November 1 - I can finally say my chemo will be over by the end of the month. I like those words! Had one of my "need a nap NOW" days, otherwise feel pretty good. I think I overdid it yesterday but it was worth it! Hope you enjoyed the photo of Ghoulish Gertrude a.k.a. known as Bones! Hope it made you realize that life can go on despite being in the middle of chemo and reconstruction.
Took photos today of me in all my wig personas. Will include one a week until you have seen them all. Marian will be including them on the BC web site, too. I hope you all got a chance to visit the wonderful site she created for me/us.
Getting a bit jumpy about the chemo treatment next week. I know it doesn't hurt but I still dislike knowing I am going to feel crappy for all those days afterwards. I do know I am doing well, I do know this one will make me only have one treatment left, I do know the treatments are killing off the "little devils that might have gotten away", I do know I am winning the battle - still can't help the anticipation! Wimpy Wilma is trying to get under Brenda Braveheart's skin! I must do the pulling up of the bootstraps thingee and pull myself together! Jaime will be here in a couple of days - be nice to see her again and have her know exactly what is happening to her mother. It will be comforting for both her and me. I know Jen and Harold are both looking forward to seeing her, too. They are probably going to give her the duty of trying to find something I can eat for my two sick days. No more clear soup I can tell you!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe never again! I may have to eat Jell-O for two days and then I will hate that, too!
Lesson time! Myth: If the mammography report comes back as "negative," there is nothing else to worry about. Fact: Mammograms do not show 10% to 15% of all breast cancers. Any suspicious mass must be further investigated. Note from me - almost didn't put this one in as it is a bit depressing but I vowed to be honest here so you need to know this, too. Just remember that all my mammograms were okay until this last one. Dr. M. told me that the cancer could have been there for a while but just too small to detect. Bummer info I know, but you just must be vigilant!
How about a good lesson to follow that downer one? Myth: Removal of the entire breast is safer than segmental mastectomy (partial or lumpectomy) and radiation therapy. Fact: Survival is similar for patients who have breast-conserving therapy and those who undergo total or modified radical mastectomy. Note from me - there now, wasn't that nicer news!
November 2 - This weary business is for the birds! Woke up at 7 a.m. after a full nights sleep and had to nap again from 9 - 11 a.m.!!!!!!!! I mean, I just got up! This is what it feels like is happening - my body is a computer and it needs to run the repair program, so other programs that are not needed at the moment (that would be me!) are shut down during the repair time. Finally woke up all the way and got my wits about me and went outdoors, it is the beginning of my "out of prison" time after all. Worked outdoors for the rest of the day, felt fine. Cooked dinner and was watching a little TV afterwards and some poignant moment on a show made me weepy and then the dam burst!!!!!!!!!! For about four hours I could not stop crying, feeling very sorry for myself, having a regular old pity party! What an emotional roller coaster day this has been.
November 3 - Well, another fun day (said very sarcastically!). I cried so much last night that now my face is swollen and my nose won't stop running because of the loss of nose hair. Oh yea. Today is fill day and I had a lunch date with a friend (that was fun for real!).
Romantic Rose was the pick of the day. She is the soft curly, tousled, kind of strawberry blond wig. Since I think she is soft and sweet, I wore faded denim that I had decorated with ribbon embroidery. Aside from the swollen eyes, I looked okay.
Went for my fill and got the good news that I have sprung a leak in my left boob!!!!!!!!!! Also had noticed a new lump (among the many other lumps that are there!) on the right one and Dr. J. feels it is just a fatty deposit or cyst but wants me to have Dr. M, the oncologist, look at it to be sure. Geez Louise! I did tell him that Murphy's (as in Murphy's law) last name was Clark! I had two choices on the leak - one was another surgery to replace the leaky one or two was to keep filling it, which will keep the space open until the surgery implant time, which is tentatively scheduled for the end of December, or beginning of January. It is just saline solution inside the expander so my body just absorbs it. Well, an extra surgery is at the very bottom of things I want to do and we couldn't do it until after chemo is over anyway and I get my strength back so he feels that the timing would be about the same. I opted for the continuous fill. He said I might be sore from them because he will have to pump a bit extra, but I would rather be sore than face extra IV's, anesthesia, etc. He did say it was a small operation with a small incision and would be in and out of the hospital the same day but I hate even the thought! My left boob had also turned yellow so was questioning that - seems that is bruising from the last fill when I got 110cc. Will probably have it again since I got 90 cc in the left one today. I told him I thought maybe it was rotting off! He laughed and then told me that if I had any parties to go to, to come in and get a fill in the left one before going so my boobs would be even! The good news is that the right one is done until the implant. I don't think he liked Romantic Rose - told me she looks like Harlot Hannah!!!!!!! Hmmmmmmmpf! What does he know! His office gals liked her! They both said they like the other ones better, though. Well, I like Rose! After I post all my personas, you can give me your opinion on which one looks the best.
