It’s that time again

I go to see Garrett for my three month check-up today. It seems like a lifetime ago that I sat in his office after having backslid a lot in my recovery.

Since that time in December, I’ve really gotten my act together. Completed the Mark Hyman 6 week cleanse (and continue to live by most of the tenets of the cleanse). Lost 14 pounds.  Rebuilt my stamina and endurance at the gym.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a ways to go. For example, I’m currently clocking an 18 minute mile. lol. But that’s a hell of a lot better than before. And my heart doesn’t race anymore. So I’m winning in my book!

Hopefully my tumor markers will come back in range and I’ll continue with this new, wonderful life of NED.

In other news, I recently came across this picture of me from my senior year in high school (check out those eyebrows!)

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I’m guessing that if I didn’t get chemo curls, my hair would be approaching that length by now. But alas, I got the curls — and am embracing them!

Happy Easter to you!

Happy Easter to you!

 

 

 

I’ve come a long way baby

One year ago today, I underwent my bi-lateral mastectomy (aka had my boobs chopped off).

365 days ago my husband, family and I drove to the Menlo Park Surgical Center in the dark hours of the morning. I checked in around 6:30am.  After filling out the requisite paperwork and meeting with my entire surgical team –we all buckled our seat belts for this crazy ride!

As I reflect back on this past year, I don’t really recall all of the pain and emotion (and trust me, there was LOTS of both — just ask my husband!).  Instead, I hear all of your voices and I see all of your emails and texts telling me how strong and courageous I am.  At the time, I thought to myself “What a silly thing to say. I’m no more strong or courageous than the next girl. Indeed, if the shoe were on the other foot, I guarantee you, you would also make the same choices as I without reservation. Because those are the choices you need to make in order to live.  It’s not really hard or courageous to decide to live. You just do what it takes — end of story.”

Now — I feel differently.  I no longer think it’s a silly thing to say to someone. Because gosh darn it — I AM GD STRONG.  I dealt with surgery and reconstruction. I endured 6 months of chemo. I lost all of my hair. I made it through chemo leaking into my body by mistake. I gritted my teeth for a mid-chemo port placement. I navigated that same port becoming infected and being removed a few weeks later. I logged lots of hours in ER’s and hospitals.  But in the end, I kicked cancer to the curb and I think I’m pretty frickin’ awesome for doing it!

So, thank you to each and every one of you who encouraged me along the way.  Especially Paul — I wouldn’t have made it without his endless love and support (I’m not always a peach to deal with — shocking, I know…).  I’m proud of us for making it through and I hope our story serves as a lighthouse in the storm for others who are newly embarking on their journey.

3 Month Check-Up

In the past two weeks I’ve met with both Dr. Hong and Dr. Smith for my three month check-up.

Dr. Hong said my implants are healing nicely. We talked through my concerns about shooting pain, scar tissue build up and itchiness (oh yeah, I don’t think I’ve mentioned the last one only blog yet. Yup, my implants itch from time to time — but there’s no way to scratch them and relieve the itchy sensation. Remember when you were little and got a cast on your arm or leg? — and it itched deep inside the cast, but you couldn’t reach that spot to scratch? Well that’s the sort of itching I’m talking about — but it’s my entire chest). He assured me that everything is healing fine and the pain and itching are my nerves/sensation coming back. Whoa! What?

I’ve spoken with a lot of recon survivors and most have little to no sensation. I prepared myself for that reality, and feel fortunate that I do have some feeling around the tops of my foobs. The other night I put Dr. Hong’s theory to the test. I closed my eyes and made Paul touch my foobs in different spots and I let him know when I could feel it. I got 9 out of 10!

For comparison sake, we did this same test a few months ago and I only felt about half of the time (the middle to lower part of my foobs being the trouble area).

I’m still not quite prepared to believe this yet — it’s seems a little too good to be true. But I’m keeping an open mind. When the pain or itch strike, I remind myself it’s for a greater cause and in the long run I’ll be so much happier if I can regain additional sensation — no matter how slight.

Dr. Hong also confirmed that I’m still swollen from the exchange surgery. Hopefully all that swelling will drain by December at our 6 month check-up appointment.

On to Garrett (aka Dr. Smith). My tumor marker was a 6 (yay!) and the rest of my bloodwork came back in range (although I did have a slightly elevated white blood cell count and slightly above normal temperature). I passed his physical exam as well. I was glad he really got into, and felt up, my foobs, armpits, ribs etc. I like knowing two of us are being vigilant and on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.

Oh, it’s also worth mentioning that I’m still a bit tachycardic. I have been ever since my Adria leak/port infection back in February. Right now, on a good day, my resting heart rate is in the high 70’s. More often than not, however, its in the high 80’s or 90’s. Which means when I exert myself a little (ie. go for a walk, do some squats etc) my heart rate shoots up to 120-155. That’s high people!

