was wrong with me. I went to see the doctor because I knew I’d need an antibiotic to clear the infection up. I didn’t get to see my regular doctor. The doctor who was working at the time thought it was a bladder infection and gave me an antibiotic to help. The infection cleared up, but 3 weeks later it came back. So I went back to the doctor's office. He asked me when I had last had a pap smear. I told him in had been 3 years (right before my hysterectomy). He suggested I have that done so we could see if there was a different problem. I decided that I should probably have a mammogram, too. It had been 3 years since my last one as well. It was just kind of an afterthought - it had nothing to do with the problem I was having (which I thought had something to do with my cervix). So, they did the pap smear and found that my cervix was quite inflamed and gave me some more antibiotics. Then a few days later they did a mammogram. A few days after the mammogram, I got a letter that said they had seen something on the mammogram - there were some white spots back by the chest wall and they wanted a better look. It made me very nervous – ok, let’s be honest, it made me scared.
Before going back for a second mammogram, I had an appointment with a gynecologist to discuss the problem I was having with the pain and infection of my cervix. While talking to him, I mentioned receiving a letter that suggested I have a second mammogram. He told me that it was very normal to get those letters. That it happened all the time. In fact, his wife had received one of those letters and when she went back, everything was fine. He said that most of the time there is nothing wrong. So, he made me feel better about it. I wasn’t as scared.
When I got to the hospital for the second mammogram, I got ready and went into the mammogram room. I hate having mammograms. They are very uncomfortable. I asked the technician if she could show me the first mammogram films so that I could see the white spots. She showed me and said that we were lucky that they had even shown up, because they were so far back against the chest wall. She took some more pictures. It really hurt.. I remember the techs were feeling bad and kept apologizing. They had to pull my breast super far away from my chest and they use some attachments that really hurt. After the radiologist looked at the pictures, he called me back to talk about it. He showed me that there was a large group of white spots, called calcifications, in my left breast. He felt that it would be smart to get a biopsy done - just in case there was something called DCIS there. DCIS is ductal (in the milk ducts) carcinoma (any cancer of the skin or tissue) in situ (Latin for in its original place). He said that if it was DCIS, it would be smart to cut it out of there, because if it’s left, it can grow into invasive cancer. So, I made an appointment to see a surgeon. The journey begins…
After this all happened, I began to realize that had I not kept getting infections in the cervix, I would never have gone in to be checked, never would have decided to get a mammogram, and never would have found the calcifications. I started to see God’s hand in my life – it really was a miracle that we found the calcifications. This was the start of many miracles to come.
Friday, April 10, 2009
One more thing - I'm worried about some things that are going on during the night. I have to go to the bathroom all the time. Like, 6 times a night. Weird. And I am really thirsty - so thirsty that I can't even swallow - whenever I wake up. These are warning signs for diabetes. Wouldn't that just be the icing on the top of my "cake"?!
It's probably nothing - just side effects from the medicines that I'm taking or something. I hate how having cancer makes you question every single thing that goes on in your body.
Hope I feel better soon. The good news - my hair is growing back pretty fast. It's about 1/4 inch long now. And it's coming in dark. That makes me very happy.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
So, today is not a good day. I'm pissed. I woke up this morning to find that I have another infection under yet another finger nail. I can't believe this! One of the side effects of chemo is that it can (but might not) make you lose your nails. I've had really nice nails for about 6 years. My normal nails are very weak and they curl under, so when I started back to work several years ago, I decided to have my nails done. I don't have fake nails. They are my real nails - they just have acrylic on top to make them stronger. It just happens to be pink and white acrylic, so it does look like I have tips on, but I don't. Here's a picture of the way my nails looked right after I started chemo, 5 months ago. (Ignore the hair - that's the day my hair started falling out in clumps and we shaved it).
