Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chemo Day

Round #6 of 7. I've been fasting since Christmas night, and won't eat again until tomorrow. I hope it works as well as last time. In the meantime, my port has been causing me a lot of pain, and I'm waiting to see if it has a leak (I think it does). I think something happened to it this last week. The surgeon stitched the port to a muscle, and I think it tore and twisted upward. I'm waiting to talk to the nurse again before she hooks up the chemo. Otherwise, I'm ready to get this one done.

Update #1: They are going to put in an IV in my arm, and they'll send me to the hospital later to get a Portagram (an xray) to see if the port has a leak. We don't want to chance damaging tissue.

Update #2: IV is going, and the hospital will call to set up the xray on the port. If it is leaking, they will have to do surgery again. I'll still have hormonal treatment for a year, so I don't know if they'll put a new one in, or just let me do them in a vein.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Update

All is well today with exception of a stomach bug I picked up over the weekend. I spent all day laying down yesterday, and heading back there now.  My lab work at the Oncologist today looked good.  My Hemoglobin is up (12.9).  My white blood cells are down from last time (4.2), but still enough to get chemo Friday.

The fasting worked SO well with the last round of chemo.  I didn't have any numbness in my hands or feet, my mouth didn't burn, my stomach was better, and I didn't have any pain at all.  In fact, I required no medications this past round of chemo.  I had way more energy this time too, enough to do some walking on the treadmill and even move furniture around.  And I haven't lost any weight from treatments (although I wouldn't mind 5-10lbs to go away). The doctor said to keep doing what I'm doing!

After Friday, I will have only one more round of chemotherapy!! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Toxic Exposure? Dating with Cancer

What does it mean to love yourself?  Does it mean that you're perfect?  No.  Does it mean that you're better than anyone else?  Nope, not even close.  Does it mean you're happy with your life?  Not quite.  For me, to love myself means that I acknowledge I'm doing the best I can.  I'm not in competition with anyone.  I don't need anyone's approval.  This is the best me that I can offer to the world.

That moment of being given a cancer diagnosis can be one of the loneliest feelings in the world.  It doesn't matter how many people are there to support and love you.  It doesn't matter who has been there before and lived to tell their tale.  It doesn't matter how often you talk to God. When you are faced with your death, it's isolating and lonely.  No matter what you do, when it's your time, nobody can go on that journey with you.  You will be leaving here alone.

Where has that realization left me as of today?  I guess that left me at the final stage of grief....acceptance.  Acceptance of my own mortality one day, hopefully in my old age.  Acceptance of who I am now.  And finally, acceptance that life will never be how I planned, but rather, the most unique kaleidoscope of events and emotions.

Several months ago, I ran across a TED talk on vulnerability by Brene' Brown.  If you get a chance, look it up on Youtube, it's amazing.  But she talks about how, in order to be loved or even to love others, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable.  For most of us, we show the world what we think they want to see, the happy smiles, the pretty house, and the made up world we wish we lived.  But what we all crave to see is that we aren't alone, that everyone goes through the good, bad and ugly truth of life.  Nobody wants to be alone.

This brings me to my love life.  How on earth could a cancer patient put herself on a dating site?  Well, I did it.  I REALLY put myself out there too.  I put up my bald pic.  I joked about how my low white blood cell counts keep me in on Friday night.  I put that I have a son with brain damage.  And in the first ten words I said that I have breast cancer.  Then I waited patiently, fully expecting to get the typical rounds of ridiculous emails, or worse, expected none at all.

What I got instead was the most humbling of gifts.  In less than two weeks of having my dating profile online....of having myself feel so exposed by my own honesty and vulnerability.... of sharing something so personal with people that do nothing but judge my worthiness in just a moment's glance... I was shocked and overwhelmed by hundreds of emails.  These emails did not consist of "Hey, I wanna hook up with a cancer patient".   They were genuine, respectful, thoughtful, compassionate emails from men that took time to be as honest with me as I was in my profile, emails that touched my heart and gave me even more strength.  These men could recognize that I wasn't putting up a front, and they rewarded me by showing kindness and integrity that is so often lacking in this digital dating age.  I'm beyond grateful for the affirmation that I can be seen and still be attractive, and not just physically attractive, but as a whole person.

I am learning how to be vulnerable.  It's nothing but a learning process that concludes this mid-life crisis four years in the making.  It's not about being perfect, but about being able to love myself despite all the imperfections.  I think that's been the biggest role of cancer so far in my life.  Not weighing me down with how I'm broken, but instead, allowing me to be honest with myself and to everyone else.  And whether I'm in the best of moments or my darkest, I'm not afraid to be alone, because I know I am loved just how I am.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chemo Round #5

Yesterday was round #5 of chemotherapy.  I had three rounds of Adriamyacin/Cytoxan, and now two rounds of Taxotere/Perjeta/Herceptin.  Two rounds left!!  

My tumors have been aching like crazy for several weeks.  Yesterday, I looked for them and couldn't find a single one. They seem to have all shrunken to the point of being too small to feel.

I tried something new this time around with chemo....fasting.  There have been some studies showing how fasting before and after chemo can increase the effectiveness.  I've read all of them.  Scientists have been very successful in rodents and with some volunteers.  They are currently conducting clinical trials that will be finished by 2015.  The premise is that when your body is fasting, the normal cells shut down and go into starvation mode. In turn, they are supposedly not susceptible to the toxic chemotherapy, thus reducing side effects on the body.

