Thursday, February 16, 2006


Today I had my Weight Watchers weigh in. I was not looking forward to it, since I had really pushed my points to the limit, and since I'd weighed myself three days earlier only to find that I hadn't lost an ounce. Well, surprise surprise, I weighed in to find that I had dropped another 3.4 pounds, down a new total of 19.4 pounds. WOW! I'm only 3 pounds (okay, 2.6 pounds) away from my pre-chemo weight, and I can't wait to kiss them goodbye. The funny thing is that I nearly quit WW this week because I was too tired and my body feels too sore from radiation to want to be disciplined with food, but I stuck it out...and I had a huge loss. Go figure!

Today I had a meeting with my oncologist, Dr. Rinn. She reports that my blood counts are great, and that I'm doing well. I'm doing so well, in fact, that we agreed that I should start my aromatase inhibitor, Femara, right away. Tonight I will take the first pill....and I won't stop for five years. This drug may have the same ability to fight my cancer that chemo had - isn't that amazing? It's just one more weapon in the arsenal to fight this **** disease, and I will take it joyfully. (Unless I get side effects...but I won't anticipate things that haven't yet happened.)

I also had radiation. The fun part of radiation is officially over; now, my skin is so tight and broken that just putting my arm over my head in the radiation machine is an act of will because it hurts so much. Clothing rubs, movement rubs, everything rubs my burning, itching, painful chest. Ugh. I am continuing my saline rinses, and slathering on Biafine, and crossing my fingers. I also have a prescription for Percocet so that I can numb the pain enough to sleep (first night is tonight...let's hope it works!).

I also had another Herceptin treatment. The treatment is given in the chemo ward, and I must say it brought back some relatively painful memories. Today while waiting for my appointment I met a woman who has stage IV breast's scary, scary stuff. My heart ached for her but I just kept reminding myself that her journey is not mine.

I am hoping that with a four day break from radiation that my skin will heal enough to allow me to walk and exercise again. Now that I've found my exercise groove, I don't want to give it up!


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Radiation postponed

Yesterday I went to my regular radiation appointment, got all set up...and then had to get off the machine. My underarm area is a disaster, and it appears infected (it's oozing...disgusting). They told me to take the day off and then to come back the next day to get checked out by the doctor to see if we can proceed.

This is a huge blow psychologically, although of course I realize that one day here or there doesn't make a difference to the final outcome, it's really hard for me somehow. I want to be DONE. And "done" gets further away every day.

I am asking lots of questions of my team to see if I can continue to exercise, and to stay on the Weight Watchers program. I've lost 16 pounds and I feel so much better that I just shudder at the thought of having to abandon this path, even temporarily, but I know my body needs to heal so that I can move forward. I'll let you know what I come up with.

Until then, I'm grumpy. This business of being a cancer patient is getting really, really old and I don't have a lot of energy for even minor detours.

Yesterday would have been unbearable except two things: One, we had a little cookie party at our house for some of Tessa's (and my!) West Seattle friends, and the kids were just cute and had fun, so that was fun for me. Two, Ryan was good to me for Valentine's and I got a card that was so perfect it made me cry (in a good way). We had a romantic dinner in last night (my gift to Ryan was cooking on Valentine's Day!) while my parents took Tessa overnight, and that was relaxing.

With love,

Monday, February 13, 2006

Radiation Update

(Aside: Welcome to the world, Camille! Congratulations to mom Heather, Dad Randal, and big brother Kelton. It was fabulous to get the call from Randal today that their daughter -it's a girl!- had arrived, and even more fun to get to meet her when she was just a couple hours old. What an incredible highlight to my day!)

Well, things aren't improving, and they're not going to improve for some time to come. This weekend my underarm on the radiated side lost some more skin, and started oozing. (Sorry if you just lost your lunch at that thought...!) It's even less pretty than it sounds, and it's downright uncomfortable. Last night, every time I moved it woke me up. GRRRRR. I can deal with the red/black/purple aspects of my chest, but pain and oozing are terrible. Unfortunately, for the most part I must grin and bear it. All clothes rub on it, and I'm not open to going around naked. Sigh!

In better news, I joined the ACTIVE program at Swedish. It's a program designed to help cancer patients regain mobility, range of motion, and fitness levels as they go through and complete treatment. In particular, they are going to get me in shape for my surgery next month, so that I don't lose even more range of motion when I do my right side. Anyway, today I had to do a treadmill test where they put me on the machine, hooked me up to oxygen saturation, heartbeat, and blood pressure monitors, and then increased the incline and speed in three minute intervals. The physical therapist conducting the test told me that I made it farther than any other patient to date, and that's good. Overall, the doc and PT told me that I'm pretty fit, and they were very pleased. It's a 12 week program, and I hope to see great changes during that time. They will use the data they received today to put together a custom plan for me...I can't wait to see it and to put it to use. I'm motivated!

My surgery next month has a new date: March 22. The plastic surgeon that I have yet to meet has tentatively booked me for that date as both she and Dr. Dawson are available; I will make up my mind whether to use her after I meet her. The new date is better because my parents will be back from Hawaii and able to care for Tessa that day, too, which is a relief.

I must get to bed...radiation fatigue is setting in and, as usual, I had a busy day. Love to all - Happy Valentine's Day!