Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Changes

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn


Mr. Rohn, I couldn't agree with you more. 

I came across this quote when I was at a cross road in life and felt as though it was speaking to me..  Basically it was time to (excuse my language) 'shit or get off the pot'. I have never been one to deal with change very well and was happy in my comfort zone. I've never been one to take huge risks either but something clicked and it was time to do something. I had two choices....

                                          1) stay at the same job I had been at for the past 11 years, live in the same town I had pretty much grown up in and try to make best out of what I had
                                                               OR 
                                           2) venture out to try something new while trying to repair a relationship with a guy I had been dating FOREVER off and on. 

I decided on the latter.  It was time to grow up, be a big girl and make my own decisions and choices in life. I  figured if I could handle and get through cancer then I could handle anything. So I decided to take a risk...leave everything I know in California, and head out east to Ohio. I had made the choice to 'get off the pot'.  It wasn't easy but it needed to be done and it gets a little easier day by day being out of my comfort zone while trying to make a new one. 

I've been away from my family for a little over a month and tomorrow I will be flying back for my cousin's wedding. I'm super excited and can't wait to see my sister, parents and most of all my little boo boo (I'm sure I'll be surprised how much he's changed and not so little anymore). I'm definitely counting down the hours.

Because my sister is the crafty paper girl, you will finally be able to see pictures of her work she is doing for my cousins wedding. From invitations, wine labels and much more so look for those coming soon!

With all that said, it's time for me to go so I can pack...I'm goin back to Cali!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Update

Hi there...I'm back!!!

I have to apologize for leaving you all hanging about what's been happening since my last post. Trying to keep up with the blog, finishing radiation and finishing the CLS program got the best of me. Now that life has slowed down a little, I have more time to concentrate on the blog. But your probably wondering what has happened between my last post and now. Well...let me tell you.

I finished radiation the week after Labor Day in 2010. Because of the radiation and the lumpectomy, I now have to take Tamoxifen for the next 5 years. Because my cancer was detected as early-stage breast cancer, it reduces the chance that the original breast cancer will come back in the same breast or elsewhere. It also reduces the risk of developing new cancers in the other breast. The downside to the medication is that it may increase my risk of getting uterine cancer but according to my doctor the benefits far outweigh any potential risks. It does have minimal side effects which I have learned to deal with. On a good note, I got a clean bill of health the last time I had my follow-up...YAY!!! I still have to get checked every 6 months but that's fine with me. At this point I'd rather be safe than sorry.

In March of 2011, I graduated from the CLS program and took time off of work to study for the national exam. I went back to work this past August and am still struggling to pass the exam. It's been quite frustrating but I think I had too many distractions going on in my life. I'll pass the next time I take it, I have faith in myself and I'm not giving up. So there's my brief run down thus far.  

But wait! Did you notice that the layout of the blog looks a little different? You know what that means right? Yup you guessed it, change! Stephanie and I will be adding new and exciting elements to the blog. Can't tell you what they are yet but I'll give you a hint....new adventures and lots of creativity!!








Sunday, August 8, 2010

Radiation

I know, I know....you probably think I have forgotten about keeping you posted but honestly I haven't. My life has been crazy busy with rotation exams, lecture exams, going to radiation treatments everyday and trying to keep up Diesel, my new 10 week old boxer puppy! He is the cutest thing and has a great personality. Diesel and my little man just love each other...its the cutest thing. My mom watches Diesel and Niko so she really has got her hands full.

As far as radiation, I have treatments Monday through Friday until the beginning of September. Right now I have had 11 treatments and about 21 more to go. For some people, radiation burns their skin and makes them tired and I haven't experienced any of that yet. I think having so much going on that getting tired is not an option right now at least I'm not letting it happen.

Radiation isn't too bad and you don't feel a thing. They line up the radiation beams where they marked me with the tattoos so every time I go in I lay there and the machine lines up where it needs to be and the area where my lumpectomy was gets radiated. You don't see the beams, you just hear buzzing and it only lasts for about 10 min....Every Wednesday I get lab work done to monitor the effect the radiation has on my blood cells. Sometimes therapy can suppress the blood cell production and it can cause problems like becoming anemic. Usually once therapy is over, the blood cell production will return to its normal state but if not blood transfusions may be necessary. So that's why I am monitored, just to make everything else is okay. And so far so good.

