I Can Breathe Again

Yesterday was the day that I got my results from my liver biopsy.  Everything is FINE and I can breathe again until next month. At the end of this month I have to see my oncologist again and I will be holding my breath all through that appointment.

The physicians assistant  came in to tell me about the results and I think she was still in training because she started to talk about numbers and didn’t immediately speak to me about the results of the biopsy. When she did finally speak to me about the results I was so relieved that I started to get emotional, I quickly recovered but to say that after getting the positive results my overall concern for my health was alleviated is an understatement, and not really telling the whole story.

Many people have things biopsied.  They are never fun but they are a part of getting older.  However to compare a regular biopsy with a recovered cancer patients biopsy is just cruel and unfair.

Until you get that phone call, the big “C”, there is no way to correctly articulate the fear and anxiety that goes through your mind when you get such a life changing diagnosis.  And there is no way that friends and family can understand how just hearing those words can strike complete desperation, despair and a total numbing panic into your mind and body.

So hearing that everything is fine and they didn’t find a tumor or any cancer was a relief to put it mildly.  Of course, I had all the preliminary tests to rule any and all cancer, tumors or liaisons out but with my breast cancer I had those same tests.  The doctors findings for my breast cancer after all these tests was that I had two spots that were not fast growing and not aggressive, then the pathology report came back there was a small microscopic area that the MRI, Cat Scan and ultrasound, did not pick up.  So when it came time for my liver biopsy, there was a part of my brian that feared the worst.

So now I can breathe a little, I have a little reprieve.  I am not going to celebrate or have a party, because I have been dealing with these liver issue since the end of my chemo., however I do feel a little more comfortable making a few long-term plans.

Next month will be my one year chemoversity, I will have been off of chemo for a year.  I am still shocked about the amount of time it took for me to get back to somewhat feeling “normal”.  I am a long way from calling myself healthy, but I am slowly making progress. I do believe everyone’s time-table is different and it does depend on the length of your cancer journey.

A lot of women, when they finish their treatment for breast cancer have a party, this I totally understand, because after my treatment ended I had no idea about the grueling  and brutal after effects that chemo and the post cancer drugs can have on your body.  So I say if your going to celebrate, do it, because the road to recovery is not easy and there are so many twists and turns that it will make you dizzy.  I do wish that other breast cancer survivors did tell me how difficult, trying, and so very frustrating that first year of recovery is and not to expect too much from your body because I wouldn’t have to learn this myself by trial and error and after almost a year of dealing with all the crap my body has been through not to be disappointed, but so blessed with where my body is today and I know that the second year might have just as many setbacks, hopefully not but you never know. But for now I can breathe

What people did tell me was that the type of chemo I was on was easier on your organs, well my liver that was not “bouncing” back would disagree with that statement. But I did not have too many complications and there are many brave women out there who are dealing with so much after their active treatment I consider myself lucky and I am so humbled by the true courage that these warriors show in the face of diversity.

So for now I will breathe, my family and I are planning a big trip in the summer and my physical breast cancer support group is going to rent a house, for a weekend, in Palm Springs in March so I am super excited for those two events.  I just have to remember to keep breathing and I will be fine.

Love and Peace,

Lori

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Liver Biopsy

Tuesday January 15, 2019 I had my Liver biopsy.  It was about 20 minutes and the nurse gave my plenty of pain medicine so I didn’t feel any pain.  Besides a few painful pokes the whole procedure  was very minor.  The recovery has non-eventful, it feels like I was kicked in the side.  It is sore but not too bad and I really don’t need any drugs for pain.  I am fortunate to be able to lay low for a couple of days to heal properly.

Oh if it was that simple, anyone who has been through a cancer diagnosis, breast cancer or any form of cancer, You know how many procedures, surgeries, blood draws, tests, doctor visits and IV, chemo and all those meds you have been through and one more procedure no matter how small is exhausting and overwhelming.  Having to go through anymore health issues makes me feel melancholy and just a little depressed.  I was weepy and anxious before and during the procedure, once it was over I let myself breath again.

An acquaintance of mine had a reoccurrence of her breast cancer, although her situation is completely different than mine it does make me wonder if I was aggressive enough. But I am stronger than I ever thought possible and I have the resolve to keep fighting.  The farther you get from your original cancer diagnosis the less you think about reoccurrence.

