Its been 5 days since treatment and I’m working my way back to good, one small step at a time. There is still quite a bit of fatigue, just a bit of procedure site pain, and occasional headaches, but I’ll make thru! My appetite is making a comeback, but my WBC is slowly on its way out, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Nothing clears a crowd quicker than a chick in an isolation mask!
Once you hear those dreaded 3 words… “you have cancer”.. I think it’s fairly common to live in its shadow for life. For a mets survivor, it’s that much worse.. just my opinion. After being diagnosed the first time in 1996, it took me a long time to move forward enough to not think about the possibility of recurrence everyday. When the worst happened in 2016, and you hear those 4 words, “the cancer is back”, it hit me so crazy hard. It had been 20 years, so I wasn’t thinking about it. I had put it on a high shelf.
My expiration date is January 27, 2018. Since the the beginning of November, I felt heavy…kinda like some creepy kid-like thing from a horror movie has taken up residence and was clinging around my shoulders and back. Maybe if I turned around fast enough, I could see a glimpse of it in the mirror. My stance embodied how I felt… I was hunched and shuffling from emotional and physical pain. When someone would look at me, I was sure it was because that creature with a big C was visible for anyone who cared to look.
December started bad, but got better and Christmas turned out amazing!! For the most part, the weight had lifted; that nasty, embodied ‘C’ got lighter and much less noticeable. The pain was even better… I was optimistic. The complications that had been going on for weeks seemed to be easier to deal with.
3 days ago, I woke up and the right side of my jaw area was super tender. I attributed it to dropping the phone on my face in the middle of the night. Yeah, I’m one of them haha. Over the course of that day/night, I noticed 2 lymph nodes had gotten very firm and a golf ball sized mass had developed under my jaw on the right side. Then last night my gums started bleeding on the right side. I don’t know if any of its connected, but I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon to get it looked at. I’m hoping for antibiotics to shrink the mass, but I won’t be a surprised if a biopsy is done.
I know, 2 steps forward, 1 step back is a cha cha, not a disaster. Well, ya know what? I’m sick of this dance. I really want to hang up those shoes and sit this one out for the rest of my life!
Michelle – 1991 (I think?)
Michelle & her amazing daughter, Jenna, about to jump out of a plane…like the crazy woman she was!
Tonight, I went to my friend Michelle’s funeral. I only talked to her a few time in the last few months. Those conversations were great and it made me remember what a beautiful person she was. I could see her personality through the written word. She had a huge presence; it filled a room. I could hear her voice and laughter and wanted to be near it. She was such an advocate for everyone who needed comfort. She had a perfect personality for an ER nurse. She passed away on October 16th. Depression is like so many other diseases. It infests and destroys.
I had treatment 2 1/2 hours before the service, so I was feeling kinda crappy. Over the course of the night, I was getting a bit worse, but it was tolerable. I thought I was going to make it! Success! I sat down with some high school friends and was having a good night. I hadn’t seen these chicks in 20 years and it was great to get hugs and say hi after so long. At that moment, I was just me. Not a sick person, just another friend. It was a feeling I missed greatly! After about 20 minutes, the achiness started. Then the nausea. Close at its heels was the bone pain. It felt like I had bruises up and down my arms and shoulders. Everything was sensitive. 30mg of morphine didn’t even touch the pain. All I wanted was spend time with my old friends at this very morbid excuse for a reunion. But cancer is a cruel bastard and it reminded me that I shouldn’t get too comfortable or too happy.
So now, I’m back at home; hooked up to my IV and in horrible pain. Thank God for my ondansetron injections! If not for that precious 8mg vial, I would have been getting sick all the way home. I’ve had some THC and am finally comfortable enough to rest with minimal pain.
I’ve seen things on Pinterest about cancer not being able to steal this or that. A lot of those are true. But sometimes no matter how hard you try, cancer shows up and rips you out of a good situation to remind you of your place in the patient/survivor role. I’ve lost a lot of friends because of this shit disease for one reason or another, but tonight we were all there to celebrate Michelle’s life. But cancer never rests. It took me away from a bit of time to spend with old friends. For that you can fuck right the hell off.
Halloween is truly the best holiday ever! The true start of cooler weather (in SoCal, at least), scary movies all month long, twerps dressed up like their favorite heroes and villains, and let’s not forget the candy. Ahh the glorious chocolate!! But this year, a true horror is lurking in front of me. Yesterday, I had testing done to check for metastasis (mets) to my bones, specially my hip. The pain has been there for months, I just attributed it to a lingering complication from intrathecal treatment, and it very well could be! One treatment resulted in a “wet tap” (the spinal fluid leaked out of the infusion site). I don’t get the results until Friday.
