Last night I started feeling tired of my drains, tired of the heaviness in my chest, tired of sleeping in the recliner. Today I think it’s the emotional toll of this surgery that has been weighing on me. I feel broken in a way I haven’t up until now.
I knew having a bi-lateral mastectomy would be hard. Since the binding the surgeon put on during my surgery is clear, I’ve seen the bruising and swelling, although the dressings hide my incisions. It was startling at first, but not unexpected, and every day it looks a little better. I’m not sure why the sadness has hit me at this point. Maybe it’s that I’ve spent the last couple of weeks mostly sitting around, and the inactivity makes me feel like an invalid. Maybe it’s these stupid drains that I’ve been carrying around in a fanny pack in front of me that I’m constantly aware of. Maybe it’s that my mom (bless her!) has spent all day cleaning my house for us while I’ve sat outside, out of her way.
Or maybe it’s that I haven’t quite accepted the changes that I knew were inevitable. I wish it were quicker. Off with the old, on with the new. But it can’t work that way. It’s coming in stages and requires healing time. As I type this I realize that really is the crux of it for me. I want to be finished, so I can really move on. I don’t like the unknowns that still linger.
The pathology from my surgery showed positive margins which means some cancer cells may have been left behind. If we weren’t going to do radiation already, we would be now. I was told there’s also a chance my oncologist could suggest more chemo. I hope not. Next week I see him as well as the radiation oncologist. I also see both surgeons again. By Wednesday, I’ll know the next steps.
Still, I’m thankful today that I’m on the mend. That I had such great help from my mom and sister the last couple of weeks. That I’ll have answers early next week. And I’m grateful that my days feeling broken are few and quickly over.
One week to surgery and I had my pre-op appointment with my general doctor to get clearance. Unfortunately, I didn’t know I’d have bloodwork done or I wouldn’t have eaten a chocolate cupcake just beforehand. Surprise! My glucose is high. I should just put that on a t-shirt. I’m pretty sure it was high every time I had bloodwork during chemo.
And even though my swollen fingers have gotten a bit better, they’re still not right after several weeks, so I mentioned it to the doctor. She added a couple tests for arthritis to the blood panel, so there’s that. Every week I get about ten years older. The first test results looked normal to my untrained eye, but the other results aren’t posted in my online chart yet. I’d cross my fingers if they weren’t too fat.
The nurse who did my blood draw was flabbergasted by my picture in my chart. She looked at it, then looked at me, then back at my picture. Finally, she asked, Have you seen your picture on here?! I laughed when I realized what she meant and told her I was sporting my chemo hair. I’m pretty sure she thought they hadn’t updated my picture in 20 years. She had the grace to tell me it looked good, and I think she felt bad for not noticing the diagnosis in my chart.
So while I seem to be falling apart bit by bit, I’m still good to go for surgery. The countdown now begins while I keep telling myself it will be fine. All is good. At least I’ll have young boobs when it’s all over.
It’s August! Ack. Where has the summer gone? It’s like the weekend; it blows by too quickly.
I FaceTimed with my daughter yesterday, and she mentioned how long my hair looked, so of course, I had to measure it. It’s an inch and a quarter. It does look long, considering, but that’s growth over the last three months. At this rate, assuming it doesn’t accelerate, it should be to my shoulders in about 2 years. I’m going to hope it starts to speed up.
It’s kind of fun to see how my hair is growing out. One thing I find crazy is how many cowlicks I have that I never noticed before. The center of my “bangs” points down towards my forehead but the edges wing out like little horns. And now I’m getting a spot on top of my head that sticks straight up. What the actual heck. I heard on Jeopardy that cowlicks are formed in utero so I must have had these prior to chemo. Luckily, they weren’t this noticeable. Slow or quick, I’m thankful my hair is growing, even though it’s still rather white.
Yesterday I went to the dentist because I canceled my last cleaning due to chemo. However, I was having some pain around a tooth as well as a weird bump that showed up on my gum. I was nervous about going. I’m always nervous now about catching something before my surgery. But I was also afraid I had something going on with my teeth and didn’t want to put it off several more months. I asked my sister, who works in a dental office, how risky she thought it was to go. Obviously, she didn’t think it posed too much of a risk since I went. And it turns out the bump is a benign cyst and my pain is from a cracked filling that my dentist agreed to fix for free after my surgery.
Today I had an eye exam scheduled because my eyesight seems to have gotten worse while on chemo, and I was noticing wavy lines in my peripheral vision pretty regularly. My oncologist said to get it checked once chemo was over. Well, my eye doctor says that the decline in my eyesight is probably more age-related than chemo-related. Dang it, and I liked her. Overall, my eyes are fine, even with the occasional wavy lines.
I’m thankful both appointments went well and gave me nothing more to worry about. I mean, I don’t think I could handle anything more at this point. Now I just need to figure out why a couple of my fingers have been swollen for two weeks. (Insert eye roll here.)
I’m going to whine for a minute, but I promise to end on a high note. I was hoping my neuropathy would start getting better but it isn’t. The numbness in my finger tips doesn’t bother me too much. It’s sometimes weird touching things and not getting a normal sensation. My feet, however, have really been bothering me lately.
When I was warned about neuropathy during chemo, my doctor described it as numbness or maybe tingling. Most websites describe it that way as well, with the added potential for sharp pain or burning. The best way I can describe it is to imagine walking around a big city all day in shoes that have no arch support. Then, when your feet are really sore, taking the shoes off and walking across hot pavement. My feet are achy, hot, and difficult to stand on for very long. Wearing closed toe shoes and socks makes it worse. Sadly, by the end of the day, my calves and knees also ache, and when I lay down, I periodically get sharp pains going through them.
The thing I keep thinking sounds good is wrapping them in something cool, especially at bedtime, and/or soaking them. So today I got a foot spa. It has vibration and is supposed to have bubbles, but it isn’t working quite right. However, I’m happy to say it helped. The cool water is soothing and relaxing, especially while sipping a glass of wine! I’m going to find a better spa and use it regularly. I’m thankful to find things like this that will help instead of resorting to pain medication. And I’m not losing hope that the neuropathy will eventually go away.
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.
So…the last week or so I’ve been struggling with extremely sore legs. Like keep me up at night, need to put menthol on them, sore. If I sit too long, it becomes hard to walk. Mix the leg soreness with the stupid rash that doesn’t want to seem to leave my face and my neuropathy that’s even more present, and I feel like my chemo effects have ramped up for a last hurrah. Man, I hope it’s short-lived.
No what, though, there’s always something to be thankful for. for example, just as we were wondering what to have for dinner, our neighbor showed up with homemade egg rolls just out of the fryer. They were delicious.
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.