Such an ominous title. Luckily, it just means that I didn’t post for quite a while. I have been happily divorced for over a year. But, don’t worry, Scott has already remarried. That would be his fourth marriage. (Can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?) I was hesitant to post before the divorce was final for fear he would use my words against me in front of a judge or during mediation.
I believe that stress was a one of the causes of my cancer. Both my job and my marriage were extremely stressful. I was constantly worried I was going to lose my job. This was due to the fact that I can be very opinionated sometimes and sometimes my opinions aren’t welcome. I stayed there for about five and a half years. During the same time, Scott was constantly threatening to divorce me. I previously posted about my current job which I still love. I also posted about Scott moving out and taking Marissa with him. I was not able to get Marissa back during the mediation. Learn from my mistake – if you EVER find yourself in such a situation, please don’t let your children leave no matter how sick and weak you are. As my legal counsel said, by letting her move out, I set a precedence for how things would be going forward. This was a terrible, terrible mistake.
So, what have I been up to in regards to my cancer treatments. Here are some events that happened that I thought might want to know about.
- For about half of 2015, I juiced or blended every morning. I took colloidal silver several times per year. I also took turmeric, B complex, D3, Fulvic Acid, etc, etc, etc.
- I had my amalgam fillings removed and replaced.
- I had surgery on my other breast to even things out.
- I began getting debilitating migraines which I still suffer from.
- I switched from one aromatase inhibitor to another and received shots in my belly for two years to keep me in menopause. (This was in an effort to rid myself of the migraines. The only change was that I quit throwing up in unexpected places – sorry neighbors, coworkers and friends.)
- Had a brain MRI to rule out brain cancer (December 2015). Passed with flying colors!! And no signs of dementia or altzheimer’s. (This gave me peace of mind since Scott was trying to convince me that I couldn’t remember anything and that I was going crazy. This is called Gaslighting. Look it up. It’s very interesting.)
- Worked with a physical therapist for about four months for the migraines.
- Was given an antidepressant to cope with the hot flashes (yes, it works ladies).
- I was diagnosed with osteoporosis (October 2016).
- Changed my ongoing treatment medication from the aromatase inhibitor to Tamoxifen (December 2016). Yay – no more pellet shots in my belly. The change was due to the osteoporosis diagnosis. According to my oncologist, I have the bones of a 90-year-old and I could crumble. But, I think he was exaggerating. Based on my research, I probably have the bones of an 80-year-old. (LOL) But, seriously, the likelihood that I will break a major bone in the next six years is great. Check out the FRAX app and enter your bone density numbers to see when you could break a hip.
- I have been seeing a neurologist for over a year. He has finally convinced me to quit drinking Diet Coke for good (which were widely available during my chemo treatments although sometimes warm). Diet Coke adversely affects bones and could contribute to migraines. I had been trying to give it up for years. My neurologist gave me a combo of prescriptions that helped me get through the withdrawals.
- I started taking another antidepressant to block the migraines. I’m not convinced that that one is working. I have to take that one at night and the other in the morning. However, I am no longer taking the one for hot flashes. This is mostly because I would forget to take them in the morning. If you are not aware of how antidepressants work, they usually take six weeks to work. So, if you miss some days (or week’s), it’s probably not working correctly.
- Declined the osteoporosis shot my oncologist wanted to give me. (More on this another time.)
- My diet, while not exactly where I want it to be (pure raw plant based – think Chris Wark), it is significantly better than it was before my cancer diagnosis. In addition to giving up Diet Coke, I focus on making better food choices each and every time. I no longer need chocolate every day. I eat a lot of fruit and veggies. I drink lemon water and then my Garden of Life green drink most mornings.
- I meditate most evenings with my kiddos although Ethan tries to rebel against it. I recommend the Calm app.
The last two years have had many ups and downs but I am happier and less stressed.
Today is the last day to sign up for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Salt Lake City for $25. Tomorrow it’s $35. I’ve been invited by two good friends to join their teams. The question is…should I do it? I would love to walk with these two ladies, visit with them and feel like I’m a part of a good cause. Plus, I would get a new pink t-shirt. And then I could say that I did it…once. That all sounds great, right? So, why am I conflicted, you ask? Because of where the money goes. I do not believe for one second that the money will go to PREVENTING breast cancer. The thought of someone else I know having to go through what I went through brings tears to my eyes. It saddened me when I would go to chemo and almost all of the chairs would be full. Women have been racing for the cure for decades now and there are more women than ever being diagnosed with this disease. They are not preventing anything. They are not curing anything. I wish they were.
I am weary of trying to get healthy. I juice, smoothie, try to sleep, supplement, fruits and veggies, vitamins and minerals, amino acids and hormones. Am I taking the right form with the right complimentary nutrient at the right time of day for maximum absorption…and that’s just scratching the surface. Studying cancer is exhausting and I was terrible at chemistry (which is why I went into Accounting). No one can tell me that I’m in remission and that I won’t be diagnosed again. In fact, my odds of being diagnosed again have increased due to the treatments I’ve already received. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret those treatments. I wouldn’t have made a different choice if it were presented to me now with the knowledge I’ve gained on the subject of cancer. I’m just saying that the odds are not in our favor if we keep “Racing for the Cure” instead of “Racing for Prevention.” Having said that, I cannot “Race”.
Happy cancerversary today!! I’m so excited to reach this milestone in my cancer journey. Today marks my one year anniversary of my diagnosis. It has been quite a year. My memories are a bit spotty on the days directly after getting chemo transfusions but I remember that evening so clearly. You can read all about it in my first blog post.The thoughts I remember having most are: oh no!! I need to do some research. Who do I tell? What am I going to do? My kids are so little. I cried and mourned. It was a busy evening so, I didn’t have too long to cry and mourn. 🙂
In the meantime, I will have to celebrate this day (with the exception of a five-minute dance party this morning – oh-yah), this weekend because I also have my reconstruction surgery today. And actually, that is another reason to celebrate because it’s another step in this process that I can check off the to-do list. And I love checking things off to-do lists.
