March 1 - I'm back from Vegas and fit as a fiddle! We all got in yesterday about 5:00 p.m., dropped Jennifer off at her house and came on home. Ate dinner, checked email and went to bed at 8:30 p.m. - I was exhausted! Slept for twelve hours!!!!!!!! Got up, had a cup of coffee, hired a lawn service ( I love to plant and dig and weed and all that but I hate to do the fertilizing soooooooooooo ) put on my gardening shoes and went OUTSIDE! Stayed outside the whole day. Wore my glove on my left hand (no problems with flying and lymphedema at all!), stayed out of direct sun on my left arm and other than that I behaved as normal. For the first time since last August I did not have any pain from surgery, no restrictions, no feeling bad or even tired (Yea!) Perfectly normal!!!!!!! Came in, took a shower, cooked dinner, unpacked a bit and am writing in the journal. So absolutely, everyday, wonderfully normal! Almost seven months after my mastectomy surgery.
I did find out while in Vegas about another woman who underwent her mastectomy (one side only) just last week. I was going to write her today but she wrote to me first this morning! A mutual friend had given her the journals web site and she had read them before writing. She said she found them worthwhile reading, especially the parts about chemo as she will begin her treatments in about three weeks. She said she is dreading the chemo but now believes it won't be as difficult as she first imagined. When someone writes to me with words like that, it makes all the effort so worthwhile! She also sent me some very interesting information about her own experiences. She had her surgery and was home the next day. She didn't need the morphine drip when she woke up from surgery and has to date taken only one Tylenol! She says that feeling is coming back to the area of surgery and she is glad to know that she won't remain numb. She has been doing housework and is feeling pretty good! She was/is small breasted so chose not to have reconstruction. She also said her cancer hurt, felt like a pulled muscle! Her doctor said it had only been growing a short time and was a fast growing tumor. At this point they believe it is Stage 1 so prognosis is excellent. She said that she is glad to have her friends and family, celebrate her second chance at life rather than her funeral! It is always so good to hear when someone does so well. Hers is probable the best story I have heard so far. This next sentence is worth repeating over and over - she writes, "The worst injustice a woman can do to herself, when she suspects a lump or mass is to go into denial!"
On a sadder note, I received that following from "M's" friend. She writes, "Just wanted to update you on "M", she hasn't been at work, but today she came for half a day. She has had four treatments and has two to go, (remember this lady has chemo treatments two days in a row!) they changed the number of treatments she had to have. She has run out of sick and annual leave, but our work is great about compassionate leave, we'll donate time to her so she doesn't loose her income. She has ulcers in her mouth so she can't taste anything and she's been throwing up, but can't eat, so that's not nice. She is exhausted, but says she can't sleep, horrible way to be for sure. Keep her in your prayers!"
Two very different stories aren't they? I am somewhere in the middle. Spoke to another friend in Vegas who is a four year survivor, she had chemo twice a month for eight months! Didn't ever loose all her hair through all that! Amazing! She is, to date, the only person I have spoken with that has not lost their hair.
Speaking of hair - I have enough to dry with the blow dryer! Looks absolutely dreadful, sticks up in patches all over but it does at least move with the air from the dryer! Still really straight, too. Lots of nice eyelashes and still plucking my left eyebrow! Was told by two other survivors in Vegas that they had the "cat fur", too, and it went away on its own. Good to know! This morning when the lawn guy was here, I had on Sassy Simone. Told him that when he left I was going to put on my tennies and get to work in my garden. After he left I took her off and went to work out in the front yard. I was out there and he stopped back by when I was out by the street. No time to run in and get Simone so I just acted like it was normal to have two different hair styles in the space of three hours! Put on my tennies and took off my hair! Hung her on the hall tree like a hat! To his credit he did not stare and just went on with the conversation. Harold got a kick out of it - knew I was caught!
Also, a correction - my high school friend in Las Vegas is a two year survivor not eleven! I spoke to so many women who had either had it or had a friend that I got my figures mixed up. Of course I knew she was two years - why did I write eleven!!!!!!!!!!!
