Tonight I opted to snuggle the kids in my bed instead of following our normal routine. First was Beckham. He is normally too wiggly to let me hold him for long, but he laid snug up under my chin and let me comb his summer-white hair with my fingers. “Mom? I wish Santa could take Breast cancer away for all of the other moms. Then, the kids wouldn’t have to worry about their moms and I could just have my mom back to normal again.” I explained the best way that I could how I wished the same, and that I was sorry I wasn’t my normal self.
Ailee joined us after a few minutes and she wanted more clarification on timeframes. Countdowns are important to her. “When will they take your breasts, Mom? Before your birthday? Will you be home for my birthday?” I explained that Gram and Grampa would be so happy to help for her birthday if I couldn’t, and her party will be just as fun as ever.
Grammy and Grandps took all three (!) kiddos to finish up school shopping today. Beckham and Ailee needed shoes, and a couple of items we hadn’t gotten from the classroom lists. Kayla tagged along to make sure that Gram and Grandpa were still alive by the end of it. Thank God for my mom and dad. I think they saved me today.
I expected today to be pretty low energy for myself. I knew it would be kind of a “crash” after chemotherapy. The reasoning is that I’m no longer on steroids, the chemotherapy has started to kick in, and my body understands that something is trying to fight against this cancer. it’s a bizarre balance between pain and fogginess. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I’m trying to keep my spirits high, and it really helps that my parents were here to help today.
Tomorrow will be my first day at work after my first dose of chemotherapy. I’m not really nervous, just worried that I’ll be tired. It’s not really in my nature to ever be tired.
Today is considered day 3 of my chemo cycle. I had the most symptoms yesterday with fatigue (I finally had a nap!), numbness in my hands and forearms and the first sign of nausea (while riding in the car with K driving).
Today is a bit different. I woke up hungry, ate an amazing breakfast prepared by my very own B. Nausea came on quicker than I could manage. I’m glad it’s summer so I can sit outside and escape the smells.
Everyday I find so much love from my friends, neighbors, family and townspeople. I never imagined I’d be sorrounded like this.
Tuesday evening is haircut day! I’m so looking forward to it and I’m so ready!!!! Mel is an artist like I’ve never met before. She knows my hair, she knows my style she knows me. I love her and I trust her with every strand on my head (no pressure, Mel!).
As I write, the nausea has disappated and my steroids kicked in so I’m in full on cleaning mode.
Here I am, finally getting out of bed after 2 hours of laying there restless (mind you, I could barely sit up straight with exhaustion before mustering up the energy to get to bed last night). The steroids pumped in with the chemo drugs are keeping me awake. My heart is racing as thought I’ve been at the gym for 30 minutes or so, my hands are asleep and I’m hot-flashing like I just ate a handful of ghost-chili peppers.
I anticipated that I would have side effects. It’s what happens with any medication, but especially chemo. The one I am dreading the most is losing my hair. It’s been long for so many years and I’ve got about 1-2 more week(s) without it falling out rapidly. As I have maybe mentioned before, Ailee is the most afraid the hair loss. She wants to touch my hair and run her hands thorough it. She comments on it everyday, which she rarely did before. If her dad has tucked her in, she wants to make sure she comes to find me so we can pray about death, cancer and hair. Her favorite prayer is “the prayer me and mom made up one day while we were laying in my bed. It’s called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”. Bless her little 7-year-old heart.
With that being said, I contacted the only woman I trust to help me through this transition. She actually sent me a message just after I found out to let me know she would help me any way she could during this transition. This morning, after little sleep and tons of weirdness with these side effects, I realized I am ready. I need to prepare myself and my family for this to happen. I likely won’t go that short, but something in the middle of what I have and what it will be. It seems I might need to pray about it too.
When we got home yesterday, there was food for my family from a very dear friend, a beautiful quilt from my church quilters, and a very messy house. I’ll admit, that might be why I was having hot-flashes (but not really).
I left the infusion room yesterday with a device on my stomach that will give me a dose of medication 27 hours after I was completed with that round of chemo. In the past, patients would have to return to the clinic a day after chemotherapy and get a shot. This device is about the size of a square of floss, 2 inches by 1 inch and sticks out about 1/2 inch. It beeps when activated and then it lights up approximately every 4 seconds. It’s just a small laser of light that surely can be seen from miles away even with layers of clothing. I chose this over coming back to the clinic.
I have 3 more rounds of this type of chemotherapy which will end on my September 11th birthday. After that, we I will have another CT scan to determine if the cancerous lymph nodes are shrinking and I am responding to chemotherapy. Then I will start weekly doses of a different chemo drug that is a bit different and requires me to have a driver. For this, I believe I will be leaning on friends that might be available to help get me to and from appointments.
The side effects of cancer if I don’t get treatment and deal with the side effects of chemo? Eventual certain death.
I will fight this fight and in the process lose my boobs and my hair, but that will only be what others see with their eyes.
OH! I almost forgot! My PET scan shows NO cancer anywhere that we didn’t already know about!
I’d totally be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But isn’t every new thing a little bit scary? And with every new experience isn’t life a little richer with understanding?
This is it. My last night. Tomorrow is the beginning of the new me. The new cancer-free version.