I wasn’t prepared for the toll on my organs but I think that the doctors and myself will now be able to get a handle on my liver situation.

Although, I get a little reprieve, while we wait for the results.  I have chosen not to think about it and to enjoy my life.

Until next time,

Peace and Love,

Lori

 

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2019 is Finally Here!!

I would be lying if I said that I believed 2018 was going to be easier than it was. I had just finished one round of chemotherapy and I only had three more cycles to go until I was finished.

My journey through chemo. was like a voyage into a dark, damp, cold, scary tunnel and for months there was no light, what I didn’t realize is that once your through the tunnel there is still more and more steps to this awful disease that you have to take. I truly believed that once the cancer was gone that my battle would be over, nobody told me that this battle goes on and on as I am going on a 1 year and a couple of months it is hard not to be discouraged by the amount of time that it is taking me to become completely healthy again.  I truly believed that once the cancer was out of my body and the chemo was over I would take a few months to heal then I would start to tackle the minor issues that my body still has to work on after undergoing such a major trauma.

That is not the case, I just received the news that I must have a liver biopsy because my liver enzymes keep going up and we have already tried a few things to get them to normalize and nothing seems to be working so the next step is medicine, which I really don’t want to go on.

This past year was an absolute nightmare, however I did learn a few things from this disease called cancer.   The mountain I conquered  was so huge and steep that I am much more empathetic for people with real issues to battle and I have no patience for those people who are dramatic and make up issues that they think are serious.

My cancer has been compared to the most ridiculous items from annoying traffic, to having to wait in long lines at a store to having a child get Bs on his report card or having children with special needs, now having a child with special needs is devastating to a parent however last time I checked it was not life threatening. I have little to no patience for these people and the reality of a life threatening/ altering illness will never have any impact on them so I save my breath and energy and just smile and shake my head.  These people have no idea what it is like to wake up every morning and fight like hell using every possible tool you can think off to get back to good health and a good quality of life. I get so tired of being”strong” and tough and fighting all the time to always be positive and to try to be upbeat.  Its exhausting and sometimes I just want to crawl into bed and cry at the utter unfairness of it all.  Yet for all those people who don’t get it, I’m so lucky to have just as many people in my life who do “get it” and those are the people who I need to concentrate and spend energy on.

I also think of all those brave women battling this disease and I am so thankful that I am not in the middle of chemo and my journey through hell is almost over, don’t get me wrong I am still trudging through mud and I am getting tired but at least I am almost there.

One of the many issues that post cancer and the post cancer drugs bring is the complete physical changes that happen to a person.  Cancer took so much from me besides my good health, it took my breasts, my stamina, my looks  and my body looks completely different. However, these items are starting to change even if it is so slow, it’s at a snail’s pace.

I have started to do acupuncture, and tai chi and they both seem to be helping.  I am also walking a lot and I am hopeful to get my old self back.  Maybe, not what I was but close to my old self.

tomorrow, I have my liver biopsy and to say I am a little anxious is putting it mildly, it does remind me of the procedures I had when I was first diagnosed and pre chemo. I am disappointed because I really presumed that all the major medical procedures were behind me.

However,  The people in my life, who showed up and really supported me during that time was amazing, and because of this awful disease I have met and become such good friends with some of the most unbelievable incredible women who helped me through this very tough time in my life. Today I am cancer free, so despite the many setbacks I endured I am still hopeful for 2019, because it has to be better than The year of hell!!

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Happy Holiday

Today is Christmas, last year on December 25 I was full of anxiety and fear planning to start my first round of chemo. on December 26.  I didn’t know what to expect and to say that I was scared, was to make light of what I was feeling.

Currently, I am in the desert celebrating the holiday with my family, in style, My husband and I rented a beautiful home to host the rest of my family.  I am grateful that we are all together and healthy.  I really missed being down here last year.

Everything about post cancer is extremely hard and so darn frustrating still I find myself talking less and less about my ailments except to my Breast Cancer friends. the farther I get from illness, the date in which my horrid journey started, my family and some friends forget that I am still struggling everyday to do simple tasks and trying to make them understand is just to exhausting so I have stopped trying, everyone means well.   However, I can talk about my health forever with my Breast Cancer friends, and they immediately understand and there is a bond with all my cancer friends unlike anything else.