March 2 - Couldn't get to sleep until 2 a.m. Must be the time change, Vegas is three hours behind. Up at 8 a.m. so got about six hours of sleep and that seems to be okay. I am sure I will get back on my own time zone fairly quickly. No pain at all anywhere again today! Port scar just itches every once in awhile. I am finally beginning to believe the worst is truly behind me. I am finding it a bit hard to let go of the pessimistic attitude. I am sure this is quite normal as your life is turned completely upside down for months and months and all of a sudden it all seems okay again. "How can that be?" you wonder to yourself. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with the amount of work waiting for me but WILL make myself take it easy and not get caught up in that craziness again.
March 3 - A very nice thing happened today. Went to pick up my corporate and personal taxes from my CPA, have known him and his wife for years and his daughter lives in our neighborhood. I only see him twice a year because I am the bookkeeper for my business! Anyway, when I dropped off all my paperwork I told him what had been going on in my life. I went to pick up my taxes today and when I was ready to leave he said, "I have something for you." Well, he had given me all my forms and papers so what could he possible have for me I wondered??????? He handed me a manila envelope and told me that his wife belonged to a group of women, can't remember what for now, and that he had told her my story. She told her group and they had begun to pray for me. Also, one of the women has been battling ovarian cancer for two years now (that is some nasty stuff!) and that she had made some things for me. In the envelope was a lovely card from MaryAnn (CPA's wife), then from the other lady, a saying about what cancer cannot do - I included this in an earlier update, but then she had written one of her own titled "What Cancer Can Do for You." I was wonderful and I asked him to see if she would let me put it in an update and he said he would ask her. I cannot post it until I hear from her as I do not want to violate anyone's copyright. You will love it when I do post it! She also made me a bookmark with quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt. Well, to say I was overwhelmed is putting it mildly! I didn't know any of these women except for MaryAnn and I was so very touched at how they reached out to me. That brings me around to a Flavia quote I wanted to post - "Give what you have to give. Small acts of care and grace can mean more than you ever dare to think." When I read that I thought of all of you along with Marian and me. I wrote the journals but without Marian's contribution of the website and all of you passing the site on to others, the info would be limited to just a few people. We now have had more than 1450 visits to the BC Journals and I get email most every day from someone who has read them and been helped in some small way from reading the journals. I will probably never meet any of these women and men but through our combined efforts, we have all had a hand in helping others. Thank you!
March 4 - I'm on a tirade tonight. I hate this disease!!!!!!!! You do get through it if you are lucky. I was reminded tonight that 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every year and that 46,000 will die from it. Since I have been feeling so well, I have forgotten about those dreadful figures. Please, please get your mammograms and go to the doctor if you have any suspicion at all that something is wrong or you feel a lump. This stuff can grow so fast! Early detection is still the very best medicine for continued life! Who cares if you have nice boobs and no scars if you are dead! I truly do feel fine for myself and have confidence I have beaten it, at least for now, but all those women out there who have just been diagnosed or who are on their own journeys is just staggering. Please, please go to www.thebreastcancersite.com and click to help women who cannot afford to have a mammogram to get one. I am just sobbing as I write tonight. I am angry that anyone has to go through all the surgeries and chemo and hair loss. I am angry that cancers of all sorts seem to be running rampant! I know there are many other diseases that are just as bad or worse, but I experienced this one first hand and it is not very nice at all. Okay, I am calming down a bit. Still weepy but at least I can see what I am typing now! Whew! Not I am just sad and heartsick thinking about all those others.
Had to leave the computer for a bit but I'm okay now. I needed a "nap NOW" earlier today, maybe I am not as 100% as I thought!
