4 down, 2 to go!

The finish line is near! I should have chemo again December 18 and then January 8th, and then I’ll be done.

Yesterday was good. Same old, same old. I feel pretty good today. Don’t want to jinx anything so that’s all I’ll say.

The counts for my liver were a little higher than last time. Could be the chemo, could be the two glasses of wine I had last week, could be the fatty foods. We’ll watch it and I’ll get back on track. I really just let myself go hog wild last week for the holiday, and I don’t regret it one bit. I had a great time and enjoyed the heck out of food.

I’m currently hanging out in the waiting room, getting ready for my Neulasta shot. Then I have to head down to campus to meet my professor to see where I’m at and what he thinks I can do as far as finishing the course, and whether I’ll be able to start the second course in the sequence in January. I sure hope so. Of course, I also have to deal with surgeries in the Spring and Summer semesters. What a pain in the neck!!

And speaking of pains in the neck…I so badly need to visit the chiropractor!!

That’s all for now! Shot time.

I Need a Mental Health Day

Before cancer, I used to take for granted the ability to do what I wanted, when I wanted to do it. If I wanted to go window shop at a store, I could go any day, any time, as long as the store was open. Yeah, I had to shower and get dressed if it were one of my lazy days, but that was a small price to pay.

Nowadays, 90% of my time is spent feeling some degree of crappiness.

About 100% of the time, I have to be conscious of where bathrooms are in case I need to make a run for it due to my wonderful digestive tract and its inability to be regular. In addition to that, I want to surround myself with people I feel comfortable enough with to make that mad dash, if need be. It’s one thing talking about it candidly here, it’s a total other thing being in public, making that face, grabbing my stomach with my eyes darting like mad for the nearest restroom, and praying for a vacancy as I run like I’m being chased by a bear.

Other times, I feel foggy and fatigued. My brain doesn’t quite want to work properly, and I lose track of conversations I’m an active participant in. Even when writing these posts, it takes me a while. I write a little, re-read to see if what I wrote makes sense, lose my train of thought and wonder where I was going with whatever I was writing, and so on.

Sometimes I feel nauseated. Granted, it doesn’t last long thanks to the magic of Zofran, but it’s still there often enough and isn’t a comfortable feeling. Along those same lines is the lack of appetite/need to eat everything in sight – all at the same time. Imagine how fun that is for someone who likes to eat. I want to eat, but I can’t really eat, partly due to nausea, partly due to not being able to taste things properly, and partly because it exits almost as quickly as it enters and there’s just no fun in that. But if I don’t eat, then I get nauseated from the empty stomach. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. This last cycle was better with food, and I think that was mostly due to the fact that I was on point with my Zofran consumption. Every. Eight. Hours. Things still tasted sort of funny or different at times, some textures were odd, but I could eat.

With all that being said…I don’t want to do anything.

Yeah, I go to work and school when I feel well enough. But usually, even on good days, I’m too fatigued to do anything else afterwards, even grocery shop or clean the house. The regular household stuff typically gets taken care of on the weekend when I have more steam. Brad takes care of some of it, but I have a need to contribute, so I do it when I can. I like doing laundry and vacuuming, straightening up the house, etc. I enjoy it because it’s normal, and I try to do what’s normal as much as I can because I’m not a complete invalid. Sure, there are days when I don’t get out of bed except for getting something to eat and using the bathroom. Visit me during week two of my chemo cycle and you’ll most likely witness that. But when I have the energy, I’m up cleaning or organizing something because that’s normal to me.

But leisure activities? Those barely even happen for me.

We go to trivia on Friday nights – mostly because it gives me the chance to see my parents outside of them chauffeuring me to doctors appointments, it’s completely no frills, and it’s entertaining and a chance to exercise my brain. I went to a book event a few weeks ago – I was miserable but it was nice to get out, be a nerd, see people I hadn’t seen in a while, and meet people I hadn’t yet met in person. Went to a dinner for Brad’s work because free food, ok? Spent time with my family over Thanksgiving. We actually realized it was the first time our entire immediate family was all together, ever, which was pretty cool as someone was always missing for one reason or another. I trick-or-treated with my niece and nephew, sister- and brother-in-law on Halloween. Hosted a couple of games at home this football season.

