Thursday, June 23, 2011
Since I belong to two separate breast cancer groups there have been some questions asked about finding out more, where to get help, etc. I decided to write it all down. As always, be sure to ask your doctor about anything before trying it.
I just finished my treatment for breast cancer on March 21st. First of all there are several different kinds of BC. I had the most common that affects 80% of all patients. I was so fortunate. It was stage 1 when it was discovered by digital mammogram. I had two choices - mastectomy or reclaim. With both I would have to have radiation daily for at least 6 weeks and the possibility of chemo. I opted for the reclamation as I am large busted and there would be a greater chance of infection. Once more I was fortunate because I had a test for genetic markers that show the chance of it returning. When the results were in, two were excellent, but one was in the middle, more towards the bad. The chemo oncologist had me take the chemo via pill as he said to do the intravenous would be overkill. Since hormones can trigger my kind - Ductal carcinoma in situ DCIS - I'll have to have hormone blockers for at least five years and perhaps 10. My life expectancy is 90% for 5 years and 80% for 10 years. I am so happy to be alive that a daily pill is a small price to pay! As for treatments I had, the radiation made me very tired. As tired as I was, I tried to complete 5 minutes of cardio each day. Mostly I would walk in front of the TV during commercials of my favorite show. I also had to have a second surgery after the lumpectomy, where tissue around the original tumor was located and lymph nodes were removed to see if it had spread. Once more I lucked out - all was clear, it hadn't spread. My arm hurt the longest I believe. I did lose some hair (I had it clipped down) and I had no eyelashes or eyebrows. The ACS had a wonderful program call Look Good - Feel Better. We were taught how to take care of our skin, because it does change with treatment, how to use makeup to add eyebrows and make your face not look so pale. We also were taught how to use scarves and wigs and our options. I have a very old wig that isn't very well and a new one I love. I also have a cap with some that Velcro’s to it and is a little longer. Now that I have started to grow in, I wear a lot of hats and baseball caps or spike it as it tends to want to grow up! My doctor wanted his patients to have certain bras that open in the front. I have three. The one took the drain tubes I had to have for four days. It also has two prosthesis and all three bras have pockets to hold one or two. Now they are too big for me, but I am lopsided and will have to get a smaller set fairly soon as I am lopsided on the left, and my nipple is under rather than on top. Once more - luck was with me. We have a shop in our county seat that carries all sorts of post cancer clothing and items. The woman who owns it is certified and I think this is the first time since when I started wearing bras that I've had some that fit me right!!
First you need to find out if indeed this is cancer. IF it is, you can get a lot of info from your surgeon and the American Cancer Society. You should have a local chapter where you can go for literature. If it is a small area like mine, I called the 800 number and received so much help in that area. You will also have to find out just what kind you have. You also need to follow all directions by all of your doctors. I had three doctors and 4 techs on my care team. All were just wonderful, but I had to listen and do what I was told to take care of the radiation area.
There are support groups in all sorts of places. I opted not to attend because of the distance for the one in my county. I had a one-on-one survivor I talked to on the phone once in a while. But I had a lot of friends and a few family members I could talk to who were very supportive. One thing that helped me immensely was I kept a book on my journey. I kept my hospital bracelets, bills from the doctors and hospital and the insurance statements showing how much they paid, my feelings about everything, etc. And of course the Spark Teams.
When I had bad days, I could read about my positive thoughts and it would help me feel so much better. Another thing that helped was to watch comedy flicks that would make me laugh a lot.
My cancer was found during my yearly mammogram. Early detection saves lives is really true. I also have a tee that says, "If you think a mammogram is scary, try finding a lump". Bob also wears his "My wife's fight is my fight" polo a lot.
Should you in fact have this and you would like to hear some more of my experiences, you are free to join my groups - Living above Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer victims and those who love them. Both are fantastic groups.
I really do hope this helps even someone who thinks she might have cancer to be checked right away. The sooner it is found, the better things will be.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Well tomorrow I get to wait around the house for the hospital to call about what time I go to surgery Tuesday. That will be when I have my feeding tube put in my abdomen. Wednesday I get to go back to the surgeon to have the tube checked. Then I have no clue what is to happen. Gee, seems I've got chemo brain before the chemo starts!!!
