Saturday, May 19, 2012

Update Available!!

I realize it has almost been a year since this nightmare began. And it feels like it has been one very long year!  I have learned more about breast cancer than I ever thought I would.  I feel comfortable talking about it now, I guess it's like my new best friend!! 
People ask me if I am now "cancer free" or in "remission".  I don't really know the answer to those type of questions.  From what I understand as soon as all treatments are done I will be considered NED (no evidence of disease).  Then it becomes a watch and monitor situation.  Oh and pray too!
I have now grown about an inch of hair.  Feels like it is taking a really long time to grow back.  I haven't gone out without a hat or wig and am not sure when I will. 
I have been taking Tamoxifen for more than a month now.  Tamoxifen is a hormone blocker to stop estrogen from feeding any lingering or developing cancer cells.  It basically puts a person into menopause.  So, with it come lots of side effects.  I seem to be adjusting somewhat.   Lots of hot flashes, insomnia, achy muscles and joints and some moodiness.  Nothing too any great extreme so far!!
The big 50 is just around the corner!  Another thing that is so hard to believe!  We are going to Cancun with some great friends for a week!  I am not too comfortable imagining myself in s bikini with 2 inch hair,  in fact it is pretty frightening!!  But it is what it is and I will be just fine!  
So, that is update for now.  I see there is light in the tunnel ahead!
Amazingly I want to thank my friends and family for never ending love and support!  It means the world to me!
Sara ♥♥♥

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Port was Purple!!!

Port is out!  I guess it served its purpose but good riddance! What a funny day Tuesday was.  My scheduled surgery was 7:30 a.m., same hospital as previous surgeries.  I was given a little reminder paper that told me when to quit eating etc and what time to be there.  It was a little hard to tell if it said 6:00 or 6:30.  I decided it said 6:30 since I hate getting up early.  We arrived about 6:40.   Bruce sent me in wrong building after a little debate, which I figured he was right since my memory is pretty screwy lately.  I signed in and waited in an unfamiliar waiting room.  After a short while they called my name and told me I was in the wrong building!!  So I hurried across the street to other building.  I got checked in late, I felt like I was holding up entire days schedule (which I was!).  So, they got me situated and nurse started an IV, only creating a few bruises in the process.  I was wheeled into operating room.  I did not get general anesthesia, but what they call "twilight".  I saw everyone come, set things up and remember talking a bit.  Then I woke up shortly in recovery and went home.
I later tell Bruce I have had this weird memory and am not sure if it was a dream or if it really happened.  I was lying on table and someone shows me port after it was out and asked me if I wanted to keep it,  I looked at it, laughed and said no.  Later in the week, while getting re-inflated I asked plastic surgeon about twilight anesthesia.  I told him story, he said some people remember.  I asked if a port is purple.  He said yes, so it was true!!!  He said he didn't know why they would ask if I wanted it.  Well, he doesn't know me too well.  I probably told them earlier that I wanted it.  Then I start to think, what else did I say?!?  Did I tell Dr Zannis' nurse I used to think she was a bitch?  Tell Dr. Zannis we want Bruce to get haircut like him?  That I feel like just a number in his system now?  Did I talk about my comedy shop underwear?  My new fake boobs?  What a funny feeling.  Like I was the only drunk one at the party and can't remember what happened.  Bruce hopes they gave me extra drugs if I was talking too much!  I did schedule follow up appointment for next week and they allowed it!  I will see how that goes!  The moral of this story is: Certain people (like me) should not have twilight anesthesia!  Knock me all the way out! 
I am feeling better most of the time.  I am a bit sore in chest and arm muscles, especially in the morning.  I do tire easily, but am feeling a bit more normal  I have some hair growth (like 1/4 of an inch!).  When I look in mirror it reminds me of my Mom and that makes me sad.  I still wear my wig when I go out and really don't like it.  I know it is only temporary.  I know I'm a cancer patient when my Vance says his friends are coming over and I say, "do I have to put on my wig?"
I met with oncologist last week as well.  I will start on Tamoxifen on April 9 (basically it is an estrogen inhibitor).  Then I will have follow ups with him to see how I react.  So most of the "active" treatment is done, except for exchange which won't be for six months.  So, time to get myself put back together!
Oh, and Bald Barbie is on schedule to be created, nice.................
Thanks again for the never ending support, caring and Love!!!
Sara ♥

Mattel will make a bald friend of Barbie with interchangeable wigs, scarves and other accessories thanks to an online campaign started by two women affected by cancer Read more by Michelle Castillo on CBS News' HealthPop.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger!!!!