And that’s about it. That’s pretty much the extent of my leisurely activities.

I often can’t do anything because I don’t feel well, or I don’t want to because I’m tired and would rather stay home so I’m not the tired, little fuddy-duddy in the corner not talking to anyone. I often can’t keep up with conversations as I’m suddenly staring into space and not paying attention right in the middle of a sentence.

Awkward…

So I need a mental health day. A moment to feel sorry for myself because this cancer crap is for the birds. It doesn’t just affect your health, it affects your entire existence.

Can’t do this.
Can’t do that.
Finally feel well enough to do that, but you can’t because of this, that, or the other thing.
Feel like crap because you’re constantly saying “no, sorry, I can’t, not today, I don’t feel good” when asked to do stuff.
Getting used to that metaphorical perch in the window where you wave good-bye to everyone who gets to do fun stuff and live their lives while you’re at home, physically feeling like some form of garbage.

Pity party, table of one.

I really shouldn’t be whining. Other people have it far worse than I do. In a year, this will all be nothing but a bad memory. Some people have to live with whatever ails them all their lives.

But, damn it, today I need to whine.

I think I’m coming off the high of having had two good weeks this cycle (since I pushed chemo back for Thanksgiving), and getting ready for the doom and gloom that is chemo day – Monday.

Anyway…I’m going to curl up on the couch with a book (an audiobook because I can’t friggin’ read a book to save my life these days) and eat my pizza and cinnamon bread. Tomorrow is a new day, and I think I might put up my Christmas decorations.

Good news!!

Sorry for the radio silence over the last week or so. I haven’t had anything new to report since the bronchitis. I’ve just been laying low, getting well, and enjoying my good days.

I had my ultrasound with Dr. JB today, as well as my consult with the plastic surgeon, Dr. H.

First we did the surgical consult and talked about the lumpectomy, mastectomy and reconstruction stuff. Now remember, I’m not a medical professional and may not use the correct terminology here, but hopefully you’ll get the gist of it.

The lumpectomy would take place about 2-3 weeks after my last chemo treatment (Jan 8). Recovery would be about a week, I believe it’s an outpatient procedure.

About 3 months after that is when the mastectomy and reconstruction would take place. This would involve about a 5 day hospital stay and about 6 weeks of recovery. As I mentioned in a previous post, they can use belly fat (which would be my choice over artificial implants), which would essentially add a tummy-tuck to the procedure. Using belly fat eliminates the need to return to the plastic surgeon in a few years to have the implants/spacers replaced. Dr. H talked about what he’d do, and that includes transplanting arteries to keep the fat tissue alive when they move it to the breast. They also transplant a piece of skin attached to the fat, sort of a lemon shape, that will stay on the outside of the breast and be monitored to make sure the tissue stays alive. I guess if that skin dies, it’s an indication that the tissue has died as well. After a certain amount of time (I don’t remember what he said), they’ll remove that skin from the outside. Please see my horrible drawing below, which is sort of like Dr. H’s drawing at the appointment today. That’s what it would look like when the skin is there, after they remove the skin, it would just be a line-like scar in that same place.

So, the options are still just the lumpectomy, lumpectomy and a single mastectomy, or lumpectomy and a double mastectomy. The lumpectomy alone leaves me with the highest risk of new cancer in either breast, and recurrence of the existing cancer in the right breast. Single mastectomy reduces the risk of new cancer in that breast, but doesn’t eliminate it, and does nothing to reduce the risk in the other breast. Double mastectomy reduces the risk of new cancer in both breasts significantly, but also doesn’t eliminate it entirely.

