Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Don't Look Sick

Today is the first day where I felt somewhat normal.  I still have some pesky side effects and my hair is on borrowed time, but I mostly feel "okay."  It occurred to me, though, that I only have a few more days of not "looking" sick.

I do not have THIS hat!  Darn!
I think that once I lose my hair, it'll be pretty obvious that something is going on.  I'll be wearing my cute hat hoard of course, but I'm sure it'll still be pretty obvious that I don't have hair.  And it's not like hats are all that common here like they are in Jolly Ole England!  And it's not like I typically wear hats so people that "know" me will know something is up.

I'm not ready for the prying questions from strangers.  Or maybe it's not the questions I'm worried about as much as the unsolicited advice.  Like I've said before, everyone and their pet stylist has some advice about how I should manage my life, my health and my cancer.  I don't even like hearing it much from people I know - but I suspect it will be intolerable from people I don't know.

However, it might be nice if some people who DO know actually begin to acknowledge I have cancer.  Because I know a lot of people know and never say anything to me.  I find this strange in a way.  Before all this happened to me, I guess I wouldn't have known what to say to someone who has cancer to bring up the subject - but I think saying nothing is worse.  People just look at me sadly and make small talk and I want to scream, "Yes!  I have breast cancer!  You can talk about it!  Really!!!"  It's maddening.  Because I'm not going to be the one to bring it up, "Oh gee, yes nice weather, did you hear I have cancer?"  It'd just be nice if someone would say, "I hear you are having some health problems, let me know if I can do anything to help you!  You are in my thoughts."  That leaves it open for discussion or not.  Most times, I'll tell anyone anything - I don't mind.  I'm not overly private at this point.  Heck, I dedicated a blog to my boobs - what more do I have to keep secret?!

Once I lose my hair, it'll definitely be "in your face."  No more ignoring it.  A baldy walking around, even with a hat on, is pretty glaring.  I can't decide if it'll be freeing to "look sick" or not.  I won't be able to choose who knows anymore because everyone will know if they don't already.

But then, part of me is glad to get some recognition for all my misery.  I'm twisted that way.

Boob Count: 124



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"I Wish My Mom Didn't Have Breast Cancer!"

is what my 7 year old son said to me yesterday.  I tried to not be too sarcastic when I said, "ME TOO!"  But, I guess having a Mom with breast cancer does put a crimp in the life of a 7 year old.  It's no fun.

It's been 6 days since chemo and 7 days since port surgery and, let me assure you, there is not a lot of summer fun happening in our household right now.  I have been in survival mode the last 7 days.  I lay around trying not to throw up and sleeping away time as much as possible.  I'm not going to win any Mother of the Year Awards at this rate to be sure.

After his remark about wishing I didn't have cancer he then told me he thinks I sleep too much.  I apologized and told him it was the drugs. My daughter who is 10 (and much more sympathetic to my plight) then put him in his place by saying, "Ya!  It's the DRUGS you KNOW! Geez!"  Insert heavy eye-roll here.

I do sleep a lot.  It's the only time I can ignore what is happening to me because every day brings a new annoying/troublesome symptom.  Today's surprise was (beware TMI) diarrhea.  Oh Joy!  I suspected it was coming and, actually, I went without it longer than I was expecting.  I once read about an animal that doesn't have a stomach so it eats and then poops immediately after - like clockwork - that's me now.  You're welcome for the visual.  Everything seems to be going right through and not in a pleasant way.

That's when I DO eat because I'm pretty queasy most of the time and eating makes me actually feel worse so I'm not eating much.  I keep tricking myself into thinking that maybe I'll feel BETTER if I eat - but, no, it doesn't seem to work that way.  I had a doctor appointment today and I've lost 5 pounds in 7 days.  I can't say that I recommend this diet though.

Another new symptom is that my scalp just itches and hurts!  I still have all of my hair (on borrowed time I'm sure) but my head is itchy and also very sensitive.  I've heard of people that just shave their heads as soon as they have chemo but I can't do that.  I want to make sure it's actually going to fall out before I do that - because it would be just my luck to shave my head to have it all grow right back unaffected by the chemo.  I would be the idiot walking around with a bald head when my hair wasn't going to fall out in the first place!  So, I plan on making very sure that my hair IS falling out before I do anything drastic.

New Haircuts!
However, my husband is confident enough that my hair is going to fall out that he came home bald today.  He had his head shaved on the way home.  It's a pretty good look for him.  I fear it's not going to be as attractive on me. We took the kids to get haircuts tonight so they don't look like total ragamuffins when they start school.  We tried to convince them that they should also shave their heads in solidarity for Mom losing her hair but they were adamant about not participating.  7 and 10 year olds are really attached to their hair apparently - who knew?

If I had a wish right now, first I would also wish that I didn't have breast cancer - but then I would wish that my 7 year old didn't know so young that wishes don't always come true.


Hair Report:  Still There but Itchy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Misery

Chemo Day #4.  It's been a long miserable day.  I've been in and out of "consciousness" the entire day.  I spent most of the day in bed.  I was able to watch some TV, but mostly, I just want to lay in bed and let time pass by. Everything hurts and aches and more symptoms keep popping up all the time.  My eyes are bloodshot, it feels like my skin is crawling and the headaches are still ever-present.

I tried to stop taking my nausea medication today since I've been feeling okay, but it didn't last long.  After I ate dinner, I felt really sick so I took all 3 nausea medications and that helped, thank goodness.  I didn't throw up, I just got to the point of laying in bed praying to not throw up.  But then the medicine kicked in and I was okay again.

I can't believe that I have to get THIS sick to get better!  4 days ago when I walked in the Cancer Center to get hooked up for chemo, I felt almost back to my normal self - almost healthy!  And look at me now.  I'm sick and miserable.  And every ache and pain reminds me that this is just the beginning of the journey and I have a long way to go before I'm well again.  And I only have THREE more rounds to go through - some people go through twice that much!

How do we do it?  How is the will to live so strong that we'll make ourselves deathly ill for more time?  I don't know how - but it is.  I have absolutely no intention of giving up easily or giving in.  I will prevail!

Everyone is taking very good care of me.  My children are doting and helpful and give me massages and bring me water and the puppy to cuddle with.  They ask how I'm feeling and they lay in bed with me holding my hand.  My husband is caring and helpful and worries.  He lays beside me holding my arm and my hand until he gets kicked out for falling asleep and snoring, thus disturbing my peaceful coma.

I'm not really one to lay around and it's driving me crazy.  There is so much I'd rather be doing but I just can't.  I just have to keep perspective and remember that losing these days/months to chemo means that I will live to see and enjoy many MORE days and months in the years to come.

