Friday, September 2, 2011

Bye-Bye Drain

I was finally able to have the drain pulled after three weeks.  Let's clarify...that's three weeks with no shower!  I was a little apprehensive about them pulling it, but I have to say it really wasn't bad.  I didn't even make a peep!  My ego was bruised though, when they said they scheduled me at lunch time so there wouldn't be any other patients there in case I screamed.  I just let that slide.  The following day I was intent on getting the house straightened up.  Not actual cleaning mind you, just putting things away and changing out some of the summer decor.  By yesterday evening though, I was afraid I had overdone it.  After taking my much sought after shower and getting in my pajamas, I literally fell into bed.  I'm also dealing with itching all over my body, swollen feet and pain in my hands and feet.  While lying there in bed, I started to cry.  I don't allow myself to cry very often, but sometimes I just have to release all of the pent up feelings and emotions.  I had caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and it was kind of like when a woman looks at herself for the first time after giving birth.  I looked like I had been through a rough time.  Well, I realized, I have.  And I have a lot to be thankful for...a lumpectomy instead of the planned mastectomy, surviving cancer, and love and support like I have never known.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Post Op

The surgery went very well and recovery has been a breeze compared to chemo.  A lumpectomy was done and a total of thirty lymph nodes were removed. Although my use of the arm is limited right now,  I have total confidence that I will regain complete use of my arm.  The pathology results showed no cancer in either the breast or lymph nodes!  Amazing!!  The doctor said that finding no cancer,  really ups my chance of the cancer not returning!  Luckily, Bianca was able to come and be my 'right arm' for the week.  A lot of 'food for thought' moments have happened recently.  I think when life slows down, we are more able to take a look at the little things that so often go unnoticed.  For example... on my first outing (lunch out at a restaurant), we just happened to bump into some of the teachers and students from my school.  I had really been missing them, but knew 'Meet the Teacher' would have been way too much for me.  On another outing to a dress shop, a sales lady mentioned to me that she was also a 'member of the club' when she noticed my drain.  I thought I was going to start bawling.  She then proceeded to share with me her scars and experiences.  Before we knew it, two sales ladies, another customer and myself were all sharing about our breast cancer experiences.  Four out the five women in the room were bc survivors!  (Sort of an impromtu bc support meeting.)  On our way home from that, we stopped at a recently opened New Orleans themed restaurant that had advertised live Dixieland Jazz on Sundays.  Of course I had to make some requests and talk with the musicians.  It brought back some memories of times with my mom(a professional musician).  Today, Bianca called to say flowers would be delivered from a friend of hers in DC who wanted to brighten my day.  The flowers had a gigantic 'breast cancer pink' lily in the middle of the arrangement.  I started crying upon seeing it.  I was really moved that someone who doesn't even know me would think to send flowers.  I have started trying to support others going through cancer and actually felt like an oldtimer in the chemo room this week.  While I no longer receive true chemo, I am continuing to get a drug that keeps my cancer from returning.  Radiation will start in another few weeks.  In the meantime, I am doing my best to appreciate life and reach out to others when the opportunities arise.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Answers to Prayer and Life's Lessons

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted, but I was bedridden over the summer.  I couldn't stand for longer than two seconds without intense pain. My son had to bring me in to the doctor on a wheelchair to discuss whether or not to continue chemo.  My doctor and I elected to not have the sixth and final chemo treatment due to my poor condition and the fact that the tumor has been gone since after the third treatment  My insurance is now covering at 100%!  What a relief!!  When I met with the surgeon, she said since my tumor is gone, I can have a lumpectomy!!  I started crying I was so overjoyed!! That was an answer to a prayer I didn't even think I could pray!   The surgeon is  also going to leave some of the lymph nodes so that I should be able to continue being able to play the violin and piano without any problems with my arm!  There have also been some other big answers to prayer in other areas of my life as well!  I will say that you really never know what you can do until you are put in the position.  I think we find strength we didn't realize we had.  Having cancer really changes your life and I don't just mean in a negative way.  I have already learned so many things about myself and the way I think about things.  It puts a new perspective on what's really important.  I also appreciate things more.  I always knew music was a part of my life, but when the use of my arm was in question, I got really worried.  I never expected to have to give up that part of my life, in order to have my life!  Obviously, saving my life is at the top of the ladder, but I didn't think I might have to give up the use of my arm to accomplish that.  I now have a greater appreciation for the people and relationships in my life.  I could never thank everyone who has been there for me enough!  It also has me thinking that I have that same opportunity to minister to others.  As far as my health, I realize that I can no longer take that for granted.  Regular checkups, testing, proper nutrition and everyday exercise will now be a part of my life.  Basically, everything is tested and turned upside down when you get  a major health challenge.  Surgery is  next week (August 9).  I'll try to post again after that.