So, regardless of what I choose to do, there’s still going to be risk. It’s likely I will face this again in the future, but we’re talking many many years into the future when it’s possible there’s some new and (hopefully) less evasive treatment.

So after the surgery talk was over, we did the ultrasound.

And…drumroll please…

There was nothing there!! The cancer is gone!

Yes, we can still feel JP, but he’s not showing up on the ultrasound, which means he’s blending with the other we can also feel that he’s much smaller than he was in the beginning. He was very apparent on the first ultrasound, so this is great news!

I still have three rounds of chemo left, the next one being Monday after my little break for Thanksgiving. Why more chemo if the cancer is gone? Because it will grow back. So before they do the lumpectomy, they want to shrink everything as much as they can so they can get the best margins.

Lots of information today, lots for me to think about. But today we’re celebrating that I kicked cancer’s ass. 😉

Bronchitis?!

As if I need more medical excitement in my life.

So yeah, my cold-like symptoms have persisted and yesterday Brad called the oncologist for me (I had completely lost my voice) to see what I could take to alleviate the coughing, congestion, etc. They said it sounded viral, and recommended I call my primary care doc. So I went to the nearby Roper St. Francis Express Care (a super nice doc-in-a-box type place that is also networked with my oncologist-added bonus is that it’s like 2 minutes from my house).

So now I have cough syrup and an antibiotic to add to my medicine cabinet. The antibiotic is sort of preventative. Bronchitis is viral, so an antibiotic is typically not needed, but I’m a special case and we take added measures.

Oh yeah, and when I went for my CBC blood draw on Monday, everything was fine (why we knew none of the sick stuff was due to an infection). Since I was feeling pretty blah and not getting a lot of fluids in me from being sick and having diarrhea, I got some fluids while I was there.

So yeah…coughing, no voice, still have that horrible post-chemo taste in my mouth (and I’m salivating like crazy, which is just great with that taste!), I’m doing fabulously!

It’s also raining outside, which sounds wonderful. I love to listen to the rain.

So I’m hoping I feel well enough to go to class tonight, but we’ll see. I can’t take the cough medicine and drive, so there’s that. I also can’t speak…

Saturday I’m heading to Columbia for a book signing! I’m super excited since I couldn’t go to the one last weekend, so I’m hoping I feel at least 80%! We’re just planning to go for the day, which is no big deal since it’s only a little over an hour away.

What else is new? Nothing really that I can think of. I’ve been binge watching Sex and the City on Amazon Prime video. I also joined Passionflix, a Netflix type service that’s making some romance novels into movies! I watched Hollywood Dirt, Which was written by Alessandra Torre, and Afterburn Aftershock, which was written by Sylvia Day. Well, the books were written by them, not the movies. They were pretty good! I read Hollywood Dirt, and the movie was pretty true to the book. I haven’t read Sylvia Day, so I don’t know how well it translated. Anyway, the service offers one new book to movie a month, and there are some more good ones in the works! There is also a small library of some other romance movies available to watch while you wait for the new releases.

I’ve also been playing a heck of a lot of Song Pop 2. A heck of a lot.

The first few sick days I’ve had to take off were kind of nice, like a little vacation from reality, but I was still sick so it wasn’t exactly fun. But now I’m feeling the ants in my pants start to dance. Boooored. I’m probably going to take a nap so I don’t have to taste this awful taste in my mouth…

(I’ve tried soooo much to mask it, and there’s just nothing! Mints, Listerine, toothpaste, food, drink, Biotene, etc. If you have a recommendation, bring. it. on!)

Jinx!

I knew it. I knew I’d jinx myself talking about how awesome I felt. 

I started to go downhill on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, I guess. It’s when the fatigue really hit. I woke up miserable. I was able to work my second session and go to class, though I probably should have stayed home. Friday, I met with a classmate for an assignment at the library in the morning. We worked on it all day, and after that, I was pretty much done for. I made it home and crashed in my bed. 

