Monday, November 7, 2011

Two, Infinity, and Beyond

This week I will celebrate two full years since the completion of my treatment. I am still living cancer-free. I'm healthy and PREGNANT to boot. Who knew?

As I approached this landmark week, I found myself wondering what had become of my little breast cancer blog. As it turns out, it still gets a little bit of traffic, the occasional visitor and even a comment from time to time. This inspired me to return and add a post--ideally I'm back for the long haul.

So, two years out of treatment and a year and a half since my last post--what have I been doing?

-Started a new job
-Got a promotion
-Have supported my husband who is rapidly approaching his last semester of law school
-Got a dog
-Grew my hair back out (shoulder length now)
-Am in the midst of house shopping
-Got pregnant (due in May 2012)

Basically, normal stuff. My point? Life goes on and the day does come when you make it through a full 24-hour period without ever once thinking about cancer.

That said, the big "C" has been on my mind as of late due to the fact that I know three friends, all my age, who are fighting cancer at the moment--two themselves, and the other as a co-survivor for her younger (yes, I said younger) brother. I simply hope that my experience can provide them with a touch of hope. Cancer can and does lose...every single day.

This brief blog was not a fluke. More to come...I promise. I know several women who "mommy-blog" and I know a few who "survivor-blog." Perhaps I'll try a combination for a while...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

You Gotta Know Your Limits

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Today, I got good news. The radiologist looked at me and said, "Everything looks good, I don't see anything on the scans that we should be concerned about!" Relief--at least for the next four months until I have to do this again--washed over me.

Thank you for the support, the prayers, and the well-wishes! They truly paid off and I truly am relieved and thankful.

In addition to learning today that my good health is still with me, I learned something very important about myself. I do NOT know my limits.

For a solid month now, my heart has been racing, my blood pressure has been off the charts, I've been distracted, quick to anger, and easy to upset. And while I've been experiencing this month of turmoil (and quietly crying when I get a moment alone, if I'm being really honest), I have not said a anyone...about how afraid I've been. Sure, I've commented offhandedly that I'm "a little nervous" or "hoping for a good result," but I've been doing exactly what I did throughout my 8 months of treatment--I've been more concerned about every other person's delicate sensibilities than with allowing myself to feel fear and move past it.

I really need to know my limits. I let out a sigh today--my shoulders relaxed, my heart slowed down, and the tension that has gripped my body for weeks finally released. It felt fantastic. I've gotta know my limits.

I am experiencing all of this at the ripe old age of 25, which means I have, God willing, many many years of these tests ahead of me. Basically, that means I really need to learn to deal with this in a way that doesn't break me each and every time. For the time being, I have to go through these follow-ups every four months. Later, it will be every six months, and finally it will be once each year. It will be every year. Every. Single. Year. If I don't know my limits, the stress is going to eat me alive.

So what does knowing my limits mean? It means I lean on my husband, my parents (all four of them), my fellow-survivors, and my friends for support instead of shielding them from my fear for what I believe--perhaps mistakenly-- is for their own benefit. It means I learn to take my own advice--find serenity, find courage, find the wisdom to know when each reaction is appropriate. Rely on prayer for the rest.

Today, I begin a brand new year...a brand new cancer free year. I will continue to grow and I will continue to learn how to deal with an "old woman's" disease as very young woman. I thank you for your support, encouragement, and prayers and I humbly ask that you continue to keep those still fighting their own cancer battles in your prayers. I know I do. You know who you are and I'm sending prayers your way!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One Year to the Day

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It has been over four months since my last post, but today I feel it appropriate to post again. One year ago today, while I was in the shower--simply getting ready, going through my morning routine before heading off to work--I found a lump, and a very large lump at that, in my left breast. That discovery led to a whirlwind eight month journey (which I foolishly believed would take 5 months when I set out on it), which finally came to a close in November 2009.

Now, on the first anniversary of my "lump day," I find myself afraid again. This time it is not the unknown I fear, but repitition.

Tomorrow, I will go on for my first round of follow-up testing--a mammogram and an ultrasound. I have had two physical breast exams since the completion of my treatment, but other than that, I have been largely under my own care. This is scary. For months I saw doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals on a weekly, semi-weekly, or even daily basis. To have not been under the constant care of a doctor in the last four months is intimidating, to say the least, as I head into this round of testing.

Compounding my stress and fear is a completely irrational line of thinking, which I, for reasons unbeknownst to me, continue to entertain. I have this recurring thought that since tomorrow is the beginning of a brand new year (if I start counting with the beginning of my cancer battle) and that it could be the beginning of a brand new cancer battle. I can't expel the thought. I'm trying...I swear.

All this leads me to once again humbly ask for your prayers, thoughts, and well-wishes when I go in tomorrow. If you're one of those people who likes to get specific, I would request that you pray for a clean bill of health--no calcifications or blooms on the mammogram and no dark spots on the ultrasound. If you like to keep it vague and all-encompassing, please just hope and pray for continued health and wellness for me.