Okay, Day #5, I'm ready for ya!


Hair Report: No Change

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Achy

The Good:
I have a lot of medications to help with the side effects I'm experiencing with the chemo and to help me stay somewhat comfortable.

The Bad:
I have way too many medications to keep track of.

The Achy:

My Medications - I just carry them with me
around the house.
Before the chemo even started, I was given 5 different medications to help control and alleviate the symptoms from chemo.  Three medications are for nausea (but also work for other things like headaches and insomnia). One medication is a powerful steroid.  The other are pain pills.

I am to take the main nausea pills every 8 hours around the clock for the first 72 hours at least and then longer if I have any nausea at all.  Then I take the other two nausea meds if I have any "breakthrough" nausea.  I take the steroid the twice the day before, twice the day of and twice the day after each chemo.  Then, I can take the pain pills as needed for the body aches and pain.  But, I can also take the secondary nausea medications for headaches and to help me sleep (Thank You Beth for reminding me of this!).


Me too.

It's a lot to keep track of.  I've been using the alarm on my phone to help remind me.  I have to make sure that I label each alarm or it'll ring and I won't remember what it is ringing for!  Scary.

I am having some nausea but nothing too debilitating.  Just touches here and there and not much of an appetite.  My main complaint here on Day #3 is the aches and pains.  They told me the first time is the worst. It's the Neulasta shot that causes the most of it.  But, I'm in so much pain, I can't get comfortable and even the pain pills don't really help much.  I was able to sleep for about 4 hours last night before being awoken by my husband snoring.  Then I was in too much pain with the aches and the headaches I keep having to go back to sleep.  I got up, watched some TV and was just exhausted.

That's when my dear friend, Beth, who is fighting Stage III Colon Cancer and on her second bout of chemo found me on FaceBook and helped me to remember that taking one of the secondary nausea meds would help me sleep.  I looked it up and the same medication also helps with migraines!  HALLELUJAH!  I took one at about 7:30 a.m. and slept until 1 p.m.  It helped so much!

I'm thankful that I have medications to help try to keep me comfortable - but it's a lot to remember and a lot to get used to.  And I hate to take medications so this is very new for me.

Everyone told me chemo feels like having the flu, and that's exactly what it's like.  I just ache like never before, my legs are the worst but everywhere hurts.  Plus, the headaches I'm having are quite significant.  Nearing migraine intensity.  If it weren't for all of the pain, I think I'd be feeling just a little run down.

Days 2-5 are supposed to be the worst.  I've made it to the end of Day #3 so hopefully I'll be on the upswing soon!  I feel anxious because I have so much that I'd rather be doing - life isn't stopping for me but I have to stop life because I don't feel like doing anything.  It's hard.  My life is on pause right now to be sure.

Counting the days...


Hair Update:  Still all there!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chemo Days 1 & 2

Yesterday was the first chemo treatment. I slept pretty well the night before since I was still drugged up from the port surgery. We arrived at the Cancer Center at 11:00 and only waited a few minutes in the lobby before being escorted back to the infusion area. I wasn't at all nervous since I already have the port, I knew I wouldn't have to suffer through several needle sticks to draw blood and get an IV in. *whew*

Me at 1st Chemo
I was shown to a comfy recliner chair in an area with 3 other patients. One nurse assigned to 4 patients. Our nurse was Linda and she was very sweet and soft-spoken. They were thrilled that I have a port. When the surgeon put in the port on Wednesday, he put a needle already in there so there were no pokes AT ALL! Oh happy day!  I was in Pod 4, chair 13!!  13!!  I figured that out too late or I would have moved!  Chair 13 - geez!  I kept a watch out to make sure that no black cats crossed my path as well - I don't need any MORE bad luck!

When we were ready to go, they took some more blood and flushed the line with saline and I waited while the medications were ordered. The first bag was a mixture of anti-nausea and steroids. Then when that bag was finished came the first chemo drug called Taxotere. I felt anxious when they hung it up and hooked it in. Would I feel something right away? I think I held my breath.  Some people can have really severe reactions to it the first time.  I waited for the lightning strike.  They started it slow just to make sure I had no reaction to it (I didn't) and then they turned it up to full speed. I didn't feel anything. I read a little, dozed a little, ate my snacks and eavesdropped on other patient conversations.  Two men from the American Cancer Society came by to say Hello (both cancer survivors - one from skin cancer (4 times!) and the other had cancer of the esophagus and stomach - he's lucky to be alive he told me).  They were very nice and chatty and gave me more free stuff (including a HAT!).

Most of the other patients I saw were elderly. I was definitely one of the youngest there. I think the first lady beside me has breast cancer because she had no hair and no breasts. She left soon after and an elderly lady came for an iron infusion. We chatted a little, she was really nice. Sitting across from us were two elderly men. I heard one man say he comes for treatment everyday. The other man was on chemo but I don't know for what. The other man on chemo had a port like me. But the other two patients did not and had to get IVs. It took them 3 times to get one in the lady and 4 times to get an IV in the man (he's the one that comes everyday!) I tried to kiss my port right then but I couldn't reach it. I'm so thankful for it.

17 hats and 1 scarf - not NEARLY enough!
When the first drug was finished (took about an hour), it was time for drug #2 called Cytoxin. This one would take about 45 minutes. I didn't feel anything right away but then I got a horrendous headache and my skin was burning where my port is. They were a little concerned and kept me longer after the chemo ended to make sure I was alright. I took a dose of pain pills and it dulled the headache quite a bit. Once I was feeling better, they let me go.  I was tempted to go hoard more hats from the Cancer Center but I didn't feel like it. Oh darn.

I was pretty exhausted but okay. I slept quite a bit after I got home and most of the night through. Today I had to go back to get the shot in the arm. It didn't really hurt.  The nurse did a good job of doing it slowly because she said it hurts if you do it fast.

At this point, 28 hours later, I'm feeling pretty run down, tired, achey and the headaches are fairly significant. I always read you would feel like you have the flu and that is how I feel. Just so achey and headachy. My face is hot and flushed and we have to keep an eye on my temperature. It's an emergency if I run a temp of 100.5 or more since I still have the open wound I'm battling from the mastectomy. My face is flushed and hot and I can feel it - it's not painful just annoying.  I definitely feel a bit slow - like my brain really isn't working well.  I keep going into rooms and forgetting why I'm there or what I came for.  And it's taken me forever to type this.  It's a hard feeling to explain and I suspect it will get worse before it gets better.

The kids seem much calmer now that the first chemo is over and they see I'm still relatively okay.  My daughter turned 10 this week and she is really helping out around the house and being extra sweet.  Everything is just more calm now.

