Sunday, August 31, 2008

Blessings Around Us...

Mike, Sully and I had the pleasure of going to our dear friend S's new office -- where it was blessed and several Mezuzahs were hung by our local Chabad Rabbi.

It was an honor for us to be there for this special occasion. I truly enjoyed hearing the Rabbi speak.

The basic idea of what he shared from the Torah portion this week is that blessings are continually around us if we allow ourselves to be open to them.

Mike and I have continued to see the many blessings in our lives during the last several months. We continue to be thankful and grateful for so much.

The Rabbi's message certainly wasn't new but it was a validation of how we feel and how we choose to lead our lives.

Ancora Imparo

Friday, August 29, 2008

Playing Nice in the Sandbox...

Howdy Folks,

My new friend, Tamoxifen, and I are trying to peacefully coexist.

I am only scheduled to be on this for another four weeks until my Hysterectomy (9/25). I can tell you that the side effects are real. According to the National Cancer Institute not all people (men are put on this too) have side effects. I am just lucky I guess. I am doing what I can to not let them get the best of me. For the most part I feel like I am succeeding. The biggest challenges I have been feeling are the fatigue, swollen ankles, persistent nausea and a new one, bloating. I am hopeful that my body will acclimate soon to the Tamoxifen and the side effects will subside or the four weeks will breeze by and I will no longer be on it -- either one is fine.

Now that I am done with Chemo (it has been 4 weeks and 3 days since my last one) I am able to take care of a few things like visiting the Dentist and the Dermatologist. The recent trip to the Dentist illuminated the fact that I have a cracked tooth under a crown so I get to take care of that this week. The recent trip to the dermatologist led to a biopsy of two moles. Amazing what you discover when you no longer have a head of hair. It turns out that out of the two biopsied one needs to be removed while it is not skin cancer (thank g-d) but it does have the ever so slight potential that it could turn into a melanoma. So my DERM heavily suggests having it removed now and since I am waiting for my hair to grow back in there is no time like the present.

That's the update for the moment.

Wishing you a Happy Labor Day weekend.

Be sure to tune in and watch the Stars come out to support Jerry and his Kids.

Ancora Imparo

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Little Bit of Tired...

Hi Folks,

Thought I would share that I have been having a little bit of tiredness since I last blogged.
Okay -- a lot of tiredness.

Wednesday I felt like a walking Zombie.
Thankfully, yesterday I did not. However today... I am a little tuckered out but gratefully I do not feel as much fatigue as I did the other day. Not sure if it is due to the Tamoxifen or due to the Chemo assault of the last few months. Or possibly a combination of the two. Just to be safe I went to see my ONC yesterday and had my levels checked. I am slightly anemic which may have something to do with the fatigue. Not enough to be put back on Iron or to worry about. He will keep an eye on this and remember he was my Hematologist long before be was my Oncologist. All other levels including my tumor markers are good.

I also learned that the pie extravaganza in Julian added on 3 pounds! Oy!

My ONC stressed that it will take at least 3 months to get my energy back from the Chemo. So I will continue to listen to my body and rest and SLOW DOWN when I need to.

Have a great weekend.

Ancora Imparo

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Change of Scenery...

We got the chance to get a change of scenery for a few days with my BIL J (and what a change it was.)

We headed to Julian, CA and indulged in all things Apple.

Apple Pie, Apple Cherry Pie, Apple Boysenberry Pie, Apple Cider,
Apple Caramel Pecan Pie, Apple Pancakes, Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon Twists, Maple Pecan Cinnamon Rolls and King Leo Toffee

We made it our mission to seek out the best tasting pie (and other sweet treats) -- which wasn't too hard. Everything was delicious.

Now, lest you think all we did was eat we did see all of the sights in town and out of town.

Which included:

The Stonewall Mine
Digging for tourmaline at the Himalaya Mine
(I happily sat under the canopy and caught glimpses of M & S's finds)

The Julian Museum
The Julian Cemetery
The Julian Jail
Lake Cuyamaca
The Santa Ysabel Casino (M & I had a "date night" -- thanks to J)

We had lots of opportunities to relax -- which gave me the time to read and write in my journal.

Here are a couple of things I wrote:

A change 0f scenery.
A chance to recharge and refresh.
A respite from doctors.
We marveled at the beauty outside our windows.

Kindred Spirits

A lone lady sat at a table at the neighborhood coffee house.
Her head covered in a khaki scarf mine in burgundy paisley.
I smiled at her as we approached the entrance.
She smiled back.
We shared a moment.
We exchanged simple pleasantries and then my family and I went on our journey.
Would I see her again?
What was her story?
Where was she on her journey?
Did she seek solace in this seemingly secluded place?
Does it matter?

The Julian Cemetery

Climbing the railroad tie steps bordered by an apple orchard we entered the old cemetery.
Seeing folks whose lives ended so long ago we said their names aloud as a way to honor them.
104, 98, 89.
Lots of soldiers from various wars.
Several infants and the Wolf Boy (still not quite sure about him.)
A big wind blew through the trees --
I closed my eyes and felt the wind around me enjoying the peace and serenity of this place.

