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My Battle with Breast Cancer

Chemo Day Fun! Come Entertain Me – Puhl-ease!

Have you ever thought you'd read those words in the same title? Chemo and Fun? 

Well, as my Dad would say…that is a deep subject, believe it or not, when I go to chemo I have fun.  Now, if you know me then this will not surprise you because I try to have fun no matter where I am.  I really try not to be a fuddy-dud. 

And if you know me then you know that I kind of like music, but not just any music.  I like the good stuff.  I will admit that I like some of the newer stuff, but if you were to get into my pick-up the radio would be on the 60s, 70s, or 80s station (Sirius Rocks!).  Believe it or not, sometimes it is on the 50s station. 

I love hearing songs that take me back to a certain time or place, or that make me think of someone special in my life.

Today is my third chemo treatment.  WOOHOO!!!  I am half-way through!!  I love reading while I'm sitting there for hours on end, and something that I love to read are the comments that you leave.  So, let's make them interesting, shall we?

There's no contest, there's no prize, there's just good times…thinking of music that takes you back to a special time or place, or reminds you of a special person.  Tell me what that music is! 

Here's some of mine:

Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison – One day, McD in was in his Jeep and P3 and I were in my pick-up.  P3 and I were in the drive-thru at Hardee's and McD was parked off to the side waiting on us.  He kept signaling something with his fingers, like signing but not "real" signing.  We were looking at him like he was nuts, but then we figured out that he was trying to get us to turn to a specific radio station.  Pretty Woman was playing.  He pointed at me, and it made my day.  Yeah, he's a sweetie.  I'll never forget it.

Takin' Care of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive – At one time, this was my Dad's favorite song.  I still know all the words, and think of him every.single.time.it.comes.on.

Whip It by Devo – My cousin, Buddy, did a great dance to this.  In fact, this might be the song that he and his sister, my cousin Darla, were dancing to in the kitchen. He got all wild with it, and accidentally kicked her in the stomach.  It was kind of funny really, she wasn't hurt.  If you think that is bad, you should've seen my family playing Spoons.  Now that was exciting! 

Boy from New York City by Manhattan Transfer – Some of my high school peeps will remember this one, well the chicks that I took dance with anyway.  I can't believe after all these years, I still remember some of the moves to this dance.  Do any of you?

Edited to add this one, how could I forget it.  Julie, Do You Love Me by Bobby Sherman – My granny used to sing this to me when I was a little one.  Every time I hear it, I hear her singing it. 

Anything by Warrant – My first rock concert.  My first serious boyfriend, Randy M., drove us to Tulsa to see them. 

Anything and everything by KISS – Reminds me of my brother-from-a-different-mother, Darrin.  He's kinda, sorta, special to me.  When I was growing up I probably annoyed the crap outta him, hee hee.  I didn't like but one of his girlfriends, and I wasn't too quiet about it.  I had to listen to anything he listened to, and loved to pull pranks on him.  I even painted his toenails while he was sleeping one time.  I am still waiting on payback for that one.

There ya go.  McD is looking at me like I should be getting ready to go, and he is right…as usual.

Come on, lurkers DE-LURK, tell me about your music memories.

(Thanks Lady P, for putting this idea into my head last Thursday.  Oh!  And today, I am thankful for the little bit of rain we got last night & for McD making it home safely!!)

MWAH!!

Prayers, hugs, and ladybugs to all of ya!

My Battle with Breast Cancer, You Asked - Answers

Answers to Your Cancer Questions

The other day I asked if you had any questions for me regarding my cancer, and several of you actually had questions.  Believe it or not, I always cringe when I hit the publish button on one of the "do you have any questions" posts.  I don't cringe because it is a bad post, but I cringe because I fear that no one will have a question.  Silly, yes, but very true.

So here are the answers to your questions.

Do you still feel sometimes like this is not happening? (from Debby)

Yes, I feel like that a lot.  When I was newly diagnosed, I prayed that God would give me the strength to get through this, and I believe that is exactly why I feel the way I do. 

