Grrr. After a few back and forth phone calls, my surgery has been officially rescheduled for March 13. I was really pretty bummed about it at first—somehow waiting an extra two weeks seems like an awful long wait! Plus, that puts my surgery three days before Emma Clare’s birthday, which doesn’t please me at all. My plastic surgeon is super conservative, though, and apparently studies show that it’s better to wait a little longer after chemo—my body will be able to heal better at that point and better healing leads to a better outcome. So I’m trying to keep the big picture in mind. We’ll just do Emma Clare’s birthday party a week early and then we’ll be able to celebrate on her real birthday with her grandparents—a rare treat! Surgery ends up pretty close to spring break this way, too. But I think that will work out best for everyone. My mom can take the kids back with her and Clay’s parents can pick them up from my parents and bring them back after spring break. Wonder what I’ll do with myself with all that free time? Somehow I think I’ll figure something out…
I’m definitely not running as far, as frequently, or as quickly as I would be without chemo. But Sally and I have been making it a point to meet up at least once a week to run together. We’re a good pair—she’s got a two year old in stroller slowing her down, so we’re always so relieved when the other wants a walk break! It was so uncharacteristically warm today, the perfect day for a run. The other great thing about running with a stroller (or a friend with a stroller, that is) is that I can shed gloves, my jacket, even my hat when it gets too warm. And while I don’t carry it along with me in the stroller, I did still put on some lipstick before leaving it in the car. If I’m going to be bald, I want to look healthy and bald. (The Dior Lip Addict my mom gave me for Christmas is just the perfect amount of natural color.) Running along the Mt. Vernon trail is always lovely, but Sally and I have some fun chats when we’re together. You can cover a lot of ground—figuratively and literally—in an hour on the trails.
Emma Clare got a Magic Eight Ball for Christmas. Not being old enough for crushes (I think! Or I hope?) she didn’t have the same questions for the Magic Eight Ball that I remember from middle school slumber parties! So after a few quick questions about whether or not we’d see snow the next day, the kids quickly turned to the subject of my hair. I’ve lost a TON of hair, and there’s no doubt that I did the right thing in shaving it. But I’ve never been completely, shiny-headed bald. I have a little peach fuzz, though it’s much lighter than the hair that fell out. So they, along with the help of the MEB, decided that my hair will come back in curly and blonde. Or red. Or brown. Thankfully not purple, according to a few tries with the MEB. Funny, they didn’t ask about green…
It “snowed” this morning. OK, yes, there was snow. A teeny bit of snow, mostly some mushy slush. But this was our first snow of the season, and we didn’t get any decent snow last year. The schools were quick to call a two hour delay. And I was quick to pull out the snow boots that I bought last year and still hadn’t worn. When we scheduled my chemo a few weeks ago, there wasn’t an early morning appointment, and I was disappointed with my later appointment. As it turns out, though, it worked out perfectly, the kids got on the bus two hours late and I headed to my (later than usual) appointment. The big bummer was that I was arriving at the parking garage much later in the day than usual, and the snow had covered the parking lines on some of the exposed parts of the garage so people didn’t park as efficiently as usual, so I drove around forever looking for a parking space. There is a sort of side lot that bumps off the main part of the garage and it’s not covered. It’s a one way area, and when I saw two different cars starting to back out in that area, I headed in to wait for a spot. Just as the first car backed out, a car came in the wrong way and swooped in, stealing the spot from me. Fine. At least there’s another one. Wrong, some other joker followed that first car in and stole the second spot. I can’t remember if I honked—I should have!—but I did quickly whip off my scarf and was sure to make eye contact with those law breakers. They didn’t hop in the car and move to let me have the spot, but I sure hope they were at least a little embarrassed that they stole those spots from a bald chick! (I did manage to find a spot eventually, but was at least ten or fifteen minutes late for my appointment. Luckily they were understanding, everyone was late, it was a crazy day!)
After meeting with the surgical oncologist and plastic surgeon, my surgery is officially scheduled for February 27. It seems like it’s coming up so soon, I can’t believe how quickly this treatment is going by. Both surgeons have made sure that I know what to expect, and while the surgery is supposed to take the better part of the day, the plastic surgeon assured me that it is not major surgery. When I wake, my body won’t have to recover from significant physiological trauma, so recovery shouldn’t be too tough. I’ll stay in the hospital overnight and may have a nurse check on me at home to make sure that I’m healing well until I start my weekly visits with the plastic surgeon. They’ve also made sure that I have prescriptions for pain medication and physical therapy so that I can be ready when I go in for the surgery. The physical therapists will also visit me in the hospital, but visiting with someone ahead of time will make sure that I have an idea of what I should and should not be doing post-surgery. Apparently, while it is important not to overuse my arms or lift anything heavy, it is equally important not to sit around with my arms folded across my chest. By the end of two weeks, I should be able to resume most normal activities, though I imagine there will still be some lifting restrictions for a while. I was also cautioned at one point against blow drying my hair, but I’m thinking that’s not going to be such an issue!
