Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pre-Surgery Testing

Talk about walking down memory lane..... I started at the same place (building) where my diagnostic mammogram was done Dec 2011. 

First was the check-in with a nurse to ask a few more questions for my record.  She did my vitals and then sent me across the hall for my EKG and blood work.  A big kudos to Sheila who didn't even make me flinch.  Two vials and she was done!

Then I made the walk across to the other building to radiology.  Now that really brought back memories.  There, I had my chest x-ray.

So, I'm pretty sure everything will check out okay.

Ready for surgery, July 2

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Monday, June 24, 2013


The hospital pre-admissions called me today to update all my information.  She said the last surgery recorded was December 2011 .... lumpectomy.  Yep, that sounds about right.  That long ago? A lot of times, it seems like yesterday. 

I am to report to pre-surgery testing tomorrow at the same place I found out I had cancer.  Glad she told me that because I planned to report to the place I had the port inserted.  (would have been the wrong place)

This little process here is taking me back to some memories. 

And that's what they are....memories.

I try not to think about that "anvil-over-the-head" feeling.  I'm in remission and want to stay right there!

I'll be off work for a total of 12 days.  Hope to hang out with Sis for some of those days.  Looking forward to some R&R.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013


Yesterday was my 8th radiation treatment. I go in everyday except weekends. This is me, in all my naked glory, getting zapped in several different directions.

The radiation device rotates around the table to get these angles. It comes across from the right side (blue lines). Then moves to the upper right and shoots down into my collar bone, zapping the lymph nodes (red area). Then it moves underneath the table a shoots up through my shoulder blade (green area). And finally, up through the left side of my breast (blue).

I've been using the breathing tube and am a pro at it now. See Panic Attack about the training. With each deep breath I create space in my chest to protect my heart and lungs from radiation.

I should be finished with this treatment by the third week of July.

I will be glowing by then!

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Thursday, June 20, 2013


I finally decided to do it .... Reconstruction. 

Most people kinda give me a double-take when I tell them, "no, they aren't touching the affected side. They are taking care of the good side."  I really don't want things stirred up if you know what I mean.  The plastic surgeon said that it is more difficult to reconstruct skin damaged from radiation.  Besides, it really isn't that bad.  It's just much smaller. Ha! So, we are downsizing!

June 25 - pre-surgery testing

July 2 - Surgery

Doc said recovery is 2 weeks. Since I have a desk job, just taking a week. 

No worries, no concerns, looking forward to some down time at home.

I'll certainly let you know how things are going!

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Shot of Cortisone

Hi all!  I finally got some tests done (June 4) on my right knee to discover moderate arthritis aggravating my knee and making life difficult.  It actually started with soreness and swelling in the back of my knee that my family doctor thought was a Baker's cyst.  The MRI and x-rays did not show a cyst....just a little bit of fluid.  I met with an orthopedic doctor (June 7) who took a lot of time with me and diagnosed me and gave me a cortisone shot in the knee.  I've never had one of those miracle shots before and WOW, it has provided such relief!

Today, I had my first physical therapy session to learn how to build some core strength and begin on the road to recovery.  I have sessions twice a week. It was so difficult to try to walk and exercise through all the pain throughout my body.  The cortisone shot not only helped my knee, but a lot of other joints, aches & pains. 

Once I fulfill my sessions, I will be able to utilize the facility for FREE for a month!  I like that :)

This weekend is actually the first time I have felt better and felt like "me" in almost 2 years.

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Dang Hangnail

I am always worried about getting the tiniest injury on my left arm. So when I found a hangnail on my index finger the other day I was afraid my arm would swell up and fall off. I have a long list of things I must now avoid to protect my arm and hand. Cutting my cuticles for instance. Getting a bug bite. Sticking myself while sewing. A burn while cooking. I can't get a sunburn, have dry skin, or move my arm in the same motion repeatedly.
Lymphedema - We are each born with between 8 - 50 lymph nodes under each arm. When we have some removed or damaged from radiation there is no way of knowing how many are left to carry out the job of the lymphatic system. If you have 50 and 5 are removed, then your body should be able to adapt. But if you only have 8 and 5 are removed, then you will be more susceptible to developing Lymphedema or swelling from lymphatic fluid. This can occur anytime after breast cancer surgery or radiation; even years later.
Ok. Raise your hand if you know someone who went through breast cancer treatment. Below are several "handy" gift ideas to get that special person.
Medical Alert Bracelet - Do not allow the surgical arm to be used for blood pressure check, blood draws or injections. Purchase and wear a bracelet as a reminder to all healthcare providers. I ordered pink now that I'm in the Breast Cancer Club.
First Aid Kit -  My surgeon explained that if I get an injury of any kind, no matter how small,  I must immediately wash with Dial soap, put Neosporin on and cover with a band aid. I now carry a first aid kit so I can take care of injuries quickly and have sunscreen and insect repellent available at all times. This is also a handy place to keep my elastic sleeve so I don't lose it.

