Bits n Pieces

I haven’t blogged for a bit. Life is pretty much back to normal. We have had a few household projects, the main one being redoing my office. I should say transforming my former junk room into a workable office space. It was one of these rooms that anything I didn’t know what to do with would get dumped in.  I had one small bookcase groaning under piles of books and more piles in every corner.  This summer when we redid the bathroom we sacrificed the office closet and that left us with some extra wall space, which is now sporting new bookshelves. I spent all weekend sorting, dusting (good Lord where does it all come from?) and re shelving books by author and genre. I made room for some of my sister’s books as well (she got two whole shelves!) and even parted with a small stack of my own (baby steps… I have a hard time letting go of books). Found homes for all the assorted “stuff” and organized my workspace.  I now have a combination library/office and the best part is I actually had the energy to work for two days straight instead of a few hours at a time and then having to recuperate on the couch.  At my last oncology visit I was told the chemo was all out of my system and I’m finally starting to feel like that is true.  Just a little post chemo weirdness though.. my eyebrows fell out again.. not all of them, but they became noticeably thinner and now have returned. My eyelashes completely fell out twice since returning.  I wasn’t aware that could happen but a little googling tells me it’s not that unusual and it will likely happen a few more times.  My fingernails never peeled or got terribly discolored though  that is a pretty common side effect of the chemo I was on. I kept them short and with layers of polish to keep them strong. Now, however, I have white lines in all of them and one thumb nail looks bruised.  All of the nails are peeling but from underneath. As long as I keep them polished they look fine.

I just realized tomorrow is the anniversary of when I discovered the lump that got me into this mess.  Maybe I’ll bake a cake. Or have a drink to celebrate.  Actually I probably should celebrate the fact that I found it.  Or not.  Most likely, not.  My doctors haven’t use the words “cured”,  “cancer free” or “NED” (no evidence of disease). I’m not sure when or if I will ever hear those words before the 5 year mark (countdown started after I finished treatment and began Tamoxifen.. so five years from September, 2012).  I have my first post diagnosis mammogram scheduled for November 12. Maybe I can get a little Ned out of them then.  I am prepared to be told there are changes from last year. I should hope so considering I’ve had surgery and radiation since then. Unfortunately that won’t make it any less scary to hear, I’m afraid.  And if the radiologist utters those words, regardless of what the changes are my doctors are obligated to follow up with more tests and then I get to wait on results again. I’m starting to get that I won’t feel free of this for many, many years, if ever.

I am flying for the first time since surgery this upcoming weekend. In preparation I visited the Lymphadema Clinic and was fitted for a sleeve and glove.  My doctors never said much about the need for this but I requested a referral. I was sent to P.T. where I was told compressing the arm if I’m not already having trouble would cause more harm than good (makes sense). Since I had heard that women who previously had no problems did when flying I asked if I could have a sleeve just to bring along as insurance and promised I wouldn’t wear it unless I needed to.  The physical therapist agreed and set me up with the Clinic.  At the Clinic I was told I HAD to wear the sleeve when flying because once I had problems they wouldn’t go away.  She then proceeded to explain all about lymphadema.  Who needs that!?   I have had no problems at all, but I only had one lymph node removed and I’ve been pretty diligent about exercising the arm and following as many precautions as I can.

 
In other news, I’ve finally narrowed down my tattoo to 3 choices.  As of this weekend it was 4 but I decided against f*ck cancer in a fancy script.  As I’m going to be a grandmother, that would be unseemly.   I know I’m a bit off schedule having insisted I would get one before I turned 50, but I couldn’t commit.   I’ll be in Austin next week. Where better?

These are the 3 top contenders.

The forget me nots in honor of my sister.

This means Survivor (too cliché?)

Care to vote?

Speaking of voting… robocalls are the devil.  We have one registered Republican, two Democrats and an Independent at this address and we all voted early since we will be away on November 6. These calls are driving me batshit crazy!

Just had to get that out.

No going back now

I have been saying since my hair came in (first white, now a mix of gray, silver and black) that I was done with coloring. It is what it is. After nearly a year of harsh chemicals flooding my body, radiation and a five year commitment to Tamoxifen and all of it’s lovely accompanying side effects, I’m just not feeling the urge to slather smelly color on my head every 4-6 weeks. For that matter, I’m not going back to many of the products I’ve used in the past.  During radiation I started using Tom’s natural deodorant.  Once you get used to not smelling like a meadow at sunset or a tropical beach it’s not so bad. If it’s safe to use during radiation, I’m good. I am slowly cleaning out my environment as well as what goes into and on my body. Will it prevent a recurrence?  No idea. Did I get cancer because of my dying my hair and using deodorants with aluminum and parabens? No idea.  I’m even cutting back *gasp* on alcohol.  Okay.. that’s not that hard. I drank very little through the months of treatment and after an emotional week around my sister’s birthday when we had several evenings out, averaging about 2 drinks a day,  I really felt kind of sick by the end of the week. I don’t have to be hit over the head with a swizzle stick to know why. I’ve given up diet soda and my caffeine intake is pretty minimal.  My diet was pretty good otherwise, lots of fruits, vegetables, grains and protein but there is a lot of room for improvement (always).

Oh yeah.. back to my hair and the reason for this post.. the reason there is no turning back now is my license is due for renewal this week. Yeah.. I get to have my picture taken at the DMV while just getting my hair back after chemo.  That’s gonna be a whole lot of forehead.  DMV photos are so lovely to begin with. This should be good. I could renew on line but I haven’t looked like my last photo (2006) in a while and never will again. My hair is long and black. I was about 25 lbs heavier. Anyway, feel sorry for the clerk, I will have no shame in playing the cancer card to get her to take my picture over (and over if need be) if it’s as bad as I anticipate. Wish me the DMV luck.

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Sixteen Candles

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I have had the song, Sixteen Candles Chemos, running through my head all week. My 16th, and final, round of chemo is today! When I get home there should be cake and champagne!  Of course I won’t feel like partaking until sometime this weekend, but still.. it should be there. Naturally the only #16 candle I can find is pink (and very big.. sorry) Image

On the home and health front, these last few rounds have kicked my ass. Not enough to require any kind of medical intervention in between visits, just really exhausted. I feel like I am moving through thick mud most of the time.  And my “achy joints” have morphed into some pretty severe bone pain at times. I have one finger on one hand that keeps blistering and peeling.  It was the whole hand last week, steroid cream cleared up 4 digits, but the index finger is being difficult. It is also twice as big as it’s counterpart at the moment and on my surgical side. I’m hoping it’s not a sign of lymphadema, though I only had one lymph node removed.  We’ll see.

On the blog front, I haven’t had a whole lot to say, but I’ve been reading the blogs I follow daily. I see a lot of writing “assignments” or challenges and lots of awards.  I think it would be fun to participate and then I have nothing to say.  Which is not like me at all. I’ll keep reading, though, and maybe inspiration will come.

Today I find out what comes next. I know I will be spending the better part of my summer vacationing in Chernobyl. Other than that, not sure when I see my surgeon to have the port removed or when I start Tamoxifen, what scans I have when, etc. etc.  I have been kind of coasting along during chemo and as long as I am “doing something” I feel okay with this whole cancer business.  Ending chemo feels like a milestone, but for some reason it’s also making me feel a little uneasy.   My genetics appointment is coming up soon. I have very mixed feelings about that. Obviously, it’s important. On the other hand, I’m not ready to hear my whole treatment plan should have been different based on the results or my 20 something daughters have to start making tough decisions about their own future health.   But, for them, my sister and cousins I will go.

While googling 16 Candles I saw this funny. For you Molly Ringwald fans

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