Update 67

March 20 – I thought I was home free with the leg cramps this time but nooooooooooo……….Leg and Foot Cramp Lucinda Faye was her last night!  Four days after my chemo treatment!  What gives?  Had to sit in my recliner with my feet firmly on the floor to avoid the cramps and managed for about 2 hours and then the only mosquito in the whole house found me and buzzed around my ear until I woke up!  Went to bed and then was up every hour or so with a cramp.  I took the Tylenol like the nurse recommended but am not sure it helped at all.  I am counting down now – three more episodes with the Leg and Foot Cramp Witch, Lucinda Faye and I will bar the door to her!

Harold’s birthday was yesterday, I was off painting for the day but we celebrated by Jen and me cooking him a big dinner and a homemade angel food cake all to himself!  Are you impressed with a homemade cake??????????  Well, if it comes out of my oven, no matter what box or package it originally came from, I consider it homemade!  I mean, I had to mix all that water in to the cake mix and beat it for a minute and then bake it and cool it, didn’t I?????????????????  Not to mention cleaning the nasty cake pans.  I had to make two so Jen and I could have a piece!

We went tonight and bought our first windows!  Yea!  We are putting in the three along the back first, and then we will put in the door that is on that wall so from the sidewalk, looking over our back wall, the addition will look closed in.  Harold is going to make real working shutters so we can close them for hurricane weather. We had them like that when we lived in Bermuda and it was so easy to just go out and close the shutters and lock them in place when there was a storm.  The new windows are rated for 150 mile and hour winds so hopefully with the shutters we will be protected.  It will also make my garden area look more “cottagey.”  Moving right along, we are!

I have been very tired these last couple of days.  I have been working myself too hard, had some deadlines I HAD to meet so I worked until I met them and then have been trying to take it a bit easier.  I am beginning to feel the tiredness that comes with chemo but nowhere near like the first time.  I am still doing just fine but can see that I will need to rest more with Round 6 treatments.  I have had fourteen chemo treatments and nineteen Herceptin treatments so far so feel that I am doing great considering all that.  I have one more teaching trip to do in two weeks and then I am home until August. Jen is going to drive me that weekend and give me a hand so all will be A-Okay!  Jaime will be here in April for a week and I will have finished all my chemo by then!  My last chemo treatment is April 11, two days after Jen’s birthday.  I should find out soon when I start radiation. 

March 25 – Ole’ Weepy Wanda is making quite a nuisance of herself!  I wonder if all the tears I did not allow myself to cry until Therapist Debbie taught me how are somehow stored up in my body and I will cry at the drop of a hat until they are depleted.  Will I lose weight?  That’s a lot of water coming out!

March 27 – Read something just now on how “Pumping Iron” (weight lifting) is supposed to make breast cancer patients feel better about the quality of their life as they felt it gave them back control over their bodies. I thought, “Oh no, ANOTHER thing you are supposed to do to help yourself that most women are not going to do and then end up feeling guilty about it.  Then I made faces and scoffed some more as I just cannot picture myself going to a gym twice a week and lifting weights. Just isn’t going to happen and I feel just fine without lifting weights!  Then the thought hit me that I do sort of accomplish that with my gardening and like I said I do feel just fine.  I went to bed very tired last night after working outside all day which included hauling around bags of potting soil, gravel, two wheelbarrow loads of dirt and patio pavers (yes, I am still messing with the patio!) so I guess that could qualify as weight lifting!  My point – if you read that article or hear of it I do think they have a point but……………you can get a good workout lifting stuff without having to go to a gym.  Find something you enjoy.  Also a word of caution that was not in the article.  If you have lymphedema or have had a lot of lymph nodes removed please be sure to check with your doctor to see just how much you should be lifting.  I don’t have lymphedema but had nine lymph nodes removed under my left arm and my limit is not to carry more than fifteen pounds with my arm hanging down and that is FOREVER.  Lifting is not a problem unless I overdo.  If your doctor says not to worry about lymphedema ignore that advice and press him/her for the information on where to find out more about lymphedema.  Mine told me not to worry, that only twenty percent of patients ever develop lymphedema and my question back was, “Well, then what do the twenty percent do?” and he then answered my questions.  When I fly I wear a compression sleeve on my left arm and this is also forever and when I garden I always wear a glove on my left hand again, a forever thing.  Lymphedema can come on at any time, it is not limited to a certain period of time after surgery so you must be again “forever” vigilant. A friend of mine does have it and it came upon her two years after surgery and she could never figure out just what she had done to trigger it.  So the point is…(yes, I do really have a point to all this!) is that I do agree that physical stuff makes you feel better and it does make me feel more in control of my body but weight lifting does not have to be the only answer.  Well, Dissertation Diana was in fine form today!

