Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Round 9

I completed round 9 of treatment yesterday, leaving me with just 7 more to go. I'm over halfway through this and that makes me a very happy girl. My aunt and uncle went to my treatment with me, and they are very sweet to want to take me. I'm finding that it's important to so many people to want to be a part of this with me and help me get through it in anyway they can. Even something so simple as taking me to treatment. For that, I feel completely blessed and so thankful.

My treatment yesterday may have been the toughest yet. I'm not sure why this one out of all of them. It may be that I'm not taking the extra steroids that I was taking before. Who knows. It felt like I was having a drug overdose. That's the best way to describe it. I was feeling very out of body like. The anxiety lasted pretty much all night and into this morning. Oddly enough, I started to finally relax when I arrived to an ultrasound appointment this morning. The ultrasound was to check the spot they saw on the Pet/CT scan back in November. I always had this "spot" in the back of my head, but my doctor told me it was something we'd visit later into my treatment as it wasn't the main focus. So, I put it in the back of my head and let it stay there until now. Going into this ultrasound I hoped that they would tell me it was just a cyst, but I kind of knew that wouldn't be the case. And it wasn't. I don't know much yet, but do know it's not a cyst. It's a solid nodule that is a little over a half inch. I will have to do a biopsy to find out if it's cancer or benign. I'm hoping benign. Fingers crossed! Luckily, from what I've heard, thyroid cancer is the easiest treated cancer you can get. When I left the appointment I was feeling a little defeated. I wasn't ready to just get in my car and go on with my day, so I ended up just sitting in the lobby of the hospital for about 20 minutes trying to process this all. Not just the thyroid issue, but everything. I keep going back to the question of why me? Why do I have to go through all this? Is it some sort of lesson that I need to learn about life? Am I going to be a better person when this is all over? Right now, all I know for sure is I really really hate cancer and I'm really really ready for this to be over.

On a happier note, I think my hair is starting to grow back. It's growing back in small patches in random places, but it's still growing. :) I have definitely taken to not having to shave my legs the last few months, but I am gladly welcoming that back right about now. What's strange is as I'm growing back the hair on my legs and head, I'm losing my eyebrows and eyelashes. I'm not sure if this is a fair trade. = p

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Round 8

Round 8 was on February, 14th... Valentines Day. What a nice day to spend with the newest love of my life, chemo. :)

I went to chemo with about two hours of sleep. This time it wasn't because of the steroids. I was steroid free going into round 8. Yesssss! That was a definite plus. But, I did go in with a terrible cold + no sleep  =  no likey! I looked very much forward to the Benadryl I was going to get in my IV. I was in need of a nice nap.

I was wide awake Sunday night because I couldn't seem to shut off my mind. I received a call from my mom in Montana telling me my uncle was in the hospital and "it's not looking good". He was dying from cancer. Last month he became very ill and was told by his doctors that his cancer was too far gone to treat and had about two months to live. Cancer had taken over his body and left him in so much pain, he was only "comfortable" with constant pain medication. This makes me incredibly sad. It makes me sad not only for him, but for my family who is with him, watching someone they love die from cancer. At this point, I imagine it is much harder on them then it is on him. 

This isn't the first time my mom has had to watch someone she loves die from cancer. When she was pregnant with me, her own mother died from what began as breast cancer that spread throughout her body. She watched her from a young age battle this awful disease. Now she's not only been watching her brother lose his battle with cancer, but her own daughter is fighting this disease as well. My heart is so heavy for her right now. I cannot imagine what this must feel like for her, what she must be going through. It's heart breaking.

I was sitting in the waiting room at my appointment when I received the call from mom that my uncle had passed away early that morning. Even though I knew it was coming, I wasn't expecting to hear those words. It was very sad news and when I saw Dr. Ellis she could tell something was bothering me besides me just being under the weather. I told her what was going on and she was very sweet and sympathetic.

I was asked several times throughout the day how I was handling the news. I was sad. I was of course sad that my uncle had passed away, but I was also sad that cancer had taken someone else's life. I was sad because I have cancer and am very sensitive to the words dying and cancer. It gives me a pit in my stomach that I can't even explain to anyone. I don't ever imagine this will be my outcome, but I have to admit it frightens me so much. It makes me hate cancer so much more! Needless to say, my day did not start out very well.

