Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday, March 17

I can't believe it has been almost one year since I first found that lump.  March 30, 2012 was the first of many doctor appointments - the one appointment which James pestered me to make for a week.  I'm glad that he did too.

Since the hysterectomy, I have recovered well.  I've been back at work full time since January 31, two weeks after surgery.  My apologies for not blogging sooner about how the surgery went, but I've been swamped with work and I am trying to keep my big rocks a priority.  The surgery went well and the doctor said that it did in fact look like my ovaries were beginning to work again, and he also commented that it was a good decision to remove my uterus as it was full of fibroids and needed to be removed.  My six week post surgery check up went well.  I haven't experienced any real hot flashes or menopausal symptoms so am very blessed in that regards.  I am officially graduated from Gynecology.

A note from the school greeting me in the entry upon my return.

I began taking the AI the day after surgery and haven't noticed any side effects.  It is a small pill I take daily in the morning for the next five years.  I'll have my next Oncology appointment on April 8.  I don't anticipate anything much at that appointment other than a check up.  From here on out I'll be monitored every 4 months with an Oncology check up.

I have noticed some real set backs with my right arm movement and armpit since I haven't been doing yoga or other exercise.  Everything is very tight, and sort of numb and sore.  I did go to yoga yesterday and will make an effort to go at least once a week.  I'll also get my butt up and moving every morning too.  I have really felt tired, sad and/or depressed lately.  I went to acupuncture on Wednesday which helped tremendously, but I still don't have the stamina I used to.
A little friend greeted me one morning when I was feeling a little blue.  Cheered me right up!
I don't plan on doing reconstruction at this point.  The process involves several surgeries to stretch the skin and place the implants.  Stretching the damaged skin is a painful process, and although the pain doesn't really scare me, I'm not thrilled about the idea of more surgery.  With implants, you also need to do follow up replacement surgeries every ten years.

I have enjoyed time off for Spring Break - it was filled with Jared, Caleb and I volunteering for Citiserve this week while James worked.  We delivered furniture for Love Inc., bagged potatoes for the Food Bank, played with kids at the Boys and Girls Club, chipped ice at the Rescue Mission and helped at Kids' Kitchen.  There are so many needs in Anchorage and it was nice to be a part of helping our community.

The best part of spring break was just being together.  We spent yesterday skiing at Alyeska; it was beautiful and fun!  We are so blessed to live in such a spectacular place and have time together as a family.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Well, tomorrow is the big day - last surgery!  I am so excited, which might seem a bit strange, but it marks the last major hurdle in this breast cancer journey.  I know I'll have follow-up care and medication to take daily, but that is all so manageable.

Since completing radiation two weeks ago, I am amazed at how quickly my skin has healed and I've recovered.  After one week, all blisters had healed up and this past week the redness has really toned down.  You can definitely still see the radiation fields and it is still a little tender - I don't want to wear a bra yet, but it is such a vast improvement over the last two weeks of radiation that I'm thrilled.  James laughed when I said I couldn't wear a bra yet - what do I need to wear one for?  For the prosthetics of course.  Although I really only wear them if the outfit requires some shape and nothing I'm wearing right now really requires that.  It has really been a blessing that I have not been working and have been able to recover completely for this surgery. 

Blood draw?
After prayer and consultation with the gynecologist, the conclusion is to remove my ovaries, uterus and cervix.  The procedure will be laproscopic surgery, three incisions in my abdomen with the organs being removed vaginally.  Any complications would result in a cut in my abdomen and organs removed through the incision.

Had some more blood taken today, and I miss the Oncology nurses!  This nurse has drawn blood twice and both times left me bruised and bloody, and I've got great veins!   I am anxious to see the result tomorrow as my last draw on December 27 had low white cell, red cell and absolute neutrophil counts.  I was surprised - my white count was at 2.2. 

