07 October 2010

Crossing the Finish Line

On Saturday, October 2nd, our family participated in the Susan G. Komen 5K race/walk.  It was a remarkable experience for all of us to be among 14,000 other participants.  I have to admit, the walk was pretty hard on me, and my hips were killing me during the last mile of the race and for 2 days after.  But, it was worth it.

We had our photo taken as we crossed the finish line by a photographer for the Charlotte Observer.  I don't know if the photo was actually in the paper, but it is on the .com version of the paper.  As we crossed the finish line, they announced on the PA, "Crossing the finish line is survivor Sally Plautz!"  There was a chip in this little plastic disk that they told me to tie to my shoe.  I had no idea what that little plastic thing was for.  They announced the name of every survivor that finished the race.

Christian, Me, Douglas and Catherine

29 September 2010

Celebrate With Me

One year ago today, September 29, 2009, I received the telephone call from Dr. Hamad informing me that I had breast cancer.  For those who were there at Karen Garner's house, you remember how difficult this was for me. It was a hard day, and also somewhat surreal.  Even now, the whole year is some what surreal, like "did this really happen?"

Looking back is like trying to remember how bad labor and delivery was (without anesthesia or drugs) several months after your baby was born: you can recall that it was painful and hard, but you can't really bring back the extent of the pain to your memory.  This is probably why so many of us have more and more children! :)

It's true, I will forever have the physical scars and other residual issues as a result of all three treatments - chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.  Everyday I am bothered by at least one of the symptoms left behind, but mostly, I am getting on with the business of living.  This is reason all by itself to celebrate.

To follow up, I did decide to switch my oncologist to Dr. Kimberly Blackwell at Duke University Hospital.  She was really sharp.  She isn't warm and fuzzy, but that is not what I needed.  She listened to me and acknowledged all of my issues and recommended treatments to help me.  She referred me to a pain clinic and a specific physical therapist that deals with post mastectomy problems.  Between the two new treatments I am doing better.  I still have a long way to go.

Finally someone listened enough to diagnose part of my problem.  I have lymphedema in my chest wall.  O Lymphedema is found in patients who have had radiation and who have also had lymph nodes removed with their mastectomies.   Your lymphatic system functions similarly to your blood flow in your body.  Lymphatic fluid circulates via the lymph nodes.  When lymph nodes are removed, the lymph fluid can get backed up  and cause intense swelling.  This can be dangerous and is painful.  Usually, mastectomy patients experience Lymphedma in their arm.  Constriction sleeves are custom made to held reduce the swelling.  Think about how support hose are needed when someone had bad veins that cause swelling in legs, feet and ankles.  The same principle works for swelling cause from a build up of lymphatic fluid.

My fluid is building up in the area where my breast and lymph nodes were removed on the right side (the cancer side that was radiated).  The swelling causes compression around the implant and it is very painful.  The physical therapist does a special 'massage' that helps encourage the flow of the lymph fluid, therefore reducing the swelling and ultimately my pain.  The problem is that it only lasts for a few hours.  I will ultimately have to be fitted with a compression "bra" (not really a bra, but it's the easiest way to describe it) that should help in between treatments.  It is very expensive ($300 plus), but my insurance should pay for most of it.

I just want to say that I am filled with gratitude.  I am so happy to be on the other side of all this.  On Saturday, I will be walking the 5K in Charlotte for the Susan G. Komen event.  It's not going to be easy, I have walked only a maximum of 2 miles in the last two months, and that was hard, but I am going to give it my best.  Most of my family is coming to Charlotte to do the walk together in celebration of my 1st year as a cancer survivor.

Our team name is Team Can't-cer, which is taken from the sign that Christian and Mary made when we went to celebrate the completion of my cancer treatments.

My diagnoses CAN'T define me.  I had cancer, but it is not who I am.
My pain CAN'T stop me.  I have pain, but with the right treatment and perseverance, I will overcome.

So please, celebrate with me.  I AM a cancer SURVIVOR.  1 year down, the rest of my life to go.

WHEW.....that was some year! :)

22 September 2010

Komen for the Cure - 2010

Please consider donating to this most worthy cause!!!!

It has almost been ONE year since my mother was diagnosed with Stage IIIc breast cancer. To celebrate her and honor those who have been touched by breast cancer, my family is participating in the Komen for the Cure 5K race on Saturday, October 2, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Our Team: Team Can't-Cer* has a team gaol of raising $1000 to donate to the Susan G. Komen foundation. 75% of the donations will contribute to support education, screening, and treatment programs in the 9 counties surrounding the Charlotte area. 25% will help fund the Susan G. Komen for the Cure National Award and Research Grant Program. If you are able to contribute to our goal, our team would be most appreciative.

*Can't take over our life; Can't make us weak; Can't hold us down!


Don't forget that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!


You can make a donation through our team's website:

25 June 2010

Haven't Got Time for the Pain

I don't know why I persist in the belief that somehow I will get out of the worst of it. I know that Dr. Sailer told me that things would get worse before they get better. But hope springs eternal, and I always think deep down that I just might be the exception. And doesn't that just make you laugh, because during this whole process, I have almost always had the more severe side effects than what is usually expected. I should just get used to it. Right? Wrong! If I just planned on having the worse case scenario, that would be giving in to pessimism, and I just refuse to do that.

Last night was particularly horrible. Even with Ambien to aid in sleep I was still awake at midnight. I added a small dose of Dilaudid (morphine derivative) that Dr. Sailer prescribed for the times when Aleve was just not sufficient. Still, the clock ticked by, 1:00 a.m.......2:00 a.m......3:00 a.m....then finally asleep. The pain was so intense in the radiated area. And the thing is, it's not just the burning sensation of the skin, but deep underneath in the tissue below. Sharp, intense pain. I just laid there and sobbed.

Then, there is just the fatigue. I am so tired all the time. And, when I don't get a good night's sleep, it is just all the worse. But, I got up this morning and finished the last of the wedding cakes and an anniversary cake for tomorrow, so at least now I can rest from my labors.

There's just so much I want to do now that all my treatments are complete and I don't have time for the pain and the fatigue.

Here's my short list. I want to:

1) go to the pool and just read a book
2) go down to Beaufort and visit my grand-daughters
3) go to a mall and just browse
4) go visit a few of the local fitness centers and join one, so that I can start getting healthy
5) drive myself to the store if I needed something
6) go shopping to find window treatments for the living room and family room (something that dropped to the bottom of the list when we moved in last October because moving and my diagnosis were simultaneous)

I am just impatient, I know.

