Monday, January 31, 2011

Whining, Wondering and Wild Weather

OK, I really just feel like whining.  Just like one of the three year olds outside my office in preschool.  As teachers, we usually say (just in a whisper to each other in the midst of whining) "Can we get some cheese with that whine?"  It's like a pathetic, old joke that we tell to each other again and again.  And it always manages to get a laugh out of all of us!

But tonight I feel just like one of those three year olds and I just want to whine, whine, whine and say "Poor me!"  I am tired of going to chemo.  I am tired of my bald head.  I am tired of feeling achy and tired.  I am tired of getting weighed every Tuesday before chemo (it's worse than Weight Watchers ...I always feel like I need to lose weight).  I'm tired of telling my story.  I'm tired of worrying about blood counts.  I'm just tired, tired, tired of the whole breast cancer thing.

I have six chemo sessions left and that seems like a million years.  I feel like these last months have been years.  I'm feeling sorry for myself and I can't and won't make excuses for it.  Right now, I just want to whine and throw a temper tantrum because I know I will feel so much better after I cry, scream and kick my feet on the floor.  I want off this Cancer Merry-go-Round!  There!  I feel better just complaining.

I keep wondering what the mastectomy will be like and what the implants will feel like and how I will look.  I know this will be answered by the plastic surgeon but right now, I just wonder.  I wonder if I will ever look back on this time and second guess myself on any decisions.  I wonder if I will ever feel well again.  I wonder how often I will have to continue to see the oncologist after all the surgery is done.  I wonder if I ever will have to go through any of this again.  I wonder if my hair will really grow back again...and the hair in my nose, my eyelashes, and elsewhere.

The world outside is very much an imitation of my own emotions and my life right now with breast cancer.  There has not been such wild winter weather in a long, long time.  Every time I turn around, there is another storm here or one coming.  Just one hit after another keeps rolling in with no end in sight.  

I know I am usually able to "keep a stiff upper lip" most of the time.  But yesterday and today...I  just want to be a whiner.  I want someone else to take my place for a while.  I want to feel normal just for a day.

Tomorrow is another trip to the chemo ballroom where I will dance unconsciously through a benedryl haze (hopefully, if counts are good) and be able to mark one more treatment down.  I am hoping this wild winter weather that we are being warned is coming will not stop us from getting there.  My husband keeps saying we'll get there no matter what!  He knows what it means to get another one marked off on the calendar.

I know eventually, chemo WILL be done.  The surgery WILL be done and I WILL start getting back to a normal life.  But today, just for today....I need to whine.  Anyone have some cheese?  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dinner with the "BC Support Club"

It's been a busy week, and today is once again a snow day at preschool, so I knew I needed to get here and write while I am given this "free time".  First, let me say that my counts were back up again (not as high as my oncologist would have liked, but they are up!), so I was able to get my chemo this week.  So I am now at the half-way point in the second half of my treatment.  Six more to go!  Then surgery, then reconstruction, then recovery, then back to "life as I knew it".  WHEW!

I have mentioned before that there are four others at my church who have been going through this same journey with me.  We are a mix of different diagnoses and different treatments, but we are all joined together by the connection of the "C" word.  It's a word that is always hard to hear and one we all fear we will hear one day.  I can remember thinking at one time that the worst thing I thought could happen to me was to hear that I would need to have chemo treatments...and now, here I am...and I am surviving it and getting though it.  You do what you have to do.  All four of us have had our moments of utter helplessness and also moments of determination and "true grit".

We decided we needed to meet somewhere to "really talk".  We had all been seeing each other at church and talking at coffee hour, but we wanted a place we could talk without interruptions and be able to say and ask all we needed to say and ask of each other.  We met at a local diner where we knew we could take our time and gab while we ate.

All five of us have had our surgery.  One of us had a double mastectomy, so did not need radiation, and had no node or other involvement so did not need chemo either.  She had cancer in only one breast, but had a family history of this cancer and felt (like me) that she didn't want to take chances and wait each time she had a mammogram for the "other shoe to fall".  Two others needed only radiation.  Then, there is my story and one other in the group who share a similar path through chemo right now; although I will be going on to more surgery and she will be going on to radiation.  So we are a real "mixed bag".

