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Flying Through Chemo

Saturday, March 09, 2013

I haven't posted anything since August of last year. Back then, I felt like my world was falling apart, but now, I have found renewed strength and a more joyous heart. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2012. Since that time, I've had a mastectomy. Both the procedure and my recovery went very well. I later had to have more lymph nodes removed. That was a little harder to recover from, but wasn't too bad, in the grand scheme of things. 5 of the nodes were positive for cancer cells, so my oncologist recommended chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

I had read many stories of people who had terrible chemo experiences, even spoke personally to some who'd been through it, and it made it a very daunting task to undertake. I was surprised, however, of how much I looked forward to my first treatment. I guess I felt that I was diving into the fight with both fists up. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I tolerated the treatments. My first chemo regimen was 4 cycles spaced 3 weeks apart. I had no nausea or vomiting, and what symptoms I had were mild. Next, I started a different chemo drug which consists of 12 weekly treatments. I just had my 4th treatment today. I am still tolerating treatments well, with only mild complaints and no nausea or vomiting. My appetite is good, perhaps a little too good. I've gained a little weight- maybe about 7 pounds. The steroids that are given with the infusions may increase my appetite.

I do struggle with a little fatigue, but I was tired before this journey started, so it's not a dramatic difference. My main complaint lately is dry mouth brought on by the chemo. It wasn't as bad the last time. I really feel like I am flying through all of this. My spirits are high most of the time. I'm in the middle of my total treatment regimen. My PET and CAT scans I had a few months ago showed good news of no active areas (no apparent cancer cells), so I am encouraged by that. I am heartened by all the people who keep me in their thoughts and prayers.

Though my weight loss efforts have stalled while I've been undergoing treatment, I am reevaluating my diet to make some healthier changes. For the last several months diet has fallen by the wayside as I've learned to deal with this whole situation. I've been immersed, you might say, in the whole process of chemotherapy treatments, doctor visits, dealing with symptoms of treatments that, while mild, still need dealing with, trying to catch up on my household chores which always seem just a little bit beyond me, taking care of my kids and husband, etc. We also lost my mother-in-law last November, and that has left a hole not easily filled. How I wish I could call her up. She was a 10 year breast cancer survivor who succumbed to complications of diabetes. As she was bedfast in the hospital while I was in another hospital about to have my mastectomy, her greatest wish was to be there with ME. That's just how she was. We all miss her terribly.

I hope that I can be a breast cancer survivor, also. I want to be a THRIVER! That, to me, includes getting my weight under control. It can make a difference in my life in so many ways. I want my best years to still be ahead of me!! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TAUNNYALITE 4/13/2013 7:38PM

    AGAWRITER, I have 2 more Taxol treatments to go. I just started having neuropathy issues a week and a half ago. My oncologist graded it about a 1 on a scale of 1-4. It's not constant and it's mostly prickly feelings.
I'll be starting radiation in a couple of months, probably. Hopefully, it will go well, though I'm not looking forward to it.

Hope you are doing well! emoticon I'm so glad spring is here!!

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AGAWRITER 3/11/2013 3:03PM

    I am just about your age, and was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage 3a in July, had a mastectomy, and then did 11 sessions of Taxol, and 4 if FAC. I am just about to start radiation, in fact, I need to leave in a little while to make my first appointment. I did find the chemo easier than I had thought-- I had nueropathy issues with the Taxol, but almost nothing with FAC after the first 3 days. Good luck with the rest of your treatments.

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TAUNNYALITE 3/9/2013 11:53AM

    NANCYPAT1, thank you for your comment. I'm so glad your mother had such a good outcome and had so many more years to enjoy her life. I would like to do as your friend has done, so I am really striving to make some changes.
I read the "thriver" term somewhere else, so I can't take credit for it, but it is a wonderful image emoticon

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TAUNNYALITE 3/9/2013 11:50AM

    Thank you for your kind words, ELSCO55! emoticon

I really appreciate it!

Comment edited on: 3/9/2013 11:54:13 AM

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ELSCO55 3/9/2013 10:06AM

    My step daughter is a 5 year survivor. Good news about your chemo treatments. Sorry for the loss of your MIL. She is still watching over you while you recover. Best wishes on your journeys.

