Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I was typing a facebook status and unexpectedly ended with "I'm growing tired of fighting."  That sounded so depressing, but that's not how I meant it.  Still, I'm tired of fighting.

I did the surgery.  I went back to work as soon as I was allowed.  I did chemo.  I lost my hair.  I dealt with side effects.  I kept working.  I got tired.  I tried to do all I could while wanting to sleep.  I started radiation.  Everyone told me how much easier it was than chemo.

It is easier than chemo.  But it's not easy.  I wake at 4 each morning.  I work for 2 hours, and then go to radiation.  After that, I return to work for 6 more hours.  My skin is raw.  I look sunburned, and I have areas that look like raw skin from a sunburn gone bad.  I'm so tired that I slept for 9 hours last night (thank you, Kevin) and it didn't help much.

People see that I'm done with chemo.  People see that I'm working full time again.  People see that I'm moving on.  All of this makes people say things like, "I'm glad it's over." and "I'm so glad that's behind you."

Let me tell you one thing:  It is NOT behind me.  I fight every day.  I fight every minute.  I put up this brave front while trying to work full time and hold my family together.

Say what you want, but this is NOT over.  It won't be over until I can live one full day without cancer smacking me in the face.  I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Seven Random Things

1. Radiation is going fine.  Although my skin is red and a bit tender, it's tolerable.  Very tolerable.  My biggest complaint is my shoulder hurting from the position they put me in.  I took a valium today before I went and it was much easier on me.

2. My radiologist spent 47 seconds in the room with me today.  I timed it.  Meh.  Whatever.  I have a breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, and medical oncologist that I love.  At this rate, with only 3 visits left, I'll only see him for 4 more minutes.  I can handle that.

3. Busy season is...well...busy.  It's crazy busy.  We're testing software, too, so I have no lack of things to keep me busy.

4. I'm going on a road trip this weekend to meet up with Brooke.  We'll only have a day and a half, but I hope it will make up for the fact that all of my vacation and sick time went toward the cancer fund.  I have been unable to take these trips because the Neon was getting iffy, but with my new car, I can go.  WooHoo!

5. It's getting ready to get cold.  I am happy about that.  Monica's allergies will let up, and I can walk outside for relief from the damn chemopause-induced hot flashes.

6. I've completed 18 radiation treatments, and I have 15 to go.  I'm over halfway through.  I get my port removed on November 8th, and finish radiation on November 14th.  I'm nearing the end of this nonsense.  Of course, I still have to wait until late May to get the reconstruction done.  Other than that, I should be able to resume life as usual.  I hope.

7. I was wondering how long it would be before my energy returned to normal.  I found a couple of sites that said sometimes months, sometimes a couple of years, and sometimes it doesn't return.  I refuse to let that happen.  I wonder if those are the cases of women much older than me.  I just want someone to say, "On this date, you'll feel normal."  I guess that's not going to happen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What a Craptastic Day

Damn.  If there is truly something to the Monday curse, I found it today.  Everything I touched turned to crap.  Some of it was my fault, and some was just plain bad luck, wrong place-wrong time, or the mistake of someone else.

Natalie asked my dad if he'd take her to get her permit today.  He said he would, which took a load off us, and I made arrangements for the school to allow her to check out after first hour.  At that point, I waited to hear if she passed or not.  The next thing I know, she's trying to call me, but I was on my work phone.

The short version is that they got to the next town over for the test, and were told they needed her birth certificate.  DUH!  I knew that.  Well, I knew it two years ago, when Monica got hers.  I completely forgot to make sure she had the documents she needed.  I told her where she could find it, but she had NO idea what she was looking for, and wound up taking the hospital one, instead of the official one.

They found this out when they got to the next town over for the second time, and they still wouldn't let her take the test.  By this time, my dad is probably quite hacked off (and rightfully so) and Natalie is in tears.  Later, I found out that she also needs a bill or something to prove residency.  Remember, all of this is just a PART of the horrible Monday.

