Thursday, October 30, 2008

258 Weeks Left...

My hysterectomy was six weeks ago and I have just completed my second week on Arimidex. I have 258 weeks left. Thankfully the side effects are manageable thus far. The biggest complaints are muscle pain and fatigue. Both seem to be better if I keep moving and not sit for extended periods of time. The nausea and headaches I was experiencing last week have begun to subside which makes me very happy.

My hair is really growing in now. It looks like the color is basically the same. It is too early to tell if it will be curly or wavy. The pic on this posting was taken just moments ago.

Earlier in the week I transitioned to the post treatment group at weSpark so today I went to the in treatment group one last time to say goodbye and have a sense of closure. That group was a big part of my journey when I was undergoing treatment. It was a place for me to go and share what I was experiencing. A non judgmental environment which is so essential when you are in a vulnerable place. No matter how strong you are and how much support you have the ability to share your experience with others in a similar situation is helpful. I don't want that to sound like I don't appreciate and embrace all of the amazing people that have continued to keep us in their thoughts and prayers so please don't take offense but for those that have undergone a life changing event I think you may understand what I am trying to say. Without the love and support of my dear husband, family and friends I may not have sought out a place like weSpark. And I am truly grateful that I did. Mike continues to allow me to find myself and my "new" sense of normal and I am so incredibly blessed and fortunate that I can do that.

I certainly would never wish a cancer diagnosis on anyone. But g-d forbid you are faced with it you have to seek out a cancer support center. You can't battle this on your own. You need the support of those that have walked that road before you.

Ancora Imparo

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Life Force...

Yesterday I went to my second Reiki session at weSpark. Just in case this is a new term for you here is a little definition from

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

It is always an interesting experience to have energy work. My biggest challenge is lying still and quieting my mind. I have the same issue in Yoga. My mind wanders. Yesterday, I started thinking about dinner. As in what should I make for dinner... what ingredients do I have on hand to make a balanced and quick dinner. So as I was lying there yesterday and A was leading me in Reiki I thought about making a nice fresh green salad and steamed broccoli but that turned to roasted zucchini because I just picked up some nice organic zucchini and steaming seemed so pedantic. But then it was time to figure out the entree. And all the while I thought I just need to be in the moment. Which worked temporarily until I thought about my 88 year old Grandma and her broken telephone which would be repaired today. This went on for an hour. My mind wandering while A worked on my life force. I have to say I did relax and I did take a lot in. I am continuing to remind myself to be in the moment. It is one of the many new mantras that I have since being on this journey.

Earlier in the morning I worked on my resume and surfed the net for potential job leads. This felt good. My return to work date is January 5, 2009.

These are my thoughts; because I have met and continue to meet so many amazing people on this journey. I am looking for a job where I can give back. Ideally I want to work for an organization or cause. I am excited about the prospect of doing something different and about the opportunity to make a difference and help others along the way.

Ancora Imparo

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's New?

Happily it has been close to four weeks since my surgery and three since I was last in the hospital.

Today I had a bone density test. Other than being placed in some rather odd positions the test was rather uneventful. I did manage to catch a glimpse of one of the X-rays and it was pretty interesting. I could see my lungs and all of my spine. Since science has always fascinated me and we don't often get the chance to see the inner workings of our own bodies I found it pretty cool. The test is being done to assess my personal risk for developing osteoporosis.

Friday I started taking my Aromatase Inhibitor. My ONC prescribed Armidex. I think it is fitting that the icon identified with this particular AI is a set of hot pink boxing gloves. I like the symbolism -- this medication is further insurance that I have knocked out the cancer and am doing what I can to prevent it from coming back. If all goes well I will be on this AI for five years so in October of 2013 I will be celebrating being done with it -- That is something to truly look forward too.

Tomorrow I will follow up with the reconstruction surgeon to see if I will be scheduled for phase 1 (expander surgery) in late December.

Ancora Imparo

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Are you there G-d? It's Me, Marla...

I have always been proud of being Jewish and I consider myself more spiritual than religious. I feel like my faith is a large part of who I am and something that is deep inside of me.

During the recent high holidays (a time for celebration and reflection) I found myself celebrating in far different ways than I have in the past.

For starters I was readmitted into our local (Catholic) hospital. I never gave a second thought when asked about my religious preferences. I told the admitting nurse that I was Jewish. G-d forbid if I was ever in a situation where it became medically necessary to acknowledge my religion I take comfort in knowing that my Rabbis are a phone call away and that the hospital has a staff of Jewish Chaplains.

Thirty minutes before high holiday services began at our temple Rabbi J called to tell me that he was thinking about me and that he knew that next year I would be in the synagogue with Mike and Sully. I hung up the phone and was so deeply touched that he took the time to call.

While fellow Jews around the world were enjoying the tastes of the holiday (apples dipped in honey and round challah) I was taking laps around the hospital floor with my IV in the hopes it would reawaken my bowels so I could finally graduate to a liquid diet. While Jews were making their pilgrimage to synagogue to hear the sounds of the Shofar I was listening to a CD that one of the Jewish Chaplains had lent me. "The Birthday of the World: A Traditional Rosh Hashanah Service" narrated by Leonard Nimoy and featuring a glorious choir. I laid in my hospital bed and meditated to the melodies coming from that CD. I was transported to that synagogue. Being lent that CD was a magnificent gift. The sheer beauty and familiarity of the melodies will forever stay with me. It was a very moving way to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

In addition to the call from my Rabbi and my own private high holiday service I also had the pleasure of having my very own shofar blower come to my room specifically to share in the mitzvah of blowing shofar. The group from our local Chabad that came to the hospital did so because of their connection with G-d and I received this mitzvah because of my connection with G-d.