So, I really need to work on re-conditioning my body and getting my strength back. Nothing new about that last sentence! That’s what I work on everyday!

So, long story short. I’m still dancing with NED and will see both doctors again in December for my 6 month.

In celebration of this good news, I woke up this morning and dismantled the cancer TV in the armoire of our master bedroom and relocated it to the guest room. It’s a gigantic step for me mentally. I’m pretty damn proud of myself right now! Lol

Sayonara old pal. I hope you take as good care of our guests as you did me…

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Back to my old self!

Hello blogosphere! You’ll be happy to know that I am back amongst the living and feeling great! I’ve been home from the hospital for 11 days and each day I get stronger and feel healthier. Yay!

Thank you to all my visitors at CPMC (Bobby, Ami, Emily, Kellen, Shannon, Esther, Nina, Josh, Dr. Smith, Lisa, Valerie and Jordan) your company cheered me up SO much. And a huge thank you to everybody for all the virtual love from near and far. Your notes kept us going through that crazy week. I have my follow-up appointment with the infectious disease doctor later this week. Hopefully, she’ll be able to finally tell me the source of my infection — though we are all nearly positive it was my port. I got better almost immediately after that thing was taken out. In any event, I’ll let you know what I learn at my follow-up appointment.

Last week marked my official return to life. I had chemo on Wednesday and everything went well. No drama to report. On Thursday, my cousin Ruchi flew into town for the day. We hung out at the house for a bit…

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Then we went and got mani/pedis and had lunch at Tacolicious. The mani/pedi is HUGE news people. I hadn’t had my nails done since OCTOBER. I figured mani/pedis were off limits during chemo. I thought that I had to keep my nails pristine in order to monitor how weird and black they were turning. As it turns out, I was wrong. This is actually sort of a funny story….

When I was laid up in the hospital, Dr. Smith came to visit me. I was probably 4 days into my stay when he came by — so I was lookin’ pretty broke down by that point! While he was there, a nurse came in to check my vitals. I have to have the blood pressure cuff put on my leg because my arms are now off limits (my left arm is my surgical arm and my right arm is still healing from the Adria leak). So, I whipped my legs out from under the covers so that the nurse could put the cuff on — and I wasn’t wearing any socks. My nasty-ass non-pedicured toes were revealed in all of their grossness! But, as I said, I was 4 days into my stay at this point, so my “give-a-shit” was WAY gone. A few minutes later, after all the other doctors and nurses had cleared the room, Dr. Smith went to town! He was joking around with me and said something to the effect of “between your crazy, mis-matched outfit (I had on dark multi-colored striped fleece PJ bottoms, a hospital gown, a grey robe, my purple neckwarmer/hat and not a lick of make-up) and your disgusting toes, I have expect to see you pushing a shopping cart around out there on Fillmore.” LOL. OMG. Did my oncologist just tell me a look like a bag lady? Yes, yes he did!

It was the perfect bit of levity and came at a much needed time. All of us in the room, had a really good laugh. Then, Dr. Smith went on to tell me that I can indeed take care of my nail “situation” so long as I don’t let them cut my cuticles — everything else was just fine!

So embarrassing! I’m happy to report that I’m sporting my signature Essie Wicked once again. Phew!

Since Ruchi was here for literally one day, we had to pack a lot in! So, I took a quick cat nap after lunch and then we went down to Burlingame to have dinner with Bob, Sarah and Grace. Paul was able to join us too! Here are a few more pics from that day:

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You know I’m feeling like my old self again when I want to head out of the house (as opposed to Paul dragging me out!). This past weekend, I suggested that we head over to the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building. We had a great lunch…

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And walked around all the stalls — where picked up some lavender

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and six bunches of delicious smelling freesia (my new favorite)!

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With all of our treasures safely tucked away — we went home and I nested for the rest of the day! Once Paul tucked me in at home, he headed down to Half Moon Bay to squeeze in a round of golf. I am proud to say that he shot a 78. He birdied 18 and all the people sitting in the adirondack chairs at the Ritz Carlton fire pit clapped for him. So proud of my bubba!

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This week is going to be equally as fun. I have a ton of lunches and dinners planned. I’m not letting chemo stand in my way anymore!

O.M.G. I forgot to report the best part of my visit with Dr. Smith in the hospital. This is such a great way to end this post! You all are going to LOVE this!

I asked him what happens once I’m done with all my chemo. Do I have some final test that confirms whether or not I’m cancer free? — or as they say in the medical world “NED” which stands for “No Evidence of Disease”. He responded that there will not be a magic test at the end of all of this and that’s because I am already NED! Wha? Yup. You read that correctly, I’ve been dancing with NED ever since they cut the tumor out during my bi-lateral back in November (where we got clean margins and no lymph node involvement). Holy shitballs. AMAZE.

See, I told you it was a good way to end this entry! Yay! Have a great week all!

xoxo