Are we done? Not yet.

Well, I wasn’t expecting that.

I was cleaning up my craft room in prep to move the Glowforge in there. I’d been at it for maybe a half-hour. I took a break to go get a cup of tea. While I was getting it, my hand bumped into my left boob. It was wet. There was a circle of wetness, and I found that odd, because I didn’t remember splashing water there. And complete circle? That never happens. And what was this? It wasn’t wet enough to have been done since I walked in the kitchen. It kinda looked like I was still nursing and wasn’t wearing a nursing pad and had soaked through my shirt…and it was faintly red.

I pulled the shirt aside…and there was the same circle as on the shirt. Redder.

I pulled the bra cup away from my chest. There was raw, wet, red, meat where my incision had been that morning. I’ll spare you the pictures. Mainly because I didn’t take the time to take any.

I took off for the bathroom, muttering, “this isn’t good.” My husband followed, gaining on me. As we looked in the mirror, it was obvious. The incision, which yesterday had LOOKED like it was healing, had given way, leaving a 3″ section gaping open.

Now I don’t like going to the doctor unless necessary. But I don’t hesitate when it IS necessary.

I tore off the shirt and bra, then dug out the first aid kit, and rummaged for the gauze. Clean bra and shirt, gauze to the wound, we took off for Urgent Care. Could not have been more than 5 minutes since discovery.

But Urgent Care wouldn’t stitch it back up. They said I’d have to go back to my surgeon. Who was in the same building.

Not giving them the opportunity to get any more words out, I swiftly turned on my heel and headed to the surgeon’s office. He, surprisingly, was both in and had no appointments.

I gave the desk a brief explanation, and within another 5 minutes, the nurse was walking me back to an exam room. Where I showed her the problem. “Oh yeah, you’re gonna need that stitched back up. Let me get the doctor.”

Doctor comes in and looks. “That’s the side that you had radiation on, isn’t it? Yeah, radiation changes the skin, and it doesn’t heal as fast or as easily. Let’s get you into the procedure room next door.”

In the procedure room, he gave me numbing injections all along the wound. I could feel something only on the part nearest the center of my chest. Then he proceeded to put in 3 layers of stitches, and a running stitch across the entire original incision. I thought to myself, “Why in the hell didn’t you put in 3 layers of stitches in the FIRST place?”, but I kept that to myself.

So all told, it took maybe an hour and a half? I took it easy the rest of the day.

I thought I was done with all the surgical work. Apparently not.

Are We Done? Not. Yet.

Two weeks after the last radiation treatment, the pinkness had definitely subsided. The two worst spots had peeled, just like any sunburn would.

Then? Hormone therapy. But, I had to be in menopause for the hormone therapy to be most effective. So I was scheduled for a Zoladex shot – which throws me into menopause – in the stomach, every 4 weeks. With no idea of how long I’d have to get the shots.

Of course, I had a choice of surgery to remove the ovaries. Ultimately I went with surgery, but I had to schedule an ultrasound first…which was weeks out. And blood tests. So it was almost two months before I could get it done. So I had to endure two shots before I could call them off.

Then, I was trying to get the surgery to replace the expanders with implants. Since we’ve paid the deductible for the year – not just for the old insurance from the beginning of the year, but also for the new, better, insurance – I wanted it done before the end of the year. But I don’t want to ruin Christmas two years in a row, so it had to be done between Christmas and New Years. But I also needed to give it as much time as possible for healing after the radiation and ovary surgery. So mark December 28th on your calendars.

But, but, then, if, when, and… I’m tired just thinking about it all. But I’m down to just one more surgery, and years of pills.

Here’s to a fine Thanksgiving! We’re having friends over, and there should be movies and/or games, and much fun for all involved. Then a merry Christmas, where I will actually be able to decorate and participate this year. I felt so bad that Christmas was much curtailed last year. But this year should be good. And I’m determined that next year will be too.

Par-ty Time!

Ta-da! I had my last radiation treatment today! Ok, so it’s not a LARGE party, but still.

While it wasn’t bad, I’m glad to be done. Apparently I tolerated the radiation better than most. The skin is really pink, with a few areas verging on red/brown. Starting over Labor Day weekend (between the penultimate and final treatments), I started having a couple of spots that itch, or were tender to the touch.

So now? On to drugs! Basically, I have to be on estrogen blockers for the next 5-10 years…daily. But that doesn’t start for at least a couple of weeks. I’m willing not to think about it till then. No use borrowing trouble.

And I think I remember hearing that I have to wait for a couple of months after radiation to even think of getting the expanders switched to implants. I’ll be glad when that comes around, hopefully before the end of the year (deductible is already paid for this year). I’m so tired of the really weird tightness from where the expanders are sutured into place.

Once all that heals, my silver lining…I will be able to wear off the shoulder tops again.

Still Radiation

I am half way through radiation. Yay me!

