Saturday, December 20, 2008

Final results- Chemo Break

Okay. So everyone should know by now that last week I had tests to see how the treatment was battling the cancer. So on the 19th I had my meeting with the doctor to get the full results. So it seems that there are only a few small spots of cancer left in my liver. They didn't give a number this time but the doctor reiterated that there are only a few left. My bones have stayed "stable" so that means that they haven't gotten any better or worse...just status quo. So the doctor's suggestion is for me to take a break from chemo. So that is the plan. As of right now I am on a chemo therapy break. Of course depending on the results of future scans is how long my break will be. So lets see how long it will take for this chemo to get out of my system so I can start feeling "normal" again. I pray that it happens sooner than later!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

That itch you can't scratch

I know that I have detailed some of the side effects that chemo therapy gives. But this one effect lately has been just kicking my butt: the itching/burning/stinging on my hands and feet. I'm not sure what starts it up (sometimes after bathing it is horrible) but this junk just comes on with a fury and it continues for a long time until after alot of lotion and rubbing and praying it slowly dies down. Apparently this along with my numb toes are a nervous system reaction to the chemo so as the chemo gets out of my body these symptoms will slowly go away, even though it might take months! I tell you, chemo is a blessing and a curse at the same time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Preliminary Results

I got a call from the nurse with the preliminary results from my most recent tests. And so far the news looks good. My bones are "stable" and the liver shows more improvement. Stable means that there was no change from the last scan; no improvement, but it didn't get any worse so that is always a blessing. I will have the final results for you all next week as soon as I get them. Hopefully that is when I will also find out whether I can take a break from chemo therapy. Seeing that I have been getting more and more side effects from the chemo I think the break would do the body good. Thanks for keeping me in your prayers!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Today might be the last

No I am not committing suicide tonight and not trying to be cryptic with the title of this blog. Today might have been the last chemo therapy session that I get for a while. On Wed. December 10th I get my second set of scans/tests. Based on those results, I may be able to take a break off of chemo for a while. I think a break will be just what I need physically and least that is what I have been told. Of course I agree, but of course sometimes doubt does enter in with thoughts like 'what if you get worse while you are off chemo?'. But I can't dwell on those thoughts because first I would drive myself crazy and more importantly there is no way that God would have brought me this far and just leave me in the dust. Also I have been trying to think on how good I will feel once the chemo is out of my system. I really don't remember how it is to be off of chemo, but I know I will feel alot better in time. So the gym will see me again soon enough! I'm coming back spinning class...look out!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

This thanksgiving I have so much to give thanks for. Not that I haven't had alot to give thanks for in previous years, but this year alot has happen. There was even the chance that I might not have been around this holiday season. That in itself of something to be grateful for. When I review this past year, especially the events that took place in May which have taken me on this journey, I realize that life is so precious...and in a matter of moments can be changed forever. This year I want to especially give thanks for all my friends that were there for me and had the foresight to realize something was wrong and take action. I don't remember alot of the details of how it all went down but maybe that is a good thing. Also want to thank all my family as well for pitching in where I needed them the most. God has truly blessed me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The ups and downs of chemo

I look forward to the days when I have chemo treatment because I know that I am attacking the cancer with every drip from the IV. I tend to feel better during and the days right after getting treatment. But about 3-4 days after out. I can't really explain the feeling that I get, but it just makes me feel...down. Its like a bad case of the "blahs". My guess is that the feeling mirrors what it must be like to be depressed. I don't feel sick really, I just feel like lying down all day and trying to wish the day away. I literally can just lay in bed and sleep all day just counting down the moments until the next day arrives which will bring me closer to feeling somewhat normal again. Of course it won't be 100% normal, but as normal as you can be on chemo. I think some refer to it as "chemo fog" or "chemo brain." I think fog is a good descriptive word to attach to the feeling. At least the feeling doesn't last for weeks at a time...then I would have to get some medication involved! Ultimately, I think I have said it before, but just in case you forgot, Chemo sucks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Flash Flash Flash