I got to radiation, and they got me back there right away.  Monday is Xray day, so I knew it would take a bit longer than other days.  No biggie.  When I lie down on that table, I am on my back, and I have to put my left arm behind my head, hanging onto this handle thing.  I must lie VERY still.  They reposition me the way they need me by pulling the sheet that I'm on, pushing me over, moving the table, etc.  I am NOT to "help" them move me in any way.  They even say, "Lay heavy" quite often.  It usually takes a couple of minutes to get me where they want me.  No biggie.

Today, it took them at LEAST 15 minutes to get me positioned properly, and they still didn't seem pleased with how things were going.  They kept moving me, moving the table, reading numbers to each other, moving me again, etc.  Finally, they took the Xrays, and then they moved me a bit more.  Finally, they did the radiation treatment.  I was lying perfectly still for 30 minutes instead of the typical 10.  When they announced I was done, my arm was dead weight.  Sound asleep.  So asleep that I had trouble getting dressed.

It woke up on the way back to work.  It woke up with an excruciating amount of pain.  My shoulder actually still hurts, but the rest of my arm is finally better.  They told me that they made a 5mm adjustment, and would take a couple more Xrays tomorrow, but that it is all normal and that is why they take them every week.  Umm, OK.  5mm seems like a LOT of adjustment for shooting radiation into my body, near my internal organs, but I'll trust the medical professionals.

Work didn't really go much better.  I know how to handle busy season, but I was filling in for someone else who was sick, plus trying to do my stuff, plus cleaning up several messes.  I got it done, but it sure made me crabby.  Those around me were having a similar day, so we all just did our best and powered through.  Tomorrow will be better.  I'm sure of it, and I plan to take that attitude in with me.

Now, if Natalie and my dad forgive me, I'm past the most bothersome part of my day.  The rest is just stuff.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Keepin' On

After tomorrow morning's treatment, I'll be 1/3 of the way through radiation.  I keep making little milestones like so it'll go faster.  It seems to be working.  I feel like this leg of my treatment is moving along more quickly.  It helps that I don't feel like crap for a week out of every two.  I often leave work, get half undressed, get radiated, get dressed, and get back to work, all within an hour.  The most it takes is an hour and 15 minutes.

I'm still not liking my radiology oncologist very well, but I'm hoping I'll change my mind about him.  I wait for 10 minutes for him to spend 30 seconds with me.  I had to find out online that I shouldn't wear deodorant, and when I asked his nurse about it, she confirmed that I should not.  Thanks.  That would have been good to know.  I can wear the organic stuff, though, so I bought some of that.

I have a little irritation on that side, but it feels more like the top of my rib cage than it does my skin.  I'll ask about that on Wednesday, but I don't expect him to have much to say about it.  He certainly doesn't spend the time and ask the questions like my medical oncologist does.  She even asks about my mental state and how I'm doing with working during treatment, etc.  Maybe she's spoiled me.

I get my port out on November 8.  I thought that was the day after my last treatment, but now that I'm checking the calendar, it's the Thursday before.  After I get it out, I have 4 more treatments.  They'll take it out during my office visit.  I find that odd.  I'll be glad to have rid of it, even though it really hasn't caused me any real problems.  It sometimes irritates me a bit, but from some horror stories I've heard, I've been quite fortunate.

I haven't gotten sick, even though I have no white cells fighting for me.  I've been pretty strict about avoiding sick people.  I noticed today that my eye was irritated, and by afternoon, it felt like I was getting a stye.  By the time we got home from mom's, the bump had developed.  Yup.  I have a stye.  I'm a bit concerned, since that's an infection, so I'll call my doctor's office tomorrow and ask them if I should just let it go (which I've always done in the past...styes take care of themselves in a few days) or if they want me to take antibiotic.

It was a good weekend, all in all.  I was happy to get to hang out at Dad's, see aunt Rena, and even visit a bit with a couple of uncles that I rarely see.  I've avoided Mom and Dad's place for two weeks, because Dad and aunt Rena had been sick.  They got better, so we got back to our weekend routine of going out there.