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NANCYPAT1 3/9/2013 7:30AM

    I have a dear friend who is a survivor - she really became a health food proponent during her treatments. She cut things out and added so many new flavors and textures and new foods to her world to help ensure that not only would the cancer but also other health issues NOT destroy her quality of life. She has moved from the small gains to losing the weight and getting healthier than she had been in years. My mother was a cancer thriver as you put it (and I like the phrase) she had a double mastectomy and then 3 months later flew to Africa and Europe on a mission trip. Her only complaint was that she couldn't easily carry her own bags - my father did it for her. She lived about 20 years after her mastectomy and died of something unrelated to it at age 83. Good health, Great success, and THRIVE - I love that image.

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Unexpected diagnosis

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not wanting to mince words, I'll just come out and say it. I have breast cancer. I'm still trying to make sense of that. Cancer is something I've always feared... doesn't it strike fear into the heart of so many of us? Cancer of the breast is something I have never even expected. After all, there is no history of it in my family. I nursed all three of my children for a very long time, always believing that it was offering me some kind of protection in addition to nourishing my babies. It's been a bit of a shock, to say the least. I'm still feeling like I'm on a roller coaster of emotions as I come to terms with the diagnosis and find out as much as I can. This is just the beginning of the roller coaster, though, and roller coasters often start out slow, pick up speed, then throw you through a few loops before it slows down again.
The good thing, if there can be anything good about cancer, is that this is a rare type of cancer which is easily treatable and generally has a good prognosis. I will have to have a mastectomy in 8 days. I know there will be a lot of ups and downs while I'm dealing with that, but in the grand scheme of things, I'd rather lose a breast than my life. Thank God I have a supportive husband.
My weight is still an issue, but it has taken a back burner for now. If this diagnosis has done anything, it has distilled my focus considerably, and clarified my indecisive ways quite a bit. I know what I have to do, and I'm intent on doing it. I want to be a survivor.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TAUNNYALITE 8/31/2012 1:29PM

    Lynnlives, your comment is so encouraging. Thank you!! emoticon

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LYNNLIVES 8/31/2012 12:37PM

    emoticon you WILL beat this. Breast cancer is not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination. I've known no less than 6 women who have been diagnosed and all received mastectomies and radiation/chemo and are cancer free. Stay positive ans beat this thing!

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TAUNNYALITE 8/30/2012 4:47PM

    Thank you so much, Cindy!! emoticon

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CINDYWAGNER1 8/30/2012 2:52PM

    Praying for you and your family. YOU WILL BE A SURVIVOR!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Diabetes-- A Blessing in Disguise?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My husband just found out recently that he is diabetic. As distressing as the diagnosis is, it seems like a blessing in disguise. It is forcing him to really be serious about his dietary choices and encouraging him to add more exercise to his life. Those changes are affecting me, and our family, also, as we struggle to accommodate them into our lifestyle. That's a good thing, though. One of our sons is dealing with being overweight, and I have been dealing with being obese most of my life. Sometimes it takes something drastic to prompt you into the change you know you've been needing for a long time. I've dealt with gestational diabetes during 2 of my 3 pregnancies, both of which resolved after delivery. It was so much easier to watch my diet and increase my exercise when I knew that the health of my unborn child hung in the balance. The trick has been to remind myself now that their health still depends greatly on me, and that I'm not only a role model for them, but a conduit for healthy and non-healthy foods and activities that figure into their lives. My husband and I have multiple risk factors for diabetes, and we've known this for a long time. We both have a family history of diabetes, both are overweight, both have most likely been insulin resistant for some time, and I have had gestational diabetes twice. We see a graphic illustration of the damage diabetes can do every time we see my mother-in-law. She has become so fragile, can barely walk or see, has dialysis 3 times a week, and suffers from various other conditions related to diabetes. We are trying very hard to change our lifestyle and our eating habits... It's not easy, but now we all seem to be on the same page. It's much easier to make these changes as a family than as an individual trying to walk the tightrope between a healthier lifestyle and the old, unhealthy family habits. We are all headed out right now for a family walk. How exciting!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOMTO6PLUS2 5/21/2012 10:56PM

    :( Sorry to hear about his diagnosis-- but you are so right that this may be a blessing in disguise! It's not too late to turn things around!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TRACYZABELLE 5/21/2012 1:16AM

    It sure gave me the kick in the rear I needed! Best of luck to him!!