There's just so much living to do!

19 June 2010

Forward Motion

Eight and half months ago, it was almost impossible to imagine that this day would finally get here. I knew that someday I could say it, but throughout the months, the treatment schedule changed so many times, that it became hard to wrap my mind around the fact that someday I could say, "My cancer treatments are complete!"

"My cancer treatments are complete!"

Yesterday, Friday June 18, 2010 was my last radiation treatment. Every week, since the first week in May, I have made the trip to Ashville Avenue in Cary, to the Radiation Oncology Center. For six of the last seven weeks, I went every day (weekdays) at 11:30 a.m. to receive my radiation therapy.

I would get up most mornings sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. and work on that week's cake orders. At 11:00 a.m. I would leave for Cary. The first three weeks, I drove myself. Then, the fatigue became so overwhelming that I knew I was no longer a safe driver. By the end of the fourth week, the skin on my right chest from neck to midriff to armpit was so red and burnt, that it was very uncomfortable to wear clothes.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, the inflammation was so intense that the area around the implant was literally squeezing on the implant; it is so painful.

I had mistakenly surmised that once the last treatment was complete, I was on an immediate turn around toward recovery. And, while that is technically true, Dr. Sailer (my radiation oncologist) informed me at my final visit, that radiation has a delayed effect. What he was saying is that I will actually get worse, before I get better. The radiation has compounding side effects, so I will not observe the full effects of the radiation for several more weeks. He said that my skin will get more tough, more red, and then the top layer will begin to peel off, leaving very tender new skin behind. I will likely have permanent darkening of the skin that was radiated--like a permanent tan. It will probably fade some over the years, but to what extent varies from person to person.

The fatigue will also increase over the next few weeks and then gradually improve. It usually takes about three months to return to the pre-radiation level. I am glad that he told me, so that I would know what to expect.

This afternoon, on the way home from the wedding cake delivery, I was telling Doug that people kept telling me that radiation was really no big deal, compared to chemotherapy--that it would be so easy. Of course, this was from people who were bystanders who had not gone through either treatment. It was just their perception of cancer patients.

Yes, chemotherapy really can make a person VERY sick. The effect are so much more visible and dramatic. But radiation therapy has its own kind of terrible. I'll admit that the side effects of chemotherapy were oft times unbearable. OK...most of the time. But, I have never in my life had this kind of tired. Tired, just doesn't seem to describe it. Even during the sleep deprived baby years (and I spent the entire decade of the 80's pregnant and/or breast feeding) it never felt like this.

When the time comes when another friend of yours is diagnosed with breast cancer, (and it makes me sad to say that unfortunately the odds are that you'll have another friend who will) remember that every part of the treatment is very difficult. Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation...they each have their own terrible. Do offer words and deeds of love and encouragement, but try not to make one part seem easier by comparing it to another.

What comes now? Well, I'll have regular visits to both oncologists every three months for a few years. CT scans, MRI's to check to make sure there is no reoccurrence. (let's not even go there). And, in about 6 months, there will be an outpatient surgery related to the aesthetic details of the breast reconstruction. Hopefully, by then, they will not hurt so bad and I won't just beg to have the implants removed. :)

Keep reading, because I still plan to write at least for the next year or so. The treatments may be complete, but in a way, my life is at a new beginning.

Last night, my family took me out to dinner to celebrate the end of the treatments. When I arrived at the restaurant, my family was already seated and there were beautiful flowers on the table and a sign that Christian and Mary made that said:

more like

They had told our server about our celebration. At the end of dinner, she came by with several of the other's with a birthday sundae. She explained that although it was not the anniversary of my actual birth, that it was, in a way, a new beginning, a celebration of life...and they all sang the Outback birthday song to me. I was touched. And, I felt my perspective change. I felt... forward motion*.

Boo-yah!!! I am cancer free! I am a surviver. And honestly, what I survived and endured (along with all other cancer survivors) is nothing short of miraculous. They pump your body with the most toxic of chemicals and they subject you to what could easily be considered controlled radiation poisoning. But I did it.

Sometimes, in the last 24 hours I just tear up thinking, "I did it!" But, I didn't do it alone. You my friends were all there with me. My family--they were there with me. But above all, my Heavenly Father was there with me. And often, just at the point where I felt I could endure no more, he was there, or he sent one of you, his 'earthly angels' to lift me up.

* Princeton Dictionary: the act of moving forward (as toward a goal)

05 June 2010

I am an Emotional Girl

As of yesterday (Friday the 4th) I have completed 18 of my 28 scheduled radiation treatments. Now that I am four weeks into my treatments, the side effects are very apparent and make it difficult for me to function on a normal level. The fatigue is unlike any other fatigue that I have experienced in my life, but it comes close to the same kind of tiredness associated with my thyroid disease in 2000. When you have no more thyroid hormone in your body, you feel pretty wiped out and it is hard to move your body. This is very much the same, but it adds some extra "goodies" along with it.

For one thing, all the skin in the targeted radiation area is on fire. Like a terrible sunburn. Except, usually if you get a sunburn, you then avoid the sun's burning rays for a while. Not possible here, I get to go back every day at 11:30 a.m. for more! Lucky me. The tissue under the skin becomes swollen and it binds tightly around the implant, which is more painful than it sounds.

Other than that, I am doing fine! :)

There were two fairly large wedding cakes for today, so that means there was a good deal of work to do this previous week. I would work for as long as I could, and then rest for a while. Once the cakes were done and in the refrigerators, I crashed and I couldn't do another thing, but sleep. There are still tons of cake pans, cooling racks and mixing bowls with icing mess and the like in the sink waiting for someone to wash them. I simply do not have the energy to stand and do it. So, I turn my head the other direction so that I cannot see how messy the kitchen is.

Baby steps. Maybe my husband or one of my sons will baby step their way into the kitchen and give me a had. Mark moved back home three weeks ago. When he is here, he is always willing to lend a hand. He's not home right now. I sure miss him. HA!

On May 17th, I met with Dr. Singh, the medical oncologist. I was waiting to hear his final word regarding additional chemotherapy. Those two treatments that were skipped because of my severe side effects have been looming over me since the end of January. He says that I do NOT have to have them. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is what I wanted to hear.

