Saturday, January 28, 2006

Breaking Eyelash News

Today, I looked in the mirror, and there, in plain view, were little microscopic eyelashes! HURRAH! Hopefully this is the beginning of something beautiful. I have missed my eyebrows and eyelashes even more than my hair, I think.

In less happy news, my lymphedema is flaring up, and my left index finger is 1.5 times as fat as the index finger on my right hand, and it aches. I did the manual lymphatic massage this morning, and I'll get on that a couple times a day now...I don't want this to get worse, and radiation can exacerbate it.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Radiation update

I had another appointment with Dr. Morris today to discuss my radiation plan. My skin is noticeably pink and red and tanned now, and has become sensitive to the touch. As of today, I can no longer wear any sort of bra because the band rubs on my skin. This bums me out because this means that I can't wear a prosthesis, and so all of my clothes fit strangely and in order to disguise the braless breast I need to wear looser clothes than I like to wear, and it's very de-feminizing. I have had enough de-feminizing, but it appears that there is no end in sight. More practically, it also bums me out because it's uncomfortable to work out without a bra - I jogged a bit today and that didn't go well at all!

Dr. Morris has been doing research on healthy BMIs and weight loss and exercise as they relate to cancer patients, and she is VERY happy with all I'm doing to be fit and slim and healthy. She told me that I will probably get some fatigue soon, and that it is best if I push on through and keep exercising and avoid taking naps, as being active will help fight the fatigue. I'm doing all that I can! Today's walk was short (under two miles) because the kids (I walk oftentimes with Michele & Elliott, in addition to pushing Tessa in the stroller) were fussy and because it started hailing...and I just didn't have the commitment to keep going in the hail. Oh well, better luck tomorrow (or Sunday, when I plan to do a 6 mile walk for the first time since starting all this).

I have stayed close to my daily points for Weight Watchers in the past couple of days, and I'm excited by that, too. Tonight I made a ginger-BBQ sauce on broiled salmon, and it was delicious...definately didn't feel like I was on a diet.

Love to all,

11.8 pounds lost!

I forgot to update this yesterday (I was too busy going for a walk and attending radiation, oncologist, and Herceptin appointments before having dinner guests) but at my weigh in yesterday I was down a total of 11.8 pounds. Hurrah for me! Weight Watchers works, and I'm so glad. I am being vigilant about staying on track, and I'm delighted that it's paying off.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More hair photos - six weeks post chemo

Wow - I think that my hair is actually growing! I can see a difference from the pictures a couple of weeks ago. Now, if it would only grow down past my shoulders by the weekend....!

This and that

I have been training for the 3-Day Walk, and though my muscles ache it feels great. Last week I walked for 12 miles (three days, four miles per day), which is my best exercise week since treatment started. I have a lot of incentive to walk because I want to be prepared for the 3-Day, because I want to lose weight, and because I want to be a good role model for Tessa, but today I receive this information:
...which gives me some great information about reduced rate of recurrance and death for women who exercise 3-5 hours per week. I have chosen very aggressive treatment plans, some of which only reduce my risk of recurrance by a couple of percentage points (radiation is one of these), so even the small drop in risk of recurrance through exercise is substantial. I have a long, long way to go, but I'm working on it and doing my best! (This is a reminder to myself that I should work out tomorrow. I meant to today, but did chores instead. Tomorrow, I walk!)

And in other thoughts...
Tessa has entered the age of three with a vengeance. I've heard from other mothers that three is a difficult age for many kids, and Tessa is proving no exception. We have had some impressive temper tantrums lately - yikes! Fortunately, her sweet moments are sweeter than ever, so that keeps me sane when I'm thinking that I'll lose my mind from the latest tantrum.