Last Monday I had five more teeth extracted. I still can't get over how easy it was for me! When he was finished, he asked me if it was ok for him to pray for me. Of course I told him yes, Then he and his assistant held hands and he said a wonderful prayer over me. He is an amazing man and I really, really like him. Tuesday I went to see Dr K and after checking me, things were changed to move things up. Wednesday I went to see the surgeon, which had been scheduled the next week. Tuesday I also had my mask made. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but then I was on valium!! Thursday I had the PET/CT scans done. I had a lot of trouble swallowing in it. I think it has really advanced from what is was when it was diagnosed in MAy. It shouldn't be any big surprise as they told me it was aggressive. I went to the hospital to turn in my blood work and have the pre-op done. It is nice to get it all out of the way. Friday was a rest day.
The next week will start the actual treatments. I know I see the chemo doc on Tuesday and it will start on Wednesday. Dr K said he wanted everything to start this week.
What is sad is that the food I'm permitted to eat are high calorie. And I have one more week before I can do any kind of activity, even any lifting. This doesn't work in with my goals, but that's OK. When I am able to start once more, I'll do what I did last time - I started over at 5 minutes each time until I had it up to an hour!!
Guess this is all for now, I'm very tired,
Sunday, June 12, 2011
The other day a friend of mine how I did my weight loss. I said I have been following SP and she wanted to hear about it. There was really no time to get into it and give her a clear view. I did give her the url so she could look into all SP has. Later that day, we talked again in person. She had an entire list of questions for me! First I told her it was so nice to see my neck again rather than a double chin!! I said if she decided to follow our program she had to always remember to love herself, find ways to reward herself without food, and always remember to not be hard on herself if she slips- she can always start with the next meal or the next day.
She asked what I thought what the most important ideals were to keep me focused and to help me. My answers were most likely not what she thought they would be. First was to make a commitment to make a healthier lifestyle. Making small goals that are doable should be written on a SP page. Be sure to make one. Little things will help her stay on track because she is making herself accountable. Then be sure to track your food intake daily. Enjoy yourself by joining a team or two. You will meet friends who are so supportive you will never feel alone. Sign up for some newsletters to receive good links for learning. And be sure to find some really good recipes to save in a cookbook that you make here on SP and use them!
Then she asked about blogs. I told her that if she reads someone else's blog be sure to leave a heartfelt comment and visit their Spark page to leave another note with a possible goodie. Often they will have more information to help. She might even find that they have lots in common and/or belong to some same teams. A good thing is to look for a buddy from her Spark Page. If they live close, perhaps she can workout together, figure how to make grocery lists, and if not, she can use her spark message program. It is very helpful to have someone to encourage and for you to return that support.
She was shocked when I told her how much support I received here when
I was going through breast cancer. Now prayers and good thoughts are coming my way because of my tonsil cancer. It is all more than I ever thought.
Then I tackled exercise with her. I explained challenges from both the site and teams. I was depending on my motorised chair so I joined the chair exercise team and loved all the information and friendship I received there.
As I got stronger and stronger I used some of the exercises available. Then came the diagnosis of breast cancer, so I joined the living with cancer team. Oh, how helpful everyone was and answered all of my questions. I was able to do 5 cardio everyday. This mostly came from walking in place during TV commercials. I did it during my radiation and chemo!! Afterwards, I added 5 minutes to my my walking and stretching every week or so until I was up to an hour or more. There are so many exercises explained in the daily spark and fun videos to follow. She can pause the videos or even repeat a part she needs to have for further information.
Also I did some extra things to help along the way. Making sure I put up visual helpers around my computer and do some steps for dieting. By trying to help others, I have helped myself. My first goal was 65 pound and I have lost 52. And darn seeing my neck and chin is so much nicer than seeing that "old" double - or was it triple - chin. And that reminded me to tell her to take pictures from the start and along her journey. It is so inspiring to see the changes! And be sure to drink at least 8 cups of water each day - I do 10 cups!