I am still struggling with the changes in my body, and I still look nothing like I use too but I am hopeful that next year I will look like my old self again.  My blood test for my liver is coming up soon and that makes me nervous and of course I start my new medication on the 27 of December, but for now I am feeling good and that is something.

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday, I truly hope you can find some laughter and peace, no matter what part of the journey you currently find yourself, and remember everything comes to an end, even cancer.

Peace and Love,

Lori

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I Am Sad

I am really sad today

It has been just a week since I posted but I received my Lupron injections Thursday and Friday I had another doctors appointment and I have some feelings about these two events that I need to share. 

Since my active treatment ended, and everything that I have been through, one would think that my pain tolerance is really high and that it would take a lot for me to cry out in agony.This is untrue and it seems I am more sensitive to pain then ever before, I obviously can find internal strength to overcome the fear of pain, but I still have a lot of inner turmoil and anxiety when I see my doctors.

 I need to go to my Oncologist office, every 4 weeks, and get a Lupron shot, in addition I am to start taking anastrozole, generic for arimidex  and I am scared to death about the side effects.  I might be posting this blog so soon because I am afraid that the joint pain that is bound to effect my joints will make it impossible to type.  I am concerned about the overwhelming fatigue overtaking my body that small tasks like getting my daughter ready for school will once again take gargantuan amounts of strength.  I have to look forward to such intense hot flashes that it will feel like I have permanently moved to the mojave dessert, and this particular post cancer protocol has the added bonus of causing bone pain, excoriating bone pain.  

The joys of post cancer.

I also had a  follow up appointment with my  herpetologist Friday and the news is not what I expected, my liver enzymes are still elevated and going off the Tamoxifen did not get the results that we desired.  There is still a lot that can be done to get my liver healthy again. A liver biopsy might be called for, and that is just one more procedure that I must go through.   I am  so sad today because this post cancer treatment is never-ending, and once again   I find myself looking at another medical procedure that will cause me pain.

In addition to everything else, I am feeling like I am on the side lines of life, while my friends and family members and I  all make wonderful plans for the next couple months, I don’t know if I will be pain free enough to attend any of these events.

Every person I come into contact with, who knows my story tells me how good I look and how strong I am.  I am strong nor tough, I feel completely and totally vulnerable  and I am so tired of being a “warrior”.  Some friends bought me a necklace that says “All warriors have scars” and I always wear it, because maybe just having it on will give me strength and courage, the truth of the matter is that I am not brave or courageous I had no choice, I just took the day moment by moment.  I feel there are so many Breast Cancer fighters that are so much more fearless and tougher then I ever was, I just didn’t speak of it.  I wrote in a past blog how some, who beat this horrible disease, don’t like the term survivor, because it makes them think of a image of a person hanging on to a ship that has capsized.  That is exactly how I am feeling 

I find myself not talking about my continued post cancer fight, it is exhausting to keep explaining the struggles and the constant pain to anyone who is not a breast cancer fighter, so I just seize talking about the topic, I also find that I enjoy pretending that my cancer journey is over and finished and I am completely on the other side of this disease and all the complications, in other words besides these blog or my cancer support groups or breast cancer friends I don’t want to talk about it.  Because, if there is one thing I have learned on this journey is there is nothing I can do but get though the procedures.

These are the reasons I am feeling sad today.

Love and happiness,

Lori

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I AM NOT SPECIAL

It has been awhile since I posted,

It has been a year since my double mastectomy.

Something that I started to come to the realization over a brief time is I AM NOT SPECIAL.  I had cancer and it did not kill me, that is pretty special, but is it. There are so many cancers out there that can kill you it is a little mind boggling.

1 out of 8 women are diagnosed with this dreaded disease every day.  As I write this several women have gotten that horrible phone call or the news from her doctor and she must now start the battle of a lifetime, I AM NOT SPECIAL.  Yesterday, my husband and I went to my oncologists office because of my fatty liver they are now going to start me on a new post cancer protocol, with injections as well as a pill everyday.  I am hoping that the side effects will not be so bad to rob me of a good and decent quality of life.

