Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yes, But Does it Squeak?

You'll all be pleased to know that, as of today, I have an official breast prosthesis.  No more socks, bags of jelly beans, or dog toys.   This is the real deal.  It even came with it's own cradle to sleep at night.  Now, if I could just get the nipple to face the right direction, I'd be set.  I look like I've got a wonky eye.

The little store was so cute, tucked in a corner of the cancer center.  The shelves were filled with boxes and boxes of bras and breast forms.  It was like when Harry Potter was looking for a magic wand.  And the lady that helped me was so kind and funny.  It was fun picking out a new boob!

Anyway, I'm excited to try it out.  And with all this new hair, I keep getting stopped by people telling me how great it looks.  I think I'm going to need a date!

And the countdown is on for reconstruction.....less than three weeks!

UPDATE:  It's really squishy and I can't keep my hands off it!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tick Tock

Like clockwork, something hits me every three weeks.  I don't know if it's remnants of chemo, since I understand it stays in your system for three months.  It could possibly be the Herceptin or something else entirely.  But every three weeks, I get knocked down for several days.

It starts with fatigue, then all over body pain, sometimes so bad I can barely move, dizziness, weakness and shortness of breath.  It lasts 3-5 days and feels almost like when I was getting chemo.  Luckily, it's not nearly as intense.

Thursday of last week, I went to the park, and after climbing a set of stairs, I had to rest to catch my breath.  By the time I got home, I had to sleep for a couple hours just to be able to function again.  I thought I was just really out of shape, even though I've been on the treadmill daily.  But then Friday morning, while sitting on the exam table at the breast surgeon, they clocked my heart rate in the 130's.  I realized that my exhaustion the day before was from Tachycardia not from being out of shape.

I had the same issue when I was on chemo and was the reason I started on a heart beta-blocker in October.  Now that I'm on Herceptin, which can also damage my heart, there is some concern that there may be toxicity issues.  If that's the case, we would need to stop the Herceptin and try to repair the function in my heart.

Due to the elevated heart rate, being short of breath upon small exertion, and even waking during the night to catch my breath, I met with the cardiologist this morning.  He wants to do a more detailed echocardiogram which looks at strains.  It's a newer, more precise imaging tool that looks at the myocardial function of the heart (blood flow and muscle use).  I should be able to do that in the next week and get the results soon after.

Meanwhile, I'm on the way back up with energy.  The body pain is slowly getting better.  And I should be back to "normal" in no time.  One day closer to cancer being behind me. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Day in the Life....

How do I pass the time?  I read a LOT.  I research.  I write, and clean, and work out, and see friends, and sometimes the fatigue takes over and I sleep.  And some of this stuff....

I visit Eliah at school, and he tries "really" hard to tell me stuff....

Some days I visit Natalie at school....

Some days I get to work in the yard....

Some days I sit in doctors' offices....

Sometimes it's because of injuries...

Like this broken vein a couple weeks ago...

I've also had to go back to the breast surgeon twice to drain a seroma (build up of lymphatic fluid) that developed at the mastectomy site...

And today's injury...

A stress fracture in the side of my foot, on top of an old break in the same spot...

I slipped in doggie drool and took a header in the kitchen

Have some more radiation with your injury

But my favorite times are when I get to just hang out with my family and my friends....

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Boobs for Everyone!! Okay, just me...

Reconstruction surgery is now on the schedule!  May 6th!!!  It will be in Spartanburg, almost an hour from my house.   The surgery will be around 8:30am and will last approximately six hours.  I will be there 3-4 days minimum.

Before the big day, I'll need to do a CT scan for the doctor to see my veins, although with all the radiation talk, I requested an MRI.  We'll see if that can happen.  And then I will have to drive up there for Pre-op the week before.  Then once again the day before, so the doctor can draw all over me.

I'm so excited I could bust! (pun intended)  If you're interested in the details of what they are doing, the following link shows the extent of the procedure.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Take These... You Know You Want To...

Now that I have completed chemotherapy and surgery, I am starting my own ways to help fight cancer. It begins by changing the environment where the cancer grew. It’s intimidating to look at all the supplements out there, knowing they can be powerful, knowing they could make cancer worse, and knowing that they are not approved by the FDA, then to get bombarded with suggestions of everything that is supposed to help.  I can't just guess what to take or go by what someone else took, nor can I sit around and wait for cancer to come back.  

For centuries, people from all over the world have used natural remedies to heal themselves from illness.  There are beneficial plants, fruits and vegetables all around us. But where do you begin? What are you supposed to take? I started reading....and reading....and reading.  I needed to know what will help my specific cancer from coming back.  

Not all cancer is created equal. 

