Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chemo #3

Getting ready to go give cancer another beat down!

Chemo #3
Yesterday was round 3 of 4 of my "Chemo from the Red Planet". For those of you who may be wondering, the actual going and getting chemo is a piece of cake. I go and sit in a comfy chair, husband and mom by my side. My Chemo Fairy, Jamie, sticks the IV in my alien port and starts two bags of anti nausea meds. That takes about 45 minutes, give or take. The port is awesome, because I don't feel a thing! No needle pricks or pokes, no weird sensations as the IV enters my vein. Jamie also makes sure that I'm comfortable, offers snacks and blankets.
Next, Jamie comes in suited up to give me my Red Chemo. That one, she slowly injects into my port through a huge syringe. That only takes a few minutes. Then she hangs the bag of the other "Outer Space Juice" for the IV and starts that. That one takes about 35 minutes. Then I'm all done and free to go home. That usually means stopping for some much needed nourishment on the way, followed by a LONG nap.
So far, from the long list of terrible chemo side effects they warned me about, this is what I've encountered:
- Hair Loss: was tough at first, but once I shaved my head, it wasn't so bad. Not having to shave my legs or pits is pretty nice too.
- Fatigue: lots and lots of naps. Sometimes even the smallest things take a lot of my energy; taking a shower and getting dressed, putting on make-up, visiting with friends... Even sitting at the table to eat lunch or dinner is sometimes followed by me resting my head on the table for a minute or two. Frustrating at times, but I'm learning to listen to my body.
- Number Two: let's just say, I've had to become a prune eater.
That's about it for side effects. My appetite is good for the most part. Some days I'm always hungry and could eat a horse. Other days, less is more. There are a few foods I've lost my taste for (peanut butter, chocolate, coffee), but I'm hoping that they will eventually come back. I also have a bit of chemo brain and my attention span isn't what it used to be. I'm hoping that will come back too!
So, that's where I'm at in my fight. The really good news is that it's working! I'm going in next week for an ultrasound to see just how much we've beat down on this stupid tumor! I'm pretty sure it got a major ass kicking yesterday! I'll keep ya posted!

The Faces of Chemo: Day 29
Kickin' Butt!
#cancerisstupid #WonderWoman

The Faces of Chemo: Day 25
Playin' Photog and takin' pictures for Brendan's graduation announcements. Eeeek!

The Faces of Chemo: Day 26
License and registration please... Exposin' the dome.

The Faces of Chemo: Day 27 - Memorial Day Lovin'

The Faces of Chemo: Day 28 - Too COOL for cancer! #cancerisstupid

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This last round of chemo really kicked my butt.  Not sure if it was just the chemo, or a combination of chemo and the emotional fall-out (no pun intended) from my hair issues.  Either way, I've been exhausted.  I was finally able to get out a bit yesterday and that was nice.  Woke up feeling even stronger this morning.  Wouldn't you know, that just about the time I start feeling "better", it's time for more chemo! Sheesh!  I expect to butt kicking myself next week!!

 The Faces of Chemo: Day 22
Sportin' my new Wonder Woman cuff!!!! LOVE IT!!!!!
Thanks Kim!  Cuff made by Something to Celebrate!
The Faces of Chemo: Day 23
The Baking Fairy stopped by (thanks Sharon)!

The Faces of Chemo: Day 24
Enjoying a Bday Cinnamon Dolce Creme Frapp! Thanks Elmo!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Faces of Chemo: Day 21
Who knew that THIS is how I'd be celebrating my 42nd birthday?!

Day 20 - Bye, Bye Hair

It was time. It needed to happen. And yet, I still wasn't ready.  My hair had become a matted mess of deadness.  With every touch, another clump would come out.  I was afraid to wash it, comb it, lay down on it....  It was RIDICULOUS!  There was hair everywhere!!  I knew what came next and I didn't want it.
I've never thought of myself as a very fashion forward type person.  For most of my life, I was one step behind on what was hot, my hairstyle usually being a "not".  Then one day, my friend and stylist hit what I finally thought was a winning combination, style and color that I LOVED!  My hair became part of my persona, my identity.  The thought of losing it terrified me!
So, Sunday afternoon, I tried to "fix" what was left of my hair for what I knew would be the last time for awhile.  It was a mess.  Each handful of hair that would fall out was like a punch in the gut.  "You look like a monster," I thought to myself, "You're falling apart!"  It was time for a pity party!
I cried.  I was angry.  I was tired.  I was defeated.  I was annoyed.  I had wasted way too much energy worrying about hair!!!  Nothing I could do was going to stop this next phase, this stupid side effect!  Enough is enough!
Before going to bed, I texted my stylist, "we've got to do something about my hair...".  I then closed my eyes and prayed, asking God for some of that super-human strength I so badly needed.
Monday morning came quickly.  I opened my eyes, had my usual morning pit stop, and then started reading my devotions.  As I lay there, I realized that I was ready.  Ready to move beyond the dread of losing my hair.  Ready to move on to the next part of this journey.  I was at peace.
I walked into the salon, Mom and Dad with me, and sat calmly while my dear friend shaved my head.  With each buzz of the clippers, I almost felt stronger.  My hair was gone, and so was that nagging sense of worry.  I'm gonna be ok.  What's a little hair?!  I'm kicking cancer's butt!!  God gave me that super-human strength exactly when I needed it!  He gave me time to grieve and then helped me stand tall, victorious.  And know what?  No Wonder Woman undies needed!
Now I can ride in the car with the windows open without a care!  No more bed head.  Showers are faster.  The time it takes to get ready has been drastically cut.  No need to worry about hairspray!  And grey hair.... whats that?!  Maybe I should have shaved my head years ago!