My life has been moving forward, my body continues to betray me with little aches and pains, but because of my liver, I am not currently on any post cancer medication.  I am trying to enjoy each day and I usually am in a pretty pleasing mood.  My friends have become increasingly important and I no longer sweat the small stuff.  Next week I start the Lupron injections, I then go see the hepotologist and in 3 weeks I start a pill regime.

But, then there is the reality that I have a chronic illness, and no matter how you want to describe it for the next 5 years I am going to be on edge and waiting for another dreaded phone call.

I am looking forward to the holidays because last year I had my BMX on November 10, followed by 4 sessions of chemo. starting December 26.  The anticipation of the surgery and chemotherapy was extremely challenging for me to manage and the anxiety and the anxiousness was almost unbearable.

Yet, I need to remember I am not special, so many women have handled these overwhelming issues and so much more.

Yesterday was thanksgiving and like hundreds of families across the United States I celebrated with family and a big meal.  But, during the meal as I was reflecting on the many blessings that have happened in my life through out this past year, I can’t help think about all the women who have just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and are facing the fight of their life, a battle that they must win, and a battle that will take such bravery and strength that they did not even realize they had that kind of fight in them.

When I was speaking to my oncologist  nurse, and I was speaking about the new post cancer treatment, the pills and the injections, I will once again have to reach deep down into my soul for a strength that is deep inside me.  The side effects are painful and debilitating, so because of this I am scared.

My family is tired of this fight, they want me to be over my challenges and get on with my life.  I wish it was that simple, it is not.  As I wait until the side effects of the pills and injections take hold of my body I am making plans that I have no idea if I can fulfill.

Until next time,

Peace and love,

Lori

In a Funk

Today I am sad, I had a wonderful time with my friend and for a few hours I was able to escape the realities of my existence. I am now 6 months post treatment and I am wondering if I will ever wake up and not immediately think about cancer and do an ailment check.  Everything is still an effort, dressing, showering even brushing my teeth is an effort.  My friends are super supportive, however I think that even they forget that my day-to-day life is completely different then what it use to be and the struggle that my everyday life has become is overwhelming even for me. I know that I should be grateful just to be alive and done with chemo. but it is hard to always be cheerful and strong.

Chemo sucks and you just need to get through it anyway you can, but post cancer is so discouraging and frustrating that you almost forget how hard you had to fight to get to this point  I was talking to a fellow pink sister and I was reminded how painful and wearisome chemo is and can be.

I was talking with one of my “normal” friends and she commented that it must be so frustrating to have a chronic illness, I have never thought that for myself but that is exactly what I have a chronic illness called cancer and post cancer.   Before cancer I never had health issues and I took my strong and healthy body for granted.  I remember I ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store and after chatting for a while I revealed that I had some health issues, and that was the first time I spoke those words, I have never seen myself like that before but that is my life now and I can’t keep denying that is my truth and my reality for the next 5 years.

The tamoxifen that I am on is brutal and  has so many side effects that it is too numerous to list and tell everyone, it just sounds like I’m complaining.  So I rise up everyday and fight the fatigue and other numerous side effects.

I miss the old me, my hair, my boobs and especially the way my body was before this war began, but I need to come to terms with my new reality, this is who I am it is not a phase, it might not get better (at least for 5 more years).  I think that if I make peace with my new existence I will be much happier and calmer.  I read other women stories and the impact and of how things are post cancer is shocking and frightening .  My struggles seem less extreme and arduous than these brave women, and because of this I need to be so thankful.

Despite these facts I still get depressed about my situation, and I feel sorry for myself for everything that I have been through this past year.  September 18, will be a year since my diagnosis and during that year my body has taken such a beating that the horrors I went through are truly unspeakable.

My PTSD sometimes is really uncontrollable, I find that I wake up in the middle of the night with my arm in the position to receive the chemo drugs.  and I truly feel like I am back in that chair watching that poison and toxic drug going into my body and the war that those chemicals waged against the cancer and the rest of my healthy cells.

Yet today I am cancer free and I am so grateful for this and I am getting better, I am tired and worn out from my battle but I am not on chemo, at least for the time being so I must enjoy and persevere.

Until next time,

Peace and love,

Lori

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