Thursday, September 8, 2011

A long time coming!

So today is actually Sept 8th but i haven't been up to par on getting this updated for aout a year now. So i hope to start fresh as of today and work backwards through some of the things that I've been up to.
As of today my update is that I'm not going home yet again today. They're in the process of now trying to thin my blood again.
This is my fourth day stuck in here. I'm feeling a lot of stress mostly about work as I just got caught up on mostly everything (that matters, at least) last week.

Monday, February 28, 2011

6 months have passed...

Since I last logged in. I just learned that another cancer survivor who was following my blog and I was following her progress, passed away last month. So it goes with all the others who have lost their fights recently, hearing that the same people who sat next to me in chemo are no longer with us- too sad, a cure has to be found soon!
So since my last log in, back in July!!!! I got my boobs! First phase they put in tissue expanders under my chest wall and transplanted skin and muscle from my back to the front since the radiated skin won't stretch due to tissue damage. Left me with two more ugly scars on my back but what's two more scars if it means I get to have boobs again? When I came out of surgery, I actually had little lumps! They were so cute, like little A-cups! Toni likes to tell people I was singing "my lovely lady lumps!" to the nurses- for a couple hours at least, until the drugs started to wear off! Didn't get sick- but I think I threatened every nurse and doctor how ugly it would get if they didn't drug me up properly for the surgery, I always get sick- no matter how much I warn then, or how many times they tell me that I won't!
I was home for about 2 weeks is all, once I got my coumadin levels back to normal and stopped having to give myself injections of blood thinners- back to work!
Work, that's a whole 'nother story! When I was coming out of my surgery haze- I turned on my cell phone only to find several voicemails and a mailbox full of text messages. Biggest lay-off (to that date) took place that day, several of my peers, friends and those that I supervised of the support staff pool were layed off due to budget issues. That was a tough one to take, not only was I in horrible pain, I didn't know if I even had a job to go back to. I paniced and called my boss, thankfully he answered and reassured me that I still had a position to return to...and again the survivor's guilt! Because if I was also being let go, I was going to promptly march out of that surgery center that day! I think I spent the entire night on the phone with the ladies that I worked with and had supervised checking up on how they were doing. Unbelieveable!
I was in the hospital for about 3 days then returned home so that Toni could take care of me. And she loved every minute of it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Surgery Scheduled

Soooo...Good news! I'm scheduled for phase 1 of my reconstruction on Tues August 10th! I wasn't expecting them to do it so soon, so it was a nice surprise. I met with plastic surgeon again today, they said I could do it at the time I'm scheduled or not till later this fall. Given some situations going on at work, it was better for me to get this process started now.
They will put in the tissue expanders, and use some back fat and such to build the boob over what will be the implant. So I will actually leave the hospital with some boob- then will gradually inflate the tissue expanders to the size that I want...TBD :)
He said to plan on being off for about 3 weeks but has had very good luck with recent surgeries like this that he's done recently, some ready to go home after a day or so- but to plan on about 3 days in the hospital. I'll be at the Siouxland Surgery Center.
I have to get a physical and be cleared by my oncologist, who, luck would have it- is out of the country until August 4th. Thankfully the nurse double-booked him to fit me in that Thursday. If he doesn't give me approval for the surgery this time, it could get ugly!! I was pretty devastated in April when they told me I had to wait.
So excited!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Finished! For real this time!

