Thursday, January 30, 2014

Stupid Satan

I have been feeling frustrated and discouraged lately.  I'm not sure why.  I am done with my chemotherapy treatments and am in my 3rd week of radiation.  I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!  I think Satan just has a way of making you feel hopeless, beaten, and defeated sometimes.  He's such an idiot.

I had to go back to my OBGYN because the ol' monthly visitor returned.  I had a period for 40 days straight and took 10 days off and started again.  That dang chemo wreaked havoc!  We discussed a hysterectomy, but instead opted to first start me on Tamoxifen (my 10 year pill).  The Tamoxifen is working and is supposed to put you in a "medically induced menopause". 

Radiation is going well, except my armpits are starting to burn....like crazy.  My chest is red like a mild sunburn, and it is tender and TIGHT, TIGHT, TIGHT.  Radiation makes your skin tight and your breast more firm (now who doesn't want that?)  I'm nervous about doing this for 4 more weeks.  What will my poor skin feel like then?  Possibly fried.  I see my doctor once a week so he can keep tabs on how things are going.  My dad had to sleep in a chair at the end of his radiation.  It hurt him to sleep flat, so he reclined in a chair.  I wish he was around so I could talk to him about it.  Radiation also makes you want to sit in a chair and not get up for the entire day.  I am exhausted.  Anytime I feel a burst of energy I take full advantage and get something done.  I hate feeling like a lazy bum. 

My radiation is done 5 days a week (Monday through Friday).  It goes like this...

I drive 15 minutes to the cancer center.  Go in and put on a lovely "shirt" gown that opens up in the front, and head to the radiation room.  I lie down and they get me lined up just right.  (They had to give me 5 little tattoos to ensure that it is always right so they are not hitting major organs etc.)  I throw my arms above my head and usually three people getting me positioned just right.  One of them is a guy.  So, I'm thinking, "Hi, you get to see my boobs everyday".  Good thing I'm way past the awkwardness of people seeing my boobs.  When you have breast cancer, every doctor appointment, consultation, whatever...you are whipping your boobs out.  Good heck! 

My hair is really starting to come in.  At first it was TOTALLY white and soft like a little chick.  Now, it is starting to show signs of darker hair.  My eyebrows are crazy looking right now.  Most of the old eyebrows are gone.  I probably have about 10 long eyebrows on each side and lots of little new eyebrows coming in.  It's a hot mess.  I lost all but about 3 or 4 eyelashes.  New eyelashes are coming in.  Right now they are very blonde and pointing down.  What is that all about?!

The night before I started radiation, I was in bed thinking about how I didn't want to start radiation.  I was dreading it.  I was thinking about ways to make it a positive 45 days instead of negative.  The thought came into my head that I should read The Book of Mormon in 45 days.  I figured out that I would have to read 12 pages a day.  I am well underway and will probably end up finishing the book before I'm done with radiation.  It's been a good experience.  It just seems like things flow and are easier to understand when you read more than one chapter at a time. Take that, stupid Satan!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Exhausted

I have one more day of radiation this week to be able to say that I have completed one week of radiation.  I'm exhausted.  Completely exhausted.  Towards the end of the day, I don't even want to move.

I'm proud of my body and the fight it is putting up.  It's hard on a body to have everything killed off.  Then it has to work hard to build it all back up.  Our bodies are completely amazing.

I was reading about fatigue in cancer patients last night.  I just have to plan on being tired and out of energy for several more months, but it sure gets old.  Here is some of what I read...
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Cancer-related fatigue is common in cancer patients. Fatigue is often confused with tiredness. Tiredness happens to everyone -- it's a feeling you expect after certain activities or at the end of the day. Usually, you know why you are tired and a good night's sleep solves the problem.

Fatigue is a daily lack of energy; an unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness not relieved by sleep. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from one month to six months or longer). Fatigue can prevent you from functioning normally and impacts your quality of life.

The following cancer treatments are commonly associated with fatigue:
(I have to go through all three of these)
  • Chemotherapy. Any chemotherapy drug may cause fatigue. Patients frequently experience fatigue after several weeks of chemotherapy, but this varies among patients. In some patients, fatigue lasts a few days, while others say the problem persists throughout the course of treatment and even after the treatment is complete.
  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can cause cumulative fatigue (fatigue that increases over time). This can occur regardless of the treatment site. Fatigue usually lasts from three to four weeks after treatment stops but can continue for up to two to three months. 
  • Hormone therapy can cause fatigue by depriving the body of estrogen. It can last throughout the course of treatment or longer.
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I've been nervous every morning that I climb up on the table for my radiation.  Once I am up there and they have me situated, I shut my eyes tight and keep them closed.  I don't want to see anything and I would prefer not to hear anything.  There are sounds that the machine makes during the procedure.  With my eyes closed tight, I imagine that I am once again in Hawaii with John (and my sister Lisa and her husband Bob).  Any sounds the machine makes are just the sounds of the blender at the beach side resort, making us some amazing drinks.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Drivers License

Over the Christmas break, John and I went to have our drivers licenses renewed.  I knew that they were not going to let me wear a hat, and I still have not worn any of my wigs.  I joke that when I try on my wigs, it looks like a cat crawled up on my head and died.  So, I opted NOT to wear a wig.  I don't want to give cancer any of the power.  Almost as if to say, "Screw you cancer.  You will not control me, or slow me down!"  It was just my way of sticking it to my breast cancer.  (Sorry about the word "screw", it sounds a little inappropriate.  But, when talking about cancer, it is perfect).