I've continued with hot yoga which has helped tremendously - not only with sweating out all of the chemo drugs, but it has helped the range of motion in my right arm and shoulder.  I can feel the skin, muscles and ligaments stretching in the intense heat.  I love it!  I can't wait to get back to it after surgery.  I did get some great advice from a nurse friend of ours who said to get up and get walking right away - so that's my immediate exercise plan.

Salmon with roulade

We enjoyed a wonderful family dinner this evening - Salmon Roulade.  It is one of my favorite recipes and I want to thank our friends in North Pole who first gave us the recipe.  The boys have a hockey tournament this weekend and will take on some additional responsibilities once again.  I'm hoping to get to make their finals on Monday. 

Please keep our family in your prayers. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Relieved!  I am so thankful to be finished with radiation.  Thursday, January 4, 2013 was my last treatment.  The daily treatments left me tired, but the last two weeks really took a beating on my skin in spite of the prescription cream, medicated bandages, supplements and other lotions.  I ended up blistered on my right side under my arm which was a most inconvenient location because my arm either rubbed the area continually or I had to hold it out like a scare crow.  I ended up holding it out scare crow style without even thinking about it.  I have a new empathy for burn patients as I found my little burns uncomfortable and painful - I can't imagine what some people must go through. 

There were three or four days during the 33 treatments when the machine was down and I had to be rescheduled later that day or evening.  I found myself hoping that the machine would stay broken so I wouldn't have to go.  The last day of treatment, the machine was down and I again found myself wishing they'd just tell me I really didn't need that last treatment.  But they squeezed me in on their second machine and I'm glad I completed the treatments.  I even received a graduation ceremony complete with music, a rose, certificate, t-shirt, water bottle and bubbles!
I've been attending hot yoga for the past month and have really enjoyed it.  I think it has helped with detoxification - the first couple of classes I had a chemically kind of stinky sweat.  Aren't you glad you weren't next to me in class?  I'm still going about five days a week up through my surgery next week - in between all of my doctor appointments. 

I met with the Oncologist and Surgeon today.  The Oncologist is pleased with how well I've done through my treatments and will start me on the AI the day after surgery.  My bone scan showed minimal loss in my spine with my hips and shoulders looking good.  I'll start a calcium supplement and he will do a bone scan every two years to monitor bone density.  My echocardiogram also looked great.  I'll get the results from the blood work next Tuesday when I meet with the Gynecologist.  When I met with the Surgeon today, she explained the process for removal of the medi-port; they simply make an incision on the previous incision, cut the two places holding the medi-port in place, pull it out along with the tubing which connects to the vein and then close everything up.   Side effects may include bruising.  She told me I couldn't keep the medi-port, but why would I?  I guess some people have wanted it for a souvenir, thanks.

When I meet with the Gynecologist next week I'll have to have made a final decision as to whether or not I'll just have my ovaries removed, or if I'll have ovaries, uterus and cervix removed.  The Oncologist said it was a matter of preference as I don't have any genetic information showing I have a gene which predisposes me to uterine cancer.  I'm on the fence and still have a week to decide.  I've talked to people who have said I should take it all out and others who say keep what I can - each for good reasons.  I'll pray about it.

I'm still receiving acupuncture and massage weekly and will continue with those, and supplements, through the end of January.  I'm looking forward to surgery next week, as it is the last hurdle.  I plan to return to work on January 31.  In the mean time, I'm trying to recover from radiation and get healthy before surgery.  I've had a head cold for the past two weeks.  

Although I had to go to radiation every day over Christmas break, our family really had a nice time together.  The boys had a little bit of hockey; they enjoyed skating and skiing with James (I couldn't manage it with my burns); my mom came to visit; and we had several family movie nights.  We celebrated the end of radiation with a weekend of dates:  a concert, a cooking class and pizza with friends.  In spite of all of the challenges this past year, I feel blessed.  I'm so thankful that God has seen me through this experience with the help of outstanding physicians, nurses, friends and family. Thank you again for your encouragement and support - with much love, Lisa

Date night...A cooking class!