I still have all my hair. Haha! Greg and I have been tugging on it a few times a day just to check! We tug on it and say, "Nope, still hanging in there!". Ha! Hair falls out anywhere from 7 to 21 days. Greg is going to shave his head this weekend in solidarity! Go Team Laura! Of course, Greg is mostly bald as it is but, hey, it's the thought that counts!

If anyone else wants to shave their head in solidarity - let me know!  I'll have practice after doing Greg's head!  Come on over!

(1 Chemo Down - 3 To Go!)

People Outside of My Family Who've Seen My "Boobs":  37

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Powered Up

The surgery for the Power Port went well.  We were actually at the hospital a little less than 4 hours.  It was all pretty easy, thankfully.

See!  My Own Dedicated Space!
Thanks Greg!
We arrived a little before noon and parked in my designated space.  See, I'm there so much that I have my own space now.  Well, not really - but I SHOULD have my own space!  After parking, we entered the hospital and checked in.  They told me that my surgeon, Dr. Gallagher, was running early!  Woot!  I was excited that they were going to get things going right away.  I went to have a seat in the waiting room just knowing they'd be calling me back any second.

30 minutes later...I actually got called back!  My nurse was the same one I had when I had my mastectomy.  Her name is Gaylen - but they call her Gay.  I love her!  She's so awesome!  I was thrilled to have someone I knew and she remembered me too!  She knew she recognized the name and she remembered me more when we started talking about my medical history (just confirming things because it's all already in the computers) and then she REALLY remembered me when she went to put the IV in!  My sad little thin rolling veins are hard to forget!

We went through all the usual stuff - bathroom break, donning the lovely surgical gown, medical history and questions and getting an IV.  The IV didn't hurt at all!!!  Gay is amazing!  I have never ever had an IV not hurt!  Plus she got it on the first try!  I really wanted to kiss Gay right then but I think they discourage that type of behavior in a hospital setting.

Then, as always in hospitals, it was time to hurry up and wait.  They brought Greg back and we sat and waited and chatted a bit.  But, it wasn't long before the anesthesiologist appeared.  And HE was the same anesthesiologist I'd had for my mastectomy!!  What are the odds?!  He also remembered me!  We had a great time chatting.  Dr. Gallagher stopped by too.

Things started happening pretty quickly and the last thing I remember is teasing the anesthesiologist about carrying syringes around in his pocket.  And then, I was out.  He must have liked my joke (or maybe not and he wanted to shut me up) because he knocked me out fast and good.  I don't remember Greg saying goodbye or kissing my nose.  I don't remember giving him my glasses.  I guess I even said something and giggled.  Sounds like me but I don't remember that either.  I thought I remembered arriving in the operating room, but I'm starting to question that recollection.

Then I woke up and I was in the same space in the recovery room as last time!!  The coincidences were amazing!  The clock was right in front of me and it was just before 3 p.m.  I was in pain and I had a SPLITTING headache!  They gave me Morphine and said, "Hmm, that's weird, this surgery doesn't usually hurt..."  What?  How is that even possible?!  They made an incision and put something in your body and it doesn't hurt?  What a bunch of fruitcakes!

Anyway, the headache was really unbearable.  So they gave me some liquid Vicodin as well.  Then, lots of water.  It took a bit for the headache to go away and the pain to subside but I started to feel better.  I was in and out of consciousness but I do remember Dr. Gallagher stopping by to say Hi and tell me everything went great.  They told him about the headache and he asked if I drink coffee - Nope.

I was wheeled to a different part of the recovery room and Gay came by to check on me!  Well, probably it was her job but I like to think she did that because she loves me and stuff.  Pretty soon, it was time to get dressed and go to the bathroom.  Greg helped me and when I came out of the bathroom, there was a wheelchair waiting for me and they were changing the bed.  I guess that was my cue to leave!  I told my nurse to tell Gay that I love her and that I wasn't just saying that because I was all drugged up.

Someone wheeled me out to the parking lot and Greg came and picked me up and we were on our way.  After stopping for the pain pill prescription and a NON-coffee drink at Starbucks, we headed home.  It was a bumpy car ride and I accused my husband of driving like "Ricky Racer" but he denied it and said he was going slow as possible.  I'm suspicious...but I was pretty drugged up so we could have been going 5 mph and I wouldn't have known the difference.  But, knowing my husband, we were definitely going faster than 5 mph!

I did quite a bit of sleeping when I got home but, other than that, I feel pretty good.  There's some pain involved but it's not terrible and I'm up doing whatever I want for the most part.  My chest is pretty sore and my left arm is sore but manageable - especially with my old friend Vicodin.

Even though everyone said I wouldn't have any special "powers," I tried things out just to make sure.  I concentrated on disappearing or becoming invisible but I'm pretty sure it didn't work.  Then I tried to make myself levitate but that didn't work either.

Darn!  I hate it when the doctors are right!

Tomorrow: Chemo!

People Outside of My Family Who've Seen my Boobs (or a lack thereof): 34

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


"I'm Waiting for YOU, Laura! Muahahaha"
I just found out today, at my last oncologist appointment before chemo, that I have to go back in the day after each chemo and get a shot!!!  With a NEEDLE!  In the ARM!

My Mother pointed out that this was probably the least of my worries but I don't like shots and I've chosen to focus on this aspect of my torture for now.

The injection will be something called "Neulasta."  This will insure that my white blood cells don't drop too low (they are killed off by the chemo).  Since I still have an open wound from the surgery, the shot will help guard, hopefully, against me getting an infection.  Also, since my white blood cells won't dip as low, I'll have a better chance of not getting sick - getting sick during chemo would be bad, very bad.

Still, no one could invent this in pill form yet?!  Geez!

Stuffed animal representation of spleen
How clever.
Since I like to be informed, I looked up the side effects of this particular medication.  The first one was ruptured spleen.  Well, that doesn't sound like a good idea at all!  I'm pretty sure you need your spleen and, even though, I'm not really sure what my spleen does I don't really want it blowing up inside of me.  I know they have to put up every possible side effect, but my poor spleen almost exploded just from reading that!

I asked why this shot couldn't be put through the port!  I mean, HELLO, I'm having surgery just to have this stupid thing put in so that I won't have to get stuck with needles and NOW I'm given this information?!  I think these people just look for things to put in needles to stick people with!  Anyway, the shot has to be done in a "fatty" area so they do it in your arm.  I don't think he was calling my arms fat.  I tried to not look insulted.

They changed the time that I have to show up for the surgery tomorrow to noon (from 1 p.m.).  One more IV to go and then I'll have the port.  And then no more needles for me!  WOOT!!