Do you have a bucket list, even one you might have had before you found out about the cancer? Are you the "I've re-thought my priorities" kind of person now or are you "I'm not doing anything differently just because I have cancer" kind of person?  (from Denny144)

You know, I've never had a bucket list.  There are things I would love to do before die, but I've never really sat down and made a list.  When I first found out about the cancer, I told McD that I want to take my Dad to New York so we can watch a Yankees game together.   He told me that we would do that, but after I kick this cancer. 

I think I am a "I'm not doing anything differently just because I have cancer" kind of person.  I have cancer, but cancer doesn't have me. 

How do you keep your spirits up?  (from Carolyn)

I've never been one to be down.  If I start worrying about something, then I immediately pray about it.  I try to give my worries to God and let him deal with them.  It isn't always easy to do, but that is what the Bible tells us to do, so I try my hardest.

How do you pray about this?  (from Carolyn)

To tell you the truth, I am not really sure how to answer this one because prayer is such a private thing for me.  I've prayed for strength, courage, healing, and patience.  I've asked God to use me through this battle to help, encourage, and bring awareness to others.  I've asked that a cure be found.  I've thanked God for giving me this battle and not our kids, or other family members.  And, I've thanked him for the strength, courage, feverless days, and patience he has given me.  I also thank him every. single. day. for such a wonderful husband.  I don't even want to think about going through this without him. 

What's something new you learned about yourself in this ordeal?  (from Carolyn)  

I am stronger than I thought.

Are you able to receive your treatments close to home? (from Kimela)

Yes.  We live out in the middle of nowhere, so it takes us about 20 to 25 minutes to get to the clinic.  My doctor from the big city comes here once a week, or I would be traveling to get my treatments. 

Are you planning to celebrate the end of chemo?  (from BB)

Several people have mentioned that we need to have a big party, but that would involve me being the center of attention and I am not a big fan of that.  I'm sure we will have to do something!

Is it worse/better than you anticipated?  (from BB) 

There is a little bit of both.  For some reason I had it in my head that chemo would be a breeze for me, and the first treatment almost did me in.  The second treatment went a lot more like I thought it should, thanks to the shot they gave me.  The hair cut is better than I anticipated.  Oh, and the tastes.  My tastes are a lot worse than I anticipated.  But it is such a minor thing that I feel ridiculous complaining.

Your surgery was going to be done in two stages…and I wondered about that…as to why they would not do it all at once?  (from Monie)

When I told the Wonderful Wizard of Boggs that I wanted to remove both breasts he gave me options, then he let me decide.  I chose having two surgeries.  The second surgery will be when they do the right mastectomy, and start the reconstruction process.   I will have the same amount of surgeries doing it this way, and no pain on the right side until the next surgery.

Did your chemo start immediately after you got your port?   (from Connie) 

My port was put in on Monday, and that Thursday I received my first chemo treatment.

Did it HURT?? (from Connie)

I had heard that there was a freezing spray that they can use to numb the area before using your port, so that might have been the first thing out of my mouth the day of my first treatment.  They used the spray and it didn't hurt.  I felt it, don't get me wrong, but I mainly just felt the pressure.  When I was admitted to the hospital they used my port, but when I asked for freezing spray they looked at me like I was crazy.  They didn't use the spray, and it was just a week after getting the port so it hurt a little.  The nurse assured me that it gets better with time.   I suggest using the freezing spray.

What kind of cancer is your … her2 positive? hormone positive?  (from Connie)

My cancer is IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma).  It is HER2 +, and hormone positive (ER/PR+)

Do you know the things that cancer cannot do ?  (from Kathy/Swampwitch)

Yes, I do…

Cancer is so limited . . .
It cannot cripple Love
It cannot shatter Hope
It cannot corrode Faith
It cannot destroy Peace
It cannot kill Friendship
It cannot suppress Memories
It cannot silence Courage
It cannot invade the Soul
It cannot steal eternal Life
It cannot conquer the Spirit.

Do you know how much you are loved ?  (from Kathy/Swampwitch)

Honestly, I had no idea until all of this happened.  The outpouring of love and support has  been overwhelming, humbling even.  I cannot thank everyone enough for their love, support, and prayers. 

