I have so much to be thankful for this year.
Granted cancer and a pandemic are definitely not something anyone would be thankful for but because of a bunch of awesome essential people I am still here and I am thankful for that.
I am thankful for my husband. He was my primary caregiver through all the chemo side effects and took me to most of my appointments. Because of COVID, he has been working from home and his employer was very accommodating which enabled him to be here when I needed him.
I am thankful for my kids and grandkids, pitching in wherever they could. Helping with personal care, taking me to appointments, cleaning the house, picking me up off the floor (chemo had me fainting for a few days), and just calling or visiting to make me smile.
I am thankful for all my friends and extended family who kept me in their thoughts and prayers and sent messages on Facebook that gave me so much strength.
I am thankful for the fantastic Great Escapes bloggers that kept all the book tours going without missing a beat when I needed days off or was recovering.
I am thankful for the doctors, nurses, and others at the Waupun and Fond du Lac Hospitals who took care of me when I had my chemo port put in, the breast surgery, and when I was hospitalized due to the chemo side effects.
I am beyond thankful for all the angels at the Agnesian Cancer Center. They walked me through a terrifying time. From the minute I heard the words, “You have Breast Cancer” my life has been crazy with fear and worry. Everyone that took care of me was amazing. From the person who met us each day at the door, to the nurses, rad techs, doctors, counselors, nutritionists, and receptionists I was truly blessed. Facing this during a pandemic could have been really hard. I would have loved to have family right by my side but that wasn’t an option. The people at Agnesian made it so much easier.
I am also thankful for YOU! The readers of this blog who have stuck by me during my absence earlier this year and my erratic posting since my return. Hopefully, by the new year, I will be back on track.
I know this year Thanksgiving is different for all of us due to COVID 19. I am hopeful that we will be able to gather with friends and families again soon. Until then, wear your masks, wash your hands often, socially distance, read some good books, and stay safe. We are all in this together and together we can get through it.
It has been a while since I posted an update.
I started my radiation treatment last Tuesday after a false start the previous week where my body and the lasers just wouldn’t line up. Now, I have four treatments in and just a little redness under my arm. I am moisturizing like crazy 🙂
Our family did have a couple of rough times over the past couple of weeks. We knew we would have a tough decision to make soon about our two Border Collie/Blue Heller mixes. They were just over 17 years old and one had lost her hearing and both had their eyesight failing. Plus they had the arthritis we all get when we get old. On September 27 Oreo, originally our son Kris’s dog, took a turn for the worse. She just couldn’t get up on her own, and one of the many fatty tumors common with this breed burst. The kids rushed her to the emergency clinic and sadly we had to let her go.
Then last Monday after a stressful weekend of Nerabelle started to show signs of failing we knew what was ahead. I know she missed her sister. She slept next to Oreo’s bed instead of in her own. She was also having trouble with her back legs so Daughter #1, Nera was originally her dog, and Kaden arrived last Monday for another trip to the vet. Nerabelle didn’t even fuss going into the clinic.
For 17 years both these dogs brought so much joy to our lives. They were wonderful support animals while I was going through chemo too. The house is so quiet, no toenails clicking across the floor, no barking at the mailman or pizza delivery guy, and no one to eat my pizza crusts or begging for other treats. No dogs to greet us at the door when we come home from my treatments. Mr. Dollycas wrote on his Facebook Page, My heart is heavy and I will grieve for them both as they were the greatest friends I could have ever had the pleasure of living with. And he is so right. These animals quickly worked their way into our hearts and become true family members. It is hard to say goodbye but they both deserve a peaceful rest. We have now turned their care over to our son/brother/uncle in heaven.
On the blog front, you may have noticed I am posting a little more often. I am still catching up on reviews of the books I read at the start of my treatment when chemo brain wouldn’t let string a coherent sentence together. I am also trying to review books as soon as I finish them. I am still reading less than I did before because my body can’t take the late nights and early mornings like it used to. Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done and the writing of reviews gets pushed off. My radiation treatments are scheduled to end right before Thanksgiving and the oncologist has said fatigue is the biggest side effect and it is cumulative so allowing for some recovery time by the new year I hope I will start to get my life back on track. I am also hoping that in the new year COVID gets handled and we can gather with our family and friends and that publishers will be able to offer giveaways again.
Thank you for being so supportive of me during this time and being patient with me. Your prayers and best wishes are so appreciated and have been giving me so much strength.
I hope you have an awesome week!!
It has been two weeks since my lumpectomy. I met with both the surgeon and my oncologist this past week. The surgery turned out to be more extensive than originally planned. Due to my ample supply of tissue, 🙂 the tumor/s in the breast were easily removed. The dye that was injected prior to surgery to outline the cancerous lymph nodes did not work properly so the surgeon removed all 14 lymph nodes from under my arm. Because of this, a drain needed to be put in and I had to spend the night in the hospital. I still have the drain. It will remain in until I expel less than 30 cc’s of fluid over a 24 hour period. I am getting close. It is a good thing she removed them all because 6 of the 14 had evidence of cancer. She is confident she got all cancer out and left good clear margins. I left her office feeling pretty good.