I don’t even know how to truly react other than to lay here in the dark, staring into nothing and cry. I’m numb with the exception of a cold, sweaty panic running over me every so often.
On top of this issue, I have had a “barking seal” type of raspy, wheezing cough for about the same amount of time…2 months or so. They are bad enough that I require an inhaler and an anesthetic cough drop. I see my doctor on a regular basis, but I never had the bad coughing episode that, as one of my friends asked, “Is that real or are you fucking with me?” I don’t have them everyday so it’s easy to put on the back burner.
Let’s add to the fun. I’ve had an IV in for 34 days for hydration and ondansetron infusions for 20 hours a day. Thank goodness the insurance allows me to be at home. Let me tell you, pushing around an IV pole or carrying around a pump and 2 liter bag of fluids is not as glamorous as it seems.
Bonus issue…I have intrathecal treatment on Friday, then my friends funeral is less than 3 hours later.
Suck it, cancer.
*the images are not my own.
I had my bilateral mastectomy almost 10 months ago and I’m still finding out nifty things my surgeon should have told me back then. I’m fairly certain I knew I shouldn’t shave while my underarms are still numb after surgery…
…but also I learned that I shouldn’t shave on the side lymph nodes were removed. I had 11 nodes removed on the right and 14 removed on the left.
As my daughter said, “Rock it! Dye it!” I guess a little Manic Panic fixes everything…
Probably a hundred years ago, I used to alter my clothes. No shirt was safe from my scissors and most skirts and pants were bound (see what I did there??) to be adorned with bondage straps, zippers, and patches. I haven’t had the desire to pick up the shears in about 15 years. I have been severely depressed for years due to a bad marriage, health problems, family drama etc etc… Now, after a year and a half of dealing with breast and endometrial cancer, I have finally found a way to bring a bit of the old me back when it comes to my style.
All it took was a mastectomy and a friend. We clicked immediately. The first time we met, she brought a custom bag full of clothes and jewelry for me and I had a stack of clothes for her. She brought back that old spark to create. To take the boring and make it badass. This time I’m customizing clothes for my new body. It’s turning out better than it ever has! I’ve climbed and mastered another mountain in this cancer terrain.
For a while, I lost myself. Subconsciously, I started to get older in my mind, which reflected on the outside. It may seem incredibly vain of me, but I’m no different from anyone else. Most people take pride in themselves and how they look. They don’t want to go out of the house if their hair isn’t done or if they don’t have makeup on. I feel the same way, but I gave up that part of myself. I guess I fit myself into the “cancer patient look” box. It has taken lone enough for me to notice this “look”, but it has to stop. Laying here, looking at my IV beside my bed at home, it’s hard to find anything creative about this situation, but I’m doing me best to find it.
It’s still a work in progress.
I’ve never been like everyone else when it comes to style and I need to remind myself I don’t have to give it up because of life changes. These changes are an opportunity to have internal growth. To stand up and say, “I’m still me. Nothing is going to take that away!” I’m still working on loving my new body and accepting my “new normal”. It’s difficult right now, but I have pulled myself through worse things. It has only been 8 months since my mastectomy. Wow. It feels like it has been years! I just have to remind myself that it’ll get easier. I’ve never been good at waiting or being patient. I guess there’s not much that is going to change that little flaw.
One step at a time.
Last week was pretty rad! I turned 42, I got to see friends, I felt good! Then Thursday decided to be a dick.
I woke up more tired than usual and was a bit chilly. My face felt warm but nothing crazy. My temperature was low grade. Only 99.1 Then it started making its ascent. I tried every trick I knew…cool cap, wet cloths, wetting my hair, light clothing…and nothing would get rid of it completely. I thought maybe my port was infected or one of my mastectomy sites needed a re-excision again. I contacted my oncologist and made an appointment for the next day. I got antibiotics and was off for a Labor Day BBQ!
Later that day, the lymph nodes in the right side of my neck started swelling. The headache was a bonus. I was already on antibiotics and not an emergency, so I figured an ER trip was silly.
I just got back from the doctor who is suspecting some sort of blood infection. After filling 4 bottles (yes bottles, not vials) and munching on Sees candy, I was on my merry little way.
Now the fear is setting in. I have at least a week until the results are in.
I’m so tired of cancer scares!!!