Update 17

November 29 - Saturday - three days after last treatment. Well………..when I left off on Friday I was doing fairly well and had high hopes of not feeling badly. I sent that out on Friday morning and by one o'clock (the magic time it seems) I was starting to go downhill. Started feeling really bad but still not absolutely dreadful. Slept, rallied a bit in the evening, stayed up until 2 a.m. to take the Zofran, I was awake anyway, and went to bed feeling yukky. No actual nausea just the quivering stomach thingee.

This morning felt halfway decent, spoke to a friend on the phone and by guess what time?????? - one o'clock on the nose - I was beginning to feel really dreadful. In the afternoon I actually felt like I was going unconscious from the fatigue! I didn't, but that is the closest I have ever come to passing out without actually doing it! Scared me a bit but it didn't happen again. Still no action in the bowels department either since Wednesday. Beginning to get worried I will have another dreadful round with constipation, my nemesis through all this! Tried the sugar free candy route but nothing happened. I think probably because this constipation is drug induced. The chemo does it to me and then the Zofran for nausea can cause constipation so I am double whammied. Have taken two stool softeners morning and night beginning Thursday and had been taking them in the evening since last Friday to keep my body in sync! This does not bode well! I tool two Dulcolax (the doctors and nurses fondly call this brand of laxative "the cannon!") tonight before going to bed. Hopefully, it will work by morning and I can relax a bit. Weepy Wanda has taken up residence on my shoulder it seems. I cried and cried when I took the laxative, went out on the patio and mumbled to myself - "I hate this! I'm so tired of feeling bad, hurting, looking funny and now I have to take more stuff to make me feel even worse!"

See………..I am definitely not cheerful all the time!

November 30 - Sunday - Felt bad from the beginning today. Oh yea! I know I am sick when I cannot seem to get warm. I had on a hat to keep my little bald head warm, long pants, a shirt, a robe, socks and two blankets all day. You know - even the thought that this was the last time didn't help. I just want it all to go away…………. Waited until the magic hour of one and still no action from the Dulcolax so took two more and cried again at having to do so. As you can tell, Weepy Wanda has a firm grip on me this time. Cripes - the doctor puts poison in from the outside then my body is trying to poison me from the inside! If this second dose of the laxative doesn't work I will have to call the doctor in the morning and Lord knows what he will recommend - something even nastier I am sure. I DO NOT want to end up in the hospital over this! I had heard that the third treatment was the worst…………they lied! This one has the others beat hands down for being the worst!

Sunday afternoon:
Well, everyone will be so pleased to know that the constipation problem is gone. I tell you, if someone had told me six months ago that I would be telling the world of my bowel habits I would have laughed them off the face of the earth! I am definitely not the only one who obsesses over this during chemo. I have had countless letters from people who have suffered through the constipation or through diarrhea of the same severity. Its all you can think of because if you can't control it the hospital is the next step and no one wants to go there if they don't have to! Within a couple of hours I could tell I was beginning to feel better all over though, because I got hot (oh yea, the hot flashes are back - I am getting definitely getting better) and had to remove about fifteen of my layers to cool off! Went to bed feeling bad but not as bad as I have been so I think I am on the rise to recovery, finally! You know how they say time flies? Well, these last few days have had triple the amount of hours in them. I thought they would never end!

Won't you be glad when I get in a better mood! I really would like to rip something to shreds and scream at the top of my lungs like a howling wolf!

December 1 - So far so good. I actually woke this morning thinking of other things besides how bad I felt! Yea! Yippee! Hurray! Cannot believe Christmas is this month. It may have to go on without me this year.

Since I am still not very cheerful I will tackle a subject that is not cheerful either but still very important. A friend of mine's husband has prostate cancer and she had asked me to write in my journal to remind all of you to have the men in your family go to the doctor regularly to be checked. I told her I would but invited her to write a bit about it from her point of view since she is living it, so you would "really know" the dangers. Here is her story:

"Just as Margot and so many other women are fighting breast cancer, many men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer. It may seem there is an epidemic of these cancers, but I think it is more likely better diagnostic procedures. My husband is one of those prostate cancer patients. Just as we need to be diligent in our protection of ourselves with self exams and mammograms, we also need to be diligent in protecting the men in our lives against prostate cancer. The first step is to make sure the doctors request PSA tests during the blood tests for his annual exam.

