Saturday, February 02, 2008


I got the response from Dr. Rinn, and went off the Neurontin. We'll see how things change. Last night the hot flashes woke me up several times, whereas on Neurontin I was sleeping better, but c'est la vie.

Today we planned on going snowshoeing with some PEPS friends, but the weather didn't cooperate - too much snow. The passes were still closed last night, and we decided that even if they opened in time, we didn't want to risk avalanches, snow on the roadway, etc. Bummer. We'll try again next weekend.

We did have a fun morning, though. The group that had planned on snowshoeing got together at Lincoln Park for some play time, and it was great to be outdoors on a dry day. We had an impromptu lunch afterwards ("I've got cheese" "I've got soup" "I'll bring fruit") and everyone, adults and kids, had a great time.

Now, Tessa and I are home, Ryan's on a ride with Paul, and the evening looks quiet. That's nice, actually.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


I have the gift, or the burden, of being pretty introspective.

On the one hand, my brain is able to say, "I find it interesting that you are so unmotivated. This looks like creeping depression, and there are steps you need to take to improve things. First...." (and then a list ensues, like call therapist, adjust anti-depressant, do meditation, keep gratitude lists, etc. etc.).

And on the other hand, I just want to pout and moan and be a grouch, and frankly, I feel rather entitled to do so.

I'm looking into side effects of Neurontin and Actonel, because those are my new drugs, and I feel like my mood has altered for the worse in the last week, since I started them.

I'm okay. The world is not ending. It just takes a lot more effort to be on time, to read my email, to return phone calls, to fold laundry than it should. This too shall pass.

Edited to add:
I just checked, and one of the side effects of Neurontin is "changes in mood," for which it says I should contact my doctor immediately. I emailed the fabulous Dr. Rinn to see what she says. My gut instinct says that this is it, but my gut instinct is not always correct. Frankly, I'd rather go back to sleeplessness than to feel this lousy, so my fingers are crossed that this IS the problem.

taking a break

Here is the letter I sent to Komen today.

I am sorry that I have fallen off the map in the past week or so, with so many deadlines. I love the work with Komen, and I know how important it is.

I am coming to the realization (slowly and uncomfortably) that I need to take a break from dealing with breast cancer issues. Despite my desire to be active, hands-on with Komen, I am finding that it is taking an emotional toll. I am still struggling with the effects of my treatment and the handful of pills that I continue to take, and I need to schedule another surgery, and my mind is bogged down with thoughts of cancer. Unfortunately, though my work at Komen is positive, I think that it's adding to my inability to move on to a post-cancer space right now.

So, with regret, and with many apologies (and no small amount of embarrassment), I need to bow out for a while. Perhaps before this year's race, and certainly next year, I will be back, but in a better head space. I am spending some time trying to figure out my boundaries with cancer issues, and finding a better balance in my life. Next year Tessa will be in kindergarten and I won't have to juggle the times so much, and that will help, too.

My apologies for the inconvenience that I know this causes you.

I feel weird about it, and have all kinds of other emotions as well, but I think it's what I need to do.

I wish this were not the case.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Slow learner

I was just regard to cancer, I'm a slow learner.

What i mean by that is that I feel like I'm still in major treatment. I haven't moved on. I look at my posts here, and most of them reference cancer or treatment in some way. Two and a half years later, and I'm still in Cancerland.

In some ways, this makes me chastise myself. I have enough stage IV friends to know how ridiculous it is for me to obsess on this. My stage IV friends are out living their lives, parenting their children, working at their jobs, participating in their communities, etc. And here I am, "only" early stage, and not moving on.

Part of this is because of the aggressive level of treatment I've insisted upon. I still see my onc every three months; it's only a couple of months since I stopped going to the chemo ward regularly to get Herceptin. My recon is (by my own standards) a mess, and I'm still not done with surgeries. I take major handfuls of pills throughout the day, and I feel their side effects.

I also know early stage breast cancer women who have moved on, who aren't immersing themselves in these thoughts, who have mostly put cancer behind them. I envy that. Will I ever get to that stage?

I'm trying to learn.

For me, part of going to church is about learning this process. At WSUU, I'm hoping to find ways in which to encourage peace within my self. I'm doing lots of reading on issues of spirituality to supplement that learning. I'm trying to find my way out of the fog.

But I think I'm a slow learner in this regard.

Drug update

On Monday, I took my first Actonel (bisphosphonate - bone builder). I am required to take it once a week, and when I take it, I need to abstain from food and drink (except water to wash it down) for a minimum of a half hour, and I need to remain upright. This is generally not a problem, as I don't wake up hungry (I'd happily skip breakfast except I know I shouldn't) although waiting for coffee makes me rather sad! The drug often causes nausea and flu-like symptoms, especially after the first couple of doses, and that may be why I felt lousy last night. I felt achy and tired beyond belief, but woke up feeling more normal. I'm relieved that this is all I'm experiencing from this med, as the list of side effects is long and scary.

I also went for my annual exam with my G.P. yesterday. We reviewed my cholesterol levels (210) and she explained that the overall number is misleading because my LDL is within acceptable levels and my HDL is above the minimum, so I'm actually doing quite well in that regard. Unfortunately (because I find it unpleasant) even though my cervix has been removed I still need annual pap smears - whatever! - but apparently everything looked normal.

I also discussed all the meds I'm taking, including Lexapro. I've been at the lowest dose (10mg), and we agreed to up it to the next highest dose (20mg). I am certainly still not myself, and if I can get chemical help with that, I'll take it.

Depression is very interesting. It's hard to tell what is "life" (when life involves cancer treatment, bills, and the rest, it's understandable that not everything would be 100% rosy) and what is depression. It's hard to tell how I feel; it's hard to tell if things are in order. I do know that I would generally classify myself as an eternal optimist, as a very happy person, as someone who seeks and finds joy....and I know that it seems a lot harder these days. I find myself having negative thoughts and then the "sane" part of my brain says "whoa! back up, and stop being so negative!" but these thoughts surprise me. I'm used to expecting the best of the world, and when I find my mind moaning and complaining and (worst of all) resigned to the fact that things just suck and there's nothing I can do about it....well, then I know I need help. We'll see if Lexapro has some answers for me. I don't want to be Debbie Downer.

I do wonder if the reason I'm so tired is depression, or something else. I will say that the sleeping aids (Neurontin) seem to be helping, and so maybe I can catch up.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Girl party

Well, Tessa's week of birthday is coming to an last. Mama's tired!

Today's dog and cat themed party was a success, and we think that Tessa and her girlfriends had a good time. We kept it small - just Tessa and five guests - and did lots of crafts.