Oh wait, I forgot about that damn shot again!

I'm going to run away from home.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Counting the Hours

15 Hours: Tomorrow afternoon I go for my last official oncologist appointment before having the port put in and starting chemo.  I've already had this appointment twice before and then chemo got pushed back because of my wound on the right side not healing as fast as we would like.  So, I don't expect any surprises.  I do have to have blood taken again to check everything.  Last blood test stick before chemo!  That's something to celebrate!  Woot!

39 Hours: Wednesday is when I report to the hospital for surgery to have the port put in.  Not looking forward to this AT ALL!  First of all, I can't eat after midnight and, as it stands now, my check in time is 1 pm!  Mean!  Then I have to get an IV and I won't bore you again with how much I hate IVs but I really really do.  (A Lot!)  But, again, last IV for a while so that's something to celebrate as well!  The surgery for the port is a short one, only 20-30 minutes long.  I'll spend more time (2 hours at least) getting prepped and waiting for surgery than I will IN surgery.  I come home the same day.  It's not a particularly painful surgery, just a small incision on my left chest.

Power Port!
A "port" is a device that is put under the skin in the upper chest and is connected to a vein.  This port can be accessed easily and often with a needle to take blood and also to give chemotherapy treatments.  The huge advantage is that there is no hunting for veins every time you go in which, for me, is huge!  There is a numbing lotion given that I'll put on at home before I leave each time to have blood taken or for chemo and it'll numb the area (hopefully!) and then it won't hurt!  That would be so nice!  What a change!

I'm getting what is called a POWER PORT!  I had such high hopes that I'd have super powers after having it put in like invisibility or power of flight or, more importantly, the power to heal (I need that one!).  But, no.  It does not come with any super powers!  What a letdown!  However, apparently a power port is a bit easier to access than just a regular old port.  However, it sits up higher under the skin - which is kind of creepy but I'm trying to overlook that knowing all the benefits I WILL get from having a port.

63 Hours: I report on Thursday for chemo!  The first treatment.  First time I'm hooked up to the liquid poison.  Ugh.  I'll be forcing myself to go, trust me.  My chemo is at the Cancer Center, so I'm familiar with the place and know where to go.  I've seen the area and it's really beautiful with private rooms and cozy recliners.  They want to make you comfy while they make you sick.  How nice of them.

My 5 year old niece spent the night last night and when we took her home she said to her Mother, "Mommy, did you notice that Aunt Laura lost her boobies?!"  Haha!  It was great!  They have talked to her some about me having cancer - in 5 year old words.  She was very worried about me losing my hair and being sick.  I told her that yes the medicine would make me lose my hair but it would make the rest of me all better.  She seemed okay with that.

I held my new nephew today, only 9 days old.  My first time meeting him.  It should be healing to hold a new life and I did enjoy every moment, he's a cutie.  But, all I could think was exactly what I whispered to him softly, "I hope I'm around to see you grow up."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Waiting Game

I've been feeling generally pretty good these days.  I don't really have all of my energy back from pre-surgery yet and I'm definitely still sleeping a lot (though both could be due to stress and worry...), however I'm feeling more near my normal self.

For the most part...except...

Pretty much all I can think about is cancer and chemo.  The two C's.  They invade my every thought.  I find it hard to focus on many things because my mind tends to wander to one or the other.  It's a good thing I have TIVO because I do a lot of rewinding of shows these days because I'll realize I've zoned out and missed something.  And forget trying to make sense of reading anything!  It's futile!  Even trying to write...I'm so easily distracted and it's increasingly difficult for me to compose complete thoughts.  I've been writing these few paragraphs for 3 days.

I've heard about the phenomenon of "chemo brain."  Chemo brain is a mental fog.  Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental confusion are all part of chemo brain.  Unfortunately, I think I already have chemo brain.  I have "pre-chemo brain."  I'm sure of it.  I diagnosed myself so I know I'm right.  I suspect that pre-chemo brain may be caused by the stress of anticipating chemo.

Because, the reality is that I'm terrified.  Sure, I've read a lot about chemo.  I even read the entire book they gave me about it at the Cancer Center.  All the numerous pages of side effects and all the horrible things that can/will happen to you and your body.  I read them all. But, I don't know what it will really be like.  I don't know how it will affect ME.  I don't want the days to pass so that it gets here (6 more days) but then, the suspense is killing me.

It's so hard to plan your life when you don't know how you'll be feeling or what the effects on you will be.  I don't know how soon after I'll be able to join the land of the living.  I don't know if I'll just sleep through the first few days or if I'll be able to do some things?  Which side effects will I suffer from?  They are all horrendous so I'm curious as to which ones will get me!

I know my life will be drastically different for the next 3 months but I don't know how.

I'm really nervous and scared.  First the surgery on Wednesday to put the port in.  It's not a big surgery but it's a surgery nonetheless and I hate surgery and I hate IVs and I hate needles and I don't really like hospitals much either!  Then to have to get up the next morning and go in for chemo right away.  How cruel.

So, here I wait.  In a panic. Terrified. Scared. Petrified.

I wish I could think of more words because I feel them all right now.  Life and my future is so uncertain now.  All I can do is wait.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Boob Show

Back when I went to the free mastectomy class and they gave me the free camisole...included were two free "boobs."  They are some sort of foam-ish material that you can wear so you have boobs.  They are super soft and cushy and when I first got the camisole (which has pockets for the aforementioned boobs), I thought I would wear them, sometimes at least.

But, then I had the surgery...and I was in too much pain to care.  And then I was too happy on pain pills to care.  And then I decided I really didn't care.  No one is staring at my chest or giving me weird looks or pointing and laughing (no more than before that is).  I don't think the fact that I don't have breasts is all that noticeable honestly.  Except that I'm waiting for someone to ask me if I'm pregnant (since the stomach to breast ratio is off) but...I don't think it really registers to anyone that I don't have breasts.

Obviously, the way I'm dressing makes a huge difference.  I'm wearing baggy shirts and nothing fitted on the top so it's not obvious at all.

The Foam Boobs
However, the other night, I came across the foam boobs sitting in the bathroom and I decided to give them a whirl.  I was wearing a nightgown (the camisole has long been abandoned) so I just kind of stuffed them in there.  I then strutted into the office and asked my husband if he "noticed" anything...

He definitely noticed!  After his initial excitement, he was quickly confused and he said, " that where they GO?!"

Because, you see, in our twelve and a half years of marriage, he has been witness as my real breasts went ever more south.  By the day, those things were creeping ever downward.  Gravity was not my friend.  So, it makes sense that he may have forgotten where breasts actually belong on a woman's body.  I told him to get used to it because the new ones will be in the "right" place and they will STAY there!  He was part excited, part terrified.

