Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Panic Attack

I had been feeling so much better since I finished chemo. I had some energy and a little bounce in my step. That is, until I got the stomach flu Monday morning. That wiped me out. Richard got it last night and Katie is starting to feel sick. I hope Tommy can be spared.

Today I went for my Radiation Mapping appointment to prepare a customized treatment plan. They used a CT scan to find the target for radiation. The trick was that I had to hold my breath. I have been through some pretty difficult tests and procedures these past 7 months but this is the first time I've had a panic attack. 

I had to wear a snorkel devise and a clamp on my nose. I got to practice a couple of times before they sent me inside the CT chamber. The tech walked me through the steps as I watched my breathing on a monitor.1. Breathe normal. 2. Blow out all of the air. 3. Take a deep breath and hold it for 20 seconds. While holding my breath, there was a small valve that closed, preventing air through the tube. After 20 seconds it would open to let air through. 

When they sent me in the CT chamber I was breathing normally and suddenly heard the tech over the speaker, "Okay, now hold your breath." I glanced at the monitor and it showed 29 seconds! OMG! Why didn't he let me take a deep breath. Why are we holding for 29 instead of 20? Then the snorkel started slipping out of my mouth as I tried to bite down even harder.  I felt like I was drowning. I tried to hold on but released the safety button and started kicking as if I had fins on my feet to swim away. The doc and tech came running and slid me out. Told me I was fine and they had the images they needed.

I didn't stop shaking until I got home.

Did I ever tell you that I'm not an exhibitionist? Well, I've had to flap my gown open for lots of these people. But today was very unnerving to lay there, bare and get 3 tattoos and various photos taken. Not my cup of tea. 

I've inserted some information below about this procedure. I will probably have to go through 6 weeks using this method in order to protect my heart and lungs during radiation.

Lt Breast treatment set-up with Active Breathing Coordinator
It is difficult to avoid the heart with Tangential Beams (High radiation dose shown in red)With deep inhalation, using Active Breathing Coordinator, the heart is totally spared

Treating a moving target: Because even the slightest movement can change the location of the tumor, targeting a tumor that moves as the patient breathes may require a slightly larger radiation field to compensate for the tumor’s movement. Some healthy tissue may inadvertently receive radiation as the patient breathes and the tumor shifts.
Protecting the heart: With left-sided breast cancer, which moves when the patient breathes, the heart is part of the healthy tissue that needs to be protected. Studies have shown that patients who have received large doses of radiation to some parts of their hearts or who have had larges areas of the heart exposed to smaller doses of radiation have a higher risk of developing radiation-induced heart disease.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I'm Getting Deported!

When I look at this photo I realize just how far I've come in 18 days. This was my method of taking a stroll at the mall on May 4th, after my last chemo and first surgery.

After the second surgery I had to take some time to focus on recovering. I'm following a yoga dvd for breast cancer survivors. I'm taking longer walks. I'm meditating often. And I started reading a new book, "After Cancer Treatment: Heal Faster, Better, Stronger", by Julie Silver, MD.

I went back to work Monday and people tell me I look great and my face is rosy. I haven't felt this good in months. I'm grateful for this lull before the next treatment as it will present many new challenges.

Friday I met the radiologist. In a couple weeks I will start getting zapped every day for 6 weeks.

This week I have appointments booked every single day! Yesterday I saw Doc Esther for instructions about taking Arimidex for 5 years. I don't have to see her again until August 27th. She warned me not to have Oncologist Withdraw!
Today my left arm was measured for the sleeve I will wear to prevent Lymphedema.
Tomorrow I'm going to Elegant Essentials for my under garment fitting. It's like Victoria's Secret for breast cancer patients!
Friday I'm getting Deported! Now that chemo is finished they will surgically remove the port from my upper right arm. Come on now! Did you really think I was an alien?!
I'm moving into the next phase of this journey. New people to meet and new experiences. Carol always tells me this whole journey is my polishing stone! Thanks Sis!


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Monday, May 20, 2013


Monday, the beginning of a new week.  How have you been?  I haven't had much to report under the "cancer" umbrella.  I have an appointment with a plastic surgeon to discuss reconstructive surgery. Don't know if it will happen yet, but I thought I would check it out.  I am doing better in my diet....trying to exercise more, dealing with the bone/joint pain.

Matthew has finished the bulk of his classes.  One more during the summer and he will graduate in the Fall.  Now, he is job searching.  Such a job in itself!

Jasmine has now moved in and going into the 3rd week of being home.  Lots for her to get settled into, but she will find her way.

Casey just closed on her first home.  Her new job and her new home are keeping her busy.  We hope to see her in August!

All of our fluffy-butts are doing okay except Moe.  He is not going to make it much longer. That makes my heart sad.

On another note, my sister had a 2nd surgery and this time CLEAR MARGINS!  Today was her first day back to work and soon she will be starting radiation.  She is a strong woman and doing well in her journey! 

I will keep in touch from time to time .... stay well and be happy!

Colorado ghost town
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Team Work

Image by AnonymousArtofRevolution
I've heard that anesthesia can cause post-surgery blues. Evidently it's a problem when you cry for 3 days straight. I couldn't figure out what was going on.  But, as luck would have it, Doc Esther  wanted to see me and asked why I was feeling so sad.

