Coming at you live from my LAST treatment!

I can’t believe it’s been a year already and I’m done!

All is well on the doctor front. I saw all three of my docs today and everything is great. One more month to see the plastic surgeon before we schedule surgery. Also, it looks like I’ll have drains for the flap removal. Boo! And he’ll be straightening things up around the mid-section, so I’ll probably have a drain there, too. So it’ll be a slightly bigger recovery than originally planned, but it’s all good because it’s almost over!!

I’ll have more surgical info after that appointment, and I’ll share it then. Dr JB will also be there for that appointment so she’ll translate whatever Dr H says. Haha.

So good stuff here!! I’m healing and I don’t have to see my oncologist for three months. I asked him what I’m supposed to do now, and he said “live your life.” Haha, what does that even mean anymore?!?

I guess we’ll find out!!

10 Months

It’s surreal to me that I’ve “been there, done that” with cancer already, and it’s only been ten months, give or take a week.

Maybe it’s because I still have the port, maybe it’s because my hair is so short, or maybe it’s because I still see my oncologist every three weeks.

Before my diagnosis, I feel like I always thought you had cancer forever, you know? Well, maybe not forever, but not that you’d get diagnosed, blink, and then not have cancer anymore. Ok, so all the middle stuff wasn’t a blink…chemo, multiple surgeries, side effects, etc…all those things took time.

But still…Dr. JB told me in the beginning that one day, this would all just be a blip on my radar. Just a piece of my past. I’m not quite there yet, I still have 4 cycles of Herceptin to go and this Lupron shot, but chemo is done and the last surgery removed the cancer. Blip. That’s exactly what it feels like…a blip. Like it’s surreal that I even went through chemo. I can’t believe that’s behind me. If it weren’t for the short hair and the scars and the soreness, it would be hard to believe it happened at all. I feel like that’s all that’s left to remind me sometimes.

I’m not naive, I know reoccurrence is always a possibility, but dang…ten months ago I would have never guessed that ten months would go by so quickly! That I’d be cancer free in under a year. Before I knew anything about anything, I figured I’d have cancer longer. It just seems like people have cancer for a while.

I don’t know…it sounds dumb, but I don’t know how to better articulate this feeling.

I’m relieved. I’m hopeful. I’m surprised.

It’s just weird. I feel lucky. So lucky.

I saw a picture of Brad and I from the solar eclipse last year, just days before I was diagnosed, and it reminded me of how things can change so quickly. Now, we’re about two months from that same date, and things almost feel ((dare I say it?)) normal.

Crazy.

Crazy crazy crazy.

Officially Cancer Free! Like for real, this time.

I may have jumped the gun in announcing that I was cancer free back in January.

It was the initial thought after the lumpectomy, that whatever cancer was left after the chemo, was removed during the lumpectomy. But when the pathology cane back for that, the margins weren’t great, so it was assumed some was left behind. Not a big deal since the mastectomy was in the works anyway.

Fast forward to today, when I saw Dr JB and got the results of the mastectomy pathology, and now we know it’s really gone! There was even more left behind from the lumpectomy than they’d initially assumed, but that was completely removed and the margins were great.

So hooray! I can officially say I’m cancer free! ❤️

Feels good.

Is there something wrong with me?

Throughout my journey, I’ve often asked myself that question.

Is there something wrong with me?

Aside from the obvious, of course. I knew I had cancer, but I often wondered if my emotions were off or something.

I didn’t read too much about my disease. I’ve mentioned that before. Mostly because I’m well aware that not everything you read online is true. I’d rather hear it from the medical professionals who know me, my body, and my disease.

But occasionally I’d see blog posts by others with cancer or cancer survivors that pop up on my Facebook wall. If it was a topic that interested me, I’d read it. Sometimes it was a cartoon or a meme. Sometimes I’d read the comments on the post, too.

This is where I’d always sort of question my sanity.

People post and comment a lot about the emotions they felt and feel. There’s a lot of depression and anxiety, anger and sadness. I get all that, I do. As a psych student, I completely understand why someone with a cancer diagnosis would feel all of those things.

I was pretty pissed off when I was diagnosed. I had plans, and cancer really screwed those plans up. I fell behind in school, I couldn’t work as much, had to break commitments. The side effects of chemo were annoying and uncomfortable. It downright pissed me off. I get the anger.

Depression, anxiety, and sadness? I understand those emotions, but I didn’t feel them. Yeah, I was probably sad for a minute when I was given the diagnosis – it’s not exactly a happy time, but I didn’t break down. Not once.