I feel pretty good, and from what I've heard and read, I'll keep getting better, bit by bit.  Although I'm really tired at the end of each day, and exhausted at the end of the week, it still beats the heck out of chemo.  There are times I feel almost normal.  My hair is slowly starting to grow, too.  it's just barely there right now, and it doesn't have any color yet, but I hope it will speed up soon.  I am also curious to see what color it is when the color returns.  I'm a walking science experiment.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Wow.  I post that I got a new car, and then apparently drove off into the sunset in it, never to post to my blog again.  Or maybe I've been back to working full time, doing radiation treatments, and getting my social life back.  Boy, is it nice to accept dinner invitations again.

I started radiation on Monday.  I have a standing appointment at 8am every weekday.  On Monday, I left work too early because I didn't know how long it would take me to get there.  20 minutes is the most it takes, so I allow 30, in case there is traffic.  Yup, I'm driving straight into Kansas City during rush hour.  I haven't had any troubles, though.  Plus, I have an amazing new car to drive!

I got there Monday and they had to do some Xrays.  Because of this, I was there between 20 and 30 minutes.  I guess I'll get a couple Xrays every Monday, but not sure if it will take as long as the first time did. On Wednesdays, I will always have an appointment with my radiation oncologist.  I've found that I can leave work, go to the hospital, park the car, get to the radiation department, undress from the waist up, put on a gown, get radiation, change back into my clothes, and drive back to work....all in an hour.  40 minutes of that is driving!

Yes, it goes fast.  Those ladies know what they're doing, and they're super efficient.  It is a vulnerable feeling to be lying on that table in a big empty room while a machine shoots radiation into you, but there is no pain or discomfort of any kind involved.  They position me, leave the room, the machine does it's thing, and they reposition me again...three times total.

Most of the folks that I know who have had skin reactions do so around 4 weeks in or later.  I'm a week in right now.  I've done 5/33 treatments.  I have a ways to go.  A lot of them have been told to use a certain lotion or some such to the area from a week before starting to the end of radiation therapy.  I haven't been told to use anything.  Most people are told not to use antiperspirant, although some are allowed to use the organic kind.  I haven't been told either of these things.

My Wednesday appointment was a bit different because my Dr. was in a meeting that ran long.  He asked another doctor to see me so I didn't have to wait.  We were together about 90 seconds at most.  I have a couple of questions for this week (about the lotion and antiperspirant, etc.) but it still shouldn't take long.  I can't believe that the visits go that fast, but it makes it easier to keep up full time at work.

This Tuesday, I have an appointment with my medical oncologist as a follow-up to chemo.  I hope she tells me that I can stop being a germaphobe.  My father got sick at a MOST inopportune time, as I was just starting to feel like my old self!  I'm sure I'll be fine, but I want her to tell me so.  I do NOT want to wind up in the hospital again.

Wow, I get long winded when I wait a week to post.  That's all that is going on in the wonderful world of cancer.  I just keep moving forward.  What else can I do?  Move forward through treatment and move forward into our busy season at work.  I know I'm still supposed to rest when possible and not overdo it, so I'm being careful.  I'm just glad that, so far, I'm feeling a bit stronger each day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Got a New Car!

It's been a crazy day, so I'll do a quickie post about my car, and get back to cancer chat another day this week.  Lots to talk about, with it being awareness month and me starting radiation today, but I'm tired.  Not because of any health reasons, but because I got to work at 5:45 this morning, and between radiation, work, coming home to get the girls, taking them back to Lees Summit for a follow-up doctor's appointment for Monica, and then back home.  Crazy day!

Anyway, I got a new car!

It's a metallic bronze Kia Forte'.  I love it, dearly.  It has everything.  I'm enjoying all the bells and whistles, even though I wasn't planning on getting those when we started looking.  It's our first brand new car in our 18 years together.  Did I mention that I love it?