Other than that news, my visit with Dr. Singh did not go well. Just like the last few that I have had with him. He doesn't listen to me. If I am feeling sad and low, he feels he must make me happy and smiling by the end of the appointment and he just pushes too hard. He doesn't let me finish my questions and then answers the question he THINKS that I am asking. He also will talk to Doug about me, as if I am not even there.

I was already pretty upset when my appointment started. It was my third doctors appointment that day. I was very tired and in pain. I had had it, and I just wanted to climb in bed. When I got to the cancer center I waited over 30 minutes and still they had not called me back for my lab work.

They didn't have me on the list. Ugh!

They said that I would have to wait until the appointment with Dr. Singh was completed. I was trying to keep my emotions together, but I started to tear up. I felt like they had made the mistake, but that I had to pay the price by being bumped to the end of the line.

Finally they called me for the doctor's visit. I was trying to get myself composed. Then, they had to pull out the thigh blood pressure cuff. Because I have had bi-lateral mastectomies, I cannot use a regular upper arm blood pressure cuff for a while. The thigh cuffs are so incredibly painful, and they are not as accurate. This time, it hurt even more than usual, that it made me tear up. Again.

I got myself composed again, but when Dr. Singh walked into the room, it was quite obvious that I had been crying. He asked what the matter was. I quietly said that it had been a long difficult day, but that I would be just fine. He wouldn't let it go. He kept asking questions. He asked me. He asked Doug, who just replied that it had been a long day, that I was in pain and that he was the third and last on the long list of doctors for today. He just wouldn't let it go.

Then, finally, he opened up my file and started to read. It was quiet for a minute or so, so I took some control and said "Well, it was my understanding that the purpose of this visit was too......" And EVERYTHING fell apart after that. It is too laborious to write it in detail. He actually, in what he felt was an effort to comfort me kept calling me "mamma". I was so annoyed, but I just kept thinking that if I told him how inappropriate I thought that was, it would make it worse. He even raised his voice to me.

At one point, when I was quiet, but in tears, he looks over at Doug and starts with "what did I do? What did I say? Did I do anything wrong?" but not in a genuine way, rather a defensive way. I just wanted to run. Fast. And right now.

As we were driving home, I told Doug that it occurred to me that THIS was the doctor that I would have to see regarding my cancer follow-ups for the rest of my life. This was not going to work for me. I need to have a doctor that will listen to me and that I can communicate with over the next twenty or so years.

On Thursday, I saw my family doctor (the amazing Dr. Corey Musselman) regarding my insomnia issues and other basic health maintenance stuff. I told him about how I felt about the doctor patient relationship I had with Dr. Singh. He was completely compassionate. He said it is not unusual, and in some ways expected, with long-term health issues like cancer and not too late to get a second opinion. He understands that I need to be really comfortable and confident in the person who is making the longterm decisions over the next years.

So, in July, I will meet with an oncologist in the Breast Center at Duke and see how that feels. Then his his words he said "and if Duke sucks, then we'll go to UNC" Then he laughed, and I did too.

I feel really good about going to see this new oncologist, Dr. Blackwell. You know, it never occurred to me to get a second opinion in the beginning at first diagnosis. I am not sure that I needed to then. I want to say that I don't question the medical skills of Dr. Singh. It is really just a personality style that isn't a good fit for me. But, I will have to meet with the oncologist, who ever it is, every three months for the first year, and then in diminishing frequency as the years go by. We, of course, pray that there will be no recurrence. But, if there is, I need to know that I have a doctor who will listen to my fears and anxieties, and not feel like it is a statement about their competency. It's just me. I am an emotional girl.

16 May 2010

Counting My Blessings

I started my radiation treatment this week. Things appear to be going "as expected" from the oncologist's perspective. I didn't expect to feel the side effect of fatigue quite so soon. I am receiving a pretty strong dose of radiation over a large area, from the front and the back. It doesn't take too long--I have to be very, very still in an awkward position for about 15 minutes. This is much better than the 30 or 40 minutes that I had to be still during the treatment planning stages.

They had to create a mold for my upper body, head and arms to fit into so that I am always in precisely the same position for each of my 28 to 33 treatments. My arms have to be over my head, and my hands have to grip onto handles that keep me steady and in place. This is not good news for my previously injured right shoulder which I was in physical therapy for up until the time of my diagnosis. Ouch...it has been hurting a lot since this all started.

Additionally, the skin of my right "breast" and upper chest that receive the radiation from the front and side feels like a bad sunburn for several hours after the treatment, and then on and off during the evening, night and morning before I go again at 11:30 a.m. each day to have it done all over again. I have extremely fair and sensitive skin so I am not surprised. They give me a lotion to apply to the radiated areas to try to keep the skin as hydrated as possible. It is soothing when I apply it, but its effects are not long lasting, so I find myself applying said lotion fairly often. They told me that I could not use it too much.

I have a pretty busy wedding cake schedule for this weekend, so we'll see how I function. There were no weddings this week, or the last week of May so at least I am not having week after week of busy. June however, presents the opposite situation. But, it is June and that is the month for brides. Thankfully, my dear sweet Kimberly has been my angel to help compensate for my inabilities. I don't know what I would have done without her.

May 16, 2010

I am sporting my new "un-wigged" hairstyle these days. Everyone, but me, really likes it. It's different for me but I am getting used to it. All I see are my chubby cheeks. My hair is extremely soft, very salt and pepper, with much more salt than I had previously. It has a natural wave, which I have had since my last baby was born, but is more obvious now without the weight of longer hair. This hair, almost 1" long, is 4 and a half months worth of growth. It's going to take forever for my hair to be even long enough to it the bottom of my ears. Oh well, it is what it is.

I felt pretty melancholy during the first few days of this week. I finally figured out that it was because the daily ritual of radiation just reminds me every day of my diagnosis. I was starting to feel more normal (not that I was ever really normal) and now I am being slowed down again. The "every-day-ness" of this treatment is probably going to be more taxing than the treatment's effects. I feel better when I am not alone. I need people. Most of all, I need my family, and sometimes it feels like certain family members forget that I am still going through this horrible thing. Not always...just sometimes.

I am so appreciative of your thoughts and prayers and loving support. I still need them. I try so hard to make sure that I don't let myself be defined by the cancer. It is not who I am, it is just something that I am going through. But, there are days where the burden is all consuming, and I don't like where my thoughts go on those days. I had one of those days on Thursday and I cried in the car while I was driving home from radiation. The afternoon was so difficult. I was so incredibly tired and I had baking to do and I didn't feel like doing it. I felt sad, and angry, and sorry for myself. Then Doug came home from work and offered to help me bake. He has not done that in a very long time. I could feel my countenance change as well as my heart. Isn't it amazing how the charitable act of one person can make such a difference?