The Faces of Chemo: Day 20
Can you spot which bald head is mine?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Faces of Chemo: Day 18
This is me, no make-up.
Not sure what's left under the towel after washing my hair.
Everyday is an adventure!

The Faces of Chemo: Day 19 - Ok, I'm pooped.... zombie-style.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More Faces of Chemo

  Day 15 - Hanging with my Chemo-Fairy, Jamie!

Day 16 - Gettin' poked. 

Day 17 - Headed to the 8th Grade Banquet.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Dreaded DAY 14!!!

Before I started chemo, I went to what I call, "Chemo Orientation".  It's like a "What to Expect when You're Expecting", only you're not having a baby, you're battling cancer.  I was NOT looking forward to orientation.  I really didn't want to have my head filled with all of the crappy things I would possibly be facing, but I put on my BIG GIRL undies and went.
There Dave and I sat in a tiny, cramped office that smelled a little bit like rotten carrots, while a strange little nurse bombarded us with terrible side effect after terrible side effect.  Dry skin.  Flushing.  Hyperpigmentation.  Nail changes (like nails falling off).  Photosensitivity.  Rash.  All sorts of low blood cell count things with long names.  Diarrhea.  Constipation.  Loss of appetite.  Weight gain.  Mouth sores.  Nausea.  Vomiting.  Bone, Joint, and Muscle pain.  Hair loss.  Each one was accompanied by a neatly stapled stack of print outs with the knitty gritty details.  The longer I sat there, the less I liked this nurse and the less I wanted to go through any of it.
One thing the little nurse kept harping on was, "DAY 14".  Day 14, your white blood cell count will be at it's lowest.  Day 14, your hair will start falling out.  Day 14, Day 14, Day 14!!!!  I couldn't get out of that office fast enough!!  I hadn't even started chemo yet, and already I felt totally defeated!
We walked out of the office, got in the car, called my mom, and cried a little.  "Day 14," I told my mom, "Day 14."
After that, I tried to shake off every negative thing I had heard that day.  Didn't want any of it!!  I'm going in ready to fight!!  But in the back of my mind, Day 14.
My first chemo session came and went, easy peasy.  When I went in the next day for my Neulasta shot, in walked that strange little nurse.  She asked how I was doing and I told her that I was feeling pretty good.  She then turned to me, pointed her finger at me and simply said, "Day 14."  If they hadn't have been sticking a needle in my arm at the time, I might have tackled the lady!  I couldn't believe that I had just told her that I was doing well and she had to bring up the dreaded Day14.  That's it!!!  I was determined that my Day 14 would NOT be your typical Day 14!
Fast forward to today, DAY 14!!  I woke up like every other day.  Took a shower and washed my hair.  Got ready.  Same as the day before.  Is my hair falling out?  A little bit more than usual... ok, maybe a little bit more than a little bit.  It's not like huge clumps are coming out, just a few hairs here and there.  Nothing that I can't handle.  I feel a little bit bad that I leave a hair trail wherever I go, but other than that, it is what it is.
To top off my Day 14, I had a follow-up visit with my oncologist.  My BP was great.  My weight is good.  My blood work came back perfect (not anemic anymore!).  AND MY TUMOR IS ALREADY SHOWING SIGNS OF GETTING SMALLER!!  PRAISE GOD!!!!  Take THAT, Day 14!!!!  We got this!!

The Faces of Chemo: Day 14
With my Super Onc, Dr. Stevenson

Day 13

The Faces of Chemo: Day 13
My Mom & Dad are FINALLY here!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

The Faces of Chemo: Day 12
Mother's Day with my boys @Lazy Dog Cafe Brea
Thought I'd try out this $5 hat.  Never been a fan of hats and
I figure I'd better start getting used to them!

Day 11

The Faces of Chemo: Day 11
The mall on the day before Mother's Day.... what was I thinking??

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Day 10

The Faces of Chemo: Day 10 - Burgers with the boys!

