Tag Archive | Breast Cancer

The light at the end of the Tunnel

Today is the day!!   

Aug. 3 –

As I get myself going and get ready, I’m as calm as can be.   Today is my last chemotherapy infusion.   Wow!!  It feels like it’s been a long time comin’.  From March when I started til now.  What a crazy, horrible journey.   A journey that has had so many ups and downs.  Frustrations, madness, and so many other emotions.  Sometimes you don’t realize the strength you really have til it’s put to the test.  This has surely tested me.   It has tested my strength in every way, my faith and everything that makes me, me.  I didn’t realize how strong I’ve become.  It has definitely changed me.    It hasn’t changed who I am in my heart, but I believe it has made me a better person.   I see so many things differently.   I see things more clearer.   I feel a whole lot deeper.   I’m more gentle with how I speak.  My heart feels like it’s opened up wider and bigger.   I keep thinking a lot about that saying, “don’t sweat the small stuff.”  That is the truth.  When you’re faced with this kind of obstacle,  the small stuff I used to fret over doesn’t even matter.  Be thankful, ALWAYS. 

 During this course of treatment I have found out which friends are truly there to stick their neck out for you.   It’s amazing the ones that have stepped up to the plate.  I am truly grateful for friends like them.   

My nephew is here to stay with my son.  I’m waiting on Brittany and Clara Sue.   The 3 of us are going to my appt. together.   The rest of my crusaders, hopefully show up later.   I told them that they didn’t have to be there for the whole thing but I wanted them there when I finished and rang the bell.  That is important for me.   We did this together.   They were all there for me in some way, shape or form.   

Amazingly,  I slept pretty good.  I thought that I was going to be wide awake and anxious with thousands of thoughts going thru my mind about today.   I hope it turns out how I see it in my mind.   Ever since I posted my news on social media, which was just last night,  I have gotten tons of support.  Lots of messages with kind thoughts and words. 

My appt is at 11.   By 3, I hope to be done.   Tonight I can sleep with the fact that this part is all over.  I made it through and now I can start the healing process.  I can start building myself back up.   I’ve been knocked down so many times through this process, I can’t wait to go up.  It can only get better from here, right? 

Brittany is here.   She took the day off of work (we work together)  just so that she could be there for me today.   That just touched my soul.  It means so much.   She’s like a little sister to me.   It makes me happy the love and support I’ve received.   It feeds your strength.  It’s soul food.   Clara Sue gets here and we get ready to leave for my final visit.   Eeeekkk.   I think I’m gonna get emotional.   I hope my nephew and my son show up later.  They just have to be there.  Dominic won’t be allowed to the back ( infusion )  but I hope he can be there when I ring that bell.  I don’t wanna do this without him. 

We get to the cancer center and don’t even have to wait.  We barely had a seat in the waiting area when they came out to get me.   It was before 11.   Wow, maybe this will go quick!  I get weighed in, vitals taken, and we’re ready to get started.   I get my usual window seat.   Maybe the dove will come visit me for good luck.    It’s a beautiful day outside.   My mood is fantastic.   I already feel relief and I’m not even done.    Just knowing that the end of this part has come has been a huge burden taken off of my shoulders.   

As Brittany and Clara Sue leave to get us lunch,  Lisa, (my oncology nurse) talks to me about the journey I have overcome as she hooks me up for the last time.   She reminds me that the hardest part of this will be over soon.   The rest of my journey won’t be this bad.  I’ll breeze right through it.   I’ve done so well even though the side effects have been a nightmare.   I really hope the rest of it is as simple as they say.   She starts me on my premeds.    Thank the Lord this will be the last time I’ll need those steroids.   I’ve hated those!!! 

Brittany and Clara Sue show up with lunch.   They got Long John Silvers.   They also brought those funny hats.   So, here we are, eating lunch, wearing our silly LJS hats, sitting by the window to look outside for the last time.   The hats were fun.  It’s a good day.  Premeds are done and I’m hooked up to my last chemotherapy.   Lisa tells me,  “1 more hour!”  😀  Yay, I’m getting excited.   I send a text to Penny and tell her, “time to knock this shit out of the park!! ❤ 👊 💪🎀 ❣  Bitch be gone!” 🎀 🎀  I wish she was here.  She’s at work.     

Slowly my crusaders start to trickle in.   Both my brothers are here and Marybeth just showed up with a chocolate turtle cheesecake to die for.  mmmmm   That’s my treat to share with everyone.  My heart stopped and swelled with happiness as my nephew and my son showed up.    *Gasp*   I can’t believe they let Dominic back here!!!   He’s not even allowed and yet, he’s here.   Tears of joy filled my eyes.   He brought me a bouquet of flowers.   I’m sooooo happy he’s here.   Unfortunately, after a few minutes, he was spotted and we got in trouble for having him there.   Children aren’t allowed in the infusion center.   So, they made him leave.  He had to go to the waiting room.  😔 That made me very sad but I knew it would happen.  1/2 hour left.  I was very surprised when Penny and her husband, Manuel walked around the corner.  I started to cry.    I’m happy she made it.   I didn’t think she would be able to.   All of my crusaders are here.   We’re gonna finish this together. 

Everyone took turns going out to the waiting room to sit with Dominic til I was done.  Time is really flying by.  This is going quickly!   I’m almost finished.   Tammy sent me a text and told me to feel every emotion I could feel and to ring the hell out of that bell.   I can’t wait.  I look up at the drip bag on my chemo pole ( I don’t know if I ever told you, I named my chemo pole Joaquin)  it’s almost empty.   eeek.    A few minutes later, the machine starts to ‘beep’.   Indicating that it’s done.  I inhale deeply at the thought of being finished.   Lisa comes to unhook me.   She asked everyone to wait by the bell for me.  Clara Sue and Penny stayed with me while she did this.  When the wires were all off I could feel the emotions rising from the pit of my stomach to my throat.   I gathered my things.  Clara Sue and Penny walked to the front and my brother Jake came to walk out with me.  They’re all waiting for me.  I start to tear up.   As I walk towards them, Lisa says, “before you start to cry, let me get a picture of you holding the bell as if I was gonna ring it.”   We get the picture. 

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 Now she wants me to read the poem on the bell.   Oh gosh,  I don’t know if I’ll be able to.  My emotions are on overload.   Here goes.  Deep breath.   *sniff, sniff*

 

“RINGING OUT”

“Ring this bell, three times well,  it’s toll to clearly say.    My treatments done, this course is run and I am on my way.”

 

After I was done reading it, I paused for a few moments as they all told me to ‘ring it, ring it.”   There are some things I need to say first before I do.  I have to thank my loved ones.   I hope they don’t kick me out.   I look at the bell and turn to my son,   “Dominic, my son,  I ring this bell for you. . . for us.   My brothers,  I know we don’t say this often, but I do love you very much.   My crusaders, Thank you for being with me, I appreciate everything you’ve done.  And Clara Sue, my # 1,  from the very beginning you have never left my side.  Thank you for everything.  You’ve done everything my Mom would have done.  I love you, thank you for that.”    “Ready?”    *ding, ding, ding* 

 I can’t explain the rush of emotions.  For a moment I just stood there til Lisa came to hug me.   I guess a part of me was in disbelief that I finally made it to this point.   I thought I was gonna fall apart and just break down.    I didn’t.  I teared up a bit but that was it.   I surprised myself.   We hugged, took pictures.  I gathered my things and we all walked out. 

 

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My crusaders!

 

 I’m done,  I’m really really done.   Why does it all seem so unreal?  Did I really just endure the last 5 months?  5 months of hell?  Maybe now I can breathe.   Maybe my life will slowly fall back into place.  I need to decompress.   I  wanna go home with my son.   I don’t want to go have a celebration, not yet.   I just wanna be with my son.   Is that weird, weird that I don’t want to celebrate?  Some of us went back to my house for a while then Dominic and I had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves.  Just what I wanted.  I slowly started to call and text the rest of my family/friends to let them know I was all done.  It is a relief but I really dont feel a whole lot different.   Everything now just seems like a blur.  Like if I’ve been watching it all play out in a movie.   I was waiting for that release of emotions I’ve been needing but it never happened.  I thought I was going to ball my eyes out.  I’ve been holding it all inside for almost half of the year.  I didn’t cry at all.  I almost don’t feel anything.  Is that weird?  I feel like my emotions were suddenly somehow detached.  This isn’t what I expected at all.  I expected just the opposite.   Maybe in time I’ll start to cry it all out.  It needs to come out.  I guess it’s just not gonna happen right away.   Oh well.  We’ll see.   For now,  I’m going to be thankful.    Thankful that I have my life.   Thankful that I’ve conquered this quest and that I had the strength to do it.   I’m gonna close the chapter on this one and hope to never read it again.  New chapters are ahead.  No looking back.   Moving forward.  I’m gonna sleep tonight ready for tomorrow and a new beginning.   I’ve been waiting for this.   Yay me!!!!   I made it!  Thank you Lord!!

 

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I had my hands on that bell, we all rang it together! ! ! !