So, appropriately this song is playing on the radio as I drove to my last radiation treatment.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  The surgery didn't kill me, the chemo didn't kill me, and the radiation didn't kill me.  Therefore I must be stronger!  I definitely do not look stronger, I do not physically feel stronger (in fact I feel wiped out and look like a deflated blow up doll!!!) but I am sure I must be emotionally stronger.  I have finished on more regimen of treatment!  I look back and realize what a long ass, ten months this journey (as some people call it) has been.  I am starting to see a glimmer of light ahead.  I have made it through these treatments with the help and support of my wonderful family and friends.  I have learned so much about how much people care.  It is truly amazing.
My radiated side is bright red, swollen and blistering.  It hurts more than I thought but I am learning which creams work and how to manage the side effects.   Dr. Kuske says that's just how he wants it to look!  He is very assured he took care of any lingering cancer cells.  I have faith in him and hope he is right! 
I will hopefully be getting this damn port out soon,  I have an appoint this Wednesday to schedule procedure.  Then get my deflated boob re-inflated.  At the end of month I meet with Dr Wendt (oncologist) to go over and plan for hormone treatment (tamoxofin).  I have read a lot about it, some people have bad experiences others tolerate it well.  I will try it and see how it goes.  Then, exchange surgery in six months (exchange temporary fake boobs for permanent fake boobs!!!) 
I am so looking forward to being back to my old self (I won't say normal!).  I feel like I look at life a bit different now and think this (cancer) has been a huge learning and growing experience for me.  We have a trip planned to Cancun on June 13th with some friends to celebrate my 50th.  I am looking forward to it, and try to enjoy every little thing in my life as well! 
Thanks again.... to everyone.
Love, Sara ♥♥♥

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Everything is Temporary!!!!

It has been said that time flies when you're having fun.  Time also flies when you are not having fun!  I have been reminded and also realize I haven't  posted anything in almost a month.  I am attempting to regain some normalcy in my life.  I can't say it's happening too fast.  I still seem to have lingering side effects from chemo.  The biggest reminders are a terrible memory, insomnia and I have body temperature issues.  I go from freezing with four blankets, socks and a hat to baking and sweating.  It is hard to know how much is from chemo and how much is complete hormonal imbalance.  I still haven't noticed any hair growth and this bald lady look is getting really old!
I have completed 19 radiation treatments.  I think I have 13 left.  I have some local skin reaction and I get easily fatigued and tired (some might say bitchy and cranky!!).  It is pretty much painless, takes about an hour and a half to get there, get radiated and get home.  It is soooo much easier than chemo but I wouldn't say it is a walk in the park!!
I have been getting out more.  The things people say amaze me.  I know (hope) they are said with good intention, but sometimes I just look at them and agree because I am speechless!  I think the neighbor lady across the street is scared I may be contagious! I went to Bunco for first time since diagnosis.  Wow, I felt so loved and so happy to be back! ♥ 
My "normal" life is good.  Vance is finishing up basketball season.  I know he worries about me, but doesn't say much.  I talk, he doesn't, but I guess that is teenage communication.  Other boys busy and well.  Bruce keeps too busy and really likes me to eat a LOT of protein!  He found a little Yorkie dog a couple weeks ago, no one claimed her so we fostered her for a few days and found a great home for her.
I have been trying not to read so much on the internet about cancer prevention and treatment.  I did read one thing that made me think, "why is everything so focused on why I have cancer, when it should be focused on why others don't!"  Just a thought.
Well, that's about all I can think of right now.  Thanks for all the continuing love and support.  It means so much to me and my family.
♥ Sara ♥


Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Perfect Storm.