I can't help but think of the lyrics to the hymn Count Your Blessings:

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly
And you will be singing as the days go by.

So, amid the conflict--whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

I know that I am blessed. I know it. I know that there are earthly angels that bless my life every day. My family, my friends, nurses, doctors, technicians or even Shelly at the pharmacy counter at WalMart. I know that even on days when it is really hard to have a positive attitude, I will eventually have my heart soften and feel deep gratitude for all of my blessings.

03 May 2010

Gotta get things "just right"

May 5, 2010
It's been two and a half weeks since my last surgery, and for the most part, I am doing well. My biggest complaint is how heavy the implants are, and that I am constantly aware of them on my body. The feeling does not go away, and they almost constantly sore. It is difficult to believe that I will ever get "used to them".

Let's put this into perspective. Most of you have probably seen on TV what a breast implant looks like. It is a clear balloon-like ball that is filled with saline (or silicone, but those are the ones of great controversy and not what was used for me). A 20 ounce bottle of water is 591 ml. My implants each have 750 ml of saline in them. Now, ya'll know how heavy a full bottle of water is! Just imagine a bigger bottle strapped to both sides of your chest. Now you see what I mean. One of the other reasons they are so uncomfortable is that the space left in my chest is much smaller than what they put in me. So, my skin, muscles and what is left of tissue has to s-t-r-e-t-c-h to accommodate the new residents in my chest area.

I have met with the Radiation Oncologist (Dr. Sailer) and they have begun creating the radiation treatment plan for me. I had the first part last Friday, and tomorrow I go in for the final adjustments and a simulation of the treatments. I begin radiation on Monday. I will have at least 28, but no more than 33 treatments. We won't know until we get into the thick of it. I will go for treatments every day (weekdays) for 6 to 7 weeks.

I find out on May 17th if I really truly do not have to have those last chemotherapy treatments that I didn't have back in January and February because of the horrible side effects that I was having. I am optimistic, but prepared to hear those words that I really don't want to hear.

I have enjoyed the last week and a half as I have been able to be more mobile and drive myself on errands. I even when to Kohl's yesterday and got some new clothes to fit this new body shape that I have right now. It was great.

I have felt so happy to not be so home bound. It's been great to feel more active. I know that there is a possibility that radiation will induce extreme fatigue, so I am taking advantage of every moment while I have energy to move and get things done.

It's been so great to see many of you as I have seen you at different events. Those of you who have seen me know that I am not wearing a wig right now, rather sporting my very, very, short 3/4" long hair style. I become less and less self conscious as I embrace my new look. It will be a year before my hair grows to have any length that I can really work with in a style. It took four months just to get it to 3/4".

Update 5/12/2010

There were some small complications in getting my treatment plan for radiation complete. Nothing serious, they are just trying to get it just right. I had my first treatment yesterday (Tuesday) and my second one today. This is life for me for the next 6 weeks. Everyday at 11:30 I arrive at Wake Radiology Oncologists for my treatment. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. The hardest part is staying still for that length of time. It's not the actual staying still that is hard as much as having to take my arms and fix them above my head. This is not a good thing for my temperamental right shoulder. It had been doing so much better (what with not working like a mad woman on crazy amounts of cake each week) but when it gets into a fixed position for any length of time, those joints just seize up.

My skin is already feeling like I have a sunburn. Not cool. It hurts more as my clothes rub up against it. They give me a special lotion that is supposed to help. I hope it does.

I noticed that I have been more emotionally sensitive since the Radiation phase has begun. I have bouts of melancholy. I have tried to examine my mind for the why. All I can come up with is that after weeks of just recovery from surgeries, I am once again in the thick of the cancer treatment, That means more discomfort, and new side effects. It just is a daily reminder of my diagnosis. I was started to feel more "alive" again. I don't want to see that go, even if it is for only a few weeks.

I know that I just have to get up and get going each day and do whatever is physically possible each day so that I don't dwell on the part of every day that is uncomfortable. I cannot let this intrusion of the world break my spirit. So I won't.

I am amazed how already the time of chemotherapy seems like a distant memory. A pretty horrible memory, but it is over. The surgeries (the big ones) are over. And I am still me, my body is just a bit "damaged" here and there. Radiation will be done at the end of June, and then THAT will become a memory. And then HOPEFULLY, that will be the end of that.

Hope springs eternal. :)

20 April 2010

Deja WHAT?

About 24 hours after my surgery (which puts me at about 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon) I noticed that I had some itching on my wrists and on my ankles. No rash, perhaps a little pink. Within an hour or so, I had just a general tingly itchy feeling all over my body and the wrists were definitely showing signs of a rash starting. My neck was the next to follow and by the evening I had a rash starting on my back and abdomen. I immediately started Benadryl. That helped me sleep through Saturday night, only to rise the usual times to use the bathroom.

Sunday morning the rash was much more defined and it was making me crazy. I stayed on the Benadryl, but also called Dr. Hanna to report that once again I was showing signs of an allergic reaction to something. I didn't have ANY of the suspected medications from the first surgery, so now we have to figure out what the real culprit is.

Now it is Sunday night and the rash is spreading like wildfire. I decided to experiment with an old tried and true thing called Witch Hazel. This homeopathic liquid is quite versatile. FYI:
Witch hazel is a low growing shrub native to North America. It has a long history of use medicinally, and cultivation of the bush has spread to Europe for this purpose. Preparations of witch hazel ranging from tinctures to soothing creams are available in most drug stores, as well as specialty stores for skin care. The plant acts as an astringent, firming and tightening tissue and acting to reduce itching and irritation. Other properties have also been ascribed to witch hazel, making it an excellent all-purpose addition to the medicine cabinet.

The Witch Hazel has an instant cooling effect, and it appeared to quell the itching long enough for the Benadryl to kick in. Catherine is on hand to keep my hands from scratching. It's bedtime, so I take two Benadryl instead of one along with my sleep meds and I make it through the night without going crazy with itching when I arise the two times to use the bathroom. Not bad.

