November 22 - Nice comfy day! Love it! Just worked on the computer all day long getting ready for my redesigned business websites' debut. I should be including the link by the time this update mails out! I am so excited about this project! This has given me a purpose that has not left me drained. My creativity is not what you would call energized right now. I am making notes as ideas come to me but the thought of pursuing them and then having to stop due to another chemo treatment is so frustrating. I will be so glad to be done with this part of my "journey."
I have read numerous times that I will probably feel a loss after the chemo treatments end because no one is fussing over me like they have been and you are on your own now. Frankly, I will be amazed if I do feel a loss - I hate those treatments- I still have the rest of my reconstruction to go so I will still get some "fussing" but I will still feel good! A friend sent the following when I was complaining that you all are going to withdraw your sympathy because I look healthy in my photos. She sent a big dose of sympathy and the following observation - "I know you realize that "chemo-therapy" is only euphemistic for a carefully controlled, chemically produced, near death experience...not an incredibly pleasant prospect, as you've discovered, under any circumstances and particularly not when you are trying to exterminate out-of-control cell growth otherwise known as cancer." That pretty much sums it up! Don't think I will miss that anymore! Maybe because they were not trying to kill or shrink an existing tumor but administering the chemo just in case some of the cancer cells managed to get away during the surgery will make the difference in my attitude. Remember that they felt they got everything with the surgery, that the lymph nodes were clear and that all my tests came back negative. I am sooooooooooo ready to be on the road to recovery from the chemo.
Speaking of websites - the BC Journals were at 552 visits tonight! Some are me of course, and Marian, but I try to not go in but once a day to check the numbers and she only goes in to update and to check a couple of times a week. I am so very pleased with the response to the site. Have gotten some pretty powerful emails from people who have read them and shared their own stories with me.
November 23 - Worked outside for a while today in my garden. I am off restriction! Only could manage about two hours instead of all day like I usually do on the weekend, but I will take the two hours! Didn't feel bad, just very tired so I came in. I'm probably more tired from all the planning for this next chemo. I am acting as though I will be out of town for a week so getting everything ready for that!
November 24 - Fill day! Leaky Louise got a whopping 200cc's! I am even for the time being but I know it will slowly leak out again. Oh well, I get a sneak preview of what it will be like to have two boobs of the same size again! Dr. J. has a new plan. The week of the implant surgery (2004) I will go in on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday for a "big fill" to keep Leaky Louise pumped up to accept the implant surgery on Friday. He figures the beginning of January. I will see what the oncologist thinks on Wednesday about a suitable time after this last chemo (have I mentioned anywhere else in my journals that this is the LAST chemo???) when I can have surgery and then we will schedule! Then it is hurry up and wait for a couple of months for all to "settle" before the nipple reconstruction will take place. He said something about a bra today and before he could finish his sentence I said "I told you - no bra, ever again!" He laughed and said to remind him so he didn't make the new nipples too "out there." Can't be looking as though I am really cold all the time now can I!
Had company today, my friend has been in the wilds of Alaska, incommunicado for the last eight months, so when she called me last week to say she was back home she was greeted with all my "news!" Poor woman, I was fine when she left!
Off to bed now, I am really tired tonight. Tomorrow is a full day. I see my general surgeon for my three months check-up. He will be checking the mastectomy scars for any signs of recurring cancer. The first year is when that is most likely to happen if it is going to. He said he doesn't expect it to with me but he still wants to see me. No problem - I want to know too! Then we will be having Thanksgiving tomorrow since Thursday I will most likely be drinking BOOST from a straw!
November 25 - Emotional highs and lows today! Day started off the visit to Dr. P. He looked at my new lump and agreed with the other two doctors that it is nothing but shifting tissue probably caused by the expander filling. I did learn a surprising thing, though, you can still get new cancer in the middle of chemo! Now isn't that just a bite in the butt! Don't know why I was surprised as that is why I am going to him every three months for a year. Guess I just didn't really make the connection or didn't think about cancer being able to show up anywhere else but in the mastectomy scars. He said not all cancers respond to chemo. Guess I knew that too, but just didn't think about it. He did say it was very unlikely but still possible.