We were all so grateful that we could take this trip and celebrate my being finished with Chemo.

Now that we are back I have been diligent about the treadmill -- maybe it is the inspiration of the plethora of older women athletes in the Olympics or the fact that I feel like a great big blob after all I ate while away -- whatever the case I am trying to get back into the daily exercise routine. I have started taking Tamoxifen -- so far nothing to report. I am hopeful it will remain that way.

Ancora Imparo

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Step Forward...


I had my weekly appointment with my ONC today.
My levels are really, really good post Chemo #4.
And I don't have to go back for 3 weeks! Yippee!

My ONC gave me the thumbs up that I can move forward with scheduling my port-a-cath removal and hysterectomy for the end of September (both can be done during the same surgery.) I am waiting to hear the official date it is scheduled for.

I picked up my Tamoxifen prescription today. Since I have two antibiotics left from my sinus infection I will start the above mentioned on Sunday. I want to give my self a chance to get that out of my system before introducing something new.

Mike and I met a prospective reconstruction surgeon today. We saw what the expander looks like and held both saline and silicone implants. It was quite an education. We have a lot to think about as we continue to navigate down the reconstruction highway. Since choosing delayed reconstruction we have time to look at all the options. Based on my size and my bleeding disorder the flap procedures (and there are a lot of those) are not in my best interest. I will be going with expanders and implants and there are 4 phases to this choice which take about 1 year to complete. There are a few more surgeons that we want to contact before we make our final decision of who we will go with.

I loved all the comments on the last blog posting.

Your continued support has made and continues to make a huge impact on my healing and recovery.

Ancora Imparo

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Damaged Goods...

An interesting point was made in my support group today. Someone said they felt like "damaged goods" -- that their cancer diagnosis and treatment has left them feeling like less of a woman.

This remark made me sad. I have never felt for one moment during all of this that I was damaged and I have never felt like I was less of a woman.

I know everyone who has ever dealt with this disease is on their own personal journey and people process things in their own way.

Do I like the fact I am dealing with Cancer -- NO!
Would I change places with someone else so I don't have to deal with this -- NO!
Do I feel like less of a woman because my breasts are gone -- Absolutely NOT!
Do I feel like I am less of a person -- NO F'ing Way!

I have a lot to be grateful and thankful for and I know it. I count my blessings daily. My beautiful husband, son, family and our incredible circle of friends have made a tremendous impact on my healing and recovery.

Ancora Imparo

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Graduation of Sorts...

Hi All,

Happy Wednesday! It is one week since my last Chemo and it has been quite an interesting week. I recovered nicely from my Friday wonkiness but did not feel quite back to normal. As it turns out in the wee hours of Tuesday (3A actually) a sinus infection hit me like a steam roller -- I tried to meditate on the sinus pressure/pain, I tried some visualization, I tried to ignore it and then I let out a few expletives and made my way bleary eyed into the kitchen where I took Tylenol and Sudafed and then went back to bed. A quick call in the morning to my ONC and I was picking up a course of antibiotics. Thankfully they have begun to kick in and I am feeling more energized and more like myself. I am continuing to take the time to really rest so this infection does not linger.

Today I had my last day of physical therapy. I was officially discharged. The ladies that have been helping me to regain my mobility are true angels. When I started they were concerned with my post mastectomy range of motion. And since I want to have reconstruction surgery we had our work cut out for us. My upper body needs to be strong enough to support my new breasts and I needed the ability to raise both arms up above my head -- a task that was not possible when I started a few months ago. Now I have full range of motion and exercises that I can continue to do on my own to keep stiffness from setting in and maintain the mobility.

Several people gave me the advice to keep moving when I started Chemo and I think that really helped to get my mind (and body) in motion. I am very grateful for that piece of advice.

Ancora Imparo

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Breast Cancer Strikes Again...

Looks like breast cancer has just struck again.
Christina Applegate was just diagnosed and it was made public.
The link below is one of the articles that was just posted.

Personally I wish her only the best. I am sure she has a brilliant medical team and a lot of support both personally and from a far. The fact that she has a family history (her Mom battled breast cancer) is probably one of the reasons she was being monitored so closely and it was caught so early.

To all you ladies (regardless of your age) please make your appointment for your mammogram, ultra sound or MRI -- What are you waiting for?
Mike and I love your support and don't want to see you affected by this.

Ancora Imparo

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Portrait of Wonkiness...

Just in case you were wondering this is what wonkiness looks like.

Ancora Imparo

Chemo Watch...

Greetings from the couch.
It is Friday and my usual post Chemo wonkiness has set in.

I am watching a so-so movie that is helping to pass the time and ease some of the blah-ness I am feeling. I am grateful that this is temporary and look forward to feeling better and better in the days and weeks to come.

It looks like I will be starting on Tamoxifen (taken like a vitamin) -- not sure when so I will keep you posted and then following my hysterectomy I will be switched to an Aromatase inhibitor (AI). Figuring out which AI will be based on a bone density test and a few other factors.

Your thoughts, prayers and support continue to truly help all of us as we navigate down the path towards healing and recovery.

Ancora Imparo