Saturday, May 26, 2007

Just another day

Yesterday was just a normal day. I stayed on plan for Weight Watchers (mostly!), did laundry, cleaned the house a bit, we had a giant playdate at our house (10 kids and 7 moms....that's a big playdate, even around here!), and in the evening we went to C&P to watch musician Bobcat Bob (fabulous!) and hang out with friends.

When I wrote a check to pay for my drink at C&P, the date stared back at me. May 25...the day my world changed.

But not yesterday. Yesterday was blissfully normal. I hope for MANY more healthy, normal May 25ths. Happy anniversary to me!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


May 25, 2005 I found a lump in my breast.

May 25, 2006 I achieved Lifetime status at Weight Watchers.

May 25, 2007 I don't expect anything out of the ordinary to happen (and boy am I relieved by that!).

Two years of Cancerville - wow, that blows my mind. Every day I deal with the side effects of the treatment - limited range of motion and/or shoulder pain; joint pain from the Femara; all of the symptoms of a brutally induced menopause (if you don't know, don't ask...let's just say that hot flashes are terrible but not the worst of it). I'm still not done with surgery (no nipples), and I'm still not done with Herceptin or Femara. Amazing. I have to do an MRI follow up in a couple of weeks - routine - and I'll feel sick about it until I get my results, though I'm not particularly concerned except in a very general sense of fear....but this is the new normal.

And yet, every day, I feel pretty good. A day with joint pain is still a day that belongs to me, and I intend to seize every minute, to squeeze everything I can out of each second. Cliche'? Probably, but it is also my truth. I know what it means to be in fear of dying, and I know what it means to feel real, deep, brutal pain, both physically and psychologicly. I also know how grateful I am to be free of agony, to be filled with hope, to be productive, to play with Tessa, to picnic on the beach with Ryan (tonight's plan before my parents bring Tessa home!).

I am grateful for my time. I am grateful, even when I'm resentful, that I can carry a load of laundry up our steep, narrow, 1923 basement staircase. I am overjoyed by sunny days. I still get mad, I still feel petty thoughts, and I'm still human...but I'm filled with gratitude that I am alive.

And as for that second anniversary? Well, I'm fighting a pesky 5 pounds that I'd like to lose, but I know that I WILL lose them, and I am thrilled with the progress I've made in that regard. I am still below my official goal weight, and I know that my BMI is excellent. My size 4 and 6 pants are my gauge - right now the 4s are snug but the 6s are fitting well....and my old size 10 self doesn't see much to complain about in that sentence, even when my new self is irritated by the small upward swing. I know I've improved my health, and I know that I know how to keep the weight off, and how to re-lose those five pounds. I know that I am an "after" photo, and that I know how to stay this way. It feels good to be slim, and I will keep that feeling. Five pounds one way or the other is fine....but I vow to never let it get out of my control again like it was before Weight Watchers. I am as proud of maintaining my low weight as I am of losing it, and the anniversary is one worthy of celebration. Instead of cake, maybe I'll go for a nice long run tomorrow. ;-) (Yes, I still eat cake, just not as much as before. And yes, it's worth it to me to live that way!)

Speaking of running, it still hurts, but I'm staying on Femara, and I'm going to run despite it all. Today at my Herceptin appointment I listened to two ladies talking, and each of them had been early stage and then recurred to stage IV. Maybe I'll do that anyway, as it's not totally in my control, but I will not give up on fighting. I imagine that either of them would take my joint pain, AND my cancer free status, in a heartbeat if they could. I nearly forgot that lesson, but I remembered today. I will add Aleve to the handful of vitamins I take each day, and I will keep taking Femara. Heck, it's only 3.75 more years of it. I can handle that....look how much worse I've handled in the past two years!

Off to more chores, but tomorrow we're having PEPS over and it will be busy, and I couldn't let the anniversaries go by unnoticed. Happy anniversaries to me - I'm so glad that the hideous one and the proud one go hand in hand...there's a not-too-subtle lesson in there for me.

It's sunny in Seattle, and I'm enjoying it. Carpe diem!

Monday, May 21, 2007

A blast from the past

Today I was at the Komen offices in Wallingford (Race for the Cure is coming up and I have lots of work to do!) and drove by my old house in Wallingford. I was surprised to see it up for sale, but had to pull up the listing just to see what they said about it:

I'm sad they don't have interior pictures; I always thought that the interior was way cuter than the exterior.

I have many happy memories from that house. It's the only place I ever lived alone - I moved there after Susan & Erik got married, and before Ryan and I got engaged. I loved having my very own space, and I spent lots of lovely evenings soaking in bubbles in the claw-footed bathtub. It's also the home where Mozart was a kitten; it's also the first place that Ryan and I ever lived together. (As soon as we were engaged, he moved in...and that was just as wonderful as living alone, but in a different way!) Our friends Keith & Noel lived in the bottom half (it's a duplex), and we'd all get home from work around the same time and we did lots of spontaneous dinners together - "Hey, I've got some salmon," "Well I could make a big salad," "Okay you get the wine open, and I'll turn on the grill" and hours were spent laughing and talking and hanging out at the picnic table in the back yard.

I don't want to go back - I love my life now - but it is fun to walk down memory lane, and to remember the me that was before marriage, child, mortgage, health issues, etc. It seems very young and carefree in hindsight, and I'm glad I enjoyed it while I was there.

Treatment decisions

I have been taking Femara, an aromatase inhibitor (an anti-estrogen drug; my breast cancer type feeds on estrogen, so I've gone to great lengths to eliminate estrogen from my body) for about 15 months now. At first it was no big deal, without noticeable side effects, and then the side effects really peaked (and it was hard to get out of bed each day, literally) and then they subsided again, and I thought I was in the clear.

But those nasty side effects are back. My bones and joints just ache and ache, and nothing seems to relieve the pain. Last time I visited Dr. Rinn (oncologist), she said that I could take a one month break from Femara to see if that helped. I refused, because this is supposed to be one of my wonder-drugs, and of course I worry about the "what if's" of going off the drug - after all, I don't take it for the joy of it, I take it to fight cancer!

I have to decide whether to take a break, to switch drugs (there are two other AIs on the market to choose from, but they are not side-effect free, either), or to keep going.

I suspect I'll keep going, but the quality of life issues are driving me nuts. Can I deal with 3.5+ more years of this?

Right now I'm not running or exercising much because of the side effects, and it's making me crazy. Marathon '07 is important to me, but how am I going to do it if WALKING hurts?!

I'll figure it out, and I'll be okay. But it's stuff like this that keeps cancer in the forefront of my brain. It's hard not to think about it when my entire body reminds me of it every minute. This cancer journey isn't over.