Just as you would imagine, the two who needed only radiation had a lot to say to each other as did the two of us who are in chemo.  The one who had the double mastectomy talked to me about that and to the group as a whole.  As we were initially greeting each other and talking about wigs, hats, baldness, chemo, radiation, tiredness...I could see some around us looking at us.  But it didn't seem to matter at all.  In fact, I felt kinda free being able to mention all this out loud and in public.  There IS after all, "strength in numbers".  And I think, if anything, that is what we all needed most.  We talked about "chemo brain" (and yes, this is a real thing!), and how others look at us and think we are "feeling fine".  A lot of credit for this comes mainly through make up and accessories...but all that hides the tiredness and other aches and pains and side effects that we are experiencing at any given time.  We also talked about our treatments and its effect on us and our families and how we yearn to feel "normal" again.  The two of us who are going through chemo are the only ones "not done" with our treatments yet (and I say this knowing we will actually never "be done" with this journey now), so we had the most to say to each other.  We rode home in the car together and we both shared that we felt "jealous" somewhat of the others for only needing surgery and radiation.  Even though we acknowledge that the news of BC and subsequent surgery and treatment for them was equally as hard to go through....we somehow felt they had been "spared", while we were not.

I am getting tired of my bald head and we share this feeling.  We both had looked at their full heads of hair and it was a symbol of what we had lost.  I feel good for her that she will be having her last chemo next week (she had the stronger dosage and 4 treatments spaced out; I have the lower dosage and 12 weekly treatments) since she has been struggling with enormous pain in her knees and has two young children.

I know this will not be the last time we will meet together.  I know we need to be able to say those hard things we cannot say to others and admit those things we are afraid to admit elsewhere.  And I know I will need to talk more to the one who has had the double mastectomy since that will be the next part of my journey as well.  She has already generously offered to even let me "see and feel" the implants she has.  And I need to make those calls today for an appointment to start the conversation with the plastic surgeons. 

The dinner with these girls was the best part of my week.  I am grateful for their company and all we shared.  And if you look around you today, just remember that one out of eight women you will see has been touched in some way by breast cancer.  You may know it...and then again, you may not.  But it is a very real fact.  Smile at them all! 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In the Land of Introspection

I'm overdue for writing here.  I guess I've been a little lazy this week and have found myself doing a lot of introspective thinking.  I guess it's kinda like a chemo "mid-term evaluation".  I'm almost at a half-way point with my treatment, and feeling a little intimidated about the next part of this journey.   Not about my decision to have the double mastectomy; but about the surgery and recovery itself.   

This week was also the first time I wasn't able to get my chemo and it did take me by surprise, even though I was aware this could happen at anytime.  We know our past always plays into our present (and our future).  As far as my past, I've always been the strong one in my family.  The one to make decisions; the one that can figure out solutions for everyone's problems and the one nicknamed "The Energizer Bunny" for my high energy.  It's truly hard not to be that person right now.  I've been told by family and friends that now is the time I can and should just lean back and coast for a while.  But that's not how I "ride"...although I am trying to learn.

I was a little tired this week, probably because of the low counts and anemia.  However, my nose has stopped bleeding a little every time I blow my nose and my back was killing me today (a sign like last time that the platelets are coming back?).  So I am thinking maybe the counts have indeed come back some...and hopefully enough to get chemo on Tuesday.  As far as the anemia...I don't feel lightheaded like I did the last time it got bad...but it is hard on my legs to do stairs and I find I can't do certain things without getting out of we'll see.  Tuesday will tell.

Today I was out at the stores and while there, saw a woman with very short grey/white hair just growing in....and I knew what she had been through.  I followed her through a couple aisles before I got the courage to just go up to her and ask if she had just been going through breast cancer.  "Yes", she said, she had.  I told her that I was in the midst of it myself and couldn't wait until my hair would grow back just like hers!  She asked questions about my treatment, we compared our stories, and we promised to pray for each other on our journeys.  It is indeed a "unifying club" when you meet another woman on the journey or another woman who is a survivor (and yeah, I know men can get it also, but as women, we do mostly see each other).  There is something that is immediately connecting about the recognition of each other and the knowledge of the struggle each has had to overcome.  It is enveloped by a respect for each other's strength and courage.  I find myself sometimes looking through a crowd for another short bristly head or guessing about wigs being worn by people in front of me.  Because sadly, there are so many of us out there.