March 28 - #1 of Round 6, the final round!  Since I am having so much trouble with the dratted leg and foot cramps (Lucinda Faye has been here now for ten straight days!) I was secretly hoping that Dr. M. would say that we were done and that I didn’t need to do the last three.  Well, wasn’t that just wishful thinking!  I am to increase my potassium intake starting with two bananas per day and add in as many times from the list I posted while back that contain potassium.  Basically, I am to tough it out! 

Got another Burning Aranesp shot, this time in the left site of my tummy.  I have a huge bruise from last week and the nurse this week said it was because last week’s nurse must have rubbed my skin and that you can’t do that with a protein shot.  I truly don’t remember but will be aware for the rest of the shots.  It hardly hurt at all today!  Yea!

Dr. M. gave me a left-handed compliment today.  I was complaining about the leg and foot cramps and we were discussing what I was already doing to combat them and he said that after chemo was over and I continued to lose weight it would help.  He said he was amazed that I have been able to lose weight while he was pumping me with steroids and all the chemo drugs. He said that the reason I can walk around all day and not have the cramps bother me too much only to have them attack in full force when I lie down is because you use a different set of muscles when relaxed.  Interesting…………..

Dr. M. gave me a prescription for a lymphedema glove so I will see how hard it is to find one.  I want it for my next flying trip in August. 

I was going to run errands after my treatment because I am leaving town on Friday to teach but I was so tired I had to come home and take a nap!  Harold came home later and we went off to purchase the door for his workshop and the double French doors for the new den.  He put in all the windows and two of the doors over the weekend and the garage door should be here in a week or so.  We now have most of the doors and windows with only three left to install.  Looks great so far!  A friend came over this weekend to help with the big windows and tomorrow night some friend’s of Jen’s are coming over to help unload the French doors in exchange for dinner!

It is midnight and I am wide awake due to the Decadron.  I tried to lie down and go to sleep but after lying there for an hour I decided to get up and work until I am tired enough to sleep.  I believe I will just plan on sleeping after my last two treatments as this is becoming a habit! Tomorrow night I will be tired and the cramps may start.  Maybe I will get in one night of rest before I have to leave on Friday.  Jen is driving, about two and a half hours away from here, so if I have an attack I will not be at the wheel!  What a good daughter!

Speaking of daughters, Jaime will be here for a week beginning Monday, April 17.  She will be in town giving lectures so that works out very well!  How fun to have her all to myself for a few days.  She invited her sister-in-law “B” (she is my friend, too) down from Jacksonville from Thursday to Saturday.  If you remember, her father died of cancer on December 21, 2005 so she is still in mourning and this will be good for her.  Jaime is a great listener.  It will be nice to have both of them here and shamelessly show off our handy work!

I am including a link her that will take you to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer that my dear friend Jasmin Osborn is doing in my honor in June.  It is for me and another friend of hers who have been touched by breast cancer and she is walking forty miles!  She has been in training for months! I am so very touched by her actions.  “B” also walked in my honor last time I battled cancer in the Susan G. Koman Walk for the Cure.  Amazing women, both of them!  Here is the link.

April 4 – Time flies!  I have been crazy busy for the last week! I came home Sunday night form my last teaching trip until I go to Houston in August.  Jen and I had a nice time and I am so glad she drove as I really was pretty tired.  Taught both days just fine though, I was just tired in the evenings.  She spent her days at the beach, then shopping and then met us for dinner.  I still appreciate her taking her whole weekend to drive me there, though.  She makes a great co-survivor!

