February 14 - Happy Valentine's Day! Quiet here, just a nice relaxing day for gardening for me and puttering around in his garage for Harold. He gave me one of the new Willow Tree Angels called the "Angel of the Heart - for those who love and are loved." I now have three of them, Angel of Courage, given to me during my battle with breast cancer, Angel of Hope, given to me when all treatments were done and now the Angel of the Heart.. They are very simple sculptures but their very simplicity is their beauty.
February 17 - Off to the general surgeon's today for my six month appointment. Cannot believe it has been six months since the mastectomy surgery! He said all looks just fine, he checked the area where he took the lymph nodes and no lumps or swellings of any kind. I see him again in May and then in August. If all is still fine then I will see him once a year. Something interesting and aggravating, too I went to buy a compression sleeve for flying, assumed (first mistake) it was on the order of an ACE bandage type sleeve but, no .you have to be measured and then they go to a chart and see which size you would wear. Since I have very short arms (my sister, Nurse Martha always tells me that if I was just a little shorter and I would qualify for midget status) and to put it delicately, on the plump side, do you think they have one to fit?????? Of course not! Had to get a prescription for Dr. P for a custom made one. Will it be ready for Saturday?????? Of course not! He did tell me he thought I would be fine and to see what happens when I fly this time (like I have a choice now!). He told me that flying in itself did not cause lymphedema, it would aggravate the condition if you already had it and if you are prone to getting lymphedema, it may bring it out. Oh yea. He asked me a bunch of questions about how my arm has been and I have had no problems at all so far. So, wish me luck on not getting it on this trip. It is my own fault for leaving it until the last minute, just never occurred to me there would be a problem. So, advice to all - don't wait until you fly, if you do fly often, get the sleeve way ahead of time so you have it. I will be getting one to wear for extra insurance! I will just feel more comfortable knowing I am doing all I can to prevent lymphedema. The crappy thing about lymphedema is that apparantly there is no time frame, that if you haven't had it by whatever time, you won't get it. It is a lifetime vigilance.
February 18 - Saw the Oncologist today. Well, sort of. Saw the P.A. and a different doctor because Dr. M was in surgery yesterday! Seems he got more than a poke in the eye last week playing basketball. His cornea was 30% detached and he had a fractured cheekbone! Going to have to send my doctor a get well card!
Took blood and all my counts are within the normal range. Some up, some down but all normal. Just to mention what my tumor was once again. I was Estrogen Negative when they tested the tumor after the mastectomy. I now take no Tamoxifen or any other drug to stop estrogen. The tumor began as needing estrogen to grow but by the time of the surgery it had stopped needing the estrogen and was growing wildly on it's very own! So that is why I still must avoid soy products or anything to do with estrogen because the tumor was initially based on estrogen. They were impressed with the amount of hair I had even though, it is not "hair to be out in public in" quite yet. Maybe if I was 18 and going for the "punk" look! Found out about the "cat fur" on my face, too. Seems that the chemo dropped all hormones way, way down and now they are all out of whack, hence the cat fur! I have more Androgens than I should right now which accounts for the hair growth on my face. No other problems stemming for the hormone imbalance that I can tell. For now, they would like me to wait and see if I regulate myself. If not, there is a product that stops hair growth but I am not to use a hair remover or shave it. No problem, never occurred to me to do that. They (both were women) were impressed with the Twins and asked who my plastic surgeon was, so that made me feel good, too. There was talk of a colonoscopy since I did have cancer and they are a cancer center (their words, not mine!). I just sort of nodded my head and didn't mention it again. I will have the test, of course, but really not something I would be looking forward to (cannot imagine that anyone would actually look forward to one of those!)! However, it is better than the sigmoidoscopy of a few years back - you are awake for that nasty test but with the colonoscopy they put you out so you are blissfully unaware.
I see Dr. M. again in May, the day after my appointment with the surgeon so looks like I will have another "doctor week" in May as I see Dr. J on Friday of this week and will maybe get an idea of the timing for the nipple reconstruction! I now have the leisure of scheduling these things around my teaching trips instead of having to cancel the trips.