So, that begs the question: is there something wrong with me?

I’ve thought about this a lot because I read where people feel anxiety even after they’re cancer free because they’re constantly worrying about the return of their cancer. I’ve read where people feel depressed because of the hair loss, mastectomy, feeling sick, etc. People often ask how I’m doing, and I always answer “great!” (unless I’m in the sick week of chemo, in which case they’ll get a laundry list of complaints) because it’s true, I have been great! So naturally I’ve wondered why I haven’t felt those things. I’ve even dug deep down inside me to see if maybe I was feeling those things but was in denial about it. But I really haven’t. I haven’t felt much negativity at all during this process.

Why?

Well, I have a few ideas.

I tried to keep my schedule and routine as close to what it was as I possibly could. I continued to go to work and go to school as long as I could and as often as I could. I think that helped keep things normal and kept me feeling normal.

I had the mindset that everything I was going through was temporary. Chemo, all it’s side effects, hair loss, hot flashes, surgeries, adjustments to my schedule/routine…none of it was going to last forever.

I have a great support system. My husband is constantly feeding me compliments, which he also did before all this started so I know he’s not just giving me fluff. My parents and sisters and in-laws have all been great. Friends, teammates, and classmates, too. I haven’t wanted or needed for anything.

I have an awesome medical team. From the very first appointment, Dr JB has been the picture of optimism. She hasn’t given me the opportunity to feel sad or unsure. She’s positive and confident, and leaves no room for me to feel wishy washy. And Dr YB is similar. He’s very confident and direct, says “this is what we’re going to do and it’s going to work.” He told me in my first appointment with him to let him do the worrying, I should just focus on healing and getting better.

So I did. I let him do the worrying. I stayed positive and went with the flow. I did what the doctors told me to do, showed up when I was supposed to. I didn’t let myself get all caught up in the doom and gloom, and when people would say something negative or have a negative tone, I’d change the subject or flat out ignore it. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So yeah…I guess those things have helped me remain positive and, dare I say it, “normal.” Maybe there’s nothing wrong with me after all? Maybe I’m processing everything just as I should be. I like the sound of that.

The Last Chemo

Imagine the title of this post said by one of the dodo birds from Ice Age…you know, the way they say “the last melon.” Ok, so maybe I’m a little crazy.

Today is my last chemo. I’ve got about 15 minutes left and then I’m done!! I will keep on the 3 week schedule for the Herceptin until September, I believe, since that’s when I started. But that’ll be a cakewalk, only about 30 minutes.

The hard part will be over soon (in about 2 weeks, after I’ve gotten sick from this cycle and then well again).

I’m tired and not looking forward to feeling sick in a few days, but other than that, I feel good. I’m excited even.

So next up is Neulasta tomorrow, then my Herceptin day in three weeks, and then my lumpectomy. I’ll talk more about the lumpectomy and surgery stuff in another post.

I was solo at chemo today. Brad had to work since he took time off for our trip to Florida, so my parents dropped me off this morning. My mom would have stayed, but it’s honestly so boring here for visitors, so I told her she didn’t have to. They’ll be back to pick me up shortly.

A woman was sitting sort of across from me today, maybe in her 30s. I don’t know her diagnosis, or the drugs she’s on as part of her treatment, but she was hit with some of the nasty reactions/side effects today. They had to stop her treatment. It made me thankful for my body, and the fact that it has tolerated so much of the junk we’ve put it through. Sure, my liver still isn’t pleased with the chemo and my GI tract hates me, but all in all, I’ve done pretty darn well. My side effects have been almost entirely manageable, I’ve been able to function when I’ve had to…I look at what she went through and realized I could have had it so much worse. Imagine if I’d felt nasty sick every cycle while receiving treatment? Not being able to receive the full treatment? I can’t.

Anyway, I’ve got a few things on deck for future posts, so stay tuned!

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!

The Pros of Losing My Hair Follow Up

I’ve been without my hair for a couple weeks now, so I wanted to follow up to see if I was right or wrong about some of these pros I listed while looking at the bright side of hair loss. 

– Hair Clogs In Drain: Truth! I actually stopped to listen to the sound of water going straight down the shower drain this morning, versus the soundlessness when it has to bypass hair clumps.

– No More Shedding: Not quite there yet. I still have a buzz, and those hairs are taking their sweet time coming out. They will come out when I wash my head and when I run my hand over it, but they’re not shedding profusely. Also, they’re tiny! So aside from one hair splinter on my ear (ouch!), I can’t see them lying around the way I would have seen my long hair.

