Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!!

You can say that again!

I am so looking forward to a new start in 2016.  It has been a rough year, but it is finally over.  I had my port removed on December 23rd and everything is healing great. I don't know if it was the anesthesia lingering or what, but I even felt better that week than I have felt in months.  I seemed to get a reprieve from the neuropathy that plagues my hands and feet and my joints felt much better and I got a couple of really good nights sleep.  It was wonderful...even miraculous!

Unfortunately a lot of it is back now, but it made me hopeful that eventually it will go away and I will feel back to my old self in time.  In a couple of weeks I will begin taking the Tamoxifen that I am supposed to take for the next 5-10 years to help prevent the cancer from coming back.  I am not looking forward to it.  Some people tell me that the side effects are quite bothersome.  Muscle weakness, sore joints, etc...kind of like I feel now only for 5-10 years. Some people say it didn't bother them much at all.  I am hoping that maybe some diet changes and exercise will help make it more tolerable for me.

Just the same I have a new perspective on life than I did last year.  I feel kind of stunned when I look back on this past year, kind of like a slap in the face and whoa...what happened?  It seem almost like a bad dream now. I understand what it means to have a "new lease on life". I never really thought about it much, but we really do only have a LEASE on life.  One that may or may not give us notice before terminating. I think I appreciate life more, as I no longer take for granted that I have a lot of it left.  That doesn't mean I think I am dying, just that we just never really know.

I have spent just about the entire 2015 year dealing with breast cancer.  It has consumed my time, my thoughts and my energy.  Not to mention that of my family.  It over now ( hopefully forever).  Next year I have a clean slate. I feel like I will be at a loss as to what to fill my time with.  Not that I am ever bored or lacking for something to do, but I am different now.  I will be looking to fill the void with good things, meaningful things, things that make my life more meaningful and worthwhile.  I have some ideas, some of which I don't know how to get started and others I am trying to decide if I am really committed enough to maybe get a Master's Degree.

There will be a little bit of traveling. (Perhaps this time Sarah and I really will go to Alaska.)  I also have a lot to get caught up on with friends.  I have been somewhat of a hermit this past year.  I am looking forward to being a bit more social.  Our kids Matt and Jacob will be graduating from High School and preparing for missions and will probably leave early this summer.  We will be excited to see them getting ready and receiving their mission calls.  Sarah will graduate with her associates degree and is now trying to decide what's next for her.  I am sure there will be a few trips to Utah to spend time with family and friends.  2016 will be a busy year and I am anticipating a much happier year.  I am so excited to get started!!

Happy New Year Everybody!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

32 Down and 1 to go!!

Hello again...  It has been a while and I thought an update was in order.  It has been over two months since I finished my chemotherapy treatments.  What a relief to be done. Although I was expecting to have about a week of feeling poorly, followed by a gradual upswing.  What I got was a week of feeling poorly, followed by a surprising new side effect.  Into the 2nd week following my final treatment, I began to feel all kinds of fatigue, muscle pain and joint pain.  I was surprised at this.  In my follow up appointment 2 weeks later, my oncologist informed me that this fatigue would last at least a year.  Seriously??  She told me that I probably have been feeling it through out my chemo treatments, but because I was just muscling through it, I didn't notice.  Kind of like working on the yard for hours and only when you finish for the day and lie down do you feel the aching.  Really...I don't believe this explanation, it didn't hurt like this before.  I'm hoping she is wrong about it taking a year to feel better... ain't nobody got time for that!

What I do know is that it persists today.  I feel like I am about 20 years older than I was at the beginning of the year.  My feet hurt...they ache like I have been walking for miles.  They especially hurt when I get up in the morning, or when I have been sitting for a long time.  My joints hurt in my back, knees, hips, shoulders and fingers.  When I sleep at night I can sleep for a few exhausted hours before everything starts to hurt and there is no longer a side that doesn't hurt.  On my back my right leg gets numb, on my left side, my left shoulder hurts excruciatingly and my arms and hands fall asleep, the same on my right side, but not as bad, on my stomach both arms fall asleep.  Some days are better than others, and if I am moving around the joints loosen up some.   It is frustrating to say the least.  I am trying to get some exercise to gain some stamina.  I have tried the Couch to 5k thing again...but I think my condition is worse than that of a couch potato right now.

I also didn't realize how chemo affected me mentally until after it was over.  It really does a number on you that way.  However, I am feeling more normal now...and I don't think I feel the "chemobrain" forgetfulness, fuzziness I've heard about.  My taste buds are back to normal, which is a nice bonus as well, and just in time for the holidays!. Things are getting better!

So my radiation treatments started on October 19th and I have only one more treatment...tomorrow...and then I am done.  When I was doing chemo, the time went by so watching a clock tick off the time for 5 months.  I would get up every day and think, I have 12 hours before I can go back to bed again...and then endure the extremely slow passage of time.  However once I started my radiation treatments, time sped back up. Partly because I was not so miserable anymore and partly because I have been super busy, but the 7 weeks have passed quickly.  For me radiation has been a piece of cake.  With radiation all you do is show up and lay still on a bed for about 10 minutes while a big machine moves all around making noises.  Then you get up and go home and come back the next day for more of the same...for about 7 weeks.  The most annoying aspect has been the interruption of my day, every day to go to appointments in Gilbert.  It is a 30 minute drive each way and so it takes up about 1 1/2 hours of each day.  One thing I have enjoyed is the timing of my radiation treatments. Gilbert is cool in that the road I drive down to go to my appointments is lined with deciduous trees.  I began my treatments in October when the trees were all green, but as the weeks have passed, every day (except weekends) I have watched as the trees have begun to fade.  First there were just little hints of yellow, then some orange and red.  Every day I notice the difference, something I have never done before. I believe they are just moving past peak right now.  It has been a fun experience!

For the first few weeks of treatment, there were little, if any side effects.  Toward the end I look kind of like someone poured a pot of boiling water on over my right side.  It a bit tender and sometimes painful.  Under my right breast  is some blistering and peeling...right in the know the one where the bra would just love to dig in.  So, I'm flying hippie style most of the time now...if you know what I mean.  It is a little itchy as well, but they give me stuff for any discomfort.  It is almost over and I haven't noticed much fatigue.  My radiation doctor told me that I actually was feeling fatigue, but that I was recovering so fast from the chemo, that I don't notice the fatigue that the radiation is causing.  Since he told me that, I've actually been really tired...power of suggestion...go figure!

So tomorrow is my last day of treatment and I am excited to be done.  If what the doctor says is true about fatigue caused by radiation, I can hardly wait to see how I feel when it is all over.  On December 23rd I am scheduled for surgery to have my port taken out and I will consider myself done!  It has been nice to begin getting back into my old routines.  I have been back to work selling things on eBay...cause Christmas is coming you know and this has been an expensive year for us.  Ron and I are exercising in the mornings and we are both feeling better because of that. Next week Ron's son Jon is coming home from his mission in Ukraine and we will be going up to Utah to spend nearly a week.  I am so thrilled to be on to bigger and better things!!  So, all in all things are looking up.  And I think they are going to continue to do so!!   

Here is the most recent picture of me with my hair.  It think the gray makes me look about as old as I feel right now, but I am leaving it natural to see what it does before deciding if or when to color it again.  I do get a lot of compliments on it and I do think the silver is kind of cool, but I have heard the color will change and go back to dark again.  So I am just going to wait and see what it does... because I'll never get the chance again.  ... Remember my natural color back in April... 
WOW!! What a difference!