The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of tests, diagnosis and treatments. Working in the medical field and being someone that reads continually about all types of things, especially the ones effecting me, I was not planning on being surprised by my reactions to treatment of my breast cancer. I knew the terms, the side effects, when and what was going to happen, but somehow it did not prepare me one little bit. Perhaps it was the changing diagnosis, perhaps my sometimes too happy go lucky look at life, I guess I will never know. No matter the reason, I have found this is going to be a much harder journey than I thought.
The last several nights I wake every hour to hour and a half having a huge hot flash. My lips are continually tingling. I’m always nauseous and extremely tired. I really and truly feel terrible. Now my understanding is that these feelings are cumulative, meaning to me that it’s only going to get worse. I woke this morning feeling so mad, angry, kicking myself for thinking I was strong enough to handle this like every other tough thing that has come along in my life before this. I mean people all over the world are having the same thing done and I don’t hear a bunch of whining about it. So what’s my issue? I woke feeling bad and decided I had to force myself to act alive so I would start feeling alive again. I dressed, took the dog for a walk, (big yellow gloves on my hands since I’m not supposed to pick up dog feces now) and just forced myself to walk around the block with Voldie. Well we did it and nothing terrible happened. So then I straightened up the kitchen a little and sliced strawberries for the strawberry shortcake I was making for my son John’s birthday today. As you know it ended up being an extremely hot day and I called my son John to come over and put in my window unit AC. I can’t even think about how I’d manage to sleep if I was hot and feeling this crappy. So after getting that all taken care of we walked down to the lake and sat under a tree for a little while and I breathed in the fresh air. I was tired, but it felt like a real tired…not a foggy tired the way I’ve been feeling the last few days. It felt good to actually feel tired from doing something instead of from just breathing.
I had to admit a few things to myself today and that too was harder than I thought. I have to admit I’m afraid, I’m very afraid that I’m not going to come through this like I originally thought. I’m afraid I won’t ever be the same person I was before. I’m afraid this will kill me. I’m afraid to die. That is something I never thought I would feel and I think accepting it is just what I need to start my next steps forward. When I woke this morning I was thinking this was just the first thing. I still have seven more chemo treatments. I still have surgery. I still have radiation and even then I may still have more chemo. How in the world will I make it through this? I pouted, cried, kicked a few things on the floor and then I put one foot in front of the other and walked out the door into the world.
I have metastatic invasive ductal carcinoma, I have breast cancer. I’m going through chemotherapy treatment with surgery and radiation to follow. It is going to be a long year with many battles and I’m going to have to tighten my belt and hold up my head and keep moving forward. I no longer think I’m a rock that can take whatever is thrown at me. I think I understand that I am just a woman who is fighting for her life. I have so many people on my side, pulling for me and giving me all kinds of positive energy that I need so very much. I have the ability to get this done and see it through, but I have to accept that there is the possibility that I won’t and be okay with that as well. I’m working on my health and working to fight this thing back, but I’m also going to work on my inner self. I am going to allow myself the bad days and enjoy the good days. I don’t know where all this is leading and I can only just go through the motions while I find out. This is my journey and it’s not going to be like his or hers or theirs, it’s going to be mine and what comes, will come.
Tomorrow is a new day and more steps for me. I will take them as I can and accept when I can’t. At least that is where I am at this moment. I have a loving family and I am so very blessed to have had the life I have had thus far. I am humbled and perhaps that will be my path into the future.
We left out of the house and it was raining and dreary out, matching my mood to a T. We were running a tad behind and I truly hate being late to anything. There was not much traffic and we were right on time. First we went up to see Dr. Mauer and get my PET scan results. It’s for sure, I do have metastasis in several lymph nodes, and either a out of place lymph node or an outer portion of my right upper lung, just below the tumor. She said the only way to know for sure would be to take it out and she didn’t want to do that. So the plan for now is 7 more treatments with chemo, every 2 weeks. Then another PET scan and probably labs and echo’s and stuff in between. Then if things have gone right the mastectomy, then radiation to those spots they can’t get to, then possibly more chemo. It’s going to be a long road, but one I’m feeling better prepared for day by day. Talking to my family, friends and partner Telle keeps me in focus and on track.