Funny moments from Tessa:
- The other day, as we were reading, Tessa asked, "Mommy, why do you slobber on the book?" It took me a moment to realize what on earth she was talking about, until she pointed out that I had licked my finger a bit before turning the page because the pages were stuck. I swear I didn't slobber, but she sure had me laughing.
- As we left Tessa's pony-party, Tessa got very concerned and cried out, "Oh, no! We forgot! We have to go back!" It took us a bit to realize that she thought that she got to KEEP the pony. OOPS! Sorry, kiddo, no backyard ponies for us!
- Auntie Rene' and Uncle Mel gave Tessa some birthday money to go buy herself something. We went to the toy section at Target and picked out two toys, and then we went to the check-out to purchase them. Proudly, Tessa handed the cashier the money, and the cashier bagged the toys and handed us a receipt. As we walked away, Tessa got very upset, and yelled, "I want my money back!" I guess she mostly sees debit cards - which are, indeed, returned - and she was very startled that the lady took her money. This was very amusing until it turned into a full temper tantrum, complete with screaming and stamping of feet. Anyway, the cashier seemed amused...phew!

Tomorrow I am making Dr. Rinn a full dinner and bringing it to her office. She's a busy woman and has two small children, and doesn't get to cook very often (by her own admission). I have really wanted to thank her for her excellent treatment, but it's been hard to know what to get her. Well, I decided that a full dinner was the ticket. I'm making shrimp creole, rice, salad, broccoli, and brownies, and I'm sending them along with a bottle of wine and some fresh bread. It's not much to say "Thank you for helping to save my life," but it's a start. I adore Dr. Rinn and I hope that she understands how her kindness, as well as her professionalism and knowledge, have permanently left their mark on me.

On Thursday I have a number of appointments again - Dr. Rinn follow up (during which I need to ask about the horrible aches I have in my joints, which are likely side effects of Taxol but actually make me dream of pain and keep me up sometimes) and another infusion of Herceptin, in addition to radiation. The Herceptin takes a full hour, which is a pain, but c'est la vie. (Herceptin has been shown to reduce the rate of recurrance for my kind of cancer by 52%. That is mighty impressive, and I'll take it!) I have upcoming appointments to talk to an oncology gynecologist, and a plastic surgeon, and to get fitted for the lymphedema sleeve, as well. I am still Cancer Patient.

I have completed 10 of my 33 radiation appointments. So far, I'm just a bit pink/tanned on that part of my chest. I get tired, but I feel 1000% better than I did during chemo, so I'm not complaining about that yet.

Slowly, I'm trying to return to my normal life. This is a week of birthday parties (mostly for Tessa's PEPS group - the birthdays are all close together) and doing chores around the house. Today I donated another batch of "cancer books" to the Swedish Cancer Institute library, for other patients to use. I want to move on.

I must get to bed. Good night, all!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Tessa's 3rd Birthday

Is it possible that I have been a mother for three years? And how is it possible that my tiny baby girl has grown to be such a big girl? I'm more proud of her than I imagined possible - she is all that I ever dreamed of in a child, and I love her more with each passing day.

Here are a few pictures of her third birthday to delight and entertain you. She had a pony party - hurrah! My pony obsessed daughter loved every second of it, and we were blessed to share it with a few close friends. Then, today, we had a small family party hosted by Grammy & Grandpa (thank you!)...I think it was a perfect third birthday.

I love you, Tessa Katherine!


PS 9 radiation down, 24 to go. I hate the way it takes a big chunk of time out of every day, and the way it makes me feel like a cancer patient...but it's okay.

PPS I've been having bad dreams lately, and perhaps they tell me that I am not as confident as I'd like to believe. My first bad dream involved me getting cancer in my legs, and "they" decided to amputate. I was okay with that, but they started sawing off my legs without giving me any anesthetic, and I pleaded with them to stop but they said, "You have a high pain tolerance. You can take it." The second dream was that my blood counts had jumped, and some cancer marker that was supposed to be 2 had jumped to 273. In the dream, I knew that I was dying, and the doctors told me that they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do. Freud could have a heyday with dreams like these.