Anyway, the nurses told me that I might want to get the acrylic taken off, because they were worried about me getting fungus under my nails. I think they meant infection, not fungus. Anyway, I couldn't just take the acrylic off - it would have torn my nails off too. So, it stayed on. Nothing bad happened until about halfway through chemo. After the 3rd chemo, my nails became really sensitive. My friend, who does my nails, Wendy, pointed out the discoloration and bleeding whenever she tried to file them. Yeah - they hurt, but what was I supposed to do? I had my last chemo and no sign of infection (or fungus). Then, about 3 weeks after that last chemo, I woke up one morning to find my middle finger on the right hand was yellow under the nail (and it hurt like crazy). Ew! I went to have my nails done that day, and as Wendy filed on that nail, it popped open and pus poured out. Gag! GROOOOOOOSSSSSSSS! We got all of it out and then wondered what we should do about the rest of the nails. We decided to file most of the acrylic off and just let them grow out and try to recover. So, that's what they've been doing. I used nail polish on them to hide the gross look of them, so I didn't notice that another nail was looking bad, until this morning when I took the polish off. I've had to keep putting bandaids on the nail that was infected before, because this week it started to lift up and I keep catching it on things. The problem is that it's still hooked on at the base. I don't know how to get it off, unless I resort to some form of primitive nail torture and pulled it out with tweezers. (Are tweezers a primitive tool?!) Well, you guessed it - that's NOT going to happen, so I'll just keep it on with this lovely, fashionable bandaid until it falls off by itself. Now I've got an infection in the nail next to the first one, and it HURTS like hell. The problem is, I can't seem to get the infection to come out. I think I might need to go to the doctor and get another antibiotic. He'll probably used another form of nail torture and shove a sharp object under the nail to release the infection. Oh, I just can't think about it. Maybe I'll go tomorrow. Here are pictures of my nails now (gross):
That last picture reminds me of another thing I'm angry about - I can't get my damn wedding ring on! For the first time in 23 years! This sucks!
To top off the nail episode, I had to go for the pre-op visit to the nose and throat specialist that will be doing my parathyroid surgery next Tuesday. Ok, I don't have anything against this doctor - I'm sure he's a nice guy. I just don't like him. Maybe it's because I'm so annoyed at having to go under the knife again. I have to have a stupid, annoying, poopy surgery right in the front of my neck. I'm sure that scar will be just lovely. Why surgery? I asked him that today. He said that if I have elevated levels of calcium (which I do, because of this stupid little parathyroid thing), I can have all sorts of complications. Like what? I asked. After reminding me that we had already talked about this last week, he told me (again) about kidney stones and other yucky things (see, I've forgotten again). I didn't feel bad making him repeat himself - after all, I had to get something out of this stupid, unnecessary visit (if he already told me all of this last week, why did I have to come back in again - he must need to make a payment on his boat!).
Oh man, I'm having a rotten day. I'm just mad at everyone and everything. I hate cancer, chemo and my stupid, idiotic parathyroid gland (or whatever the hell it is). To make my day even worse, he reminded me that ALL surgeries have risks. Bleeding, infection, blah, blah, blah. Apparently this surgery has the added risk of the doctor accidentally damaging some nerve or something that goes to the voice box (if he's not careful). So, will he be careful? I sure hope so.
Stupid nails. Stupid surgery. Stupid doctor. Stupid chemo. Stupid cancer. Stupid day.
There, I'm through.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I think I've reached the limit of how far the muscles and skin in my chest can possibly stretch. I have 900 CCs of saline in each expander! I can hardly move. I am in so much pain. I'm really happy that I don't have to wait for 6 months for the reconstructive surgery (like we originally thought I would), because there is no way I could handle this stretched chest for that long. If I was really brave, I'd post a picture of my chest here. It looks quite amazing - HUGE and hard as rocks. But, I'm not that brave. :-)
One month - May 1st. I can't wait. I know this surgery will be painful and not easy to recover from, but ANYTHING is better than these expanders. I think it will be such a relief to have these out and have soft silicone put in. I hope the next 30 days fly by.