High-Five!

I’m at the oncologist at the moment, and I wish I’d brought some of the things I have to do from my to-do list! All this idle time! I’ve been updating my lists of things to do in between blood draws, meeting with the doc, and now sitting here for my infusion. I feel so organized.

Anyway, things are still looking good for me. I’m going to have to get another echocardiogram soon, so it’ll probably be planned for next week so I can get it done before surgery.

Dr YB told me to eat at least a fist-sized portion of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts) every day. I was like, I’m already doing that. I eat 5 portions of veggies, and one is almost always cruciferous because that’s what I like. He also said he wants me exercising, heart rate up to 150, 30 minutes every day. Well, I’m doing that already, too! He said he wants me to build to 150, I told him I’ve been doing this for weeks. He hive-fived me. So yeah, I’m ahead of the game, which is exactly where I hoped to be.

I’ve had 2 appointments with the PT where I’ve done different exercises. I’ll share about that in a separate post.

Some fun stuff…over the weekend I did the autism walk in Hampton Park in downtown Charleston with my nephew. I also attended my niece’s 6th birthday party! Then we had a funeral for a Brad’s Aunt on Sunday. It was a nice weekend spent with lots of friends and family.

At the birthday party was our friend, James, who was diagnosed with colon cancer several months before I was diagnosed. He’s had chemo and surgery, and is starting chemo again because it’s starting to come back. He’s in good spirits, like me, and it was actually really cool talking to (commiserating with) someone I know well, and who is going through something similar. We have a similar sense of humor, which only people going to through cancer or who are close to someone going through cancer understand. It tends to freak people out when we joke or laugh about stuff, but when you deal with the variety of BS cancer brings to the table, you have to joke and laugh. Some people get that and some people don’t. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Anyway, I’m trying to wrap up a bunch of things before surgery…tie up lots of loose ends! Wednesday is our 10 year wedding anniversary, and we’re going out of town for the weekend to a concert in Charlotte. I’m looking forward to the break before the surgery!!

And here’s a cute baby goose butt before I go. My view at the oncologist.

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Super cute siblings!

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Physical Therapy

I had a consult with the physical therapist last week. We did sort of a meet and greet, and she took some baseline readings.

Some different things to report, nothing incredibly exciting, but all new information!

  1. I learned about lymphedema, which is swelling associated with removed lymph nodes. Since lymph nodes drain fluid, having them removed may result in trouble draining. So I need to be careful if I get a sunburn, an actual burn, or any other kind of wound on my right side because the fluid build up (i.e. the stuff inside a blister) may not drain properly.
  2. I don’t have full range of motion in my arm/shoulder. Who knew? Apparently you can have 180 degrees, but I have about 140. Dr. P was able to locate some scar tissue in my under arm and played around with it quite a bit. It extends down my arm, not quite to the elbow. It hurts when it’s played with, but I’ll live. Anyway, the scar tissue could be a result of the lumpectomy, which is why they recommend seeing a PT after the mastectomy, since there will be a lot more scar tissue involved. Also…who knew scar tissue could spread? (Kerry, you can’t answer this one, it’s not fair!)
  3. I can’t fully extend my elbow. Again, who knew?
  4. I can’t bend my wrist to a 90 degree angle.

So those last two, wrist and elbow, were good for me to hear. Why? Well, I have been struggling with planks in my workouts. I feel too much pressure on my wrists, and a general awkwardness in the position. I feel strong enough to do planks, but I just don’t feel right. Anyway, Dr. P gave me some modifications for plank, some of which I already do, but others were new to me, so I’m looking forward to trying them out. But besides that, I was happy to hear about my elbow and wrist because it validated my issues with plank. I didn’t want the reason I couldn’t do them to be because I was a whiny baby wimp. So I’m glad there’s a bigger reason for it, if that makes sense? And a reason I can work with the PT to fix!