  • I was having some pain after the second surgery
  • I was grieving with students over the loss of 2 babies
  • I was not sleeping 
  • Not eating
  • Not moving
  • Not meditating
She wondered if I was going to hurt myself.
"Hell No! That's the problem. I want to live!" I told her I was worried about the re-excision and hoped it worked this time. I wasn't going to find out until next week, they said it takes a week to 10 days for pathology results.  But Doc went to her computer and low and behold she found my report. She was silent for a few seconds, then declared, "The margins are negative. Everything is clear!" HAPPY DANCE! Doc said she was going to print the report and tie a red ribbon around it for me! 

She told me I need some down time for a few days. And not to go to any more funerals for awhile. She is getting things set up for radiation to start in a couple weeks. She gave me two big hugs and said she was sorry I had to go through all of this.

My surgeon called this evening as I was writing this post. She asked how I was doing. I told her about the blues and that I saw Doc Esther. I told her I heard about the clear margins and we both squealed with delight.  We talked about the pain and that I should slow down on exercising that arm for a couple days. 

I mentioned how disappointed I was that I was put to sleep way too early for this surgery. She said that one of the drugs they use to put patients to sleep causes amnesia. "So, you don't remember me standing beside you, holding your hand and talking before we put you to sleep?  I remember you said someone was sending Reiki love to you and the room." We both laughed and I told her how sweet that was of her.   She is an extraordinarily kind person. I am so blessed to have this team taking care of me.
Note to self: Give her a Can of Love at our appointment next week.
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ranting and Raving

I have been upset all day.

It started at the hospital yesterday with my second surgery in eleven days. After I changed into the gown, I put my clothes, shoes and head scarf in a plastic bag. An aid stopped by to take it to a locker. My head felt naked so I asked him if I could have a blue cap and he said, "Yes sir. I'll get that for you right away."

Sir? SIR! Are you kidding me? Without hair, makeup, or eyebrows, I look like a man? I am losing myself through all of this crap. I knew this would happen.

Then I had a discussion with the anesthesiologist about two important issues. Number one: I did not want to throw up this time. Number two: I wanted to see and feel the love sent to the surgical room last time but someone knocked me out before my head hit the pillow. He said he would give me a warning before putting me to sleep this time.
Well, this girl shooed Richard away and said it was time to go. She put a syringe of "Pepcid and something to relax" me in the IV. I don't remember anything after we turned the corner in the hallway. Damn it. They knocked me out even sooner this time. I thought I made myself clear.

Surgery was at noon and I was heading home by 3:00. I took a long nap, had a light dinner and felt very little pain. The worst part was the ace bandage wrapped around my chest so tight I could hardly breathe. But when I went to bed I couldn't go to sleep. I finally went downstairs at 4:00 am., then back to bed and fell asleep at 5:30. The hospital called this morning to check on me but Richard told them I was asleep. I didn't even get to tell them how upset I was.

I am tired of not being in control and people doing all of these things to my body. I don't even know if it's working. I hate looking like this. I hate being sick. I hate feeling afraid. And most of all I hate breast cancer!
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Sunday, May 5, 2013


My broken boob has been on the mend for 10 days now. Most of the pain is under my arm however I think all that will change tomorrow when I go back in for more surgery. When you reopen an excision it causes a bit more pain according to my surgeon.
The pathology report showed that the margins were not clear in the upper portion of the tumor so my surgeon will go back in to remove more stuffing. She said the other option would be a mastectomy but she recommended we try this first. I am confident in her ability to get the rest of it tomorrow. She said most breast centers go back for re-excision 50% of the time. At this hospital they go back 20% - 25% of the time so I know they have a better record for getting clear margins. Needing a re-excision doesn't change the survival rate either.
Doc Esther said I seemed to be taking the news well. I didn't think it was a big deal but she wanted to throw a brick through the monitor. I know she was disappointed that the chemotherapy didn't shrink the tumor very much. I guess I should be upset too and can't figure out why I'm not a raving lunatic at this point. Maybe I've been meditating too much. Maybe it's from the hundreds of people praying for me that brings me such peace. I have never felt as loved as I do now.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Looking Forward

When all this cancer stuff began, blogging became good therapy for me.  To tell you the truth, it really helped keep dates and events organized.  Chemo brain still haunts me.  So, when I thought about the name of this blog, living in the moment was exactly what I was doing.  I had to learn from step 1 terminology and everything else a person has to comprehend when hearing those words "you have cancer".  Since I didn't have a crystal ball and I didn't know from day to day what was going to happen...perfect theme.

Now, I don't blog as often because a lot of the treatments, tests and appointments are done.  I'm still taking the Armidex (5 year pill), still see my oncologist every 3 months....and I'm sure tests will occur from time to time. 

Cancer took a whole year + some and I'm ready to move from "living in the moment" to something else.  A reoccurring phrase has been cropping up in my conversations with Christie
Looking Forward

She is in the middle of her treatments....first chemo, then surgery, next is radiation.  It was, and may still be, important in her journey to live in the moment but I think she is getting to the point of looking forward.  We had fun thinking them up.

Looking forward to ~

  • Having "my" time back again
  • Energy, strength
  • Hair!
  • Warmer weather
  • Taking walks with each other
  •  Living life!

And, there are others I have thought of .... what are you looking forward to?

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