My love and appreciation as always!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


That's right, everyone. I am D-O-N-E, done with cancer treatment. My five month journey (which actually turned out to be more like 7 1/2 months) has come to an end.

Just to recap the really significant dates:

March 24th: I found a lump in my breast.
March 27th: I had a needle biopsy performed.
March 31st: I receive a call telling me I have cancer.
April 1st: I meet my oncologist to go over what my treatment plan will be.
April 6th: I start the first of 8 rounds of chemo.
July 27th: I FINALLY finish a very long 3 1/2 months of chemo.
August 21st: I have my lumpectomy.
September 23rd: I begin the first of 35 rounds of radiation (every business day for 7 weeks).
November 10th: I have my last radiation treatment, thus completing my cancer treatment.

I'm sure I'll forget these dates someday, but for the moment they're burned into my memory. It has been a very long journey that I have looked forward to the end of for so very long!

Now I just keep asking myself, "what now?"

After my last treatment, the tech looked at me and said, "That's it! You're done! Congratulations! Now just schedule a follow-up for one month from now as you leave."

It's very odd to receive daily attention and treatment and then to suddenly hear, "See ya in a month." It's a little scary that I'm now the proprietor of my own health again. I did such a great job with that the first time....

Anyway, as I've said before, I was foolish to call this blog "Five Month Journey" because this journey is absolutely never going to end. It is life long even though the hardest, most taxing (at least physically) parts are now behind me. A relief for sure, but a source of fear as well.

I would like to thank all of you for your support, your words of encouragement, the gifts and cards that you've sent, the positive phone calls I've received, the visits from friends, the dinners you delivered, the constant willingness to help me in any way you were able, and the prayers whispered on my behalf. All of these things--each of you--are what made me strong through every step of this journey. Your support has not gone unnoticed and it will not be forgotten.

Thank you all!

Now I'm taking suggestions and requests for directions you'd like to see this blog take. It can't really be a step-by-step documentation of my cancer treatment anymore. So...suggestions?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Onward and Upward

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is simply amazing! It seems like daily there is a new article detailing a new advancement! There is so much promise and hope ahead!

Cheers and have a great week! I know I will. This is my last full week of treatment. I'm counting down until next Tuesday!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Final Stretch

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's a rainy, dreary Thursday afternoon, but I really can't complain. My blissful state of ease is largely due to the fact that today, I reached another small goal.

While I have 35 total radiation treatments, the first 27 are a little different than the last 8. The first 27 treatments cover the whole breast--from center of the sternum to the armpit to well above the breast and well below. The last 8 treatments, on the other hand, cover only the small area where the cancer was located.

I currently have a large blue square drawn on my breast that has to remain there until after my last treatment. It's a square directly around my scar and that is where the last 8 treatments will be directed.

Today marks the last of my first 27 treatments. I now only have the 8 more focused treatments to go! Yippee! Small victory!

Throughout the whole treatment schedule my symptoms have been minimal until this week. After last Friday's treatment I noticed a lot more skin redness and discomfort and as of today, my underarm, in particular, looks like I have a very very serious burn. However, if that's the only trouble I'm going to have....I'll TAKE it! I'll say it again...compared to chemo, these 27 treatments have been an absolute breeze.

In other news, my hair continues to grow--slower than I'd like, of course. I'm back at the gym daily, which is making me feel like I can regain some semblance of normalcy after all. And, I'm looking ahead to mid-November when I can finally say I'm done with treatment!

I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hair/Radiation Update

My cancer journey has been relatively boring lately, which is my lame-o explanation for why I'm not posting anything.

I am 17 treatments into radiation, which means I'm about halfway done. I'm still counting down to November 11th as the very end of treatment (also my parents' anniversary, so there are many things to celebrate that day). The radiation front is relatively boring though...

I'm not really having any side effects besides a little fatigue and a little skin redness and irritation. The prescription gel they gave me is working wonders and I'm so used to being tired all the time from the chemo that I barely even notice it with the radiation. Basically...radiation is a BREEZE if you've been through chemo and surgery already. the more interesting point. Hair.

Never in my 25 years of life have I gotten as many compliments on my hair as I have in the last 2 weeks. All of the following terms have been used to describe me and my hair (just in the last two weeks):

1. Chic
2. Adorable
3. Cute
4. Classy
5. Sexy
6. Fashion forward
7. And, one woman even said that I was the perfect example as to why it is such a shame that more women do not go for short hair these days. She said, "If all women looked as good as you do with short hair...that would be the standard."

I personally thought that last one was a bit over the top, but I was in a Starbucks and everyone seems to think of everyone else as a best friend or long lost soul mate when you're in Starbucks...I don't know why. Starbucks frequenters do tend to think of themselves as all things urban chic! Apparently, with this hair, I now "belong" at Starbucks.

Anyway, here's an updated picture. Just as a reminder, I completed chemo at the end of July and my hair had started back in just a little bit before I finished. This is about 3 months of hair growth.