 

 

Ready for a new day, new beginnings! !  ❣  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

🎵 It’s a great day to be Alive!🎶

This is a song.  A country song sung by Travis Tritt.   Some of the words are just me.   Not all words pertain to what I’m going through but some do.    Every time I hear it, I think to myself,   “Yes!   It is a great day to be alive!!”  Every day is a great day to be alive.  The chorus seems to say what I feel.  There is a bridge in it that describes what I felt way too many times.  Sitting alone in my room, lonely and desperately shouting out from the inside of my soul.  Smiling on the outside and falling apart on the inside.   Not everyday will be like this.   I know in time it will get better.  I know the sun will continue to shine.   No matter how hard the times are. 

 But there are some good days too.  And today is one of them.  So I’m gonna jot some of these words down and let you listen to the song.  Music soothes my soul.  Some songs just speak to me.  I’ve learned not to take anything for granted.   Yeah, I’m doing alright!

 

🎵  Yeah I think I’ll make me some homemade soup.  Feelin’ pretty good and that’s the truth.  It’s neither drink nor drug induced.  No, I’m just doin’ alright 🎶

🎼  And it’s a great day to be alive.  I know the sun still shining when I close my eyes.   There’s some hard times in the neighborhood.  But why can’t everyday be just this good?”🎵   

🎵 Sometimes it’s lonely.   Sometimes it’s only me and the shadows that fill this room.   Sometimes I’m falling, desperately calling, howling at the moon.    Ahooooo 🎶

 

 

 

 

Why can’t everyday be just this good? ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith over Fear

#ALMOST THERE 

 

The day is getting sooo close I can almost taste it.  What a journey it has been and one I would never want to do again.  My life has been turned upside down and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to fix it or get back to where it was. . . I can only hope. 

I have 2 weeks and 2 days left. Yes, I have started counting the days.   I mark them off on my calendar.   I have a big pink ribbon marked on the 3rd.   I can’t wait to put a huge ‘X’ over that date.   Looking back, the time has flown.   But going through it day by day, it has drug like a slow locomotive train.   If that even makes any sense.  My nerves have been very calm.  I’m not over anxious like I thought I would be.  Earlier this month I was so anxious for the end to be near,  I was driving myself bonkers.  I can’t believe how calm I have gotten.   I guess it’s because I have such strong faith.  The day will come.  I know it will.   Lately, I don’t talk about it anymore to my people at work and I no longer stay in my room.  I force myself out of there and to do things with my son.  Regardless of how wiped out and drained I feel.   I don’t want him to feel so overwhelmed and stressed like he did.  That scared me way too much.  

As I prepare for my time off of work, I was slapped with the horrible reality that, ‘I WON’T be able to take time off.’    WTF!!!!  What exactly does this mean?    It means, “you can’t take time off.”    WHATTTTTTTTT?!?!?!?!  😱 😭  I don’t understand!!  Help me understand.  Well, it goes like this.   You don’t have enough hours from your last leave of absence (broken ankle)  for this leave to take place.   Not enough time has passed.  There has to be 12 months in between and you need 1250 hours.   I can’t breathe.  Are you kidding me?!?  I’m lost.  I don’t know what to do.  I have been working all through my chemo (and it hasn’t been easy), from the very beginning of my diagnosis and this is what is in store for me?  I still don’t understand.  I have worked myself to the ground, because I have to.   I am soo worn out, my health is on the line.   I speak to my store director about this.  Me – “There has to be something we can do.  As a 25th year veteran of the company, I believe I am a valued employee.”    Him – ‘Yes! you are!  But some rules I have no control over.”  That’s how our contract is and FMLA.  I can take a chance with time off, but it won’t be secured time off.   In other words,  since I can’t do time off through FMLA, I can take time off but my position won’t be secured nor will my rate of pay or my seniority.   *deep sigh*   😢 Well, who wants to take that chance?   I need my job and of course, insurance, but it’s something he can’t override.   Now what?     Me – “What can we do?  Will you help me figure out something?  I can’t continue working like this.   I’ll never get better.”  Him – “Yes, we’ll figure it out.”  This adds to my already high stress level.   Other than the obvious, there are other stresses.   My bank won’t help to bend my mortgage payments for a few months and other things just haven’t worked out.  I swear, when it rains, it pours.   I’m at such a loss with life.  I don’t know which direction to go.  I almost feel like giving up, but I can’t.  My inner soul (the fighter in me) won’t let me.   I’m so unhappy with how things are going.  There has to be a way out of this whole mess of my life. 

 I leave after my work day is done and head on over to the district office to see what and if there is something we can figure out.  I have a hard time believing that I can’t take the needed time off without consequences.  I didn’t ask for this.   It’s not my fault that breast cancer decided to hit me just a few months after a broken ankle.  What about other people who get very ill multiple times a year and need time off?  What do they tell them?    Too bad??    I refuse to believe that! 

 As we go over the past year of my life and my accumulated hours, we try to figure it all out.   Maybe there is a chance I had enough,  it looks that way.   I sure hope so.   Several calls need to be made out to make sure what the exact rules are for the company.  I will find out soon.  

 I get that phone call.   Nope. . . I don’t have enough hours and 12 months has not passed.  I’m shit out of luck.   What else can I do?    

I keep pushing forward and I continue working.  I’m sooo drained 😥  my only option is to keep working.   I’m so tired of stressing over things.   I don’t wanna stress any more. I want things to go back to normal.

Round 10 – Well, I only have 2 more to go.  I marked another day off of my calendar.  That pink ribbon on the 3rd is getting closer.   The fatigue has been hitting me hard and the stress doesn’t help.   I am not sleeping at all.  I have so much on my mind.  The nueropathy in my feet and hands has gotten bad.  My feet feel swollen but they’re not.  My fingernails have turned an ugly yellowish color and I started getting ridges on them.  They have started to pull away from the skin and I’m afraid I’m going to lose them.  I keep bandaids on them, especially when I’m at work.   On a brighter note, I have fuzzies growing all over my head.  you could never tell though cuz they are baby fine.   But yes, they are there.   The heat has been pure torture for me.   The chemo that I’m getting causes your body temperature to rise.  The hot flashes feel like I’m in the fires of hell and I get those like 15 times if not more a day.   Its a heat that comes from the inside out and just flushes all through me.   Its awful.   I’ve had a hot flash here n there in the past but nothing like these ones.  It’s making me hate summer sooooo bad.   The chemo also causes your pain tolerance to be at an all time low.   No wonder I have been suffering so much with pain.   My eyes don’t get so blurry anymore and my mouth not as dry but I still have those mouth sores and it’s already been a month straight.  None of the mouth rinses help anymore.    Oh the joys of the side effects. 

 I’m off to the district office once again.  This time, I am given some helpful information. I was given a glimmer of hope.   Something called ‘seniority leave.’  As long as I have worked for the company, I have never heard of this.  Yes, it is in our contract.  I read it word for word.   I don’t need FMLA for this.  Really?  *gasp*  I try not to get my hopes up.  Every time I do that, they just get crushed.  So, even though I got a bit of excitement, I’m gonna take this at face value.  But i can’t help but wonder.   Why wasn’t I told this before?   Do you know how much stress this information would have saved me?   Why doesn’t everyone know about this?  All I need is to get a doctors note.   Well guess what?  A doctors note they shall have.  I see my oncologist next week.   I’m going to ask him to take me out of work.    Fingers crossed. 

July 21 – Got up feeling fantastic.  Since I just had a round of chemo the neuropathy has my toes feeling very tingly.   It does help a bit to elevate them.   So,  I’ve been doing that.   This side effect worries me a bit cuz it can turn into irreversible nerve damage.   Ouch, I can’t imagine having that in my feet or my hands all the time.   My energy level is awesome today and my appetite is great.  Ugh,  damn you tongue sores!!  When will you go away?!   And I just wish and wish I could get some restful sleep.  Getting closer 😃 

22th – had another great day!  Again, I just wish I could get some restful sleep.   Running on fumes is getting to be very hard.  The hot flashes are getting worse especially at night.  I run my beanie under cold water and put it back on for some freshness and to cool off.  That seems to help some.  Energy level is still pretty good.  Ran some errands with my son, had lunch and got some ice cream.  We got in the pool for a bit, let the floaty take me around.  Overall, things with chemo are pretty good.  Don’t wanna speak to soon, but I think my tongue sores are trying to go away.  They haven’t been so bothersome and they do feel smaller.  I hope.  I’ve really hated those.  They are so painful 😧  The tingling in my toes isn’t bad at all today.  I barely have any.  I still elevate my feet whenever I can and no tingles in my hands or fingers.   Yay!!! 

 Sunday – 11 more days til the end.    I finally started to slowly pull my favorite customers to the side and tell them what’s been going on with me and that they might not see me for a while.  The ones that I couldn’t talk with, I just got their number to call them later.   Oh goodness!  Were they shocked, some sad but very supportive.   I also started telling a few coworkers.  To this day, still, the only ones who know are the 4 I told at the beginning and the one I told mid way through.   How I’ve managed to keep that secret is beyond me.  It’s allowed me to keep things as normal as possible but the whole charade has been stressful.    I can’t wait for it to be over.   It’s awful when you’re asked how you’re doing in the checkout lane and all you do is smile and say, “I’m doing okay.”  When really, you’re whole world is turned upside down.  I hate how things have been but I’ve managed to keep it together.   

