Follow by Email

Thursday, January 10, 2013

3 down...one to go!

Sorry I have been so neglectful of the blog lately. It is so easy to do a quick facebook update that doesn't require much thinking.

We made it through Christmas and New Years...not fun for me but Ryder enjoyed it and that is all that matters. The second round of chemo pretty much hammered me but I did get to have a wonderful meal with dear friends Andhi, Gretchen, Mateo and Sten and Nete. So great to catch up and laugh with old friends! I also got to go out for a very special dinner with my friends Danette and Zibby and as an added bonus we got to see our favorite friends from Portland! Kate and Colin and their two beautiful daughters came up to Seattle for a wedding and we got to spend an entire afternoon with them. Pure bliss! We miss and love them so much!! I was also able to take Ry to go see the Wizard of Oz at the Seattle Children's Theater with Jennifer, Reese, Finn (Bethany's kid) and Marlene (aka Tutu). That was really fun and it was a great production. Other than that, I hardly left the house. Pathetic. The fatigue is really quite amazing, like nothing I've ever experienced. I still had all the bone/joint pain from the Nuelasta shot but this time I was armed with Dilaudid (hard core). It works but it also leaves me weepy, fuzzy, and out of it. That mixed with the anti nausea drugs and many days are a bit of a blur.

Just this Wednesday (1/9) I had round number 3 which means I only have 1 left to go!!! The end is in sight!!! The next couple of weeks will be rough but I know what to expect and at least I don't have the added pressure of the holidays. We can see this is taking a toll on Ryder and that breaks my heart. We can't even wrap our heads around what's going on...how can a 5 year old? Especially when he doesn't have the language to express what he feels. We've just seen more acting out and obstinance than usual. But he did get to start ski lessons this last Saturday and he loves it!! I know it's only a matter of time and everything will get back to normal and we can get back to being a normal family. That day will come soon.

The drugs are starting to set in and make me sleepy...I'm off to be a hermit for the next couple of weeks.As always, thank you for all the prayers, well wishes, help, and love. I feel the power of it everyday and it has been a lifesaver for me. I love you all so much! I truly am so blessed with the friends and family I have.Thank you.

Some random photos...

Off to see Santa and ride the carousel
Merry Christmas!
 Wizard of Oz with friends!
Happy New Year Seattle beach style (FREEZING)!

Amazing dinner with friends Danette and Zibby!!

Ryder's first ski lesson!

Round 3 underway

BALD!!

My last, yes LAST treatment is on January 30th. I cannot wait!!! Who is ready to celebrate with me?

Happy 2013...it's going to be a great one!!
Always love,
Brandy


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

Feeling better now and excited to celebrate Christmas with my favorite boys. Grateful and blessed.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Halfway done!

I'm super glad to be halfway done with this chemo. Going into this second round with the stomach flu was not ideal but hey, I'm surviving. Feeling pretty down today...weepy, emotional, sad. I really hate all this. Christmas is right around the corner and I feel so unprepared yet I have no energy to do anything about it. I've made no cookies. We haven't even taken Ry to go see Santa yet. Ugh. I'm just frustrated. I'm completely  bald now too. I know I'm just having a down day and it will pass. Chin up, B! You can do this!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Side effects are real...damn.

Today I feel like crap. That Neulasta shot has made my whole body hurt...specifically my jaw, teeth, ears, head, chest, hips, legs, ribs, lower back, shins...yeah pretty much all over. Mouth sores a little bit too. I don't want to be whiny and down but sometimes reality is reality. This too shall pass. FUCK CANCER.

Friday, November 30, 2012

One down - three to go

Wednesday was my first chemo treatment...a day of many firsts. It was a loooong day too.

