Archive for the ‘stupid cancer’ Category

Saturday, 10-9-10

October 9, 2010

I’m a little worried that the big hard mass I can feel in about the “11:00” position on my left chest is something…..uh, something to worry about.  Found this last thursday night.  Friday I saw Plastic Surgeon nurse, who thinks it is just a part of my ribcage.  I was relieved (sorta) that she was not as alarmed as I was.

But I don’t think it is normal bone.

And I think I’ll have to call one of the onco’s to get another opinion on Monday.  Think they work on Columbus Day?

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10 days later and the truck is still parked on my chest

June 26, 2010

or at least that is what it feels like 10 days out from the TRAM FLAP surgery.  I might add that it is not exactly uncomfortable, not really even painful, just a lot of pressure.  Really, really tight skin which makes me hunch over.  Hunching over without the support of the walker causes significant lower back pain.  So.  I use the walker…not really to walk, but to prevent back pain and support the front side.  I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, because, truly, I have it pretty good.

It’s good to be alive even if I am bored with convalescing already.

Today, May 4, 2010 is the……..

May 4, 2010

……….1 year anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy.  

Like most of my days lately, it was very busy……slept in until 4:45 am, then got up to finish grading poorly written papers before the coffee was even brewed, cleaned the kitchen, made son a 3 egg cheese omelet, and then drove him into T-town for 9 am medical appointment, and back home with just enough time to rush off to work myself, worked half day, taught four classes, 86 kids, and then entered grades for two classes with moments to spare before the grade entering window slammed shut.  Was done at school by 4:20, dashed off to purchase supplies for food demo and labs this week and got caught up in the 5 pm rush at the store……….only to discover the first store didn’t have all the required ingredients….. big sigh……hustle back to Perrysburg, and oh-bonus activity, got to stop by the library to vote, THEN home to make dinner, spaghetti for us, pita pizzas for kids, clean up the kitchen, head back out to second grocery store to buy the rest of supplies…..big sigh again…not enough of the whole wheat pitas there either dammit, will have to go grocery shopping AGAIN tomorrow morning BEFORE school…moderated a fight between the boys and then got the kids ice cream at the good Hershey’s Ice Cream Shop.  Actually sat down for a couple of minutes to watch the local girl on American Idol.  Figured out what to wear to school tomorrow. ALL THE WHILE THINKING………..gee, that whole breast removal thing that occurred a year ago today…..seems like such a big damn deal that I should recognize it somehow.  Maybe even celebrate it in some way.  All day, I was perplexed at the thought of how do you recognize such a wierd, life-transforming event as a mastectomy?   Find something you love and cut it off?

Only now have I realized that I did celebrate that stupid mastectomy.  by living.  by still being here for my kids (as imperfect a parent as I am….)  still being a teacher.  still moving on this planet.

stupid cancer hasn’t killed me yet.  chemotherapy and radiation, survived both of them, too.  They all really suck, and I’m going to some day get beyond this phase of life of daily incredulous rediscovery of…..my life with stupid cancer.

But on the bright side, it could be so, so much worse.  I am grateful for all the gifts I’ve been given…even crappy ones, for each experience, if it doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.

just for the record, cancer still sucks

March 15, 2010

and it is a big time suck, too. I’ve had three days off of work, and really thought I might be able to get “a little caught up” in the time between appointments, before appointments or after appointments.  Caught up on all the “task” kind of paperwork I need to do for work, for insurance, for home, for kids, for myself……….but no…..  I’m barely there. 

Last week I had a disatisfying appointment with my PS.  I hate it when a favorite person, in this case, my favorite doc, says things that knocks him off the pedestal I’d placed him on….   On Friday, the boobwithamindofherown had been kind of stable for a few days.  Only increasing in size by a mere 1/4″ here and there for the previous three days.  Former favorite doc suggested, “It’s your perception of what is going on” and then made a few other comments that just……seemed not right.  Hell yes it’s my perception, and I’ve had this damn implant inside of me for over 9 months, and I know her quite well.  I know how she moves, how she like to be slept on how, the movements she doesn’t like, and basically the detailed minutae of the ergonomics of this particular boob.  Know it well.  And when she increased in size, I knew that, too.  I just don’t know WHY the things have changed, and I want a better answer than I have received.  And I wanna get that answer from my favorite doc.  I really don’t want to get another opinion, or go anywhere else for more information, but apparently, I may have to do that.  Big sigh on this one………  And how many days off of work is THIS going to require?

Today 3/15/10

7:15 am.  Overslept.  Made it to Hickman Cancer Center 10 minutes late for Radiation Onco Man.  Love this guy.  Asks lots of questions.  Lots of people, including other docs ask him lots of questions.  He is interrupted in my time with him, about 5, 6, 7 times?  Love him even though he thinks doing a reconstruction is not medically necessary, so why do it?  