Chemo therapy drugs are very effective against fighting cancer, but they sure do come along with some side effects. Apparently I have been pushed into early menopause because of chemo and I am enjoying all the wonders that comes along with it. The one that I am so fed up with right now is hot flashes. Yes I said hot flashes. How can I put this eloquently....they suck. They suck big time. One moment you will be just fine enjoying a regular body temperature, then all of a sudden there is a wave of heat that takes over your body. It feels like an internal heater is turned on and just starts blowing the hot air all through your body, especially in the head and neck area. And you would think that having no hair would help the body to cool off quicker...not really. So I reach for any piece of paper or an envelope and begin to fan until I get back to normal. I've been told that because I'm young there is a great chance that the menopause will go away once I'm off of the chemo. Until then maybe I should probably invest in a real fan!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My achy breaky back

Liquid morphine, Oxycontin, Fentanyl patch. These are just some of the pain relievers that I am currently or have taken to try and rid me of my back pain. Before I was diagnosed, I started getting severe back pain. The doctors in urgent care and the ER in Delaware both wrote it off as back sprain do to too much activity at the gym. But as I learned later, it was the cancer that had spread to my bones and weakened them which caused me to fracture my lower lumbar...hence the pain. Well let me tell you all that back pain SUCKS! I had radiation for 14 days on the lower lumbar to help heal the fracture and kill the cancer in that area. That was a definite help. And in time I have come a LONG way. I have come from having to use a wheel chair, to walking very small distances and now I can take the stairs! I couldn't even roll over in the bed in the beginning. So God is definitely blessing me with healing. The pain patch that I'm on is a big help for the pain, but man when it starts to wear off watch out. The pain can feel like a achy feeling radiating from the top to the bottom of your back...and makes you just want to lie down on the bed (on your back) all day for relief. But after the meds kick in all is well with the world again. Praise God for that! The pictures show my back in July and then again in November.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Twice a month I attend an advanced cancer support group. During the last session we did a little exercise where we had to blindly pull a word from a bag and then say what that word meant to us. The word I got was abundance. I don't think I could have gotten a better word. When I think of abundance, I think of the abundance of blessings that God has showered upon me. I have been blessed with friends and family that have shown so much support...more than I expected. And I believe that me getting diagnosed and having to battle this disease is also a blessing. I may not fully understand it yet, but if the purpose is to bring me closer to God then its the biggest blessing I could get.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Food done easy

Before I was diagnosed one of the things I enjoyed was cooking. I enjoyed coming up with new recipes and having others try them out. I also enjoyed the looks and "oohs" and "ahhs" of my co-workers as they try and dissect what I brought for lunch that day. Now that I am in recovery I am grateful that I can even turn around in the kitchen and put a meal together. But honestly, its like one of the least things that I enjoy doing now. When I get up I am thinking man, what will I do for breakfast. Once that ordeal is over, I have to figure out what I will eat for the rest of the day. Sometimes I am saved by my brother when they cook something that is not red meat or pork based. Then I just mooch off of them. Other days I am left with trying to find some type of sustenance here in the apartment no matter how much I am tempted (and sometimes try) to just lie down and sleep and "rest" all day. That is why I must sing the praises of quick to prepare food. Thanks to visitors I had last month, I have a bag of already cooked chicken and salmon along with Lipton sides (pasta and rice) that i have learned are very quick to prepare. I have also discovered the veggies that steam in the bag in the microwave. So in about 15min you can have a well rounded meal with minimal effort. And now a days I am all about minimal effort. So thanks to all those food companies that continue to create food to indulge in the laziness of us all. Its working for me right now!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The results are in!

