Today was my colonoscopy. This was after 2 straight days of not eating. Needless to stay I was a wee bit grumpy to start with. Up all night as the prep took affect, then fasting with no coffee this morning, but I made it and had looked so forward to having the answers I have desperately been seeking for 4 months. Why this pain in my abdomen? The nurse who started my IV got it going on the first try which was a first! Whew! Hard part down! I waited about 30 – 45 minutes and then they took me back to the room where they sedated me and performed the procedure. This is the same place I had my endoscopies in August and October recently, and according to them the same exact dosing of anesthetic drugs to sedate me. Well, that was a disaster today. I did not fall asleep, in fact I was relaxed and awake and screaming in pain for most all of the 27 minute procedure. At every turn in my colon I felt terrible pain. The doctor kept telling me it would almost be over, and for short periods the pain would pass but then he would have to make another turn. I just couldn’t believe it. I had never heard of this happening to anyone before. After I went back to recovery, the doctor came to speak with me and told me he didn’t find anything to explain the pain I have had for 4 months, nothing to biopsy, nor explanation for the pain during today’s events. He said that if I ever have to have this procedure done again he would recommend general anesthesia since he had given me the highest possible dose today and for some reason it did not do the trick. From what I understand, colonoscopies are not normally painful and so patients generally just dose off to sleep during them. So why so much pain in there? I hope to follow up with all of my questions tomorrow with my g.i. doctor and or oncologist. My g.i. doc was not the one to do today’s test, but maybe he has some ideas. I feel like I have reached a dead end in this pursuit and and I am very frustrated and exhausted from all of my searching and I am no closer to an answer. Only that when I searched on line I am NOT the only patient that this has ever happened to. It’s more common than I realized. I’m going to go eat some ice cream!
The mri and ct scan came back yesterday. My cervical and thoracic spine have “multiple hemangiomas”. These are typically benign vascular tumors. Now I am waiting for my appointment with orthopedics to find out what we can do about it. Lots of waiting these days. Still no relief from the numbness in my back.
From what I am reading these can become large enough to cause compression fractures but can be shrunken using radiation. I really have to find out more when I talk to the doctor but the good news is that my oncologist isn’t concerned about a cancer of any kind at this point. Radiology recommended a follow up ct scan in June to see if there are any changes on a nodule that showed up in my lung (which honestly may be absolutely nothing).
Thank you for your continued prayers.
The training has begun! I am walking an average of 3.5 miles a day to prepare for the Avon Walk that I will be doing in just 6 months. The fall foliage and cooler days makes this an enjoyable activity and I also frequent the gym for additional weight lifting and endurance work outs. I held a fund raising event at the breast care center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center last week and raised 8% of my goal by selling my jewelry creations. So far I am at nearly 30% raised so I continue pressing on with those efforts a little bit every day. Thank you to all who have donated so far! My Avon Walk page can be viewed HERE.
This week my MRI results came back all clear so that was good news! I must admit I held my breath for those 8 days waiting for results. I am told that this feeling of dread lasts a long time, at least until the ten-year survival point. Even then, with no cure for breast cancer, the fear of recurrence looms all the time. The MRSA infection in my arm continues to heal well and is down to a dime-sized scab with some scarring.
In the meantime I celebrate LIFE and help those newly diagnosed whom I meet, which seems to be nearly every week. The numbers of women affected by this disease never ceases to amaze me. Giving them hope and support gives me a reason to continue fighting for a cure.
I love this song. I have heard it many times over the course of my storm called cancer and am well aware that sometimes God doesn’t take away the storms in my life. But I have felt Him calm me within. I am at that place now. A calm place. Sure, the dangers that lurk in this sea of my life hover beneath me all the time, but I have felt carried through this years’ storms and I know that come what may, He will carry me through those too. Please visit Reduce Your Risk pages to learn more about breast cancer risks.
Having cancer has taken many things from me beyond my control. It has made me vulnerable and helpless at times. Part of the fight in cancer is to regain something I CAN control, and decide what is right for me.