Then, I came home and decided to watch a movie on LIfetime.  Now, already, you know it had to be either a tear-jerker or a movie about someone killing or being killed since that's all they seem to show on this channel (LOL).  This movie was one I hadn't seen before with Meg Ryan, Adam Brody, Kristen Stewart and Olympia Dukakis called, "In the Land of Women".  It was billed as a "comedy", but I am sure that was a mistake.  Further...just to top off the week, during this movie Meg Ryan is diagnosed with breast cancer.  I said to the TV, "No...REALLY?"  I mean, what were the odds?  (I guess pretty good.)  I watched as she shaved her hair and as her counts fell "dangerously low" and she landed in the hospital... and then...came the scene after her body scan where she said to her daughter (Kristen Stewart)..."I was really scared.  I thought I wasn't  going to make it.  But now I know I will."  And she pulled herself together and it seemed a light was turned on inside her.  

I also, "know I'm going to make it"...but I am not going to say that this is easy or that I am as positive about this from day to day.  But I keep in mind that as sure as God takes care of the smallest insect or a blade of grass, so I know God takes care of me.  So, I will be OK.  I do know this.  I just needed to visit the "Land of Introspection" for a while.   

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Tide is High, but the Counts are Low

I guess I should have expected what I heard today from the oncologist.  I was feeling a little more tired than usual, my leg pain was back again and I was starting to hear that "whooshing" sound of my heartbeat in my ears when I laid down.  These feelings should have been familiar to me and my warning for what I would hear today.

It was a pretty miserable day outside also, which should have been my first clue that the day would not be what I expected.  But by 9:30 am, the icy conditions on the roads had changed more to rain so getting to my chemo appointment was less of a problem.  I had a different chemo nurse than usual, and while she is equally as pleasant and efficient as any of them...I am more used to the one who is with me most of the time; so clue number two that this was going to be a different day.  BUT...this was going to be the half way point of my second treatment and I was so excited about this milestone!  I was also glad to see the chemo ballroom was a little emptier than usual, probably due to the weather, so I was all pumped that we would be getting out sooner than usual.  The tide of my expectation was high...maybe a little too high.   

My bloods were whisked off to the lab and it wasn't long before I heard the familiar click of heels as my oncologist entered the room to speak to me.  And when she asked how I was feeling, I could read the concern in her face and there was clue number three.  I think we all get used to things after a while.  The feeling of always being tired, having aches and pains and some other symptoms being with me for so long, they have become a part of me and I don't think about them too much.  So, I told her I was feeling OK, some chills, some tiredness, some tingling beginning in my fingers (neurophathy is one of the new side effects from this second chemo treatment)...but nothing that bad.  She asked some more..."Is there anything else bothering you?". ( I should let you know that my pain and tolerance  threshold is pretty's just the way I I answered "No", and actually meant that.  I even looked at my husband with questions in my eyes to see if he noticed anything.)...and she continued to look at me with concern.

Then she gave me the counts were too low, especially the white blood cell counts and she could not let me have my chemo today.  Darn...the complete and utter disappointment!  But why didn't I realize the signs?  That high tide immediately became lower along with my mood.  She said I could still receive the Herceptin (the second med usually given in conjunction with the Taxol) but not the Taxol itself...and gave me the dreaded reminder that this would mean I needed to add a week to my expectation of when chemo would have ended (the first week of March...I was thinking it would be an early birthday gift to myself!).  She told me that this is not uncommon and reminded me that we had talked about this before.  We did.  I heard her.  But it still was a downer for the day.

And that wasn't all.  My anemia was again a little worse and she is feeling that another blood transfusion is in my future.  OK, now the tide is just going out and leaving behind bits and pieces of its refuse in front of me.  I am now even getting annoyed with my eyes which are super teary today and driving me crazy and I remember how I am seeing less and less eyelashes every time I look in the mirror.  Yeah...this is not the day I envisioned when I woke up this morning. 