I continue to receive wonderful letters from readers who tell me the most incredible stories of either how they found the journals or how they used them to help someone else. Each day I am amazed anew at the generosity of people and how we truly care for each other. Feels really, really good to be able to be a part of that! One reader wrote to me telling me she works in a hospital and gave the journals to the oncology department there and the nurses have given the site out to at least one woman already. That is major sharing! Please remember, too, that I am here to answer any question you might have that I am able to answer based on my own experiences. I am collecting the experiences of others and will be adding a new section to talk about their experiences in the future. In many respects I was very lucky (see, I can even say it now!) as I did not need radiation and did not stay ill or too, too exhausted from the chemo.
The Twins are doing fine even after being poked and prodded these last couple of days. The soreness from the liposuction is almost gone, I only feel internal tenderness now and not all the time. Sometimes at the end of the day they ache at the sides. Port scar still irritated though, will find out more on that on Friday.
Days are getting back to normal, more and more. Preparing for my big workout in Vegas and planning for my other trips. I am very glad to be "back" but feel a bit of nostalgia for the days of not having to worry about anything but myself. That is human nature I suppose, to want what you can't have. I liked the feeling not the cause so would I want to go back to that time when I didn't have to worry?????????? NO! I feel like I have emerged from a cocoon. New bright world, new beginning, a bit scary, but exhilarating to be alive!
February 20 - Have you noticed? I have cut back on the days of reports! will just update now if there is something to talk about.
Today was Dr. J day. Looks like the nipple reconstruction will be the beginning of May. He will take the skin from my tummy area to make the nipples. I asked if that included a tummy tuck and he laughed and said they didn't take quite that much skin! Oh well, doesn't hurt to ask! All is looking good from his viewpoint. I wish they had not left so much of my tissue at the sides, makes me wiiiiiiiiiide, but I was wiiiiiiide before, so that just didn't change. He looked at the port scar and said he could inject it with a steroid called Kenalog and that would soften the scar tissue and halt the itching and burning from the histamine reaction of my body dealing with the newly healing scar tissue. I asked if it would hurt and he said yes, but that it should clear up the problem I am having with the scar. He came in with one needle, however he failed to mention he would be sticking me with it more than once! He didn't lie - Geez, Geez, Geez, Geez, Geez, did that ever hurt! I couldn't see him do it but I am sure he heated that needle up to make it red hot and then poked into that scar seven times!!!!!!!!! I can see each place where the needle went in! Felt like he was digging around in there! I am sure all the color left my face! I asked him if this was another of those "the cure hurts worse than the problem" things! That was at 10:00 this morning and it is around 5:00 in the afternoon and I must say the scar itself hurts from the shots but the other stuff seems to have subsided. I am to call the office when I get back and let him know if it worked.
No photo this week, I am busy finishing up my packing to go to Vegas in the morning. Painted samples until 2 a.m. last night! Meeting some friends tomorrow night for dinner. They are picking me up at my hotel and we are going to Wolfgang Puck's at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas! Just think, only six months ago I was just out of mastectomy surgery a week and still had all those chemo treatments to go. This should be uplifting for anyone reading these journals who is in the middle of their battle. Six months later, I am flying across the country with no cancer, new boobs and most of my energy back after going through all that I did. And to be truthful, I am a happier person now, than I was six months ago. I realize all that I could have missed had I not had that fateful mammogram.
Nice Flavia quote for today: "Embrace the gifts of new tomorrows, for hidden within each of them are wonderful moments called miracles."
On that note I shall close for this week. No update next week as I will still be in Vegas. I will be taking daily notes as to how I feel and will report that info when I next write in the journals.
Margot, a.k.a. Cat Woman, Perky Polly - keeper of the Perky Twins - Polly and Dolly and Nervous Norma - wondering how my week will go!
After reading through the updates,
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