I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), Grade 3 (fast growing),  PR+, ER+, Her2neu+ (Hormone receptor positive, which means it grows with hormones).   I know that I am taking targeted therapy, Herceptin, until November, to help my body block estrogen from getting to any cancer cells.  And I will also be taking Tamoxifen for the next five years to prevent my body from making any estrogen.  But there has to be more I can do. I have found that with certain supplements, I may be able to enhance the hormonal treatment of Herceptin and Tamoxifen as well as boost my immune system to fight any remaining cancer cells.  It's all about the chemistry.  

Before, I was unknowingly creating an ideal environment for cancer to grow. I allowed myself to forego breakfast and just have coffee for the first half of the day, which created an acidic environment. I would skip meals, or just eat something fast, like a protein bar, which didn't allow my body the proper nutrition to function. I was stressed, which added to the acidity that cancer loves. I wasn't active, so my body didn't have a lot of oxygen to detoxify and get rid of rogue cells. My hormones were out of whack from my thyroid medication. And I ate sugar, like everyone else. Did you know that when you eat sugar, your immune system basically shuts down? And finally, while I wasn't at all diabetic, my blood glucose was on the higher side. Red blood cells, brain cells, and cancer cells all use glucose to grow. But with an elevated amount in my body, and creating a nice, comfy, acidic place to grow, I was giving cancer a big ole welcome party. I put my body in a situation that it could not fight and kill the free radicals (free radicals are damaged cells that refuse to die, but instead mutate to become cancer cells).

I always thought I was healthy.  I rarely ate fast food.  I rarely drank soda.  Most every dinner was homemade from scratch.  It didn't even matter though, because I was doing too much other stuff so incredibly wrong. 

I was putting everything and everyone else ahead of taking care of myself. No more.

I'm going to do what I can to create a healthy environment. The following is a list of supplements, most I have been taking for just over a month, and some I haven't begun yet.  There are specific supplements that help with the type of cancer/treatments I've had.  There are also links to medical articles and studies that pertain to each supplement or derivative.  In most cases, I have only included one article, but there are many more out there.  I could probably spend the rest of my life reading all of them. But many people have asked what I'm taking and why, and I wanted to be able to back up my choices with useful information. So, here you go!

* Disclaimer-  If you decide to take anything, please do your own research and talk with your doctor to determine if any of these are right for you.  I’m not a doctor.

Bitter Melon/Gourd-
Her2+, inhibits tumor growth, induces apoptosis (normal cell death)


Curcumin (Turmeric)-
Her2+, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis

DHA (when combined with Curcumin)-
Her2+, apoptosis and inhibition of metastasis (spread)

Inhibit breast cell invasion….free radical scavenger
Also prevents and treats Estrogen-dependent tumors

Ginger Root-
Inhibits metastasis and fights cancer

Inhibits cancer cell growth and induces apoptosis in Her2+

Grape seed-
suppresses cell migration and invasion… free radical scavenger

Antioxidant, protects against tumor growth, especially while on Tamoxifen

Vitamin A- (Retinoid)- used in combination with D3
Her2+ and ER+ cell apoptosis when combined with Herceptin

Green Tea extract (EcG)-
Antioxidant, inhibits metastasis

Flax Seed- (although a phytoestrogen, it helps in Her2 and ER+)
Reduces tumor growth, sensitizes Tamoxifen and Herceptin

Stop cancer growth and induces apoptosis

Rhodiola Rosea-
Anti-oxidant, protects left ventricle of heart against damage, cell arrest and induces apoptosis

Sodium Bicarbonate and Water Alkalizer drops
Reduces body acidity and balances PH, reduces metastasis

Probiotics 25billion
Beneficial bacteria builds immune system to fight cancer

Omega-3 Fatty acids
Reduces tumor growth and protects against metastasis in Her2

Balances hormones and thyroid function
Antioxidant, antiproliferative (stops cancer cell growth)
Many other articles available, although not many are conclusive either way

Cayenne Pepper capsule
Cancer cell inhibition and apoptosis

Garlic capsule
Enhances chemotherapy response, cancer cell apoptosis, helps liver damage from Tamoxifen

Berberine (barberry)
inhibits growth and spread of highly metastatic breast cancer cells

Chemotherapeutic, antiproliferative, antioxidant

DIM (This affects hormones, so I need to talk with dr before starting)
Enhances effectiveness of Herceptin


The following is a list of things that I would not take very often, especially not daily.  I will update as I find more information.

Vitamin D3- (I only take this weekly)
Prevents cancer (although there are many contradictory studies)

Calcium (weekly)
(contradictory studies)
More research needed

Vitamin C (weekly)
(contradictory studies, may hinder chemotherapy effects)
More research needed

NO NO's!!
Folic Acid- makes ER+ tumors grow

L-Glutamine- makes many types of tumors grow, depending on what the cells consume

Hydrogen Peroxide- contributes to oxidative stress