With major chemo treatments finished (just targeted gene therapy still ongoing), I find myself asking what next? LET IT GO – – SURRENDER YOUR HEART—LIBERATE YOUR DOUBTS—UNLEASH YOUR INTUITION—TAKE A RISK—DO THE THING YOU DIDNT THINK YOU COULD DO—MANIFEST COURAGE. This is why I like this <—art here so much (at left).
This past week on chemo was rough. The nausea lasted about 8 days, and taste was out of reach, but yesterday I began to feel well again and even enjoyed lunch out with a friend! I still feel weak and tired, but a whole lot better, and wake up feeling ready to face the day and accomplish something. The sun is shining and temperatures in the 80’s this weekend will make it feel like spring really has arrived.
Today I will attend my first breast cancer support group. My new friend is taking me, she herself an 18 month survivor. She brought us a wonderfully delicious dinner this week (thank you Donna!) and has really shown me that one year from now I, too, can feel and be well again. It is good to surround myself with positive people and hope. I really look forward to meeting other survivors and hearing their stories and learning about life after breast cancer. As I am finding, there is a whole other world of information out there about nutrition, supplements, and health that I was never interested in before. AND I am feeling like the AFTER breast cancer is closer than being treated for breast cancer.
One of the things I have noticed in a big way is that my eye site has suffered tremendously through chemo. These last two treatments have taken their toll. Eye twitching has been a side effect for weeks, periodically having to hold my lids still with my fingers until they settle down, but vision has deteriorated to the point where I can’t see anything 2 feet in front of me. I am scheduling an eye appointment as soon as I can. I get through the day with very strong “readers”. A nosebleed in the store yesterday reminded me that these drugs are still raging through my body and aren’t finished with their work yet. My nails have continued to show furthered signs of bleeding underneath. I hope they can hang on until the end. My large big toenail looks like he is ready to give up and fall off. At least I can hide him in my shoe!
So here is the last of the $36,000 (6 x $6,000) in shots to keep me well during chemo therapy the last 4 months. Amazing,isn’t it? Thank goodness for military medical insurance! This medicine allows my own white blood cells to begin to rebuild in about 5 days from now, causing some bone pain in my lower back. I wouldn’t trade it, though, as it prevents me from the high susceptibility to infection and, even still, I have managed to get a few of those over my treatment course. Tim puts up with my whining as it stings going into the arm, but it is short lived and has no ill side effects. He’s such a good nurse!
Here I am (gypsy-look) at the end of the last chemo drip bag, (hey! I got a window seat this day!) looking a little worn, a little swollen from two days of steroids, but finished with the major treatments now. Even with all of the anti-nausea drugs they give me orally and in my IV, I still walked out of there nauseated. It subsided after dinner until around 4 A.M. Breakfast and more drugs helped. My day was spent chatting with the ladies in the chair next to me. The first, a hospital administrator named Joyce, who works in hospitality at Walter Reed, she herself now a breast cancer patient, stage 3. She was so inspiring and so glowing and full of hope and love for God! We exchanged information in hopes of connecting again – then DeWanda took her place and was in hematology, for severe anemia and an iron infusion. As it turned out we live just 2 major streets over from one another! Small world! It was nice to talk about our college kids, and about living in our suburb and other places we have traveled. I’m glad when I find other patients to pass the time with me who like to chat. Tim arrived mid afternoon from the metro he took from work, and stayed with me the final two or three hours.
Yesterday I notice that sprouts of hair are starting to already emerge! See?
There are quite a few gray sprouts in there as well, so it seems your scalp has a memory of what was there before! (If you zoom on the second photo) 🙂 It reminds me of freshly sprouted grasslings of spring! I hope in another month to have twice this much, but it will be many months before there’s enough to actually style. You can see here that my brows have thinned but have held on enough to be pencilled in and luckily I still have lashes, though difficult sometimes to find to put mascara on.
You can see the bruising spots under my fingernails here, feel a bit tender still, the worst being on my middle finger where I wear my SURVIVOR ring and Pink Susan G. Komen ring – how appropriate! If I can do this, I feel like I can do anything now and come out of it okay, and maybe even a better person, more filled with compassion and more aware of what life is really about. Know what it means to fight and survive! Today will be my “best day” this week so I have errands to run before the “crash” comes sometime tomororw, with nausea and fatigue.
