Happy Weekend!

Mood: Great! 😁

I am having a great weekend with my sweetie! 😁 I am working hard on getting my fatigue to go away and generally feeling better by changing a few things up in my routine.

Tomorrow I am going to get back to my workouts. The last time I saw my surgeon I was restricted to 5lbs and minimal walking. I am still dealing with sutures coming out from my surgery, but it is time for me to work on moving more. I have a follow up appointment with my surgeon on February 12th so I will talk to him about doing more than I am about to start with when I see him.

I am also taking more vitamins than I have before. My oncologist and I do not agree on this subject….he calls it “expensive pee” but says it is my choice. My radiation oncologist specifically told me to eat plenty of protein and take vitamins while I was going through radiation. I told her what I am taking and she said it was awesome, that I have obviously done my research. I have done a lot of research on what specific vitamins block cancer from coming back or growing. Will they help? Maybe, maybe not, but it helps me feel like I am doing all that I can to keep my breast cancer, or any other type of cancer from returning and pushing me into stage 4. I am also taking a few vitamins and supplements to help my hair grow, my finger and toe nails to heal and grow back healthy and my skin to recover from all of the damage the chemotherapy treatments did to my body over the summer. So, I am taking the following vitamins and supplements…..Probiotics, Biotin, Turmeric, Collagen, Vitamin D3, E, K2 & B-Complex. Yes, it is a lot especially when you consider the other meds I take for diabetes and now a hormone blocker to keep the odds of staying cancer free in my favor, but again, I feel that I am doing all I can to keep myself as healthy as possible and that helps me so much mentally.

 

Oncologist Appointment: The Start of Hormone Therapy

Mood: Nervous 😕

Today I had an appointment with my oncologist to discuss hormone therapy. This is one of the final steps in my treatment for breast cancer. I will be on medication for 10 years and it will give me a 75% chance of my cancer not returning.

Just as I did all summer long while undergoing chemotherapy treatment, they started my visit with taking a few vials of blood. I haven’t had my blood tested since my last chemo treatment and that was way back in the beginning of October, so I am nervous for the results which I will have by the time my oncologist walks in to see me….yes, it is that fast!

After they took my blood I went into an exam room and waited for my oncologist. As with most cancer oncologists and surgeons as well, my oncologist is very friendly, caring, a good listener and compassionate but also very direct as we are dealing with a serious disease. I trust him, I respect him and his opinion as he is here to help save my life. My blood test results showed that my white and red blood cell counts are a little low but nothing to be alarmed about. My body has been through a lot over the past year and it will take a bit to recover and have everything go back to normal. We talked about the different options as far as medication goes and he decided to put me on Anastrozole. He asked me to give the medication a month or two for my body to get used to it as some side effects will go away with time. But, he is not expecting me to have any major issues as I have done well with everything so far and my body will start to recover and get stronger as I get further and further away from all that I have gone through. If I have any severe side effects I will let him know immediately and we can try a different drug, there are two other drugs that he can put me on if I have any problems. I have often read about other breast cancer patients having a lot of terrible side effects from the hormone therapy meds, so I would be lying if I said I am not both scared and concerned about how my exhausted body is going to react. I have also noticed that a lot of patients end up opting out of taking the hormone therapy meds, much to their oncologists disappointed I am sure, but I don’t feel that I have that option and here is why.

When I came out of my first surgery back in April, which was to remove all of the cancer, I was moved from stage 2b to stage 3. We were expecting 3 to 5 lymph nodes to be removed but my surgeon ended up having to take out 18 which is a high amount, making my cancer not only invasive which we already knew, but very aggressive as it had spread so much in a relatively short period of time. My surgeon and oncologist seemed to ramp up the urgency in my recovery from surgery and my starting chemotherapy treatment as soon as possible. The words “very aggressive” and “maximum treatments” were used, everything had changed, and my anxiety went through the roof. I remember my surgeon telling me during my follow up appointment after my first surgery that all 18 lymph nodes were positive for cancer and that he was aggressive during surgery so my margins were clear, meaning that he removed all of the cancer up to where the surrounding tissue had no signs of disease. But, with all of that being said, I would now have to go through the maximum, aggressive chemotherapy, a reconstruction surgery, the maximum radiation treatments and hormone therapy for most likely 10 years, for my type and grade of breast cancer.

So you can see why I feel that I don’t have a choice when it comes to going forward with hormone therapy. Of course, I do have a choice, but to me it is a simple choice between doing everything my doctors and I can do to keep my very aggressive breast cancer from coming back, or giving breast cancer a chance to come back, bump me into stage 4 and eventually kill me as there is no cure for stage 4.