In the meeting with the surgical oncologist, she did discuss the possibility of radiation. Given the results of my PET scan from October showing that the tumor seemed localized to the breast, I wasn’t thinking that radiation was very likely. She will still do a sentinel node biopsy– to check the first lymph node(s) from the breast. Cancer in these nodes would indicate a need for radiation, though again, it seems unlikely. However, the MRI did indicate that the initial tumor was close to the chest wall. (I still can’t decide why I didn’t know that before last week…) While the chemotherapy has shrunk the tumor to the point that it is no longer palpable (my doctors are all thrilled with that!), if any tumor remains close to the chest wall, radiation may be necessary after all. Clay keeps telling me that I should mentally plan on radiation so that I won’t be disappointed if I need it. And of course, it would be a nice “surprise” if I were able to skip that step. I’m having a little harder time with accepting the possibility of radiation, though. Going through additional treatment means more time spent at the hospital, potentially more fatigue, and more time away from my goal of just being normal. And because irradiated skin takes more time to heal, the reconstruction process will take much longer, too. I’m so thankful for all the prayers for my strength– I feel confident that God has continued to make my body strong enough to withstand so many of the ill effects of chemotherapy. And so now I would ask for your prayers that I might not need radiation, and that if radiation is necessary, that I will be able to keep it in perspective. In the grand scheme of things, a few more months to normal isn’t really all that much…
Oops, no picture today! I was lucky to have dear, sweet friend come along today. We spent many hours watching our little ones play when they were in preschool, sadly she and her sweet family moved the morning after our “big kids” graduated from preschool. It was a treat to see her again today after much too long an absence. We scored a private room and chatted about everything—catching up on family, friends, new things in our lives. We ordered lunch from Lost Dog (like the good old days!) and managed to get them to deliver it to us at the infusion center. Good times. Needless to say, all the chatting and eating and catching up distracted us, so no picture today. Suffice it to say I’d have had a big smile on my face if we’d remembered.
I’m still feeling well, not a bit of nausea– so thankful! This round of chemo is a little harder– there are a couple of days when I’m pretty beat and have some weird bone pain. Even that’s not so bad, though. I’ve been having hot flashes– how fun is that?! Thankfully, though, I’ve been able to get some medications to keep that under control, and so I’ve been more comfortable and sleeping much better. I’ve also started having some neuropathy– three of my fingertips feel sort of funny, like when you come in from the cold and they’re just a little numb. It’s expected, and not a problem until I can’t do things like put on my jewelry. Knowing how much I like my jewelry, that would be a big problem, so I’m hoping that won’t be an issue. Glad they’re ready to nip it in the bud if it comes to that!
I’m trying to be better about posting here on a regular basis, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that a lapse in posts is because I’m feeling badly. But really, it’s not. It’s more likely either that I’m feeling well and too busy to sit down and post or that it doesn’t seem like there’s anything new to say. The lack of posting lately has been a little of both, but there’s lots to say today, and I’m not to busy to say it all!
Thankfully, I’ve had pretty good energy for the last week, which came in handy as we hosted Turner’s sixth birthday party and I’ve made more red velvet cupcake than I care to count. (I think 48?) Today was the first day since mid-December where I didn’t feel like I needed to be planning something. To celebrate, I went for a run after the kids went to school! Such a luxury to be able to go for a run without getting up super early!
I had the “half way” appointment with my surgeon today. The surgeon who I saw initially and who did my biopsy is leaving the practice, so I met with a new surgeon today. She is consistently ranked among the top surgeons in local publications and I’ve met several women who have seen her and speak well of her, so I was optimistic. She took time to make sure I understood the surgery and my options, and she helped me make the decisions that need to be made. I feel very comfortable with her and am confident that she is a good choice. Pending confirmation with the plastic surgeon who will begin the reconstructive process during the same surgery, we have penciled in my surgery for February 27. Somehow just having a date set is a relief, it makes the end of all of this seem so much nearer.
This week will be my sixth chemo treatment. Again, being on number six of eight is wonderful– almost to the end! For the first time, though, I’ve opted to delay this treatment by a day, and will be doing it on Friday. Thursday I will be attending the funeral of a friend whose life was taken far too soon by cancer. Her daughter was in Emma Clare’s preschool class. I worried quite a bit about sharing the news with Emma Clare, and had been praying that she would take it well. I have to admit that I was surprised with how she handled it– with equal parts wisdom beyond her years and child like innocence. She didn’t seem at all concerned that the same disease that claimed the life of her friend’s mother would claim mine, and I couldn’t have been happier. Perhaps even better than I, she seemed to understand that our cancers, while similar, are different. My friend had moved away just before learning of her recurrence, and even though she was dealing with her own health problems, far more grave than mine, she sent me a card with the most appropriate sentiment just a month or so ago. Plus, she sent me a gift card to McDonald’s, which instantly brought a smile to my face– when she was on chemo several years ago, she was so sick, and an Egg McMuffin was the only thing that sounded good to her, so I used to take her one every once in a while. I will miss my friend, and I pray for her husband and two sweet kiddos. Her kindness and generosity touched many lives. I am so thankful for the nurse at my oncologist’s office who was quick to rearrange my treatment schedule at the last minute (and without a single word of protest) so that I can celebrate her life surrounded by so many of our friends.