I was so proud as I paraded around with my foam boobs.  I was even undeterred when one popped out.  I just shoved that puppy right back in there.  So easy!

But then I looked in the mirror.

Wow.  I was so confused.  My brain just didn't really process this weird body that I was looking at.  I just seemed so odd.  I grabbed the foam boobs and pulled them out and shoved them back in the bag.

I was not expecting that.  I thought I'd be thrilled to see myself with breasts again.  But, I wasn't prepared for it, I guess.  It just seemed so unreal - so unnatural - so wrong.

I'm not sure why I had such a strong reaction.  I haven't spent a lot of time looking in the mirror at myself the last 5 weeks.  Though, of course, it's always on my mind that I don't have breasts right now and, of course, I definitely notice every time I look down.  But I didn't realize that my perception of myself had changed so drastically or so quickly.  Am I just angry at my breasts for giving me cancer?  Am I still mourning the loss of my breasts?  Did wearing fake breasts make me feel like I was cheating on my old breasts?  I just don't know.  I can't sort it all out yet.

It's been a journey to accept myself as boobless and it's obvious that it'll be a journey, for not only my body, but also my brain to get used to having breasts again.  Something that was so natural before will take some adjustments to, once again, accept as part of myself.

People Outside My Family Who've Seen My "Boobs": 31 (The assistant to the physical therapist - I'll pretty much strip off my top for anyone these days)
Boob Count:  123!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Guilt Trip

No one can throw a Mother into a guilt trip like her child.  Tonight was my turn.

My 9 year old daughter was sent to bed an hour early after clobbering her brother for "being annoying."  He is her little brother and I'm sure he is annoying to her, but she is not allowed to hit him.  As smart as she is, this lesson seems to be slow in coming.

So, she sat in her room bawling and pondering the miseries of her life.  Ever the writer, she decided to put her feelings on paper.  She then enlisted her little brother (the annoying one) to bring that paper to me.  I read it and was first mad and then I was upset and cried.  Because amid all the rantings about how unfair her life is was this:

"I just want to have a healthy mom!"

I was devastated!  I feel so guilty anyway.  I really try to not feel guilty - it's not MY fault.  I certainly didn't choose this for myself or for my children.  I don't want to live my life this way!  Chemo hanging over our heads.  Always waiting for cancer to return.  The constant doctor appointments.  The pain.  The no fun bummer summer.

I didn't do any of this on purpose but maybe at 9 years old you can't see that.  You don't know who to blame or why.  I know I am the one with cancer, but I also know that it deeply affects everyone around me.  I try to be sensitive to that.

I didn't go talk to her, I was too upset.  She's asleep now.  But, what is there to say?  I'm sure a lot seems wrong in her little world right now and I don't think there's anything I can do to fix that.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Maintenance of Me

Today being Tuesday was another visit with the surgeon to check my wounds.  One side, the left (the side that had the cancer) is totally healed and looks great.  Well, "great" if you don't count the crazy extra skin look that I've got going on.  The other side, the right (the healthy breast side) is better but still healing.  I have a large opened area where the wound totally opened up.  Ewww!  I didn't even know that was a possibility!  Yuk!  I haven't looked at it, I don't want to know - I'm just so thankful everything is, mostly, numb!  I'm so thankful I can't actually FEEL what is going on down there - because I DID peek just a little once a couple of weeks ago and just saw the edge and, let me tell you, it was disgusting!  It has to be packed everyday.  Ugh.  Just even talking about it makes me queasy!

Anyway, since I'm still healing and have an open wound, we are pushing back chemo as far as possible.  I was supposed to start this Thursday, but since things aren't looking so great on that side - it's been pushed to the 25th of August - the latest they feel comfortable starting it.  They want to start chemo within 4-7 weeks after surgery, that's the optimum time.  August 25th will be right at 7 weeks.

Once chemo starts, all healing will STOP!  So, whatever I look like on the 25th is how my wound will be for the next several months!!  I'll have to go to the surgeon every week still and it'll have to be repacked every day!  It's a daunting thought.  However, hopefully I'll, at least, be healed enough that I won't have to worry about any infections in the wound.  It's a balancing act - when is the best time to start chemo knowing that the healing will stop?  It's a good thing my surgeon loves me because I'm going to be seeing a lot of him.  They should put me on the payroll!

See any Similarities?
My husband is my daily wound packer.  And, weirdly enough, my children are both fascinated by the whole thing.  (I'm hoping that at least one of them becomes a doctor and gives me a discount, I need it!)  My husband does very well taking the grief that I give him about repacking this gaping wound every night.  However, he did compare me to a horse the other day.  See, he grew up on a ranch - and he went into this whole spiel about how they used to do the same thing to the horses when they had open wounds.  Wow!  I've heard a lot in our 12 years of marriage but being compared to a horse is new.

After the appointment with the surgeon, I went to my first physical therapy appointment.  The expert to see is a lady in Everett named Maggie - so that's where I went.  I don't particularly enjoy physical therapy.  It's work and it usually hurts and I don't like work or hurting.

I was excited to be led into a private room and see massage cream!  Woot!  Massage!  I even undressed right in front of poor Maggie - "Let's get this show on road baby!"  I didn't say that out loud but I was thinking it.  I love massages.

Well, this massage sucked!  It HURT!  It was in all the wrong places - all the places I hurt and where I don't WANT anyone to touch me!  I'm still so sore across my upper chest and under my arms from the surgery and taking the lymph nodes.  So, of course, those are the places where she "massaged."  It wasn't fun and relaxing!  I didn't like Maggie much after that...

What she managed to do, though, was to loosen things up.  All in preparation to teach me some exercises to do.  Damn.  See - it hurt and then I had to work.  Yuk.

My Own Torture Device for Home
So, I did the arm exercises and they were impressed by the range of motion that I already have in my arms.  I was proud!  I've been trying to do things around the house and reach for things on the top shelf and that all helps, I know.

After the, I mean, session, was over; I was given a device to use at home to exercise with.  I have to do the arm exercises twice a day.  I haven't taken it out of the package yet.  It looks like a medieval torture device.

I go back on Friday for more.

For now though, I wait for chemo to start.  It's a time to heal and maybe even breathe a little.  Because my near future is gonna be a lot of work!  Bah!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Look Good, Feel Better

Look Good, Feel Better was the name of the class that I attended today at the Cancer Center.  The premise being that if you pay attention to your looks using makeup, wigs, etc during chemo, you'll feel better.  I'm sure it's probably true, but I haven't even started chemo yet and there are days that I don't care WHAT I look like.  But, I can see how taking the time to look good when you aren't feeling great, would probably make a big difference.