I'm sure each of has our different reasons for joining SP and find different issues that help us stay legal. I know this is my journey, but teams, friends, and support is what makes me stay accountable and loving Spark People.
"before as I started"
Maxine my motorized chair
My high school picture. I would love to get 10-15 of my weight at that time.
I really hoped I helped her to want to join all of us.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Today is the fourth day without exercise and only resting. All ready I can feel a great change. Not doing my daily walk and stretches, has really taken a toll so soon. My balance seems to be gone - I had a fall this week - The strength in my legs also seems weak. This is not a good thing. I have two more weeks of this, then it is a question about the radiation and chemo. *sigh* I hope I remember to ask my oncologists when I see them this next week.
The diet I have to be on sucks, too. Bob has to blend everything before I can eat it. Yuk! The fruits are ok, but the veggies and crackers are yucky. If anyone has been through this, they'll understand.
My nephew's 11 year old daughter has ben doing so wonderful with her track and field events. I am just so very proud of her. This spring she rode her bike in a 5 borough ride in NYC!! I thought that was quite an accomplishment until my brother told us how well she did at her last meet.
If you have read my status, you already know she had a 12' 5" broad jump with the nearest time being 10' something. But I hadn't heard about her runs until this afternoon. It seems she had wonderful 100 and 200 yard dashes. On her 100 yard dash, a boy bested her by .02 of a second!! The great part is she ran with the 12 year old boys and she is an 11 year old girl!!! One large step for young female athletes.
I can't think of too much better for her, except she excels at soccer, ballroom dancing, violin, reading and speaks two languages - English and Danish. She and her sister and brother normally spend summers in Denmark and attend school there. I am just so proud of her and the other children, too.
Many times I have wondered why there was so little gym in school when I was younger. We had a semester in 9th grade and a semester in 10th grade and that was it. Now, I was big and wore thick glasses, so I was picked last for teams more often than not. But I really loved the trampoline. I did ok with basketball, but as much as I love baseball, I couldn't judge the distance to hit or throw so I could understand why no one wanted me. I did have the consolation of being a majorette from 6th grade until gradation. In summer band, we would always march down the Soap Box Derby hill in Akron. That day I always wore out a pair of tennis shoes because of the angle we had to march.
I had strong legs - especially my calves. I feel really bad that I have lost that strength. And I would have loved swimming if we had it. But at least the girls of today such as my nephew's daughters have the opportunity and that is one of the best things we can do for them.
Well, I'm really tired and I need to rest.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Yesterday was the dentist. I was so surprised with the treatment! He keeps it cool in the room, so I had a blanket to use. And a pillow, too, for having the chair recline. To top it off, the dentist had sun glasses because the light he has to use is so bright!! First he used a spray that helps numb the area; then he gave a shot of Novocain. He let that sit a few minutes and gave another shot. He pulled the three teeth and I didn't feel it at all. When the numbing wore off, I did feel it enough to take a pain pill. I could hardly believe this mostly pain free pulling.
When I was ready to leave, my orders included no solids, no exercise or work, and only rest. This will be for at least three weeks. And no straws. I have to use a plastic spoon or drink from the glass rim as long as I don't slurp it into my mouth!! I also was told how to keep it packed so hopefully I won't have any dry sockets.
There are also some antibiotics I must take 3 X a day. Wow! Do they make me sleepy. I can only be on-line a little at a time. I try to keep up, but I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do so.
13th - have 4 more teeth removed
14th follow up with radiation oncologist
20th -PET/CT scans
22nd - Conference about the feeding tube with my surgeon
Sometime before the end of the month I have to have blood work, and then see my chemo oncologist on the 28th.
I keep hoping I haven't forgot anything. My mind seems to be churning and I'm sure if there are hidden things in my mind I need to mine them.
Thanking all my prayer warriors and those sending me good thoughts. With God and all of you, I know I'm going to make it through the trauma.
May you all have fantastic Thursdays!!
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