Monday, March 31, 2008

3/31/2008: Round Three

Well, I had round three of chemotherapy yesterday ... which means I am now halfway through. YAY! I seem to be doing better this round then the first two, which is a nice change of pace. However, it was slow getting going yesterday. Once the needle was placed in my port (yuck) the nurse was unable to draw blood. I had to lean back in the recliner with my arms over my head to try to encourage the blood to come out in a steady stream. (Before they can administer the medications, they must first draw blood to get a baseline.) I asked permission to move the needle around inside of the port to try and get a good spot to draw blood. The nurse let me. (I am becoming so brave.) We got a steady stream and were off. My blood work was fabulous, which is always great to hear.

They started me with Benedryl (since I had the allergic reaction to Taxotere last time), the steroid for allergic reaction and another medication for nausea, which I have yet to actually get nauseous. Once I was completely doped up, my friends Kere and Bronwyn arrived and they began the chemo treatment. Kere taught me how to cross stitch during treatment and all five of us (including Dad and Joey) had great conversation. It certainly helps make the time go by quicker with friends there with me. When I go to my last medication (Herceptin) my heart started beating out of my chest and very irregular. They immediately switched me over to plain saline and took my oxygen, pulse, and listened to my heart. I had a couple of waves of this and my nurse seemed to think it was from mixing the uppers and downers which was confusing my body. It eventually evened out, but for a moment I was pretty frightened.

I am at my parents until tomorrow afternoon (Sunday). My body is already starting to slow down on me ... my mind is racing but I feel like I am moving in slow motion. (My little legs shake when I stand for too long.) The sensitivity in my ears is pretty unbearable, but all in all I am holding up pretty well. Please keep sending your warm thoughts and prayers my way. We are halfway there my friends. :) This Friday I have a follow-up appointment with my oncologist, Dr. David Heyer, in which he will probably refer me for mid-way tests, such as an MRI and PETscan, to see where we are at. All very exciting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

3/26/2008: Hitting the Gym

I'm not feeling very well today. I am not sure what is going on. Maybe my body is gearing up for my period again which I have every 14 days. Good times! I suppose we are all entitled to days like this, but today is especially poopie. Maybe my mood will improve as the day progresses. Right now I just want to go home, crawl under my covers and escape from the world.

I have started working out once or twice a day now which has proved to be a great stress and anxiety reliever. I am doing yoga, pilates and kick boxing. According to my yoga instructor my mantra is enchanting beauty. I love that! I am finding that my left arm, left pectoral and the scapula muscle on my back are very weak. This is due to the hockey puck-sized tumor my surgeon removed back in January. I am having a hard time strengthening those muscles again ... it is very painful. Most people who have lymph nodes removed go through physical therapy. I, however, am trying to do this on my own. If they remove more lymph nodes during my mastectomy (which they most likely will), I will probably have to have physical therapy to regain strength in my arms. I think I may have overworked the scapula muscle on my back last night in yoga and that is creating a difficult day for me today. At least I will have all weekend to rest and recover since I will be in my chemo trance at my parents house. I still have no feeling on the upper back of my arm. The nerves are no longer working there and I don't believe at this point that the feeling will come back. But the good news is this is where I can request to have my flu shot. Haha!

I have round three of chemotherapy on Friday (so be sending me your warm thoughts and prayers, please) and I am already starting to get anxious about it. My Dad, brother, Kere and Bronwyn will be there supporting me during treatment. My nurse Jessie said that you apparently remember the last time you were there and the outcome of the poison they put in your body. Your body then starts to create anxiety based on those memories and feelings. I am just so sick of going through all of this. It is the most horrible thing I have ever had to endure and I am just so tired ... mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. I just need a break from my life. After this treatment I think my oncologist, Dr. Heyer, will rerun my MRI and PETscan to see where we are at. I am actually excited about that. I have been visualizing my treatments working and killing all those stupid cancer cells, but I would certainly like some reassurance from the tests that all of this is working. I just want this cancer gone and for all of this to be over. I need this to end ...

Monday, March 24, 2008

3/24/2008: Remembering Carly Anne

I am convinced that God is testing me. I am standing at the edge of my life and am being taunted to jump.