So far, the only side effect is that the skin where they are targeting has turned pink. In terms of sunburn, it’s still less than a first degree burn, with no pain. Funny thing is, they aren’t targeting where I though the tumor was. I thought it was more toward the outer side, but they are targeting dead center.

Take away: I’m doing fine. And my necromancer is level 70, with 500 paragon points, and full sets of all the necro specific gear. 🙂

P.S. My daughter just started 7th grade today. And she managed to get her phone taken away from her for the first week of school. Next time, I change the wi-fi password.


Oh, gee. I guess I should update you. Sorry. I’ve just been busy with other things…like Diablo 3. But you don’t want to hear about that. Or maybe you do. In which case, send me a message.

So I started radiation. I’ve got a six week course of daily treatments, with weekends and holidays off. So I’ll be finished by the end of the first week in September. I don’t have any idea what happens after that.

I didn’t make the appointments. The scheduling nurse did that. Then I had to go back and make changes, because although I don’t have much on my schedule, she made a couple of them that interfered with the few things I *do* have scheduled. But it’s all good now.

The Dr. warned me that radiation leaves you feeling sunburned in the area treated, but I haven’t seen any sign of that…yet.

So I’ll try to let you know if anything changes.

Limbo Land

I didn’t think the stroke was going to kill me; I was just pissed. Pissed because I could feel the symptoms wax and wane as the clot moved. Really pissed that the clot didn’t move on out and leave me like I normally was. It took lots of physical therapy and 2 years before the fog lifted and I felt pretty normal again. But I did get to the point where I felt pretty normal again.

When I got the diagnosis of cancer, I was left in a dark mood. I was convinced that this was what was going to kill me. I didn’t want to leave my daughter without a mom. I had dark dreams of trying to find a new wife for my husband, one that would love my daughter. But I was determined to do everything I could to make that day as far away as possible.

My Surgical Oncologist and Plastic surgeon kept telling me that I was going to get through this, and that I would be around to see grandkids. I was sceptical. But they at least convinced me I’d see her graduate highschool.

The original plan was mastectomy and radiation. But then one of the two sentinel nodes they removed came back positive. So chemo was in my future. Yay.

After surgery and recovery, I met my medical oncologist.  He convinced me that I could get to a No Evidence of Disease state, although he used “Cured” which I don’t think is the appropriate term. I’m looking forward to that, although I realize what my chances of recurrence are.

My nadir was when I lost my hair. Not all of it fell out easily. I ended up feeling like a plucked chicken, with little pinfeathers still left. I shaved it at that point, just so I wouldn’t have to look at it in the mirror. I wore hats, mostly because my head was cold, but also it looked kind of like hair when I passed a mirror.

Right now, I have only one more chemo session, and plenty of radiation treatments ahead. Through all of the chemo, I felt like I was in limbo. The fatigue was awful. I didn’t want to plan anything because I didn’t know what I’d be capable of. I don’t think I left the house except to go to the chemo sessions, or talked to anyone except the cancer ward staff and patients.

Now I’m getting restless. I want my life back. I want to plan and be able to go to things again. I’m past the fatigue and I have a lot more energy. But I’ve developed neuropathy. I can’t feel the fingertips on one hand, and they feel like they’re about to go on the other hand. But it’s the feet that kill me. The bottoms of my feet feel like I’ve run a marathon in bad shoes, or that they’ve been beaten. Makes it hard to even hobble around sometimes.

Today, I get to go into my medical oncologist and find out what he’s recommending for radiation, how often, how long, what to expect. I just want to be done. I’m tired of how the expanders feel. I’m tired of feeling trapped in the house. I’m really tired of the neuropathy, especially when I know that it’s going to get worse before it gets better…if it gets better. It might not.

People kept telling me how brave I was, and that they could never do it. That’s bullshit. I’m not that brave, And you do it because you have to. I’m not going to close my eyes and pretend that everything is fine. That’s the surest path to looking for that new wife/mommy.

I wish I had better news of where my cancer path is at. I wish I felt better. But it is what it is.

Cycle 2: The Further Adventures

Started Cycle 2 on the 11th.

The day after the infusion, I no longer passed the hair-pull test. I’d took a pinch of hair and pulled, and some of it actually came out. Baldness is eminent.

The infusion nurses and I had had a conversation about the after effects of the Neulasta shot. Many women suggest taking Claritin around the Neulasta shot to ward off the long bone pain. It’s always Claritin. But I asked my nurses if Claritin would interfere with the Alegra I already take. They suggested just taking my Alegra in the morning, since it’s an antihistamine as well. But I looked carefully at the ingredients, and the active ingredients are totally different. So I just switched to taking the Claritin in the morning, and no Alegra at all. It seems to work well. I’ve only had a few long-bone aches. Didn’t last long.

So I have trimmed the bangs on my long-haired rainbow cosplay wig. I still need to work on the long curls. I think conditioning, and combing, then forming and pinning the curls, and rinsing out the conditioner might work. We’ll have to see.

