Time of Grieving

The last couple of months haven’t gone quite as planned. And it got worse in the last couple of weeks.

The surgery to exchange the expanders for permanent implants happened at the end of December. That went well, and everything seemed to be healing well. Until one month after surgery. That’s when the stitches on the radiated breast gave way. The doc stitched it back up. He wanted to take out the top whip stitch after a couple of weeks, but I was going on a cruise, so we waited till right after that to remove the whip stitch. And the very next day, late in the evening, they gave way again. I had to go to Urgent Care about 8pm. It took till 11pm to get the Urgent Care docs to talk to my surgeon, and agree on how to stitch it back up. And by the next day, it was infected. Tried antibiotics, but it got worse, not better. So we had to have the implant on that side removed, the interior of the breast swabbed with more antibiotics, inserted a drain, and stitched tightly. That got things to start healing, but leaves me with one relatively good breast, and what looks like a sher pai on the other side. I will not show you pictures.

I had the drain removed last Thursday. God that incision itches like crazy.

Virginia's favorite self pic

But, over shadowing all else, Friday morning, I learned that the adrenal cancer overcame my sister. She’d been fighting for 3 years, and her docs didn’t expect her to last even a year when she was first diagnosed. She fought. My god how she fought.

Last year, about a month before the Nerd Cruise, she asked if she could come.  We made it happen. I introduced her to everyone I know. She had a blast. She told her husband that she hoped she would live long enough to go again.

She did. She was on her god knows what number chemo treatment. It was an oral chemo treatment, so she packed up her duffle bag of drugs and her nebuliser and joined us again. She made friends so easily. She introduced me to some people I didn’t know. And she had a blast again.

The cruise ended on Feb 28th. On March 9th, she lost the fight. On March 24th, we attended her memorial.

I’ll be back. But not right now. Give me a while. I miss her so much.

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Are We Done? Not. Yet.

Two weeks after the last radiation treatment, the pinkness had definitely subsided. The two worst spots had peeled, just like any sunburn would.

Then? Hormone therapy. But, I had to be in menopause for the hormone therapy to be most effective. So I was scheduled for a Zoladex shot – which throws me into menopause – in the stomach, every 4 weeks. With no idea of how long I’d have to get the shots.

Of course, I had a choice of surgery to remove the ovaries. Ultimately I went with surgery, but I had to schedule an ultrasound first…which was weeks out. And blood tests. So it was almost two months before I could get it done. So I had to endure two shots before I could call them off.

Then, I was trying to get the surgery to replace the expanders with implants. Since we’ve paid the deductible for the year – not just for the old insurance from the beginning of the year, but also for the new, better, insurance – I wanted it done before the end of the year. But I don’t want to ruin Christmas two years in a row, so it had to be done between Christmas and New Years. But I also needed to give it as much time as possible for healing after the radiation and ovary surgery. So mark December 28th on your calendars.

But, but, then, if, when, and… I’m tired just thinking about it all. But I’m down to just one more surgery, and years of pills.

Here’s to a fine Thanksgiving! We’re having friends over, and there should be movies and/or games, and much fun for all involved. Then a merry Christmas, where I will actually be able to decorate and participate this year. I felt so bad that Christmas was much curtailed last year. But this year should be good. And I’m determined that next year will be too.

Par-ty Time!

Ta-da! I had my last radiation treatment today! Ok, so it’s not a LARGE party, but still.

While it wasn’t bad, I’m glad to be done. Apparently I tolerated the radiation better than most. The skin is really pink, with a few areas verging on red/brown. Starting over Labor Day weekend (between the penultimate and final treatments), I started having a couple of spots that itch, or were tender to the touch.

So now? On to drugs! Basically, I have to be on estrogen blockers for the next 5-10 years…daily. But that doesn’t start for at least a couple of weeks. I’m willing not to think about it till then. No use borrowing trouble.

And I think I remember hearing that I have to wait for a couple of months after radiation to even think of getting the expanders switched to implants. I’ll be glad when that comes around, hopefully before the end of the year (deductible is already paid for this year). I’m so tired of the really weird tightness from where the expanders are sutured into place.

Once all that heals, my silver lining…I will be able to wear off the shoulder tops again.

Still Radiation

I am half way through radiation. Yay me!

So far, the only side effect is that the skin where they are targeting has turned pink. In terms of sunburn, it’s still less than a first degree burn, with no pain. Funny thing is, they aren’t targeting where I though the tumor was. I thought it was more toward the outer side, but they are targeting dead center.

Take away: I’m doing fine. And my necromancer is level 70, with 500 paragon points, and full sets of all the necro specific gear. 🙂

P.S. My daughter just started 7th grade today. And she managed to get her phone taken away from her for the first week of school. Next time, I change the wi-fi password.

Radiation

Oh, gee. I guess I should update you. Sorry. I’ve just been busy with other things…like Diablo 3. But you don’t want to hear about that. Or maybe you do. In which case, send me a message.

So I started radiation. I’ve got a six week course of daily treatments, with weekends and holidays off. So I’ll be finished by the end of the first week in September. I don’t have any idea what happens after that.