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TAUNNYALITE 5/20/2012 5:41PM

    Thank you for your comments, Suzanne and NANAW12001. We really enjoyed our walk, and I have tracked my food for 2 days. I feel very positive about our direction in life right now. Thank you for the link, Suzanne. I will check that out. emoticon

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SUZBOISANNE 5/20/2012 3:54PM

    Sorry to hear about your husband and diabetes.... Check out this video about obesity and diabetes. It is really amazing that we have been kept in the dark about the truth.... Hope you enjoy......



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NANAW12001 5/20/2012 2:48PM

  Well written. You will overcome.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Big sigh. If there is one word I would choose to describe how I feel right now, it would be "cumbersome". My joints ache. The idea of walking in the heat is distressing. The act of picking up my 44 pound sleeping daughter and carrying her upstairs to her bed makes me tired and out of breath. I'm so stiff when I get up from sitting that I have to consciously make myself not waddle side to side like a duck when I walk. I severely sprained my ankle a couple of months back, and it still hurts to walk on it. I lean on the grocery cart at the store as if it were a cane. I hate every article of clothing I have because none of it looks good on me. I dread going swimming (even though I love it) because I either have to uselessly cover everything up with shorts and a t-shirt or expose everything with an unflattering swimsuit.

The litany of complaints goes on and on. I hate being this big, and I hate feeling bad about myself. I hate when people treat me like an invalid because of my weight, even though I feel like an invalid, sometimes. I hate catching glimpses of myself in a store window and realizing with shock that that's me- not some other middle aged overweight woman, but ME.

Recently, I went to a conference with my sister-in-law, Debbie. We decided to don our swimsuits and hit the Jacuzzi. I didn't really want to have to wear my swimsuit, but I did it. All was fine until a handful of slim and muscular college students accompanied by 2 fit and lovely young women joined us. Maybe we were a little paranoid, but Debbie (who is also overweight) and I listened to them spouting cryptic comments that seemed related to us. We felt like we were the punchlines of their inside jokes. It was uncomfortable, and we exited the water, feeling even more self-conscious having to walk through them to get out. I can't tell you how much I hate those kinds of humiliating situations. Whether the insult is real or imagined, it's a painful ordeal.

I don't feel comfortable in my own skin. I want to lose weight, not only to look better, but to FEEL better. I'm so tired of feeling tired- so tired of feeling cumbersome. I want to have energy to play with my kids, to not sit on the sidelines in life, but to get out there and be actively involved. This weight that is suffocating me has also robbed me of so many things, and I am sincerely tired of allowing it. I want to be the Lite version of Taunnya, but still retain the full flavor of the original. I know I still have that capability in me, somewhere.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TAUNNYALITE 7/16/2011 11:12PM

    Is it weird that it is difficult for me to even re-read what I wrote in this blog? It's painful. Thank you so much for your positive and encouraging comments and for your prayers. I really need them!!! You're an inspiration. emoticon

Comment edited on: 7/16/2011 11:13:20 PM

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MOMTO6PLUS2 7/15/2011 12:30PM

    Hi Taunnya-- I wanted to let you know that I can totally relate to how you felt when you wrote this blog. I so remember feeling this way too! I hope that you, too, will use these feelings as fuel to vault up and out. You can do it!

Keeping you in prayer as you're on the journey,

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Back on Track!

Monday, October 04, 2010

My mantra today is "I'm back on track!" I slid off the rails a couple of months ago, a derailment precipitated by some unplanned-for house guests who stayed longer than expected. It's not surprising to me how stressful that time was- I already know how difficult it is to fit 2 families under one roof. I was, however, dismayed to find that it was so easy for me to lose the momentum I had had for the first half of the year. I tried to stick with my plan at first, but it was increasingly difficult to not only keep the foods on hand that help me stay on track, but, also, to keep my focus on my goals. After our house was our own again, I found that I didn't want to be constricted in any way, so I ate what I wanted when I wanted. I'd start saying to my husband that I needed to get back on my plan, but I don't think my heart was quite in it. Maybe I really needed some time to decompress... I don't know. What I do know is that I miss that feeling of hope and accomplishment that I had when I was staying on-plan and losing weight. I HATE the feeling of vague discontentment and guilt that has been following me around for the past several weeks.
To quote Chicken Little in the more recent Disney film, "Today is a New Day!!" The journey is never smooth and easy, but it is an adventure. My pit stop is over, the train is leaving the station, and I am Back on Track!! Woo Woo!!!


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