I learned a lot of cool stuff in the class but the biggest thing I learned is that I can not take my MOTHER anywhere!  See, we were supposed to take a "friend."  I did.  I took my Mother - the woman who spent the entire time bragging about me and my blog.  I was mortified and I wanted to crawl under the table several times. She is so embarrassing.  I'm not taking her anywhere anymore.  I'm not kidding MOM!

Anyway, when we arrived to the class, we were given a bag of makeup!  All FREE!  Well, if you know me, you know I love free!  There were 3 different skin tones to choose from: Light, Medium and Dark.  There were no bags labeled "Pasty White" which is what I really am, so I settled for "Light."

I was trying to save the suspense of what was in the bag as long as I could but then my Mother started bugging me wanting to see so I had to open it to shut her up.  There were cleansers, lotions, foundation, powder, eye shadow (mine, however, was florescent green!), mascara, eye pencil, brow pencil (mine was light brown), blush, lip liner, gloss, lipstick, body wash and a scrubber.  So much cool stuff!  And good brands!  It was so cool!  I don't really wear much makeup but maybe I'll start!

Other people had a few different things.  The lady next to me had a big wonderful makeup brush and I threatened to tackle her for it.  She didn't look scared so that scared me and I decided she might be tougher than she looked.  However, she also got light pink eye shadow which was pretty amusing.  So, there were some misses in there (like my GREEN eye shadow), but, for the most part, everything was perfect and so cool!

Once the class started, we went around the room and introduced ourselves.  A couple of the women had a hard time talking without crying.  I wanted to hug them so badly.  I wanted to tell them that it would be okay! But, what do I know?  I don't know that it will be okay!  I don't even know if I'll be okay!  When it came to my Mother, this is where she sat there and bragged about this blog and how wonderful it is and and what a great writer I am.  I was mortified.

Once I recovered from my Mother's embarrassing me, it was my turn and I was last to go.  The lady in charge of the class had told everyone to just tell whatever you wanted to say about yourself.  By the time it got to me, I took note that everyone had only talked about what kind of cancer they had and whether or not they would have chemo and/or radiation and where they were in their treatment.  I did the same thing.  But what I really wanted to scream was that MY CANCER ISN'T WHO I AM!  I wanted to tell about how I'm a mother and a teacher and a wife and that I have two beautiful smart children who love me and maybe even a quick plug about my puppy!  But, I didn't.  I followed the crowd and just said, "I'm Laura. I have breast cancer.  I had a double mastectomy.  I start chemo next week or the week after."


It was so depressing.  Yes, I was curious as to what cancer everyone was battling - but I wanted to know WHO they are.  Not just about the cancer.  Tell me about YOU.

Since I was the last one to talk;  the lady who was in charge of the class then introduced herself and said she's a beautician and had a double mastectomy 5 years ago after having had many tumors removed (benign I think) and testing positive for the BRCA gene.  So, then I started looking at her boobs, of course.  But, that's okay, because my Mom was looking at them too.  I know this because she asked me later if I thought she'd had reconstruction.  Ha!  Caught ya Mom!  So glad I'm not the only perv looking at everyone's boobs!

The beautician was tall and really beautiful with long hair.  She was very soft spoken and nice.  She went over all the horrible things that happen to your body during chemo and radiation.  I kind of zoned out during the radiation part since it doesn't apply.

Then it was time to play with the makeup.  I knew we'd be playing so I didn't wear any.  I put on some and my Mom didn't know that I know HOW to put on makeup.  I do wear some makeup but my philosophy is that you shouldn't be able to tell that I'm wearing it...

One of the negatives about the meeting is that there is usually a makeup artist there to help and she was absent this time.  So, there was no guidance.  I don't think I needed any help but maybe other people did?

Set D - the Uni-brow!  WOOT!
When we got to the eyebrow pencil.  Mine was light brown.  I have dark brown hair and black eyebrows so that was pretty amusing.  But, I did have fun using the brush on the eyebrow pencil to carefully brush my eyebrows!  The lady in charge talked about how many people lose their eyebrows during chemo but you can use a pencil to draw them on!  Draw them on!  I've seen people that do this and I've never given it much thought.  But, I don't think I can do it myself so I'm in big trouble if mine fall out.  She even drew on the board how to do it but I just see disaster written all over that one.  However, I did learn that there are STENCILS you can get so you can color in your eyebrows!  I could maybe do that.  I think I'd like to try a uni-brow.  Do they have stencils for that?

After the makeup-ing was done, we talked a bit about hats and wigs.  She went over the different types of wigs even though we all know already what I look like in a wig and it's not a pretty sight.  I just don't see wigs in my future but you never know...

And THEN, one of the coolest parts was she taught us how to make a turban out of a T-shirt!  It was so cool!  You cut the bottom part of the T-shirt off and you can wrap it around your head to make a turban!  It looked super cute!  I don't know for sure that it's something I would do...but maybe.  It was really cute and looked comfy!

In case I didn't have enough perspective in my life: One of the ladies in the class had lung cancer that then moved to her brain.  She was having radiation on her brain and was told that, because of the radiation, her hair would NEVER grow back.  EVER!  Here I am bellyaching about losing my hair for a few months and she will never have hair again.  That made me think of the lady I met the day I tried on wigs.  She was also going to lose her hair due to radiation to her brain - she didn't say anything, but I wonder if she will never have hair again either?  I can't imagine.  I really can't.  But then...I couldn't imagine, not too long ago, having cancer, losing my breasts, going through chemo...I guess we take what we are given, don't we?

After the class was over, I walked down to the room with the hats again and found 3 more hats and a head cover.  I have to stop going there getting hats all the time - they are going to start asking questions about what I'm doing with all these hats because I am starting to stockpile quite a few.  It's possibly approaching the ridiculous.

Unfortunately, by going down there, my Mother took this as further opportunity to brag about me to everyone she saw.  I couldn't really focus on the hats because I was too busy trying to hush up my Mother!  Thankfully, I was able to round her up finally and we left.

It was a fun class overall.  I did look good when I left thanks to all the free makeup and I did feel better.  I just hope the feeling lasts long after I wash off the free makeup...

Boob Count:  114

Saturday, August 6, 2011

One Month!