When we got to the counter, I whipped off my hat and got ready for my bald-headed picture.  John and I were having a hard time not laughing.  The ladies face behind the counter was priceless.  It was almost as if her face was telling us her thoughts.  I'm sure she was thinking, "Alrighty then!"  She was supportive and kind as she looked at my picture and passed it across the counter to me.

You can no longer show any teeth in your picture.  I have a half smile, smirk on my face and I look exactly like my dad (except for the dumb look on my face).

We left the DMV giggling, with our temporary paper licenses in hand.  A couple of days ago, we received the actual licenses in the mail.  Once again, we had a good laugh.  I've already had to pass that little beauty over to cashiers in the stores.  I find it quite entertaining.

Monday, January 13, 2014

First day of radiation

I tossed and turned a lot last night.  I couldn't get the radiation treatments off my mind.  I was feeling worried and was fearing the unknown.

This morning my mom went with me to my first appointment for treatments.  I will be doing radiation 5 times a week for 6 1/2 weeks.  So, I will finish up with the treatments the end of February.

Today's appointment was just under an hour.  They had to do x-rays and make sure that they were not overlapping with the radiation, and also make sure they had it just in the exact spot they needed to be.  Once they had everything set up, the radiation only took a few minutes.  It was really quick and painless.  I've been told that over time, it will be more like a bad sunburn all across my chest.  I'm not really looking forward to that.

When they were all done with the radiation, the last thing they had to do was 5 small tattoos.  3 down my chest and 2 off to the sides.  This will help them to be in the exact same spot every day when they do the procedure.  So, now I can officially say that I have 5 tattoos.  Makes me sound like a mean biker chick.  Although, they are just small round dots, about the size of a freckle.

I am told that I will be VERY tired and out of energy while I am doing treatments.  I have been very tired and out of energy during chemo, so I don't really worry much about that.  It DOES get old feeling tired and exhausted all the time.  One of these days, I hope to be back to my old self again!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chemotherapy, Christmas, and the New Year

Wow, it's been a month since my last post.  So much has happened in the month, and I wanted to blog about all of it sooner, but I've been quite sick and completely out of energy.  The kind of out of energy where you can't even hardly move.  I don't want this post to sound like a whiny baby, but this past month has kicked my butt.

I had my LAST round of chemotherapy on December 12th.  (I think by the time you hit your last round of chemo, your body has JUST HAD IT.  All the good has been killed off.)  I cannot even describe how happy I was to do my last round.  My sister Monica took me to chemo because John was working, and my mom was out of town.  John came for a quick visit during chemo and brought doughnuts for all the patients and nurses to celebrate my last chemo.  It was sure sweet of him.  I sure had some great nurses that took care of me during my different rounds of chemotherapy. 
As usual, I spent several days in bed after chemo.  It is not easy having chemo so close to Christmas and then just laying in bed too sick to move, knowing that you have shopping to do, and presents to wrap.  It is quite overwhelming.

Saturday, December 21st, I spent most of the day crying (I'm not even exaggerating) .  I just simply could not control my emotions.  I was so exhausted and still had much to do.  I'm quite certain a major contributing factor was the fact that I had started my "monthly visitor" on December 1st and had been having my period for 21 days straight.  Sorry too much information I know, but these are the facts.  Oh, and it still hasn't stopped...here we are on the 8th of January--STILL GOING.  One of the problems of chemo I guess.  Chemotherapy COMPLETELY wreaks havoc on your entire body.  On a side note, I've seen my OB doctor twice and probably will have to return again.  Luckily they don't see any signs of cancer in that department or any fibroid tumors.  I'm certain that it has contributed to my lack of energy.  This particular Saturday, we went to Redicare to see if they could give me fluids.  There were two male nurses that tried to start my I.V. and I'm quite certain they have not had much practice.  After 5 tries, they finally got the job done.  My arm had 2 huge bruises for quite awhile.

We were able to get everything done for Christmas.  Shocker.  There were times that I wasn't sure if it would happen.  I think the kids were all happy and we had a fun morning.  I was feeling relatively good that morning.  We didn't end up handing out ONE neighborhood gift or treat this year.  I wanted to, but just couldn't do it.  I just told myself that this year I got a free pass and not to take on one more thing. 

I managed to send out some Christmas cards, and I can't believe that even happened.  Last minute I ordered some cards on Walmart.com.  When I got the box of cards in the mail and opened it, I said out loud, "You've gotta be freakin' kidding me".  Somehow Walmart screwed up our cards by putting the wrong names on the card.  So, we were "The Simpsons" this year.  I just had to laugh about it.  I didn't have time to reorder, so out they went!  In my letter with the card I explained and said that we are learning that things don't always go just the way you want in life...and you just have to learn to laugh about it instead of getting mad.

We had fun celebrating the new year with several of my siblings and lots of grand kids.  It's a fun tradition that we do every year.  I hope that 2014 will be a much easier year for me and my family.  But, I don't think I'm going to hold my breath.  It is very likely that they are going to have me back in surgery for a hysterectomy.  I also have to do 6 weeks of radiation.  I'm just ready for a break.  Not quite sure how much more I can handle, but I don't think I really have a choice in the matter.  I just have to keep charging through.