On to errands, send the "wolfman" wig back, was my Romantic Rose persona today. Stopped at the grocery store for the last minutes needs for our early Thanksgiving dinner today. Jen was in charge and did a bang-up job I must say! This was her first Thanksgiving dinner in which she was in complete charge! I got to nap all afternoon! Listen to this menu, Nut Crusted Turkey Cutlets with Cranberry-Mango Chutney, Bourbon Smashed Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Roasted Potatoes, Sage Sausage Apple Dressing and Pumpkin Pie Cake for dessert! Not only that but she cooked plain cutlets and stuffing for Harold as he is a down home boy and does not like you messing with the tried and true regular foods! He did, however try the new stuffing and liked it and loved the sweet potatoes and he usually just like candied yams. She made up a schedule and everything was ready on time with actually about ten minutes to spare! I was impressed as I usually run behind and my standard answer when someone asks when dinner will be ready is "when the potatoes are done!" It was just the three of us this year, quiet and intimate and nice.
Jen and I then watched a couple of movies on TV while Harold went to work. He is working some nights so he can be with me tomorrow for my LAST chemo. We watched a Hallmark movie and those things are always emotional so of course I was just crying away! Jen left about 11 p.m. and I checked email before going to bed (or so I thought). I had two very powerful emails waiting for me! One was from a reader in Canada who found out that someone she knows just had a fast growing mass removed and will begin tests, treatments, chemo - the whole nine yards - next week so she sent her the link to the BC Journals. Then she wrote that she had also sent the link to a friend who is currently living in United Arab of Emirates and that friend has a friend who is currently undergoing treatment and so she passed the link on once again and knows of others to whom she will be sending the link.
Okay now I am getting very weepy but weepy with joy. Then I read the following and the dam burst! This reader wrote: "I think that you are very brave. I am a nurse and plan on forwarding this web site to anyone that mentions to me that they have an interest. I think that many women are relieved that someone has the guts to talk about the forbidden. To talk about what doctors are afraid to tell you. This is allows real life discussion about real life feelings and concerns. Keep up the good work!!!"
Now I am crying for real and then everything just came down on me and I started sobbing and even did a howl or two! Animals were outside and I was alone so I just let loose! I cried because I am tired of all this and don't want to play anymore but don't have any choice, I cried because so much good has come of all this, I cried because my family has to go through this with me, I cried because I have to have chemo again tomorrow, I cried because the chemo will make my life better, I cried because I met Marian who created the BC Journals site so this info could be shared globally, I cried because I was am alive to be able to work on my websites, I cried because I have such a wonderful family and friends, I cried because I have no hair, I cried because I am going to feel so crappy for the next week, I cried because it is the last time I will have to feel that way .Now there is a positive ending to all this. After working out in my garden on Sunday, my slight allergies had kicked in and I was sniffling and had itchy eyes. Can't be rubbing my eyes or my remaining eyelashes will be gone and my nose hairs are already gone so my nose was really beginning to be sore. Seems that all that crying cleared everything right up! I am going to bed now and am puffy from crying but whatever was bothering me from the garden is gone! I feel better too just getting all that out. I also don't want any of you to think I am cheerful all the time ..NOT! I try not to dwell on stuff though, as I really have no choice in these matters except to go on and finish everything up! Well, I suppose I do have choices but not any I want! I want the chemo to be done so I can get on with my life - that is almost done - the alternative choice there would have been to not have chemo and take my chances on the cancer not recurring, I want perky boobs with nipples (instead of "breast mounds" as they are technically called) that are not lumpy - those are still a work in progress - the alternative there was to not have reconstruction and I don't miss my old boobs but I do want some boobs! I want my hair back - got a ways to go on that one - no alternative choice on that one other than no chemo, I want to not be sooooooooooo tired - got a ways to go on that one, too, again no choice but to have denied the chemo! So, I will finish everything I started and have bad days and good days, thank heavens my good days far outnumber the bad!
Am exhausted now, must go to bed.
November 26 - D Day! House is clean, carpets have all been cleaned, pantry is stocked, laundry is done and bills are paid. Just as if I were going to be out of town for a week. I know Harold and Jen could do all those things but it is important to me to know I was still able to do all of them myself. My appointment is at 2:30 today and I am feeling fairly calm so far.