Then a couple of days later we went to followup with my oncologist. He said he usually waits until patients are midway through radiation before meeting with them to discuss the next steps but he had something important to discuss with me. He learned a lot from my pathology report. He went on to explain that while Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), is the most common kind of breast cancer, my personal form of this cancer is very “aggressive” and did not respond well to the second type of chemo. The tumors shrank the most during the 1st regimen of chemo, the 1st 8 weeks, but that progress basically ground to a halt when we switched over to the different drug (Taxol) week 9. He said this also puts me at a high risk for recurrence. Because of that, he would like to try to get me into an upcoming clinical trial. He kept stating that I was “young” 😆 and with my other physical limitations, he thought I would be a great candidate. It would mean taking an additional pill when I start the maintenance pills after radiation for the first 2 years. It could be the actual medication or a placebo as it is a blind study. He needed my permission to proceed when he meets with a committee at the end of the month. I told him I was on board, how could I not be? I also kept a brave face throughout our meeting but later that evening I started to freak out a bit.
I have tried to stay positive throughout this process but I sure don’t want to go through this again. I started second-guessing myself, should I have had a total mastectomy of that breast? Why didn’t the scans show more? I know that had a heck of a time getting images of the lymph nodes. COVID 19 was a blessing and a curse. Because of it, my treatment was started quickly because so many other procedures were put on hold, but it also meant I was in most of the doctor meetings alone and maybe I missed something. The doctors I had were highly recommended and I trusted them and still do. I know they have my best interests at heart as do all the others on my team, from the patient advocates, the nurses, and everyone else involved in my care.
Now I wait to start radiation next month and wait to see if I am accepted into the clinical trial. I also put myself in God’s hands and hope I will be able to put cancer behind me once and for all.
I’m going to try and let as many of Lori’s followers as I can know how she is doing. A short while ago Dr. Stanley called to let me know she came thru the surgery very well and is in recovery. It was a little more complex than what was anticipated because 2 of the 3 lymph nodes did not accept the dye most likely due to fibrosis so to be safe they did the more difficult part of the procedure and just removed them all. She was able to get the main mass entirely along with a small amount of the surrounding tissue so the lumpectomy was more than planned but to error on the safe side done as Lori had asked her to do. Unfortunately due to the hospital being in phase 1 we are unable to visit her tonight but will be able to phone her later when they have her up. She has to stay overnight because they had to place a drain in under her arm where those lymph nodes were to take away any extra fluids and she is going to be shown how to take care of that and tomorrow when they let me go get her they will be showing me the process as well so I can help her with it…that’s all I know at this time so more to follow.
First, a certain little girl turns 1 this week. We had a small family party to celebrate on Saturday.
Second, after a couple of weeks without chemo, I have been less tired and while I still have neuropathy in my hands and feet it is getting better for the most part. The thumb and index finger on my good hand seem to be bearing the brunt of most of it. I have been assured it will get better with time.
The good news is that my surgery has been scheduled for this Friday afternoon. The plan is for a lumpectomy with an examination of some lymph nodes under my arm. This is what I have been praying for while preparing myself for a mastectomy. I won’t believe it until I am out of surgery though. I have great confidence in my surgeon and told her to do whatever she needs to do for the best outcome. Of course, a lumpectomy has a shorter recovery time too.
No matter how much breast tissue I lose I will need radiation after. I meet to discuss those options with the radiation specialist tomorrow. I also have a COVID test tomorrow just to be sure I don’t have it, then I have to quarantine myself with only Mr. Dollycas and Daughter #2, because they live with me, until I go to the hospital on Friday.
Until then I am making sure the Great Escapes Book Tour Bloggers have everything they need while I recover and getting my non-computer life in order. Mr. Dollycas is taking time off from work, Daughter #2 will be working but here in the evenings. Daughter #1 will be here to help after I get home and Son #2 is just a few blocks away to assist as needed. They have all told me not to worry. I am sure they will get it all figured out.
For now, I am hoping and praying that things go as planned with no complications. Putting faith in my surgeon and in God’s hands. I am sure my family will be posting on Facebook and I will teach one of them to post here too. The support you have been giving me is so appreciated. Your thoughts and prayers have uplifted me and given me strength.
CHANGE IN PLANS
The last time I checked in with you I was feeling good and looking forward to my last 3 chemo treatments. The following Thursday while walking to the bedroom I fainted. It happened again on Saturday. I thought maybe my blood sugar was low so I started drinking a lot of juices. But it happened again late Sunday afternoon and my family decided I was going to the ER. It turned out my potassium and magnesium levels were bottoming out and because I naturally have low blood pressure it dropped to levels that made me pass out. They admitted me to give me fluids with potassium and magnesium and kept me for observation until about 11 o’clock on Tuesday. I was scheduled for chemo at noon and didn’t want to miss it. However, when we got to the cancer center my appointment had been canceled because my insurance wouldn’t pay two different facilities on the same day. I was heartbroken and mad at the same time when my oncologist didn’t reschedule me for the next day but said to come in the next week at my usual time.