While in to see Dr. Mauer I explained to her that I sometimes get hives for no particular reason, but normally under high stress or when something irritates my skin. I can write my name on my arm with my fingernail and a Kelly hive will appear…lol. Well they said no one ever gets hives so nothing to worry about. They brought in a bunch of medical supplies and I asked if they were for my brand new port. Why yes they are the nurse tells me. I quickly ask about the numbing cream I have recently heard about. We will be sending that home with you she says, for next time. But none for this time I ask – almost whining. No, sorry it has to be put on for a while before hand I guess. Anyway, she stuck the needle device into my chest and into the port. It stung, but it was more the pressure on the new port that still aches as they just cut open my chest and stuck it in there 2 days before. Over all not so bad at all. They draw blood out of the port for a pre-chemo lab test and then walk us back to the chemo area. There are several other people there having chemo treatment for several different reasons and again I was reminded how lucky I have actually been. I settle back in my comfy chair, turn the tv on and get ready to chat and play games on my phone with Telle.
The nurse comes in with the first part of the chemo. It’s in these ominous red vials. She inserts the first one and starts to inject. She asks if I’m having any unusual symptoms. I immediately felt a hot pressure under my breast bone and a unbelievable need to vomit. I sat up and asked for a bag or something and they brought in something for me. I coughed a few times and sat back. She asked if everything was okay and I said yes except for the tingling in my gums over my two front teeth…how very strange. Then the nurse puts my face in her hands and turns my head from side to side looking concerned. I thought she was looking at my red chin…I have rosacea and let her know that was common. She said no, that wasn’t what she was looking at. Hives were breaking out on my face. Then my stomach started itching and I looked down to see several more popping up.
Next thing I know there are machines hooked up all over me and she is asking if I can take benadryl. Yes I say, no problems ever. She brings in a huge vial of liquid IV benadryl and asks if I have a ride home. Telle is driving us I say, will it make me tir…….that’s all I got out. I was falling back onto a fluffy white cloud and drifting to fantasy land. I know I was trying to talk but I don’t know if anything was coming out. Some time later they brought me some soup and I was actually hunger so started eating. I fell back asleep part way through and Telle rescued me from burning my lap. Some time later Telle asks me who are you waving at Kelly. I’m like, I’m waving at Zoey here in my lap. I pry open my heavy eyes and come to the understanding that I am hallucinating. I covered up my face with a pillow and went back to sleep. They second bag of chemo stuff didn’t seem to bother me, but how could anything bother me when I was flying high on benadryl. By the time we were ready to leave I was still sloppy drunk and leaning on Telle to get out. We picked up my Neulasta injection at the specialty pharmacy and headed home so I could crawl into bed.
I took all my med with breakfast and lounged around most of the morning. They called from the hospital to remind me to take my Neulasta injection and just happened to mention that I would be having bone pain, chest, hips, knees etc..because it causes white cells to increase that come from bone marrow, so I would feel it. Take some Tylenol or Advil they told me…nice. Telle helped me with my shot and about 30 minutes later I got up to use the bathroom and my knees where very unhappy. A few Advil later I was good.
I took a small walk with my son John wanting to go down to the lake. I made it about half way and we stopped for hot cocoa and coffee. It was a little cool out but very nice to get the fresh air. I came home and enjoyed some more online time talking to my family and am looking forward to a long nights sleep. Crossing my fingers and taking my medications and so far only a tiny bit of nausea. Drinking water like it’s going out of style, I’m very, very thirsty. And of course peeing all the freaking time. One down, 7 to go. Should be a breeze!
Thanks for reading and sending me all your good thoughts. – Kelly