Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Interesting topic. This is an informal poll on the breast cancer site. How old were you when diagnosed with breast cancer?

Hanging in there

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”

John Quincy Adams

It is not clearing up as quickly as I would like. I am not as patient as I would like either. I want to feel better already. I am getting a little impatient. My gym called today to tell me they had a special on renewal. It was a typical sales call. But, it really upset me. My gym membership is currently on medical hold. Prior to all of this I went there 3 - 4 times a week to swim. The gym is next door to my work so I can go on my lunch. They also have babysitting so I can go there on my days off. After I hung up with the sales person it occurred to me that I am unlikely to go there to swim anytime soon. I realized I probably can't wear a bathing suit. I will look like a freak. I have breasts that are about four inches different in height and completely different sizes. I get by now because I can raise one side of the bra up high and wear heavy clothes. Tough to do in a bathing suit.

I am having some severe GI disturbances and ended up having an accident at work. No one ever would have known (small issue) but it was enough to overwhelm me. I wonder sometimes why I keep trying to go to work when no one would be surprised if I opted to stay home and sleep instead.

My babysitter called and said she might not be able to take Julianna tomorrow because her house got flooded due to the 5 inches of rain we had in the last two days. I would actually welcome taking the day off. I would like to hang out with Julianna, do laundry and pack for Florida.

Two more days until Florida. I can't wait. Sun and family are just what I need. Thanks everyone for the support.

Monday, March 29, 2010

DR. Citron

I made it to work today and I seem to be functioning! I had my appointment with Dr. Citron. He is usually running on time so I can go on my lunch. He congratulated me on finishing the treatment. It was actually pretty difficult. I am still fighting off side effects. He said my counts are pretty low and that I need to take iron (again).

He is sending me to an opthamologist because of a weird side effect that I had. I got this blue flashing light in my right eye. It kind of looked like how your eye responds when you look at a bright light. The only problem is that I didn't look at a bright light. It was blue and flickering and took up almost the whole field of vision in my right eye. If I closed my eye it was still there. It lasted a few hours but then went away and it hasn't come back. Dr. Citron said it could be from the taxotere but it is certainly not a common side effect. It could also be a migraine, even without a bad headache. (I didn't know you can have migraines without bad headaches. He says yes.) It could be something completely different so he wants me to get my eye checked to rule that out. My guess is that it is from the chemo. Taxotere has tons of neuro side effects and I seem to have gotten them all.

My knees and elbows are pretty swollen. He thinks it should go down soon. My right elbow is particularly bad. I am having trouble picking things up. If I have a small soda I am ok but if I have a large I need two hands to hold it. I can't pick a large soda up with just my right hand. He thinks it should resolve soon. I hope so because I am going to need to carry things in the airport on Thursday.

I had a small lump under my right breast. He checked that and said it was scar tissue from the reconstruction. That was a load off. He said the cancer is very unlikely to recur while it is actively being treated. He said that is why so many people get very depressed when their chemotherapy ends. I am not depressed that chemo is over. I am thrilled and I will be even happier when I start feeling better. I have herceptin until December and I am unlikely to recur while that is ongoing too. Maybe when that is over I will get depressed, but somehow I doubt it. I just want my life back.

I don't have to see Dr. Citron again for 3 months. I have to get the herceptin every three weeks. I also have to go for another MUGA scan in April. They have to make sure the herceptin is not effecting my heart. My MUGA scans have been great so far.

Thanks everyone for all the support. I could not have gotten through this without everyone's help. And, I still have a full head of hair!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Moving Along

I am still not feeling that great. Usually by this time I am starting to get a lot better. I hope I progress a lot by tomorrow because I really need to go to work. The last time I tried (last week) I wasn't too successful.

Julianna is at the aquarium. I am sure she is having a great time. She does love fish. She is having a great time with Rosanne and Dennis and doing tons of fun stuff. She is trying lots of new things and being spoiled rotten. It is really great but I do miss her.

I can't wait until it is warmer and I am a little better so I can get outside and start walking. I need to get moving and take control a little. Smudge and Julianna love when we go walking. It is really good for everyone. I also need to practice because I am going to walk a 35 mile breast cancer walk in June. It will be a good way to raise money and get in shape.

Thanks everyone for all the support!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Last Time

I am home getting over this round, trying to climb out of the chemo hole. I am having a lot of muscle and joint pain and still nauseous all these days later. All in all I am feeling pretty bad. They told me this one might be pretty bad because of the cumulative effects. It doesn't really clear out before they put more in and that can make for a tougher time. I am really feeling sorry for the people who do 8 treatments, or more.

