F*ck Cancer

This is my super late post I made from the plane two weeks ago. Just got around to posting it. My bad!

I’m on a flight home from New York, typing this post into a Word document because I don’t feel like paying for the in-flight WiFi to connect to the blog. I’ll copy and paste it later. I was in New York for the wake and funeral for my Aunt Eleanor. She was diagnosed with cancer and we lost her quickly. I feel blessed that I was able to make the trip with my parents thanks to my sister’s frequent flyer miles.

It was nice seeing my family. I realized on this trip that it has been too damn long since I’ve seen any of them. And not just my family, but my friends, too.

I got to visit very briefly with my friend Melissa while I was there. She was so gracious to meet me at the hospital where I was visiting my other aunt and spend about fifteen minutes with me. I hadn’t seen her in twelve years. We’ve talked on Facebook and I tag her anytime I see anything that has to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer because that was our thing years ago. Anyway, when I last saw her, she was pregnant with her twelve-year-old daughter, who I got to meet today. It’s crazy.

I’m not really sure what the solution is because I’m not made of money and certainly can’t afford to fly to New York with any type of frequency, and taking off days from work to make the drive just isn’t realistic either.

Speaking of which. Huge shout-out to my job and the people I work with because they are amazing. I mentioned in our group chat that I was going to see if I could find a sub for my Friday shift because I had a death in the family and wanted to see if I could make it out-of-town for the services, and they rallied and texted me before I could even do anything with a solution. Pretty amazing. I mean, I’ve worked at places where there was literally no impact whatsoever if I didn’t show up for a shift and received more grief over taking time off. Just one of the many things I love about my job.

It was really great seeing family, though. I hated that it was because of a funeral, but it was what it was. Maybe the next time it will be because someone got married or had a baby, which was the reason for the last three times I saw my family, which still sucks, but again…it is what it is. My wedding and Kerry’s wedding in 2008, then Kerry’s baby shower in 2012. I might not be able to visit New York every year, but surely I can head up there again in less than six years.

So blah blah blah, cancer sucks. We all know this. It has taken the life of yet another loved one. A woman who I always remember was so incredibly full of life. Always laughing and smiling. A woman who I hadn’t realized helped me learn to swim. This is something that was revealed to me through an old family video shared by my cousin Debbie.

I hate it, and it’s moments like this, when I’m reflecting on someone else’s journey that didn’t end positively, that I realize how lucky I am to have gotten through my cancer. Not everyone is so lucky.

As a survivor, I feel like I need to do good things with my life. Make some kind of an impact. Big or small, I don’t know. Just something. One of the reason I’m doing the fundraiser for Susan B. Komen and why I will likely do more fundraisers in the future. I know I don’t owe anyone anything. I know that. I know I’m not responsible for anything. But losing people you love hurts, and if there’s just one thing I can do to help ease that suffering for someone else, why not do something?

So enough deep thoughts for now. Our trip was crazy, an absolute whirlwind. I’ve literally been on this plane for like 4 hours already and the flight is only like one and a half hours long. We sat on the tarmac for nearly three hours at LaGuardia. Bananas. But we’re almost home now…

Post-Vacation Blues

I had a great time on vacation. Getting to spend some time with Brad without work and doctors and having to adult was wonderful.

I ate three burgers (one of the restaurants at the resort has the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life, no lie) over the course of the week. That’s about two more burgers than I’ve had so far this year. They’re so good. If you find yourself at Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee, hit up Legacy Grill for a Smokehouse Burger. Ah-mazing.

I also ate way too much chips and salsa at Chuy’s, and let’s not forget the margaritas. Yum. I had bought Malibu rum because that’s sort of my go-to alcoholic beverage – I like it in Diet Coke or fruit juice. But I had a margarita at Chuy’s, then cheap margaritas at the resort during happy hour, and I fell in love. I think tequila does that to you. Well, I guess it’s a love/hate thing since tequila kicks some people’s butts.

I read, was totally lazy, and drove the cart while Brad golfed one day. It was a nice time.

So I’m home and this week is back to reality! I’m happy to be home with my pup, she missed us and we missed her. I think our best vacation ever was when we went to the Outer Banks and were able to take her with us. Pets deserve vacations, too.

I had an oncologist appointment this morning, got my Herceptin and Lupron. Nothing new to report there. Everything is “normal” there.

I’m returning to work today for real. I’ve got a few line therapy sessions this week, and I’m looking forward to that.

So I’m feeling good and healthy. I’ll be thankful when the rest of the soreness is gone. I’ll also be thankful when I can start exercising again and lose this ache I’ve got in my joints again. I hate that I went steps forward and then steps backward in regards to activity, but I know that extra strength I built up before surgery has helped me a lot over the last several weeks.

Being at the oncologist now is weird. I remember going and dreading what I knew was to follow. I don’t have that anymore, which is great – not complaining over here! It’s just weird because I’m in and out of there, and I used to see some of the same faces, but now there’s often new faces in various stages of treatment, and it’s weird. I want to say something, something motivating, because I was where they were, but I don’t know their story. I don’t know if they’ll be where I am now one day, or if their situation is more dire. So I don’t want to pull something straight off one of those top-ten-not-to-do lists for cancer patients. So I just keep to myself and smile.

