Friday, May 6, 2011

The Good, the scary, and the funny in no particular order

This week started out a bit scary for me. On Monday I found out that one of my 'survivor' friends and mentors had found a new lump and she was going in for a MRI later in the week. This is an amazing woman that I deeply admire and I was devastated. If cancer could return in her, it can return in anyone. I immediately started (probably over) assessing everything that I felt in my body and convinced myself that the tightness I had over one of my ribs was concerning. Bone metastasis to the ribs is one of the most common places breast cancer spreads to. I spoke with my oncology nurse multiple times on Tuesday and we decided I would take Ibuprofen for the rest of the week and do an x-ray if it was still bothering me on Friday. The 'pain' I was feeling was weird. I only felt it when I would do certain stretches or when I would poke in a certain place on my rib. I was told to quit poking myself. This week was kind of long. I was a bit cranky and I was genuinely scared. On Thursday I found out that my friend's lump turned out to be nothing. I was ecstatic. Today when I saw my oncologist she thoroughly examined me and immediately noticed that when I did my 'stretches' that the sore area was actually a vessel. Not sure if it is a blood vessel or a lymph vessel, but who cares. This was great news. My oncologist said that this sometimes happens after surgery and she is not sure why. Nothing to be concerned about. No x-ray even needed. She recommended that I stretch, massage, and apply warm compresses and it should go away. I was giddy and could finally take a real deep breath. I then proceeded to spend 7 hours at Huntsman, most of it waiting, to finish my 2nd round of chemotherapy. I am a bit tired to say the least.....but very relieved. I truly believe that I can get through this journey and be as strong or stronger than ever before. It may take some time, but I believe. The one thing that I have to learn to live with is the fear of the cancer returning.

Other good news is that my white blood cells are maintaining good levels. Actually, my WBC level is higher today than it was before my first infusion. I guess that Neulasta shot is doing its job. My Hematocrit and red blood cells have dropped. Maybe this is why I feel slow on the climbs? My levels are just slightly low today, and hopefully they will not drop more. I don't get to be a doper either as my oncologist said that EPO can actually reduce the effectiveness of my chemotherapy drugs and I certainly don't want that. Worst case scenario would be a blood transfusion (is that doping?), but hopefully we don't get to that point. We did do an Iron panel today to determine if I have any underlying iron deficiency.

That was the scary, now for the good. Yesterday was the most beautiful spring day we have had so far. I actually was able to wear a short sleeve jersey on our bike ride. Shannon and I had a perfect ride on the Shoreline and he took loads of photos to remind me how good life will be once I get through my chemo hump days. Shannon always helps me feel strong on the bike by letting me ride just a little bit ahead of him. It almost makes me feel fast:)

Some fun photos from our ride:

Climbing grassy hill
Before the river on dry creek
Dry Creek should be renamed Creek Trail right now
My favorite photo: I love the snow capped mountains in the background

And now for the funny. Well, my hair is officially on its way out. I was shedding profusely for a few days and then on Wednesday we 'tried' to shave my head. Even though clumps were coming out, it was still too thick for our electric shaver. Shannon basically did a hack job on my hair, but there is still enough left that when I wear a hat it looks like I have hair. Thursday I wore a hat to work for the first time. I was at one of my schools and a teacher who doesn't know I have cancer said that my haircut looked soooo cute and she wanted to see it with my hat off. I didn't want to tell her that I had cancer and that my hair was falling out, and I certainly didn't want to show off Shannon's hack-job, so I said I had terrible bed head. It was kind of funny how persistent she was, but there was no way I was going to take my hat off! Even though it was awkward, I was giggling. I imagine I will have to get used to this over the next few weeks as my hair is quickly thinning and we are going to try shaving it again this weekend. BTW: Someone else in my family is getting a shave job and it is NOT Dizzy!

Tonight, Lyna brought over the yummiest meal from Mazza. My taste buds are still working (they probably won't be tomorrow) and it was truly appreciated. Thank you Lyna!

Tomorrow is the Race for the Cure and there are 20,000 people expected to swarm downtown Salt Lake City. I think we are going to park by the Hospital and take TRAX over to meet our team. I got this idea from Mandi another young woman who is undergoing cancer treatment. We've been supporting each other through this journey online and I finally got to meet her in person in the infusion room today. We both have to return to Huntsman for our Neulasta shots tomorrow in the afternoon.

I think I am going to go wear civilian clothes as opposed to the survivor t-shirt to the race/walk tomorrow. I am getting through this journey, but I certainly don't quite feel like a survivor yet!


  1. I am glad to hear your friend's news was good! Recurrence is something I definitely worry about more than I should.

    Your team is on the first page of Komen Salt Lake City as a top fundraiser! Hopefully I will see you tomorrow. I will be wearing my team shirt, I still argue with people about the survivor thing... that day will come.

  2. You worries are a very normal and understandable for everything you are going through. I finished my treatment for cervical cancer a year and a half ago and I assume an ache or pain is recurrance. It does get easier with time.

    Enjoy the event today!

    Valerie - Eagan, MN