Prostate cancer is in our family and has been for over 10 years. I asked all the questions I knew to ask of my husband's family (they prefer not to talk about "those things"). They never mentioned PSA tests. I provided our doctor with the family history. He never ran a PSA test on my husband and I didn't know what PSA was until we changed doctors. The new doctor included that test with his first exam and it came back at the level of 1492. When they told us, we asked, "what is PSA?" It is a measure of prostate specific antigens in a man's blood stream. As it turns out, a level of 4 is considered to be high. We were in trouble.

My husband's cancer is advanced and cannot be cured. Had anyone in his family ever asked me, "What is his PSA?", I would have made sure the test was run. Prostate cancer is curable if found in the early stages. Many doctors don't test until a man is in his late 50's. It is up to us to make sure that they test earlier! My husband was 59 at diagnosis and must have had prostate cancer for some time for it to be so advanced. Even if a man must have surgery, they have "nerve sparing" techniques now that help to avoid the problems of incontinence and impotence.

Within two weeks of my husband's diagnosis, both of my boys who are in their mid-30's had PSA tests. The younger one is 35 and is showing an elevated level. He had to go for a biopsy and is ok. However, they will watch him very closely from now on. More and more young men are getting prostate cancer. Don't wait! Insist doctors run these tests. They are cheap. Pay for them yourself if your insurance won't cover it at younger ages.
I wish I could write with such charm and wit as Margot, but with our situation, it is impossible for me to do so. My mission now is to help others avoid this situation by helping to educate women about prostate cancer. Men won't protect themselves...they feel invincible. Don't lose your men needlessly. Talk to your daughters. Help me make this a subject that women know about and let's work together to save our men from prostate cancer."

Pretty sobering isn't it. Harold has gone for that test once a year for many years so I am happy to be able to report that info on a positive note.

December 2 - Not too bad today! Crazy sleep habits are still with me but I'm not going anywhere so it doesn't matter. Had Ann come one more time to clean - such a luxury - and took a nap as soon as she got here then needed another in the evening but just felt really tied, not sick. Tired, I can handle! Please remember house cleaning as a great gift for someone going through chemo. Knowing my house is in order is such a comforting thing.

Jaime and Co. (my daughter and her family in Dallas) sent me a dozen red and white roses to celebrate the end of the chemo - what a treat! A note here that has absolutely nothing to do with the BC Journals. Jaime has just returned form teaching in Houston and this time she stayed over with a dear friend, Linda, whom I have known for over thirty years. Jaime and her daughter, Tricia, used to play together and Jaime stayed with Linda when I was giving birth to Jennifer. We moved apart when the girls were about eight and Linda hasn't seen Jaime since then. Well, proud mamma here, Jaime is now the Reverend Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, a beautiful, confident woman and a far cry from the gangly eight year old that Linda remembered. They stayed up talking until almost five a.m.! Linda will be visiting me in the near future and is looking forward to seeing "baby Jen" again as she still calls her since she was only two when we left for Bermuda. She has seen her once as a teenager on a visit here but not as a woman. Jen is also a beautiful, successful, professional woman in the commercial insurance field (am I proud of my daughters or what!) so Linda is in for another treat when she gets to spend some time with Jen.

Off tomorrow to take Leaky Louise in to Dr. J for a fill. The "Fix a Flat" didn't work and she is in need of pumping up! Since chemo is OVER I will probably now go back to obsessing over my boobs! They sort of took a backseat to the chemo. So now life is planned around "fill" visits and impending implant surgery. This part will be tedious and will make me sore but not sick! An added bonus, the fact that I enjoy sparring with Dr. J and love his office staff, makes these doctor visits actually enjoyable. Thank heavens! I have heard so many stories of doctors who are good at the reconstruction but have no bedside manner whatsoever and those women did not enjoy their visits. You do see a lot of the plastic surgeon so taking time to find one that is compassionate as well as competent would be a very good thing! Also, take in their attitude towards the reconstruction. Some doctors view it solely as reconstruction of breast mounds after mastectomy surgery (which it is) but leave out the aesthetic part that is the most important part to the woman in my opinion. They figure it is not an elective "boob job," to enhance your looks so the same rules don't apply. Sorry, it is most definitely a "boob job," just not elective, and the same rules should most definitely apply!

