Thursday, November 29, 2012

Onward and....onward.

I won't say upward until I can actually move my arm upward. But, onto chemo round 2 as of yesterday. Let's just pray and wish that I tolerate this one as well as the last. Taxol has some different side effects, including temporary peripheral neuropathy, some bone pain, and of course fatigue. I'm hoping to just have those pass on by, or at least be minimal. Oh, and hair loss of course, so the very short buzz cut I've got going on will fade again. Oh well, it's winter, I'm enjoying my hats.

This is my new medical accessory for the next 12 weeks.

So the surgeon said I may never get the feeling back in the back of my arm or under it. As he said, "The body's just not meant to be cut." He obviously was very careful not to disturb the big bundle of nerves that control my arm and hand, but there are small nerves all over that can't be avoided when removing the lymph nodes, and those apparently hit the back- and underside of my arm. So we'll see what happens. It could, it could not. And as anyone who has any sort of numbness or neuropathy anywhere knows, numb isn't really numb, it's a combination of numbness and hypersensitivity. Which blows. And of course it may take quite a bit for this whole left side pain, stiffness, restricted movement to heal. But what I have come to appreciate after dealing with this pain, and it is painful, is that I have been so lucky to have 37 pain-free years so far. Some people never know a life that doesn't have physical pain in it, and after dealing with this so far, that just breaks my heart. Because, from my mouth to God's ears, my left side will eventually heal, the PICC line will come out, I won't be on chemo or radiation anymore, and will heal for the most part. And I will remember what it's like to have pain everyday but not have to experience it anymore, and I will be grateful and empathetic.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


This is a struggle for me to write. Not because I am not thankful for things, but because not only has my body been broken, my spirit has honestly suffered a few cracks. I am trying to recover not only in body but in soul too.  So I think it behooves me to find what I am thankful for to bring a bit of light into the darkness.

This year has sucked. I will never be one to say "I'm so happy I got cancer, it changed my life!" Honestly I think I could have learned the lessons another way. But I did receive a wonderful blessing in this little bundle of perfectness, even though I do think about selling her at three in the morning. We are blessed that she was healthy and strong and big and seems to have suffered no ill effects from mama's illness.
This little boy is my heart and soul. I am beyond belief that I get to be his mother and watch him grow into a little man. 
I am thankful for the man sitting beside him, that has stuck by his broken and battered wife, celebrating when I am strong and trying to put the pieces back together when I break.
I am thankful for my mom, who has put her worries into cooking good food for me. I am thankful for my in-laws who have come out here during my surgeries to help with whatever I needed and more. I am so thankful to friends and family who have come over here to help in many different ways, who have taken time to just ask how I am, who have sent up prayers and good intentions. I am thankful for my doctors who have followed me so closely since this started, who cheer for me. I am thankful to the cyber community, who came together to help me feed my child.
I very much realize that there has been light in darkness, joy in despair, goodness in a pit of cruelty. I send up a wish for next Thanksgiving, a wish for a lighter heart, a wish for less worries, a wish for good health. I wish that for all of you as well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Not so special.

My status as special cancer patient was officially terminated yesterday when, while waiting for my oncologist to come in the room, I heard her down the hall ask the aide "Is there a baby in there?" She then came in and said, "Where's the baby?? I know, I'm a bad doctor, yeah yeah how are you? cancer, blah blah, whatever, where's the baby??" I laughed and told her baby was waiting in the lobby. And then I said, "ahh, yes, I'm no longer the special cancer patient am I?" Oh well. My OB had already gone out to the lobby to see her that morning, and my oncologist followed me out that afternoon. She is as much a product of their hard work and concern as mine. Well, maybe not as much, but they certainly all felt a great stake in her good outcome and are so happy that she is absolutely perfect and has no ill effects.

Lots of follow up appointments yesterday. OB follow up went fine. First follow up to mastectomy surgery went fine, had the drains removed (thank goodness, but good lord those do not feel good coming out, in fact, it really hurts quite a bit), another follow up next week. Visit with my oncologist to go over pathology report from surgery and get chemo regimen started back up. Pathology report was good and okay. Everyone was totally happy that after the tissue was reviewed, it turned out the only tumor left was 0.4 cm. That was from two large tumors that totalled about 4 cm of tumor. That was it. When she said that, for a split second I said son of a bitch, I didn't really have to have a mastectomy and go through all of this? But then my rationale took over. I did need one. The way my cancer was so aggressive and grew so big so fast, it truly was the best option. Plus they did find a few pre-cancerous cells so I likely would have had to have to the surgery eventually anyway. So the chemo worked great on the two large primary tumors. The okay/not so great but it is what it is news was that of the 10 lymph nodes I had removed, 5 of them were positive for cancer. And that was after chemo. So chemo certainly shrunk them, but it's not the best of news that so many lymph nodes were effected, it's just what happened and what we are working with. So this chemo coming up next week now just needs to concentrate on the small lymph node in my neck that has already shrunk (send good vibes that it attacks it once and for all and just kills it) and any cells that had sloughed off of the lymph nodes and are possibly traveling around. Kill kill kill those few cells that are left. And then on to radiation that will zap those areas and hopefully terminate those cells.