I had my last radiation on Thursday! I'm completely finished, other than a skin check in 2 weeks and they're also checking my arms for swelling at that time. Dr even said that I really tried to drag this out as long as possible :)
I actually showed up on Tuesday thinking it was my last treatment, but this was not correct. They just didn't schedule my last two treatments originally. I had to go in on Thursday at 7:40 am, I asked the girl if it was because on my last day they had coffee and donuts for me? She just said "no, i think there was a scheduling conflict" REALLY?? She was new, she didn't get me yet...
They stopped radiating my chest wall that day because when I was in on Friday, the tech said I had some serious blisters in my armpit. I had no idea because I have no feeling under my arms and on my chest yet from the surgery- all nerves are dead yet. So they stopped doing that area that was giving me the blisters in my armpits and gave me some solution to "soak" my armpit in. That was complicated... but it worked, just two days later they said it looked much better.
All the girls working when I left wanted hugs- I got my free tshirt- and I did NOT ring the bell. I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious and last time I rang that damn bell it didn't get me too far...maybe at my 5 year check up.
I had labs on Friday and as I was sitting there waiting for the physical in the lobby a lady came out of what must have been her last treatment of radiation- she looked not much older than me, I'm not sure where she's been hiding the last year- I swear I know everyone in town with cancer. But when she came out in the lobby her family and friends were there and all started cheering for her and had flowers for her, then she rang the bell. Not a dry eye in the place! It was very cool...
So from here, I'm anxiously waiting for my new boobies surgery- which they said would be in 3 months but I can not wait! I'm planning on doing it around Sept 20th because Amanda and I are running the 5K in Sioux City on the 18th and it might be nice to not have boobs hitting me in the face while I run (because that's the real reason I don't run). So I'm working on getting in shape for that. Spending a lot of time on the elliptical and just got a new bike last week. Chris and I just got back from a 7-ish mile ride. Now we're going to the bar :) Have a good weekend!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm a little embarassed it's been nearly 2 months since I've written anything! My millions of fans are asking for more! :)
A lot has happened, I last wrote. I started radiation on 2/28. I do that everyday at 8 am. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish (assuming they aren't already behind schedule). So it's more of a hassel than anything. Just this week I started getting a rash and showing some burns on my skin. I woke up with it Wednesday morning and it's driving me crazy! It itches pretty bad if something brushes against it, otherwise not too bad. Good news is I'll be done with radiation on June 1. Normally they would have made me wait for a month after my last chemo before starting radiation because the drugs are still in my system and they make me 'extra sensitized" to burn and rash but I pleaded them to let me start early. Amanda's wedding is 6-19 and i really don't want any burn marks yet by then!
I have to see the doctor every Monday, he told me this past week that he thougth I'd be a really red and burned already by that time, and luckily I wasn't even the slightest bit pink, so I was pretty happy.
Other good news, my hair is starting to grow back! Just in the last week, it seems to be sprouting up all over the place! I can still see my scalp, so won't be going without a hat for a while, but I'm glad it's started! I was a bit nervous when it first started growing and it was only in patches, I thought I could be bald the rest of my life.
I did have an ultrasound on the swelling that I still have on my left side mid-April. It showed nothing other than fluid- so that's good news! The swelling I still had in December is what showed that the cancer was back, so that was exceptionally good news to confirm that there was no cancer left!
Other big things...We had Amanda's bachelorette party last weekend. That was nuts! I got a wig to wear out, that itself was pretty scarey. I was horribly afraid I would have too many drinks and take it off somewhere inappropriate! Well, I did have too many drinks but the wig didn't come off :) Until later in the hotel, and everyone tried it on, but none of us remembered that. Penguin had the pictures on her phone to prove it- otherwise, wouldn't have a clue. Good times! Too old to be doing this :)
I'm also going to start seeing a nutritionist because I totally broke down bawling at my appt on Friday. I've been busting my ass on the elliptical, doing weight watchers and otherwise starving myself...I lost 2 pounds by Monday when I weighed in, when I went on Friday, I had GAINED 3 pounds! My doctor said all the weight I gained would "melt off"...well, it's not and I'm totally freaking out about it. It was probably the Coney Island I had Friday for lunch, but aside from that, it's very stressing! I had to buy a whole new wardrobe this winter because none of my clothes fit me, now- come spring and summer-again, none of my clothes fit me and I need to buy a whole nother set of clothes for summer! I really used to enjoy shopping, but not so much anymore. The gowns that I wear for radiation are ginormous, the arm holes itself I can fit my body through, and they wrap around me twice...I really wish I could wear one of these all day, everyday. We'll see how that goes.
Still looking forward to running the Cancer Center's 5K in September!
Friday morning I saw a lady that my mom knows who was there for her treatment. She was so excited for me that I'll be done with radiation June 1st. She has had I think she said 26 rounds of chemo since Christmas and no end in sight. I started to feel guilty and didn't know what to say to her. She's already had more chemo than I did in 1 year, just in 6 months and she has no idea when she will be done. She said she knows someone else who had the same kind of lung cancer (for all the smokers in the house) who has been getting chemo for years and will never be done. buh.... couldn't imagine that
Debbie Downer signing out!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Last One! Cross your fingers!