I have an appointment which was previous scheduled with Dr. Hanna, just to check on my incision and the implants. All looks really good. But the rash is a real head shaker. He's convinced that it isn't from ANY of the oral meds given to me post surgery but one of the three meds they mix for anesthesia or something relating to the surgery. He sends me to Dr. Charamanti and I get mega-doses of Prednisone (steroids) and am told to stay on the Benadryl.

So, this is what I am doing. The rash is no worse today, but no better. I still see that as progress. Once, the steroids really start working (Dr. says 36 hours from the first dose) we'll should see some good progress. If not....suspenseful organ music...back to the hospital I go for the "big guns" of IV steroids.

Honestly, I really don't think it will come to that. I am so determined. I am being SO good about keeping myself from scratching. I am also convinced that the Witch Hazel is doing some good. Well, at least it is soothing and it isn't making the rash any worse.

I am still in pain, and it is hard to get up from a lying down position on my own without intense pain, so I always need someone to help me get up and lay down. I am able to find certain ways to lay in bed, with pillows propped in certain ways where I feel no pain at all. That is great. It's just moving around that causes the pain, so I move as little as possible.

The areas that will become my new breasts (I just can call them breasts yet...it's just stuffed skin right now) are very tight, as the implants are really packed in there. I am assured that over several months, the skin, muscle and tissue will "give" and adjust so that they are shaped more natural and don't feel so hard and painful. I guess it's like breaking in a new pair of leather loafers.

I am really shocked over this whole allergic reaction thing, and how much the implant area hurts. It really is much more uncomfortable than I could have imagined. I am always so impatient. I want everything to get back to normal RIGHT NOW!!!

Rest is what I need most, so that is what I am going to try to do. Radiation is just around the corner and that is going to be tough. Probably the hardest thing is the grinding schedule: every day, Monday through Friday for almost 7 weeks. It will be at least two hours out of my day, for many weeks. Again, my impatience is showing.

But, after reading this post, I hope you remember more of my optimism than my impatience:
Hymn #30: Come, Come Ye Saints verse 2

Why should we mourn, or think our lot is hard? 'Tis not so; all is right
Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take. Our God will never us forsake!
And soon we'll have this tale to tell--
"All is well! all is well!!"

17 April 2010

Home Again

Mom had her second surgery yesterday. It was in-patient procedure so no staying over the in hospital again. We're still trying to figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing. She went to the hospital at noon yesterday and her surgery was scheduled to start at 2. It was a little before 3 when Dad emailed me that the plastic surgeon was not finished with his previous surgery yet and they were still waiting. He also mentioned that Mom was on 10 mg of Valium and "lovin' it." When I talked to Mom yesterday around ten she said that her biggest hope was that she didn't remember anything. She just wanted to go in and wake up with the new girls. So I'm pretty sure the Valium helped this.

The next thing I know, Dad texted around 6 and said that Mom was in recovery and that they were anticipating a couple of hours for recovery. They came home a little before 10 last night. Mom was obviously in pain but moved a little better than I remember the first surgery go-round. She said that her mouth was very dry from the surgery and even the ice chips didn't seem to quench her thirst. She was also very cold from all the anesthesia wearing off. The shivering made her tense up and hurt. She said that she didn't expect it to hurt this bad this time. Frowny face. She also said that her chest wall and around the area were very tight. She tried to get comfortable but it seemed hard. After taking some medicine and trying to relax she seem to settle in. I was in there talking to Mom and Dad and then Daniel came in. It was so nice just sitting in there and talking with them. I think family being around when you're in pain just calms you down.

When I woke up this morning I came down stairs to find Dad. I asked how Mom did and his simple reply was, "Pretty good." HURRAY! About 25 minutes later Mom came down stairs. I asked her how she think she did last night. She said, "the drugs helped." Double victory. She's finishing up breky right now and I imagine will take it easy for a good while.

12 April 2010

Living Waters


This afternoon I had to drive back to the venue where Saturday's wedding cake was delivered so that I could retrieve the cake stand and other cake accessories. This is not something I have ever done before, but the bride paid me for the convenience of not having to bring those items back to me later this week.

I don't drive very often. It is much more uncomfortable (painful) for me to have the seat belt across my chest in while in the driver's seat than the passenger's seat. I think I have driven only four times in the last four months. Today was spectacularly beautiful and the venue was at a rustic setting called the Aqueduct Conference Center nestled in the bucolic woods surrounding Jordan Lake, just off Farrington Rd.

I had the windows down and the sunroof open. I was listening to a CD that Mary had made for Doug for Christmas and I had the song Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan playing fairly loudly while I let the wind "blow through my hair" (well, figuratively, as my hair is only about 1/2 inch long right now).

I felt so alive and happy. There are several portions of this road that cross over some of the "fingers" of Jordan Lake. People were out on their boats, others were fishing and I just thought to myself "what is it about being close to the water that makes me feel so peaceful and happy?"

I get this same feeling when we go to the ocean. Water--lakes, rivers...it is all the same for me. I just love it. I started to think about how we need water to live. We can go without food for sometime, but it doesn't take too many days without water before our bodies begin to shut down.

That made me think about the Savior, and how all references in the scriptures to "living waters" refer to Him. He is the source of our spiritual life and if we go too long without being fed by Him through His Spirit, our spirit begins to shut down too.

I can't even imagine how I could have survived these last 6 months without my testimony of Jesus Christ and the power of his atonement to lift me when I have hit the lowest points that I have ever experienced in my life.

*(deep thoughts, contemplations, meditation)

What's Been Goin' On?

About three week's ago I started having the tissue expanders filled with saline in preparation for the final reconstruction surgery that would eventually take place at the end of the year. It became instantly apparent to Dr. Hanna, and me that the expanders were high on my chest and not in the usual level that breasts are found in women. Nevertheless, I returned 10 days later for my second fill. That was a week ago today. As he injected into the expanders the additional solution, I was very uncomfortable. No, that is an understatement. I was in pain.

Dr. Hanna was obviously concerned and told me that he didn't see any reason for me to return for additional fills, since the expanders weren't expanding me in the place where the permanent breast implants would ultimately go. He started thinking "out loud" in his usual manner.

He thought it would be best if he could go ahead and remove the expanders and put in the permanent implants now, before radiation treatment began. But, we all know that I was already at 9 weeks post surgery and that the radiation oncologist needed for the treatments to begin no later than 12 weeks post surgery. Dr. Hanna called Dr. Sailer to suggest the change in plans.