My day soon got better though when one of my very best friends, Amy, came by my appointment to see me. She is truly a breath of fresh air and one of the most positive people I've ever known. When I talk with her she always sees the bright side of things rather than focus on the negative. She completely gets my feelings and then talks me through it so that I see the positives. I am incredibly grateful to her. She also brought me some pink tulips, which are one of my favorite flowers! I warned her that as soon as the Benadryl hit my veins I'd likely be fast asleep... and I was right. She continued to sit with me though and read some magazines. I always feel bad at the point when I fall asleep because there's really nothing to do for the people who come with me. But, I know this is probably more of a concern to me than it is to the people there. I'm really lucky to have so many people who want to share this time with me. 

I then had a second guest arrive, my cousin Kristin. Amy had to leave, so it was perfect timing. This was the first time Kristin and I were able to sit and talk since my diagnosis... just the two of us. So, it was nice to be able to answer all her questions about my cancer. (To learn more about Triple Negative Breast Caner, please visit A lot of people, including myself, are fully aware of breast cancer but aren't aware that there are many types of breast cancer. We talked a lot about that and my upcoming surgery. She also brought me a very lovely gift, a bracelet that she made herself. I love it. I love jewelry so much, especially now when I don't feel super feminine.

I was then surprised by a third guest, Eric. I knew he was coming to pick me up from my appointment, but I didn't expect him until a little later. It was a nice surprise. :)

We arrived home that evening and I gave the girls their Valentines gifts and then fell asleep pretty quickly. I awoke a little while later to dinner made, followed by some chocolate covered strawberries. I was a very happy girl. That morning Eric and the girls gave me my gift. It was a picture of the girls and me that was hand drawn from a friend of Eric's, Jordan Ekdahl, from a previously taken picture. It was gorgeous. I couldn't think of anything I'd want more. :)

I thought I'd include some photos Amy took while at my treatment yesterday. I know a lot of people wonder what it's like for me while I'm there. It really is a very simple and relaxing time. I'm sitting in a fairly comfy chair with the blanket my family made me and I'm hooked up to an IV that the nurses come in and change the medications that are being administered. The nurses are always very nice and make you feel very comfortable.

                         The very pretty flowers from Amy.

                        Just hanging out.

                       This is right after I was given Benadryl and will soon be night night.

Fast asleep.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Moving right along...

At my last appointment with Dr. Ellis she told me it was time to start planning my surgery. I had some mixed feelings about this. I knew this part was coming, and fast, but, I was just getting used to my chemo routine. In a strange way, I find comfort in my chemo routine. Even though I've spent many many hours the last few weeks researching and looking at images of women who have underwent a mastectomy, I still wasn't mentally prepared for this next phase. I avoided looking at these images (and pretty much anything else to do with breast cancer) until just recently. When Dr. Ellis warned me the preparation for surgery usually causes a lot of stress to women, she was right. The site of some of these images put me in a panic, maybe even depressed. As much as I know this has to be done (and I want it done), there's really no way of preparing yourself. Maybe there is, and I just havent found my peace with it yet. Since this whole cancer thing started, I've pretty much just taken things day to day, not really looked into the future. Planning the surgery is forcing me to do that. Forcing me to start dealing with the fact I am having my breasts removed and what that means. Imagining looking down at myself and instead of having breasts, I will have scars. But the scars mean I won, right? They are just my war wounds? I'm trying hard to remind myself of this.

The day after treatment I called two surgeons Dr. Ellis recommended. I first did some research on both and was pretty confident I knew which doctor I wanted to go with. But, I scheduled appointments with both just to be sure. My first appointment was on Thursday with Dr. Claire Buchanan. She was my first choice as she deals primarily with breast cancer surgeries. I liked the idea that the breasts were her specialty. :) I had Justine come to this appointment with me for two reasons. First, the nurse called me after I scheduled my appointment to recommend I have someone with me when I met with the doctor. This was concerning to me because this meant it really was going to be as scary as I'd imagined this appointment to be. But I also knew she would be calming to me while there. Dr. Buchanan spent a lot of time going over my cancer and even showed me the image from my first MRI. Halfway through the appointment I was at ease. I wasn't as scared and even felt like I could be ready to do this. Maybe... : p  

I scheduled my surgery on April 25th for a bilateral mastectomy. Yiiiiikes!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Susan G. Komen for a Cure

Would love for you to either sign up and join us in the walk or anything you can to help support our team. Nancy Brinker, who is founder of Susan G. Komen for a Cure is also Triple Negative and already funding very important research to end Triple Negative recurrence once and for all.