Today my parents had to put my beloved Yorkshire terrier, Carly Anne, to sleep. She has been battling diabetes, blindness and a horrible bacterial infection at the ripe age of eight. The vets said she had fluid around her lungs and heart and believed Carly was now battling pancreatic cancer. They said she was trying to be "good" for our benefit, but was VERY sick and there was nothing more we could do for her. Why is my family being tested? People say God only gives you as much as he believes you can handle, but can't he find someone else to pick on? I know that sounds horrible and that I shouldn't talk that way, but I'm a blunt person and that's how I feel. Must my faith be tested with my health now? All I ask is for a year with no severe illness, injury, heart break or loss of loved ones. Is that too much to ask? It just seems like my family can NEVER get a break. I used to think we were faced with these challenges because of our unwavering spirituality, strength and ability to think positively about all obstacles that came our way, but I'm not so sure anymore. I am being tested and I DON'T like it!

Carly Anne was born May 1, 2000 and was my high school graduation present. I knew I wanted a little girl Yorkshire terrier. Dad and I went out to Gainesville to see a litter of puppies. I immediately picked up a puppy, and after falling in love with it, I turned it over and noticed I had selected a boy. Just my luck! A tiny Yorkie jumped on the side of the fence beckoning my Dad to look at her. He picked her up and she batted those long lashes and tucked her head under his chin. The rest was history. From that moment on ... she was grand-daddy's girl. We brought her home, wrapped in a towel, and placed her on the garage floor to meet her gaham-mama and Uncle Joe. She lived a splendid and spoiled eight years on Earth and loved everyone who entered our home unconditionally. Now she is frollicking in Heaven's fields as a young, healthy puppy throwing her stuffed monkey into the fresh, crisp air. And we shall meet again in due time ... although that monkey won't last a week, I'm sure of that.

"People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" Four-year-old Shane continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

It is pointless to even tell you how I feel today ... I think you can tell, today is not a good day. My heart is broken.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

3/20/2008: Happy Easter

Week two and three after treatment are SO wonderful. My body regains its vibrancy and I feel normal again. I still have some minor annoyances that are side effects of the chemotherapy, but basically I return to my regularly scheduled program. I have spent every night this week out with friends and doing fun things with those close to me. I have learned to appreciate each day and live it to the fullest. I believe I did this to some extent before, but I am just aware of how quickly things can change and do my best to appreciate things even more.

Prior to my last treatment my hair started growing back, so now I am experiencing it falling out some, but obviously it is much more manageable at this point, since there is hardly anything left. I have one remaining patch that refuses to fall out. It is smaller than a dime. I showed it to my nurse and she is just astonished. She told me to buy a barrette for that little patch of hair and take a picture because I should celebrate the fact that it's a fighter. She believes it is SO representative of me. Hilarious!

I have been asked by to serve on their national leadership council. Since I don't have anything else going on in my life right now I thought it would be a great idea. (Haha … hope you got the sarcasm.) I look forward to helping other young adults afflicted by cancer and being active in bringing awareness to the fact that cancer isn't an old-person disease. I have already met so many amazing people through networks and support groups and I want to help others realize they are not alone in the most challenging time of their life. And if they are too weak to fight, I will take on their battle with all my heart. NO ONE should EVER have to go through this and if they do and I can make it a little less frightening and isolating, I will. This is my new mission in life. Cancer is not contagious and the fact that people are treated differently makes me sick. OK, that's enough of that rant for one day, but be prepared to hear more frustration from me.

I am looking forward to the remainder of the week and the upcoming weekend since I will be spending it with my friends and those close to me. I am not a huge fan of Easter (if you know me, then you know my horrific Easter bunny story), but it will be nice to be with my family on Sunday.

Thank you all for your support, prayers, prepared dinners (YUM!), gifts, hard work on my upcoming fundraiser and warm thoughts … it all means so much to me. I am just so incredibly humbled by the love you have shown me and your willingness to wrap me in your arms and travel on this journey with me. I cannot imagine that I will ever be able to express how I feel. Please know I adore you all.

Monday, March 17, 2008

3/17/2008: A Believer

I have gone back and forth about whether to write about this and have decided to because, after all, it is my blog and I can write about whatever I want, right?