 

My Battle with Breast Cancer, You Asked - Answers

Any Questions? – Cancer Edition

IMG_0021 Occasionally, I ask you, my readers, if you have any questions for me and today I am doing just that.  But, it is a cancer edition.

Do you read my posts but still have questions about my current condition?  Cancer?  Chemo? Mastectomy?

Now's your chance to ask.

Ask away, and I will answer these questions on Friday, July 29th.

My Battle with Breast Cancer

Receiving Gifts of Love

  Gifts of love have been arriving at my house, McD's office, and in our post office box ever since I announced that I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I haven't posted about them because honestly, I am speechless. 

I've received so many nice things from people I hope to meet one day, but only know through this crazy blogging twitter land that we've all grown addicted to. And I love each and every gift I've received.  Please know this!

Another reason I haven't posted about all the gifts is because I don't want people to think I am asking for gifts. 

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The other day I received this box in the mail.

My hands shook as I cut the massive amounts of tape it was sealed with.  My eyes were tearing up, but there were people around and I knew that if I cried they would cry.  We were standing in McD's office, and believe you me, if anyone would've walked in then they would've started crying too and we just didn't need that kind of drama.

Does chemo make a person emotional?  I've never been so emotional in all my life.  Seriously!

The reason I became emotional as soon as I saw the box is because it was from Sarah's husband.  Remember Sarah?  Spruce Hill Farm? @Sprucehillfarm for all you twitter folk out there.

Sarah was a woman that I grew to love over the internet.  She was fighting cancer and telling us all about it.  She was sharing her ups and downs with us, but mostly her ups.  She shared recipes, photos, and her family with us.  She was fighting this beast with all her might, but making it sound so easy. 

When I was diagnosed she was one of the first people I told.  I felt like I needed her to tell me what to do, what questions to ask, what to expect, how to feel, etc.  It might seem silly, but I that is how I felt.  I had others I could ask, but she was going through all of this now and some of the ladies I know hadn't gone through chemo in almost 20 years (Swampy).

Oh, let's get back to the box.

ACR_2866s After opening the box, I found these lying right on top.  You have no idea how hard I was fighting back the tears.  Don't get me wrong, my eyes were tear filled.  So much so that my vision was getting blurry.  When I looked up at my friend, Ali, her's were filling up too.  Then I looked at McD and even he was getting choked up.  SHHHH!!  Don't tell him I told you.

ACR_2872s It was full of her bandanas and scarves.  Full, I tell ya! 

Oh, and chocolate!  Her husband was so sweet to think to send me a piece of the Celebration of Sarah's Life.  I wasn't able to make it to the actual Celebration in June.  The chocolate was left over from the chocolate fountain.  You know those little discs of chocolate that they melt, and it just flows through the fountain.  It was that kind of chocolate.  Right now, that chocolate is sitting in my refrigerator waiting for Stef and I to have our own little Celebration of Sarah's Life. 

I closed the box. 

Ali and I went home; she was driving me that day.  It's not that I can't drive, but that day I wanted a driver. 

As soon as we got home I opened the box again.  I needed to find one of her bandanas.  It was a need, one of those where you can't do anything else until you fulfill that need.

And I did, I found it and I started fighting back the tears all over again. 

ACR_2870s It is my favorite. 

I can't thank Paul enough for this gift.  I believe Sarah is looking down on us, and now she will be able to pick me out of a crowd with ease. 

 

My Battle with Breast Cancer

How Not To Fight A Fever

When I had my first chemo treatment they went over a bunch of different things with me.  One of which was what to do if I got a fever.  A fever to a chemo patient is not a good thing. 

When one thinks of getting a fever it is usually 101 or higher, but when you are a chemo patient it is different. 

I was told that if I get a fever of 100.5 then I was to call the nurse, no matter what time.  So, I did.  At 2:30 on a Saturday morning, I called the nurse; my fever had gotten to 100.9 in the night.  I called the number, gave my name, birthdate, phone number, and then told them about my fever.  I was told that they would give my message to the nurse and she would call me back.  This was exactly how I was told it would happen, but I was also told that if they didn't call back within thirty minutes that I was to call back again.  Again, this is what I did.