I was so hopeful. These expanders hurt so much and actually restrict movement of my upper arm since they go into my arm pit as well. (You'll just have to use your imagination, since I can't show you what I am talking about. Find the point of your right clavicle bone that is centered between your shoulder and the center of your neck. Go one inch down. That is where the top of the expander is. Imagine that your breast tissue starts there)

The thought of having to live with these tortuous things for 8 more months was very discouraging. You see, I originally could not have the final surgery until 6 months post radiation, or there would be serious healing issues. I was excited about the possibility of moving this time line up.

Then, on Wednesday, I got the call that Dr. Sailer said no. We couldn't hold off the radiation any longer. I was depressed. Despondent. I cried on and off all the rest of the day. Sleeping was difficult even with Ambien, because of the pain of these things.

I had an appointment with Dr. Sailer last Friday to start the radiation process for the next 6 weeks. When he examined me he said "Well, a picture is worth a thousand words". He was able to understand what Dr. Hanna was describing over the phone. He just couldn't imagine it, just as I am sure you might be having a hard time imagining what I am describing.

He looked at my chart and said that since I had such favorable pathology report from my mastectomy that we could buy a little more time and he concurred with Dr. Hanna to go ahead and do surgery ASAP.

Oh...I am not sure I ever wrote that they found NO evidence of cancer in my breast tissue or lymph nodes in the pathology. That meant that the chemotherapy destroyed ALL the cancer. All my doctors were beyond surprised. It was miraculous.

Anyway, Dr. Hanna and Dr. Sailer spoke this morning and my surgery to get these hideous things OUT and the permanent implants in is scheduled for this Friday, April 16th at 2:15 p.m. I am both excited and and nervous. I am not sure what to expect in the outcome. Because the expanders were unable to do what they were supposed to do, I may not get the fullness that matches what I was like before the mastectomy. At this point, I am trying just to be grateful that I even have this option.

Radiation will likely begin by mid-May. I won't know until my May 15th appointment with Dr. Singh if he still believes that I won't have to finish up the chemotherapy that was stopped back in January. I am not counting on anything, but hoping that his research will give me the answer that I want to hear.


Many of you already know that my father died two weeks ago on March 30th. He passed away peacefully in his sleep after suffering for the last 6 or so years with Alzheimer's disease.

My mom called me on the evening of Monday, March 29th to tell me that the Hospice caretaker felt dad's passing was impending within a day or two. She said that Daddy had not eaten or drank anything in three days. He had not responded in several days. In that moment I felt an urgent need to be near him. I had not seen my father since early November after my first chemo treatment. I was not able to go to the facility in my immune compromised state.

We gathered up the family and immediately drove to see him. He was so thin, barely over 100 pounds. He was in a non-responsive state, but appeared to be sleeping, although his eyes were half-way open. On Tuesday, I returned with my son, Mark, since he was unable to be with us the night before. We stayed for several hours until my mom was able to get there. She was making the arrangements at the funeral home and cemetery in preparation for the inevitable.

I had to take Mark home so he could get to work. I was only home for 20 minutes when my mother called to tell me that dad had passed on. One moment he was breathing, the next moment he was not.

Within an hour or so, I returned back to the facility to stay with my mom until the funeral home came to take away the vessel that housed my father's spirit for these 82 years.

The next days were filled with many tasks and phone calls making arrangements for my sisters' arrival from their homes across the country and preparing the program for the funeral including helping my kids prepare special music for the funeral.

My mom asked Douglas to give my father's eulogy. It was wonderful. My brother-in-law Will gave a marvelous talk on the Great Plan of Salvation.

I was so happy for my dad, who was now free from the body that had impaired him from being able to communicate with his family and friends. And yet, my daddy had died. It was exquisite joy and sorrow.

Three days. Three days my father had no water. He could not live without it. Water is essential for our bodies. The Living Waters, where we can drink and never thirst again are always here for us if just want to drink.

I am so thirsty.

14 March 2010

Healing My Wounds and Heart

Several of you have expressed concern because I haven't written in a month. I am very appreciative to you who have been so thoughtful. I have started entries several times, and I just stop and think to myself "this isn't what I want to say". So I erase it and stop.

It has been a roller coaster of a ride for the last four weeks. I have had weeks where everyday I have crying spells with feelings of despair...so overwhelmed. It has been difficult to adjust emotionally from the mastectomy and the loss of my breasts. I don't really have the words to explain how that feels.

Then, there is the chronic pain. I have pain from three sources. The first is the incision itself. Even today, six weeks post surgery, I feel as if someone has taken a long piece of rough twine and wrapped it tightly around my chest, where your bra band would be. Well, except it doesn't hurt on my back. I have three places where the incision has not closed and healed. Two of the places are near my sides where the drain tubes were inserted for the week or so post surgery. They are tender and sting when my clothes or anything touches or bumps it. I also have about an inch of the 22" incision that is still an open wound. But, finally this last week, I have seen improvement and it doesn't hurt anymore...it's just really ugly.

The second source of pain is deep inside from nerve damage. One of the consequences of having this surgery with lymph node removal is that nerves are cut and damaged. Although I have no feeling on the surface of my skin at the point of where my breasts used to be, I have sharp jabs of pain deep inside me at those same places.

The third source of pain is referred pain from the above mentioned nerve damage. I have a numb strip that goes down my right upper arm from my shoulder to my elbow, but under that skin is a dull stabbing pain. Unbelievably, I have the same kind of pain on the outer part of my left upper thigh that goes down to my knee and ends in a sharp intermittent stabbing pain.

Thank heaven for good pain medication!!

Sleeping has been tough, because I have to sleep on my back. Those pains I described above made sleeping on my side totally impossible.

Now that the update on all the physical symptoms is complete I can write that I am doing much better emotionally now than a month ago. The steroids have probably all gone out of my system and now I only have mood swings associated with the chemotherapy induced menopause. Not great, but not as bad as the "crazy" I had with the steroids.

Over the next month or so, I will go weekly to the plastic surgeon to gradually have the expanders filled with saline. I cannot start radiation until I am completely expanded. I will start 6-7 weeks of radiation once the expansion is complete, which will be 6 weeks or less from now. Once radiation is complete, I have to go at least 6 months with the filled expanders in place before I have a second outpatient surgery where Dr. Hanna will remove the temporary expanders and replace them with regular saline breast implants. If I have one complaint, it is that all of the details including the knowledge of the second surgery was not explained to me from the beginning.