December 3 - What a wonderful day!!!!!!!!!!! No whining or complaining today! Got up, felt fine, got ready and went to get Leaky Louise filled. No fill today because………………………….we scheduled the implant surgery instead!!!!!!!!! Yea! Yippee! Hurray! I can't go next week for a fill because it is my LAST week of restriction so he felt there was no point in filling ole' Leaky today. There is no evidence of scar tissue buildup and everything on the left is "soft" and he was pleased. So, dear readers, on January 16th at 1:30 p.m. Leaky Louise and Hard Rock Hannah will be replaced by the Perky Twins - Polly and Dolly! Beginning December 17th I will go every week and a half for a fill just to keep the chest muscle stretched, not once a week like I have been and then the week of surgery I will go Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and pre-register for surgery after my fill on Thursday and then show up at the hospital on Friday! He will also remove the port at that time so I will avoid having to have an additional surgery. It will be twilight anesthesia, he will go in through the mastectomy scars so I won't have any new scars and I will go home after the surgery. New boobs and no port! He will also do a bit of liposuction on the right under my arm but wants to wait to do the left side until he does the nipple reconstruction and "nipping and tucking" which should be in April sometime. At least my boobs will be even (more or less) for Vegas. Will still have my extra nipples on the left side and will still have my lumps and bumps on both sides as well as my extra boob under the left arm but hey - progress is being made! Needless to say I was jazzed when I left his office! Went to the post office, then to the grocery store. Was gone about four hours and was tired when I got home but not exhausted. Was all dressed up and wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate so Harold and I went to a little Italian place near us and had a really good meal. Came home and still no nap so I am hoping tonight will regulate my sleep patterns.

Think about all this - last week at this time I had just finished up my chemo treatment and had all those miserable days yet to come and today - only a week later - I am feeling really good! Our bodies are just so amazing!

Don't tell Harold but I got flirted with today! Fun stuff , not smarmy. Had on Sophisticated Sophia, a nice outfit and heels so I felt attractive and I was so happy I guess it showed. I'm very lop-sided in the boob department but I guess he didn't notice that - probably the blonde bombshell wig threw him off! Older gentleman and very polite but hey - it sent my ego through the roof! Let me tell you that was a dose of really good medicine when you know how you really look underneath all that glamour stuff. Have decided that the grey hair must go. I was content with it but have had way too many compliments in my various wigs to go back to just being content so watch out when I get my "real" hair back! You know, I did ask for red and curly (was brown, grey and straight as a board) so will just have to see what I do end up with. How fun to be excited about stuff again!

Must also begin to diet and exercise in earnest after my recuperating period is over from the chemo treatment. Can't have my fat roll competing with the new Perky Twins for prominence, now can I? I will dig out all that stuff from the nutritionist and begin to share that info with you when I begin. I am not supposed to diet yet so I will be patient. I can resume my walking and begin stomach exercises though. One step at a time!

December 4 - I mowed the lawn! I live in Florida, remember, and that takes the place of raking up the leaves or shoveling snow. Had to stop and rest twice but I did it! Of course, I then had to nap for two hours but it was worth it! Just took it easy the rest of the day. Pacing myself will be the hardest thing I will have to do from now on. On a conscious level I KNOW I am not at 100% and won't be for quite a while. But I FEEL good so it is hard not to go about a normal schedule. Just think - last week at this time I was feeling really rotten so I know progress is being made!

I must pass along a gift idea for someone going through this. A friend called and her sister-in-law is getting ready to have a double mastectomy just like I did. She wanted to send a gift basket and wanted to know what to put in it. I suggested a stick of BodyGlide (where to get it is located under the Helpful Hints) since her skin is going to be so very sensitive for the next two months and that stuff was a godsend to me. Keeps your clothing from rubbing against your delicate, sensitive, skin. Also a couple of satin camisoles (can be worn inside out under a jacket as the silky side does not chafe the skin) in a size larger than she would usually wear so they can slide down her arms over her head without having to tug on them. A couple of silky pajama tops that button because there will be the drains to deal with for a week or so after surgery. And some really feminine bath things for when you can finally take a bath or shower after surgery. This lady had to have chemo first to shrink the tumor to an operable size so has already lost her hair. Now she will lose her breasts. You are definitely not feeling your feminine best at this point so a reminder of your femininity is a really nice thing. Anybody want to add to the basket contents?

Cooked dinner myself tonight -first time in over a week. Just tacos, nothing elaborate and Jen was here to help clean up. Still and all, it felt normal and I am really into normal these days!

December 5 - Feel fine, just tired. Off to Wings tonight before my last round of restriction begins tomorrow. Nothing else to report - just poking along today so I will show you my Romantic Rose persona this time. Remember, this is the one Dr. J said looked like Harlot Hannah! Does not - she is sweet! Can't you just see her in lace and floral fabrics?

The best to you all and enjoy the holidays!

Margot a.k.a. Brenda Braveheart Warrior Queen (still need her till the 24th) and Happy Holly (new persona for the holidays!)

After reading through the updates,
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