Hello everyone, I hope you are having a great week. It sure has been awhile since I last posted! I have been busy. Busy… living. Living life. This week I tried to do something different with Jake each day to enjoy the nice summer weather and get in as much as possible before school starts in 3 weeks. I know I won’t feel great next week and the following week, so this is our last hurrah! So far this week we went to a beach in Racine Wisconsin, Hurricane Harbor and Independence Grove. Yesterday was just some errands and a follow up doc appointment. Today with the weather not being so great we are going to try Mod Pizza for lunch and see a movie this afternoon. Then tonight we will have dinner and spend time with my in-laws. Tomorrow, if weather holds up, we are hoping… praying… that we can get out on Lake Michigan with my family. My nephew Alec is in town from Vegas. I can’t wait to see him!! It’s been a few months and I miss him. We really can’t go on the chain of lakes yet because of the flooding. They are likely opening up the Chain tomorrow, but the water will have debris (trees, logs, etc.) and could pose a risk for boating until fully cleaned up. I think we will wait it out. Hopefully if I feel “okay” next weekend we’ll get out there a couple hours at some point if weather permits.
A couple weeks ago, right after my 3rd chemotherapy treatment, we went to the Blackhawks Convention. I had bought this for John and Jake for Christmas! We missed out on pub crawl for John’s cousin’s 50th – Sorry Chris! We would have been there if we could! Anyway, we had a lot of fun downtown at the Hilton at the convention, although I am not sure I would do it again. Maybe it was because I was not feeling my best? But, I think it was just too many people, lots of waiting and more waiting and feel like we missed out on some of the things we wanted to do and see (most likely because we were waiting somewhere else for something else!!). But all said and done, it was a good time. Jake brought his friend, Antonio, and they seemed to have a lot of fun together. Everyone bought a few Blackhawks jersey, t-shirts and hats at really great prices. We got some autographs, photos and handshakes with Blackhawks we admire, including Coach Q. Very cool!
I felt pretty good the whole weekend and kept up on all the meds needed to keep me from being too nauseous and from having severe bone pain from white cell medicine (Aleve is the answer!! Only one pill every 12 hours kept the pain away… happy dance!). I managed to nap when needed, but I also think I got my nights and days mixed up because I felt like I couldn’t sleep at night! Not the worst problem to have, right? I felt pretty lousy for far too many days this time around. I seemed to have no energy for like 10 straight days! I napped for two hours each day last week and was so thankful that Jake had afternoon Sports Camp in Libertyville during that time. Finally this week I am feeling much better. BUT, I only have today through Monday before my next (and hopefully last treatment!) on August 8th. Let’s hope that after this “last” treatment which will be followed by a breast MRI about a week later (maybe two weeks to give it more time), and will hopefully show there is no evidence of a tumor left. If that is the case, then I will be cleared for surgery to remove the tissue where the tumor was and some lymph nodes to check to see if any cells had spread. The surgeons look for clear margins and in cross section will hopefully only see dead cancer cells with nice clean (clear of cancer) cells surrounding where the tumor was. AND, prayers for no lymph node involvement…. Which means no cancer cells (dead or alive) in any of the few lymph nodes that are in the armpit area closest to the breast. This would be the first of 3 steps. The full mastectomy would take place 3 months later, in December, just in time for the holidays. Yay… ugh… that will not be fun, but there should be no reason to delay it as we do not want cancer to return. If no clear margins or any live cancer cells, I may have to endure more chemotherapy prior to scheduling surgery. I cannot feel the lump at this point! So, I am 99.9% sure that this chemo has killed it. Slaying cancer one day at a time.
On another note… i
t amazes me how once in awhile I will run into someone who will notice that I have a bandana or scarf on and therefore going through chemo (let’s face it… it is not a good look and definitely not a fashion statement most would sport if they didn’t have to! But, I don’t wear my wig all the time because of the weather, etc.) and they will stop and ask me if I am going through cancer treatment. They seem to feel inclined to stop and ask because they, too, were once in my shoes and want to assure me that they came out the other side and are alive to talk about it. The first time this happened was in TJ Maxx and a lovely older lady asked me and started telling me her story. She started to tell me how my hair will come back and how you may never feel normal again, but you get through it and you will beat it. I stopped her mid-sentence and said, “Yeah, yeah, I know… this is my second time around as I have gone through this a whole lot of years earlier… and I am now doing it all again.“ I felt bad afterwards, like I burst her bubble as she was trying to be helpful and caring. At the convention while shopping for shirts and hats, a 42 year old woman came up to me and said the same thing. “Excuse me, I don’t mean to assume but are you going through chemo? For breast cancer?” She had breast cancer a year ago and went through chemo and a bilateral mastectomy. She assured me my hair will grow back and might even be thicker and curlier than before. She said it will take about a year to get through all the steps. You might still not feel yourself after that. She gained a lot of weight and still dealing with some recovery from her surgeries. So…. I just listened, asked her some questions, told her about my current situation, and thanked her. I had tears in my eyes as I described what I was doing and I told her that I would be having a bilateral after chemo and she gave me some good tips on recovering from the surgery. I told her I appreciated her approaching me and giving me such great information in such a short period of time. She wished me the best and we went on our way. Interestingly, I do not recall any opportunities over the past 10 years to offer someone the same. I guess that’s a good thing! Statistically 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Or… in my case twice in a lifetime which hopefully means that one other woman has been spared.
Sorry for the long post. I should just write short posts more often? I’ll give that a try soon. Meanwhile, I want to finish up this post with some things that have really brightened my days the past couple of weeks. I look for every chance to laugh and smile and sometimes that is hard when you don’t feel your best. I have to thank so many people who have brought and sent wonderful dinners, including desserts! Wow… I just feel very special when my friends and family take the time to do this. I have received gifts, cards, along with a prayer card too! I thank you for thinking of me and including me in your thoughts and prayers. I am planning to write thank you notes at some point… but, in the meantime, my hope is that everyone takes a few minutes to read this and knows how much it means to me. I also want to send out a huge THANK YOU for a lovely Prayer Quilt given to me by a dear friend, Tina Coleman. This prayer quilt is made by The Prayer Quilt Ministry of Joy! Lutheran Church in Gurnee. A beautiful quilt shown in the pic here and wonderful words “Please pray for strength and endurance through the treatment, for complete healing and health, and for support for her husband and 12-year old son while she fights.” During a church ceremony on 7/23 (unfortunately I was unable to attend), the Church members walk up to the quilt and choose a loose pink thread and tie a square knot and while pulling the knot tight they say their own prayers for me. I am humbled by this beautiful gesture and by the prayers spoken by people, some whom I have never met, that are part of this wonderful Joy! Lutheran community. Thank you with all my heart.