Today I met with my doctor to review the results of my scans/tests from last week. I have only good news to report. As you may know I have metastatic disease or you can call it advanced/terminal/stage 4 cancer. So it started in the breast and then it spread to the liver and the bones. I had a lumpectomy done to remove the tumor from my breast but by the time they discovered that it had already spread. My liver was so covered with cancer spots/tumors that there were too many to count. The tumors were also quite large. I am pleased to announce that now I have roughly 15-20 spots on the liver and they are all less than 1cm in size. That is tremendous improvement...even the doctor didn't expect to see that kind of improvement. Of course she must not realize that God is in full control of my life and he is the one that is taking care of this cancer! The cancer in the bones has remained stable so that is also good news that it is not spreading. So the course of action now is to have three more sessions of treatment, get another set of scans, and then based on those results I may be able to take a break from chemo therapy. I will still be on "maintenance" drugs but to be off of chemo therapy well allow the body to return to "normal." No more chemo side effects...can't ask for anything better than that! So come end of December I should know if I will be able to take that break. It will be a great Christmas present indeed! But the bottom line is no matter what the final outcome is, it is all up to God and his master plan for my life. No matter what I am eternally grateful to him for all he has done and what he has allowed in my life.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I am not strong

I always hear how I am so strong and that I will kick this thing. However I don't believe I am strong at all. Strong people don't need to take anxiety pills every night or be plagued by restless sleep. Strong people don't feel like rushing home to lie down after they have been out only a few hours. Strong people don't have days when they feel like doing nothing else but crying and lying around all day. Given these factors I am not strong at all. I'm just a woman that got cancer who now has to man up until it goes away. In life you never know what trials you may encounter, but you just have to deal with the deck that was handed to you and pray for God's grace and strength to get you through it. So I am not strong at all...but God is and all my strength is coming from him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No hair to fake hair

One of the biggest tell tale signs of having cancer is loosing your hair. One thing people don't realize is that you don't just loose the hair on your head. ALL your hair can fall out including your underarms, eyelashes and your eyebrows. You never realize how naked your face looks until you see your eyebrows disappearing. Who wants to look surprised all the time. Bald and surprised? That is too much. So here comes the fake hair. To date I have one wig and I recently got some brow shapers to start drawing in my eyebrows. Time for me to pile on the makeup and make all this "fakeness" look real. I will have to get use to the wigs though...

Monday, October 13, 2008

So Tests are over...

I survived my bone scan and cat scans. To my surprise, when I arrived at the place to take the cat scan, they gave me one bottle of "contrast" for me to drink instead of the two that they mailed me. But I think it came up to the same amount of fluid to drink. The actually tests went by very quickly, the most time was spent waiting to get to the machines. Now that a few days have passed I think all the radioactive shots that I was injected with is finally out of my system. Just glad it is all over! So I don't get the final results until I meet with the doctor this week...but I have some preliminary results: I got a call on Friday from the nurse and she informed me that my liver is improved!! I don't know by how much but I am assuming they wouldn't call to get me excited if they didn't see good improvement. Hope to get all the details from the doc this week.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Time for some scans

Hey guys. So I have scans scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 9th to determine what progress has been made with the chemo therapy. I will be having a CT Scan and a Bone scan. For those of you that have had a CT Scan before, you know all about the TWO BOTTLES of nasty juice you have to drink before the test. And then during the test you get injected with some kind of spicy juice that burns a little but it helps for the pictures to show up. Apparently I will also be getting some type of injection for the Bone scan as well. We will see how it goes. I am praying for a good word!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Big Food

Now everyone knows that I love "big food". Big food is when someone has prepared a huge meal with all the best things. For example, I had some friends visit this weekend. One friend brought big food for me: saltfish, dukana, curry chicken, even real tea bush (for bush tea). My other friend cooked: mashed potatoes, baked chicken, mixed veggies, cabbage and corn, and cheesecake. So as you can tell big food to me is anything, it just gotta be good!

But nowadays its such a hassle to eat. I go from feeling ok to feeling extremely hungry, and when you feel too hungry is when you start to feel sick. So then I have to hustle to get food and nausea meds and eat before sickness creeps in...its all such a hassle. So it takes some of the joy out of the big food eating. I've been told that after chemo it gets better so I guess I just need to wait and see. In the interim, please be aware that all my visitors are still required to cook me food or take me out to eat...that has not changed! :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is Chemo like?