I am hooked up to the IV drip and given the steroid, the anti-nausea drugs, and half the benedryl since I didn't need the larger dosage without the Taxol, then the Herceptin and we are home by 1 PM.  I sleep through most of the treatment anyway, and some more at home as usual, but not as long since the benedryl dosage was lower.  And I wake up and here I am....realizing that I can't let this get to me since it is all a part of the chemo journey and others have been through it  and it was not unexpected to get this news at some point.  It is more my own disappointment in my own body...but right now, it is NOT my own body in control...the chemo drugs are, so I just need to "get over myself" and concentrate on the job the drugs are doing for me.

When I do feel discouraged, I take out my basket of cards, notes, and e-mails and read them again.  They contain so much love, prayers, hope, and support that I feel the tide rising a little  once again.   I read two recent items from that basket.  One from my aunt in Connecticut which has my favorite verse in the bible "I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Phiippians 4:13".  It reminds me again to put my trust in God.  The second is a card that contained a pin from my sister-in-law who came to stay with me at the beginning of this journey with the saying, "hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, achieves the impossible".  The tide gets higher still.  And I look at the texts on my phone from my "old-same" when I texted her to tell her the news from this morning and feel again her love and support.  

I'm on top again...surfing the wave toward hope. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

8 Degrees of Separation

Please know first of all that the title has nothing to do with Kevin Bacon!  Not that he isn't a great guy (although personally, I can't vouch for this either), but I am not talking about the ways in which we are connected to this movie star of "Footloose" fame.  No, I am talking about the way we are all connected through breast cancer.

You see, 1 in 8 women that are around you today will be diagnosed with breast cancer soon.  We all know at least that many women in our lives, so the chances are that you WILL be touched by breast cancer in your lifetime...and usually more than once.  In my church alone, there are four of us who have been diagnosed and are being treated currently...and a number of others who are sitting in the pews who are survivors.  I am sure right now you know someone, your family has someone, or you yourself have been touched or diagnosed by this insidious disease.  And it is NOT only women affected!  In 2010, it was predicted that 207,900 females would be diagnosed into this "club"....and there would also be 1,970 males!  (There are statistics available also for different cultural and ethnic groups.)  There is no proven way of knowing just when it will hit you or someone you know.  In women with a clearly defined genetic predisposition for the disease, only 5-10% are actually diagnosed within their lifetime (you didn't expect that, did you?).  A scary statistic is that in this year alone, about 40,000 females and 400 males will die of breast cancer.

The lucky ones are the ones who get detected early.  If you are waiting to feel some symptoms or a lump before seeing a doctor....then you are waiting until it is too late and you run the chance of being one of those in the "scary statistic".  Most early detections and diagnoses can come only through the miracle of modern technology...those dreaded mammograms and the test I still think everyone should also get...the ultrasound (mine was picked up on ultrasound, but not on the mammogram!).  The encouraging statistic is that there are 1.7 MILLION (yes, I said MILLION) people out there still alive and kicking after being diagnosed and treated!  But to be one of those million,  you need to be proactive with your own body. 

Breast cancer is now the leading cause of death for women ages 15-54; and the second leading cause of death for women 54-74.  While there are ways to keep our bodies healthy with good eating and exercise, that alone does not always prevent you from hearing the same words I did in a doctor's office behind a closed door.

However, 96% of those treated early for the disease have been found to be cancer-free after  five years and many, many go on to live wonderful, active, inspiring long lives.  If right now you have a lump you are worried about, and you are ignoring your instincts to call your doctor, please also know that 80% of lumps turn out to be non-cancerous!!  But you need to hear loud and clear that early detection is the absolute key for a good outcome!

This journey has not been one I can take lightly and I feel I would be wasting this opportunity if I didn't try somehow to get just one person out there to understand the significance of that one phone call to make your appointment to schedule your mammography.  If you are that person I am talking to (and you will know if you are), please do not wait any longer.  I am here to tell you that it will be worth it if you do.