Exhausting day, to bed at 9 p.m. This was the bedtime ritual - Start off by beginning to take the stool softener in preparation for the upcoming chemo on Wednesday. I will beat this constipation problem! Then the Darvocet-N to stave off pain from the fill stretching my chest muscles (only have to take that the first night after a fill). Apply Neosporin to chemo port scar where I dug out that dreadful stitch. Apply lotion to my boobs to keep skin soft so it can stretch and also lotion to my little bald head. Now floss gently, brush teeth with Biotene toothpaste and then rinse with Biotene mouthwash to prevent mouthsores from the chemo from dry mouth. Then put AYR Gel in my nose because of the dryness caused by the chemo, which is exacerbated by the nose hair loss and the dust from gardening. Then eyedrops due to same chemo/gardening dryness. Then heavy-duty hand cream to my cuticles - same dryness, easy to get an infection through cracked cuticles. No wonder I am tired!
Speaking of hair loss. Went to shave my underarms this morning - you know you must do that right before going to the doctor! Well - nothing there! You can tell that I haven't lost the hair - it just hadn't grown. Also, my eyelashes and eyebrows are still there but my eyes itched yesterday (probably form the yard work, dust, pollen, etc.) and I rubbed the corners. The eyelash hairs on the bottom corners apparantly broke off and since nothing is growing, they are just stubble at the corners! Bald-headed Beatrice looks the same, too! To put this very genteelly, the "nether regions" are getting very thin, too!
November 4 - Jaime in tonight! Won't see her until tomorrow morning though since Jen is picking her up and going on to her house for the night. I must say that having her come in from Dallas is a nice perk for having to have the dreadful chemo.
I am beginning to be Perky Polly, on the right anyway. Lop-sided Louise on the left. Laying in bed this morning on my back and there she was - being her perky self (Polly, that is)! As of the moment the left one was three quarters perky. I put my old bra on to check for size and I am about the same size as I was, (right only mind you, so bra looked a bit odd, felt very odd too, reinforced my decision not to wear the dratted things ever again!) but more centered and of course, perky! I equate to a 38C which may sound large but remember, I am a pleasingly plump lady so cannot have boobs that are too small or my tummy will be bigger than they are and I can't have that!
November 5 - Third chemo! Treatment went as usual, no pain, no nausea. Dr. M. feels that the lump is nothing more than tissue shifting. I have an appointment with my general surgeon, Dr. P. the day before my last chemo, (at the end of the month or have I mentioned that already? Love saying that!) and he wants Dr. P. to look at it , too, but feels it is of no cause for concern. Thank heavens! A funny thing happened in the examining room. I went over my list of questions and saved the lump for last. Jaime and Jennifer were in there, too, along with Dr. M and his intern, plus me, of course. Small room, lots of people. When I asked about the lump on my boob, I said, "As if my boobs aren't lumpy enough, now I have another one!", he said he would get me a gown. I said, "Do we have to do all that? Can't I just pull up my shirt and show you? I have absolutely no modesty when it comes to this." He said they were told that was not "gentlemanly" - I said I didn't care about that, I just wanted him to see the lump. So, up went the shirt! Dr. M is much more formal than Dr. J or Dr. P and Jaime said she thinks he and the intern are not sure how to deal with me since I am "exuberant" in her words, instead of sickly. She said he would also probably have been more comfortable with the word breast instead of boob. Well, to my new way of thinking a breast is what you develop and it is yours. A boob can be manufactured as are mine, now. Since I have no breast tissue left I find it hard to call them breasts - they are now boobs (or Perky Pollies, Lop-sided Louises') to me as they are now just muscle, rubber and saline! Maybe after the nipple reconstruction I will consider them breasts again. We'll see. All my blood counts were up, a couple even in the normal range. I attribute that in part to the visit to the nutritionist and concentrating on eating a more healthy diet. I did find out from Dr. M, though, that the extra iron I am eating to combat the anemia is of no use at the present time, because the anemia is caused by the chemo affecting my bone marrow, not a lack of anything in my diet. He wants me to back off my iron adding campaign until after chemo is over. I also got a qualification on "sick people's food" for the two days following chemo or as long as my tummy is unsettled. First chemo I did a clear liquid diet - Yuk! Second time went to soft diet - that was okay but a still a bit limiting. He said just mild foods were what he considered sick people's food. Good, that allows a bit more freedom in food choices. I can also take the Zofran for a third say if necessary, but it won't work after three days! I also started the stool softener last Friday to get it in my system and actually bought the generic brand of Senokot-S that is recommended. I had been using a cheaper brand from Walgreen's. Will see if the new regimen will work. Dr. M says I will probably have it figured out by the time my chemo is over!