Bair Paws - warming system for hospital gowns
I have been boobless for one month now.  A month ago at this very time, I was laying in the pre-op room waiting waiting waiting.  I was playing with the little heater they hook up under your hospital gown to keep you warm.  I was taking silly pictures of myself and my husband and I were laughing and making jokes.  I was okay. I had made my decision and I knew it was the right one.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

I remember the agonizing decision I had to make before and I remember standing in the shower the night before the surgery (the last real shower I've taken by the way) and holding my breasts and sobbing.  I stood there and cried uncontrollably for 20 minutes before my husband came to get me and hold me in his arms.  Me soaking wet, him still in clothes.  He gently guided me to bed where I laid and cried quietly until I fell asleep.  I woke up early the next morning ready for surgery with a resolve that this is what had to be done.  I was finished with my mourning and now was time to move on.

And, I'm okay.  It's been a month.  It hasn't been an easy recovery - but the renal surgery I had earlier this year was much more painful and difficult.  I've had my ups and downs to be sure - and if you've been reading this blog, you've been here for all of them.

But here I am, one month later, and I'm not crying.  I'm not mourning my breasts - I did that before the surgery.  I'm actually okay without them.  Much more okay than I thought I'd be.  I never imagined that I'd walk around happily without breasts.  I go out with friends, I take my kids places - I don't miss those old saggy boobs!  I love not wearing a bra and fooling with it all day.  I love answering the door and not worrying about whether I have a bra on or not!  Take that all your bra-wearers!  HA!

Most of all, this hasn't changed ME.  My friends still love me and tease me.  My family still thinks I'm beautiful.  The world doesn't even seem to notice.  I can't wear anything I want yet - some shirts make it more obvious than others and I'm not comfortable with that yet.  Other shirts I can't yet get over my head.

Because the most pain I'm having now is from losing the lymph nodes under my arms.  I can't lift my arms up still (which is normal) so I can't get most pullover shirts on.  Or, I can maybe get them on - but then I can't get them off - which happened the other night when my husband had to rescue me from a shirt I tried on and then couldn't get off.  He was able to extract me which is good because I had visions of him having to cut me out of it.

I've been through a lot this last month.  Losing my breasts, phantom nipple pain (weird!), the sensation that I'm still wearing a bra!, the pain of recovery, those damn drains!, finding out that I have the most aggressive Grade of cancer, finding out that I have a 50% chance of recurrence (without chemo and cancer drugs), finding out that I'll have to have chemo, cutting my hair short, preparing to lose my hair...

A lot.

But, here I am.  Late morning, sitting in my messy home, writing.  Everyone else still asleep.  And, I'm okay.  Sure, I've lost some boobs and I'm going to have a long few months ahead of me but, the things that are really important in life....none of those things have changed.

And isn't THAT what it's really all about?

Boob Count: 112

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Today I cut my hair short in preparation for the effects of chemo when my hair starts to fall out.  I've read several times that it's easier to handle emotionally if you cut your hair short beforehand.  I didn't want to do it and it was hard.  I like my hair.  I like it a bit longer and I like it a little crazy (much to my Mother's annoyance as she told me today).  I have curl in my hair and I can make it kind of stick out and be a little crazy and I like that!  I was actually growing it out and it was almost to exactly where I wanted it to be so I could get the cut I wanted.  A modified shag like Jennifer Aniston in Friends.  Yes, I know I'm stuck in the 90's.  But, I've had that cut before and I really like it and my husband likes my hair a little longer.  But, I'm too old (for me) to have long long hair anymore - I would look silly.

Anyway, today, I reluctantly cut it short.  Really short.  Like my 7 year old son and I are twins now short.  It's really cute, it's a cute cut and my friend, Julie (shoutout to Julie - woot!) did an amazing job and was so good to me!  I like it.  I really do like it.  But I didn't want it.  And even though everyone really likes it, I still don't think it's something I would choose for myself.  Maybe when I'm older...

My husband says he likes it but I'm pretty sure he's just saying this because pretty soon I'm going to be bald and having some hair is still preferable to having no hair.  My Mom loves it and wants me to have it like this all the time.  My kids said that I'm beautiful.

It's just not ME.

In the meantime, I continue to spend time poring over hats and scarves to decide what my bald head "style" will be.  Last night, while going through a catalog that specializes in hats, scarves and wigs for mastectomy/cancer patients - I noticed that all the wigs have names.  Women's names.  I found this highly amusing.  Who comes up with these names?  Who says, "Oh, this wig is definitely named Lucy?!"  I want this job!

Wig Namer.  I could do that.

I started looking at all of the choices and I was highly amused by the many that I found that share names with friends of mine.  I think many of you will enjoy this trip down Wig Lane:

The Viki Wig!

The Beth Wig!

The Julie Wig!

The Renee Wig!

Sadly, this catalog had NO LAURA WIGS!  I was completely insulted!  But, don't worry, because I was able to find a "Laura wig" online:


It's my favorite, of course!

(Oh, and if you notice that my eyes are a little swollen in the picture - I just had a minor eye surgery on Tuesday to remove some spots on my eyelids that have been bothering me.  My eyes are still swollen.  Don't worry, I didn't get into a bar fight or anything - really!)

But, Doc! I Feel Fine!

Now that I have more time to think about chemo - it's a bit hard to swallow.  It's hard to do something to yourself that will make you sick and that you know will make you sick.  Because, finally, almost a month out of surgery, I'm starting to feel fine again.

Oh sure, I'm still having some issues with healing but, thankfully, everything is numb down there.  I still can only sleep on my back and I have terrible aches and pains when I first get out of bed.  But, I haven't taken pain pills in days now and I feel fine.  I'm not really up to doing anything yet but I did make my kids lunch today for the first time in forever so that's a step in the right direction.  Because you know you are neglecting your children when your 7 year old teaches himself how to make him and his sister a peanut butter sandwich.

But, see, I didn't really care if anyone got fed.  I didn't even care if I got fed most of the time and that's new for me because I always want to get fed!  Ha!  But, when you are in pain and on pain pills, you are just mostly waiting for the hours to pass, waiting for the next nap or next sleep.

Now, though, I'm not really in pain.  I'm feeling good!  Not "bungee jumping good" but "normal life good."  I would love to start making plans for the rest of the summer and just enjoy the beautiful Seattle summer weather.

And then I remember...oh ya, I have breast cancer.  I have Stage II breast cancer.  I have a 50% chance of getting Stage IV breast cancer.  It's hard to remember those cold hard facts when you, essentially, are feeling well.  And it's hard to make yourself sick in hopes that you'll be better.  Better for a lot longer.

I was elated when I first found out that chemo was being pushed back.  But, I'm not feeling so elated anymore.  Now I'm wishing I could just get on with it.  I'm dangerous when I have too much time to think about things.  I start to worry and get nervous.