I also want you to know that this journey has not been one of complete anguish and sorrow.  As I have said before, this journey has had me hit the "pause" button on my life and I realize now just how much I needed to do that.  Somehow, I am feeling more and more that this diagnosis for me was not so much a curse as it is becoming a blessing.  I now have a second chance at doing some things right and forgiving myself for those things I have done wrong!  If I ever thought I was totally in charge of my life, I have definitely found out I am not.  And I am glad to turn that job over to God since I was totally unprepared the "lead the charge" all by myself.

Don't be the 1 in 8 who will be surprised...and surprised too late.  Make that appointment today no matter how old you are.  Don't let fear of the unknown or fear of diagnosis or fear of the exam or mammogram itself stop you.  You will be so glad you listened to your inner voice and I am glad to be prompting you to listen!   

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Life in the Chemo Ballroom

Life does indeed go on...and it also goes on in the Chemo Ballroom.  It might seem strange to imagine, but the Chemo Ballroom is a fascinating place.  There are faces you get to know since you see them every week, and there are other faces that come and go depending on the week,  then there are those new faces that appear here and there.  All of them have stories like mine and all of us are making the best of a hard situation with much courage and inner strength...and a lot of humor!  

This week I walked into the room with my wig on.  All the "regulars" said "Where's your hat?  I love your hat!"  I actually had to apologize for wearing my wig and explain that it was too chilly for just a hat that day.  That was funny!  Who would have thought that a bald head and a hat would make such a fashion statement?  But these are the things that happen in this room.  We ask about each other, compare notes on side effects and how we are feeling, talk about how many treatments we have left, and share food, thoughts, and our lives.  It is, actually, a community of sorts based on our common need for these IV poles in front of us.  And even those "guests" of ours who sit beside us are included in this community through their connection to the one sitting next to them.

It's always good to get there by 10 am to get a "good seat".  That means one of the recliners that goes all the way back and with a chair nearby for your "guest" in your favorite area of the ballroom.  It seems many people come after lunchtime (probably taking a half day off from work), and it starts to get really crowded then.  Some days, like yesterday when a large snowstorm was predicted for our area, there are many rescheduled appointments and then the room is really jumping!  The chemo nurses are running all over trying to get IV's in a "good vein", ports accessed, find everyone an IV pole, supply pillows and blankets, and get our chemo cocktails started.  On these busy days, the "mixologist", or "bartender" (as my husband calls him) is plenty busy making sure everyone gets just what they need and it sometimes takes a while to get started.  In the meantime, they keep a saline drip going.  If it takes too long, you usually have to pee a few times due to all that liquid going in!  I like the days it is not quite as busy, because then it all goes so much faster.  Although with my benedryl now, I am actually not too aware of just how long it is!  But I feel sorry for my husband who has to sit so long and listen to me snore while he does crossword puzzles and talks to everyone else!

The dress code is "loose and comfy casual"....unless you are coming from the office.  Office individuals usually look funny sitting in the seats in business clothes with their heels dangling (well, not the men).  Most of us are wearing sweats and all kinds of stretchy, comfy clothes.  We also try to wear something warm as it is usually chilly in the chemo ballroom.  Everyone brings a bag of stuff to help pass the time and some type of food and drink (cause you know you will be there a while).  You can usually tell how long a person's treatment is by the size of their bag.

The greetings to each other are warm and comforting.  The nurses know most of us by name and greet us also whether they are our "nurse of the day" or not.  Even the office staff is now a part of our lives and they look forward to my husband's "joke of the day" when we come in.

In some crazy, but oddly satisfying way, it has been an experience that has given me some peace.  I have had to clear my schedule of much of what I was doing before and learn to take time to just rest.  I have allowed myself the time to just sit and do nothing.  I have done a lot of thinking about my life and where I want it to go after all this is done.  And I have had a lot of conversations with God about all of this.  I was thinking the other day about the story of Peter seeing Jesus walking on the water in the middle of a storm and getting out of the boat to try to walk on the water himself.  He took a few steps, realized what he was doing, and suddenly could not walk on the water at all and started going down.  Jesus saved him and questioned Peter as to why he doubted himself and lost faith.  I saw that story differently than before.  I now could see myself as Peter trying desperately to walk on the water in spite of the storm around me.  I know now I can only stay walking on top of that water when I look ahead and see Jesus calling me forward.  Once I lose sight of Him, I start to doubt, and lose hope, and like Peter, start falling fast.  I have become more needy of God in my life and that's OK.