As my head starts to clear I am finding myself more and more confused.  I have been reading and researching many different aspects of cancer, specifically breast cancer.  The internet can be such a wealth of information that must be somehow deciphered.  I am not sure it is possible to find total truth.  So, I think it becomes a personal perspective or conclusion.  When it comes to cancer there is a continuing debate about, awareness, prevention and a cure.  I think most people are well aware of it and know there is no "cure".  So, the prevention becomes the main variable that we can try to control. 
Cancer is a multi-factoral disease, often described as "a perfect storm".  In fact, cancer remains a huge mystery to the medical industry, more recent studies suggest it is genetically triggered with environmental and dietary consequences.  Knowing this I find myself wondering what was the real trigger for me?  I played with the mercury from broken thermometers, swam in a highly chlorinated pool everyday for many years, didn't use sunscreen, drank red cool-aid and ate pixie sticks and ran with scissors!  I also ate a lot of fresh fruit right off the trees, ate vegetables from my Dad's garden, exercised regularly and never smoked.  So then I have to wonder why so many people with cancer feel the need to know what they did to "get cancer".  Maybe it is pressure from society to find something or someone to blame.  I personally think it is more random than that.  There are some "health nuts" that still get cancer and then there are the people who are obese, don't exercise, smoke, and even drink tap water and have no signs of cancer and of course the "average" person who may or may not get cancer. I do not think anyone knows the answer to that.  
So whatever it is that caused  a perfect storm to erupt in my body is truly unknown.  I am doing what I can to live my life as healthy as I can (within reason!!).  I never really eat beef or pork and never eat veal or lamb (because I am a true animal lover!).  Poultry sometimes and fish the most often.  Fruits and vegetables are now falling out of our fridge!  Dairy and processed food will be very limited, this is hard because I do love cheese.  My type of cancer loves estrogen and sugar, there is a huge list I am trying to follow to starve any little cells trying to grow!!!  Alcohol and wine are on the list of no-nos :(.  However there is quite a controversy about red wine and I will take the moderation side to that dispute!!!  I have been walking and trying to get back into some sort of shape soon!!  I haven't gone to the gym yet, still self conscious about hair situation.
I am still waiting to find out my radiation treatment plan, hopefully soon because nothing else can continue until that is done.  So I am doing my best to be patient (not real easy for me!).

Thought I would share this list (one of many philosophies out there) I found in the clouds!  Number 64 is probably the best!!
                          Michael Pollan Food Rules List:
  • 1. Eat food
  • 2. Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food 
  • 3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
  • 4. Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup
  • 5. Avoid food products that have some form of sugar (or sweetener listed among) the top three ingredients
  • 6. Avoid food products that have more than 5 ingredients
  • 7. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce
  • 8. Avoid food products that make health claims
  • 9. Avoid food products with the word "lite" or the terms "low fat" or "nonfat" in their names
  • 10. Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not
  • 11. Avoid foods you see advertised on television
  • 12. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
  • 13. Eat only foods that will eventually rot
  • 14. Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature
  • 15. Get out of the supermarket whenever you can
  • 16. Buy your snacks at the farmers market
  • 17. Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans
  • 18. Don't ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap
  • 19. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
  • 20. It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car
  • 21. It's not food if it's called by the same name in every language (Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles)
  • 22. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves
  • 23. Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food
  • 24. Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs and other mammals].
  • 25. Eat your colors
  • 26. Drink the spinach water
  • 27. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well
  • 28. If you have space, buy a freezer
  • 29. Eat like an omnivore
  • 30. Eat well-grown food from healthy soil
  • 31. Eat wild foods when you can
  • 32. Don't overlook the oily little fishes
  • 33. Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacterial or fungi
  • 34. Sweeten and salt your food yourself
  • 35. Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature
  • 36. Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk
  • 37. The whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead
  • 38. Favor the kinds of oils and grains that have traditionally been stone-ground
  • 39. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
  • 40. Be the kind of person who takes supplements - then skip the supplements
  • 41. Eat more lie the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.
  • 42. Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism
  • 43. Have a glass of wine with dinner
  • 44. Pay more, eat less
  • 45. Eat less
  • 46. Stop eating before you're full
  • 47. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored
  • 48. Consult your gut
  • 49. Eat slowly
  • 50. The banquet is in the first bite
  • 51. Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it
  • 52. Buy smaller plates and glasses
  • 53. Serve a proper portion and don't go back for seconds
  • 54. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like pauper
  • 55. Eat meals
  • 56. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods
  • 57. Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does
  • 58. Eat at the table
  • 59. Try not to eat alone
  • 60. Treat treats as treats
  • 61. Leave something on your plate
  • 62. Plant a vegetable garden if you have space, a window box if you don't
  • 63. Cook
  • 64. Break the rules once in a while
Thank you to my family and friends for all your continuing concern, support and love!  Sometimes little things mean so much, especially during trying times!  Those frequent letters from Seattle bring me to tears every time in such a nice way!!  Sara ♥♥♥
PS  I have a guest writer that will be adding articles to this blog :).