9 months have passed since my first surgery and in the meantime I have had two more surgeries, 20 weeks of chemotherapy and 25 radiation treatments and I am now facing another scary part of my treatment, but I will get through this like I have with everything else, prayer, love from my family and friends, and most definitely, a few more tears.

Last Radiation Treatment: **WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS**

Mood: Excited! 😁

Today I had my final radiation treatment! I can’t tell you how relieved I am to finally have all of my treatments over with both chemotherapy and radiation!

The last few days of treatment were hard on me. My chest is red and bumpy, but it doesn’t hurt at all so I am happy about that. The redness is from the collar bone to the middle of my chest so it’s not exactly unnoticeable. But, in the last few weeks I have had a few sutures come out that were under my breast. When the sutures came out they broke my skin so I am red and in a little bit of pain in those places from the radiation. The good news is that In about 6 weeks I should be healed up and back to normal.

All in all, radiation treatment was not bad. The treatment itself is not painful at all and as long as I applied the medicated lotion 3 times a day to the treatment area I was not in any discomfort from the radiation. A few weeks ago I developed some back pain from the treatment table but that was because I have scoliosis and laying on the table day after day eventually caused my back to hurt. My time on the treatment table was not long, on average it was about 15 minutes, and it seemed like that amount of time was pretty standard.

I am tired both mentally and physically, and I am really feeling all that my body has been through over the last year. I will recover with time and I hope to go back to being active and enjoying life again, eventually. It has been a long year….it was just about a year ago today when I found the first tumor in my breast….

Next up….I am seeing my oncologist tomorrow to talk about going on hormone therapy.

Red rash from 25 radiation treatments

Full view of the red area, collar bone to breast

I am finally done and I had the best nurse ever! I will miss you Tania!

Ringing the bell!

Hubby & I so happy to have this part of the journey over!

6 Radiation Treatments To Go!

Mood: Happy 😁

A week from Monday, January 27th, I will have my final radiation treatment and I will be ringing the bell! Unfortunately, I had one day this last week where I didn’t go in for treatment because the machine was down, so my final treatment day has been delayed by one day.

My husband will be there recording the big moment as he did when I finished my chemotherapy treatments. I will post the video with my final thoughts on this part of my journey at some point next week.

Waiting to go in to my treatment, continuing to show a brave face even when I am tired and feeling overwhelmed!

Cure Magazine

Early on in my breast cancer journey I heard about a free magazine for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers called “cure.” I received my first issue around the time I had my 2nd chemo treatment in early June and I found this magazine to be so helpful in understanding more about cancer. Today I received this issue and I wish I had this early on….there is some great information in this issue for newly diagnosed cancer patients.

Please don’t get me wrong, all three of my doctors are amazing and have always taken the time to listen to me and answer all of my questions, but sometimes extra information can be helpful as well. I try not to flood myself with too much information as it can be depressing, confusing and it can make everything even more overwhelming than it already is.

Free Subscription for cure magazine

Free bulk subscriptions are available for physicians, cancer centers and other organizations.

Two Months After Surgery: **WARNING: GRAPHIC SURGERY PHOTOS**

Mood: Curious 😏

My breast reconstruction surgery was two months ago today. My body is still working to either absorb or push out the sutures that are still in and I am still having occasional pain from my nerves re-firing, but I am feeling good overall about the healing process. My body has been working hard to heal me and it shows. As you can see, these pictures look very different from the ones that were taken a month ago.

I am meeting with my surgeon on February 12th to have him remove any remaining sutures and to look at just how much my radiation treatments have shrunk my left breast, the side where my tumors were located. He kept the left side larger to allow for shrinking from radiation. Once he removes the sutures we will be able to see what my chest looks like and if I have the desired result. I am supposed to be symmetrical and right now with quite a few sutures holding on, I can’t really see what the end result will look like.

If I am not happy with how everything looks I will have one final surgery to get the desired result. From what people tell me, including one of my doctors, my surgeon is a perfectionist and so I have a feeling that he will agree with me if I feel that I need a few adjustments. The only bad thing is that I am going through 25 radiation treatments, so I may have to wait quite a while before I can safely have another surgery, possibly up to a year. I will absolutely be asking him about a possible time line when I see him next month if another surgery is needed.

The blue marks are the tattoos for radiation treatment, only 2 of 3 are showing in these pictures.

The blue marks are the tattoos for radiation treatment, only 2 of 3 are showing in these pictures.