– Shorter Showers: Yes and no. I am finished in the shower pretty quickly, honestly I always have been that way, but I like to stand under the hot spray for no reason other than it feels nice. So I’m not exactly quick, but whatever. 

– Saving Money on Hair Expenses: Yes! Canceled my hair cut for this Friday, actually, so that saved me a few dollars! I imagine this mega bottle of Johnson’s baby wash will last me a while, too. 

– Less Laundry: True! I do have a little hair turban thing that I put on my head after the shower because my head gets cold, but I’m not using a full size towel on my hair anymore, so that’s nice!

– Wigs: Yep, glamorous. Also hot. I have 2, haven’t worn them yet because it’s honestly so warm! I can’t even wear some of the thicker hats and scarves I have because I get too hot. But I can’t really go bald either because then I get too cold!

– Other Hair: Yes! Leg hair and underarm hair are also falling out, also taking their time. What stinks is that I shaved a while back, so the hair is kind of trapped in limbo because it isn’t really long enough to fall out, but it’s just long enough for me to feel it. Ugh.

– Head Rest/Hair Knot in the Way: This has been great! I can lay down anywhere and lean against anything. 

– No Hair Tie Headache: Truth! It has been great, however I still have some follicle discomfort so my scalp does occasionally ache. I imagine that’ll go away once the hair is completely gone.

– Two words: blow dryer: Nothing to add here!

– Two more words: straight iron: Nothing to add here!

– Brad Massage Feet: Haven’t had him do this yet, but he’s been a trooper with everything else, I imagine this will be no different. 

– Cute Hats And Head Wraps: Heck yeah! I love them. I even wear them to bed because my head gets super cold!

– Shower Then Sleep: True story! 

– It’ll grow back: To be proven.

– When it grows back, it may be cooler than before: To be determined. 
So there you have it! 

There are some cons, and right now that’s mainly two things:

1. Temperature. I go from hot to cold and vice versa in 0.18 seconds.

2. People stare and/or pity. I like to blend, and my cute wraps make me stick out like a sore thumb. They sometimes give sad or sympathetic smiles/looks. I get it, I’ve probably done it, but like people with disabilities, I just want to be looked at (or ignored) like everyone else.

The Pros of Losing My Hair

To be real, I know there are cons. I know I’ll get emotional when my hair starts to seriously thin (it’s already falling out-I’m shedding at a much more rapid pace than what’s normal for me), but I’m choosing to take a look at the silver lining(s) in this post so I can remind myself of them later on when I do a “con” post. 

Here we go!

– No hair clogs in the bathtub drain. I just had to remove a chunk the other day and damn, I don’t even know how I have hair left on my head as it is.

– No more shedding. Boo-ya! I hate hair getting stuck in towels, rugs, clothes, sheets, blankets, the wall of the shower (soon to be the drain, see previous item), etc. I swear I leave bits and pieces of my DNA all over the place.

– Shaving off (ha, hair humor) time getting ready in the AM. Shorter showers!!

– Saving money on hair products and hair cuts. More money to spend on chemo snacks and bag accessories.

– Less laundry since I won’t have to wash hair towels!!

– Wigs. I can have any hair I want. Multiple styles, if I want. Yeah, I know they can be a hot mess (like a hot, sweaty mess), but I can totally rock pink hair for a day if I want, and not worry about having to damage my hair. Rock on!

– I could lose other body hair as well. That could, potentially, mean no eyebrow plucking, leg/underarm shaving…just in time for…winter…y.a.y. Dammit. This might hit the con list for the whole “not being summer/shorts weather” aspect.

– When I pull my hair in a bun or a pony tail and lean back against a seat with a headrest, and my head can’t quite sit right because of the knot of hair at the back of my head…yeah, it would be nice to not have THAT problem!

– No hair tie headaches! I don’t think I need to elaborate here, the ladies know (and some men) the consequences of pulling your hair back into a tight updo. Hours later…ugh.

– Two words: blow dryer

– Two more words: straight iron 

– I can make Brad massage my feet since he won’t be able to wash my hair! (Him not being able to wash my hair will be on the con list, though.)

– I get to sport cute hats and head wraps and bandanas for quick, on the go looks. I think I mentioned once that I picked up a couple wraps for 99 cents each at Walgreens! 

– I can shower right before bed, or just shower and lay down, and not have to worry about a wet hair headache or totally horrible bedhed. 

– It’ll grow back. 

– When it grows back, it may be cooler than before.

Can anyone think of any other hair-loss pros?? Enlighten me!!