This has all been very surreal since the beginning. The day I walked in the clinic to tell the PA that I thought I felt a lump and seeing her fresh-faced look of sympathy when she felt it too. The day I was told that I’d be able to have a mastectomy and the cancer would be gone. The day I got the phone call and was told that the cancer had spread. The day I told my mom. The day I told my husband and asked him to feel it too. The day my brother sent me the most heartfelt message I’ve ever gotten in my life. All of it. So many tears have been spent and so many more people have seen me cry than I ever thought possible. But every single one of them has offered a hug and a shoulder and endless amounts of support.
Today I got a card in the mail from a friend that I’ve had since elementary school. The card was short and sweet but meant so much. A few of my neighbors rallied around me this evening to offer even more support (and wine!).
Today the COO of my company (who is female!!!) reached out to me to let me know I’m in her thoughts and prayers. In that moment all I could think of is all of the hard work that I have done to get me where I am at but in that moment, All I could say to her was, “don’t forget about me!” She must’ve heard a sob it my voice and she said, “oh, Beth. I won’t forget about you. You do you. Take all the time you need to get better.”
When I picked up the kids today from Steph’s house, I knew they had been up to something. Sure enough, they presented me with my very own pillow to take with me to chemo. And not just some regular old pillow, but this amazing neck pillow that I will cherish forever.
Life is so good.
Thank you to every single person that has reached out to me. I am finding great strength and comfort in it all.
Today was the first day post-port placement. I woke up with the most heavy, searing pain in my chest and for a moment had forgotten why. I think I was surprised at the pain I was still feeling, and knew there was little relief to be had for the day. I couldn’t sit up, I had to kind of roll out of bed. The pain was this kind of mixture between having strep throat, being stabbed in the chest, and having a really stiff neck. OK, maybe not that bad (remember I NEVER exaggerate!). I knew today would be a long day, and I also knew I likely had lingering effects from the fentanyl/versed cocktail from yesterday (mostly fatigue).
The thing that amazes me the most is how many times in the day I look around at the people that appear healthy and wonder what underlying situations might be nagging them. I continually hear of so many young women being diagnosed of this nasty disease in some form or another.
Two more sleeps until chemotherapy begins. I’m not that nervous anymore. I think Brad wants to plan ahead and clear the weekends to make sure I can rest. That makes me roll my eyes. Rest? Stupid. What a waste of time. I say this after a day of yawning and feeling exhausted.
Near the end of the day at work, there was a mysterious envelope waiting for me. My coworkers had given me a generous gift that brought me to tears, followed by sobs, followed by snot, followed by me forgetting that I had taken my Kleenex out of my office (isn’t it ironic…dontcha think?). I only had the chance to long distance hug a couple of people (due to port situation) and that always makes me feel very, very, very uncomfortable anyway, but this time-not so much.
This support that I am feeling is indescribable.
One of my dear friends is going to skydive in my name in the hopes of raising money to “make a difference in the lives of cancer patients by providing financial assistance with expenses during treatment and recovery.” I can only imagine how much fun that will be (mostly because I am terrified of heights, like don’t-drive-over-that-bridge type of scared, or avoiding people-hole covers in the streets and sidewalks because WHO KNOWS HOW DEEP THAT HOLE IS! and REMEMBER THE NURSE THAT CALLED ME FAT AND “the ZIPPER INCIDENT?” if you have forgotten this we surely cannot be friends) and am so thankful to have her surround me with encouragement in exactly her style.
Some beautiful things from beautiful people were waiting for me when I needed it the most! I hope you know how much I love you! You make this cadence much easier to March to ❤️💪
I can handle pain. In the name of all things that are holy, this is pain I wasn’t expecting.
The port is placed and I’m sure tomorrow will be better, but for today? OMG. It hurts to breathe or turn my head, so I’m choosing to lay in bed after attempting an outing to the store (with a driver) where I forgot what I was going to the store for and had to ask three separate times what I needed to buy. I am however very thankful for this port. Every time I’ve gone to the doctor in the last three weeks I’ve had to be stuck at least four to eight times at each visit for either a blood draw or an IV. Not once has the first two or three times been successful. My veins haven’t been cooperating so I’m a way, this port is a blessing.
I went to work this morning, and when I got to my home my dad was waiting for me taking a nap on the couch just like when I was a little girl. He was quick to liven up and chatter away giving me lots and lots of advice about my day (you must meet Dwight, he is amazing!). We chatted about normal things on the way, and a little bit about my brother and his wife because that’s usually what’s on the top of my dad’s mind ( Derek has always been the favorite ❤️, but it’s easy to understand why).
This morning I had to drain my seroma as I couldn’t take it ANYMORE! The pressure of that building up against my tumor was too much. Especially on my dominant side. Sleeping has been difficult and I think about it All. Day. Long. Today it felt a zillion times better!
Here is my day in photos! My Dad and me, my chest before the port and just post op.
Port will be placed and I’ll be well on my way to being cancer-free. My dad will take me (since I have to be sedated) and I’m not quite sure all that the procedures will entail.
I continue to be surrounded by amazing people. My neighbors are so helpful and kind, my Mom (who hasn’t retired yet) would drop anything to come help me. I feel the bits of middle-child-syndrome melt away more and more as I move along in my diagnosis and treatments.
I so wish I had family closer. It seems that 1.25 hour trip or 3 hour trip for the Harrison side with 2-3 kids is difficult to plan around sometimes.
I’m feeling the need to plan out my weekends so I have little time to have my mind wander. The only question now is: will I still have hair when we go to that?
Photo is at a bar-bistro in Isle. My Beckham thought this was pretty cool.