When you start each cycle, you’re supposed to make appointments for a blood draw at the end of the cycle. They do labs, and then you’re supposed to see the doctor to make sure you’re well enough to do the next cycle. I don’t know what happened, but somehow I got an appointment on the 24th for the blood draw, an appointment on the 25th to start the infusion, and an appointment LATER IN THE DAY with the doctor, for approval to start the next infusion…which I was supposed to have started earlier that day. I pointed the out to the scheduling desk, and they said they’d check into it and call me. Finally got it straightened out. But I think it’s a little inappropriate to expect the woman with chemo-brain to notice and get it straightened out. But what do I know. I’m just a woman with cancer.

So, sorry if this rambles, or ends on a down note. It’s not meant to, but you know, chemo-brain. I’m really thankful for all the friends who IM me to ask how I am, or if there’s anything I need. It’s nice to feel the love.

Cycle 1: Day 2 – A Running Log of Symptoms

(Edit:  I’m not documenting every day. So no daily update of symptoms. Nobody needs that. But I will try to post at the beginning of  each cycle.)

Today I get to have a shot which may 1: give me lots of energy for a few day, 2: make me even more emotional, and 3: make me irrationally irritated.

Yay. I’ve already warned my family of this. That it’s not them, hell it’s not even me; it’s the drugs.

I’ve figured out I need to carry the anti-nausea drugs around with me. Looks like I’ll have to start carrying a purse again.

Managed to hit the Orthodontist with the EOB from the insurance, stop and get a pair of sunglasses to replace the ones I left on Nerdboat, stop at Starbucks and get a frappuccino to replace the calories I haven’t been eating.

And now the heartburn, along with a stoned feeling, without anything that would cause that.

Oh yeah, very stoned feeling. Just not from any mj.

Dinner was ok, but got really sleepy afterwards. Managed to hold on till 8:45, and headed back to bed. Noticed I was very flushed, but no fever.

I think I slept for about 30 minutes, but my left leg got very twitchy. That’s not the one I normally have problems with. Ended up taking a lorazepam and slept like the dead till about 9 this morning.


Cycle 1, Day 1: Crickett's Big Adventure

Started chemo today. The actual infusion was a lot shorter than they’d led me to believe. But of course, they want to leave lots of time for Justin. You know, just in case the port had developed a clot that had to be dissolved first, just in case you have a reaction, that sort of thing. I thought it was going to be somewhere between 5-8 hours. It took 2.

The biggest issue *I* had was that the area around the port was still bruised and tender. Apparently it’s a little deeper than usual, too. My nurse took two attempts to connect correctly. Not living hell, but definitely painful. As was the disconnect. Hopefully it will be easier when the bruising heals.

I drove home fine, but quickly needed a nap. An hour later I was jerked out of bed by the need to take one of the nausea pills. Only pushed it down a little, which was better than nothing.

But there was still nausea. Not the “I’m going to throw up in the next few minutes” type, but rather the “I’m feeling a little green” type where you are producing a little too much saliva and you’re very conscious of the saliva glands under the tongue. So after a couple of hours I took a lorazepam as well.

Managed to get down some chicken soup, which helped a little. As did the tums. Then turned in early. The sleep was just glorious.

Oh Yeah, I Was Here To Drain The Swamp…

Ok, I’m waffling on the edge of being terrified.

First, the port placement, first set of blood draws, and first chemo appt have been set up. Once they had the correct insurance numbers, they wasted no time in heaping appointment after appointment on me. Surgery didn’t faze me at all. I went to sleep, and 9 hours later woke up with weird shaped boobs and scars for nipples. But the approach of chemo has me a little weirded out. There’s a list of symptoms that I may or may not get. And an even larger list of medications they promise will help with those symptoms. I don’t even want to the list of symptoms those medications may give me…or the list of medications for those symptoms. I’m just going to assume it’s an infinity mirror of symptoms and medications.

Second, the first insurance company sent us a refund check, but doesn’t explain what it’s for. I don’t believe that I have all the bills for up to February 28th. I don’t see where we’ve met the deductible (for that insurance company) yet. So a refund check feels a little fishy. I guess I should just cash it, and pay off some of the cancer debt. Probably just to turn around and accumulate more cancer debt. The new insurance is supposed to be better. I’m living on hope where that’s concerned.

Third, my daughter has braces. We worked out all the arrangements with the Orthodontist and the insurance company when that process started. Seems that the new dental insurance has a much lower cap, and now they want an Explanation of Benefits from the old dental insurance in order to figure out…something. I’m not clear on what. Why does the new insurance need to know what the old insurance has already paid, in order to figure out what THEY are going to pay? So I have to dig that paperwork up. All I really hear is cha-ching!

So I guess all in all, it’s just business as normal around here.Dazed and confused.