I give thanks for all the people that work at the Cancer Center who have so much compassion for the people they care for.  It must be a very difficult job when you know that some of the people you are caring for are not going to make it...or will be suffering greatly.  But they all have big hearts and a true devotion to their chosen career and ministry.

So, this is life in the Chemo Ballroom.  It's not so bad after all.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Life Goes On

Today, the blog is not about side effects, cancer, chemo and all things breast cancer.

You goes on...and it's not always fun and games.  There have been many concerns lately in my life that at times have also been overwhelming.  I haven't brought any of them to this blog because they are private, and also because this blog just dealt with the breast cancer journey itself.  But today, as yet another concern came forward, it reminded me that this also is a part of the journey.

I try to keep my life stress-free in order to help the healing.  But this is just not possible to do 100% of the time in anyone's life.  Life has an insidious way of claiming your attention just when you need it to lie down and relax.  I have found this time in my life not only one of surprising strength and increasing faith; but also a time when I have been faced with more external difficulties than I could ever have anticipated.  It almost makes tomorrow's Benedryl dreams look good!

I have also found that this journey has become more than the cancer itself.  It is also a personal journey of my body, mind and spirit.  I feel myself letting go of some things and recognizing the importance of others.  I have found comfort in places unexpected...and sadness where I never thought it would be found.  I have needed friends and family to be near and to be a part of this with me.  Some have come along for the ride and some have disappointed me with their company, but I am learning to let that go.

I have been told over and over again that I look "so good, you don't look sick at all!"...and I realize how we are "read" constantly by others just by our looks and facial expressions.  So, I wonder how much of my "looking good" and "strength" has led others to think my life is "normal and back on track".  In case you are asking, it is not.  

Yeah, there has been some heavy stuff concerning me lately....and not just the breast cancer journey.

However, I will continue to hold my head up and smile and go forward.  There is so much to do and so much to plan and so much more to journey through yet.  I have leaned that "Life Goes On" even when you are fighting hard through a difficult time.  You just need God by your side and a husband like mine to lean on to help get through it all.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Decisions on the Journey

Today was a great day!  Any teacher loves a snow day, and today was a glorious one.  An unexpected day off since the snow was not supposed to accumulate too badly.  More and more in today's world, snow days are decided upon more quickly than "back in my day" (yeah...when I walked two miles in the blizzard with cardboard in my boots and a driving wind in my, now that I think of it...that was a movie I saw)Times change...society changes....and (as I know now) life can change "on a dime".

Things are pretty good today.  My cold is just about gone, the side effects from the Taxol are "manageable", (I am so glad I am on the lower dosage!  It might be a longer treatment time, but so worth it!), and I am feeling more like myself.  So today is a small break in the journey to stop and take a rest and just coast on this feeling of "I'm OK".

As I take this respite, I find myself looking on the calendar and seeing my appointment with my breast surgeon for next Thursday.  This appointment will begin the decisions on the next part of my journey.  It will be another 8 weeks of chemo and some more weeks in between to get the chemo out of my system before surgery can even happen; but sometime in the early spring, my decisions about the next step...(more breast surgery) need to be decided.

To remind you of my circumstance, I already had breast surgery in September.  At that time, we were told at first everything looked "good".  But they don't tell you to "wait for the results of the labs" for nothing.  And when they came back, I found out that most of my margins (the areas near the removed tissue) still had plenty of DCIS tissue present (non-invasive cancer, but cancer that still needs to go) and there was a darn "speck" of cancer on my second node.  The minute I heard that, I knew my world had changed and nothing would be the same.  Since the invasive cancer had already been removed, the priority became to ensure that any cancer that might be traveling in my body was "tracked down and eliminated".  Chemo was the next step and this is the part of the journey I have been on since October.  After chemo, the next step would, in most cases, be radiation...but that is where my decisions come in and why this will not be my next step.  