Today is Tuesday and I just finished #2 of Round 6.  Next Tuesday is the last chemo treatment!  I can hardly believe it!  I halfway expect Dr. M to call and say he changed his mind and wants me to have two more rounds!  Had to get stuck twice today in my tummy for the Burning Aranesp shot(s).  My red cell count was 12.4 and 12.2 is the usual cut-off but…………………they want to be sure I don’t go back down since this round is proving to be a bit harder on me than all the rest so decided to give me 150 whatever’s instead of my usual 200.  Now……..do the shots come in even increments of 50’s?  Of course not so I had to get one for 100 and one for 60.  In my tummy I could feel that the shot itself didn’t hurt, only when the medicine started to come out of the needle did it begin to hurt.  So today was a definite poking day.  Four times with treatment, and five time to check my blood sugar.  Not good today even with the medicine.  I should avoid carbs on the day that I get Decadron but………………..I increased my potassium intake by eating two bananas every day last week and guess what?  Leg and Foot Cramp Lucinda Faye only got to zap me with one small foot cramp all week!  My legs were tired and sore but – no active cramps so………………..I ate two whole bananas today too and it showed up on my blood sugar readings.  Hard decision to make.  Keep the sugar down or suffer with cramps.  My thinking was to not suffer as tomorrow my sugar will get back to normal.  I have an appointment on Friday with the endocrinologist so will see what he says.  His thinking may be different from mine!

Made my appointment with the Radiation Oncologist and see him for the first time on May 2.  That will be three weeks from the end of chemo. The nurse told me today to be sure I get anti-nausea medicine from the radiation oncologist as radiation can cause nausea!  Not sure I have heard that before!  I have added it to my list of questions for when I see him.  I am to bring the original mammogram, the ultrasound that showed up the second lump and the PET scan that thankfully showed nothing after the second surgery to remove this last tumor. I will need to call in Brenda Braveheart and Kerrie Kickass as I am apprehensive and more than a little afraid of the whole radiation process.

The thought keeps rolling around in my head that I may have to fight more recurrences in the future and I actually voiced that fear at my seminar and told them that if I did have to then I would.  Simple as that.  They keep making great strides in treatment and in new medicines available so if I have to fight it again, well then I have to.  Life is just too precious to me to give up without a big fight!  I really want to believe that it will never come back but I can say with all honesty that once it has recurred it takes the wind right out of your sails when you try to believe the statement that probably (that word again) you will never have another recurrence.  I like having a Plan B and that is to be ready to fight again if necessary.  Plan A of course, is the preferred plan with no more fighting!  Planner Pamela likes having all her ducks in a row!

Just a note – ole’ Weepy Wanda is STILL making quite a nuisance of herself!

Managed to do some grocery shopping after treatment, came home and put away the cold stuff and had to go and rest.  Spent the afternoon on the chaise lounge on the patio curled up with the cat.  Darling Harold made BBQ chicken on the grill and I cut up some veggies.  Now of course it is 11:30 p.m. and the Decadron is in full force and I am wide awake!  I will work until 2:00 a.m. and then try to go to bed.

I am really considering keeping my hair short and wearing my wigs when I go out.  Five compliments on Fiery Fiona today alone and three were on how long does it take me to get my hair to look like that!  Five seconds is the answer!  That is how long it takes for me to take it off the pants hanger in the closet and shake it out!  One guy said his mom was a hairdresser so he notices great hair!  Lovely boy!

All the windows and doors are in and functional except Harold’s garage door. It was supposed to be here this week but we just got word that it won’t be delivered until the 17th!  Drats!  I hung my lace curtain back up so I have a nice touch of me in the studio again!  The electrician has not shown up at all so we may have to find someone else to do it.  Too bad as he and Harold were to trade work so we wouldn’t have had a cost.  However, we need to get the electrical done and the guy has been busy at his own job and then got sick so we cannot expect him to rush right over here to do us for free in exchange for future work.  Oh well, another snag.  On the whole we are moving along nicely.

April 10 – Life is speeding by for some reason!  Maybe it is because I have so much to do and have to try and fit it in between doctor and therapy appointments. I will be very glad when that part is over. 

Jen’s birthday was yesterday and we celebrated with just us and a big dinner.  We gave her very practical gifts – me a day of gardening at her house including the plants, pots, soil, etc., and Harold a day of pressure washing her back porch and furniture and other “Honey Do” type house stuff. 

It is 3:30 a.m. as I write this, woke up with mild legs cramps – enough to wake me up but not shoot me out of the bed.  Laid there for an hour and finally decided to just go ahead and get up. Be glad when this part of it is gone, too!

