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Saturday, April 30, 2005

So I had to include this picture of me and my sitz bath because I have been told over and over by one of my doctors that I HAD to get this and use it. As you can see, I am using it.

3 Weeks to Go

I had my surgery three weeks ago this past Friday. I have three more weeks off of work, three more weeks until I can lift the girls (or anything over 10 pounds), three more weeks of too much thinking. Have you ever had that happen? I think I do better with stressful situations when I can bury my head in the sand, or work, or whatever and just not think. As you may or may not have guessed, there are some issues going on that have got my wheels turning, so, now I will share them with you in the event that you want to say a prayer for us etc.

Where to start....ok, about 5 or 6 weeks ago, my legs started hurting from below my knees all the way into my toes. It started out pretty mild, no big deal, but now is at a point where when the pain is at it's worst, I can feel each individual toe, and it sucks. So I went to my local doctor. She ran a B12, Lupus, Lyme's Disease, and an arthritis blood test. They all came back negative. You may be thinking to yourself, "Well, that's good news!" and it is, but it isn't since I have no clue what is causing the pain. One of my pet peeves in life is taking medication that covers what the cause of the pain is, so I am hesitant to do that, and really am a doctor's worst nightmare.....go ahead and ask any of them. So, where to go from here, you ask? I will tell you....

I called my oncologist to talk about a few things with him, mostly to talk about the results of the study that came out this past week dealing with the treatment of breast cancer. Here's the scoop on are given a pathology report about your cancer that tells what stage you are, tells it's characteristics, sizes of the tumors etc. One of the things that gets tested with breast cancer is if you are her2 positive or not. Here's a little definition I found.....
What does it mean to be HER2-positive?

Each healthy breast cell contains two copies of the HER2 gene, which contribute to normal cell function. If something goes wrong in our bodies, a change can occur that causes too many copies of a certain gene to appear. This is referred to as gene amplification. If extra copies of the HER2 gene appear in a cell, the gene can cause too many HER2 proteins, or receptors, to appear on the cell surface. This is referred to as HER2 protein overexpression. Patients who are considered HER2-positive have HER2 gene amplification or HER2 protein overexpression. Cancers with too many copies of the HER2 gene or too many HER2 receptors tend to grow fast. They are also associated with an increased risk of spread.

Ok, so I tested positive for her2. It's a double edged sword...bad because of what is said above, good because I can be treated with Herceptin for a recurrence, if I have one. If I were her2 negative, I could not use Herceptin. The study that just came out basically said, if Herceptin works so well for a recurrence, how about trying it before that happens, almost as a preventative. And the results were pretty good. There are a lot of factors though, such as, a lot of the women were node positive (meaning cancer was found in the lymph nodes), which I was not. I talked with my onc about this, and he said that the American Cancer Institute is telling them to treat women who are her2 positive and have had chemo within the last 6 months with Herceptin. Next month will be 10 months since I finished chemo, and as my doctor said I fall into the grey area....again. It seems like everything with this damn cancer and I falls in the grey area. So, we will be talking more about that next month at my 3 month check. He did say that Herceptin is given weekly for a year. Something we would have to weigh out I guess.

Then I asked him about numbers. I wanted to hear what the chances of me getting cancer again would be. Some people want to know, some don't. I do. And here is what he said...

If I only had done surgery and radiation, there would be a 60% chance of the cancer coming back within 10 years. Lovely. But don't worry, I did more than just that.

I had surgery (twice), did chemo, radiation, and am taking a daily pill called Tamoxifen for about another 4 years. By doing all of that I dropped my rate down to 30%. Hmmm...seems to me that with how much I have done, how much I have been through, that number should be lower. And yes, I understand that there is a 70% chance that I will not get cancer again, and that is a high number, school that was barely a C. Am I being too negative? Realistic? Stupid? God, I don't know anymore.

So, that's that. I asked for numbers and got them. There's something to be said about honesty, and that is what my doctors have been with me. What more could you ask for? Nothing, I suppose. I will close for now, that's most of the stuff that's been on my brain for the past few days, and it's nice to get them off of my chest. Onward and upward......

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

You Can Call Me Frankenboob

I am two and a half weeks out of surgery and still doing pretty well. I have felt a little more sore the past few days, but still nothing like I thought it would be. So my plastic surgeon had me putting paper medical tape on my incisions...something about not being able to see the scars as much down the road. I have to laugh. My body really just looks like a road map, what does it matter at this point? From my boobs, to my tummy, to below my throat where the biopsy was to where the port was near my right shoulder. Lines everywhere. But, what one must keep in mind is, at least I am alive to look like a road map.