I’ve been tempted to spill the beans to everyone (family & friends) on facebook.  I HAVE NOT mentioned anything or even hinted about my situation over social media.  A huge part of me finally wants to let it all out but that other part of me that still wants peace and privacy keeps me from doing so.   A high school friend posted that she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.   Oh how that broke my heart.   She has such a huge journey ahead of her.   I have so much to share with her but I don’t want to overstep.  If she asks, I’ll share.   I can’t help but think of all the unpleasantness that’s ahead of her.  It saddens me very much.  She will be in my prayers til she makes it to the end.    

My friend Tammy keeps reminding me to take care of myself.  Not just physically but mentally.   She’s always telling me not to forget about my mental health.  That even though I’ve been a tough girl through all of my chemo, my mental  & emotional health could take a beating.  Dealing with cancer, work, family and me (physically & emotionally)  is A LOT.   I told her I was planning on taking myself out of work.  She was happy about that.   She said I needed that time to heal.   I totally agree.   Mentally and emotionally I’ve done very well.  I haven’t fallen apart.  This worries her cuz I haven’t let it out. I haven’t ‘dealt’ with it emotionally.   I’ve kept things bottled up inside.   I may have a hard time later,  like she did.  There’s a chance I might get depressed.   I listen to everything she tells me,  all her advise.   She should know, she went through this herself.    Physically, everything that I’ve gone through with chemo is spot on to what she went through.   So,  naturally, its safe for her to say, I might get effected emotionally as well.   For me, I just don’t see this happening.   I’m too happy of a person to feel depressed.  I just don’t get that down.  I get sad and yes I get down but never enough to say I feel depressed.   But since she put the thought in my mind I can’t help but hope I come out of this journey unscathed.  I hope things go back to normal.  She says things never go back to normal.   It’s a ‘new’ normal we have to get used to.   What does that mean?   A ‘new’ normal?  I don’t want a ‘new’ normal.  I want my regular normal.   How I was before all of this.   The thought stays stuck in my mind.   

26th – Today I feel wrecked.  I’m just over tired.   I have a round of chemo tomorrow and my LAST one next week.  Plus, I see the doc tomorrow for my last examination.   Oh how the days are starting to drag.    I told them at work that my plans are to go out of work on the 31st.  I’m taking the ‘seniority’ leave of absence.   I’ll need to use all of my vacation hours to hold on to my insurance.   Luckily I have 2 months worth.   So at least I know I’ll have insurance for the months of
Aug & Sept.   Hopefully surgery and radiation will be done in that time frame. 

My older brother invited Dominic to go camping.  They’ve been planning for a few weeks.  They leave tomorrow until Sunday.  My son needs this.   He needs some breathing room.  I think he needs space from me.  He sees me struggling on a daily basis and I feel he just needs to get away.  this will be good for him.  They’re going to Heron Lake.  How fun.  I just love camping and being outdoors.  But this damn chemo and effects from it have kept me from doing just that.  But I think I’ll meet them up there on Friday since tomorrow I have chemo.   I’ll go on Friday and come back on Saturday.  If I feel okay.  I want my son to enjoy himself and have the best time.   He needs a fishing license and to pack.  

July 27th –  My son leaves to go camping for the weekend.   Gosh I’m gonna miss him.  I haven’t been by myself this whole summer.  I hope I don’t go out of my mind.  I should be okay.   “Bye my Lovey, have the best time!  I hope to see you tomorrow!!”  😍 😘

Today I see the doctor.   Examination day.   YAY!!!!   Excellent news!   The lump is no longer there.  This news puts me over the moon.  I.am.sooo.excited!!!   This has been the journey from hell.  Oh how I have hated it with a passion but the chemo has done its job.   As horrible as it has all been,  the chemo did what it was supposed to do.  It killed the lump.  I’m so happy I’m almost in disbelief.   Since February, all I have gotten is bad news.   I’ve been praying for this.  I didn’t want to go through this and not come out on the brighter side of things.   I didn’t want to do it for nothing.   Now, I can actually be thankful for chemo.   How odd to really say that.   Oh chemo, you have been such a misery but thank you for killing that lump.  Thank you for giving me some hope to still live.  Thank you for my life.   It was worth it.   You tried to put fear in me but my God is stronger than you,  I chose faith instead.   

~~FAITH OVER FEAR~~   

 I ask the doctor if he will take me out of work.  He said that I had done so good, why now?  I told him that i was just too worn out.   Too drained and I didn’t want to continue putting myself through that misery during surgery and radiation.   It was time for me.  Time to start healing.  To rest and get better so I can be %100 again.   At first he told me ‘NO’.   lol   he was only kidding.  But he agreed to take me out.   Yay, I got my doctors note.  My return date is Nov. 1.   That should give me plenty of time.   Time enough for surgery, radiation, healing and to get back to ‘me’.  I’m so happy 😃

  I am off to do my 11th round of Taxol with renewed energy.  My ultrasound, mammy and a visit with the surgeon is scheduled for Aug.  What a great day it is.   After my chemo, I was feeling so good Clara Sue and I decided to go shopping.   Hobby Lobby.   Oh Jesus.  I love Hobby Lobby soooo  much,  I need to be kept away from there.  haha.   I need adult supervision in that store.  I need to be held by the hand.   I’ll buy everything even with money I don’t have. . . . .but we went  😛 

It’s been a great day, even though I was by myself for the rest of it.   Think I’ll get some things ready.   I think I will go camping and meet them up there.   It’ll be a boring long drive by myself but maybe it’ll be good for me.  I know getting away certainly will be.  I get my nephew to house/animal sit. 

 ONE MORE TO GO!!!!!   I can’t wait!!   

28th –  I get up and get ready to take off to Heron Lake to meet my brother & fam and my son.  I feel pretty good.  I’m excited.  I can’t believe I am at the point where I can truly say, “I have one more round to go!”   I  didn’t think I would ever get to this point.  When I’m done, that’ll be 16 rounds.  16 rounds of poison that got pumped through my body.   16 rounds that killed everything in me including the good stuff.  But I’m alive.   I’m still here and I hope to be for many more years to come. 

 My nephew comes to house sit and I’m off to the Lake.  Me, myself and I with just my thoughts and good music.  I should get there by 4:30.   2 hours in,  ‘ I am really enjoying this drive’.  It helped to clear my mind.  It helped to push out all the stressful and negative stuff that I’ve been going through.  I love jamming out in the car to good music.  About 20 min to go,  Wow, look at that storm up ahead.   It looks mad and threatening.  I’m gonna drive right into it.  It looks so angry and mean.  The sun went away and it got so dark.  The temperature is really dropping.  It was in the high 90’s went I left.  Now it’s already in the 70’s, geez, what a difference.    I wonder if they’re getting poured on at the lake?   Here come the rain drops.  Okay, now it’s coming down harder.  What the heck,  it’s hailing.   Now I can’t even see.  It’s coming down so fierce with big hail, I’m forced to drive like a turtle.   I can barely see the brake lights of the car in front of me.  This is creepy.  I’ve never been in a rain/hail storm like this.  Good thing I am almost there, I know the turn off is coming up.  I must not have phone service, my brother is not responding.  Or he doesn’t have any.   This is horrible.  The hail is gonna crack my windows it seems like.  The lack of visibility is making is very scary.  Oh good, there’s the turn off, almost there.   Things look familiar.    OH SHIT!!!!!!    I turned on the wrong one.   Couldn’t see the signs at all.   NO NO,  I don’t want to go this way!   I tried to correct myself and turn around.   It was raining so bad that everything was nothing but ugly muck.  As I was turning to correct myself my tires caught the edge of the slippery road and I slid off into the mud/muck.    I slid right off the road.  I can get out, I’ll be okay.   *tires spinning and spinning*    I AM SOOO STUCK and I’m sliding further in.   It’s raining too much.   No one is stopping to see if everything is okay.  They are just driving by.   I call my brother.   No service.   What do I do??   My tires kept spinning and because of that I managed to turn my whole vehicle around, I did a 180.  From one direction to the other.  It’s no use, I’m not gonna get out of here.  I started having a panic attack.  Here I am, a cancer/chemo patient,  in the middle of no where, stuck in the mud on the side of the road (vehicle facing the opposite direction) in the pouring rain by myself with no phone service  😭😭😭   For almost 1/2 an hour I tried to get myself out (only making it worse).   I should already be there.   They’re gonna start to worry.   I started breathing so heavy from the panic I’m surprised I didn’t pass out.  I couldn’t even get out of my car the mud was that deep.  I sent a text to my brother, maybe he’ll at least get that.   “I’m stuck bad, come get me”.    It was no use.   I put the car in park and just sat there.  One by one the cars drove by.   I tried not to think bad thoughts but my mind is an asshole.  What if someone stops and they turn out to be a creeper?  Oh Lord, please help me!  The cars are going East & West, I’m facing South.   No one bothered with me.  This is just like how my life has been going.  Of course I would get stuck.  Nothing outside of chemo has been turning out right.   FINALLY a couple stopped, rolled down their window and asked if I was okay.   I was okay, over stressed and panicked but very stuck.   The man got out, tried to help but I was going to need a tow strap or a chain to get pulled out.   My AWD had failed me.   I was sooo stuck.   When another couple passed in a heavy duty truck and saw the man trying to help, they too stopped.   Luckily, he had a tow strap and by this time the rain had stopped.  My brother responded, he got my text.   He’ll be right there.  I told him some people were trying to help.   The man couldn’t get under my vehicle with the way it was positioned and he was too burely to do so.   His wife was small enough.   She pulled out her rain boots from the truck, put them on, got in the mud and under my vehicle and hooked me up.   Another person stopped and asked if we needed more help.  They got in their truck and pulled me out ‘just like that’.   The other couple hung around to make sure that I was okay.   I was out.   What a relief.   The wife got so dirty and messy but she helped anyway.   Thank you Lord for sending such kind people.   Yes, there are still lots of good ones out there.  I am so grateful.  What an ordeal.   My brother showed up just as they were leaving.  We turned around and went back to the camping site.   They hadn’t had a drop of rain.   Funny how that works.    It could be pouring cats n dogs and just a mile or so away, it’s dry as hell.   Yup, that sounds just like my life.   Exactly!!  We got to the campsite.  Nope,  no rain but it looks like it’s coming.   I had gotten so stressed and panicked that I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the day.   It was passed 5:30, I should’ve been here over an hour ago.  My son got so worried about me.  I did my best to enjoy.  The ordeal left me wiped out.  I was sooo drained.  Why can’t things go right for once???    The outdoors, the smell of rain and the fresh mountain air slowly started to ease my troubled mind but it took forever.   That panic attack I had seemed to settle in my bones.   *sigh*   All I want is to have a good time.   It wasn’t supposed to start off like this 😔  My life’s situation makes it so easy to get stressed and stressed I felt.  I didn’t have the energy for that kind of episode.   Time for a walk.  I need to breathe.  Here comes the rain.  I feel worn out.  Enjoy yourself Lovey, don’t worry about me.  As long as YOU have a good time.   