I have already spoken with my breast surgeon concerning the need for a mastectomy on my left breast,  This is because so much tissue has already been removed, and so much more would still have to go (the leftover non-invasive tissue mentioned above).  It is such a vast area, that the mastectomy is the recommended option for me.  Since I will be having the mastectomy, that eliminates the need for radiation.  The decision that I will talk to her about further, though, is my decision to have the other breast removed as well.

It is not an easy decision since right now, there "appears" to be no need to do both breasts.  However, like so many others who have gone through don't want to overlook any possible way that you can protect your body and try to ensure you never have to go through this again.  I have always had a problem with "dense breasts" and I do fear that it is only a matter of time before something shows on my other breast.  I don't want to wait for that "other shoe to drop" and I don't want to feel like I am playing "Russian roulette" with my life.  So, my decision is becoming more and more clear to me that I need to have the double mastectomy.

Soon I begin making all new decisions about reconstruction, learning new surgical/medical terminology, and deciding on the type of surgery itself (there are many ways that it can be done).  It does mean that we are kinda at the mid-point in the chemo so that is encouraging.  As I have said before, though, I always find looking too much into the future during this whole journey can get daunting.  But it is time to look ahead now somewhat....decisions need to be future determined.  But hey, life goes on....thank God!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dream Weaver

Remember this song from REO Speedwagon?  "Oh-o, Dream Weaver...I believe you can get me through the nightOh-o, Dream Weaver...I believe we can reach the morning light."  Well, today I felt like I was riding the Dream Weaver's Train upon a soft, drifting cloud.

Or, again, it could just be the Benedryl.

It was chemo day today.  I haven't written in a few days since I had that horrible cold that just wouldn't give up.  I finally ended up having to call the chemo center to get a prescription to help since I was up all night one night coughing so hard that I pulled a muscle!  So, wasn't feeling like writing at the time.  But now, after 5 days of the antibiotics, feeling much better and coughing much less.  Maybe having so much medication in my system and being so tired made the effects of the Benedryl just all the more dramatic...but boy, did it hit me today!

There are not always the same people in the chemo room with you because everyone has their own schedule and it is not always like me--the same day every week.  But you do get to see quite a few familiar faces each time you go.  Today, there were three of us on the same medication and we all were comparing side effects and our own reaction to the benedryl.  It seems we all have the drippy nose I talked about last time and eyes that tear constantly.  I don't yet have any signs of neuropathy in my hands or feet, but the other two do (and I will just need to wait to see what will happen to me).  We all also lost most hair all over our bodies (hey, I even lost my nose hair!!), get occasionally chills (yes, that's from the Herceptin), diarrhea ( happens to the best of us!), still have some taste differences on foods that make some food difficult to eat; and other symptoms.

And we all love that Benedryl!  Not only does it make the treatment go faster since you sleep through it all, but it is like being in a dream.  One of the other patients said it felt like being drunk...but without the hangover.  I prefer to think of it as a dream since everything moves slowly, and all the stress you have had just fizzles up into the air.  Your body becomes so heavy it is hard to move, and your eyes are forced to close (before you go cross-eyed!), and you hear words like they are floating above you...on the "Dream Weaver's cloud".  

Once home, again I had to "sleep it off" for a few hours, and now I am up and getting back to things that need this blog.  (It was nice to hear from some of you that you were concerned that I hadn't written in a few days...thank you!).  This was Taxol number 4, only 8 more to go!  And hey, God is my "Dream Weaver" and he's good company through this (see below).
Dream weaver
I've just closed my eyes again
Climbed aboard the dream weaver train
Driver take away my worries of today
And leave tomorrow behind
Ooh dream weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
Ooh dream weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light

Fly me high through the starry skies
Maybe to an astral plane
Cross the highways of fantasy
Help me to forget today's pain

Ooh dream weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
Ooh dream weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light

Though the dawn may be coming soon
There still may be some time
Fly me away to the bright side of the moon
And meet me on the other side

Ooh dream weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
Ooh dream weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light
Dream weaver
Dream weaver
Dream weaver