Round 7

Today was round 7. I have to say it feels much better to say I have 9 more treatments left than 10. I had the pleasure of having both my dad and mom with me today. I'm pretty sure my dad somehow talked my mom into going to keep him company. As soon as that Benadryl hits my vein, I am out. Today I was in and out of consciousness, but in no means able to make clear conversation. Benadryl is no joke. I could go for some right now though. I've already taken my Lorazapam and I'm not seeing sleep anywhere in my near future. I think next week I'm going steroid free. Dr. Ellis gave me the OK as long as I didn't have any reactions to the chemo today. Woo hoo!

I also received a lot of information today from Dr. Ellis of what my future holds after my last chemo treatment on April, 11th. I will have surgery (double mastectomy) pretty quickly after that last date. It will all depend on my blood counts. So far they have been doing pretty well. Nothing compared to where they were on the AC. I also found out I will begin 6.5 weeks of radiation following the surgery. I've done a lot of reading online lately and it sounds like the radiation does a number on your skin and doesn't always make for a nice reconstruction surgery. Sigh... But, the radiation reduces the chances of me getting cancer again. I will do just about anything to not have to relive cancer. I've not mentioned this before because I didn't want to worry anyone... Or myself. But there was a spot found on my thyroid. When we first discussed treatment, Dr. Ellis told me we would retouch that later. I haven't had the nerve to retouch it until today. She told me to have a spot on my thyroid is very common and we would soon do some additional testing. I guess it's a pretty simple procedure. I'm wondering if this thyroid issue is the culprit for me gaining 5 pounds over the last few weeks. Not happy about that at all and especially not happy that my eyelashes are now falling out too.

I met a woman in the hospital lobby today that was an ovarian cancer survivor. She heard me telling my parents about all the changes I'm going through. She told me she lost all her hair everywhere, including her eyelashes and eyebrows. She even lost some toe nails and finger nails. But, she didn't seem fazed by it. She said "it's just what we have to deal with to get through this". She's so right! It's such a short amount of time when comparing it to my whole life ahead of me. It was the reality check I needed. I am still going to (try) hop my 5 lb bigger bum on the elliptical tomorrow though, and drink my juices that Dian made me. :)

Another thing I found out today is... I have Shingles! Shingles! Who gets shingles? I guess people going through chemo with a compromised immune system do... Oh, and the stress doesn't help it either. I am taking medication for it and thankfully it's not bothering me too much.

I wanted to share another story about my treatment today. The woman behind curtain #1 was talking to her friend and referred to her time getting chemo as "getting pampered". I loved it. I loved all the inspirational women I was around today. It's true, all the nurses make you feel so comfortable. It really can be quite relaxing.

After my appointment today, I'm finally seeing the light. It feels really nice.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Round 6

Round 6 was on Monday, January 31st. Round 6. When I say round 6, I feel like that's nothing. It sounds so insignificant compared to what I still have ahead of me, not to downplay the 6 rounds I've already completed. I'm so thankful for those 6 rounds, it just means I still have 10 more to go. I've actually come to look forward to Mondays. Every Monday I'm one week closer to getting this cancer out of me.

This last week has been a hard one for me... If you read my last post, you got a feel for my state of mind. It didn't change too much throughout the week, unfortunately. I've been going through constant changes physically and mentally the last few months and I continue to go through them. It's like I'm on a roller coaster of emotions. Some days I feel strong and like I can take on the world, then others I'm scared out of my mind and don't know if I can even face the day. I spent most of this week not wanting to face the day. I keep reading that I need to avoid stress, that stress is feeding my cancer. But, I'd truly like to know how someone who has cancer at 31 is supposed to be stress free. Every time I look at my daughters I feel this pressure in my chest, a panic attack. I know God didn't give me cancer, I know that. But, I want to be mad at someone and I keep asking him why he would allow me these two beautiful little girls and then give me cancer. It just doesn't seem fair and likely never will.

I have to just keep going, keep facing the days ahead of me. Keep fighthing this awful disease. I have to do everything I can to beat this. I will beat this. There's just no other option for me.