I believe everything and every person God brings into my path, in this journey, is His divine intervention. There are no mistakes with God! A couple of months ago I met a dynamic woman through my kids’ high school. She is an 18 month breast cancer survivor and a shining example of strength and courage to me. A powerhouse of energy and positive attitude, I knew I immediately had to know her! The more we talked about life beyond treatment, I learned from her and other survivors, that lifestyle changes must be made to remain cancer free. No more free walk in the park, not exercising and eating whatever I wanted to!
Every study I have read links diet and exercise to lower recurrences or development of all types of cancers. Even though I have been fortunate to be able to maintian a healthy weight my whole life, and don’t struggle with high blood pressure or diabetes, which run in my family, my greastest focus NOW is to never go through cancer treatment again. Ever. What better time than NOW to seize hold of something within my control while other issues are still out of reach for me (such as getting my hair to grow FASTER)! I choose what to eat. I choose where to spend my energies and I choose who I want to become.
So today, along with my new friend, bandana on my bald head, I tried a spin (cycling) class at the local gym and guess what? The instructor is another breast cancer survivor, 8 months further ahead than me, and she has the same oncologist as I do! What are the odds of that? As I sat on the bike at the back of the room, watching her at the front, with all her enthusiasm and zest for life, tears filled my eyes as I could see light at the end of this dark tunnel of treatment. I saw that I can raise my head high and smile. I saw that I can have the body I want to have, or at least one better than what I have now, and that strength will come through hard work. I have never been one for sweat, in fact I hate exercising, not to mention PAIN! This would be a very big step for me to take on a lifestyle change like this. Even two or three times a week of walking around the block would be a huge milestone for me, especially if its hot outside! But I have to start somewhere, and meeting these two women is like an ah-ha moment for me. A motivation for change and a new beginning. Like two angels leading the way, that God placed right in my path when I needed direction.
I’m sure I’ll be barely able to walk tomorrow when I wake up, but in time I hope to feel better and love the body God has given me, glad to be alive.
Today is June 1st, 8 months since my breast cancer diagnosis. Sometimes it seems a lifetime ago and sometimes it seems like just yesterday. Some days I feel I have survived the worst of it and then some days I feel like I am still fighting. I have met many breast cancer patients and have found that some call themselves ‘survivors’ from their date of diagnosis and some from the date of their surgery. I don’t know when I will call myself a true survivor. All I know is that I don’t feel like one just yet.
Maybe that’s because I am still going through IV infusion treatment, spending the day in the chemo ward every 3 weeks, and maybe that’s because I still have very little hair at all, and my fingernails and toenails are rotting, bleeding, and falling off. ( Gross, I know, but that’s the raw truth.) I escaped to a movie theater a few days ago and got engrossed in the show, forgetting for three hours that I had breast cancer, only to go to the restroom after wards and find blood on my shirt from my bleeding fingernail. I wrap band aids around them and try to keep them on. “This part is taking too long”, I think to myself, this part of regaining my body after chemo therapy. And even the therapy I am getting now, though not as toxic as the last four and a half months, still causes me headaches and fatigue and I am scheduled for nuclear heart scans every 120 days to check for cardiomyopathy, a side effect to the drug Herceptin, which I get every 21 days.
(Tim and me, out to dinner last weekend, with his parents who came to visit from St.Louis)
On a lighter note, though, I was traveling back from California a couple of weeks ago and in the airport magazine/book store the clerk said to me, “I love your hair color! It is really nice with your brown eyes.” I smiled and then leaned over to her and said, “I have a dirty little secret to tell you”…and then I told her about my wig and breast cancer.
I thought to myself, I could say “thank you” and go about my business, or I could put a face to breast cancer and let people know that it is not your great aunt’s disease anymore. It is affecting more women than ever before, in staggering numbers and to people whom you never would have suspected. Many celebrities have hidden it from the public until now. The risk factors are becoming more widely advertised and discovered by scientists.
I don’t know what my life after breast cancer treatment will look like, but right now it includes a desire to let people know that finding a cure, though a great hope for us all, is only one piece in a very larger puzzle of finding the cause. The more I read, the more I see how our society and foods, and lifestyles play a big role. Now if I could only get myself to make some of the changes that will reduce my risk of recurrence such as daily exercise and eating a large diet of fresh fruits and vegetables! I’d better get off this computer now, and put on my walkin’ shoes!!