I spent the evening and overnight hours monitoring a low fever, the highest it reached was 100.2. If it hit 100.5, then I have to call the doc. It didn’t, thank goodness. 

I have felt like crap most of the day. Pretty sure it’s a just cold that has hit me like a freight train. Lots of coughing, runny nose, headache, and body aches. I laid low with soup and sleep today, some Tylenol. 

My appetite has been fine, and I haven’t had any other chemo side effects, at least not at the moment, so we’ll see how the rest of the cycle goes…maybe it’s just a cold after all.

Two Days Post Chemo And I’m Feeling Good!

I’m so afraid saying that “out loud” will jinx it, but I’m just so darn excited! 

I usually feel weird the day after chemo. Last cycle I was up all night the night of chemo. That isn’t how it’s been so far this time. I have been sleeping fine. I don’t feel weird. Brain fog hasn’t set in. I feel, dare I say it, normal.

When I went for my Neulasta shot yesterday, I even told the MA that if it hadn’t been for the drowsiness of the Benadryl the day of chemo, I’d swear the IV wasn’t connected on Monday and I got no drugs at all. 

Maybe my body is getting more and more used to it? That would be great, especially if “hell week” isn’t as much he’ll as it has been the previous two cycles. Would be nice to not be out of commission all week!

Again, I totally don’t want to jinx it, but it’s hard not to get excited! I want to feel normal as much as possible and these last couple days have been a blessing!

I have had some constipation and heartburn, which I believe I had last cycle, and are nothing to complain about versus the other side effects I’m usually feeling right about now. Pepto and mints are alleviating some of that. My appetite is totally fine, and my energy level has been great! 

So I feel good, and I hope it lasts!

Two Days Post Chemo And I’m Feeling Good!

I’m so afraid saying that “out loud” will jinx it, but I’m just so darn excited! 

I usually feel weird the day after chemo. Last cycle I was up all night the night of chemo. That isn’t how it’s been so far this time. I have been sleeping fine. I don’t feel weird. Brain fog hasn’t set in. I feel, dare I say it, normal.

When I went for my Neulasta shot yesterday, I even told the MA that if it hadn’t been for the drowsiness of the Benadryl the day of chemo, I’d swear the IV wasn’t connected on Monday and I got no drugs at all. 

Maybe my body is getting more and more used to it? That would be great, especially if “hell week” isn’t as much he’ll as it has been the previous two cycles. Would be nice to not be out of commission all week!

Again, I totally don’t want to jinx it, but it’s hard not to get excited! I want to feel normal as much as possible and these last couple days have been a blessing!

I have had some constipation and heartburn, which I believe I had last cycle, and are nothing to complain about versus the other side effects I’m usually feeling right about now. Pepto and mints are alleviating some of that. My appetite is totally fine, and my energy level has been great! 

So I feel good, and I hope it lasts!

Two Days Post Chemo And I’m Feeling Good!

I’m so afraid saying that “out loud” will jinx it, but I’m just so darn excited! 

I usually feel weird the day after chemo. Last cycle I was up all night the night of chemo. That isn’t how it’s been so far this time. I have been sleeping fine. I don’t feel weird. Brain fog hasn’t set in. I feel, dare I say it, normal.

When I went for my Neulasta shot yesterday, I even told the MA that if it hadn’t been for the drowsiness of the Benadryl the day of chemo, I’d swear the IV wasn’t connected on Monday and I got no drugs at all. 

Maybe my body is getting more and more used to it? That would be great, especially if “hell week” isn’t as much he’ll as it has been the previous two cycles. Would be nice to not be out of commission all week!

Again, I totally don’t want to jinx it, but it’s hard not to get excited! I want to feel normal as much as possible and these last couple days have been a blessing!

I have had some constipation and heartburn, which I believe I had last cycle, and are nothing to complain about versus the other side effects I’m usually feeling right about now. Pepto and mints are alleviating some of that. My appetite is totally fine, and my energy level has been great! 

So I feel good, and I hope it lasts!