I am trying to keep my positive attitude up and running, but some days are worse than others. I have my next 3 month check next month, and that always brings a lot of feelings to the surface. Someone Dion works with is going to be having a biopsy done soon, and it just makes me so sad to think of that. I just keep meeting more and more people who are dealing with this disease one way or another and really, it's starting to piss me off a little bit (sorry about the language if you are offended). So, in honor of being pissed, sad, scared, and frustrated, here is my tribute to my "I hate cancer" fanclub.....come and join us for some b*tching!

When it comes to cancer, I hate.....

....needles. They hurt, they make my stomach drop, and I do an involuntary shiver when I think of them.

....when a doctor refers to something as a procedure. When I hear this terminology, I look for an exit. It's true. I had a nurse yell at me once when I stood up and went for the door.

....the fact that now my girls are at a higher risk of getting cancer. Blame game? Maybe, but how do you not?

....the fact that my husband has had to sit and watch cancer invade his life through me.

....narcotics. They hate me too, so it's fair. flashes. I used to think that they wouldn't be that bad since I am normally pretty cold, but oh my lord! I carry a little fan around in my purse with me. I can hardly wait until summer.

....being on 6 payment plans with two hospitals and four different medical offices.

....the unknown. Ok, I know that is generic, but I REALLY don't like it.

....the fact that my body feels like it's about 80 years old instead of 30. 30?!? When did THAT happen (Shut it Beth, you are still older than me!)?

....taking pills every day. Hell, I can hardly remember my name in the morning, let alone remember to take those pills!

....CT scans. Not the scan itself, but they inject something into you and I swear to God it feels like you just peed your pants. I was happy they warned me about that, because I think I would have cried at the thought that I had just peed on the table.

....cancer. Enough said.

Ok, I guess that's it for now. I asked Dion what were the things I complained about the most, and he didn't have a whole lot to offer to the conversation. He did say that maybe I should point out the positives too, but I told him that I had already done that before. Besides, we all have the right to get angry now and again, and today, I am angry. Or at least not too happy. But tomorrow is a new day, and thank God for that. Have a good one!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Here's Claire, me and Nadia, attempting a group picture.

Two Weeks Ago Today

Well, I have to admit that I feel much better than I thought I would. I really thought that I would have to be in bed most of the time, in constant pain, blah blah blah, but it has been the opposite, for the most part.

Don't get me wrong, there were times of a lot of pain, but that was mostly when I was in the hospital. I seemed to have more problems there, than I have had at home (knock on wood). I was brought to tears a few times from the pain, I had an allergic reaction to we think the morphine, I spiked a 102 fever one night (my normal is 97, once it was 96.3...really, are you surprised?), and we won't talk about what general anesthetic and narcotics do to a person's digestive system except to say that I was saved by what my friend refers to as the Sophie Bomb (Sophie is her grandma who has concocted the bomb out of 4 oz prune juice and 2 tablespoons of Milk of Mag. She really should paten it or something. And might I add that "bomb" is a very accurate word.) So, because of my lack of digestion issues, I ended up staying 6 days instead of 4.

I had my first check yesterday, and was given the green light to drive...ha ha ha..get it? Green light? Drive? Come on! That's kind of funny! Anyway, I still have 4 weeks until I can lift the girls, which is a hard thing not to do. I get yelled at enough around here for anything I lift....plates, chairs, but my favorite is Claire's foam chair. It's foam. Enough said.

Ok, I will end for now. Claire decided that it would be a good idea to get up at 6 this morning, and now we are going to watch Charolette's Web, which really is not a very uplifting story, and quite frankly, I think she can be a little mean at times. But Claire said she wanted to watch "the pig" so we will. Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers for me these past few weeks. I know that is why I am doing as well as I am.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Year Ago I Stopped Biting My Nails....

And now I have 3 long nails remaining....for now. Just thought I would share.

Ok, are they REALLY sisters?

Holy cats!

So, instead of my list of things to do getting smaller, it seems to just keep growing! Today I am off to Mayo to get my for everyone involved. Tomorrow night my work is taking me out for a nice dinner and a couple hundred drinks, Thursday night Dion and I are going to go see a movie (that's right, I said see a movie. I can't remember the last one we saw in a theater), and at the crack of dawn on Friday I go to the hospital. Throw into all of that mix working, taking care of the girls, laundry, cleaning, yadda yadda yadda, and the fun just does not stop.

I have my hospital bed ordered, I am in the process of putting my shower chair together, I need some extra pillows, but never fear! I have stocked up on goodies, and just call me Betty Crocker since I made brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal cookies yesterday. It's almost like nesting when you are about to have a child, except I am getting new boobs. I call it "B-Day". Ok, I have to leave in about 15 minutes, and I want to post a picture of the girls, so I better stop for now. Say a prayer for me, or think good thoughts, whatever you do for those you love.