Earlier in the day he had caught 2 fish.   But one got away and the other was too small so he let him go.   He came out empty handed.  He was bummed out.  Better luck tomorrow. 

29th – Couldn’t sleep worth a darn and it rained good through the night.   The stress from the day before left my body achy and hurting.  I didn’t feel good.  Oh well,  time for breakfast over the campfire and let’s go fishing.   Dominic wants to fish out of the Chama river.   Let’s go!! 

Coopers Ranch – What a great sight.   It’s beautiful here and it smells wonderful!   I love the smell of mountain air.   The sound of the running water from the river is amazing, its so soothing.   I soak it all in.   It makes my soul feel great and the sun is shining.   This is just what I needed.   My brother drove and we all piled in the truck.   So I didn’t need to worry about any mishaps.   On the way here we passed where I got stuck, geez,  what a mess it left.  A road sign is knocked down.   Did I hit that trying to get out??  I don’t remember doing that.   Thinking about yesterday made the stress come back.    I need to focus on the surroundings.    *sucks in breath*  look at the elk.   I love wildlife.   I love the outdoors.  

 Back at the river – We find a great spot.   Man there are lots of people here.   Dominic and my niece get their lines ready and throw them in.   Good luck, I hope you catch something.    Look at the fish jumping up!   It’s like they’re saying, “na-na na-na boo boo, haha, just try and catch me!”

 

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This is how my son catches fish!

 

 

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What a life! 🙂

 

He got a couple of bites, but no luck 😦    He was very disappointed.   After a few hours he got tired of not catching anything so we decided to go for a walk.   It was Dominic, my niece and myself along with my nieces’ pup.   We crossed the Swaying metal bridge suspended over the river.  They went first.  I was holding the dog so his paws wouldn’t get stuck and I started to cross.  Holding the dog, I went while they waited for me on the other side.   Oh my goodness!!!   The rapid flow of the river and the swaying of the bridge threw my head in a tailspin. I got soooo dizzy, I thought I was going to pass out and fall right over.  I couldn’t get my bearings.  I thought it was all over.   I was thinking, “I’m going to fall in the river and get swept away”.   That has never happened before.  It was like motion sickness.   It must be all the medication I’m on.  I’m gonna die trying to get across.   I had gotten half way and almost couldn’t go anymore.  It felt like I had made a bad decision.   I can’t believe the way it made me feel, like severe vertigo.   It just wouldn’t stop spinning. After what seemed like forever, I got across.   That was horrible.  It made me feel scared.   I hate all these changes.   I always enjoy stuff like this.   Grateful that the dog and I made it across, I had to sit down and let my spinning mind come to a stop.   Believe it or not, I was afraid to go back.   We climbed up a rock that seemed to take all my energy and just sat there.   What a nice view.  Why can’t I just be able to enjoy things without something to blow out the happiness?    After some time up there we climbed back down.   Geez, that was hard for me.   Now to go back across.  I don’t know if I’ll make it.  This time, Olivia carried the pup and I was able to hold on to the sides with both hands.    Here comes the spinning again.   Oh I hate this.   I made it but again it felt like I was gonna fall right over.   This was a bad idea.  I’m worn out and ready to go back to the campsite.   After my brother had caught some more fish we packed it up and left for a drive.   We went to El Vado Lake just for some sights.  Here come the mean clouds.  Looks like the rain is on its way.   Yup, we drove right into the downpour.  It was just like yesterday but without the hail.  We got to El Vado and just drove around.   After a bit we found such a nice quiet fishing spot down below to maybe check out next time.   It was a bit of a walk down the mountain but it looked perfect.   Everyone started walking down.   I started but only went half way for fear I wasn’t gonna have the energy to walk back up.   How depressing.   It’s depressing when you can’t do the things you’ve always enjoyed.  When you can’t take a walk or hike or climb up a mountain cuz you might not have the energy to make it back.   I started breathing heavy.  As much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t.   I watched from above.  I watched as my son skipped rocks on the lake.   This is heartbreaking.  I want to be involved.   I want to be normal again.  I’m missing out and it’s making me sad 😢  No matter how hard I try, I just don’t have the energy.   I took pictures from afar.    

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Walking back up left me spent.   I had the shakes and needed to sit down.  My brother gave me a stick to use for support as I walked back up.   My situation has me miserable.   Next summer I wanna do this all again as a happy, healthy human being.  Where I’m able to have fun and enjoy it and not worry about passing out or not having energy or whatever.   This journey has been the bane of my life.   It has robbed me of so much happiness.   I’ll say it again,   “I can’t wait til it’s all over!!!”  5 more days.   I know the chemo is saving me but I can’t wait for it to be over.   

Back at campsite –   I know my visit was short but I need to leave.   I have work early tomorrow.   And I need to rest.   This took it out of me.  I was planning on leaving and we got hit with a downpour that lasted for a couple of hours.   As I got ready to take off, Dominic decided he was gonna come back home with me.   He got so worried with me getting stuck yesterday, he didn’t want me driving back home alone.   So, he packed his things and came back with me.   I felt like I had ruined his trip.   But we came home.   The 3 hour drive didn’t help but, oh well.    Got home beyond exhausted and I paid for it the rest of the day.    Thought I was gonna sleep like a champ from it all,  nope. . . . couldn’t sleep a wink.   Dominic didn’t say anything and honestly, I think he was happy that he came back with me. 

Sunday – July 30th –   Oh man!!  I got up feeling horrible.  I can’t move.  I hurt sooo bad but I have to go to work.   A few more days.   The day was rough for me.   Talked to a few other customers and told them I’ll be going out of work.   I went home miserable.   A few more days and I’ll be all done.  A few more days and I’ll be out of work.  I am almost there.  I know I can make this to the end.   Can’t quit now, I’ve come way too far.   Thursday, I can’t wait for you to come.   When I am all done, I’ll be a week and a half shy of 5 months of chemo.    5 months of pure hell and misery and torture I have never known.  I’m just a few days away of having my life back.   I’ve missed my life how it used to be.  I want to do so many things when this is all over.  I pray for Thursday to come quickly.   I pray for things to go smooth and I pray to feel better.   I sure hope my mental and emotional health don’t suffer.   Why is that thought so stuck in my mind?   I have a feeling I’m gonna fall apart, have a breakdown.  I haven’t really cried while I’ve been going through all of this.  I haven’t let it out.   When I ring that bell I think I’m just gonna crumble.    I need that release.   I need to cry a million rivers of tears.   What a relief that’s gonna be.   My chest is just gonna cave in.  I know it is but that’s okay.  I’ve been a strong woman through this all.   I’ve kept myself going and working with sheer determination.   By the end of the week my chemo journey will be all over.  Next week at this time I’ll be free from the horrors. 

July 31 – Well today was supposed to be my last day of work.   But once again I was slapped in the face with the fact that I am short on my hours to keep my insurance while I’m out of work.    Eff me!!    Is it ever gonna stop?   I feel like I just keep going in circles.  Like if someone is working against me.    I don’t need much so I guess I’ll work til the end of the week. 

As strange as it is I feel pretty good today and still as calm as ever.   All my pains from the weekend camping trip are gone.  Yay!!!   I turned in all my paperwork for my time off.   I just need to gather some more hours.   

Tuesday –  2 more days!!   I feel pretty amazing.   I’m almost in disbelief that the end of this journey is near.    Is it really happening?       

Something keeps nagging at me.   I hope I don’t come out of this too damaged or too emotionally scarred.    I share my concerns with others.   Why is that starting to bother me so much?   I hope I’m still the same person I was before.   Whatever this ‘new’ normal is supposed to be, I hope it makes me happy.  I guess we shall see. 

 I wrote out what I want to say to everyone on facebook but I just haven’t posted it yet.  I really put time and effort into to what and how I wanted to say it.   Gosh, I’m gonna shock them all.   I hope they understand.   Family on my Moms’ side don’t even know.   Even though I’ve told a few more people, my circle is still very small.  I think I’ll post it tomorrow.  The day before my last treatment.   

