Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Awwww....Freak out!"

Last week I had my first official post cancer freak out.  I had a sore spot on my shoulder blade that had been bothering me for a week or so.   I have been going to the gym to try and work on getting my stamina up, so my first thought is that one of my workout tops rubbed it the wrong way.  Then the seat belt was aggravating it.  Finally, I was feeling around for the sore spot and BAM...there it is.....a lump under my collar bone.  I'm thinking to myself....this is NOT happening to me again.

So different from my first reaction to the lump on my breast.   This, after talking to my Rheumatologist about how I'm dosing myself with Enbrel as little as possible to control my symptoms.  I met a woman at yoga with RA who DID get lymphoma while taking Enbrel and Humera, so now it's officially on the table as something real that can happen to people, not just a black box warning on a sheet of paper from the pharmacist.  

So I spent  two days of thinking, there is no way that I can have a recurrence or a new tumor so close to stopping Chemo comes with the terror of remembering back to the day when a strange lump in my breast did nothing more than make me pause and think, I should probably have someone look at this at some point.

Rather than worry myself longer than I had to, I called my doctor to have her check it out. She tells me that it's feels like an enlarged lymph node, nothing to worry about, I probably have a little bit of something or other. But if it's still there in 2 weeks, I can get it biopsied for piece of mind.   I feel foolish. I don't want to spend the rest of my life freaking out about every little lump bump or illness that comes my way, but right now, I can't help it.  I worry that all this that I have been through and all that is still yet to come will not make any difference in the long run.

I think this is a normal reaction at this point.  After all, I just found out last night that the grieving process doesn't take place until 6-18 months AFTER the traumatic event.  Just about the time your friends and family think that the ordeal is mostly over and we all can return to a normal existence.  I feel nowhere close to normal at this point.
This is me almost exactly one year ago, when we took Connor to Chicago to celebrate his 10th birthday.  I know I will never be this person again.

Here is the hair update: Still no eyebrows or eyelashes, but I've gone out in public the past two nights without wearing a hat or scarf on my head, but a lot of eye makeup.  I'm still dealing with the neuropathy in my finger tips and toes from the last session of Taxotere in February.  I won't know if it will ever go away. At this point, I just have to wait and see, and bear it if it doesn't.  The good news is that I didn't lose my nails or my toenails. My finger nails look horrid, but they aren't lifting up or anything, they are just discolored and funky looking.  I ended up putting on nail polish and keep cutting them down in hopes of getting them looking back to normal as soon as possible.

chemo nails

It's a month since my boob 2.0 upgrade, and the real implant is more comfortable than the football they had in there before, but not as much as I had hoped.  I still get phantom pain where there is nothing to hurt and I feel like I am now smuggling a water balloon in my chest.   I know that I will eventually get used to this feeling, too.  Humans are so wonderfully adaptable, but I don't know if I will ever be happy about it.  It doesn't look real, it doesn't feel real, and I seriously question myself sometimes for ever going thru with it in the first place, rather than just cutting it off and being done with it.  No one prepared me for what it would be like to have a part of myself cut off, even though they can reproduce something that looks normal as long as I have clothes on.   I see my boob doctor next on April 9th and I hope that I can get a date for the breast lift for the right side, so I can put these surgeries behind me and get on with it.  

I just don't know what "IT" is at the moment.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


(TMI alert - viewer discretion advised)
It's been two weeks since my tissue expander (aka the toaster, football, aggravating nuisance, etc) was removed and my "permanent" implant was put in.  I use quotes because the implant is NOT permanent, it has a shelf life of about 10 or 15 years, when it will need to be replaced, or if I gain a lot of weight or if I decide I want to start another life in the porn industry. I saw my plastic surgeon today, hoping (on my part) to be able to schedule the surgery to get my right boob lift scheduled.  Instead, I got, "looks like it's healing well". And also his recommendation that I don't get the nipple graft- he doesn't think it will be successful.  So at least there is one decision that I no longer have to make.  I wait a month and then see him again, and hopefully be able to schedule my last surgery.  

For my part, I'm still ambivalent about this Barbie boob.  It's certainly not the rocking rack that I envisioned when I first learned I was getting my mastectomy.  Right now it looks like frankenstein with a barbie boob.
I know the scar will heal nicely, when I went in for the surgery, the incision was already a fine white line, so I won't have angry red scars for ever.  I think once I have the lift on the right side and all is healed, I may feel differently.  There are so many stages to the process of healing and at times I get a little impatient.

So here is the progress so far, the weird ripple above the tape is actually my pectoral muscle.  I can actually flex the top part of my boob if I want to, so I guess that can be the super power I gained from this whole experience.  However, I will always and forever only be "cold" on my right side. unless I want to carry peas or wadded up tissue to stick into my bra to have matching THOs.  On that thought, that might be my million dollar idea....stick on nipples for woman who have mastectomies without the nipple graft. I'm wondering if I do a google search what I would find....

In any event, the number one fave tattoo is now still in the running, since there will be no nub to worry about.

I'm continuing on my Herceptin drip every three weeks, my most recent visit was this past Monday and my Oncologist called in my prescription for the devil drug- Tamoxifen.  I will totally laugh and do something to benefit the greater good if it ends up that I get no adverse effects from this drug.  It's the Estrogen suppressant medication that I get to take for the next 5 years.  I haven't started taking it yet, so I'll keep everyone posted once I do. I figure I already went through "menopause in a minute" during my first set of chemo, so I'm not sure what other side effects I can add to the ones I've already been having.  

I had my third muggle (MUGA) scan last week, and according to my doctor my heart is still chugging along fine despite my Oncologist's attempts to destroy it.  :)    

In other news, I did NOT lose my fingernails or toenails, though they have really interesting colors and stripes.  I painted over them and called it good.  I did end up getting neuropathy in that last darned chemo session of Taxotere.  It's not horrible; somedays are worse than others, and trying to button small things is an interesting challenge.  I'm taking Neurontin for it right now, and have been told that it will take some time before it either goes away or doesn't.  So.....another unsolved mystery to ponder over.

On the top side, I AM getting hair, but not much yet on the very top. It's like male pattern baldness in reverse. I still don't have many eyebrows or eyelashes to speak of, but my girl out in Maine told me she had hers by week 8, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the end of March to start looking a little less martian like.   

My weight has recovered nicely, I no longer look like the walking dead, but I have become a bit alarmed at how quickly I was able to get back up to my prior weight.  I guess the days of sitting around and eating ice cream twice a day are over for me.

In that spirit (and also cuz I just bought 3 pair of jeans that I would like to continue to be able to wear for a while), I upped my exercise, and was faithfully practicing my more challenging yoga videos and going to class until the day before my boob surgery.

Two weeks later, still a bit sore,  I decided that I needed to do something that didn't involve that body part.  So I decided that I would begin running.  This is a totally new experience for me.  I'm using the NHS couch potato to 5K in 10 weeks podcast that my husband downloaded.  I started on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, I went to Gazelle sports to buy real running shoes because the ones I had were NOT cutting it.  So now, I feel like a REAL athlete.  I'm not sure why running should make me feel so much different than my yoga practice, maybe because I think of yoga as more of a spiritual thing for me and running is so completely different than the yoga I practice.  I have not yet experienced the "runner's high", at this point all I've experienced is the 'runner's nap' after.  I know it is because I'm still recovering on so many levels, but still, I'm quite proud of myself for starting up something I told my hubby I would NEVER do.  He's already pulling out the 5k races that are in the time frame when I'd theoretically be able to run them.

We'll see how that goes.

for now.....peace~ namaste