Okay, I must follow that up with something a bit lighter so no one thinks I am going off the deep end! Greta Gardener was out doing yard work this morning (no wig) as the teenagers were catching the school bus. We have lived here for 16 years so have seen a lot of these kids grow up. There is one boy who is especially polite and friendly, always has been. Anyway, AJ was walking by and has a very spiky hairstyle right now. Ah ha! The Sassy Simone look but longer! So, I asked him how he got his hair to do that as when mine is longer I want to do something similar. He told me what product to use. I then asked about drying it with a hair dryer as that was a disaster! I looked like a little boy who had gone to bed with his hair wet and it dried in sticking up patches! He told me to add the "freeze" products when it was still damp but not wet and to not use a dryer at all. I told Harold about our conversation and he just looked at me like I had completely lost it! Well, AJ had a hair style I liked so I asked! I was actually waiting for the lawn service guy to come and decided that I was not going to wear a wig for the lawn guy! Besides I didn't want to sweat inside my wig!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hair is about ½" long in the back and almost that long on the rest of my head. Very thick and full with a hint of movement in the hair in front, I hesitate to say the word "curl", still way too short for that. It is as thick and full as before but not growing fast enough for me. This is all I have since ending chemo on November 26th. Well, that really is only three months but it seems like forever since I have had hair. Lost it the beginning of October. It also is growing back in about 200 different directions! Used to call them "cow licks", can't think what they are called now. I think when my hair is back I will feel all the way well. Still such a disturbing reminder when you see yourself in a mirror. Must take myself off to bed now. Weepy Wanda, Grumpy Gertrude, Sobbing Sara, Ranting Rita (haven't seen HER in a while!), Greta Gardener, Holly Homemaker and Artist Anne have made me a very Tired Tina!
March 5 - Just a quick note to let you know I am fine today. I guess my emotions are still very raw as I seem to cry very easily. I was at the bank today checking on interest charges for a used car. We leased my big ole' shiny red Intrepid RT and now I want it for keeps. I know, I know, that is not how it is supposed to work but ..30 some years ago I sold my silver 1965 GTO (Crager mag wheels, red line tires - the works!) and have always regretted it. Mind you, I grew up just outside Detroit so cars were an important part of all our lives. I feel the same way about my Intrepid - there is no other car I would rather be driving so .. Anyway the point of this whole thing is that the loan officer asked me if I wanted the loan in just my name (I am the principle shareholder there) and I about fell over. Since I am self-employed, a woman and an artist to boot it never occurred to me that I could qualify on my own! Well I did with flying colors! I was all excited inside the bank, (Excited Esther here) got out to my car and realized it would be really truly mine and I promptly burst into tears - again! Geez Louise! I do wear eye makeup and all this crying is not good for my makeup! I had other errands to run (got the car washed in celebration!) so I got myself under control. Maybe this is how it will always be now - I am so much more in tune with my feelings and the feelings of others that this highly emotional state may be permanent. Aside from the damage to my eye makeup, this is probably not a bad thing.
One more word on the "cat fur" face. Still there, but no worse. Put lotion on today and could actually form a pattern in the hairs! I shall be Furry Frieda for as long as the cat fur remains! My eyelashes are thicker and longer than they were before - love that! Eyebrows are almost back to normal and .. EVERYWHERE else has grown back! Just thought you would like to know that little tidbit of info!!!!!!!!!!! Shared with you when it left so thought I would share with you when it came back!
My hair actually is standing up a bit today away from my head. It has been plastered down to my scalp and nothing short of the blow dryer has had any effect. Progress!
Looking forward to the weekend. Have been very busy submitting classes for Vegas for 2005, getting ready for my next teaching trip (I leave on the 24th), planning future articles, unpacking all my "stuff" from Vegas and filling website orders! No wonder I needed a nap! I believe I am back at work now!
No photo - again! No time this week. I did take photos of my garden, my friend Karan suggested that, but haven't downloaded them yet from my camera. A note here, my friend Karan, lives in North Carolina and is driving over to Knoxville, Tennessee to take one of the classes I am teaching there this month. I haven't seen her in forever so that will be great fun!
Good health and a good life to all of you,
Margot - a.k.a. Perky Polly - keeper of the Perky Twins, Greta Gardener,
Holly Homemaker, Excited Esther, Weepy Wanda, Artist Anne, Grumpy Gertrude,
Sobbing Sara, Tired Tina, Ranting Rita and Furry Frieda!
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