Last week I called my nurse coordinator to ask her about some test results that I got. During our conversation, we talked about the next steps in my treatment. I mentioned that I thought I should have an MRI before meeting with my surgeon again. She agreed and said she’d call his office, which she did. So today I had an MRI. Next week I meet with my surgeon.
Getting an MRI is an uncomfortable experience, but today I’m thankful for it because it confirmed that chemo works. The results showed “markedly improved appearance” compared to the previous one. My last MRI showed a 2-inch tumor spanning all four “quadrants.” This one showed 3 small spots, about 5mm or less each.
I think it’s probably a common fear for those with cancer to worry that the medicine won’t help. I had read that sometimes lobular cancer doesn’t respond well to chemo, and that was stuck in the back of my mind. That’s most likely why I felt such relief today. Even though the improvement doesn’t change the fact that I still need surgery and radiation, I’ll go into the next step feeling like the chemo has already made a big difference.
I was crabby today. I’ve been feeling like there is so much in pause mode again. I spent so long in chemo which felt like I was actively working towards my cure, and now, I’m just waiting. It’s frustrating. I thought I had learned patience but some days, it’s really hard. I called my doctors’s office yesterday just to make sure they had let my surgeon know I was done with chemo since I expected to have an MRI to check how much the tumor had (hopefully) shrunk. Thankfully late this afternoon, the surgeon’s office called to schedule an appointment to discuss next options. Not the MRI I was hoping for, but I’ll take it.
My last chemo!! I decided to end with the first wig I wore. While the treatment was uneventful, it was still exciting to know that it was the final one. Now I’ll have a break before surgery and can get some strength back.
I have to say again that I’m so grateful for the staff at the cancer clinic. They were all capable, friendly, and reassuring. And Andrew, the one who helps everyone check in, knew everyone’s name. I swear by my second visit, he knew who I was. It was amazing how quickly he remembered people. In some weird way, I’ll miss seeing everyone. As a thank you, I bought some cupcakes which Patrick delivered before lunch since my appointment was late this afternoon.
Speaking of Patrick, he has been such a trooper through all my chemo. He never missed one, even though they weren’t very exciting. I’m lucky to have him on my side.
I’m also thankful for all the happy surprises too. My in-laws sent a whole party; My morning latte and dinner were thanks to my mom; a friend dropped off a lovely candle and oil. I’m so blessed!
You guys! My hair is coming back already. I’ve noticed it on my arms and my head. It’s mostly white, which I’m told is normal at first, and it’s super soft. The fuzz on the top of my head feels like feather down. Sadly my nose hair doesn’t seem to be coming back in, nor my eyebrows or eyelashes. But that’s ok. I know they will. I’m so thankful to see some coming back in. It’s another reminder that things are getting better.
One more down and only one to go!! Patrick didn’t get my shoes in this picture, so I’m taking it as a sign that we’re both getting tired of this. Next week will be a celebration.
My sister sent me this long wig. Isn’t it cool? My nurse said she didn’t recognize me at first until she saw Patrick. I don’t know if I looked it, but I felt young. Haha! At any rate, I’m just grateful today to be so close to the finish.
The other day I stopped by a local gift shop. I was wearing a cap instead of a wig, and the woman ringing up my purchase asked if I purposely cut my hair as short as it appeared. I replied no, I was going through chemo.
It ended up that she had gone through breast cancer treatment four years ago. We talked chemo side effects; she experienced similar ones, including the fingernails starting to pull away from the nail beds. She said she ended up liking her hair short so well after it grew back that she’s kept it short ever since.
It’s a big club, those of us who have had breast cancer, and you never know when you’ll run into a member. For some reason, my interaction with this woman stuck with me this week. Our shared experiences helped normalize it, which is both helpful and kind of sad. Yet, I’m thankful for the reminders that many women have gone through this and are back to living normally again. I’ll be joining them soon.
Only 2 chemo treatments left! It was another uneventful appointment except that I was TIRED right after and still am.
Today I’m also thankful for my sister Brenda, whose birthday is today. She’s the older sister who was most likely to beat us up. But she’s also the one who would be the first to defend us if needed. She is generous, strong, beautiful and fun. She also inspired my colorful wigs.
I’m grateful for my sister. I’m thankful for one more treatment done. I’m also super happy for my friend who finished her last chemo treatment today. She has some radiation left to do and then her year gets better. Woohoo!!
I’m down to 3 more treatments! Today I wore my curly wig that I’ve had for quite a while. I hadn’t worn it because it was supposed to be blonde, but it looks more gray. And it’s pretty big so I questioned whether I could pull it off. But today I decided I really didn’t care. Funny thing is that a couple of the nurses told me it was their favorite so far. Go figure.
Yesterday I wore my blue wig when I went for my bloodwork and doctor visit. My doctor loves the colors. He laughs every time he sees them and even said he suggested to his wife that she try a fun color. (She declined.) His nurse told me that when another nurse commented that a patient had a colorful wig on, she replied, “Oh, that’s Melissa!” I’m guessing not too many other patients are as noticeable. And the lady who checks us in every day always comments on my shoes or outfit. She also wears funky attire, and we’ve bonded over shoes.
I go to the cancer center so often that when I get in the car, my phone gives me a notice telling me how long it will take me to get there. So it makes me happy to have connected to the staff and know that they smile when they see me. I’m thankful that I pushed aside my early doubts about wearing silly wigs and my doubt about today’s choice. It’s fun to step outside my comfort zone in this way. It’s been a good reminder that sometimes we hold ourselves back because we think we’ll look or seem silly, when really we just look like our original selves.
I read this today and started thinking about what I’ve learned so far during my cancer journey. I’ve learned that while it’s not a strong suit, I do have patience when I need it. It’s been a long 5 months, but the end keeps getting closer. I haven’t been able to change this course or speed it up or deviate from it. I’ve simply had to keep going and be patient, trusting that the end will come and it will be a good one. I’m thankful for this.
When I think about the opportunities on this path, it’s a bit harder. Sure I’ve had the opportunity to think about my life in a broader sense, to reflect on the important things as any major illness will inspire and try to prioritize the important things. But I’m still looking for the opportunities that may wait. I like the idea that something random and good could come along side the bad. Life can be both at the same time.
Only 4 more treatments to go! Yay! I wore my storage unit wig today and even put on fake eyelashes. It’s weird not having eyelashes and eyebrows anymore. My face feels so bare. But the fake lashes looked awkward without actual lashes too. Oh well. I’ll keep trying.
I’ve started getting neuropathy after last week’s treatment. I had been feeling it off and on previously, but it’s definitely more often now. My nurse asked about side effects, so I told her about it. Since my oncologist was out today, she had the doctor on call talk to me about it before starting treatment. We decided it’s still mild enough not to change anything. However, if it gets worse, they may need to lower my dose again. Fingers crossed it holds off. Since my dose was already lowered, I’d really like to get through the next four without changing it.
I’m thankful things are still going well overall. I’m grateful for the sunshine today even though it was cold again. I’m happy to be so close to the finish line.