I don’t expect to post much in the next few days unless feeling up to it. Thanks so much for meals and prayers you are sending over this way! They are so appreciated! A sunny warm weekend is in the forecast, so hopefully I can at least get out on the porch and soak up some rays and breath in the fresh air while Tim mulches the yard!
Hopeful. That is what I feel today as I look forward to my LAST and final chemo therapy session tomorrow. Four months ago this date seemed so far away, but here it is. Although I feel like I should be looking forward to it, I guess I do dread the upcoming week as I now know all too well what to expect. But I also know that in about two weeks I will start to feel like butterfly emerging new and full of life, and THAT I do look forward to!
So what lies ahead of me next? Some of you have asked that. After tomorrow’s chemo, I return the following two Wednesdays for infusions of one of the drugs, Herceptin, which is designed to halt the growth gene in breast cancer. After that, I will get Herceptin every three weeks through my IV port for another 8 months. (This is not considered chemo therapy, but rather a “targeted gene-therapy” and does not cause sickness type side effects or hair loss). I have been asked to join a support group on those days for chemo therapy patients, and to act as a helper to those who are just entering their chemo therapy or those still going through chemo, as one who has been through it and lived to “tell”. Our summer plans are a little unknown yet as I will have surgery sometime in June to remove the tissue expander. I just hope that it will be a quick recovery as I am anxious to start exercising and getting in shape, reclaiming my body, and moving forward with life. We feel like we have been in a time warp for 6 months since my diagnosis. But we are hopeful and are optimistic that this journey will be behind us and a new chapter will begin. I look forward to what new insights I will realize having gone down this road, and new friends I will encounter because of cancer. I have already been so blessed to have gained those I’ve met during my treatment who have bolstered me up and gotten me through. Thanks for being there. And thank you for praying for me this week and weekend as I typically have had awful nausea for several days. My kids are in their school musical this weekend, and Keith is the lead character. I so desperately want to be well enough to attend and enjoy the show Friday night. SO thanks for your prayers to that end! I will update you all in a few days.
8 days and counting down to my LAST chemo treatment! You’d think I would be jumping for joy, but instead I am crying at the drop of a hat. Emotion is at the edge of my eyes and tears flow like April showers. Sometimes at a simple thought, sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes I ask myself if I will really ever feel like cancer is “over”. Looming worry is always tip-toeing in my shadow. 8 more months of infusion treatments over the course of the next year, scans scheduled and follow ups…when can I call myself a survivor? Some say I should claim it NOW, but I still fee like I am in the fight.
Physically, fatigue drags me through my day. I sleep a lot, both at night and with several naps during the day. Simple tasks, such as walking to get the mail just a few hundred feet down the driveway, takes effort. My fingernails now all feel like they have been hit with a hammer at the tips and are tender to the touch. Still, I don’t have any nausea and am cooking dinners again, which I enjoy. All those days of laying on the couch and watching Food Network after chemo have inspired me! 🙂 Still, I wake up every day with no hair and that image alone brings me to tears.
Curtis was home from college this past weekend ,and as he packed up his things to travel back, he asked me to sew a hole in his pants. I quickly did so and he packed them tightly into his duffle bag with a “thanks mom”. There I was, crying like a baby and remembering the years and years of darning their socks or fixing a torn sleeve when they were little….thinking now of how grown up he is and that he is leaving home again.
They tell me that chemo will induce an early menopause, and many of my chemo friends are cursing the hot flashes and night sweats in their 30’s and 40’s, which I have not experienced yet. The emotional ride is what I seem to be having right now. Mascara running off of my three remaining eyelashes every day…I guess if I never have the ‘other’ I will be elated!! I am w-a-y too young for that!
Spring is here and Easter is next Sunday. Birds are chirping and flowers blooming. Signs of new life and fresh beginnings remind me that change is coming. Sometimes these are just happy tears that God knows my inner thoughts and desire for a brighter day. I must believe that it is coming.