Got a bit antsy going to the doctor's office. Had to do some deep breathing exercises. Luckily, we didn't have to wait long this time. Last time we were there forever! Dr. M was in a very good mood and that made me relax a bit. He is usually very serious. I had a question about my toe - supposed to report anything unusual - he looked at it and said he didn't feel it was chemo related but if it fell off to call him! I have NO restrictions on me whatsoever! Just follow the routine I have been doing for the next three weeks and then I can start to be normal again! I had to stop taking Vitamin C and Flaxseed Oil when I started treatment because they would interfere with the effectiveness of the chemo drugs and I can start the Vitamin C again in 4 weeks but he would prefer I not take the Flaxseed Oil again as he says there have been some studies done on the negative effects of soy on breast cancer patients and apparantly Flaxseed oil contains some soy products. That was enough for me! It was to help lower my cholesterol and it didn't seem to be helping that anyway so no loss. He wants me to wait until the second or third week in January to have the implant surgery to give my body time to recover and that coincides well with what Dr. J wants to do so I have a nice long time to do nothing except get Leaky Louise filled and to recover from the chemo. He wants the chemo port taken out after my implant surgery as he feels I will not need it again - hurray! He said they become a good source of infection when left in too long. As it is I will have to have it flushed out in six to eight weeks unless I have the surgery in that time frame. Good, as I am aware of it and it pulls sometimes when I move. Also, just the idea of it being in here is bothersome now that I don't need it except for the next surgery. He also said I can expect fuzz on my head in the next three months that I won't like and probably be six months before I have enough hair to go without a wig or hat. My hair normally grows very fast so Harold thinks it will be much sooner that that. Be nice to know that after the next three weeks are up that I can look forward to hair growing instead of falling out! The treatment went okay, my stomach was upset this time, don't know if it was nerves or just what but I kept hard candy in my mouth during the treatment and that helped. Still did not get any metallic taste in my mouth so cannot report on that. Too bad! The nurse said to Harold that she knew how hard this was for him as he was used to protecting me and now cannot do anything to protect me. He got a little misty and said, "That's exactly how I feel!" I know my family is certainly glad this part is over. I even got a graduation diploma for completing chemotherapy! I made my appointment to see him again in three months at his other office closer to my house because I never want to go back to his office in the hospital again where I had to have the chemo. I told him I just want to see him as a check-up patient in new surroundings. He said he completely understood. His other office gives chemo, too, but it is smaller so you can't have anyone in with you so I always went to the hospital for my treatments. We left there and I was feeling pretty decent and wanted to celebrate so we all went to Ben & Jerry's and I got a hot fudge sundae! It is actually on my soft diet as ice cream turns to liquid quickly!!!!!!!!!! Of course, I don't recall reading about fudge and nuts but hey - I needed a big treat for completing the Chemo 101 course! No nausea at all. Taking the Zofran of course. Had a bit of fairly normal but bland dinner and was still okay. Ha! Probably should have been having ice cream after each treatment and have just now figured that out! This is the best I have felt after a treatment. Keep your fingers crossed for me! What a great feeling to know I am done with this part of my journey.
Do I ever want to go through this again? Never!!!!!! Would I if I had a reoccurrence? In a heartbeat - although the heart would be saddened. I feel at peace knowing I did all that I could do for myself.
November 27 - Thanksgiving. I gave plenty of thanks for many things today, mostly for knowing I will be around for many more holidays to come! Felt perfectly fine this morning, Jen and I walked for 1 ½ miles. Then about 1 o'clock I started to get really tired, same as always so I was in the recliner for most of the afternoon sleeping. Still no nausea though! Have a bit of an appetite this time and drinking lots of water to flush out my system. Glad we did our big dinner on Tuesday, I would not have been up to hat but I am doing way better than I expected since I thought I would be reduced to drinking BOOST through a straw today!
November 28 - Weepy Wanda has certainly made her presence felt in these last few days! I took a shower last night and just burst into tears - again!- this time because it is finally over. I think it hasn't quite sunk in as yet that I don't have to do this again since I am still in recovery from this last treatment.
Feeling okay this morning, tired but not unusually so and still no nausea! Actually working on my website a bit. And it is up and running! Please visit margotclark.com and see for yourself my gorgeous new virtual store! The best thing is that now all you have to do to connect someone with the BC Journals is to give out that address and tell people to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on bc journals instead of having to send them the link in an email. I am so gratified at the number of people that have been to the site. The count is at 678 as of this morning.
Leaky Louise seems to be holding her own this time. She hasn't gone down nearly as much as last time. Maybe Dr. J injected some "Fix a Flat" on Monday when I got my last fill!
An observation: If you wear mascara do not choose waterproof if you are losing your hair. What a dingbat I am. I bought new mascara and got waterproof which I never do (so why I ask, this time did I buy it???) and to get it off you have to really rub on your eyelashes!!!!!!! Well, I now have fewer than I did before. They came out right before my very eyes! I was horrified and threw the new tube right in the trash. Like I told you, they haven't fallen out on their own, they just are not being replaced as they fall out naturally so I have only about half (now less than that!) of what I usually have.
Love to all,
Margot - a.k.a. Brenda Braveheart Warrior Queen (I still need her for
3 more weeks), Leaky Louise, Weepy Wanda and a new one, Relieved Rena!
After reading through the updates,
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