10:45am arrive at lab for blood withdraw and to have my port accessed. For those of you not in the know, I have what is called a Port-A-Cath. It is an implanted venous access device placed completely under the skin below my collar bone with the catheter of the port sitting inside a large central vein just above my heart. So cyborg. But it does make things easier. I have a special numbing cream that I put on my skin above the port about an hour before and when she stuck the needle in, I hardly felt it. Then then can do blood draws and feed me all the poison medicine through my port. Dummies still drew blood from my arm...oh, you have a port? Sorry.

Next we met with Dr. Kaplan who basically gave me a pep-talk and told me everything was going to be fine...I was going to be fine. Talked about the drugs that I would be getting, drugs I would need to take at home.

Finally down to the treatment center to get all plugged in and ready to go!
This was my view. I was surrounded on all sides with people, just a curtain partition between us. There was a tv on the ceiling (yes on the ceiling - I will have to remember to take a picture of that next time). Lots of nurses working in a team. First I was given Benadryl and a Pepcid orally and some Ativan to call my nerves. Next they hooked me into the big machine!
First they give you a bunch of anti-nausea meds and steroids: Decadron, Emend, Aloxi. And then the big guns start!
Cytoxan and Taxotere.

This all takes a very long time. I think I was there for at least 4 hours. But it wasn't unpleasant and my spirits were up.
I got a free foot massage as well! Some guy named Wesley who is a massage therapist on another floor comes around when he doesn't have any patients and gives free hand and foot massages. It was great but it was way more entertaining to hear him give one to the little old man that was behind a curtain next to me. He was so excited and thankful - it was way too cute!

I came home feeling good and with an appetite. I ate dinner, did normal stuff and went to bed. The next day I had to go in for my Neulasta shot which stimulates the growth of white blood cells. It was a shot in the STOMACH!! Yuk yuk yuk. And it kind of hurt! I think I was still a bit on a steroid high but then totally crashed around noon. I slept from about 1:00-5:00pm and I had the best snuggle buddy ever!

I've been eating little bits, taking my anti-nausea meds and trying to stay ahead of the game. I'm tired. Like really, really, really tired. I don't feel great but I don't feel horrible either. A little bit of an upset tummy and kinda achy. I'll live.

Sorry if this post is a little all over the place - that ativan makes my head a little wonky! And I'm tired and I'm about to go take yet another nap. As always, thank you everybody for your heart felt well wishes and thoughts of encouragement and love!! Gives me such power and strength to have you all behind me. A special thank you to my husband; I love you so much, thank you for taking such good care of me and Ryder. You're my rock.

Round two on December 19th!




Monday, November 19, 2012

Facts of (my) Life

Many of you are wondering about my chemo, I am wondering about chemo side effects. Yes, I am having chemo, followed by five years of hormone therapy. Chemo begins on November 28th! We decided to let me enjoy Thanksgiving food and start a week later. Always a bright side! As far as chemo goes I am getting a very standard breast cancer treatment called TC (Taxotere and Cyclophosphamide), I will have a total of four doses - one every three weeks. I will also be receiving a shot of Neulasta a day after each chemo round (this is to boost your white blood cell count). Everyone is different and reacts to chemo differently...I can only hope for the best. I will for sure lose my hair which I why I recently chopped it off. I love short hair ON OTHER PEOPLE. On me, not so much. Seriously, I'm almost looking forward to being bald after this haircut. (I'm sure I will regret saying that) Small potatoes...hair grows back. A very dear friend recently told me that after she went through this (cancer-chemo-hair loss) that she never has a bad hair day - she's just happy to have hair! From everything I've read I should lose my hair 10-14 days after my first round (probably the week of December 10th for those of you keeping track) and it should start growing back 6-8 weeks after my last round of chemo (last dose slated for January 30th). That's the part that kills me - that it takes so long after you're done with chemo to start growing back! There are many other side effects that I most likely could be plagued with...nails, skin, digestive, the list goes on and on. Like I said, I'm hoping for the best and will deal with whatever comes my way (no other choice).

I also wanted to share my final pathology diagnosis for those of you who may be interested. This is typed word for word from my report.