Exercise And Cancer- Fitness During And After Treatment

Physical fitness is a chief component of “energy balance,” a term that describes how exercise, weight, and diet impact health. According to the National Cancer Institute, numerous studies link physical activity to reduced cancer risks, increased survival rates, and improved quality of life.

Various medical studies have revealed the positive effects of exercise on several different types of cancer. Colon, breast, endometrial, lung, and prostate cancers are some examples.  Current studies funded by the National Cancer Institute are exploring the impact of exercise on other cancers.

Physical activity is related to health in numerous ways. In healthy people, exercise controls weight, improves heart health, reduces blood pressure, maintains muscles, improves bone and joint health, reduces stress, promotes emotional health, and so much more.

Exercise is beneficial for cancer patients, too. Not only do they enjoy the same health benefits as healthy people, but they reap additional benefits, too. Physical activity returns the sense of control that is so often lost to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Exercise enables patients to cope with their various cancer symptoms and treatment side effects. It typically speeds their recovery time, and it greatly enhances their quality of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need about two-and-a-half hours of exercise each week. They need moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, as well as strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups.

Cancer patients may not be able to start a fitness program at this level, and that is all right. Exercise helps patients maximize their health both during and after treatment, and even small amounts of activity produce measurable benefits. Studies show that women who exercise after breast cancer surgery and chemotherapy live longer lives, with less risk of recurrence. Colorectal cancer survivors who exercise also experience improved survival rates. Even people in mesothelioma treatment experience benefits: improved mood, reduced fatigue, and more self-confidence.

Many cancer patients wonder when they should start a fitness program after diagnosis and treatment. “As soon as possible,” say most medical experts. Stress, depression, sickness, and fatigue work together to down-shift physical activity during cancer treatment. But exercise is essential for a good recovery.

As each person’s situation is different, cancer patients should check with their doctor before starting an exercise program. Upon their doctor’s approval, they should incorporate moderate activity into their daily lives. Exercise is critical to the physical health and emotional well-being of cancer patients. It greatly improves their outlook, and it provides the strength and energy necessary to fight their illness well.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bald Barbie!!!

I am actually feeling like I am done with this regimen of chemo.  I still have some lingering side effects, but nothing too debilitating.  I am exhausted and working on getting an appetite back, oh and hopefully grow some hair back!  I went for a couple mile walk today, I am so looking forward to getting in some sort of shape!  I have been in bed too long, watching "let's make a deal" everyday at 2:00!  Pretty sad!!
I went to get my expander deflated a little by plastic surgeon yesterday.  I walked in with my fab wig on and the receptionist who is there every time asks me my name.  I told her and she was like "Oh, wow, I didn't even recognize you!"  I knew I looked bad but....She said, "No you look good!"   Yeah right.  Oh well, I haven't been there since September and it's been a pretty gruelling five months!!!
I went to radiologist today.  Dr. Kuske drew all over my side to be radiated with a black marker.  They call it mapping and that is just what it looks like.  Then some magnetic markers and then a CAT scan.  Then three tiny little tattoos, I asked for hearts or stars but the tech said she wasn't creative, so dots is all I have.  They showed me the computer view of scan, and said I had a big heart!  Ahhhh, that was sweet.
I should start a week from Monday.  Side effects should be nothing compared to chemo, mainly fatigue and some sun burn like issues. That's all I know about schedule so far. 
I am very relieved this part is over as well as holiday season.  It was very nice and everyone was so generous, but I was very "out of the loop".  I will be back soon!
I am so very thankful for friends and family that have been there for me as well as my immediate family.  We definitely don't realize what we have until we really need it.  So, a huge thank you to so many people who have been part of this journey.
Sara ♥♥♥
                                             Bald Barbie!?!  I Think Great  A Idea!