Right now I am at the hospital getting my chemo therapy. Every 2 weeks I get chemotherapy once a week. So as soon as I get here I have to get some blood drawn to see if my counts are high enough for me to have therapy that week. The main counts they care about are the white blood cell counts (what fights off infections in your body). They check other stuff like red blood cells, platelets, and some other random things. If they are looking good then we can proceed to killing some cancer. First I get pre-medicated with some anti-nausea drugs and some other medicines to keep me from getting reactions to the drugs. Then we start it off with Herceptin, which is suppose to be a big breakthrough drug for cancer. Then we keep it coming with the real chemo drugs, first Taxol then CarpoPlatin (or something like that). When its all said and done about 4+ hours have passed as you sit having the medicines pumped into your system. In my case its all pumped into my chest via a Power Port. Trust me, the minor surgery to put in the port is nothing compared to not having to get pricked and prodded on the left arm over and over to try and start an IV!

Chemo isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Some of the side effects are nausea and fatigue, but I will take that if it is killing the cancer! Normally I feel good right after chemo, and then a few days after that is when it can go slightly down hill. What can be really bad is if you get a reaction while the drug is being administered. I have stopped breathing, had the shakes and have felt like I was going to blow up all as reactions to the drugs...but again I am doing a lot better now! I guess the body eventually gets accustom. But to those that have witnessed a reaction they know it is no joke!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Got Gas? I have something just for you!

Being home all day I watch TV and surf the web a lot. Because of that I get to see and read about all kinds of foolish products that are out there...I heard about this one I had to share

Picture this: Romantic evening with your significant other complete with candlelight, champagne and a great meal. Conversation is going good and you feel like the night couldn't get any better. Nothing could go wrong tonight! But then u feel it...that quick movement in the stomach, oh no, it can't be....but it is: GAS. Now what to do, sneak it out praying that its not lethal? Ask to go to the bathroom...and interrupt the vibe of the evening? No worries!

Introducing Subtle Butt disposable gas neutralizers! No more lethal smelling gas! Here is how it works:
  1. Just apply the small square patch to the back of your undergarments where you think your gas hits
  2. Let errrrr rip; cut loose; gas it up; fart away
  3. When you finished wearing it, toss it away...its disposable!

I found this to be so hilarious I had to write about it! The company that makes this stuff "Garment Guard" also makes disposable underarm shields which is their main product. The Subtle Butt product is new.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Questions Questions Questions

Its great to have people that love you and care for you. And I know that I have been blessed with tons of people who are all praying for me to get better and beat this. And I thank God for this. But sometimes people ask alot of questions and I get flash backs of being arrested by the po po. Its like drill sergeant question after question: "how are you?", "how are you feeling?", "what have you been doing?", "when will you be done with treatment?", "did you throw up today?", "what did you eat today?", "what do you do all day?", "how are you feeling emotionally?", "are you getting excersise?", "are you excerscising your mind?"

Sometimes I just want to say enough is enough and I dont have any answers. Sometimes I just feel like not talking about it...maybe thats not the healthy way out but that is how I feel most of the time. The only thing I know is that I wish I was normal and healthy and back to my old routine even though I can hardly remember what my old routine was!

Now for all you all that asks questions its okay...was just letting out some steam. Keep checking up on me and ask me questions and make sure i'm okay. And thanks for looking out for me and I love you all.

Monday, September 22, 2008

RE: the Devil List

You may have noticed that I have a "devil list" on this blog page. For those that know me you know that I tend to call companies "devils" if they have somehow provided bad service or some other bad experience to myself or my close friends. My memory isn't always the greatest so this list may be missing some of the "devils" that are still out there. As I remember I will continue to add to the list. If you feel strongly that there should be a company added to the list please reply and let me know!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ode to my hair

So you see breast cancer patients and you notice they don't have any hair but you think to yourself, my hair is real won't fall off. Then you feel some tingling and wonder...what is that? then you notice that you can just pull your hair out...that's not normal. Then it becomes a way to pass time by just playing with your hair as it falls out. Then you see the little coils on the floor and on the bed and everywhere and hair is really falling out! So at some point you make the decision; you request the trimmers and you do a GI Jane one time. And then its all gone. All that's left is scalp...a lot of scalp indeed.

In time you will grow back hair but for now I must say bye and stay strong till we meet again. And maybe when we meet again you can come back a little softer texture or something...thanks!