I am a huge believer in the power of positive thinking and that spiritually there are ways to heal. Some of you may not, and to each their own. I think people are entitled to believe whatever they want. However, I am a huge believer in the power of prayer, positive thinking and even unexplained miracles.

Let me explain what I am talking about ...

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a friend gave me a rock which is from holy grounds in the Philippines. It sat on my nightstand for almost a month before I got up the nerve to try it. (At this point I am desperate to do anything in my power to get better. I have been reading all sorts of healing books, drinking green tea, meditating, etc. I actually feel better now then I did before cancer. I feel stronger and more fulfilled then I ever have in my life. I have experienced pure happiness.) Anyway, I laid in bed and placed the rock on my breast, against my skin. It took a couple of minutes and I felt horrible pain in my breast ... all the way into my armpit. It got incredibly hot and really hurt for what seemed like ten minutes, but was probably less. (Was it in my head? Maybe.) I repeated this the following night and the same thing happened, but for a lesser amount of time and with less intensity. The third night ... nothing. Perhaps it worked, perhaps it didn't.

What I do know is that I gave the rock to my Mom on Saturday knowing that her surgery was scheduled for this morning (Monday). When she went into the hospital early this morning ... her tumor was gone. Miracle?
Power of positive thinking? Medical fluke? I like to think it was a miracle. Today we praise Him ... we are blessed.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

3/15/2008: Challenging Week

This past week was pretty challenging … day 3 and day 7 after chemotherapy are crash days for me. It has taken me a lot longer to bounce back from the fatigue. I was just so much more tired this time around. My sensitivity to light, noises and smells was much more magnified, too. I am doing fine, just really wiped out, so I have been taking extra good care of myself with plenty of naps. My nurse Melanie assured me that my treatments won’t get progressively worse. For some strange reason, some are bad and others are a little more manageable. It is different every time.

Unfortunately, my tummy has been a disaster. I am not sure if this is due to chemotherapy or the antibiotic I was on for my UTI, but the tummy issues have added to the fatigue and serious dehydration. I am doing my best to slow down and really take care of myself. I promise, I am. Ask my friends … I haven’t gone out half as much as I did last time.

I had Herceptin this past Friday and it made me pretty sick (headache, nausea, fatigue). My blood work came back very good though, but I am still anemic. My nurse, Melanie said that when I walked in to the office they thought I was their pharmaceutical representative. The nurses are just shocked at how well I am doing with chemotherapy and how, once again, I don’t “look like I have cancer.” The nurses always greet me with huge smiles and lots of hugs. I just think the world of my oncologist’s practice. They could sense my frustration with just tiring of coming to the office every Friday. They told me to think of my new, fabulous boobs and to start planning an AMAZING vacation. They said not a normal vacation, but an incredible one, like 2 weeks in Tahiti. They said it is important to have something to look forward to. I think this is a GREAT idea! Who’s in?

This week was a little tough on my heart, too. My puppy, Carly Anne, was incredibly sick. She could not walk or lift her head and she refused to eat or drink. We really thought we were going to lose her. She is diabetic and crashed. My parents continue to take her to the doctors each day so that they can try and regulate her sugars. Poor baby. They had to keep her IV in so she had on a pink cast to support her Mom. She is still fighting hard and worrying us to no end. I don’t think I could handle losing her … not at this time in my life. I cannot deal with more bad news.

Other than that, I have been busy chipping in to plan my fundraiser Pink Martini Night on Friday, May 2 from 8-11pm at Eighteenth and RED. I am SO excited! It is going to be tons of fun. Also, I am playing catch up with my thesis. I finally got my topic approved this past week. I am actively seeking my chair and once that is finalized I am hoping I can start completing the meat and potatoes of my document. The next hurdle will be getting my research method approved by the board. Eeek!