I mean seriously, check this out…

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Is it any wonder planks are uncomfortable on my wrists? Crazy…

So I’m going to be cramming appointments with the PT into my already bananas schedule between now and the surgery (May 10th, if I didn’t mention it already). Then I’ll continue after the surgery.

I’m hoping to be up and moving fairly quickly, but we shall see!

Endurance

Brad and I went with his brother, Jeff, to an all day concert last Sunday. Typically after being on my feet all day, I am sooooore. So sore I’m whining about it. This year, I wasn’t. Which is great, because we’ve got a three day concert coming up next weekend and I’ll be on my feet for three days straight.

Tomorrow I’m doing the Walk for Autism at Hampton Park in Charleston. The company I do ABA therapy with is going to have a booth, but me and my nephew are going to do the walk, then help out with clean up at the company’s booth. (He doesn’t know that yet, ha.)

Anyway, I’m enjoying being more physically active and having the endurance to do all this stuff. After having no endurance whatsoever during chemo, it’s a welcomed change. I mean, I remember struggling to find the strength to walk across the house, and then getting winded. The other day at my nephew’s baseball game, I ran around the playground with my niece and didn’t get tired. It was awesome.

Clean Eating & Exercise Results

I can’t even begin to tell you all the benefits I’ve been experiencing since deciding to eat clean.

What is clean eating exactly? Simply put, it’s not eating processed foods. It’s about knowing the ingredients in the foods you’re eating. It’s about eating healthy fats, oils, proteins, carbs, fruits, and vegetables.

What isn’t it? Deprivation. When I started this, I was afraid I’d be depriving myself, and I’m really not. I’m eating so much more on my new food plan. I don’t get hungry and I don’t get cravings. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes I want cookies or ice cream or fro-yo. And guess what? Sometimes I eat cookies and ice cream and fro-yo.

The plan as a whole is about not punishing yourself for a little indulgence here and there. It’s OK to have a cheat day or a cheat meal, just pick back up the next day.

Honestly, I pretty much had a cheat day on Sunday. I did my best to stick to the plan, but we spent the day out at a concert and really didn’t have a lot of options in the healthy food department. We opted for smoked turkey legs because it was the closest thing on any of the food vendors’ menus to plain food. Everything else had sauces, grease, etc. When we left there we stopped at…ahemtacobellahem…and I ate a little more. Then we came home and I had a cookie, ice cream, and a caffeine free Diet Coke. When I head for a downward spiral, I seriously spiral…I am extremely compulsive, especially when it comes to food.

Fast forward a few hours and I was wide awake at 1:00 in the morning feeling like absolute garbage because I might as well have just poisoned my body with the food I ate. Could I have gotten away with a Coke? Absolutely, I occasionally have a Malibu and Diet Coke when we go out on Friday nights for trivia with absolutely no repercussions. Could I have had ice cream? Sure. I believe it was the combination of all of that, that made me feel like crap.

With that being said, I learned my lesson. Stepping outside of the box once in a while to eat a cookie or fro-yo, to have dinner out, isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a reward either, it’s just an indulgence. It’s not going to kill me. But it made me realize that in the last three weeks, I’ve spoiled my body with this awesome and nutritious food, and it (my body, keep up) has rewarded me with feeling amazing.

Exhibit A – My lactose intolerance is practically a non-issue. In fact, if I’d quit my ice cream and fro-yo cheats, I don’t think I’d need to take a pill at all. In my food plan, some cheeses are considered healthy fats. These cheeses are ones like mozzarella or goat cheese, cheeses that if I buy the most raw stuff I can find, I won’t need to take a pill anyway. I don’t know why, but I can eat fancy mozzarella without taking a pill. Maybe it doesn’t have lactose. I don’t know. The bottom line is that I was spending like $20+ a month on my pills, and I haven’t had to buy them in weeks. That’s a secondary win for me.