This surgery was no joke. It has knocked me on my ass. It's the first time during this whole process that my sails have collapsed a little bit. Granted I did have two pretty big surgeries in less than a month.  My arm is still pretty useless. The nerves are coming back so at times I have areas of skin that feel like sandpaper rubbing on a sunburn and there's a place deep in my armpit that hurts so bad if I move a certain way it takes my breath away. Mornings are absolutely not fun because what little range of motion I have stiffens up overnight. So I'm just praying for the ability to deal with it, and to slowly get better. Could use all of your prayers and good thoughts for that too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

One month.

 This baby girl is a month old. I cannot believe it's been a month, and I can't believe what we all have made it through in the past month. I am still very much recovering, and am very frustrated at how much I can't do and how much I have to rely on others. I knew I would not really be able to use my arm, but knowing it and living it are two different things. The changes in my body - I can't come to terms with those yet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Situation report...

you'll have to excuse all typos and grammer mistakes, I can only type with my right hand, and on top of that i am left handed....I'm back, i'm home, i'm alive. i don't recommend this surgery as a vacation or anything but I guess as far as the surgery can go, it went as well as it could. nothing unanticipated happened or was discovered. i feel like i have been beaten hard with a baseball bat under my arm, which the doctor said was a very apt description. again, i was told i looked fantastic (i really want to know what i am supposed to look like, because seriously, i've never been told i look fantastic so many times in my life as since i've been sick...hmmmmm) i have two drains in, although am not draining a whole lot, which is good. i was up walking about 2 hours after surgery, although i will admit, i woke up in the recovery room crying in pain. i guess whatever they gave me finally caught up after that and it hasn't been terrible since. so basically, it is a sucky surgery, i don't recommend it, but it is manageable, considering i had all of my lymph nodes removed.

i have to thank all of the friends who have dropped off food, that has been so helpful. and i do have to give a shout out to the nurses at Kaiser Sand Canyon - between my nurses for the c-section and my nurses this week, i have received awesome care and everyone has been so nice which always helps your hospital stay. and finally thank you to the mama's who are feeding my's working well, at baby's 3 week appt she had gained 1.5 lbs and grown 1.5 inches!

onto more resting and healing and slowly getting my arm back! thank you for all of the good thoughts!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I got to see a lot of my cousins yesterday and that made me so happy - to laugh and be loud and sarcastic and pick on each other like only people who have known you your whole lives can . I saw one cousin I haven't seen in 6 years, as he lives in Switzerland - it was like he has never been gone, and others I haven't seen in a few months. I met some new lovely poeple. Everyone is obviously very concerned about me and will think of me tomorrow during surgery, but it really just brings home the fact (and I don't mean this to sound as depressing as it's going to) that as much as I have support around me, I am going through this alone. Please don't misunderstand, I am so grateful for the help that friends and family have provided and the thoughts and prayers that others have sent and shared, and it has been so helpful, especially with two small kids. But ultimately, no one else has this cancer in them. No one else can go into the operating room for me tomorrow or give up a body part for me. No one can have the thoughts I do, no one else can be scared shitless for themselves. It's all me - I am the only one who can go through this and get through this. It's a lonely scary feeling that no one can assuage - I truly wish they could. I know what it's like to love somebody so much that you wish you could take their sickness on yourself - now I also know what it's like to be the sick person and know that no matter how anyone else feels, it's only me in the boat.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I sang today...

Okay, I'm over it. I needed to write that post and get it out of me. But no more tears (well, maybe a few more, in the shower, where no one can see them). I will put on my big girl panties - which I'm actually literally wearing considering I gave birth less than a month ago - take my interim fake poof pads (I swear that's what the lady called them yesterday) and move on with this whole thing. I will move on to more chemo, which I understand and can process, try to ignore the radiation topper on the cake, and focus on the fact that I have an amazing 2.5 year old at home who's new favorite phrase is "Ohh nooooo" in a voice that makes me both double over laughing and melt at the same time, and a beautiful, perfect infant who I can't wait to watch grow and learn and sleep through the night.