Good news about my mom!!!! She recently finished all her treatments and her doctor gave a clean bill of health. He told her she is cancer free!!! We were all so excited to hear the news. During chemo she lost her hair but it is starting to grow back slowly. She looks great and is starting to get her energy back.  I think having Diesel and Niko around definitely helps with that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Finally...

Its been just about a month since I had posted anything and your probably wondering what has happened to me and what has been going on. Back in June I went to my oncology appointment thinking that I was going to find out what my treatments were going to be and found out I had to wait a little longer.

In the meantime...my doctor told me that my stage of cancer is Stage 1 and that the size of the tumor was 1.5 cm which is considered small. Luckily my lymph nodes were negative, meaning that the cancer did not spread...YEAH!!! Once I heard that, I said to myself,  "One step farther away from not having to go through chemo (fingers crossed)". He then mentioned that one more test needed to be done which was the oncotyping (the one that gives me my percentage of recurrence) and of course it was going to take a while because it needed to be approved by insurance....but of course!!!! I really shouldn't complain and I should be thankful that I even have insurance but still....they take forever to approve anything!!! Hence the reason I've had to wait until now find out about my treatments.

Fast forward a couple of days and I finally get the phone call about my results. My doctor tells me that everything is good and that I will only need radiation. I was thrilled when he told me. It's not that I was completely against it, it was just one more thing on my plate that I didn't want to have to worry or stress about. I saw what my mom had gone through and being back in school and finally getting into the medical technologist program I knew it would be difficult. I had worked so hard to finally get in and I didn't want anything from preventing me from completing it. So, that was my reservation about going through chemo.

The results of my test show that I have a 7% chance of the cancer coming back in my lifetime and anything less than 12% is considered low and that's why I don't require chemo. Radiation however comes along with the lumpectomy and today I went to my first radiation appointment. My treatments will be Monday through Friday at the same time for the next 6-8 weeks. I was told by my third week there is a chance I will burn pretty badly in the area that is being radiated but it all depends on how my skin reacts and that I may get tired by the end of the day. Geez.... if this is the worst of it I think I am going to be just fine.

So, at my appointment today they gave me 3 tiny tattoos, one on each side chest and one in the middle of my chest, all the size of a freckle. These are used to line up the the radiation beams when I go for my treatments. I go back on Friday for my first treatment

Needless to say.... I am glad that it's finally getting started and all of this will soon be over.

Until next time....good night.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Soon it will be my turn

Tomorrow I am off to my oncologist appointment to hear what my treatments are going to be. I’m a little nervous but at the same time anxious to get this over with. I know for sure that I will have to do radiation treatments because it goes with having a lumpectomy but I don’t know if there is going to be anything else. My mom has completed her chemo treatments and is in her second week of radiation. She goes Monday through Friday and it takes and her treatments take about 15 minutes. She’s doing really well and her hair is starting to grow back. YEAH!!! She does however get really tired by the end of the week. But it is good to see that she is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as her treatments go. Now soon it will be my turn…..

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Follow-up

It’s been 12 days since surgery and I am feeling great! I was really sore for a couple of days from where they took out the lymph nodes but its slowly starting to go away. I do however still look ‘lopsided’. Yes….I did say lopsided…one looks bigger than the other. How funny does that sound?... At first it kind of freaked me out but then I just stood there and laughed. I’m sure if you were to see me you wouldn’t even notice but I sure can feel it!


Oh! I almost forgot to mention that I received my results from UCSF regarding my BRCA 1 & 2. It all came back negative. When I got the phone call I was shocked! I thought for sure with my family history that it would have been positive. So with it being negative, it means I am not a carrier for the breast cancer gene and if I ever have a daughter, I will not pass this on to her. Thank God….Now that I am not a carrier it also means my sister does not have to get tested because my breast cancer is not hereditary. My question still is…Where did it come from? I must have been dealt a bad hand because I find it to be ironic that my grandmother had it and my mom has it too and it’s not hereditary?! Seriously? UCSF doesn’t have any answers either, they were just as shocked as I was but hey I’m going to take it and run with it…all the way to my next appointment.