My Mom has surgery Monday to remove a tumor in her breast. Please, please, please keep her and our family in your thoughts and prayers. We need to keep my family healthy! Sheesh.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. I am so happy that it is getting warmer.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

3/12/2008: Pocket Full of Sunshine

GOOD NEWS!!! I just got a call from my genetics specialist and I DO NOT have mutated BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes. This means that neither my mother or father passed breast cancer on to me, nor should I pass it along to my children. YAY! This also means that I am odd, which we already knew. Leave it to me to create some drama out of nowhere, right? Now that I know I am negative this will help me determine treatments and preventative surgeries in my future. I am SO happy ... my extended family can breathe a sigh of relief today! You only passed on your amazing wit and unbelievably good looks ... nothing more! Haha.

I could not be more thrilled then I am today. I want a beautiful family in the future (and yes, Mom, I will wait until I am married ... sheesh!) and now my mind is at peace knowing that I will be able to do that without wondering if I will pass this along to them. There would be nothing that would break my heart more. Now, there is always a 1 to 2% chance that they missed the hereditary gene somewhere and that I could pass this along down the road to my children's children, but not likely. YIPPEE BABIES!!!

My spirits are high today and I am regaining my strength. Watch out cancer ... Jennifer is stronger than ever and you have nowhere to hide. Because, quite frankly, my boob isn't that big. Haha!

I met an amazing woman today named Kandi who is beginning her battle with breast cancer. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she goes through her first treatment this afternoon. I will be sending all my new found strength and positive energy to her during this frightening time. Let God now serve as her compass ...

Please also take a moment to rejoice in the life of Lorna who is my sister in cancer who fought valiantly until it was time to return home Sunday evening. Let the pain and weakness be lifted from Lorna's body and allow her to finally rest in peace. Lorna told me that the moment I was diagnosed I became a survivor and that is how I shall remember her ...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

3/11/2008: Building Anger

I have only had two breakdowns since I was diagnosed with cancer. The first was the weekend I found out the news while staying at my parent’s house and the other was last night …

If you know me, you know that I am constantly on the go and hate to be slowed down. It’s the Sagittarius in me, mixed with my parents go-getter genes, I think. Just the sheer act of brushing my teeth last night left me lying on the floor panting and sweating. (I am going to be the most unbearable older person. I am warning you now!) I became extremely angry at my body. It is hard when you are in the throws of a medicated trance to see that this situation is only temporary because it seems all too consuming at the time. I cursed and cried, and then my head started pounding … a panic attack set in. Ugh. I surprisingly hadn’t had one of those for awhile now. Thanks to some Xanax and talking through my fears with My Rock (Mommy), I was able to fall asleep without any trouble. But without fail, I always awake at 4:00 AM. I swear I am going to hate that number when all this treatment is said and done. I have not slept one night since they removed my tumor without waking up to see 4:00 AM staring me in the face. What is with that? There has to be some humor there somewhere … I just know it!

My body is still moving in slow motion, although I was able to make it into work today, which always makes me feel better. My nerves in my fingers come and go, which makes typing more difficult, but I appreciate the challenge. My senses are EXTREMELY temperamental. I have never had a tooth ache before, but I can only imagine that this is what it would feel like, because it is constant and extremely annoying. Noises bother me, smells stress me out, and I have this constant tightness/soreness in my jaw and mouth. My ears constantly ring and all I want to do is scream for everyone to shut up the days following chemotherapy. When people start moving too fast around me I started to feel really sick and anxious. I think if these are the only things that I have to complain about then I am in pretty good shape.

Last night I made the decision for the first time in my life to ask for an extension on my school assignment. There is nothing that I hate more than having to do that, but because this is only a temporary situation, I am trying to follow my oncologist’s orders and take care of myself. Once my body begins cooperating again in the next few days (hopefully), I will jump right back in and catch up. I am confident I will make it work, even if I cannot meet my own deadlines. I need to be a little less hard on myself, too.

If you have not seen my friend, and sorority sister, Angie Goff’s blog about ME on WUSA 9, please check it out ... It brought me to tears!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you dearly.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

3/9/2008: Cute Chin Up

Well, I am a third of the way through my chemotherapy now, which makes me very happy. By the end of the month I will be halfway finished. Round two of chemotherapy came with several new challenges. They started me off with the Taxotere and within only 10 to 15 minutes I had shortness of breath, my throat and chest tightened, I was wheezing and coughing, and could not breathe. The nursed rushed in, clamped off the IV, and switched me to saline and Benedryl, which made me SO sleepy and just about knocked me out completely. They told me to take my asthma inhaler while they gave me the Benedryl in the IV and from that point on I was fine. Apparently, there was a girl in the room next to me that didn't know what an allergic reaction felt like and had a full blown attack with a swollen, red face, etc. Poor girl. Luckily I have experienced that before and knew something wasn't right immediately. The first time I had Taxotere I had no reaction. The nurse said it can happen on the first or second session usually. Thanks for the heads up, lady! Sheesh!

