Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chemo #3 and other stuff

I have been debating whether or not to continue blogging.  Someone shared my blog at work and it went viral and now I no longer can keep work and my personal life separate, which is how I like it.  I don't know why, but I do.  Not to say I don't have friends at work, I do, but I don't know - I just don't want everyone at work to know about all of my vulnerabilities.  I guess that is a risk you take when you put yourself out in the interwebz.

So I thought maybe I would keep my blog private by password protecting or by invitation only, but then it may not reach people who are going through the same experience.  I found reading other's blogs about their cancer experience to be EXTREMELY helpful.  It was like a caring peer sharing with me at any time of day - whenever I needed it.  Sometimes it was at 3 in the morning when fear and anxiety were keeping me from sleeping.  It is for this reason, and for my mom and dad and MANY supportive friends, I'm going to keep blogging.  At least for now.

So to catch you up, I had Chemo #3 Jul 15 and my friend Beatrice graciously accompanied me.  It was uneventful except for the entertainment and support from Beatrice.

I did ask the NP about some of the side effects from the past treatment.  Namely, I was HIGHLY emotional after Chemo #2.  So sad and withdrawn.  And then I got my period, which I wasn't expecting.  Chemo is supposed to put you into menopause (chemopause).  The NP said that my hormones all over the place and that I can still have a spike in estrogen causing me to have a period and that it would explain my emotional roller coaster.  Also, we talked about my shortness of breath.  I have been having a really hard time breathing after just walking around.  And I don't think that is normal.  We did a walking pulse ox test (to check how much oxygen is in my blood) and it was semi normal so she wasn't concerned.  Her explanation is just that the chemo is kicking my ass (OK, I am paraphrasing) and that they just keep beating me up with another round.  And, that I never really fully recovered from surgery, so it is just cumulative effects from everything I have been through.  She said it may just get worse with each treatment.  I read about the fatigue, but WOW.  I really wasn't expecting this.  I can't remember what else we talked about.  See, I should have just blogged it.

When I got home, I felt fine.  Good in fact.  So I went to the movies and to dinner with friends.  Then the next day I couldn't even get off the couch.  I called my mom boo-hooing because I didn't know what to do.  T-boz wanted in and out all day and I just couldn't get up.  This lasted for several days.  It was terrible.

Ha Ha!  This is so how I feel.
For the most part, I haven't had a lot of trouble (side effects) with this round since the initial bad days except for the fatigue.  I have been getting acupunctured once a week which I think has been helping me.  The really bad stuff, however, has been the emotional impact of reality.  Its like all of a sudden I have processed what has happened to me and discovered the huge suck factor of my own reality.  This has translated to alot of social anxiety around my appearance.  Which translates further to isolation.  This is not good for many reasons and I have to fight this.  Whatever.

My hair is growing again.  I have lots of little colorless hairs coming in.  Chemo head I am calling it because everyone it seems looks like this during chemo.  So it must be typical to have some weird colorless hairs start sprouting.  They are also now falling out.  I guess the Chemo #3 killed them.  What is really cool that I have noticed is that the hairs that are falling out are layered with color.  So like the tip is brown, then a layer of no color, then a little bit of brown, then colorless and then brown.  So what I think is happening is that in between rounds it will grow and then I will get zapped with chemo and it will grow but be colorless and then I will recover and it will grow brown, etc.  Kind of cool.

I wore my new wig for the first time ever to work the other day.  This is the wig I bought at the cool wig store, In the Pink (owner, Dana, is also a breast cancer survivor and is awesome) and then had cut.  I think it looks like justin bieber, but whatever, it made me feel alot more confident.
This is the wig I have, but its brown and now cut.
There's Dana in the background!

Justin Bieber wearing my wig.

So now the countdown to my final chemo begins.  I have mixed emotions about this.  I mean, don't get me wrong I am super excited about no longer having a chemical ass kicking, but I also feel anxious for whats next.

What is next, you ask?

Well, I will have to decide about ovarian suppression.  My tumor was fed by estrogen and progesterone so they want to make my ovaries quit producing these hormones.  That will be done chemically or by removing them.  Argh.  Do I do this and risk the damage it may do to my heart (I have a strong family history of heart disease) and bones?  Or do I not and risk (I have a higher risk of ovarian cancer due to my mutant status) ovarian cancer which is not easily treatable.  Not to mention this means they are taking even more of my womanhood.  They can't just build me new fovaries to replace them like they can my boobs.

I will also have to begin taking Tamoxifen.  This drug stops inhibits estrogens effects on my cancer.  I will have to take this for 5 years.  This will also cause menopausal uncomfortableness.  But the benefits of this decreasing my risk of recurrence are well documented so I am OK with taking this.

Then I want to have reconstruction.  I have been thinking about this ALOT.  I hate the way I look right now and this plays a significant role in my social anxiety.  Yeah, I have foobs, but I don't like those either.  The ones I got at Nordstrom are enormous.  I tried wearing them one day and it felt like that is all you could see.  They were so out there!  The bean bag ones my mom got me are awesome though.  I wear those alot.  But they creep up out of my brazier and that is not cool.  Good thing I have good friends that tell me when that happens.  Anywho - the big decision is implants or my own tissue? If I am being completely honest, I am leaning towards implants because I really like the look of those rounded fake boobs.  Real boobs just sort of spread out everywhere.  There are pros and cons of each - I just don't know.  So I have made an appointment with my plastic surgeon to discuss more.  I would like to have it done by the end of the year because I have hit my out of pocket max and insurance would cover it 100%.

Finally, I need to get my health back.  My fitness level is in the toilet.  And my weight is out of control.  Not to my highest its ever been, but it sure is creeping up there.  This makes me mad because I feel like I've been working so hard just to fight this cancer and now I'm going to have work hard just to get back to where I was.  When do I catch a break?  Sigh.  I can do it.  I know I can.  I've done it before, but its hard people.

Thanks to everyone for the continued support and encouragement.  I feel like I am in the home stretch and looking forward to what my new healthy lifestyle will look like!  I will be unstoppable!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My body is my home

I get this blog feed from Nourishing Connections.  Its about healthy eating behaviors and what not.  Sometimes I agree with what they say (like the one I'm going to talk about) and sometimes I don't (like its OK to be fat).

Anywho, today's blog feed talked about thinking about your body as a home.

"And when we perceive our body as an object, we deny and diminish its value. We lose sight of the fact that this body is where we live. This body is our home. We forget that, just as the house we live in may look a bit worn over time with its sagging shutters and fading paint, we still value it and care for it, understanding that this home offers us shelter and comfort."

I really liked this analogy.  Everyone knows how much I like to do home stuff and be in my home.  Maybe I can start treating my body with as much care and creativity as I do my home?

On a related note, I went to Crossfit yesterday.  We did a nice warm up and presses.

The WOD was
Run 800m
Wall Balls
Kettle bell swings
Run 800m

My good buddy Kristin did the WOD with me with some modifications.  We walked 400m instead of running and I used lighter weights for WB and KB (6 and 25lbs respectively).  And it was perfect.  It was a good workout (I was perspiring profusely and sucking wind appropriately), took around the same time as it did for everyone else and P.S. I did it bald and one week post chemo#2.  I win!

But best of all, my pal Will let me shave his head in solidarity.  It was so fun!
Just two baldies, crossfitting.  You know, nothing unusual.