It is kind of crummy and cold here today. It is nothing like the beautiful weekend we had last week. I am really glad Julianna and I enjoyed the weather so much when we could.

Thanks everyone! Almost finished :)

Big guns, kind of like chemo but not on a cellular level.

Biting the bullet, really
Fighting cancer, 45

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sick but Happy

I am pretty sick. I went to the doctor yesterday and they gave me intravenous hydration and iv anti-nausea medication. It really didn't help that much. I am getting chills and sweats, numbness, twitching, nausea, stomach pain, joint pain, muscle pain, coughing, metal mouth among other things. Despite all this I am so happy because I know this is the last time!!!! This time when I get better I don't have to go back to feeling bad again. It is such a load off that I can't even express it.

My friend Rosanne was gracious enough to take Julianna for the weekend again. Julianna has a bit of a cold. It makes me sad to leave her, especially when she is not feeling her best, but I know I really can't do it. I am sure she will have an awesome time. I am sure I will be a lot better when she comes home on Sunday.

Julianna admiring the beautiful shoes Aunt Alice Anne made for her.
Julianna LOVES shoes! She didn't get it from me. Her Momma wears combat boots to work.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chemo #6

Today was my last chemo. My friend Cathy came to help with the cap. It went ok but I was really nauseous throughout the treatment. They gave me a lot of meds to help with that. I was very happy to get the Cold Caps off and to be finished with them. I am also thrilled that they saved me hair.

I am hoping the next week isn't too bad. This time I know when I start feeling better it will be for good. Yippie!

Thanks everyone for all the support!

Me getting the last chemo
Trying to read

Cathy with the thermometers

Cathy with a cold cap

Cathy wearing a cold cap

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Earth laughs in flowers. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today is the day before chemo. It is usually super stressful for me. We went to get the ice because the appointment tomorrow is a little earlier than usual. I was afraid there wouldn't be enough time in the morning since the dry ice place opens at 10.

I have tons of things to do. Clean the house, do laundry, etc, etc. I blew them all off and went to the nursery to buy pansies and then put them in. Julianna loved the nursery. She just kept saying, "OOOOH, flowers!" A girl after my own heart. We bought six flats of pansies. Julianna had her overalls on and her own shovel. As I put the pansies in she followed me and dug them up. It was super cute but after awhile I gave up and put her in for a nap. While she napped I got them all in. They are at my house, my neighbor's house, in pots, hanging baskets and in the garden we made in the empty land across the street. I find that gardening really chills me out. It thrills me to see all the color after they are all in. So, it eased my mind, kept me busy and it looks really good.

I am so glad the groundhog was wrong and we got an early spring. You know what they say, never trust a rodent! Happy spring everyone.

I made this digital scrappage of Julianna about a year ago. She is about 7 months old here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fun Day Celebrating Spring

Julianna and I had a great day. We went to White Post Farms. We saw the Easter Bunny. She calls him Big Rabbit. I told her his name is Easter bunny and she just says, "Oh, Big Rabbit". True enough I guess. We also played in a giant sandbox, fed baby goats and sheep, went on a pony ride, a train ride and enjoyed the beautiful 70 degree day.

I like to do something really nice with her the weekend before the chemo because I won't see her at all next weekend. I will be too sick to do much. Tomorrow I start my steroids. Monday is the chemo. The last one!!! I am thrilled that the last one is finally here. I am nervous about it too. Cancer almost never recurs while a person is actively being treated with chemotherapy. Once it stops the risk of recurrence starts too. I will still be getting infusions of herceptin until December so that will help reduce that risk.

They say you can never really say you are cured from breast cancer unless you die in old age of something else. It can be a sneaky little bastard that hides for years and then jumps out of nowhere to let you know it still has some power. I know a lot of breast cancer survivors who are doing great. My stepmother Betty is a ten year survivor. She says you worry less and less about it over time.

I guess life is all about worry. If you have cancer you worry about it coming back. If you don't have cancer you worry that you might get it. You worry about your kids, your bills, your family. Like Gilda Radner said, "It's Always Something."

I hope everyone enjoyed this beautiful day as much as we did!!!

Julianna in the giant sandbox

Julianna on her first pony ride.

Julianna and Big rabbit

More Big Rabbit

Julianna on our couch before we went out

Monday, March 15, 2010

Good Weekend

We had a crazy nor'easter this weekend. According to Newsday we had 2.39 inches of rain and 67 mph winds. My whole neighborhood looks like a war zone. Tons of trees are down and all kinds of things were blowing around. We lost power for about 10 hours. Despite all that we actually had a really nice weekend. Julianna and I went to the mall. We played in the indoor playground and saw the koi pond. We ate out and saw the Easter bunny.