Fast forward to the following week. I met with my primary doctor on Monday and he said my numbers looked good and he cleared me for chemo. Tuesday I felt great and arrived for my appointment at the cancer center. The nurse told me my oncologist wanted to see me right after they drew blood for my lab work. Usually, he waits until he has the results. I knew immediately he was going to stop my chemo, but the nurse told me she didn’t think so. But that is exactly what he did. He said the risks outweighed the rewards. I begged him to let me finish. My potassium had been low before and I was now taking tablets so that wouldn’t happen. I knew the chemo was shrinking the tumor and that 3 more weeks may shrink it even more, but he wouldn’t change his mind. He took me over to the treatment area to wait to be sure my lab work was good and I had tears rolling down my face. I felt that my body had yet again let me down. My nurse and the social worker were amazing. They helped me accept there was a change in my plans and this was how it was meant to be even though my labs came back with numbers better than I had weeks before. The potassium was at normal levels, the magnesium was almost normal but I hadn’t been taking any meds for that yet. The tears started again when they gave me a Certificate of Achievement signed by all the nurses that took such excellent care of me. I felt I didn’t deserve it. I hate not finishing something I start.
I still wish I could have had those 3 treatments but instead, I am meeting with the surgeon about a month sooner than I had planned. My appointment is this Wednesday. I am not sure what to expect because I haven’t yet had a scan to see how much the tumor has shrunk. The last scan, at the end of May, showed it a shrunk 33%. Because the tumor is so close to the skin I can feel it and it seems much smaller than that to me. I am anxious to hear her plan for surgery while hoping and praying that my body will be cleared for whatever that plan is.
The following week I meet with a radiation specialist to learn what is ahead for me after the surgery.
You may have noticed I have posted a few reviews but I am still way behind. I apologize to authors waiting for my reviews, I plan to post them and share them everywhere as soon as I can.
I continue to appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I will keep you posted about what’s ahead.
I had a good week this week. I think the best week since I started chemo. Knock on wood that it continues. I have chemo treatments scheduled for the next four weeks and then I meet with the surgeon to discuss what happens next.
The last two treatments my potassium levels have been very low so I received an IV to treat that along with taking some huge capsules. One of the steroids I was taking was removed from my treatment as well and the chemo dosage was cut back a bit. I am not sure which of these cut the major side effects I was having but am thankful they subsided at least for this past week.
My main side effect now is fatigue. I try to work at the computer each day on the book tours and even have written a few reviews, but as soon as I move to the recliner my eyes slam shut. My family wakes me up for supper most of the time. Sometimes I wake up later and the house is quiet so I read for a while before I actually go to bed for the night. Sleep is my friend now, it rejuvenates me for the day and week ahead.
My oncologist is very optimistic about my outcome and that excites me. Don’t get me wrong, I am also fearful for what’s ahead, it always seems I end up doing things the hard way, but I have a great support crew that includes you, my family and friends that I draw strength from every minute. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. I appreciate them so much!
I will continue to add reviews as I can and post some spotlights too and update you again soon.
P.S. The grand are all doing great. In fact, Charlotte is 11 months old today and is walking all over the place. Kaden is here helping Papa, and Remi, Natalie and Thomas are always up to something fun 🙂
I had my 10th round of chemo last Tuesday which means I have 6 to go. The oncologist and I had a good meeting before my treatment and I even brought up stopping the chemo but he had none of that because my tumor is shrinking. He adjusted my meds in hopes of more good days after treatment. Previously the 3 days right after chemo were really good days because of the steroids I was taking and the next 3 days were down days where I couldn’t work. This week without the extra steroids I had 3 pretty good days, Friday I worked a half-day and was exhausted, Saturday I tried to work from my laptop but it had issues and today (Sunday) I am actually working at the computer. I feel a little lightheaded once and a while but am trying to push through.
I have several reviews to write but my brain has not cooperated in stringing the words together correctly. I have learned that is called Chemo Brain. I apologize for that and will get them written as soon as I can.
Thank you for understanding my absence for now and all your thoughts and prayers. I hope to be back soon!
This cancer and chemo have been running roughshod over me the past few days. I was unable to have chemo this week because I am severely dehydrated. They gave me two bags of fluids at the clinic and tested me for an infection. I didn’t have the bug they tested for but they can’t test for everything. So I have been pushing fluids and trying to rest and get better so I can get back to chemo next week.
Because I have commitments to authors for book tours, that has to be where I focus my hours at the computer.
So I am going to take a short break from posting reviews and other posts here. I promise I will catch up on them as soon as I can. I appreciate your understanding. I hope I get rehydrated quickly and things get back to normal.
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