With fasting, cancer cells remain active, searching for more glucose so they can grow.  They become stressed with the fast, and then further stressed with the chemotherapy drugs.  That causes more cancer cells to die, and to die faster.

The suggested fasting time is 48-60 hours before chemo and at least 24 hours after.  I did my research a little late, but I was able to eat light the day before chemo, then started my fast at around 7pm Thursday evening, giving me 16 hours before chemo.  I was able to wait another 26 hours after before finally eating some plain chicken and rice.  We'll see how it goes....

My friend Sharon helping me out during chemo

My friend Deana likes to dress me up and embarrass me after chemo

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Supplementally Insane

This is what happens when everyone says, "Make sure you take (insert supplement) will cure your cancer".
I actually researched all of these, and I still have a couple more that I'm waiting on. In addition, I have all the prescriptions the dr gave me. No, I am not taking them all now (although I am taking a couple); I'm preparing for balancing my body's chemistry when traditional treatment is finished.
But please, for the love of all that is holy, don't tell me to take anything else, I've turned into Suzanne Somers. 

Chemo round #5 tomorrow morning at 10am.  After that, only two more to go....

Monday, December 2, 2013

Logging on the Blog

12/2/13.....  As I'm doing more research, I'm becoming very suspicious that stress and my thyroid medicine caused my breast cancer. The medication was recalled right about the time I started having pain, and Pfizer said they are discontinuing it completely, which is highly suspicious. Also, I'm finding that it is a known risk that long term use of thyroid replacement drugs cause breast cancer.

I was on Levoxyl (a generic of Synthroid) since 1998. When they recalled it this year, I had to switch to another generic, Levothyroxine. It's been just a small amount of medication, but I had no idea about the breast cancer risk until yesterday. They did a study just last year of people on Levoxyl. Of the 14,000+ people studied, 99 had reported breast cancer. But that's just what was reported to the FDA. It's believed there are many, many more cases that have not been reported (like mine). They SAID they recalled it because of a funky smell from the packaging, but who knows the real reason. It's odd they would discontinue completely, not just fix the problem.

And from what I understand, it's all thyroid replacements, not just this one, that can cause breast cancer. This one may have just had a bonus factor that sparked cancer growth. After reading all I have, I think it all comes down to Iodine when it comes to fixing the thyroid naturally. If I had known before, I would have tried to fix it myself years ago.

I think by getting my iodine, PH, enzymes and natural bacteria balanced, plus adding omega-3s, Vit D, Vit C, Chlorophyl and a bunch of other stuff....I'm going to be a lot healthier. Then I'll add more exercise to increase oxygen. And I will be working on ways to reduce stress.

Right now, cancer has set up residence in my body because of the environment. If I don't change the neighborhood completely, it will keep coming back.

12/1/13..... Two things:
1. I woke up this morning, looked at the calendar, and realized I have chemo this week. Yuck.

2. I truly believe that my cancer will be cured by getting my body's chemical makeup right. Unfortunately, all of what I research and read goes against the traditional chemo/radiation because they are poisoning my body and can cause future cancers. I even had to sign a paper saying I understand that these drugs may cause cancer. That's not an easy decision to make every time.

BUT...The plan is to do what the doctor says, then as soon as they are done, do everything I can the natural way.

11/30/13...  Have the sweet kids again for the night.  Unfortunately, I have caught their cold and I'm struggling to maintain energy levels.  I don't know if this will affect the chemo schedule. I'm making chicken soup and drinking hot tea to help.

11/29/13...  How super cute is this hat that my friend Erica made for me?! I love that it has my blonde streak in it too. I can even wear other hats with it! I love it, thank you! 

11/27/13...   Now THAT is what makes a happy Thanksgiving!!!.... an overnight with the little loves! 

11/25/13...  My dear friend of 25 years, Emily, flew down from PA to take care of me.  And knitted a Wonder Woman hat for me too! What a gift, thank you!

11//21/13....  So, the status on the chemo is, it has yucky side effects. My hands and feet are tingling and numb, my nose keeps bleeding, I have new a mysterious rash on my neck, my tumors hurt (plus new pains), I feel like I've been swishing acid around in my mouth and I keep spitting blood, I'm nauseous, and anything I eat makes me sick. My white blood cell counts are at about 1.5 (which is extremely low). This makes me highly susceptible to catching something, so I should NOT have been at the DMV of all places. I have to call immediately if my temp goes over 100.5. BUT, as of right now, I'm okay and in a really good mood, just really worn out.

11/20/13...  On the phone, my daughter says, "I wish you didn't have breast cancer so that I could see you."  (my heart officially broke)

11/19/13...  All is well for now.... Just got back from a visit to the Cardiologist, and he's happy with how I'm doing. The effects of chemo are sneaking in a little at a time. Three nosebleeds, lots of stomach problems, nausea and muscle pain so far. But the worst is supposed to happen in the next week. The good news is, I still have energy and strength. 

11/15/13....  Finished chemo finally, and heading home with my princess attire...

Started at 10am....still going (at four hours now)...have at least an hour more of chemo to go, maybe more. Took a short nap, woke up to an old Indian woman staring at me

11/13/13...  I start new chemo drugs FRIDAY (Taxotere/Perjeta), as well as beginning my one year of hormone therapy (Herceptin). The doctor tells me that the effects will most likely hit on days 7-10, with flu-like symptoms and all over body pain. Also, these drugs will cause neuropathy in my hands and feet and very low white blood cell counts. I will have four rounds of this one every three weeks.