I have to mention that I have had many hours to contemplate the purpose of adversity in our lives. I really am grateful for the things that I am learning about myself and about how Heavenly Father works in our lives, if we let him. This really has been the most difficult time in my life. But, it also has been the best time of my life for knowing and feeling the love of God and His son, Jesus Christ. Just when I start to feel the worst despair and feelings of being alone, he sends his love through his Spirit or through my family and friends. My faith has been tested, but I continue to stand as a witness of his power and his mercy.

17 February 2010

Trying to Find Myself

It is still difficult to type, since my fingers are still plagued with the numbness of neuropathy, so this will be brief.

The last two weeks of my life have been surreal. I don't even know how to express the life-changing experiences that I have had. I don't think it would have been as difficult, if it hadn't been for the sudden and urgent action that needed to be taken when I had the severe allergic reaction to the Percocet (Oxycodon). Those who saw me during this time were witnesses of true insanity. The heavy IV steriods really did alter my perceptions. The itching was so intense that I now I know why people who feel tortured want to run and jump off buildings. Mere words cannot describe.
I spent from Wednesday through Sunday at the hospital for treatment for the ridiculous rash all over my body. Every day, the itching subsides more and more. Today, there was very little itching.

I cry everyday. I am pretty sore, but healing well. I can't sleep at night because the steroids make you hyper. Doug reminds me everyday that once the steroids get out of me that I will feel more "normal" again. Now, remind me.....what is NORMAL for me? It was so long ago, I just cannot remember.

Seriously though, I couldn't have made it through these last weeks without all of your love and prayers. When I am feeling better, and my fingers aren't so awkward, I will write more.

09 February 2010

Hanging in there

I think the thing that is mostly coming to my mind when coming up with an update about Mom is that there is both progression everyday, but also obstacles. This rash that Mom has because of the antibiotics in the hospital is really making her life miserable. Friday when we went to visit Mom in the hospital she showed us the itchy rash on her wrists. Saturday morning it started to spread and became very uncomfortable. As I said before Mom took Benadryl. Finally Sunday afternoon when it was clearly not getting any better, Elizabeth called the doctor on call who decided that he would remove one of the medications (the antibiotic) and give her another one. Monday she still endured the itching and all the discomfort because of it. Yesterday was the follow up with the plastic surgeon. When he saw the rash Mom said that he was so concerned that he phoned his friend who happened to be a dermatologist to see her right away. (It turned out that Mom had seen that dermatologist some 15 years previously.) He gave mom one oral medication and topical cream for the morning and another oral medication and topical cream for the evening. Mom woke up this morning with terrible itching and discomfort. Because the pharmacy that we currently use was not opened yet, Dad opted to go to the 24-hour Walgreens in downtown Fuquay. The pharmacy told Dad that they would need the doctor's office to complete an insurance form in order for them to fill the prescription. This has resulted in phone tag at the doctor's office and to make a long story short, she still doesn't have the prescriptions she needs. Though the plastic surgeon was hesitant to give Mom prednisone - which would clear the rash up speedy quick - he went ahead and called it in. Prednisone also makes Mom's immune system even more compromised, so we have to be even more careful with anyone who goes near her. Don't let that you be afraid to come and visit, though. We have complimentary hand sanitizer and face masks if you're not feeling 100%.

I think Mom is being as positive as she can be right now. She has already accomplished so much. She even said that if it weren't for the dumb rash, she would be doing okay. She said she has learned to move, sit, and sleep in such a way that does not make her too uncomfortable.

We continue to feel the love, prayers, and support from everyone. The calls, emails, visits, comments, and dinners have been wonderful. I am so grateful that Dad and Elizabeth are here too. Having family around is so comforting. I can't imagine my life without them. Mom has done so much for everyone, we are grateful to give back to her.

06 February 2010

She's home

Last night around 8 o'clock mom and dad came home. Mom is in a lot of pain but did so well walking from the car to the house and up the stairs to her bedroom. She is being so brave and already showing that she's gonna give it her best. For some strange reason she started having some sort of allergic reaction and became very uncomfortable last night. We called the pharmacy and made sure it was okay for her to take some Benadryl along with her other meds. This morning dad said that she did okay last night sleeping. He even got some sleep too! She is still okay with short visits for those of you who would like to stop by. But you'll have to forgive her because she can't come to the door to greet you. Prayers on her behalf for comfort, sleep, and a speedy recovery are definitely being felt. Keep them coming!

05 February 2010

Morning update

Well I just spoke with dad. He said that mom had a difficult night. When asked about visits, mom said that she would be up for them but only short ones. If you do go, please arrange your visit with dad. She is at Cary Wake Med in Room #120. For the phone number (for my dad or the room), please call us at the house.

One other thing he said is that they would be discharging her today. Dad said that the doctors have good reasons for it, but he didn't go into detail. Let's all pray that mom has a comfortable day.

04 February 2010

Another update

10:20 - Dad said that he would be seeing mom any minute from then and that she is in an observation room overnight.

11:00 - Dad is in the room with mom. She is awake, but in A LOT of pain. She is cognisant of things and aware of her surroundings. In other words, she's not talking gibberish. In fact, she can't talk because she was intubated for so long - her mouth/throat is very dry. Dad said that she may be put into another room in the morning, but the place where she is now would likely be hers until she is discharged. Dad is doing well and caught up on some work and all the magazines he's been putting off reading until now. He said that everything took longer then he expected. But also sounded relieved that mom was done and awake. Because she is in A LOT of pain, he anticipated that it would be a rough night. She's getting morphine every 2 hours, so we'll see! Dad put me on speaker phone for her to hear me. I gave her my love and all the love that everyone has been sending. Dad said that she nodded her head.

Surgery update

Hello to all! This is Catherine, Sally's daughter. Here's a timeline of events from mom's surgery today:

12:50 - Dad called and said that they were wheeling her away. He said she was a little weepy, but was given the good drugs so seemed comfortable. The surgery was scheduled to begin at 12:30, but I remember her saying that all the doctors wanted to speak with her before the surgery, so that's probably what delayed it.

3:40 - Dad called to let us know that the surgeon was finished and now the plastic surgeon was taking over.

8:00 - Dad called to let us know that Mom was out of surgery. Things went well and doctors said that all was routine. She was being placed in recovery for an hour and then dad would see her. He will be staying the night with her.

Mom said that they would keep her 24 hours from the time she was placed into a "real" room. So, we are expecting her to be back late Friday night. But that is the plan for now. We'll see how things go overnight and such and how well she can manage the pain as well.