My blood work came back pretty normal, although I am still anemic, but not to the point that they are extremely concerned. All in all they are thrilled that I am holding up as well as I am, especially with NO nausea. I have actually gained a few pounds, which I attribute solely to my obsession with Milano cookies, which the nurses are very happy about. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less about the weight gain. I just want this stupid cancer gone ... forever. People keep saying how they wish they could do these tests and treatments for me. Trust me, I would never wish this on anyone. It is the most horrible thing I have ever experienced and my goal in life is to help others now and do everything in my power to find a cure. One in eight women will develop breast cancer. Can you believe that ... 1 in 8!? I can't help but stop when I see a group of young girls playing together and count off now. Or when I have girls night with my friends I look around and count to eight. It scares me to death, especially for our children and their children. It's not fair.

Dad, Joey and Nicole came to treatment to keep me company, which seemed to make the time pass so much quicker. Nicole brought a pink container full of fun things to play with, like a pink cowgirl hat, mustaches, confetti wigs and more. We took a couple of silly pictures which I plan to have up later this weekend. My nurse threatened to take away my beloved BlackBerry at one point, but I assured her it was texts and e-mails from my friends and family. However, I did sneak in one or two work e-mails in (shhh!).

Unfortunately, the steroids I take for three days around my chemotherapy treatments to prevent allergic reactions are giving me the same acidic tummy that I had last time, but now my oncologist put me on over-the-counter Prilosec, which is helping a lot. This whole ordeal is trial and error since everyone reacts differently. I feel a lot more tired this time than last, but this is apparently normal since the chemotherapy builds in your body each time. Not only that, but I have a killer urinary tract infection which is incredibly pleasant. (Obviously, I am being sarcastic.) The oncologist had to call in an antibiotic this morning for me to start taking. Yay ... more meds.

Last night my Mom brought home mounds of presents from her friends at Lees Corner Elementary School. Carly Anne (my Yorkshire terrier), of course, thought it was Christmas again and had her head in every gift bag, especially the ones with sweets! It was hilarious. After a long and trying day, there was nothing better than sitting there with my family reading cards and letters of faith, hope and love, looking through all the generous gifts, and truly feeling the support from our friends. It gave me such a renewed sense of strength and purpose.

Today I plan to do absolutely nothing. I just got out of bed to write this e-mail and am headed right back. The mind is racing, but the body is moving in slow motion. There is nothing more frustrating for me, but I am trying to be patient with myself. I am keeping my "cute chin up" as my co-worker Sarah tells me to, but some days are more challenging than others.

Friday, March 7, 2008

3/7/2008: Slowing Down

I am home from the hospital and received a lot of lecturing. Ugh.

My blood work is average, so medically it seems I am OK. They looked at my platelets, which tells them if I am losing too much blood, and although it was low, it wasn't in the danger zone. They said that my period may slow down, but it may not. As long as my blood work is OK, then they don't care. Awesome!

Apparently, my 10 to 12 hour works days and pushing myself with my masters seems to be causing my body to react in a not so pleasant way ... hence my dizziness and sleeping on my bathroom floor last night. I saw my oncologist, Dr. Heyer, while I was there and he told me that I cannot continue maintaining such a demanding schedule and lifestyle while they are putting "poison" into my body. He said it could be that the chemotherapy is just settling into my body now and that I need to be more aware when I am fatigued and listen to my body. If I continue at the pace I am running at, I could end up in the hospital and jeopardize my treatments. Point taken ... I don't want that! He said more weekends resting and lots of TLC from friends and family is needed. Little does he realize how hard-headed I am. (Thanks for that Dad ... Haha).