May 9, 2013

So.... what fun stuff do I have planned for today? I'm getting fitted for a wig this morning. Am I excited? Uh, no. My Doc wrote a prescription for one, so I figured that I might as well take advantage of it. Problem is, I'm half in denial over the fact that I WILL be losing my hair, and probably very soon. My vanity and I are really going to battle this one out. I know my hair will grow back, but REALLY?! I'm not sure I can rock the Uncle Fester look. At least it won't take me as long to get ready in the morning... bright side?
I mean, I'm ok with my under arm hair falling out!  My right pit is STILL numb from my node biopsy, so shaving has been awkward anyway.  And NOT having to shave my legs... BONUS!!  Oh, and I've always felt like a cave woman admitting to the gals at the nail salon that I've never had a bikini wax.  No hair in "that" area will be a new experience!  I'm even ok with the hair on my chinny, chin, chin going away!!  The eyebrows?!  Eyelashes?!  The hair on my head?!!!!!  Doesn't cancer suck enough without all of that?!!
We're gonna get through this!  There will be tears and no doubt, laughter.  I mean, Uncle Fester is pretty funny and you've never seen me try to draw in eyebrows - that will be hilarious!!!  So, send me amazing false eyelashes, eyebrow tips, wig and other "head" ideas, maybe even some YouTube tutorials on "how to walk around as a cancer patient without looking like a cancer patient".  Let's do this!!

The Faces of Chemo: Day 9 - Wig fitting.  I look like a drag queen!

The Faces of Chemo

So, I decided to start taking a picture of myself everyday throughout this
chemo craziness (I may regret this later!).  Here are the first 8 days...

Day 1, Session 1

Day 2
Shot Day - And it's freaking 97 outside!

Day 3 - Day of Rest

Day 4 - Enjoying some fresh air.

Day 5 - Matthew broke me out of isolation to go have breakfast. We ended up waiting almost an hour for a table. I've spent the rest of the day sleeping to make up for our little excursion. Was nice to get out with my boy though.

Day 6 - Lovin the peek-a-boo, paper towel shirt they gave me for my node post-op...

Day 7 - recharging my battery with my Bible study gals!

Day 8 - Rolled out of bed to pick up my boy!

Friday, May 10, 2013


It's just gonna take too long to get this blog caught up, so here's what's happened in a nutshell:

February: Found a Lump. Made a doctor's appointment.
April 1:  Saw the Doctor for a girlie check-up. Yup, there's a lump.
April 3:  Diagnostic Mamogram & Ultrasound. Big, bad lump on the right.
Found a small lump on the left side too.
April 4:  Lumps biopsied
April 5: Yup, the one on the right is CANCER!
April 10:  Meet my Surgeon, Dr. Thompson.
April 12:  Meet my Oncologist, Dr. Stevenson and
Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Kurohara
April 16:  My Tumor Board Meets and Dr. Thompson gives us the break down...
chemo first or surgery first?
April 17:  Ecocardiogram
April 18: Chest/Ab/Pelvis CT
April 19:  Dr. Stevenson gives us the go for chemo.
Every other week for 8 weeks, then once a week for 12 weeks.
April 22:  Meet with plastic surgeon.
April 24:  Alien Port installed.
April 25:  Sentinal Node Biopsy
May 1:  Chemo starts.
May 6:  Post-op with Dr. Thomspon - NODES ARE CLEAR!!
So, now you're caught up!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

April 9, 2013

What does one wear to meet their surgeon for the first time...?
Would a "My Cupcakes Bring All the Boys to the Yard" t-shirt be inappropriate?
Met with my surgeon (Dr. Thompson) and my Nurse Navigator (Carla). It was basically a meet & greet, as well as loading us up with TONS of information and scheduling of appointments. Here’s what we know for sure:

The mass is 3.8 cm. That’s important, because to me it seemed like it was 3.8 INCHES!
The cancer I have is called, “Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)”. It’s the most common type of cancer.
My cancer is hormone receptor-positive. That means the cancer relies on hormones in order to grow. About 2 out of 3 breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive.

We will have a better idea of what the next step as far as treatment goes, when we meet with the oncologist (Dr. Stevenson) on Friday. We’ll also meet with the radiation oncologist on Friday (Dr. Kurohara) – just covering all of our bases.

So, that about covers it for now. I will admit that I am pretty wiped out from the information overload. So glad that my hubby was there with me though! ♥

Prayer request for today: That this stupid cancer is ONLY in the stupid lump and nowhere else. Also for renewed strength and courage as I mentally and emotionally prepare for Friday's appointments.

(Funny story about my surgeon, Dr. Thompson... At the meeting yesterday, Dave and I were each thinking that the doctor seemed REALLY familiar, even the sound of his voice. It wasn't until we left his office, that we realized he had operated on Dave about 6 years ago!! I know I'm in good hands now!)

April 8, 2013

"God will not fail you, so be confident; God will not forget you, so be assured; God will not lie to you, so be trusting; God will not remember your sins, so be free, cleansed, and forgiven; God will not forsake you, so be strong, bold, and fearless. God will be all these things to you and much, much more, so be courageous." ♥

April 5, 2013

It's official.... I have breast cancer (right side)! Stupid boob. So, next step... the nurse calls on Monday to help me schedule a meeting with the surgeon. We'll go from there... Thank you again for your prayers, love and support. We're gonna need them. I know I'm going to be fine. God's got my back!