On the weekends I feel good it is really important to me that Julianna and I have some fun together and do something special. I find I can do a lot but I have a really hard time getting motivated and getting going. That never used to be an issue for me and I hope it goes away soon. I am feeling a lot better. I am still somewhat achy and have numbness and pain to my hands. My face is puffy and a little yellow. Julianna and I had pictures taken and I kind of freaked when I saw how I look. Somehow in a picture it is so much more obvious than in the mirror. I don't know how long after the chemo it will take for me to get back to normal. My doctor says six months at least. I had planned on about six days. I will still have herceptin infusions every three weeks until December. However, I plan to get moving long before that is over.

My hair is hanging in there. LOL. It really does look pretty good. I did have a minor bit of thinning but nothing much. I am thrilled about that. One more time with the cold caps and I can send them back. I do get a little nauseous when I open the freezer and see them. I am happy that they worked but I will be happy to be finished with them too.

Thanks everyone!!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chugging Along

I have been feeling better each day. Tuesday morning was a bit tough. I put Julianna in the car. She threw her sippy cup out. I leaned over to pick it up and got really lightheaded. I grabbed the car door to steady myself and hit myself in the head with it. I now have a laceration and big bump on my forehead. Ugghh.

Other things are better. I had a meeting with some top people at LIJ to talk about what happened with my surgery. They said they dropped the ball. They reported it to NY State as a grievous medical error. They apologized profusely. The medical director said he came in the morning it happened and was informed of it. He said he was told a woman lost a reconstructed breast yet had been complaining to staff all night that it was not right and was not listened to. He said there must be more to it. They did a thorough investigation. He said he was dismayed to find out it did happen.

They told me they are making changes so something like this can't happen again. They are developing a system where a patient or patient's family can call for a rapid response team if they feel they aren't getting the proper care. They are doing more training. These things are great but they don't change my outcome. My chemo was delayed for over a month. I hope that will never be a problem but I will never know. I have a lot more surgery ahead of me that I wouldn't have needed if all went well. The reconstruction will never look right.

So, I am happy that they were open and honest. I am happy that they admitted that they were wrong. This doesn't change what happened, but I hope it can stop it from happening to someone else.

Monday, March 8, 2010

DR. Citron

Do not knock on Death's door. Ring the bell and run like hell. He hates that.

I went to Dr. Citron today.I was able to go on my lunch break. My white count is good. My red blood cells, hemoglobin and hematocrit are pretty bad. I had an idea that this was the case. My blood pressure is also very low.

I have been having the side effects but they are not as profound this time as they were last time. I still have facial twitching, stomach pain, GI disturbances, numbness in hands and feet, achiness, pain in joints, bleeding from nose, mouth and rest of GI tract. They are all there but less intense than last time. I realized why that is. He lowered the dose! I forgot. So its not as bad. For instance, I still have stomach pain but I am not curled up in a ball and unable to move because of it. I can carry on. Very good. Dr. Citron was surprised that I am working, especially when he saw the blood counts. He said this is a terrible chemo regimen and I have been bombarded by very high doses of it. I must say that it has been much harder then I thought it would be. I rarely say that about anything.

He asked how I was feeling and my answer was "better than yesterday." I also figure, not as good as tomorrow. I know it will now keep getting better until we do it all again. But that will be the last time!! The days are getting warmer, spring is coming and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Julianna is home

My little Julianna is home. I missed her so. She had a great time visiting with Rosanne and Dennis and her three adopted big brothers. She tried ketchup and peanut butter and onion rings for the first time. Loved them all. She did lots of fun things. It was great for me too because I really needed the rest.

I am feeling better than last time but I realize I overestimate what I can do. Taking a shower wipes me out. Standing for 10 to 15 minutes is very difficult. Tomorrow I see Dr. Citron and he will check my blood counts. I am guessing they will be pretty low. But hey, you never know.

My hair is holding up great. It is the one battle I am getting to win and it is great. My chemo drugs are taxotere, carboplatin and herceptin. I had heard that taxotere can cause permanent hair loss. I heard this right before my cousins told me they were collecting for the cold caps. It is a pretty scary thought. I have just been sent an article about this. I am posting the link:

My chemo office kept saying, "What's the big deal? It grows back." Oh, maybe not. I don't have to worry about the possibility of it not coming back since I never lost it. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!!!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Getting Better

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer

Yesterday was bad. Today was a lot better. I am getting better faster this time than last time. That is great. I still have all the side effects but I feel more energetic then I usually do at this point.