Exhibit B – I’m eating enough filling, nutritious foods that I feel good all the time. I have energy (except when I’m mentally exhausted from end of semester assignments!). I want to do things. It’s made me happy, which I’m sure isn’t just the clean eating, but the exercise as well.

Clean eating is also cheaper than dining out. I think I mentioned the cost of food once before, and I believe I’ve spent less on my clean foods than I have on processed. It’s also nice to be able to go grocery shopping quickly, basically only walking around the outside aisles of the store, since that’s where the fresh stuff is. Ever notice that? Produce, meats, and stuff are all in a ring around the outside of the store. All the processed stuff is in the middle. Keeps it simple, I just avoid those center aisles and voila! Done! Well, I do veer off to frozen foods for veggies, but you get the idea…

So my final results for the this exercise plan was 8.2 lbs lost, 3.5 inches lost around hips and waist, and about 4 inches gained in my arms, legs, and chest. I don’t have a problem with the gains, I think they’re probably muscle. My body was pretty much mush after chemo. I had very little strength at all and my muscles were soft. I have zero issue with gaining inches if it means building that muscle back up and making my body stronger. My waist is my problem area, particularly because of the upcoming surgery, and I lost there, so I’m good!

I started a new workout plan today, and I already love it!

Sprained Ankle

Because again…why not?

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I think I twisted it getting out of the car and sort of falling into a hole…long story…and no, I wasn’t drunk.

Anyway, I’ve been exercising on it and I finally did a little Google search to see why it felt like something was bouncing around the outside of my ankle bone, sort of like a rubber band. Believe it or not, I’ve never had a sprained ankle before, so I had NO idea.

Dr. Google diagnosed me, and I was at the chiropractor later that day or the next day and I mentioned it. They confirmed it sounded like a sprain and suggested an exercise, so I’ve been doing that. They also suggested I get a stabilizer, which I did and it helps. I don’t wear it all the time because it doesn’t hurt all the time, but I do put it on when I exercise, or if I plan to be on my feet for a while.

I skipped one day of exercising, but it was my “rest” day anyway, which was yoga. I probably could have done the yoga without a problem, but I figured I’d just chill out instead and keep off the foot.

I’ve been super busy finishing up the semester (last day is Thursday, yeah!!), but I’ve got lots more to share, so stay tuned for more posts in the next few days!

Random Additions

There are a few random things I thought of that I’m not sure if I ever shared…when I started this blog I vowed to myself to include it all so that maybe one day it might be helpful to someone looking for a real account of what breast cancer was like for someone.

Fingernails – I did not lose my fingernails or toenails. My oncologist said it was a possibility; it was one of the things he brought up while I was super-focused on food. Anyway, I didn’t lose them (although I think I am about to lose the toenail off my big toe), but I did have weak spots that have just grown out. They were deep ridges in my nail that started at the cuticle and as the nail grew, eventually moved their way up, and promptly broke when they reached the tip. They’ve all reached their breaking point, so my nails are currently a mess.

I think the toenail thing is mostly unrelated to treatment. My toenails have been totally fine and haven’t had that same ridge in them like the fingernails. I ended up with a black and blue spot on the side of my toenail. I can’t remember bumping it or anything, but I can’t remember much so I can’t discount it. I still have some neuropathy in my toes, so I could have easily not felt whatever hit it, if something hit it. Anyway, today there was a little blood along the edge, so I think the nail is going to come off. I think my exercising is aggravating it, being on the tips of my toes for planks and whatnot. I’ll keep you posted on The Toenail Saga. You’re welcome.

I Gotta Pee – Another (thankfully short-lived) effect was having to pee the moment I thought about having to pee. Let me explain…(again, you’re welcome)…there were times near the end of chemo where if I felt the urge to pee and thought about it too much before I made it to the bathroom, I would nearly pee myself. Totally random, I know. I’m happy to say that’s no longer a problem.