Which as….today! I had my follow-up with the surgeon and my incisions are healing fine. He also told me that if it feels like I have water in me, it’s because I do. That explains why I look ‘lopsided’!!! I was told that he removed a lot of tissue around the tumor and that he doesn’t suture the muscle together. What he does is he fills the area where the tissue was removed with saline so it fills the gap. In time my body will reabsorb the saline and as it heals the girls will look even. It won’t look like have a dent. Makes sense right? But the best part…. he told me my lymph nodes were clean of cancer!!! The cancer did not spread to my lymph nodes!!! Super excited about that!

I still have to see my oncologist to learn the stage and what my treatments are going to be. So far I have received good news twice. First about my genetic testing being negative and second, my lymph nodes are negative. I’m hoping the oncologist will have some kind of good news for me too!

Ending on that note…thought I’d share the beautiful flowers I got from the ladies in the Dynamic District Lodge……







and the orchid from my best friend from college….



Until next time.....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Surgery

Friday was the big take-out-the-cancer day and I am so happy it’s over. It really wasn’t a long surgery but it sure just felt like that day was never going to come. So here’s a rundown of my day….


First of all, the night before I didn’t sleep very well because of all the anticipation and just wanting it to be over with so having to get up at 5 a.m. to be at the hospital by 6 a.m. was not a big deal. Once I was there I was admitted to the Surgical Observation Unit to get prepped for surgery. Having worked at the hospital for the past 9 years definitely had its perks. See, working in the lab you get to know a lot of nurses over the phone but never really get to see them because lab people don’t usually venture off to the floors. Once I was put into a room, the nurse came in, introduced herself as Suzanne and then I told her who I was. She was pretty surprised to see me and said that she knew exactly who I was because she could never forget a name like mine. And really….who can.

During my prep for surgery Suzanne took very good care of me. She asked if I was nervous  and I told her the only concern I had was getting the Sentinel Node Biopsy done because my mom said that it hurt like an SOB! She mentioned that all her patients who go through that have had the same experience. Now remember when I said knowing people had its perks? Well…Suzanne hooked me up!! Before I was sent to Nuclear Medicine to get the Sentinel Node Biopsy done she had given me a dose of Verst. In a matter of 15 seconds the happy juice kicked in, I was wheeled to Nuclear Med and didn’t feel a thing!!! It was great!  And of course my mom was jealous.

Around 9:10 a.m. I was wheeled into surgery. I was in there for an hour and a half and was in recovery for only 45 min. They told my mom that I would be in recovery for at least an hour and a half but I was ready to go home and didn't have any complications with the anesthesia. I was home by 1 pm and slept for about 3 hours and felt fine afterwards. They gave me Ketorolac for an antibiotic and Darvocet. I haven't had to take the Darvocet because I don't feel any pain. I am however really, really swollen and just sore from where they took out the lymph nodes. The doctor did remove 2 lymph nodes plus the tumor. Apparently, he always takes 2 lymph nodes just as a precaution.



I did get plenty of rest over the weekend and had great people taking care of me. My sister was there to help along with my mom and my favorite little man was there to brighten up my spirits. My Aunt Cathy, Gianna and Ivan came to visit and brought ice cream cupcakes! I also got a set of PJ's from my best friend Stephanie (love them!), the book The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman (Gia you always know how to pick a good book), Elena brought a movie and lunch over (thanks again!) and many flowers from family.



So I want to give a BIG thank you to them for helping me through this. I couldn’t have done it without you!! And many, many thanks to all those who came to visit, called or just had me in their thoughts.  I have a great support system and I love you all!! Geez…sounds like an Oscar speech.



As far as my results go, I should be finding out sometime this week. I hoping it’s going to be good news so please keep your fingers crossed….