How it Happened

I just finished telling someone else the whole story behind how I found out I have cancer. So I decided I should just type it out here and then direct people to read it...much more efficient!

In March of 2008 I had my standard gynecological new developments out of that meeting. Just your standard check up and clean bill of health. Towards the end of April, while lying on the floor watching TV I realized that one of my breasts didn't feel right. I rolled over to further investigate and I found that the right breast had a sizable lump that I could tell did not belong there. So first thing I did was get a consensus from my girls that indeed this lump was not natural. And of course the answer was a resounding; "you best go get that checked out" So I went back to the Ob/Gyn and had her examine it. She noted that it was very large in size (as i think to myself duh! Stevie wonder can see how big it is) and then she set me up for a mammogram and ultrasound appointment to get the lump checked outn although she thought given my age it would be nothing serious.

The first weekend in May I was in Dayton to help celebrate the graduation of my friend and I held a surprise party at my condo down there complete with food, drinks and a Wii which we played all night long. The next weekend, on May 11 I ran (I always walk this race every year but this was the first time I ran) the Susan G Koman 5K Breast Cancer Race for the Cure. I completed the race in 30.37 minutes.

That next week I began to feel a lot of back pain. I first just said it must be from playing the Wii all weekend or maybe from the run but it never did get better. I went to urgent care for some relief but they prescribed me muscle relaxants and some heavy duty pain killers and said I should not be working so hard at the gym. I tried the pills but they did not work! I had to even cancel a trip to my sister in law's graduation because of the pain. I even went to the ER but they once again declared it back sprain and prescibred more muscle relaxants and pai meds. It was this month I also finalized the sale of my condo in Dayton. So I had to go down there on the 21st to oversee my stuff being moved into storage and sign the paper work for the sale. On the 20th I had the mammogram and then flew down to Ohio that evening. On the 21st after signing the closing papers on the condo and watching the movers pack me up, I apparently got even worse as far as back pain and other symptoms and my friend decided to take me to the emergency room.

At the ER they saw that my labs were abnormal and decided to admit me. Apparently I had hypercalcemia which put my calcium levels at 20 when a normal person's calcium should be at around 9. Now I don't remember everything that was going on after this in the hospital (must have blocked it out) but I am sure Darlene and Aesha and others that were at the hospital with me can comment on whether I was in my sound mind or not! As they worked to get my calcium levels down I mentioned that I had a lump in my breast. They suggested to get a biopsy right away but I directed them to take the entire lump out. Which they did on the 25th of May. So by the 27th of May they were 100% sure that the diagnosis is that I have breast cancer that has metasized (spread) to the bones and liver. Oh and all the back pain? That was due to a fracture in my lower lumber due to my bones being weakened by the cancer.

So after two weeks in the hospital, I was released and stayed by my good friend for another two weeks as I received radiation treatments in my back. Then I moved to Akron, OH to be closer to my brother and started chemo treatments at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH. And i'm still here...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The MRI is the devil

The MRI aka the Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine is "a medical imaging technique most commonly used in radiology to visualize the structure and function of the body. It provides detailed images of the body in any plane.

Given that my throwing up was a little off the chain, my doctor wanted to confirm that this cancer wasn't making moves in the body...specifically to the brain. Hence the MRI order was given. Little did I know that I would have to get my head, neck, upper back and lower back imaged at the same time...making it a 2 hour MRI. For those that have never gotten an MRI before let me give a visual. You lie down on a small table and put a helmet type thing over your head then they slide you into this covered machine and you must lay perfectly still as you hear tapping and popping as the machine takes the magnetic images. Lets say 30 minutes of that is bearable...but 2 hours?? I think I have vocalized my experience to everyone already but let me just say it is not something I want to do ever again for that long. Hence MRI is the devil and you can add it to the devil list (those who know me know the list)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Testing Testing

Hello all...

So I just got my internet set up so I am trying to get into the modern day way of life and start a blog so I have a place to share my feelings and all that other gooshy stuff (everyone says i need to start sharing). So this is my test post to see how this thing works...I will hopefully get better at this as I go along.