Sunday, August 22, 2010

cigarettes. Yup, I was a smoker. Key word is WAS! My last cigarette was on Saturday, July 24. I was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, July 25. Nothing like hearing the c word to convince you to quit. I had quit in the past but I have no will power. At least I didn't think I did. So far I haven't used anything to aid in my cessation. No patch, pill, gum, etc. It's been pure cold turkey, I can't even believe it myself. It helps that I've been staying with my parents since my diagnosis. I know once I go back home and get into my normal routine I might need some help. In fact on Thursday my Dad took me to my condo to pick up my truck. The radiation obviously has worked some because I can see well enough to drive now. The problem is I always smoked when I was behind the wheel. It felt kind of funny driving myself to work without smoking, but I did it and I will continue to do it for the rest of my life!

Speaking of work, the photos show the beautiful picture window that is right behind my desk. All day long my view is of all of the other smokers in the building. What bothers me most isn't the fact that they're smoking right in front of me, but that they are smoking where they aren't supposed to! There is a designated smoking area one level down in the parking garage. I always made sure that I smoked where I was supposed to. I always considered myself to be a polite smoker. I never smoked near children, the elderly, or anyone who looked like they might be ill. I never smoked in large crowds or at the bus stop (it used to piss me off when someone did that, they were giving smokers a bad rep). I always asked friends if it was ok to smoke in their cars or homes, I never assumed even if they were smokers themselves. I even felt bad smoking in restaurants (when you could still do that in the Metro area) because it always went into the non-smoking area.

My intent with this post is not to preach or lecture about the dangers of smoking. I'm not going to start approaching people and tell them they should quit. It was my choice to smoke, no one forced me to do so. It just really makes you think, if I never started or at least if I quit much sooner would I have gotten cancer? I always thought that millions of people smoke and they don't all get cancer. I was playing the odds, unfortunately I was betting with my life. Who knows, it may not have been a factor. I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I quit now and I don't intend to ever start again!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

confirmation. Waiting for confirmation. I had my appointment with the oncologist today only to find out that they need to determine if I am HER2 positive or negative to see what type of treatment I can receive. That is going to take until at least next Thursday, August 19th! HER2 is a protein that if I am positive for can mean an extra drug known as a Herceptin added to my treatment. It is also a more aggressive form of breast cancer.

I have finished 9 of my 15 scheduled radiation treatments and I won't be able to start any other treatments until that is done, and beyond (the effects last for a little while after they're done zapping me). My father and I met with a research nurse at the oncologist today and she gave us some information on some clinical trials that I can take part in. Not sure if that is the way we are going to go. There is alot of information out there, alot of side effects, and alot of unknowns. I may just decide to take the basic chemo that we know works, the standard of care. In two weeks I will be attending a chemo class to learn about the different forms and different ways chemo is administered. I am actually looking forward to that, I like to learn and this is something that you hear about from different people, but I need to see for myself what I am about to go through.

I am slowly trying to return to my normal routine. I have gone back to work but it isn't easy. Because of a steroid  I have been taking, I have been getting less than 2 hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks and it is catching up to me. I feel loopy and it's hard to concentrate on anything at work (I haven't messed anything up yet). The doctor did say today that if you have two patients, one who stays in bed all day and one who stays active, one has an advantage over the other. I'm doing everything I can for that advantage (plus I really like my job and I want to give my Dad a break during the day). Don't worry, I'm not pushing myself too much. I know to ask for help if I need it, and I'm not afraid to say 'Uncle' if need be.

Anyway, I wish I had more info to share at this time. I promise to keep everyone updated as I know more.

Monday, August 9, 2010


cooking. That's basically what they are doing to my skull through XRT, or X-ray Therapy (radiation). First they made a 3-D mask of my face and they use that to strap me down and zap me. It's pretty quick, one minute on each side of my head. I'm scheduled for 15 total radiation treatments. Tomorrow I get to see my Dr. and hopefully she'll tell me it's working. As for where the mass is actually located, picture the bone in your skull that is where your nasal cavity is. It's this bone that your brain rests on. It is also where the optic nerves pass through which is why I'm having double/blurry vision. It's not too bad, I obviously can see the computer and I can still read my books. The trouble is outside in bright light and if there are distractions. I can't drive is the main thing. I'm super lucky to have a retired father who is now my full time chauffeur. It's hard to lose some of my independence but I know in time I'll be able to do for myself again.

Tomorrow is my appointment with my Oncologist. That is when I find out the result of the biopsy they took in the hospital and the rest of the treatment I will have to undertake, chemo and possibly hormone therapy, whatever it takes. I know it's going to be a long road, anything worth doing takes time.

Other than cooking my skull, I need to learn how to cook for myself better. It can be difficult to cook for one, the stores just don't sell alot of individual portions and I find it easier to order out. But when I get home, thanks to my parents, I have a nice clean kitchen to start with and I'm going to make the effort. I'm eating well at Mom and Dad's and I don't want that to end :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

canine companionship. Ok, so this is going to be more of a fluff piece, literally! If you are out of my Facebook loop and haven't seen the 8,000 pics of my baby girl, she is very fluffy :) She is my 8 year old 130 lb rottweiler and I don't think I would have the attitude I do without her. Luckily she loves my parents and they love her back. When I entered the hospital last Sunday evening, it was a long night of tests. My parents left around 3 Monday morning and Mom went to my condo to pick up her granddogter. Of course she was an angel, she loves riding in the car with her Grandma :) It was Wednesday afternoon when I was finally allowed to come home and I couldn't wait to see her. She has been a Momma's girl from the start but right away I noticed something different. She won't leave my side (unless Grandma takes her for a walk). I go to the bathroom, she waits outside the door. I get up just to look out the window and her eyes never leave me. If you have never felt unconditional love, go to the shelter a pick up a puppy. I know because of her I am going to live a long and healthy life, I just wish she would be with me until the end. My family loves me, my friends love me, but there is nothing like the look in Bela's eyes when I tell her I love her. She says it back without saying a word :)