Sweater Weather

We’re mostly packed up and ready to leave town for our last Christmas celebration when I’m reminded to grab a swimsuit in case we decide to swim. Are you kidding me?! It’s winter. Sweater season and mere hours since I ate all of the cheese and crackers I could manage forgetting briefly that I’m no longer “harvesting “breasts”” and need to seriously and drastically tone up.

Anyway. Back to the swimsuit. I can say with absolute certainty that I cannot remember the last time I wore a swimsuit. So long ago that I had a completely different body. Summer 2018, I was banned from swimming in lakes and couldn’t be in the sunshine because of the fresh scars, so I was definitely not getting into a swimsuit.

So back to today. I could grab that old swimsuit that goes with that old body or show off this brand-new, cheese-and-crackers Christmas body as I say goodbye to a year that I’m cancer-free.

Never Too Late

In four days, I will officially be one year out from my mastectomies. Medically speaking, I had a left “simple” mastectomy and a right “radical” mastectomy with lymphectomy (there has to be a joke hidden in there somewhere).

At that time, in that space, I was bald, working a lot and had just finished my last round of chemotherapy. My life was so upside down, I was literally only surviving.

I always thought that childbirth would be the most magical and amazing thing that my body would be capable of, but I was so wrong.

Cancer. It’s so crazy for me to even say it. When I stop to think about this last year and the pieces of it that I even remember (chemo brain. It’s a very real thing), I can’t believe what my body has endured. So many surgeries and an entire transformation from a long-haired healthy woman to a bald cancer patient and now back to a short-haired survivor. I’m still just barely making it and teeter on that knife edge of hope and despair, joy and pain, life or death.

Cancer has completely changed me as a person. I don’t want to waste time on things that don’t matter to me or those relationships that just aren’t worth it. I want to do good. I feel a need to be better. I want to give more.

I try to teach my kids to make a positive difference every single day. Make someone smile. Buy that coffee for the next person. Hold the door for the person walking. Fall in love. Volunteer. Say hello. Something. Just do it.

Be the good.

Oncology Break

I have been sicker this last week than I had been throughout my entire chemo stint.

After my ER trip last weekend, I went to my Oncologist Monday where he confirmed that yes, I have a pleural effusion and he prescribed ALL the drugs. Steroids (ugh, the puffy face!), antibiotics and pain medication (to help with the pain in my ribs and to suppress my cough). Around Thursday, I felt like I could breathe again, at least a little.

Friday rolled around and I had my standing date with my oncologist. This appointment was for a different purpose entirely. Dr. A doesn’t mess around or mince words.

New findings: pleural effusion, granulomatous disease (I’ll probably never notice) and post operative (normal) changes since my last scan.

I’ve graduated to 6 month appointments. 🙌

No cancer.

Heart Attack? Nah.

Post op one month has me feeling pretty good!  Well, up until a week or so ago.
It was a Thursday, I believe.  I was cleaning out my bathroom cupboards and enjoying a glass of wine, and I found myself having chest pains.  Being that I have an incredibly high tolerance for pain, I wasn’t sure what was up.  Maybe I pulled a muscle working out or doing yoga?  Maybe I pushed myself more than I should have on my run?  It felt like I had a charlie horse in the middle of my chest.  I took inventory of where my phone was, and I knew I could call for help if I needed to, but soon enough, this charlie horse became too painful to tolerate.  I couldn’t reach for my phone to call 911 and I didn’t have a voice, so I did what came natural and I laid down.

I think I was there for about 20 minutes (it felt like FOREVER!) before anyone really noticed.  Sure enough, Brad came up and asked if I needed to go to the ER.  I was DEFINITELY not going to survive a drive there, so my only option was 9-1-1.  I asked Brad to give me drugs.  All of them.  Make this heart-attack stop.  I couldn’t talk and had such a hard time breathing…  When was it going to end?

Eventually, I got some water and over-the-counter medications and laid there for another 20 minutes or so.  I could feel the cramping relieve, so I knew I was in the clear.

Fast forward a week.  Sunday morning, the day of Ailee’s birthday party and I found myself having another episode.  Whatever this was, it was becoming unbearable.  I got my butt out of bed and was in So.Much.PAIN.  I honestly thought that it was The End.  I don’t remember how I got dressed or what I did to get in the car, but I drove myself to the ER in St. Cloud.  Lucky for me, I was early enough in the morning to avoid the rush.  I walked up to the receptionist and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”  She took me right back, put me on monitors and took my vitals.  Long story short?  Pleural effusion or fluid build-up  The cause of pleural effusion in my situation can be one of a few things.

  1.  Fluid build up near my lungs after surgery, just now rearing it’s ugly head.
  2. Breast cancer in my lung
  3. Secondary cancer caused by radiation treatment

If you recall, I had lymph nodes that were on my chest wall that couldn’t be reached via surgery, so radiation therapy was supposed to take care of them. We never really get to know if they were completely taken care of…

Today I will go see my oncologist.  A bit earlier than my scheduled quarterly time.  I’m not sure if he will drain the fluid or how else he might treat it, but a biopsy is likely.

Here’s to hoping it’s not cancer again.