Well, you could never tell but the fuzzies on my head are really growing.    I still look bald but close up you can kinda see.   I can’t wait for real hair to grow in so I can get rid of this dreadful wig.   I’m starting to hate it.   I think I might like having short hair.    Who knows.   I wonder if it’ll grow out straight or come out curly like I’ve had?   I’ve been told it could grow out way different from how it used to be.    hmmmmm.   My tongue sores have not gone away.   geez, that’s going on like 7 weeks now.    Soon,  my mouth won’t feel yucky anymore.  I’ll be able to taste all of my food and it won’t be dry.   My eyes will be normal.  All of those medications will stop, including the steroids.  Maybe I can actually start getting some sleep.   I’m looking forward to sooo many things.   

The pic below has been a hard one for me to share.   It’s a few weeks old but I’m gonna put it on here.   It’s the reality of my life.  How things have come to be.   I know it won’t last forever.   I just need to give it time and be patient.  

 

 

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Baldy

 

My Reggie!!  He always lays with me to make sure I’m okay.   I think he can feel my distress, as of late.   

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Wednesday – One more day!!  One more day!!    Ahhhh, Is the day really tomorrow?   Strangely, I’m still finding it hard to believe.   Why is that?   Did I really make it this far?  I’ve waited for sooo long it seems for this day to get here.   I’m excited and still very calm.     I took this picture of the bell last week.   Soon,  I’ll be ringing it.   I’ve asked for all of my ‘crusaders’ to be there.   No ifs, ands or butts.   It’s important for me.   We are all gonna ring that bell together.  For they have all been with me.  I CAN’T WAIT!!!!! 🙂  

 

 

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The bell!

 

With a little bit of hesitation, I posted my news on facebook for the rest of my family and friends.   No, it didn’t go out to the world.   It went to ‘MY’ people only.    I have been carefully writing that out like if it was a school paper.   A rough and a final draft.   I selected careful wording.   I didn’t want it to be so rough of a blow.   I can only imagine when they read it.   I have tried so hard to keep my life normal.  Like my Auntie said, “sheer determination”.   With no one knowing.  Cuz I didn’t want to talk about it all the time.  I didn’t want that to be the topic of conversations.   I’m ready now.   It’s time to tell them.   I cried as I put it on there.    It’s posted.  Here we go.  Please don’t be upset cuz I didn’t tell you sooner.   I hope you understand.  I’m fiercely private.   I love you all ❣ ❣ ❣

 

 

 

Is it true? ?   Do I really get to ring that bell tomorrow?!. . . . . . 😃 😃 😃

 

 

 

 

The good Fight! (The good, the bad and the HORRIBLE!!)

The beginning of my low point

May 2 –

Training class – Woke up feeling so fatigued and without energy.  Heavy breathing during these times has become a new normal.  Having to sit down, take a break and rest while getting ready seems unheard of but I still went to work.   I was sooo tired that I didn’t feel like being the instructor today.  It wasn’t even 10:30  and I wanted to put my head down and fall asleep.   I got so fatigued and my eyes super heavy that I swear I lost consciousness for a moment.  I was talking about rewards cards and the policies that go along with it and suddenly I was talking about something else not even related to training.  In between that, is where I lost myself for a moment.   It scared the hell out of me.  What if that happens when I’m driving?  I could cause an accident.   It jolted me out of my fatigue for a while but it only got worse as the day went on.   When I left I was totally drained.  

My nephew came over later that evening and wanted to have a movie night.  I was so tired but I figured, all you do is sit or lie down, so why not.  Turns out I was too drained and wasted to even watch a movie.  Have you ever heard of that?   I finally had to just go to my room, but my body felt like it weighed 500 lbs and moving from the living room to my room took it straight out of me.   Walking there left me breathless and with a racy heart.

 I didn’t work the rest of the week.   I planned for a hard low point.   Its such a good thing I did it that way.   This last heavy round had me lethargic and miserable as hell.   All I did was lie in bed.  That’s all I was able to do and it left my body in pain.   From sun up to sun down, I laid in bed, getting up here and there.   Its horrible when you don’t even have the energy to eat and you’re soooo tired you can’t sleep.   The steroids that they give me keep me wide awake and make it impossible to sleep.   So, being fatigued and not sleeping is a HORRIBLE combination.  A couple of times, Dominic needed to go to a friends house to work on a school project, driving him there during my low point took ALL THE EFFORT IN THE WORLD!!!  And practically left me gasping for air and a need to pass out.  Crawling in bed became a normal routine.    I was running on pure fumes.    

Like before,  sores have invaded my mouth and these were the worst they have been!!!   I have them on my gums, my inner cheeks and the roof of my mouth.   Just having something to drink is painful and trying to swallow is the worst.  They prescribed me a ‘magic mouthwash’ serum of lidocaine.   That gave me relief enough to try and eat.   Everyday I lost a little more weight from not being able to eat.

 Friday – this is when I usually start to feel better and thinking that I was feeling better, I took a shower.   Holy cow I thought I was gonna pass out from a lack of energy and had to get out.   I barely had enough energy to get a towel, get out and take maybe 6 steps to my bed.  I didn’t think I was gonna make it.    I fell on my bed with such a heaviness.    My heart was pounding heavily from the exertion it took just to get there and my breathing was uncontrollable.   I couldn’t move from my bed.   I didn’t think my heart was ever gonna slow down.   I stayed there the rest of the day.    Oh what misery!!!   I was TKO’d from this last heavy round.   I started to feel depressed,  I even started missing my hair.   Something I hadn’t done.   I cried, I was so miserable and there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it.  That’s how it was gonna be.  Saturday came along and I still didn’t feel any better and nope, I didn’t get any sleep.   This had me worried cuz i needed to go back to work tomorrow and I still felt like hell.  

Sunday, May 7th – I just didn’t have the energy but I still showed up to work.  I’ve been having a hard time clocking in/out ( we use our fingerprint ) my hands have gotten like sandpaper and they are extremely dry.   They’ve been peeling nonstop as if I’m shedding skin like a snake.    They hurt really bad, not even lotion helps them.

  I was feeling so worn out that I needed to lean on my check stand just to help me stand up.  My breathing was heavy and as the day went on, it just got worse.   I can’t believe I’m not better by now.   This is going on almost a week of feeling like shit.    I went on break and went to Penny’s office, she and Clara Sue were in there and I just broke down and cried from exhaustion.   I couldn’t believe how awful I felt.   I had a meltdown.   Clara Sue sent me home and I left.   I got home and lied to my son.   He’s been super worried about me.   He was worried I was home early cuz I wasn’t feeling well.   That was the truth,  yes,  but to keep him from worrying more, I told him that the power had gone out at the store and that all we were doing was standing around, so I came home.   The story about the power going out was true, that did happen earlier at the store.  But I didn’t want him to know I was feeling like shit.  I went to my room to rest.  I was completely and totally zapped out.   My low point had me at my lowest and I didn’t think I was gonna make it.  If this is what hell is like than I’ve been there all week.   Misery and feeling lethargic aren’t even the words to describe how chemo makes you feel.  I don’t know if there are ANY words to describe it.   THIS week was the ABSOLUTE worst I had EVER felt in my life!!!!!!  😭

I just want my energy back.   I just wanna be me again.   Is that really too much to ask for??  

My babies: Reggie & Riley – Watching over me

 

 As shitty as it has been, slowly my low point disappeared and I was back to work on Monday.    

 

Thursday, May 11th  – Switching over to Taxol  

http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/druglist/taxol

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Today I begin the other chemo,   Paclitaxel (taxol) 131.2 mg.   This isn’t as intense as the other and it’s just 1 chemo, not a double dose.  I’ll do this one every week for the next 12 weeks.  July 27th is my goal.   It’s still gonna be on Thursdays so that I have the rest of the week to recover.   Since this is a weekly one, I hope it doesn’t knock me on my ass like the A/C did.   I don’t have that week in between to feel better.   I’m gonna get hit with this one weekly.   Like the others, this one came out in that same horrific packaging  😟    We start with premeds.   They’ve changed as well.   They’ll be different since this is a different chemo.  So we start with – benadryl,  pepcid and that awful steroid, dexamethazone.   People get horrible allergic reactions to this chemo and they need to keep a close eye on me.   Just in case, I’m given a call button.   Premeds are given, that took maybe 30 minutes.  Now time to switch.    Taxol is hooked up and that will take an hour.   Good Lord the benadryl made me very tired, I’m so sleepy  😴   Wonder why benadryl doesn’t work like that for me at home when I’m trying to get some sleep?  hmmmm. . .  When I take benadryl to try and sleep,  I don’t just count sheep, I count all of Noah’s Ark.   Funny how that is!!     The nurses explained to me that I need to be careful with Neuropathy.  It is a common side effect with Taxol.    It can cause irreversible nerve damage.  Symptoms include – pain, a pins n needles sensation,  numbness and weakness.  Can be burning and tingling or sharp in the hands and feet.  It can cause over sensitivity, reduced sensation of touch, or sensitivity to pain.  YIKES!!!! 😲   I hope I don’t get that 😧

https://www.google.com/search?q=neuropathy&rlz=1C1GCEA_enUS754US754&oq=neur&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.7927j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

   I no longer have to take those ‘at home’ medications nor do I have to come back the day after to get that booster *neulasta* shot.   I’m so happy because of this.   One of the medications was a steroid and would keep me wide awake.  Soooo, no more of those – YAY!!!!    Maybe I can sleep now. 

