The Anniversary of the Braless Year- And Those Results.

A lot of friends have asked, and I’m so not sure I’m ready to talk about it, my results from my appointment at the Cancer Center. While it isn’t cancer (at least in my lungs), I had some incredible things happen.

I hadn’t been feeling great. Wasn’t sure if it was stress (I mean… the end of the semester can change a human into a monster. I am not innocent), or if I had the crud that was traveling swiftly from person to person. All I knew was that my chest really hurt and my heart was beating out of my chest on the regular. I’d been really tired and feeling overall weird. Like something was way off.

When I arrived at my checkup, one of the first things they did was take my blood pressure. Now, I exercise almost every single day. I work hard at the gym and at home. I weight-lift, cardio, yoga…. you name it, I practice it. Normally my blood pressure is 100/60. I’ve had it taken so frequently in the last two years that I can say with absolute certainty, my baseline BP is normally low. At my appointment, it started at 168/102. Clearly not just stress-induced, something was wrong. My blood pressure was taken several more times, only to find it hover right around 168/102. My temp was normal and I was just feeling weird, but not sick.

After speaking with my provider, she and I decided I might have a blood clot in my lungs, causing my reduction in lung capacity and also the overall spacey feeling I had. She got me into CT within the hour. I had a damn needle the size of the Statue of Liberty rammed into my hand for the contrast dye, and swiftly had my CT taken. Fast forward to the next day, when my provider calls me and gives me her direct line in the voicemail to please call her back to talk about my results.

Let me tell you something. When you’ve had cancer and you have something happened during an appointment that changes the course of the day and the appointment and then your provider leaves you a message to call her directly, you assume things aren’t great.

I obviously called her back immediately and she began to explain what she saw in my CT scan. No blood clot, no cancer, but I have emphysema. Emphysema. And, a fatty liver. She further explained that my liver function tests were superb so that it likely was not a connection between alcohol and a fatty liver. First off, I was really pissed that she was calling me fat in any capacity. Secondly, what the heck. As she and I were talking some things started to become familiar to me in our conversation. I hadn’t quite put it together. So, I called my mom.

Now, there’s something about speaking medically to someone that understands and has input. It makes me very happy.

As I was explaining and thinking out loud, I recalled bits and pieces of my childhood that spoke of a particular auto-immune disease that my dad has. My mom and I came to the same conclusion. Clearly I have the same thing Dwight has.

Well, my doctor made a few changes to my regime. Stop taking my Tamoxifen (anti-cancer medicine) and get that damn blood pressure down. Then come back for more tests.

Ugh. So. I’ll learn more soon. After more tests. For now, figure out what is causing my BP to want to kill me and medicate me for that. Then survive Christmas.

Also, it’s the anniversary of saying goodbye to my boobs. Here’s a few pics with a wig that showed up in my memories. You’ve been warned. Some are graphic.

Finals Week

Nothing can prepare me enough for these visits. I am crazy with anxiety. Can’t eat, can’t sleep and I’m a total B to be around.

Today is the day, every few months again, that I come in for all the tests. Poking and prodding, squeezing and pinching…. doctors, nurses, PAs and my case worker again.

Today is hard. I’m pretty sure I’m the youngest patient here by 15 years. It really doesn’t make me feel any better.

I ran into a couple that I’m friends with as soon as I came in. They were escorting his mom to her appointment. She had breast cancer too, and she was clear for awhile, but now she is back and it’s elsewhere.

I want to take it from her. I want to let her walk out of here without pain and without more treatments. I feel the entire gamut of emotions… anger, love, camaraderie… and complete helplessness.

So, here we go. Today is the day. So, I’ll sit here, I’ll cry a bit and I’ll worry like crazy, but it could always be worse.

How appropriate that it’s finals week.

Selfish Selfie

Two years ago, it would’ve been hard to find a picture of me. There’s a few from random times where I’ve asked to document something or when I feel like it’s a memory that the kids might want to have. But really, just a handful of them. I started to try to document myself more when I found out I was sick. I wanted my kids to at least remember what I look like. I wanted them to have as many pictures as I could and I wanted them to see how hard I tried to beat this. So, I may have been bald, but at least I was smiling, right?

For the life of me, I desperately wanted to dig back into pictures and find those of me where I still had hair and still looked, well, not sick. Ive never considered myself pretty. In fact I never could embrace my mousey brown hair, my small rear or my dimples that have turned into wrinkles. My philosophy about photos was that nobody wanted to look at them anyway.

Presently, I take pictures because these are the ones I was digging for that I never found during cancer. When I wanted to look at pictures to pick out my wig (the medical terminology is a hair prosthetic 🙄) I didn’t have any to compare to. I remember when I was funeral planning (more like a death party) and wondering what pictures would even be available for the corny slideshow of my life. Was Kayla going to have to dig up all the things like senior pics and pictures from my brother’s wedding? Ugh.

In 2020, I vow to talk a lot less about the time when I was sick and attempt to fill my brain with more positive thoughts. I hope to squeeze out as much of the dark as I can.

The statistics lately have been killing me. I’ll make bets with myself as to which cancer it’ll be that takes me. I definitely wonder if it’s already happening. I’m kind of tired of thinking about it.

I’m ready to feel the good.

Winter, And Then Some

Sometimes, I just need a little nudge. Or a hug (I’m getting better at them), or maybe just a kind word.

There are so many days I wonder if I deserve to have lived this far. I’ve sinned, I haven’t prayed for a couple of days, I haven’t been to see my church family (oh! How I miss them!) and I haven’t been fostering too many relationships either. Look how many people are not so fortunate. I’m almost ashamed to say that I made it. Survivors guilt, they tell me. Survived stage IIIc. Not too many come back from there.

I’ve done some great things, though. I volunteer and I donate resources and time. I give endlessly. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t agree to do something for the benefit of others, but somehow, it doesn’t feel good enough.

The post-cancer world is so damn difficult. It’s strange interacting with new people. They didn’t know me before. They didn’t see the woman that I was before my body tried to kill itself. They don’t know that I didn’t chose this hair or this body, but I’m dealing with it. They dint know that I’m in Fuc4ing menopause or that I take handfuls of medication everyday.

I still have tons of daily pain. I wake up to a stiff chest and have to turn my neck from side to side in the mornings so I don’t pull something. My muscles and my muscular attachments aren’t where they were intended to be anymore. Along with the scar tissue, my right side hurts. Remnants of radiation therapy still exist. It hurts to move my right arm. Kind of like day 2 after a really, really tough workout. Not intolerable, but constant reminders of cancer.

My therapy for the pain? Working out, cleaning my house, connecting with humans. Anything to distract me from what was and what could be.

I’ve decided to wait until Jan 2 to pick up my damn hearing aids. I was supposed to get them tomorrow, but I’ll start the new year off with a bang, I guess. I have a couple of appointments yet in December, so I am attempting to budget (if you know anyone who can really budget at Christmastime?! Puuuhhhllllleeeeezzze!) for my sweet new addition.

Tonight I’m not feeling awesome. I just finished three classes, finals for the students is swiftly approaching and personally, I’m struggling.

This is so hard today. Is it still cancer? Is it just life? Why am I not rejoicing? When will this get easier?

I have my cancer appointments coming up on the 17th. The stress of it always makes me have a few minor meltdowns. It feels like a crapshoot as to what he’ll tell me this time. Is it back? Am I dying? Now more than ever, the statistics are killing me. Originally I had a 30% chance of making it 5 years. It’s been 2. What the hell are they now?!

Tonight I’ll celebrate the little things…. one of which is NOT all the damn snow.