When you are lying there not feeling well, and waiting on top of that, time seems to move so slowly. 

Nurse Nancy called back, and told me what I could do to get my fever down.  She said that I could take Tylenol, and I could use cold packs under my arms and on the back of my neck. So, this is what we did.  I had to call the nurse several times over the weekend, and on one of those calls she mentioned that I could take a cool bath to bring my temp down.

She was a very nice nurse.  In fact, she even called me on Sunday to check on me, but I couldn't get to the phone because I was shivering in the cool bath when she called.  When we called her on Monday, July 4th, and told her that I still had the fever she consulted with the doctors and sent me to the ER.  I was admitted to the hospital and spent two nights there.

On Tuesday, the doctor came to see me.  He asked about my fever, how I tried to break it, and then he told us how not to fight a fever.  I bet you can guess.

How not to fight a fever – do not place ice packs under your arms or on the back of your neck, and do not get in a cool bath. 

Really.  That is what he said.

Mothers have been doing that for years!  Well, the cool bath anyways.  My mom always put a cool wash cloth on our forehead and then if she absolutely had to, a cool bath.  I will never forget getting a cool bath when I was a kid.  I cried.  It was cold!  It felt like torture.

The doctor said the reason that we shouldn't fight fever that way is because when we apply the cold our blood vessels constrict, and it makes our core temperature rise.

I felt like I should pass this information along.  I hope it helps someone else.

My Battle with Breast Cancer

Chemo Treatment #2

ACR_0014 Two down, four to go.

Sorry for disappearing for a while, let me tell you about it.

After Chemo Treatment #1 things didn't go so well.  I just didn't expect things to go the way they went.  Don't get me wrong, I knew it wouldn't be easy.  I knew that I could possibly get sick, but I had prayed that I wouldn't. 

Now I know that if I hadn't have gotten sick then the doctors wouldn't have known that I need to get an injection to boost my white cell count after each treatment. 

A week ago today I started getting a fever, and it didn't go away until after I was admitted into the hospital on July 4th.  So far, I don't have a fever.  My cell counts are down, in fact they are lower than they were when I went to the hospital, but so far no fever.   If you are so inclined, I think a prayer of thanksgiving is appropriate.  I've sent a few up already, but feel free to do it too.

Chemo treatment #2 went a lot faster than the first treatment.  Mainly because the first time I got the Herceptin it had to be given over ninety minutes, and every other time it can be given over thirty minutes.  I also, didn't have to go over all the paperwork.  I was able to sit and visit with some of the other ladies that are fighting this demon too. 

I was the youngest fighter there that day, and everyone seemed to notice.  I don't mind.  It was kind of an ice breaker.  We talked about me shaving my head, and when I mentioned that my hair hurt, one of the ladies said she knew exactly what I was talking about.  It made me feel like I wasn't really losing my mind.  I've always known that I am not the only one dealing with this, but to actually talk to people going through it was kind of…oh, I don't know…refreshing.  I know that might sound funny, but it made me feel good. 

I don't know their names, but hopefully we will meet again.  It's unfortunate that we have to meet in the treatment room.  They all seem like such nice people. 

Something that I noticed about each of them was that they weren't letting this dampen their day.  It just showed me that I can do all of this with a smile on my face. 

On Monday, McD had to go on a overnight business trip so, my mom came to stay with me.  I'm not a very good patient, McD will attest to this.  I tend to do as much for myself as possible.  I know, I know.  I'm working on it. 🙂 And, on Tuesday, my grandparents came to see us.  I thought about writing a few posts while mom was here, but I just never feel right getting my laptop out and pecking away when I have visitors.  I know it's just my mom, but I don't get to spend much time with her so I'd rather not be pecking away at the computer while she's here.

That is why I haven't been posting.

My Battle with Breast Cancer

Chemo Treatment #1

On June 23, 2011, I had my first chemo treatment.  McD was kind enough to take photos for me.  Thanks, McD!

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This is the treatment room. 

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Like I said before, McD is taking the photos and I am instructing him in almost every photo.  Almost, but not all. 

I've tried to point out the freezing spray that they used to numb me before sticking my port.  I am so thankful for freezing spray.