 Round 1 of taxol – complete!!    (so far, that is 5 rounds altogether)

 Friday – Wow, my hands really hurt.  They’re suffering a bunch.  They burn.  They look awful and even look discolored and they are peeling horribly.    My eyes are blurry but not as bad.   My mouth sores from my last A/C treatment are almost gone and I haven’t gotten dry mouth yet.   So, I really hope it’s true what they told me about the side effects not being so bad.  But, it’s only 1 day post Taxol, so we’ll see.   Last night I had so much energy I was wide awake with that damn steroid they give me as a premed, I was up til 1:30.   Lying in my bed staring into the dark.   I really need sleep.  

Saturday –   Man alive!!!!  My hands hurt soooooo BAD!!!  They burn like hell.   I can’t tell if the water is too hot when I wash my hands and it hurts to even do that.   It feels like I dipped my hands in acid.  I’ve never had pain like this before, ever, especially in my hands.   I can’t turn the door knobs, button my shorts or grab anything!!  😱  THEY.HURT.SO.BAD!!!!!!!  It has to be a chemical reaction to the new chemo.   I’ve lathered them with lotion and vaseline, doesn’t help.  Just vaseline with gloves on to seal in moisture, doesn’t help.    I put a healing ointment on them with the gloves,  nothing.  I got so desperate for relief, I dug out my Dads’ burn cream and lathered my hands in that,  Nada!!  NOTHING HELPED!    They hurt and burn terribly.  I can’t live with this kind of pain, it’s unreal.  I’ve never even heard of this kind of pain.  I can’t do this weekly, my hands hurting like this.  OWWWWWWWW  😭  

The next day at work I had the hardest time grabbing items to scan or typing codes on the keyboard.   The pain in my hands was still there and had only subsided a bit.   I feel worn out and tired today for the fact that I’m not sleeping and the pain kept me awake.   Since I had such a bad Sunday last week I had my lead supervisor only schedule me a 5 hour shift.    Thank God, by the time I left, I felt wiped out.   Also I had back pain isolated to one area.  I feel like I’m falling apart.   It seems to always be something.   I walked out with Penny and all I did was complain about how I felt, I felt so tired.   I told her about my back pain and she said to go home and just rest.   I think Sunday is my new low day.  I left, got home and stayed in bed the rest of the day.  Penny sent me this to lift my spirits.

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 Monday – 5/16 –  I didn’t have anyone in class so I went to my store and worked a few hours.   Learned the new system at self check out.  My hands feel so much better and so do I.  Just a bit tired.   But my back hurts on one side, in one spot, I feel like a small bump.  When I got home I checked it out.   I could see what looked to be like a small rash, like a bug bite.    I went to the other room and asked Dominic what it looked like.  He said, “yeah Mom,  it’s a bug bite”.  Damn bug, it hurts.  Okay,   I didn’t worry too much about it.  

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Wonder what bit me?   It’s painful when I touch it and it’s making my back hurt in just that area.  

The next day – ouchie, the rash from my bug bite spread.  And it hurts, it’s giving me more pain.   I was explaining what it looked like to one of my Aunties and she thinks its shingles.   Nah, it looks like a bug bite.   But I wonder??  

Wednesday – Okay something is not right.   This rash really hurts!!  And it looks horrible!  I’m having a really hard time with this pain and I’m at work.  I’m starting to wonder if my Auntie isn’t right.   MaryBeth says it’s shingles and so does one of my other managers.  I need to call the cancer center and find out.  

 

I call and explain that I’m in horrible pain.  The nurse and I go back n fourth with phone calls to figure out whats wrong with me.  I’m urged to go to urgent care to rule out shingles.  If they are shingles I won’t be allowed to come in for treatment tomorrow cuz I am extremely contagious and everyone at cancer center is at such a high risk for infection  😢

 At urgent care ( in an extreme amount of pain ) –  Yes, you have shingles!  😩  The doctor who saw me was an asshole and wasted my time.   Instead of being a professional doctor and prescribe me something, he offered me 3 different kinds of pain killers and asked which ones I would like?    What doctor does that?  If I was a druggie, this would have put me on cloud 9.   He actually wanted me to choose between the 3!!!   2 of them I had never heard of,  I was in so much pain I settled for the Tylenol w/codeine.   He gave me the scrip and I left, It was almost 9 and the pharmacy closes at the time.   I was still in disbelief, going to the pharmacy,  that he had me choose a medication.   Stupid fool!!   😡  Very unprofessional!!!!   I should have reported him, but I didn’t.   I went on with my misery.   Got my medication, went home and slammed a pill.   I needed relief so bad.  Did it work?   Nope. . . the pain kept me up ALL.NIGHT.LONG.   Even with taking it every so often, I felt no relief.  The pain was off the richter scale!!  Either the meds aren’t working or the pain is just THAT bad.  

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http://www.medicinenet.com/shingles_herpes_zoster/article.htm

Thursday morning – 5/18 –  OMGoodness!!  I can’t take this anymore.   I call cancer center and tell the nurse that the pain is just too much.  It’s the worst pain I’ve ever felt.  She lets my oncologist know and he calls me back.   We talk about my shingles and the pain and he tells me it can get really bad.   It’s nerve pain.  He prescribes me gabapentin, morphin and an anti-viral, Valacyclovir (Valtrex) 💊💊💊   I was shocked at the morphin.   Holy cow!!   I must be in pain.   Yes! I was!  Plus, I’m EXTREMELY contagious right now!!  I asked my younger brother Ray to take me to get prescriptions cuz I was in too much pain to drive and since morphin is a controlled substance they weren’t able to fax it in, I had to go pick it up.   I cried in the car to the hospital and to the pharmacy I was in so much pain.   I think my brother freaked out.   Got to the pharmacy and couldn’t wait for them to fill it.   The pharmacist couldn’t believe I was there again for more medications.  I asked her if she could just give me an epidural.   At least that one would give me instant relief.   WE get my meds and he takes me back home.  I can barely even walk with this pain.  Get home and slam all 3 pills, crawl in bed and wait for relief.  Morphin I need to take every 4 hours, gabapentin 3 times a day and Valtrex once a day.  Oh how I need relief!  This misery just goes on and on and on.   If its not weakness, fatigue, mouth sores or painful hands, it’s shingles.   And with every one, the pain gets more and more intense.  

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Reggie can sense I’m not doing well.  He is always near by to keep an eye on me.   He lays with me.   That’s his spot, near my face.   We rest together and he even kisses my face.  He’s been by my side ALL day!   When he meows, it’s like he’s asking me, “do you feel okay?”    I just love him.      Hopefully this horrible pain will go away, I hope these meds do their job.

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Reggie – Isn’t my baby just gorgeous?!

 

 Shingles are gross.  Open blisters on your skin with nerve pain from hell.   It’s hard to sit back on a chair without them hurting or lying on your back.   I wasn’t allowed to do my treatment today because of them.   So my date that I already had marked on my calendar (July 27th)  is no more.   It got pushed back to Aug 3.    I can’t get treatment til they pop and scab over.  When that happens then I can continue.   Damn you shingles!!!    I don’t wanna prolong this journey.   I don’t wanna be in pain and misery anymore!!  I just wanna be done!  😭   

Finally relief!!!    The next day I woke up to some relief.  Pain meds worked like a champ! I had a hell of time trying to get some sleep but at least I was able to keep my meds on schedule.   That morphin was the bomb and did what it was supposed to.   I’m tired as hell and worn out from all the pain I had yesterday but at least it’s gone.   Slowly they are trying to scab over and boy do they look nasty!!  I can’t do anything to speed up the process.  They have to run their course til it’s out of my system.  It can take up to 3 weeks.  In the meantime, I have all the nerve pain to deal with.  Thank God they gave me painkillers.   3 weeks is a long time to be in pain.   I say this all the time,   “I can’t wait til it’s over!  Man, I can’t wait!”

  A couple of days later.   Yuck!!  Nasty!!   It looks like I have a disease.    wouldn’t wanna be around me.   Gross!!!  *gag*   These little assholes are painful f**kers!    I hope you never have to experience them.  

 

May 24 – Treatment continues and I have to see the doctor.    He’s going to examine me,  see how I’m responding to chemo and check my shingles.  I hate the fact that I had to skip a week.  This should be my 3rd round of Taxol, instead, it’s my 2nd.   During the time of my shingle episode, my mouth sores went away.    Yay!!  I’m so happy for this!  It’s so hard to eat when you have horrible sores in your mouth.   My eyes haven’t been so bad but the dry mouth is still there.   He does his examination.   It doesn’t hurt at all like before, all the pain is gone.  He mentioned that it (lump) was harder to find and it felt like it was almost gone!!!!   *GULP*   almost gone?????    Did I hear him right??? Deep breath Sue, deep breath.    OMG  This is GREAT news!!!!  He said I was responding very well and the chemo was doing its job.   That’s just after 5 rounds!  I am a happy girl  😄 I needed this news.    I have been having some really hard days.    It brings you down to the point you feel depressed.   Today was a good day.   I will still need surgery.    Just as long as it continues to zap it out, I will fight to get to the end.     I’m off to do my treatment with my big girl panties on and my boxing gloves.   Eff you cancer.   I’m gonna beat your ass!!!!  