Mission Pink: Answers to Prayer and Life's Lessons

Mission Pink: Answers to Prayer and Life's Lessons: "Sorry it has been so long since I last posted, but I was bedridden over the summer. I couldn't stand for longer than two seconds without in..."

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Momma

I went out for ice cream tonight and had a wonderful flashback memory to one of the things that makes my mom so great. There are a thousand big reason, like being strong and inspiring(it's true, she inspires me every single day with how upbeat she is when she feels like shit), but it was a really small reason tonight why I remembered why she is so awesome.

When she would take my brother and I to the beach during the summer we would stop and get doughnuts at those Dunkin/Baskin Robbins combo places for breakfast on the way and she would always let me get ice cream for breakfast.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who does that!?

The one thing that has been helpful to get through the week after chemo treatments is a home nurse who gives my mom an IV of hydration and nausea medicine.

The nurse who was coming was awful. To the point that one weekend she went away for the weekend, didn't arrange for someone to cover her, and then pretended she didn't know who my mom was when the nurses office called to inquire about it. That weekend by Sunday afternoon when a nurse finally came to cover my mom passed out in bed while he was washing his hands, then started throwing up all over the place by the time he brought her back to. Whereas normally the help of the nurse and the IV those things would be under control.

I finally convinced her that she needed to call and request someone new.

Well I met said new lady while I was home and that bitch started talking to my mom about hospice, saying that was where most of her patients go. My mom answered that in fact she was not one of those patients that she is actually one of the ones who will be getting better. And the nurse did not back peddle of reaffirm that sentiment, she just shrugged her fing shoulders. WHO DOES THAT?

THEN she turned the conversation to lecturing my mom about how she may be short on home visits and about how those may be running out, or have already run out but she could help her find out till Tuesday. Great lady put her into a panic about if the help she needs will be able to continue.

What happened to the days of medical help who care about you getting better and being kind? Do I need to hire a candy stripper to get some kindness up in this joint? Or at least someone who shows up when they are supposed to and doesn't suggest you consider end of life care.

Vent over....well at least until I feel the "WTF" rage again about that lady.

Like a library book...

This post is long overdue and I have no excuse other than that my dog ate my post. Or that there has just been so much happening that it was hard to sit down and put pen to paper...or in this case fingers to keys.

So prior to the last two chemo treatments the doctor made the same two statements.

1. He thinks the cancer part of the tumor is gone, and what remains is just scar tissue left from having multiple biopisies.

2. My mom is brave and amazing because she has endured symptoms far longer than any patient he had ever cared for. That her symptoms were so bad and more people had opted out to surgery for less.

I went home over the 4th of July weekend to care for her after her chemo treatment and spent the whole weekend in bed hanging out with her with the exception of Saturday night which also included a trip to the hospital.

During the day her urine began to include blood which is unusual for her given the kind of cancer she has, and by evening it was accompanied by a sharp pain in her side that even the Valium refused to help. Right as my friend Kelly walked through the door to visit us I was packing her up to take her to the ER and I just looked at her and said don't you go anywhere, so she followed along(bless her heart, but she comes from good genes since her momma is the wonderful lady who has been a pillar for my mom). We were very blessed that when we got there the room was completely empty so we were ushered right back and actually were back on our way home about three hours later because it turned out to be a kidney stone that she passed before we even made it to the hospital. Thank God that is all it was.

The week that followed included severe symptoms to the point that she could not get out of bed by Thursday a week later, and by Friday she was so upset about the state of her condition she insisted on visiting the doctor. I am so glad she did because she was reaching an unhealthy state that I had not seen her in no matter how bad it had gotten. She and the doctor decided that it was best to be done with chemo treatments, seeing as there was only one left and the doctor said it was not medically necessary. So that leaves us at waiting for her to build up some strength(which she gets more of each day) so that she can visit the surgeon to determine how the next step will play out.