Left Breast, Simple Mastectomy:
Infiltrating carcinoma with the following features:
Size: 2.2 x 2 x 1.5 cm
Histologic type: Ductal of no special type
Histologic grade: High (3 of 3)
Nottingham grade: 8 of 9
Tubule formation: Poor (3 of 3)
Nuclear grade: High (3 of 3)
Mitotic rate: Intermediate (2 of 3)
Lymph-vascular invasion: present

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) with the following features:
Histologic type: Cribriform
Nuclear grade: Intermediate
Necrosis: Absent
Calcifications: Absent
Estimated size/extent of DCIS: Low volume DCIS (primarily in the tissue surrounding the infiltrating carcinoma, extending up to 1cm lateral from main mass)

Summary of lymph node status from all ipsilateral parts of this case combined:
Number of nodes: Four total nodes
Positive Nodes: No (0/4) total nodes positive for matastatic carcinoma in this case

Skin: Present, uninvolved
Nipple: Present, involved by DCIS in large ducts in deep nipple
Skeletal muscle: Present, uninvolved

Pathologic stage: pT2, pN0 (i-) (sn) [translation: primary tumor is a grade 2 and no sentinel lymph node metastasis histologically, negative morphological findings for isolated tumor cells)

Estrogen receptor: ER+ 95%
Progesterone receptor: PR + 80%
HER-2/neu: Negative (score of 1+)

So that's that on my big ol' nasty tumor!! It wasn't huge but it was kinda bad-ass; there was cancer in my nipple...in my nipple people! Good riddance, I tell ya.

I'm doing okay post surgery. It feels weird and not normal. Mostly it is unbelievably frustrating for me to not have 100% mobility. I'm doing my recommended stretches and exercise but everything is so tight and then just explodes with muscle spasms. My neck/back/shoulders have been really sore because no matter how hard I try, I just carry myself different. I wear my foob (fake boob) when I go out but that feels weird too - somehow it feels in the way (?) so I usually don't wear it at home. I did get a lovely (and rather large) soft, knitted foob from my friend Nete. I never knew she thought of me as so well endowed but I love it (and her) just the same!!
Me and my knitted foob! Objects in photo are larger than they appear.

Thanksgiving is this week and as much as all this cancer shit sucks (and believe me - it doesn't matter if you have the 'good' cancer, the bad cancer, ANY cancer...it's really fucking horrible and scary), I have so much to be thankful for. I truly, truly am blessed and I have never been more filled with gratitude. 

I just reread the above paragraph and it's like a harum-scarum pendulum! haha! Yep, that's pretty much how my mood is these days.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

PS - Ryder is doing great after his accident at school. He fell and tried to break the fall with his eyebrow...didn't work. After some blood, an exciting ride in an ambulance (complete with sirens) for him, and a delirious and frantic drive for me, it ended with a very brave, hilarious, and sweet 5 year old having 7 stitches. Kudos to Lyn, his preschool director, who rode with him in the ambulance and kept him talking and calm (just ask her about making 64 pumpkin pies) and then stayed at the hospital until Dave and I got there and she knew Ry would be ok. I love her, she is the best! She told me as she left that she was going to go home and cry or throw up, probably both. 
 

Ry when I first got there - still jacked up on fireman and ambulance rides and then Ry totally doped up. Look at that face!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

PMS: Post [not] Meant [to] Scare

I want to assure Rebecca (commenter from last post) that in my Float On post I was just feeling a little pms-y, not even morbidly pms-y...mostly anxious and depressed about loosing my hair and side-effects that are yet to come. Did I mention PMS?
Just to be clear: I am not going to die! Well, I will someday just like everyone else but it most certainly won't be because of the stupid little lump I found in my now non-existent boob. My post had nothing to do with mortality because that has never crossed my mind in all this. It's just an early caught, early diagnosed, little bit of breast cancer. C'mon now, that is not going to kill me. Feeling like maybe I floated down the overly dramatic river, sharing my tube with Bill Shatner. It's all good people, all good.