Julianna is having a great time! My friend Rosanne has been sending me photo messages of all the things she is doing. She had fries at McDonald's, went to the aquarium, went to a winery, took a bath, played with a kimoto dragon and played and played and played. I miss her but I am happy that she is doing fun things.

I have to do another neupagen shot tonight to bring up my blood counts. I am hoping that will give me even more energy. Each day gets better. Thanks to everyone for all the help and inspiration. Its all the positive energy that is pulling me through!

Friday, March 5, 2010


I went to the doctor for hydration today. I was there for a little over two hours while they infused fluid. I felt a little better after, but my blood pressure didn't come up very much. I am still having tons of side effects. I know this weekend will be bad, but by Monday I should start feeling better.

Julianna is visiting my friends Rosanne and Dennis for the weekend. She will be treated like a little princess. I am sure she will have a great time but I miss her already.

Julianna and I booked airline tickets to visit everyone in Florida for Easter. I am not sure who will be there but we can't wait to see them. At first it didn't look like we would be able to do it because it was $900 for the two of us. I had won some tickets back in August. Southwest airlines, round trip, no blackout. I called them and we are on!! I will be finished with my chemo by then so it will be a good way to celebrate. Yippie!!

Thanks everyone for all the help, prayers, good thoughts and everything else. I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Moving Along

I made it through the work day today. I am feeling nausea, twitching, fatigue and GI disturbances. I am taking off tomorrow. I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon for an expander fill. The steroids usually wear off by Thursday so other side effects start.

My babysitter was kind enough to feed Julianna. That helps on these long hard days just after the chemo. Everyone has been really great and I really appreciate that! Thanks so much !!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tough Day

Today was a tough day. I managed to make it through my work day. It was hard. Last night I was unable to sleep due to the steroids. I got about two hours. I did feel pretty energetic then and managed to pack up a bunch of baby clothes. I finally was able to sleep at about 4 am. I am supposed to get up at 5:30 but didn't get up until 6. During the day I was tired, nauseous and had pretty bad heartburn. The steroids also make me hot and puffy and sometimes cold. It is weird how it makes temperature regulation difficult.

I did make it through the work day and that was tough but I did it. I am working tomorrow too. I took off Thursday and have a doctor appointment. Friday is my day off but I have an appointment for hydration that day. Thursday I start the neupagen to try to raise my white counts. My red was bad when I did this chemo so it is possible I may need something for that too. This will be a first if I do.

Julianna is in bed and I am hoping to follow along shortly.

The chemos are getting a bit harder because I am not recovering as well in between.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Birthday to Alice Anne

Happy Birthday Alice Anne

I hope you had an awesome day today. It was great seeing you yesterday. Enjoy many more!!
This is a vegan cake!!

Chemo #5

Chemo #5 was today. I was really dreading this one. I went to Roosevelt to get the dry ice. The guy who runs that also has a food bank that he runs out of his store. He feeds 130 families. I worked the ambulance in Roosevelt for some time and it is a tough area. There is a lot of poverty and hunger. When I worked there I did a lot of baby deliveries and a lot of shootings. It is about 10 minutes from my house, but I remember thinking, "We're not in Kansas anymore."
It is nice that he takes the time to do the food bank. I bought some things and some of my friends bought some things for me to bring too. I hope to collect more to bring on my last chemo.

My friend Rosanne arrived on time as always. Rosanne and Lori helped me pack the cooler. We left and went to eat before the chemo.

I got there and started the drugs. They drew my blood to check the counts. They are all pretty low, but not low enough to stop the chemo. It is tough when the counts start low because it is a fact that they will go much lower. I also had a period of palpitations and PVCs. They are sure it is from the decadron but want me to follow up with my regular doctor just in case. Other than those things the chemo went pretty well. I felt a little nauseous by the time we were leaving.

We went to the diner on the way home. I had the cold cap on so people were staring a bit. I had some soup since I felt that was all I could handle. We got back to my house where Colleen was staying with Julianna. I got the cold cap off and it sure felt great.

I am chilling out now. I spoke to my Dad and Betty and discussed the possibility of going down there with Julianna for Easter. I am unsure if we can do it but I am going to try.

Thanks everyone for the constant support. It is greatly appreciated. I have a bunch of phone calls and emails to return and I will as soon as I can.

Me holding up the #5 bag. Chemo #5
Closer view

Rosanne and I at the infusion place.

Rosanne and I. My face is super puffy from the steroids.