Eric knows I've been having a tough time lately so he took me to Ocean Shores Saturday night. It was exactly what I needed. I hadn't laughed and smiled as much as I did in a very long time. I also slept longer and better than I have in months. I'm feeling pretty good today. My spirits are high and I'm ready to take on round 7.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Be Happy Now

The title of this blog is the name of a short book (about 23 pages) I've been reading a couple times a week for the last couple of weeks. If you haven't guessed why I'm reading it... it's because I haven't exactly been the happiest I've been in my life. I've actually been quite a biatch lately. I have taken it upon myself to rename cancer to crancer. Cancer =Cranky.  I really want to get this crankiness under control, so I started searching for self help books and came across Be Happy Now by Annie Jean Brewer. It first got my attention because it was so short. I have a shorter than normal attention span right now. It also doesn't help my crankiness that each medicine I'm taking lists side effects such as depression and mood swings... oh, and weight gain, which really is the least of my concern at this point, but never ever fun to read. Have I also mentioned the fact that I have insomnia more than half the time? Which is why I'm up writing this blog at 1:15 a.m.

Eric told me tonight I was cranky. At first I didn't agree and told him that it was because I was tired... which is true, I am tired. I was given Benadryl today with my chemo which completely knocks me out while I'm there. I wish I could get a prescription for Benadryl. Something tells me Dr. Ellis will not go for this. Another thing that does not help is the 10 steroid pills I took this morning and in my IV during treatment that causes insomnia. The Lorazapam I take before bed isn't even working. Anyway, back to my crankiness tonight. After Eric told me I was being cranky for no reason, I decided maybe he was kind of right. I still don't fully agree that it's for NO reason, but I get his point nonetheless. I can think of about 20 reasons right off the top of my head of what I have to be cranky about. But those reasons don't give me the right to be cranky to anyone. Grrrrrr! So, I decided it was time to read the book again.

There's a chapter in the book that I keep going back to. It's called "Exercise the Happy Muscle." It basically tells you to list the things that you are happy and thankful for and focus your energy on those. I decided to make a list of the things I am thankful for right now.

I am thankful for my two very sweet little girls who I am completely in love with. 
I am thankful that Eric still wants to be around me and loves me even when I am a raging biatch.
I am thankful for Eric being here to help me get through this darn cancer business.
I am thankful for my family and extended family... my dad/mom, brother/sister, aunts/uncles, grandma, cousins... every single one of you for your continued support.
I am thankful for my mom who goes to my chemo appointments with me while all I do is sleep, and she doesn't care.
I am thankful for the phone calls, texts and emails I get daily with encouraging words.
I am thankful I still get these phone calls, texts and emails even when I don't always write back right away.
I am thankful for my beautiful friends who amaze me with the strength and love they give me every single day. I would be lost without you.
I am thankful for the daily texts from my dad that always end up in a battle of who loves who more. I always win. :)
I am thankful for the chemo that is killing this cancer inside me.
I am thankful for Dian Lineback for everything she has done... cooking my family meals, researching to no end on what will heal me and for just being the amazing and inspiring woman she is.
I am thankful for Jan for the relationship we have and the support he gives me with the girls.
I am thankful to Janette and everyone helping get "Team Margie" together. You are such an amazing and caring woman.
I am thankful for Shay (the girls daycare) for picking up and dropping off the girls when I'm having tough days and for becoming a very important person in mine and the girls lives. You have such a kind heart.
I am thankful I have a place to live and food to eat and money to pay my bills... at least for now... kidding... kind of... ;)
I am thankful to work for a company that allows me the time off to get healthy and spend as much time with my daughters as possible.
I am thankful for still having eyebrows.
I am thankful to have found an amazing doctor and team of nurses who give me the faith I need in the fight I have ahead of me.
I am thankful for E! News and Fashion Police being on in the middle of the night.

I could continue on with this list and it really does make me realize I have so much to be happy about.

The next step in this chapter asks me to list what my concerns are. I don't think I'm quite ready to share this list yet. It feels so deep and scary and open... I'll get there soon, I promise. I know that list will help me get to my happy place. I'm almost ready.

After reading this book, I switched over to the other book I am reading, Crazy Sexy Diet. This book is equally inspiring to me. It's more of a mind, body and soul help book. It too focuses on being happy and what stress can do to your body. I'm learning so much and really excited to start introducing a lot of new things into my life. This may sound crazy, but part of me feels like getting cancer is a good thing in allowing me to start my life over, live it the way I want to live it and take control over my happiness.

I'm sorry if this post came across negative, but it really is a positive for me. The purpose of this blog was to let you all be a part of this journey with me and right now this is where I'm at in my journey. Tomorrow is a new day. :)

"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!"
Movie Quote from Rocky Balboa