Once again, I am extremely grateful for my family, friends and neighbors. They have been so wonderful and have taken care of me and my kids as I have fought this battle. I couldn’t have done so well without their help and encouraging words and support. Janet, my Mom and Brenda have been AWESOME and I love them very much!!
Reconstruction!! Yippy!! I have waited oh so long to have this surgery. The expander that I have been wearing for nearly a year bugs me. It’s too wide and I look like I have a shelf if I lift my arm. What’s up with that muscle anyway? I can only last about 5 minutes doing yoga and it is hilarious!! Long story short, I would say the pain level is a constant 1 since the last expansion which happened on October 31st.
So, this will be a happy surgery… if there is one. They call it an exchange. They are exchanging the expander for an implant. The surgery itself should only take about 90 minutes and it will be an outpatient surgery. I plan to take five days to recover and then back to work.
There are several kinds of reconstruction surgeries. Implant is one. I think most people are familiar with that one so I’m not going to explain it here. The TRAM flap is another option. This is where they take muscle, fat and skin from the belly or back and move it to create a new breast. The DIEP is a third option which is similar to the TRAM flap but doesn’t take the muscle. There are a few more options but these are the most popular. I seriously considered the DIEP but with my recent life events and my little ones, I chose the surgery that would be the easiest to recover and wouldn’t require quality time in the hospital or ICU (due to the tiny blood vessels they have to re-attach in the DIEP or the TRAM flap).
My sister, Brenda is coming from Denver to help me recover. I’m so excited that she will be here to support me this week and grateful to her for taking time off work. I know we will laugh and I can’t wait. Brenda and I are very much alike. At the same time, I am sad that my mom won’t be here. This will be the first time in my life that she won’t be present for such an event. She was always so supportive of each of us kids and her grandchildren and made every effort to be where she was needed most. We were very lucky to have her as a mom.
Ahhh remission. So elusive. What does remission mean, really. Well, the dictionary says: “a diminution of the seriousness or intensity of disease or pain; a temporary recovery.” Temporary recovery! What?!
Many people have asked if I’m in remission. The answer is: I don’t know. I last met with my oncologist in November 2014. I asked him if I could say that I’m in remission. He told me that he didn’t know for sure. I asked him if there were annual scans to see if the cancer had come back. He said that I would know based on symptoms and other signs that the cancer had metastasized to another part of my body before a scan would. This was a very depressing conversation for me. No doubt a needed conversation but very depressing. He stated that if I were to get cancer again, the treatments wouldn’t work as well. Breast cancer typically metastasizes to the bone, brain, liver or lungs.
After wallowing in the sadness for a few days (among other sad events in November – see previous posts), I started to do some research to determine alternative methods for preventing cancer. I read that I will have to significantly change my diet in order to survive.
The first thing that I learned was that sugar feeds cancer. I LOVE processed sugar. I love candy, treats, white bread, pastries, etc. I am in the process of removing processed sugar from my diet. This is quite a task because processed sugar seems to be in everything. I typically break down at the end of the day and have a little treat…with the exception of that one weekend when I ate a bag of Peanut M&M’s (and I’m not talking about the candy bar size). The second thing I will have to give up is Diet Coke. I will miss you, Diet Coke. 😦
Other changes I’m looking at are exercise, supplements, homeopathic medicine, yoga, etc. There will be other lifestyle changes that I will make. I will need to conquer processed sugar and Diet Coke first. Yet another Long and Winding Road for 2015.
There is no doubt that 2014 will be a memorable year for me. My hope is that I will never forget what I have learned this year. Perhaps I will go into the details of what I’ve learned in a future post. For today, I am looking to what 2015 will bring to me and my little ones.
When I was younger, I would do the traditional New Year’s resolutions and list all of the things I would do to improve myself spiritually, intellectually, financially, physically, etc. until one year when one of my college roommate’s and I decided, jokingly, to create a list of what we thought would happen to us over the next calendar year. We completed our wish lists before we left for our Christmas vacations. We threw out random events. Events we hoped for but truly thought would never happen. We laughed so hard about how ridiculous we were being that our sides hurt. We made our lists, folded and taped them up, and wrote on the outside not to open it until the next New Year’s Eve. I don’t recall my list, but I still remember my roommate’s list. Why? Because EVERY SINGLE THING ON HER LIST CAME TRUE. And I was thrilled for her. She is still one of my favorite people.
This year, I plan to make my New Year’s Wish List. I can’t tell you what it will say, of course, except that one wish will be related to cancer recovery. I will write it all down on a piece of paper, fold it, tape it shut and note on the outside “Do not open until December 31, 2015”.
Here’s to a healthy 2015!!
After seven months of wearing one of my wigs every day to work, I finally decided to be brave and wear my own hair. I use the term “my own hair” loosely because the hair that is growing in is (as described in previous posts) chemo hair. I now have curly dirty blonde hair that is very soft. As I understand it, it will take some time for the chemo curl to grow out. And since I don’t really know how to deal with curly hair, I will likely keep it short until I get my old color and texture back.
Before wearing my chemo hair to work, I definitely needed a haircut. The back of my hair was growing way faster than the top, the beginnings of a mullet. So, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I had my hair cut into a pixie cut. I never would have predicted I would be sporting a pixie cut right now when 2014 started.
It feels great to leave behind my wigs!! I love having peripheral vision again. It’s so nice not worry about whether my three-year-old is going to pull off my wig in public. Silver linings.