But I want to do more. One day I was there and someone had put together little comfort packages and handed them out to all the chemo patients. I think I’m going to do something like that. Put together a list of things that truly gave me some comfort during my chemo and make little care packages to hand out. There are other, grander things I’d like to do, but for now this might just do. Little things mean a lot, at least they did to me. So maybe these care packages will brighten someone’s day.

Free at last!

I finally got my last drain out today! Phew!

When I went to the doctor on Monday, I was still draining too much. I had to go below 30 and I was around 35/40. So I willed all the good energy and whatnot around me to make the numbers go and stay down, and they did. I was able to squeeze in an appointment to have them removed before we left for our vacation today.

I kind of don’t know what to do with myself without it. I’m still accommodating for it…pulling my shirt down on that side, making sure I have some extra space over there.

I was afraid it would hurt coming out since it’s been in there for a month, but it didn’t. It hurt a little when Dr H snipped the stitches because it had scabbed, but other than that I didn’t feel the tube come out of my belly or anything.

I worked a little this week doing some paperwork stuff for the kiddos whose teams I’m managing this summer. It was nice to get out of the house and feel like a contributing member of society again. And seeing the kids is always great! I’ve missed them.

So we’re on vacation this week! Driving down to sunny Florida as we speak. Well, we’re in rainy Georgia at the moment, but we’re ending in sunny Florida!

Drains and Pains

A little update…tomorrow I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon, so I’ll probably have more news then, but venting is cathartic, so here comes random stuff.

I’m over these drains. Over them. I’d kill to be able to lay on my side, even if only for five minutes. My butt is over all this supine nonsense. They’re still putting out about 30-40 CCs a day each, so I’m doubting they’ll be removed tomorrow. Yay. I can’t remember the magic number from my doc, and the web ranges anywhere from 30-50 in a 24 hour period. So my hopes are not up for removal. The most frustrating deal with the drains is accommodating them. I have to be able to clip them or tuck them somewhere. It’s annoying.

I’m taking pain meds less frequently, so I’m starting to feel more soreness in my chest and tummy. It’s more of a discomfort than anything else.

And it looks like the part of my tummy incision we’ve been watching, the spot where Dr H said I’m most likely going to have necrosis, seems to be living up to the hype. I honestly can’t tell all that well because the incision still has the suture tape over it, but it is peeling a little bit in some spots, and from what I can tell from peeking underneath the tape in that specific spot, is that there’s necrotic looking stuff happening. And that’s about as technical as I can get, since I literally have no idea what I’m talking about. I happened to Google images for “necrosis” and “tummy tuck” (which I don’t recommend ever doing, ever) so I’d have an idea of what to look for, and basically it’s a break in the incision, like an open cut, and there’s yellowing of the tissue. If you don’t heed my warning and do Google the aforementioned terms, I swear on all that is holy (hole-y, get it, har har), my stomach does not look like that. The spot I can see is about an inch worth of the incision, if that, and like a millimeter wide. It’s like a dash, not a gaping hole the size of Rhode Island.

Anywhoo, all signs point to no swimming for me when I go on vacation in a couple weeks. Or when I step out in the backyard… Totally sucks, but whatever. I can dip my feet in and I guess that’ll do for now.

So I’m a little whiny and mopey because I feel like this will never, ever end. Then I read an article on my local news app that a news anchor and a photojournalist from a Greenville County news station were on route to do a story in NC when a tree fell on their vehicle and killed them both. Sort of puts things in perspective. I survived, you know? This is just the bumpy road back to my normal.

Thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of those two individuals.

Chemo & Weight Loss

I think a lot of people associate chemotherapy with weight loss, or cancer with weight loss, I know I did. For me, it was because I’d known someone or seen someone with cancer or going through chemo who had lost weight. I think I applied that experience across the board, which is one of the reasons I was so concerned about being able to eat in the beginning.

So, one thing I’ve learned and talked about is how chemo and cancer are not a one-size-fits-all experience. There’re different kinds of cancer, different kinds of chemo, and different kinds of people.

The last few days I’ve been dealing with swollen ankles and feet. It’s been annoying. I think it’s because I was horizontal for so long, and taking things slow, and now I feel good and am being more physical, staying on my feet for longer periods of time, sitting upright…so gravity is doing what it does and pulling fluid down to my feet. Once I put my feet up, it dissipates.

Anyway, the swollen ankles have made me think about how I didn’t lose weight with cancer and chemo. I did lose 10 lbs the first week of the first cycle because of the taste/texture issues I was having. Once I took the nausea meds and found ways around those taste/texture issues, I gained that weight right back and didn’t lose anything again. I may have even gained weight, but I’ve only ever been weighed on the doctors’ scales through all this, and I swear those things are on a whole different frequency.

So yeah…I could stand to lose a few pounds, and now that I’m well, I’ll definitely be heading to the gym. But I don’t want to lose too much weight in my mid-section, because they need that fat to refill my chest after the mastectomy! Pretty cool deal. 😉

Fun fact: there’s a Billy Joel channel on Sirius XM…30…I’ve often prided myself in being able to name Billy Joel songs within the first few notes. Turns out I can name them before they even get played, too! He was talking about the story behind the song and I guessed the title, and I was right!

This weekend Brad and I trekked to Baltimore, MD for a book signing. I had a great time seeing my sisters and book friends (Hi Jennifer!), making new friends, and going to the movies. We’re actually driving home as we speak. It’ll be nice to be home! I’m sure Daisy missed us (not!).

That’s all for now!!