I can't sing when I'm pregnant. Doesn't work. And this pregnancy unfortunately didn't lend itself to many feelings of attempting any joyful rounds of song. But I sang today. I sang along with a CD while Jack ate dinner, and I remembered that I can sing, and that it makes me happy, and that I have a voice. That my voice is still strong and it still has a place, and it has promises to keep and miles to go before it sleeps.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Please do not read this post if you are offended by language or my discussing my body parts (i.e. those few male friends/relatives I have reading this who probably don't need to know such things)

I have had to write this post for a while, but desperately not wanted to. Monday I signed a consent form allowing for surgery to perform a modified radical mastectomy and removal of all left axilla lymph nodes. What an ugly ugly statement. What a shitty thing to sign away permission to remove part of your body.

I never thought I was "that girl". I have had a love/hate relationship with my boobs almost since I've had them. I didn't develop early, but when I did, I certainly caught up - I was a D until I had Jack, when I turned into a DD for the past 2.5 years. I'm also petite, I'm barely 5'3", and during my good years, around 120, so carrying that much on top brought attention quite often. I'm not going to say I never used it to my advantage, in fact I know for certain that I got my first job because of my boobs. No, nothing dirty, I was 16 for goodness sakes, but I was informed a few years later by a friend that when I walked into Sam Goody looking for my first job it was not my sparkling wit or non-extensive music knowledge that won me the minimum wage prize - no, it was my rack. However, far more often these things got in the way. Many forms of excersize have long been uncomfortable, and clothes have often not fit correctly. There was an apparatus on the O-course in boot camp that was called, jeez, I can't remember the name, something along the lines of the son of a bitch, something like that. Anyway, it involved mounting a large round log about 4 feet off the ground and then jumping to another one about 3 feet away and a foot or two higher, with your upper body taking the brunt to grab on... I still distinctly remember the feeling of catching a giant log with my chest taking the brunt of it, that was over 12 years ago. Needless to say, I personally could never understand the concept of a boob job - why on God's green earth would people choose to make their chest bigger?? I would choose to be smaller in a heartbeat.

Now I am less than a week out from having a breast removed. I never thought I would be affected like this. I know there are women who have even refused to have a mastecomy and have lost their lives because of it, and that just confounded me - how could you choose to lose your life over something I've spent a good part of my life wishing away? When this whole thing started, the tumors and inflammation were so large and extensive that my breast was almost deformed. It was uncomfortable to wear a bra. I wanted nothing but to have this thing, this thing that had betrayed me and was no longer really a part of me removed as soon as possible. But after the chemos, all inflammation has gone away and the tumors have shrunk so much that I look and feel pretty normal again... it looks and feels like nothing is really wrong, and now I'm pissed off. I'm so angry that I have to have this surgery, and worse than that, I'm embarrassed, and that kills me, because there is nothing to be embarrassed about. But the fact that I won't even get a prosthetic until after I heal is just totally and completely humiliating to me. Why, why should it be? If I was having an arm or leg amputated I wouldn't be embarrassed to have people see me. And that really pisses me off even more, that I feel like that. This all of a sudden really fucking sucks to me. The chemo I could handle, the hair loss, really no big deal to me at all. But this, this really fucking sucks, and the fact that I feel that way makes me even more angry.

I'm 37, I shouldn't have to deal with this now - but neither should most other people. I expected this, this cancer, but I expected it in about 20 years, and much less agressive. I've never asked "why me?" because that's just dumb...good and bad things happen to good and bad people all of the time. I do not believe God made me have cancer or anything like that. Have I maybe asked a few times why other people don't have it instead of me? Perhaps I have, I'm not a saint. I perhaps have asked why my uncle who has been an alcoholic and smoker for the past 40 years and mooched off of my grandparents for the past 8 hasn't developed this. Again, I'm only human.  But it's the intensity of the feeling about this surgery that has blindsided me. I don't want to feel so much over this, to give it so much power and thought, it doesn't deserve the time and energy. So many people deal with things that are much larger than this.

I will get through it, I will learn to live with it, but it will always suck, and I am still very much pissed off about this. Hopefully I can come out on the other side using this anger for something positive - I guess only time will tell.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cancer moms sweeping the nation...

I guess it's like when you get a new car, you notice all of the same kind of cars around you. I swear, before I was diagnosed I had not seen a single news story, article, TV segment, anything addressing pregnant women with cancer. In the past few months I have seen quite a few things, segments on the Today show, news articles, medical studies about chemo while pregnant, etc etc. Bonnie contacted me through Jill @ BabyRabies and Best4Babes about writing an article and here it is! Bonnie writes a lot about milk sharing, pregnancy issues, etc, and I had a great time talking with her.