Chemo Brain – I still have chemo brain. It’s not as bad as it was, but I’m still a little spacey here and there, and have trouble focusing and recalling information. I haven’t gotten very specific about what chemo brain affects, so I’ll do my best here. My long-term memory seems pretty unaffected, but I have trouble recalling more recent things. For example, it may take me some time to recall what happened yesterday, but I have no trouble recalling something that happened two years ago. The ability to concentrate is kind of related to staying in the moment. Like I’ll be reading a book, and just zone out. It was really bad during chemo and made classwork super hard. I’d read the text book and, not only have a hard time focusing, but also forget what I’d read.

So those are a few things I don’t think I delved into previously. If I think of anything else, I’ll add it.

Surgery Update

Surgery is scheduled for May 10!

Nervous? Not really. This will be my third surgery in less than a year, so it’s not something new. I am a little anxious about the recovery. I really don’t want to be uncomfortable or stuck in one place for too long.

I talked to the nurse at the plastic surgeon’s office and asked a bunch of recovery questions. Since I’ve gotten started exercising again, I am concerned about having to wait a long time before I can be active again. I got the general “6 week recovery” info, but I didn’t know if that’s 6 months on my back or if I can slowly work myself back up.

So the nurse said I’ll probably be able to move around relatively soon after the surgery. She said I’ll probably be a little hunched, because the skin over my stomach will be drawn tight. She said I should plan to not do much the week following the surgery (I’m so disappointed I won’t be able to do that marathon I didn’t sign up for…) but that when I feel up to it I can start with short walks and build myself up to longer walks. She basically said to listen to my body to see what I can do as far as exercise. She also said they’ll probably recommend that I increase my protein intake, so I’ll need to see if my current level of proteins (5 servings a day) is enough, or if I’ll need more.

Here’s some general info I found at The Cleveland Clinic’s website on nutrition tips to improve would healing:

“Power” Foods and Food Groups to Help With Wound Healing

Protein: Meats, beans, eggs, milk and yogurt particularly Greek yogurt), tofu, soy nuts, soy protein products

Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, tomato juice, peppers, baked potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage

Vitamin A: Dark green, leafy vegetables, orange or yellow vegetables, cantaloupe, fortified dairy products, liver, fortified cereals

Zinc: Fortified cereals, red meats, seafood

(link to source)

This info is pretty good because I eat a lot of this stuff as part of my current nutrition plan. I haven’t been eating too much citrus because I haven’t seen many good oranges in the stores, but in a month that should change. I am eating spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, so that’s a bonus. In addition to spinach, I eat lots of carrots, so Vitamin A is in the bag, too. As I mentioned, I get plenty of protein from meat and eggs and my shakes, so that’s good. I feel pretty good about my body being prepped for recovery.

Not quite sure when I’ll be able to get back to exercising, but I’m going to work my butt off until then, at the very least. I’ll be able to exercise for about 6 weeks (I’ll be about 4 days short since surgery is a Thursday).

Anyway, I’ll have a pre-op appointment with the plastic surgeon a couple days before the surgery, and a pre-op appointment at the hospital. This surgery will be at East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, which is a hike from home, but I guess it just depends on the day of the week as far as what hospital I’m at since my doctors have privileges at a few different ones. I just hope they have decent food, otherwise Brad’s going to have to bring me my shake, a mini-fridge, and the Nutri Bullet so I can make my shakes.

Speaking of shakes…I tried the chocolate today and it was amazing!!!!! Tastes like a delicious chocolate milkshake and there is no milk or ice cream in it.

So that’s all for today. I may have mentioned that I have an appointment scheduled next week with the physical therapist. I’ll report on that then.

TTFN

I’ve Lost 6.8 lbs in One Week!

Yep, you read that right. I’ve lost 6.8lbs (and a couple inches) in one week!

What is it? I’m so glad you asked! It’s fantastic exercise and nutrition program.