Immediately after Onco-Man, I hustled off to the blood suckers to have 3 vials of blood removed, and then the nurses kindly let me pick out my own spot for the transfusion, even though it would be another 20-30 minutes before my labs would be back and they would decide if I had a green light for the Zometa infusion.  I love my new nurse here.  When she tucks me in with two warmed blankies, I half expect her to kiss the top of my head and bring me warm milk and read me a story, thats how nice she is.  Instead I got some peanut butter and grahm crackers and a cup of herbal tea.  Not a bad snack while waiting for the green light for the infusion.  Eventually the labs come back, and the numbers, which I actually kind of understand now look good, so now it was just a wait for the pharmacy to mix up the Zometa cocktail just for me. 

During this wait, I realize I am the youngest person BY FAR in the entire infusion center.  Not that I like young people with cancer or big deal health problems, I just hate being the youngest one there, because my “whatthehellamIdoinghere?” demons begin to rear their ugly heads.  I begin to think I’m too young for this, when I clearly know it is an equal opportunity …..ummm….killer.  Not that it’s going to kill me or anything, at least not yet.  At least thats my plan.  Finally I get the little bag of Zometa, they throw in a free cup of chicken and rice soup, and manage to convince me to order lunch as I’ll surely be there  for that too.  I doze off a little, eat a little lunch, and become a little anxious that I’ll miss my Victory Center appointment, and I almost do, too.  Zometa is fianlly done at 12:20, and my appointment with Tom at TVC, a 15 minute drive away is at 12:30.

What a blessing The Victory Center is.  Of course I was late, but no matter….Tom is mellow, and had the right tuning forks ready, and worked his magic in the form of the sound therapy and the reiki.  Lucky me.  I am able to “drop off” the edge of normal consciousness pretty quickly now, and into a realm where time and space have different meanings.  Thank goodness.

Still had one more appointment.  Had to leave another vial of blood at the Quest lab for my standing order for the estradial levels.  This one barely dripped out.  What’s that mean?

Came back to Perrysburg, stopped by superneighbors, Faye and John, they helped me enter about 750 grades………..whew………then licketysplit just like that, it was time to go home and pick up Louie for Dog Training class, and take him where…..?  You guessed it, right back to Toledo, almost the same street I was on for the last blood draw.  Finally got home around 7:30 pm.

Busy days.  Cancer sucks.  Can’t wait for Spring Break.  Cancer better not mess up this Spring break this year, or I’ll REALLY be a pain to deal with.

cancerversary

March 6, 2010

Well, today is a cancerversary of sorts.  On May 6, 2009, Dr. Butler told me, while she was inspecting the sample she removed during the biopsy, “Well if that doesn’t come back positive, I’m going to do it again.”  I had no idea what she meant.  Positive for what?  Bad juju?  Positive for negative stuff?  Oh the days of such naiveté!!

Now, exactly one year to the day later, I have an unexplained swelling under/over or in my expander implant on my right side that is getting big enough to pull the skin on my chest, including the irradiated skin which doesn’t stretch, so I can feel the pulling clear around on my back on the left side.  It is creepy, uncomfortable, and scary.  I’ve talked to the nurses from my radiation oncologist, and plastic surgeon and as long as there is no sign of infection, the best they can offer me is appointments next week.  Sigh………… That does not seem like a good enough answer.

In the mean time, I am completely exhausted……..now apparently this is from the new issue, Thyroid problems, from which Dr. E, my G.P. has prescribed Levothyroxin.  Apparently this malady makes you very tired.  Check mark that.  I’m exhausted.  I managed to assist one student early this morning with an extracurricular competition at Four County Vocational School in Archbold OH in the student organization FCCLA (Family, Career, Community Leaders of America…..the updated new millenium version of FHA, Future Homemakers of America) and lucky for both of us, he received a good enough score to move on to the next level of competition, the State competition….while I am just trying to figure out how in the hell I am going to move out of bed right now.  How am I going to grade papers this weekend?  It is officially Saturday night and I’ve only graded about a half of an inch of papers in a 3 inch pile?  How am I going to get some decent lesson plans in order for my substitute for at least the 2 -3 days I’ll be off next week for Dr. appointments? 

I’m just having a hard time thinking through all of it.  Current conditions: Exhausted.  Hard time thinking, processing cognitively.  Extremely uncomfortable expanding “expander implant”  side boob.  Skin uncomfortable. Pressure on lungs making deep breathing difficult.  Very hoarse voice.  Slurred speech when talking for any length of time.  Extremely dry skin.  Hands uncomfortable.  Yellowish skin tint in hands. Swelling in eyes.  

I sure hope I feel well enough to go hang with the Unitarians tomorrow.  I especially hope and pray that this current business clears up soon and does not interfere with my vacation plans for Spring Break.  I don’t even want to think about that……

Wish I knew what to do next.

back to bed.

March 1, 2010

….just for the record, when you have three blood tests in one poke, you need to drink more water during the day.  I know this.  I have no excuses, except I forgot to carry my water bottle into work.  I just am trying to eliminate the number of needle pokes in my only “pokable arm”, the right side.  This afternoon was a complete washout.  I was “good for nothing” after the lab visit.

Doesn’t really explain the recent recurrant swelling of the left hand and the expander implant right breast side. 