 The doctor asked if I was still working and I told him ‘yes’.  He said I was a very strong woman.   

 

 Oh the fatigue is back!   And it feels like its getting worse.    There are just some days where it feels like I’m at the bottom of a big black hole with no way to get out.   All I do is rest, even though I need it.   I can’t sleep at night at all and it’s wearing me down.   The doctor said it was gonna get harder and harder for me to work.   And trying to decide WHAT to do about work is weighing on me heavily.   Financially, I need to work.   Physically,   I need to be out, like now.   My Aunt wants me to go out on disability through social security but I don’t qualify.   I tried applying for food assistance, twice, but they denied me.   Even with the doctor bills starting to flood in.  I’m soooo stressed out.   And always so tired.    I can’t go out on FMLA cuz so much time needs to pass from the last time a person was on FMLA.  I was on it when I was out with my ankle and that’s only been a few months.  So, I have to wait til July so it can reset.    I just want all of this to pass.  I just wanna be me again.   I wanna feel good and not so tired all the time.   My son is now out of school and I can’t plan anything because of treatment and even if I did, I would probably be too tired.    All of this, EVERYTHING, suck ass.  The side effects, the fatigue, the pain.  JUST.SUCK.ASS.  I know I’ll get through it and it’ll pass.   But right now things are so dark and stormy, I can’t wait for a sunny day.  

June – The shingles are slowly healing.   They have scabbed over.  I still have nerve pain and I could have that for a while.   6/2 another round out of the way.  

 We’re having a work BBQ and Sarah, my oncology nurse is gonna be my date.  I just love her!!!  She takes the best care of me during treatment.  but she likes to pump my veins with toxins 😜  She does have heart of gold.  

Every now and then, there are some good days.  When those days come, you have to grab them and run with them.    They are few and far between, at least with me they are.   When the sun is shining and the birds are singing, you know you’re having a good day.  There isn’t always pain, but the tiredness is always there.  My eyes have been opened wide.   To how fragile life can be.  Every day that goes by I have a greater appreciation for life than I did before.  My life right now sucks balls, but guess what, I still love my life.  I thank God for my life everyday.    Aug 3 is 2 months away and I know I can get there.  Feb 13th  is getting farther and farther away from me.  That was 4 months ago I got my bad news.   Did I think I would get to this day 4 months later. . . nope.   I remember when I couldn’t think of anything else but breast cancer.   It was on my mind 24/7.  The fear, the obsession for information.   Now I don’t think about it so much, it’s not on my mind like before.   Now, I think about chemo, the side effects and not being able to sleep.  I think about how I’m gonna feel everyday that I wake up.    I guess thats mental progress.   My body is slowly getting used to this new treatment.   Now if the shingles can just go ALL the way away,  I would be a happier woman.    I still get pain in my back, the nerve pain.  The scabs are taking forever to fall off and its still painful to the touch.   Oh and I need sleep, lots and lots of sleep.    I would feel so much better if I was able to get sleep so my body can rest up.   It’s so worn down but I refuse to give up.   Gonna take it to the end.   I CAN DO THIS!!!! 🙏 💪 👊

 

 

I’m having the worst pain flare up of my life. . . . . . . . 😭😭😭

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highs and lows of A/C

April 2

Today is a day I thought I was prepared for but nope. . . I sure wasn’t!!!

Surprisingly, I felt very good today.   Didn’t feel tired or nauseous.   Didn’t feel any of that weakness or drained out feeling, just had knots in my stomach.    Since I had no choice but to chop off my hair last night, today would be the day I would go to work with a new haircut and color ( my wig ).   Let’s see how that goes.  I can tell you right now, I don’t feel comfortable at all!  

Got to work, nothing was out of the ordinary.   It has been FOREVER since I have done anything different to my hair, so naturally, EVERYONE noticed the new ‘change’.   To make me feel more at ease around my co workers since they were talking about the ‘cut and new highlights’,  Penny blurted out, “you finally went and did your hair!!”   I was glad for this because I felt sooo uncomfortable 😢 and just didn’t feel like me.  It seemed like I stuck out like a sore thumb.  It probably would have been easier to tell everyone that I lost my hair to chemo but to keep my life at work as normal and low key as possible I decided to play the charade of having a new haircut.   Penny said I looked great!!  Here is a pic she took of us.  

Penny and I

 

I got a ton of compliments and even got asked out on a date, haha, but I just wasn’t comfortable and since I was new to wearing a wig it felt like it was gonna slide right off of my head.   It didn’t help matters any when one of my coworkers said it looked like a wig.   Oh the stress of the day had me worn out.   In time, I’ll get used to the new me and I’m sure I’ll be flipping my new hair in no time.  But today was horrible even though the picture says otherwise.   I need to be able to feel like me and I just didn’t.  My day felt like it was never gonna end and I couldn’t wait to leave work.   I went home and cried my eyeballs out.   I was so overwhelmed and I still have months of this ahead of me.  Penny always knows just what I need to make me feel better.   So, she sent me this. . . 

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This too shall pass and tomorrow is a new day!

 

Its almost mid week, this is when my low point hit me the last time.    Tuesday, I have training classes and they’re upstairs.   Geez, never thought it would be so hard to climb stairs!   I think my no energy level is starting to kick in.  I felt like I was floating, but in a bad way, was not a good feeling.  I left work exhausted!  

 Wednesday –  man, I just do not have energy and I have to go to work.  I didn’t sleep well at all and my scalp has been hurting, it is so dry and tender.   I don’t have the luxury of having the week off like I did the last time I felt this way.  As if on cue,  the mouth sores, dry mouth and blurry eyes are all back.  and once again, the food tastes nasty.     This is gonna be rough.   Getting ready,  I really have the shakes and can’t even get my makeup on.   I needed to sit down and rest.  Finished getting ready and managed to drive myself to work,   geez, what was I thinking?   I’m never gonna make it through today.  I’m already so tired and my day hasn’t even begun.   I can barely even stand.   Please get me through the day.    

Don’t know how I did it, but I barely made it through my 8 hour shift.    Walking out to the car, I cried from being so very tired.   I can’t believe I still need to drive myself home. I just don’t have the energy, also there is a part of me that is very stressed out.   Tomorrow I get results from the genetic test I took to see if I’m a carrier of the cancer gene.   My mind and my soul just hasn’t been able to catch a break.   I had to have a meltdown when I got home.   and all I did was lie in bed the rest of the afternoon.   It felt like I couldn’t move.  My head (scalp) has really been hurting.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the very little hair that I have left is just dead hair.   Dead hair attached to my scalp and it feels like wire, like a brillo pad.   I think this is a big part of why I can’t sleep.  It hurts to lie my head anywhere, the sofa, a pillow, it just hurts 😦    I honestly can’t wait to shave it all off.    Never thought I would ever catch myself saying that.  I’ve already lost the majority of my hair due to my hair follicles dying out because of chemo, whatever is left is just dead, stiff hair.  

Thursday – I feel even worse!   This is worse than the last time!   They did tell me that with each round, the tiredness and weakness would be accumulative.   Man, they weren’t kidding.   There is no way I can make it through an 8 hour day at work.   Thank God, MaryBeth offered to do half of my shift.    I told Ted I wasn’t feeling well.   (Ted is my lead supervisor and he has no idea what’s happening with me)  There are only 4 people at my work who know what’s going on.   I left with relief and went home and crawled into bed til it was time to go meet with Karen to get my test results.    I’m still so stressed about that.  

RESULTS!!!!   Sitting in her office had my heart going 100 mph.   I’m so on edge.   Results are negative!!  I’m so relieved, I burst into to tears.   I am not a carrier of the gene  🙏   woo hoo!!   I cried in her office, cried all the way home and cried more at home.   I needed this relief.  I needed some good news.   Now, to get through this low point.  

Friday,  just like before, my energy came right back up and I was back to being me.   MaryBeth and I had made plans to shave the rest of my head.   So, I met up with her to take care of that.  I thought I was gonna cry and be hurt that the rest of my hair would be gone and now I would truly be bald, but to be honest, it was such a fricken’ relief when it all came off.  I didn’t realize how much it was hurting my head til it was gone. It even hurt as it was getting shaved..    I was already getting sores on my scalp from the dead hair.   So a bit of advise to anyone going thru this. . . . don’t be dumb and wait like I did to cut your hair or shave it.   Do, it right away with the 1st rounds of chemo.   I  put myself thru pain and misery trying to hold on to my hair.   No matter what, I was gonna lose it and I did.   Now, I can actually put my head on a pillow without it hurting me.

I do have some good news!!!!  That constant pain that I was having in my right breast where the lump is at is now gone! Yes,  gone.    I’m gonna take that as a good sign that the treatment is working.   I have had pain in that right breast since like last September and now it is gone!!!!!! Can it be true?!?!   I sure hope so.  

 Round 3 – As much as it doesn’t seem like it, it’s really going fast.   I can’t believe I’m on round 3 already.  All hooked up and getting infused.   Some of the mouth sores have traveled to my lips but no matter how hard I try there is just nothing I can do about that.  They come with every cycle  😩   Here are a couple of pics while I’m getting chemo.  