You all know how important food is to me. I love to eat. I love tasty food and I enjoy variety. I don’t like being told what to eat, and I don’t do well with restrictions. This blog has been live for just a few short months and I think I’ve communicated my passion for food quite well in that time. Why is this important? Because I wouldn’t choose a food plan that didn’t allow me to still be passionate about food. That’s how awesome this plan is.

So a new nutrition plan, exercise…my gains so far in this program aren’t just related to the scale. I also feel a thousand times better overall. I have become more regular, which has been a pretty decent issue for me since chemo started back in September. I have better endurance. I want to get up and do stuff. I also feel good mentally. I’m happy to be doing something and seeing results. It makes me feel good.

Anyway, this post probably sounds like an advertisement. It’s not really. It is a testimonial though. It’s me sharing my success because I’m so excited to have found success and I feel like I need to share it because I want anyone else who wants to be successful to find theirs, too.

If you want to talk to me more about the program, please reach out. I want to help.

So I’ve got the oncologist tomorrow. Should be uneventful, just my Herceptin injection. Next week will be the evil arm shot. I’ll post an update if something exciting happens.

Crazy Days of April

There is so much going on! Brad and I have two, possibly three, concerts this month. It’s the end of my semester at school, so everything that I’ve procrastinated about is due. I’m trying to cram as much work as I can, given my classwork and all that, since I won’t be able to work in May and probably June. I’m seriously freaking out about the lack of income during my recovery, but we’ll survive, we always do. This weekend is the Flowertown Festival in Summerville, and I think we’re going to try to hit it on Sunday. It just seems like too much to do and too little time.

In other news, I’ve been back to the chiropractor now that I finally feel well enough AND can lay on my front without my chest hurting. It’s been great. I feel like I’m making a lot of positive changes all around. 2018 will be a year of positive change for me. (There’s that mantra again…)

Oh, and I can’t remember if I mentioned during my pity party that apparently I’ll need to see a physical therapist post-op. I was a little too blah at that appointment to ask questions about it, so I did a little research. Yeah…I did research! I know, I know. I kind of swore off Dr. Google and all that…but I was genuinely curious about this one and didn’t want to wait. So I looked it up.

Do you know there’s such thing as a glenohumeral joint? There is, it’s also called the shoulder joint. Apparently women who have mastectomies have trouble in that area, which I can understand given the probable pain associated with moving the arms and pulling on agitated muscle and skin. So yeah, the couple websites I read focused on rehab of the arm and shoulder. I couldn’t find anything related to physical therapy and the tummy tuck aspect of the surgery, but I’m sure I’ll be doing something related to that as well.

So I’ve really been focusing on my core strength, because I figured that’s where I’d need the most help after the surgery. I mean, it never hurts to have a strong core. But now I’m thinking I might want to do some extra work on my arms and shoulders, too. They’re definitely the strongest parts of my body and I certainly don’t want my lack of strength to be a long-term hindrance. So I’m going to see what I can do about that.

So aside from my positive lifestyle changes that are making me feel good, I’m doing some other stuff for me. Like…binge-watching Gilmore Girls and hitting the library for some guilty pleasure reading.

Any Questions?

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Occasionally someone will leave a question in a comment, talk to me in person, or shoot me a message via text, email or Facebook if they have a question about some part of my experience or want me to clarify something. I try my best to answer by responding directly, or writing a post about it. Sometimes people ask me things I didn’t even think about sharing, but realize may satisfy the curiosity of many people. So if you have a question, or want me to elaborate on something I’ve previously shared, please feel free to comment on this post, shoot me a message/email, or fill out the contact form on the blog (by clicking “contact” on the menu).

Seriously, if I haven’t shared it…it isn’t because I’m shy (I think that’s pretty clear if you’ve read any of my posts at all, TMI is my middle name!)…it’s because I never thought about it when I was writing a post, or I just didn’t experience it. But I want to share as much as I can if it will help anyone out there understand.

So ask away! If I’ve already covered it, and remember that I already covered it (my short-term memory sucks these days), then I’ll link back to the original post.