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Yea, I was a little nervous about what it would feel like, and I didn't want to see the needle before they stuck me.  I might have mentioned this before, but I do not like needles.

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Well, she did it.  It was the first time my port had been used, and I have to admit I was more than a little nervous.  You might be able to tell by the look on my face.

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Then they put this little plastic tape like stuff over the needle in the port to keep everything sterile.

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There are no words for this photo, but you will understand it better when you see another photo in this post.  You will know which photo it is when you see it, promise.

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The first thing they have me hooked up to is a drug to help keep me from getting nauseated.  I can only imagine what was going through my mind at this point.  I knew nothing, had no idea what to expect, and to be honest was a little scared.

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This is Nurse J.  She is telling me about the drug that will keep me from getting nauseated, and explaining that she is going to go over some things with me while I get this medicine.  It usually takes about twenty minutes for this bag.

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Here we are going over everything in a very important Blue Book.  She told me we were going to go over it, and explained how they ran out of the blue covers.  I had to bring my blue book out, and then explain to her how my good friend got it for me at the Stillwater Clinic. 

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When it is time to start the chemo drugs both of the nurses come to you, one askes you for your name and date of birth, and then they can start the drugs.  It is just a check to make sure they give you the correct cocktail.

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Then it is time to get techy.  Twitter on one, and FB on the other.

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It is time to change meds, so Nurse R comes to my aid. 

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Then my friends start showing up. :)  I doubt you can really see it, but Terry here, brought me a bell. 🙂

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Time to change again.  Seemed like time was just flying by.

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It could be because I had such good company the whole time I was there.  Thanks, Stef, for coming down and spending your lunch hour with me. 🙂

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I realized that all of the IV poles had little flowers on them all.  I thought that was a nice little touch. 

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Now you see why I was sticking out my tongue?  This is Lady P, and I really like this lady.  In fact, I like all the ladies and nurses that work here.  They make it just as fun as it can be.

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I finally finished all of my meds, and then they had to flush my port with saline.  I just have to say that saline tastes horrible.  I have learned that it is best to have a mint handy when they flush the port. Then after they flush the port they put some Heparin in there, and it doesn't taste good either.

So if you are getting ready to start chemo have some mints handy.  Cinnamon Altoids worked for me in the hospital, and I have now moved on to plain Cinnamon Disks because the Altoids were so stinkin' hot.

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And here we are, ready to go home.  Thanks to Nurse R for taking our photo.

This is what it was life for me.  I don't know if it is any different for anyone else, but this is all I can share with ya.  It is all I know.

Tomorrow, July 14, will be my second chemo treatment.  Please pray that it goes better than the last.  I will be getting an injection on Friday to help boost my white cell count, so hopefully I won't have to be back in the hospital.

I will be posting earlier tomorrow.  Hopefully you will want to play along.  It is going to be a kind of Thankful Thursday theme, so be thinking about what you are thankful for now.

 

 

My Battle with Breast Cancer

Pulling My Hair Out – Literally

Saturday evening I scratched my head, and I ended up with a bunch of hair in my hand.  It was a little alarming.  I'm not sure why it was alarming, because I've known from the beginning that I would lose my hair. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with losing my hair.  In fact, I was kind of looking forward to being able to play with my hair the day I had to shave it all off.  When I decided to cut my hair and donate it my plans changed.  You see, I wanted to go to my friend Sondra and play all day.  I wanted to start with my long hair and have several hair styles in one day.  You know…a mullet, pixie, mohawk, etc.  We were just going to have a good time, and we still did!

Part of the reason I shaved it all off is because my hair was hurting.  Go ahead and laugh, but my hair was so heavy that it was not comfortable. 

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When I got to Sondra's she went into work mode.  Work mode includes washing her clients hair.  Well, moving my hair hurt my scalp so, we had to cut the wonderful scalp massage short. 

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This is just some of the hair that came out when she combed my wet hair. 

When I washed my hair before church on Sunday there was twice as much in the tub.  I just hoped that I would have a bald spot at church that morning.  I didn't.  You couldn't even tell that I was losing hair yet.

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Here we go.  No turning back now.

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