Came home, was just tired, I think more emotionally tired this time. Was there from 1:15 to 5 p.m. Long day at the doctors. Ate small snacks throughout the evening, my favorite seems to be dry toast with a small spreading of peanut butter. Good old saltines and lots of liquid to wash the chemo out of my system. Did I tell you all that Excel Queen Jennifer made me up daily nutrition charts to track my eating and liquids? Works great because it is easy to forget how much or what you ate or drank. I am supposed to be sure that at least three of my liquids are just plain water so it is good for me to have that marked down. I'm sure she would share the charts with anyone who wants them!
A reader asked me a question to ask the doctors. She wanted to know if all the years we women spend in constricting bras and especially underwires, contribute in any way to an increased risk in breast cancer. I had already asked Dr. P the question on underwires because I had worn them forever and he said no. I asked both Dr. J and Dr. M about all bras and neither felt they were a contributing factor. Just some FYI.
November 6 - Today is my wedding Anniversary. Needless to say, we are postponing the celebration this year. Nice to have all my family here for it though. A positive thought, even though I am not feeling so hot right now and we have to celebrate later, I will be celebrating "later" for a long time to come!
Easy night, finally went to bed about midnight and just set the alarm for 2 a.m. to be sure I took the Zofran at the eight hour mark. Was able to go back to sleep easily and slept through the night. That is a first on the night of chemo and a very pleasant surprise. Usually sleep is sporadic the first couple of days after. Feel okay this morning, slight headache and a bit sluggish but other than that, I feel fine. Went for a nice walk this morning with Jaime and Jen, thought, hey, maybe this one will be different, but no ..by around 11:00 I was needing to rest. I could feel as the day wore on that my energy level was dropping although I was able to be up and about some. Appetite going, so all is normal!
November 7 - Slept all night - yea, yippee, hurray! Started off for a little walk this morning and had to cut it short. Of course, Jaime did point out that I just had chemo two days before so it shouldn't have been a total surprise! She was more surprised that I was able to go for a walk! Different perspectives! She left this morning to return home to the DFW Dallas airport, get in her car, drive to the Love Field airport in Dallas and fly out to Houston to each a class on Saturday! Makes me tired just thinking of doing that! She and Jen left about 11:00 and I was back sound asleep as soon as they got out the door. Things went downhill after that. Started really feeling bad, my poor tummy is taking the brunt of all this I swear. No desire to do anything except to be still. I feel weak and weary this time instead of just fatigued. Now I know exactly what "weary" means - look how all this is improving my vocabulary and word understanding!
November 8 - I know I am late this time but I have done nothing but sleep and sit all day, no desire to do anything at all. I am totally exhausted this time. Hope this doesn't last too long. However, I am now three quarters of the way through, only one more to go and I will be done!!!!!!!!!!!! All this talk of feeling crappy is for recording purposes, I know that since I feel so bad, the battle is raging inside with Brenda Braveheart and the chemo soldiers sweeping my body clean of any nasties that tried to sneak away after the surgery.
Do have a funny story for you, though. My package arrived today from TLC - Tender Loving Care catalog from the American Cancer Society. They cater to women who have lost their hair and breasts. I had ordered a new wig - Melissa, (their name not mine) and some hats. Melissa is longer than the rest and a dark brown, similar to my own hair color (no gray though!). In the catalog looks like an ordinary hairstyle. Well, Melissa has to go -she makes me look quite a bit like the wolfman and that is not exactly the image I am trying to create with my various wig personas! Now, I am a big fan of "big hair" but even I have my limits!
Sorry no picture this time. Just feeling too poorly to bother with editing, uploading and all that is required to get it in here. Next week for sure! Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, if I lie!
I do have a question though, for all of you. Is there anything else needed on the BC Journals web site? I have added a new category - Helpful Hints and will be adding links to web sites I found helpful. Anything else???????????? Should be live by the end of the month. I must say, Marian is doing a bang up job on my regular web site too. Soooooooooo glad I decided to tackle this while I am going through this chemo mess. I do look forward to seeing the progress made with me only having to input stuff into email for her! I feel something is being accomplished since I just cannot focus on being creative right now so I feel like I am being productive in some way. Important to me, being productive. Must come from my mother all those years ago. If she found you being idle, she would say to find something to do or she would find something for you! Always was better if you found something yourself!
Margot, a.k.a. Brenda Braveheart Warrior Queen
|© Copyright 2000
Margot A. Clark, Inc. All rights reserved
Website designed, hosted and maintained by Marian Jackson, paintwebs.com