I didn’t make the appointments. The scheduling nurse did that. Then I had to go back and make changes, because although I don’t have much on my schedule, she made a couple of them that interfered with the few things I *do* have scheduled. But it’s all good now.

The Dr. warned me that radiation leaves you feeling sunburned in the area treated, but I haven’t seen any sign of that…yet.

So I’ll try to let you know if anything changes.

Limbo Land

I didn’t think the stroke was going to kill me; I was just pissed. Pissed because I could feel the symptoms wax and wane as the clot moved. Really pissed that the clot didn’t move on out and leave me like I normally was. It took lots of physical therapy and 2 years before the fog lifted and I felt pretty normal again. But I did get to the point where I felt pretty normal again.

When I got the diagnosis of cancer, I was left in a dark mood. I was convinced that this was what was going to kill me. I didn’t want to leave my daughter without a mom. I had dark dreams of trying to find a new wife for my husband, one that would love my daughter. But I was determined to do everything I could to make that day as far away as possible.

My Surgical Oncologist and Plastic surgeon kept telling me that I was going to get through this, and that I would be around to see grandkids. I was sceptical. But they at least convinced me I’d see her graduate highschool.

The original plan was mastectomy and radiation. But then one of the two sentinel nodes they removed came back positive. So chemo was in my future. Yay.

After surgery and recovery, I met my medical oncologist.  He convinced me that I could get to a No Evidence of Disease state, although he used “Cured” which I don’t think is the appropriate term. I’m looking forward to that, although I realize what my chances of recurrence are.

My nadir was when I lost my hair. Not all of it fell out easily. I ended up feeling like a plucked chicken, with little pinfeathers still left. I shaved it at that point, just so I wouldn’t have to look at it in the mirror. I wore hats, mostly because my head was cold, but also it looked kind of like hair when I passed a mirror.

Right now, I have only one more chemo session, and plenty of radiation treatments ahead. Through all of the chemo, I felt like I was in limbo. The fatigue was awful. I didn’t want to plan anything because I didn’t know what I’d be capable of. I don’t think I left the house except to go to the chemo sessions, or talked to anyone except the cancer ward staff and patients.

Now I’m getting restless. I want my life back. I want to plan and be able to go to things again. I’m past the fatigue and I have a lot more energy. But I’ve developed neuropathy. I can’t feel the fingertips on one hand, and they feel like they’re about to go on the other hand. But it’s the feet that kill me. The bottoms of my feet feel like I’ve run a marathon in bad shoes, or that they’ve been beaten. Makes it hard to even hobble around sometimes.

Today, I get to go into my medical oncologist and find out what he’s recommending for radiation, how often, how long, what to expect. I just want to be done. I’m tired of how the expanders feel. I’m tired of feeling trapped in the house. I’m really tired of the neuropathy, especially when I know that it’s going to get worse before it gets better…if it gets better. It might not.

People kept telling me how brave I was, and that they could never do it. That’s bullshit. I’m not that brave, And you do it because you have to. I’m not going to close my eyes and pretend that everything is fine. That’s the surest path to looking for that new wife/mommy.

I wish I had better news of where my cancer path is at. I wish I felt better. But it is what it is.

Cycle 2: The Further Adventures

Started Cycle 2 on the 11th.

The day after the infusion, I no longer passed the hair-pull test. I’d took a pinch of hair and pulled, and some of it actually came out. Baldness is eminent.

The infusion nurses and I had had a conversation about the after effects of the Neulasta shot. Many women suggest taking Claritin around the Neulasta shot to ward off the long bone pain. It’s always Claritin. But I asked my nurses if Claritin would interfere with the Alegra I already take. They suggested just taking my Alegra in the morning, since it’s an antihistamine as well. But I looked carefully at the ingredients, and the active ingredients are totally different. So I just switched to taking the Claritin in the morning, and no Alegra at all. It seems to work well. I’ve only had a few long-bone aches. Didn’t last long.

So I have trimmed the bangs on my long-haired rainbow cosplay wig. I still need to work on the long curls. I think conditioning, and combing, then forming and pinning the curls, and rinsing out the conditioner might work. We’ll have to see.

When you start each cycle, you’re supposed to make appointments for a blood draw at the end of the cycle. They do labs, and then you’re supposed to see the doctor to make sure you’re well enough to do the next cycle. I don’t know what happened, but somehow I got an appointment on the 24th for the blood draw, an appointment on the 25th to start the infusion, and an appointment LATER IN THE DAY with the doctor, for approval to start the next infusion…which I was supposed to have started earlier that day. I pointed the out to the scheduling desk, and they said they’d check into it and call me. Finally got it straightened out. But I think it’s a little inappropriate to expect the woman with chemo-brain to notice and get it straightened out. But what do I know. I’m just a woman with cancer.

So, sorry if this rambles, or ends on a down note. It’s not meant to, but you know, chemo-brain. I’m really thankful for all the friends who IM me to ask how I am, or if there’s anything I need. It’s nice to feel the love.