And so here I am at 1:30 a.m. worrying and being nervous.  I feel so good - how could anything possibly be wrong?!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Yesterday, I saw my surgeon again for my weekly appointment.  The most exciting thing that happened was I lost the last drain!  YEAH!!!  I was elated!  In fact, a few hours later, I announced to my whole family that I was GOING TO THE BATHROOM!  I paused to let the gravity of this sink in but then I noticed everyone was looking at me strangely...  I reminded them, "No more drains!"  Everyone then understood and were excited along with me.

You see, once I had just one drain, I stopped wearing the special camisole I got because it was a little hot and uncomfortable - I was just tucking that one drain in my underwear.  (I realize we are approaching TMI territory here...)  But, it was poking me and navigating the bathroom was a pain.  Because if you drop the stupid drain, it pulls on your skin and hurts.  So, I would put it on the counter when I peed and then I'd have to carefully pull up the undies and then pick up the drain and tuck it in.  Always careful to not accidentally drop it (I did a couple of times - OUCH) or open it (YUCK!).  I was so thankful when it was out and gone for good!!  I even (THIS IS TMI) slept without underwear last night...just because I could!  WOOT!  Aren't you sorry you read that now?

One of my "boob" sides is healing perfectly!  Almost healed actually!  The other side...not so good.  My surgeon keeps saying that it's amazing that you can do the same surgery on both sides and have two totally different results.  My right side (the healthy boob side by the way) is not healing as fast and has opened up.  (YUCK again!)  It has to be packed twice a day by my nurse AKA my husband.  I have not looked at what it going on down there, I don't want to know!  But, according to my nurse, it's not pretty.  It's healing, but slowly.

Because of this, my chemo is being pushed back a week or two.  Once you are on chemo, you heal so much slower and your chance for infection skyrockets.  We want to avoid that at all costs, obviously.  So, instead of chemo starting on the 11th, it'll be either the 18th or 25th.

I was sooooo happy!  I know I shouldn't be happy!  I feel like I should be disappointed, upset even!  I should WANT for those cancer cells to be out of my body PRONTO!  But, I just can't help feeling excited!  I know I'm putting off the inevitable - chemo is going to happen soon whether I want it or not - but it's so nice to just have some peace for another week or two and just enjoy life and enjoy healing.

Chemo will be there when it's time.  And I'll be there when it's time.

People Outside My Family Who've Seen My "Boobs": 29
Boob Count: 110

Monday, August 1, 2011

Chemo = Lots of Fun!

Today was the "Chemo Education."  It was one-on-one with a nurse and she went over all the ins and outs of chemo.  I feel like I already know a lot from what I've read but she did go over ways to manage some of the side effects so that was really helpful.  I now have a list of some things to buy beforehand just in case I need them.

Like Sudafed for the runny nose and watery eyes
Tea Tree Oil to fortify my nails so they don't fall out.
Immodium AD for the diarrhea
Tylenol for the extreme body pain and aches in my bones
Prescriptions for anti-nausea medications - 4 of them
Soft foods since anything hard or pointy may cut my mouth
Salt to make salt water for mouth rinses 3 times a day for mouth sores
Silk pillow case to sleep on since your head is so sensitive after your hair falls out

Oh yes, it's going to be loads of fun the next few months!

Chemo kills off ALL of your cells.  It doesn't know which ones are good and which ones are bad.  It just gets them all.  Leaving your body devastated.  But alive.  Someday, cancer treatment will be refined enough to where people can have chemo and it will only kill off the bad cells in your body, but it's not there yet and this is what we are left with.

We didn't even go over the effects that chemo can have on your body over time.  Damages to organs that I'm kind of fond of like liver, lungs, bones.  It is just understood.  You do this to save your life - not necessarily your body.

The nurse also cautioned me against getting into any car accidents.  Your blood doesn't clot the way a "normal" person's does so having a car accident, even minor, could kill you.  Well, darn!  I was very upset to hear this news because I don't know how I'm supposed to have any fun now!

Once on chemo, I can expect things to heal much more slowly as well.  I'm at a high chance for infection, especially just having had a double mastectomy.  Because I have two large wounds instead of one.  Once chemo is started, my healing will pretty much stall.  Scary thought.

As if that wasn't enough fun, the chemo will also throw me into a temporary menopause with all the mood swings and hot flashes.  My husband was thrilled.  I'm already lots of fun to live with, I'm sure.  Let's just throw full blown menopause on top of it!  Party time!

I'm amazed at what we humans will do to live.  Me included!  I'll step right up to be filled up with poison to make sure that I live longer!

And, despite the side effects, I'll line up for it gladly.

Living for Today

After a busy weekend, I took a nap today.  I dreamed that I have breast cancer and I dreamed about not having breasts.  This is the first time this reality has penetrated my dreams.  I woke up sad.  I wish it were only a bad dream - but it's not.  It's real and it's my reality.

After being initially elated to have an answer to what is "wrong" with me (Cowden's Disease), I was shocked and then devastated.  As I learned more about it, I felt defeated.  The average life span of people with Cowden's is 47.  Only 5 years older than I am now.  I know how averages work, thank goodness, so that means that there are probably people that lived until 90!  But, I'm feeling like my odds of a long life are not good.  

I don't want to leave my children.  I don't want to leave my husband and I don't want to leave my life.  I know a lot of people come to terms with death when they might be facing it - they say, "I'm not afraid to die...."  Well, I AM afraid to die and I don't want to die. I love life and I love my life.  I want more, more, MORE of it!

I'm lucky to have made it as far as I did healthy.  40% of those with Cowden's have at least one cancer before they turn 40.  I made it to 41 before being hit with a double whammy.  I'm pretty lucky.  I saw a woman on YouTube that had Ovarian Cancer at 8 years old and a double mastectomy at 19.


I don't feel lucky right now, of course.  I'm too worried about my future and about the future of those I would leave behind.  I want to live a long healthy life but I feel as though cancer will always be lurking around the corner now and I'll just be waiting for it to reappear.  I'll be monitored, sure.  There will be lots of tests every few months to monitor things to see if there is cancer anywhere.  I'll be holding my breath each time waiting for results.  Because it seems like it'll be a matter of "when" not "if" I'll get cancer again.

I'll likely be looking at having a hysterectomy since uterine cancer is also a big risk for me.  Uterine and Ovarian cancer are hard to detect so it's probably best to just get rid of any extra body parts that I don't need at this point. In light of this, I have thought of other parts I don't really need like the gallbladder and spleen.  I mean, they aren't really doing much for me.  Just hanging around - unneeded.  Same thing for the uterus and ovaries.  I'm pretty sure I could come up with some other parts that I don't really need.

I realized when I woke up from my bad dream that I need to stop worrying  about what could happen and start living for today.  Stop living in the future and start living in today. 

I'm not there yet, but I'm trying.