 

Grapes and I do this together.    I get hooked up on the upper part of my chest.   You can see it a bit over the rim of my shirt.   One more of this intense cycle and I move on to the lighter chemo.   Even though there are points where it seems like I don’t even have the energy to crawl, I have to admit I’m fighting this like a boss.   Yes, it brings me to low as hell points but I refuse to let it take me down.  Not gonna happen.   I have one more devil infusion to go.   I was told that when I switch to the other chemo my mouth sores should go away ( I really hope so)  It makes it very difficult to eat and because of that I have already dropped 10 pounds.  That’s in 1 month.   and that big dip of little to no energy should go away.    I really hope that’s true too!!!

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I felt so good a couple of hours after chemo that my son and I decided to go out for dinner.  We met up with Penny and her husband and had a great time!!    I wish I felt this good all the time.    In a few days I’ll feel like hell.   Tonight,   I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest!  And today was the best I have felt with my wig.  I actually felt pretty.  If I wouldn’t have told you, maybe you couldn’t tell that wasn’t my real hair.   Who knows, but yes, that is my wig.  

5 days later – ugh. . . here comes my low point.  Wow, it gets worse and worse with every cycle.   If I thought I didn’t have energy before, I really don’t have any now.   I was struggling with not feeling well at work and Ted started to notice this was happening a lot.  I literally didn’t have the energy to hold my own body up and I was starting to breathe heavy just because of the effort it took.   I told Ted I wasn’t gonna make it through the day and needed someone to cover the rest of my shift.  I almost started crying right then and there because of how horrible I felt and the fact i couldn’t stand.   When I went on break I finally made the decision to tell him, so my store director, Clara Sue and I pulled him into the office and gave him my news.  He needed to understand why I was feeling this way and why I needed to go home.  But at the same time I didn’t want my news to become public throughout the store.  He was speechless and I knew he would be.   But oh how I needed to leave.   It took all the energy I had to walk out the door and get to my car.   Now, I still needed to drive home.   oh gosh,  I really hate this!!    Got home and barely made it into the house to crawl into bed.  I just need to rest.  I’m sooo tired.   My low point lasted to the end of the week.   Its getting worse and lasting longer.   I even felt a little low on Sunday which is very unusual,  I’m usually back to normal by then.    Not this time.  

Round 4 – April 27th –  today I have to visit with the doctor.    He needs to examine me and see how things are coming along.   I hope it’s good news.   He does his examination,  I feel no pain to the touch.    This is very good news for me.   Cuz that lump has been a painful asshole.   He also tells me that he feels it has gotten smaller.  YES!!!!!!   That is VERY good news.   The treatment is doing its job.   Now to keep an eye on it and hope it shrinks all the way.     I’m so happy with this news and also happy that this is my last double chemo.   These 4 rounds have been truly hard.   The doctor has a hard time believing that I’m still working.    When I leave the cancer center I can’t help but feel, I’m done, I’m done, I’m done.    Those 4 big ones are over.   Now to start 12 weeks of the next one.   My battle is not over but it should get a bit easier.   I was told with this chemo,  that my hair could start growing back mid way, in peach fuzz form.   That the mouth sores should go away and my energy be a lot better.   I wanna believe all of that.   The mouth sores have been my biggest gripe and I’ve lost a few more pounds.   I  can only hope it gets better.

 

My low point hit me so hard I didn’t think I was ever gonna recover. . . . .  

 

 

 

 

 

There it goes, but remember. . It’s not just Hair!!

Round 2 – Mar 30th

And so the ride begins.    Round 2 has arrived.   I’m not sure if that went quickly or if it took forever.   It’s very hard to tell with everything that happened in just 2 weeks.   But here I am, gearing up for another dose of the ‘red devil’ and it’s companion Cytoxin. 

As I brushed out my hair this morning, more came out.   Just in lots of strands.  Its Thursday, 2 weeks exactly since the start of chemo and there goes my hair.   I’ve come across a few wigs to wear during the time I won’t have any, but a wig just isn’t me.   I’ll have to get used to it cuz I’m not ready, by no means at all, to rock the bald.   A couple of them look just like my hair, but I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb.   Like if everyone will be able to tell.  I guess we’ll see what happens. 

As always, the nurses at the cancer center are wonderful.   Once again I opted for a window seat to look outside.   This time I had a great view.   The scenery seems to ease my soul.   It’s tranquil.    

 

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I could stare at all nature has to offer all day!!

 

Displaying 20170413_130324.jpg     My Chemo pole 🤢      Displaying 20170413_130406.jpg

My brothers and Clara Sue helped to keep me distracted while Sarah administered the ‘red devil’.   I really do dislike that one.   I mean, I dislike all that is happening to me.   But that adriamycin, I really don’t like.   I can’t help but feel that one is gonna cause me lots of grief.   During my infusion I was very happy when a dove came and perched itself on the wall.   I love doves.  When I see doves I think of peace, the holy spirit.   So it brought a smile to my heart and soul and eased my already troubled mind.    It stayed there for the longest time as if keeping a watchful eye until it flew away when a gardener was taking care of things.  

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The burning sensation from the Cytoxan was there again.  It lasted about the same amount of time then it was gone.   I was prescribed an anxiety medication in case it came back strong like it did the last time.   Just to have on hand and to take when needed.   For the most part, I left feeling good, just a bit tired.    Nothing major.    Sarah once again informed me strongly it was time to cut my hair like really really short since it was starting to fall out.   That way I wouldn’t have to go through the agony of watching it fall out in globs.   I heard what she had to say but did I listen?     Round 2 complete.    YAY!

The following day, I felt like a normal person.   A bit of anxiety when I woke up but it soon went away on its own.   Blurry eyes have slowly returned and my mouth is dry.   Yuck, here we go again.   My mouth is very sensitive and tender and had to switch to a soft tooth brush and have to be careful when brushing.   I went about my day.   Couldn’t sleep for the life of me that night. 

Saturday, April 1st – 

Got up feeling okay.   Blurry eyes and dry mouth are in full force.   Either it’s the chemo or all the premeds including steroids I’m given or just a combination of it all.   All I can say is. . . . I don’t like it at all.   I won’t keep complaining about not being able to see or how awful my food tastes,  I’ll just leave that right here.   Just know that’s how it is.    I spent some time styling 2 of the wigs I had knowing I would be wearing them soon.   I tried to get the cut as close to my own hair as possible.   I guess it’ll be okay.   Still don’t wanna wear a wig but oh well that’s how its gonna be.   Later that day I took a shower, washed my hair. . . . OMGeeeeee!!!!!  *GASP*  My hair came out in GLOBS 😭  literal globs.  I couldn’t believe it!   It was non stop every time I ran my fingers through my hair. It came out so much that it bunched up and just tangled in a huge knot.   I couldn’t put my fingers through anymore.   I did my best to wash that tangled glob at the end of my head.   Oh why oh why didn’t I listen to Sarah?!   Now I understand when she said to cut it short.   I wouldn’t have to go through this!   It broke my heart, there goes my long hair.    No people, it is not just hair when it comes to chemo.   People say that all the time, ” it’s only hair, it’ll grow back”.   Well, yes it will.  But when you lose it and it’s not your choice to, no, it is not just hair.   It is a part of you, how you present yourself to other people, like the clothing we choose to wear.    So, if you know someone who is going through chemo, please don’t ever tell them it is just hair and it’ll grow back.   Have some compassion and know this wasn’t something they wanted to happen.   Trust me. 

As much as I didn’t want to but needed to, I had no choice.    I gathered that glob of tangled hair, got a pair of scissors and with my heart in my throat put it ponytail like,  took a deep breath and chopped it off.   I didn’t make my new haircut look pretty, it was all gonna fall out anyway.   But it was super short, like boy short and there was my hair.   I was holding it in my hands, all of my hair except for the little bit that stayed on my head.   It took 2 weeks and 2 days for this to happen.   Chemo wastes no time.   I felt like a whole different person even though in my heart I was still the same.    A sadness took over,  I needed to get used to the new me.  But its happening so fast I don’t even know where to start.  

 

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My hair went from this ( strands ). . . . .

 

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. . . to this ( a glob), in a matter of 3 days 😥

Oh the emotional distress your heart and soul go through is unreal.   And all the new things you are forced to get used to.   It really is hell and as I said before. . . this is only the beginning.    The only thing you can do is soldier forward, keep a great attitude and make the best of your new life.   I walked over to my son in the other room with my glob of chopped off hair in my hands and showed him my new haircut.    He was totally shocked at what I had to show him but he gave me a huge boost to my confidence when he said, “your short hair doesn’t look bad at all, it looks good”.   Oh how I needed to hear that  💖    But after that moment I would no longer show my hair or my head.   

 

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. . and this is what you get.  This is the end result.   Rockin’ my beanie!!   This is the new me.   

 

The turmoil that my heart was in was on overload.    I am doing my very best to cope with how things are going and trying to keep that positive outlook.  But some days you are just not prepared for and today was one of them.  I’ll get used to it, it’s just not gonna be today or tomorrow or the day after that but someday.   For now, I’ll just be in my own private hell till things get better.   Tomorrow I go to work and I don’t even know how I’m gonna handle the day, I’m just not ready.    I’ve told no one but my son.   *sigh*    I guess we shall see.  

 

 

 

So,  slowly into that dark and scary haunted house I go. . . Where it’s pitch black and things jump out at you at any moment that you just weren’t expecting. . . .