The endocrinologist was pleased with my blood sugars for the last three months considering all the steroids I have been taking.  Told me to watch my blood sugar numbers carefully after chemo is done and my body begins the long road to recovery.  I ended up with diabetes after the first chemo I received in 2003 so am a bit apprehensive about what will happen this time. Treatment didn’t seem as hard on my body this time so I am hoping for no change from my present status of having to take one pill a day for my diabetes. I am even hoping to begin to lose weight again now that the steroids will be done (tomorrow is my last chemo!) and to maybe even lessen that medication. 

Found out today that a friend died a few days ago from her cancer.  She began with lung cancer and it spread to her brain.  She had been fighting her own battle for the last year and a half.  So far I don’t even feel sad, more relieved for her that she doesn’t have to suffer anymore. Her quality of life had gotten to be pretty much only doctor and hospital visits and various treatments, some of them pretty nasty.  Hard to be sad for someone finally leaving all that behind. 

On a happier note, I have been asked by a magazine to do an article for breast cancer awareness that will come out in August.  It will be an elegant, artistic piece that will express my hope for the future.  At the same time, for a different magazine, I will have a Christmas article coming out featuring a joyful Santa.  How fun – hope for the future and joy for the Christmas season.  Hmmmmmmmmmmm…………………..I wonder if this is why I feel so busy?????????  And, of course, they are both due at the beginning of May!  And Jaime comes next week, but she is here for a conference so will be working during the day so I can, too!  It certainly feels nicer to be complaining abut how much work I have to do than about how bad I feel during my last round of chemo!  Aside from being a bit more tired for the first few days after treatment and these dratted leg cramps I feel just fine!  Even Constipation Cora has been absent for awhile!  I didn’t miss her at all and just realized that yesterday!  Hurray!  Maybe I am not going to need all of the seven hundred Senokot tablets I bought after all!

I must tell you a few pitfalls of wearing a wig.  You must be ever vigilant of what is in it.  I was getting ready to go to the grocery store and decided I was in a Fiery Fiona mood so on she went.  I was fussing with the “hairs” and noticed a lighter one lurking so tried to pull it out.  I mean, it couldn’t be a stray gray hair, it is a wig for heaven’s sake!  It wouldn’t budge so off she came so I could inspect.  It was a thread that had come loose from somewhere.  Now I can tell you, thread in your hair next to your scalp is a dead giveaway unless you have some kind of new hair replacement technique where they actually sew it down to your scalp!  I checked her over carefully but found no others. So, off we went.  Then as I was cooking Jen noticed I had something lurking on my “hair” and picked off some dusty debris I had acquired from somewhere!  We were shopping in the garden section of Home Depot on Saturday and I had gotten a hanging plant down and she had to pick all the petals out of my hair that day, too!  I don’t know how long I had been walking around with those flower petals!  You can’t feel any of these things so I could be walking around with all types of foreign matter sticking out and not know it!  I am going to have to start carrying a mirror to make wig checks every so often.  And hope for the kindness of strangers that would tell me if a bird had taken up residence up there!  All of this was in the space of three days so who knows what has been happening up there that I have not been aware of!  Also you must check it every so often to be sure it is still on straight!

Eyebrows – another thing I must watch out about.  The hairs are just barely there, it is like they dried up and are breaking off.  Very bristly and very thin and they seem to have lost all their color.  So I carefully add some subtle shading with an eyebrow pencil so I don’t look so odd.  It is very odd looking not to have any eyebrows especially when you have a full head of very red hair!  Anyway……I have to be very careful not to rub them off!  There is no rubbing of my temples for relaxation!  And now……they itch!  Itchy eyebrows, who would have guessed!  So now I have to carry the eyebrow pencil with me in case I “lose” an eyebrow somewhere!  I can imagine the mental picture you must have right now.  This red spiky wig all askew with flower petals stuck on it and only one eyebrow!  I really must get a photo up soon to regain my dignity!

Okay, time to go.  Sorry, no photos at all this time.  I know some people scroll right to the bottom first before reading anything to see the Photo of the Week so hopefully I will be better next time and there will be something to see.

Love and good health,

Margot a.k.a. Perky Polly – Keeper of the Perky Twins, Planner Pamela, Dissertation  Diana, Weepy Wanda, Leg and Foot Cramp Witch Lucinda Faye and Constipation Cora.


Margot,   a.k.a Perky Polly – Keeper of the Perky Twins, Leg and Foot Cramp Lucinda Faye, Constipation Cora, Thankful Thelma and Weepy Wanda

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