Today was my last day of Chemo! Although, I decided I would not be ringing that bell this time, I think it jinxed me last time. It was just two weeks later I found out the cancer had indeed...returned. I have been quite swelled up on the left side this week and last week, I thought it was all the ham I ate for Easter but it's not going away. :) When Dr. DB was feeling it he said he didn't think it was cancer, and I was quick to remind him that no one thought it was cancer last time either, and look at me now! So I have an ultrasound on Wednesday next week to see what it is, Dr thinks its just some extra fluid that needs to be sucked out.
There was no one else in the chemo room with me today, I totally fell asleep and I think my mom did too since she got to sit in one of the comphy chairs since there was no one else there.
I'll have blood draws every week to monitor my blood counts for a month or so, and I should be seeing the radiologist in the next couple weeks. Doc said I can start my radiation in 2 weeks since I've done reasonably well through the entire series of chemo. No barfing and blood counts have stayed high enough that I didn't need any neulasta shots or transfusions or anything.

On another note...we registered Theresa's Troops for the Susan G Komen walk on May 6th. Go to this link to register to walk with our team!
We can not wear any of the pink shirts we had made, they are reserving the color pink for only survivors to wear that day. So we may need to order a batch of black ones for those that want them, they are $10 ea.

And yet another note. I just want to publicly say THANKS! to anyone from work who may be reading this. Everyone has been so supportive throughout the last year, especially this final push! They wore their theresa's tshirts every Thursday before I had chemo and had several gatherings (mainly involving food) to wish me well. I got fresh baked cookies on more than one occasion, and had lots of my coworkers picking up the slack with my being gone so much. There was also a lot of things that didn't get done, becuase there's only so many hours in a day- and for those on the other end of that, thanks for putting up with me! The girls in my department played a huge part in helping prepare and publicize for the fundraisers. I am so fortunate to have such great friends to keep me going, because you were the ones who had to listen to me everyday, and you're the ones that kept me going!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Set back

So yesterday while I was laying around, not being at work, I thought I should call my plastic surgeon and get things scheduled! I talked to the nurse and explained where I was in my chemo and she asked me a few questions and said she was scheduling a surgery day for that doctor on April 13th but she just wanted to talk to the doctor real quick to make sure I was good to go and be scheduled.
The nurse called me back at 5 pm and said we're a "no go" on the surgery any time soon. She said his notes were very vague as to what procedure I was going to have, which he said was because I didn't really know at the time- but had taken his advice for what he thought would look best, and have the best overall outcome.
Now, the plan is that after I finish chemo AND radiation- 3 months after that...I can get my tissue expanders put in. I was crushed, I think I bawled most of the night. I'm anxious to get my life back and at least appear somewhat normal. Nothing like walking through a store and seeing the eyes go from your face to your blank chest- no exaggeration either. So tentatively we are looking at end of summer/ early fall to start the process.
I had another follow up with my regular sugeon today. I got the OK to quit doing PT! I try, I really did but it really sucks! It's more so inconvenient than anything and more appointments outside of work which is the real issue. I do have a blast with her and I'll miss our chats, but I'm starting to think that's not the point of PT. :)