I was discharged and sent home several days before Yom Kippur. Once settled in I listened to a very sweet message from Rabbi S.

Thankfully I felt well enough to attend services for Yom Kippur. Sully sat with Mike and I. Hearing my name as it was shared on the Mi Sheberach list and reciting the prayer for healing along with the rest of the congregation was deeply profound. I held onto Mike's hand and looked into his loving eyes.

These are truly high holidays that I will remember.

We all have our own beliefs which is what makes us all so incredibly special and unique. I am simply grateful to continue to have so many blessings of life and love around me.

Ancora Imparo

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Sound of Rain...

On Tuesday, thanks to my friend and personal chauffeur C, I had the opportunity to go back to weSpark and participate in the creative writing class.

While we listened to the sound of rain I wrote the following:

Rain falls outside my window and off in the distance I hear thunder which reminds me of my personal journey and my path to see rainbows and sunshine.

The dark days are a normal part of this process. The road to recovery has been paved with a lot of love and support but it is the portion of this journey that I must travel alone that is at times the most difficult. The moments where I reach into the very depths of my soul and confront the events that have transpired and work through how I have been forever changed. It is not the physical changes that I write about although I suppose those are constant reminders. It's the internal changes -- the spiritual and emotional.

I know that I will continue to hear the sound of rain but I also know that sunny skies are within my reach.

Ancora Imparo

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Won't You Join Me...

Many friends sent me the link to Dr. Susan Love's latest quest Army of Women.
A few moments on the website and you will see that we can all make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. Her goal is simple. Create a database of 1 million women from all ethnicity's in all age ranges -- from survivors and those with no history of breast cancer.

Please take a moment to look at her site and register. If we all work together we can prevent another woman from having to tell her loved ones she has Breast Cancer and find a cure for this disease.

Ancora Imparo

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Odds and Ends...

So I meant to call the last post "The Illeus and My Odyssey" but I had a post Chemo moment and couldn't remember it until now.

It has been wonderful being home and getting back into the swing of things. I truly feel now that my recovery can officially begin. I celebrate the fact that my treatment with the exception of being on an Aromatase Inhibitor is behind me now. The months really went by very quickly and I am seeing the signs that my body is fighting back and rebuilding itself. My hair is growing back -- my nails are growing -- all signs that my healthy cells are working their magic! At my oncology appointment this week I will most likely be told what Aromatase Inhibitor I will be starting and am hopeful the side effects will be minimal as my body adjusts to it. I am hoping that I will be back to driving later in the week. In the meantime I am taking it easy(ish.) Listening to my body and trying to not overdo it. Post surgery complication aside I have to say the pain from the hysterectomy is beyond minimal.

Yesterday Mike and I took Sully to his very first Tae Kwon Do competition. He competed in both forms and sparring. It was amazing to be a part of something so much bigger than our local Do Jang. Mike and I were so incredibly proud of our little guy. He has been practicing his forms diligently and did amazingly well. He took home a Gold medal in forms and a Bronze medal in sparring. He truly relished every moment and is wearing his medals with great pride. We all had a great time rooting for his fellow classmates. I was so truly grateful that I was able to be there.

This morning I took Sully to continue on his popcorn selling quest. We went door-to-door and he sold his little heart out. I marveled at the fact that a few short days ago I was still in the hospital taking laps around the 7th floor.

I continue to feel so incredibly blessed.

Ancora Imparo


Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Pooped!

As my most wonderfully amazing husband, Mike, shared in the last post my hysterectomy was uneventful.

And I am truly thankful for that. I was discharged from the hospital Saturday evening. On the condition that I return to the hospital Sunday twice for infusion treatment as a preventative measure for my bleeding disorder. My homecoming was short lived as I began feeling really sick in the middle of the night. To the point where Mike had to phone Dr. K and let her know what I was experiencing. Since I had to be back at the hospital in the morning the thought was we would access the situation there. We did just that.

I ended up being readmitted to the hospital on Sunday. At one point in between a round of super intense abdominal pain I quietly told Mike I felt like I had "shit poisoning." It turns out that what I did have was a Postoperative Ileus. (A temporary paralysis of a portion of the intestines typically after an abdominal surgery.) The best way to treat this is to be taken off all food and water until sound can be heard in your abdominal cavity. So me and my IV got to be best pals for a few days. I was then put on a liquid diet and then moved to the soft/bland diet where I got the chance to order off of the hospital menu. Just a side note; since when are smothered Pork Chops soft and bland? I opted for the Manicotti.

With actual food in my belly my mission was to poop as that was my ticket to freedom. It is truly amazing to me that with all of the medical advancements that we have made it comes down to something as rudimentary as going #2! Thankfully I was able to do that early this morning and be discharged shortly thereafter.

I am so very grateful to be home.

Ancora Imparo