Rubber Gloves - I found these adorable gloves at Hartville Hardware recently. It's important to protect your hands from harsh chemicals, detergent, hot water and accidentally cutting yourself with knives or broken glass.

Gardening Gloves - Protect your hands and arms with leather gardening gloves that have longer arm shields. (also found at Hartville Hardware).

Oven mitts - Use well fitting, longer oven mitts when cooking to protect yourself from hot oil or steam, as well as handling cook wear in the oven. I'm currently designing a special pattern and testing fabrics to get the best fit. (this image is from Pinterest)

Sewing/quilting guards - I am going to get this steel woven "Klutz" glove for sewing and cutting quilt pieces. I will let you know how it works. Thimbles should be used for hand sewing.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Setting Goals for Recovery

Thursday was the last day of school. This sure was a tough year on so many levels. I just want to put it behind me and start all over in the fall.
Friday was going to be a practice run through radiation but they called that morning to cancel because the machine was broken. We rescheduled for Monday. I was trying to get all psyched for this new treatment
but they called again because the machine was still down. We will shoot for Wednesday.

I decided to do some homework from this new book I'm reading  studying, After Cancer Treatment, by setting some short and long term goals for my health and well-being.Three areas that need consideration are Physical, Emotional and Support Systems. Physical Goals are divided into three categories: Nutrition to promote healing, Exercise to build strength and endurance and Sleep to increase a healthy immune system.

I need to learn how to pace myself and think of my energy as "coins" by considering how it's "spent". There is a difference between "activity" vs "exercise". I thought I was doing great by running errands and doing housework. But I was using energy that should have been saved for structured exercise that involved strength training, cardio and flexibility. When I spent my energy on miscellaneous activities, I had nothing left for exercise. I'll have to admit, it sure felt good to clean the bathrooms the way I used to bc (before cancer). I still have to get through radiation and can't afford to "waste" this precious energy.

Short Term - by September 1

  • Physical: Nutrition - drink 64 ounces of water, eat more natural foods, avoid food additives, avoid processed foods, eat fish once a week (Carol, please teach me how to cook this stuff!)
  • Physical: Exercise - walk 20 minutes 5 days a week, do yoga 3 days a week, strength training, lose 5 pounds
  • Physical: Sleep - go to bed by midnight with chamomile tea and a good book, stop using the TV to fall asleep, nap before fatigue sets in, no computer 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Emotional - pray and meditate daily, practice mindfulness
  • Support Systems - connect with people who are loving and enhance my life

Long Term - by June 2014

  • Physical: Nutrition - continue ST goals, eat fish twice a week,
  • Physical: Exercise - walk 45 minutes 5 days a week, do yoga daily, strength training,  lose 20 pounds
  • Physical: Sleep - go to bed by 10:00 pm during the school year, continue ST goals 
  • Emotional - continue to pray and meditate, practice mindfulness
  • Support Systems - call my parents daily, host family gatherings often, hang out with friends
I need to find an app to keep track of some of this and schedule it on my Google Calendar or it might never happen. Call if you want to walk with me this summer!

I would encourage you to set goals for yourself in these areas. 
You shouldn't wait until you have cancer 
to be proactive about your health. 

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's the Little Things

I was so excited about using mascara for the first time in months. My lashes are only an 1/8th of an inch long but doing something I managed bc (before cancer) made me feel almost normal. I made a list of some little things I'm grateful to be doing again.

  • walking further than the length of our driveway
  • planting flowers
  • having morning coffee on the back porch
  • planning sewing projects
  • tasting and smelling food
  • carrying the laundry basket
  • cooking for my family
  • getting the feeling back in my fingers and toes
  • sleeping on my tummy

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