There have been people who have expressed a desire to send flowers or a gift. Because of the short duration of her stay at the hospital, we would suggest sending these to her home. If you are looking for alternative gift suggestions, please contact me or Elizabeth.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, thoughts, and love. Please keep them coming. We are so blessed to have you in our lives. Much love to all.

03 February 2010

Fear Not!

It's a little past eleven o'clock. I have taken some Xanax and an Ambien in hopes that I will sleep well, and not be troubled with any anxiety during the night.

I am so grateful for your prayers and words of love and encouragement regarding my surgery tomorrow. Honestly, I cannot believe that this day is here.

Each day since Monday I have felt more and more comfort.

I have always been a proponent of the philosophy that "knowledge is power". As I met with the anesthesiologist yesterday and he addressed my concerns (OK, who is kidding who--they were darn right fears) I felt much less fearful about that aspect of the surgery. Understanding what will happen each step of the way helps me. Today I spoke with three of my sisters, Ruth Ellen Jo Ann and Colleen, who also, from their own experiences helped me understand and fear it less.

This afternoon I met with Dr. Donald Hanna, my plastic surgeon who will be doing the reconstruction surgery. I felt such confidence in him as he talked me through the steps of what will happen tomorrow, and then what will happen in the coming weeks and months as the reconstruction process continues. I also left with an awful lot of purple marker drawn all over my chest. I am a sight right now.

My surgery is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The estimated time of surgery is anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. It will be late in the evening before I will be in my room at Wake Med Cary. I will probably have Doug or one of my daughters post an entry late tomorrow night or early Friday with an update.

There is a scripture in the New Testament that has been going through my mind since Monday evening. It has brought me great comfort.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind"
2 Timothy 1:7

I feel the power that comes through my faith in Christ and the love that embraces me from you, my friends and from my Father in Heaven. My mind is now at peace with the process that awaits me tomorrow and in the coming months.

My fears are replaced with the Power of Love.

01 February 2010

Time to Face my Fears!

Everything has changed.

Last Monday, I met with my oncologist, Dr. Singh, per usual before my chemotherapy treatment. He asked about how my body was handling the Taxol treatments.

He became highly concerned when I told him about how difficult it had become for me to walk without assistance and was especially concerned regarding the numbness in my fingers and feet. He sat and pondered for a few minutes and then told me that while we want me to be well, he didn't want me to become handicapped in the process. The neuropathy in my hands and feet could get significantly worse with additional Taxol treaments, and it is known that sometimes the numbness is permanent.

We have known for many weeks that the treatments have been very effective in shrinking the large mass of cancer. He examined me and really felt like it had shrunk enough to make surgery possible now. He called Dr. Hamad, my surgeon, right there in the office to discuss the possibility and I had an appointment for the next day to meet with her to see if she concurred. I left without having to have any treatment last Monday.

Dr. Hamad did concur that I was in a good situation for safe and effective surgery. She told me it would be in 2 - 3 weeks. My head was spinning. This is all happening so fast.

Now, I don't get out of the last chemo treatments, as Dr. Singh said that a few months later, I would eventually have to have them, but that he would use the alternate Taxotere instead. This is pretty stinky! He says that it usually doesn't have as severe of side effects, but everything I have read about it says that the exact same side effects, plus some extra ones are possible. Additionally, my hair would have started to grow back in by a few months from now, and then I will have to lose it all over again. I am trying not to think about this until later.

I called the surgeon's office last Thursday, because I hadn't been notified of my surgical date. She said she was working on it, and that she'd know by Friday morning. Well, I never got a call on Friday.

This morning, just two hours ago, the nurse, Debra, called. She said that when she was setting up the surgery on Friday, the soonest they could do was February 23rd. That was further away than I expected. BUT, she said...just this morning there was a cancellation for Thursday. THIS COMING THURSDAY!!!!

I felt a whoosh of terror and panic come over me, and I started to cry. Could I be emotionally prepared for all of this in three short days? She said I could call her back later this morning, but that she had offered it to me first and she needed to know soon so that she could offer it to another patient.

I fell apart. I talked with Doug. I talked with Catherine and called Elizabeth. They see it as a blessing that I have less time to stress about it and, they know that I would, because I already have since last Monday's shocker. Rip the band-aid off fast!!!

Catherine's words had the most impact, "you want to get the cancer out of you as soon as possible".

So, I faced my fear and called Debra back and took the available surgery time for this Thursday, February 4th. I arrive at the hospital at 10:00 for a noon surgery.

I am trying so hard not to be scared.

But I am. I think that now I am more afraid of the emotional aspects of what they are actually doing--the removing of my breasts--than the surgery itself. Although, since I have never had general anesthetic nor any surgery before, I face that unknown with several degrees of trepidation too.

This surgery is happening TWO MONTHS earlier than anticipated. That's good, right? The road to recovery is faster, right?

I ask for your prayers on my behalf that in this abbreviated time I will feel at peace and be prepared in all ways to make it through the surgical process the same as if I had more time. I pray also that I will feel the love of God embrace me as I go through these next weeks.

26 January 2010

You are my Angels

Thank you so much for your words of comfort and encouragement and love. It has meant so much to me. I have had an outpouring of love extended me through your comments, your phone calls, emails and your visits to me.

I am doing significantly better since that last post. I have felt the love of my Heavenly Father for me through you, my friends.

I will be back very soon with a more complete update.

13 January 2010


I knew that eventually this day would come. A day when all I could say is: "This is so hard, I am struggling and tired of all this." I have hit that point. In my first post, I said that I would just write whatever I was feeling that day.

I started writing a post yesterday, trying to be strong and positive about the last week and a half since my last treatment. I wrote a few sentences and just couldn't go on.

The fact is I am losing it a bit. The intense pain has truly affected my ability to be rational and positive. The pain is so intense in my bones and my muscles sometimes all I can do is cry. I can't sleep so the nights are long and lonely. The narcotics barely take the edge off. I am so weak, I can hardly walk, my hip joints are so wobbly. I have come to the point where I see how much more there is that I will have to go through and, I am scared.

And because I am in a chemically induced menopause, in a very condensed time, I am dealing with all the issues and symptoms, including mood swings, that go with that.

I am tired of being able to do nothing, go no where and being alone. The days are so long.

I am experienced enough with life to know that these feelings won't last. But, this is what I am facing and feeling today.