Seems as if things are moving around under some strange force of nature, and not letting me in on “the plan”.   I’m not real thrilled about all of this, and would like it to stop.  I really don’t have time for more medical appointments even if they are with my wonderful docs.

I’m going back to bed, and it is before 9 pm!

Stupid cancer.

cancerversary month

February 15, 2010

So yesterday, Sunday morning I was listening to On the Media, an NPR program, which was doing great piece on Black History Month.  Then, they played this recording of Lucille Clifton reciting her poem, won’t you celebrate with me.  While I in no manner can relate to what it is like to grow up black in the United States, I could completely relate to this poem from a “sickness and health cancer-living” perspective.  Since this is my cancerversary month (yes, it was a month, exactly from the day when Cindy Parke, CNM, said, “Hmmnn, I don’t like the feel of this” to receiving the results of a mammogram and subsequent biopsy) I thought I’d post this.  Tell me what you think.

POEM

won’t you celebrate with me

by Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
 
 
I have spent a LOT of time this past year, “my one hand holding tight my other hand”.  I cautiously, and with a bit of fear of being premature, celebrate the fact that something that has tried to kill me has, so far, failed.
 

now cancer is back to messin’ with my mind……

January 28, 2010

153 days post chemo and 93 days post radiation and I’m feeling pretty good.  (Well, that’s a lie, but it’s my story right now and I’m sticking to it.)

This morning while in the shower I began to do my mental rundown of all the necessary tasks of the day, except it morphed into the cancerland countdown of fear again.  Unfortunately, it required more than one hand to count them today. 

It was number 7 that made me cry.  New development in my household…….husband has sudden serious medical malady of his own.  Now I feel like it is really all on my shoulders to prevent the creation of two orphan children.

In the meantime, I will go to work (thankfully I have a good job) and then hustle off this afternoon to Toledo for my bimonthly blood test.

A New Year

January 3, 2010

So this has been on my mind since Christmas.  What does this new year mean to me?  What are my dreams for 2010?  To be certain, I don’t have any fantasies of forgetting about cancer, or being cancer free.  That will never happen.  I understand that now.  “Remission” is a concept….and one I’ll not treat my brain to until I stop refilling the Arimidex ‘script (around November 2014, if all goes well in the next five years.)   And for the idea of being “cancer-free”?  Not possible, I don’t think.  It’s kind of like being a mom.  Once you have a baby, that child is always a part of you, even when they grow up and move away.  Which, by the way,  is my plan for cancer.  When I grow up, it’s gonna move away.  Still in my mind though.

I could say that I’ve turned over a new leaf and I’m going to start living healthier, except…I already was.  I already was living a healthy life (stated with undertones of sarcasm) with lots of pysical and mental activity, eating right, was fairly well informed and doing good things for my community.  So I pledge to be healthier.  I am examining every bite I eat, adding the minutes of real exercise and reducing alcohol intake to a minimal amount, consumed only if seated at a meal.  I am meditating every day, examining my motives, and trading stress for zen, well, at least I’m working on that last part.  Even though I think I’m doing well when I step on the scales, I’ll be losing more weight. 

So this is what I want for the New Year.  Well, to be honest, I want a lot of things, but mostly what I want is to feel like I have made a difference.  I hope that I have influenced someone to take their health care seriously.  Not just in the real gritty mean streets of cancer land, but in all health matters….listen to your body.  (I do kind of feel like a hypocrite with that last thought, because I was the queen of denial last Spring.) 

I am still dedicated to the idea of using this stupid cancer as a teachable experience.  I don’t know exactly how to best do that, but I am trying.  I’d love it if my story became the impetus for someone nagging their mother, their sister, their friend, themselves to pick up the phone and make an appointment for a mammogram.  I hope that women, once in their Doctor’s office, or with a Nurse Practitioner, demand to be shown how to do a good and effective Breast Self Exam for themselves, and not feel uncomfortable about itGod knows if groups like the U.S. Preventive Task Force (see my post from November 19th) have their way, you’ll really be on your own with detecting breast cancer. 

So in the end, I refuse to say that 2009 has been a bad year.  It has been a hell of a year, but it could have been worse.  I could have had a Doctor who didn’t notice the lump…the same lump I didn’t feel.  I’m grateful for Cindy Parke (Certified Nurse Midwife extraordinaire) beyond words.  Without her experienced touch, I don’t even want to think about where I might be today.

so maybe I lie just a little

December 6, 2009

Like when people ask me how I am.  I try to very cheerily reply, “Just fine!”  when really I am so tired I can hardly believe it.  How can this be?  It has been a month since my last radiation.  Three months since my last chemotherapy and I’m still tired?  I’m doing the bare minimum at work, although I did, finally last week manage to make it through the entire week.  The first pay period since March of last year that I did not have at least a couple of sick days logged on.  I would have taken a “rest day” except that I am dangerously low on available sick days, and I am so concerned that I might actually get sick…you know….with something other than cancer, and need to use those sick days.  I hate to just waste them on something like resting now.

Falling asleep at the laptop.  More later.