He asked if I could work from home some days, which I said yes to. He asked if I could put my masters on hold and I said absolutely not. He laughed, of course, and told me how impossible and stubborn I am. (Harsh, but fair.) He gave me the new nickname of Bionic Woman. I kind of like that. I promised him I would be more intuitive with my body and cut back on some activities in order to get the rest my body obviously needs.

I came home and took a much needed nap which made me feel significantly better. I canceled my evening plans and will be staying home to rest since I have my BIG treatment tomorrow, well and because LOST is on. Please be thinking of me and sending your prayers my way as I have round two of chemo tomorrow. Let's hope this one goes well and kills those slimy cancer bugs. Stupid cancer.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

3/6/2008: Hospital

Well, I told you in the beginning that I would share the good, the bad, and the bald, so if you don't want to hear the latest, I suggest you not read the rest of this blog entry since it is an intense one. (Don't say I didn't warn you!)

Last night I slept on my bathroom floor with my cell phone dialed to 911 ... let's start from the beginning.

I woke up yesterday and had started my period ... again. So, I am basically having a period every two weeks now that I have started chemotherapy. You either have them more often, or not at all. Lucky me! I am now anemic, so the loss of blood is not a good thing. I could not stand up last night without getting extremely weak and dizzy, so I just kept laying down. The dizziness made me nauseous. What a vicious cycle! Even laying down, the room was spinning. I was a mess. If I had not fallen asleep, I would have called 911.

I woke this morning feeling better, even though the period continues. I felt my nose running and upon wiping in on the back of my hand I noticed a streak of blood. It didn't take long and I was standing over my toilet with my nose pouring like a faucet with bright red blood and clots. Despite the signs that things are getting worse and my body is not happy, I drove to work. BIG MISTAKE! By the time I arrived I was back to my laying-on-the-floor state from last night. I called my oncologist's office and they want to see me immediately since it appears that I am losing too much blood. My body has decided to bleed out for some reason. I hope this is an easy fix although I fear it is not.

Off to the hospital ...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

3/4/2008: Beauty in the Breakdown

Well, it appears that I am finally getting a bit of a break. The hair on the rest of my body has decided to slow down considerably. I was in the shower this morning and realized I had not shaved in a week ... nor did I need to. SWEET! My morning routine with no hair on my head or body is now about 15 minutes. I could seriously get used to this. Now, if my eyebrows and eyelashes fall out, I may cry.

No new aches or pains, just the same old ones. There are a few patches of hair left on my head that are hanging on for dear life, which I find to be admirable. The nerves in my hands come and go thanks to the Taxotere. I could not button my shirt this morning, so I came to work and asked my co-worker, and friend, Sarah to please help me. Strangely enough, none of this embarrasses me. I just go with the flow. My co-workers are awesome and have become accustomed to my strange requests. They realize I am OK with talking about my cancer and even joking about it. I think they appreciate my ability to laugh at myself and not take anything too seriously. Life is too short to be that serious and focused on the negative. My Dad always told me that it takes the same amount of energy to complain as it does to find a solution. I choose to invest my time wisely.

This week has been a busy one. I work for the digital team at Gannett in Tyson's Corner as a Product Manager and we launched our Video Network this week. It's my baby! It was a tight deadline (especially with all my medical appointments), but the documentation is out the door and now we white knuckle it and wait for the drop. We have 108 affiliate sites to implement the product, so I foresee a ton of questions ahead since my name and contact information are on the document. Eeek! Gotta love a challenge ... I certainly do!

I am only a month into writing my thesis and I am already over it. Not really, but it is tough to juggle with work and cancer treatments. Both my adviser and professor think I am crazy (harsh, but fair), although they say I am ahead of the other students in the class, so they won't keep telling me that I am nuts. What else is a girl supposed to do at 4 am? I have learned that writing your thesis comes with a lot of criticism and rejection. It's rough on a writer's ego, but I try to let it roll off my back and not sting too much. I think the rejection and push back without the cancer would be much more bearable. Hopefully you understand what I mean without me having to spell it out. This week I am finalizing the theory I plan to apply to my thesis topic and over the next three weeks I will be completing the literature review. By the end of May, when I complete my chemotherapy, I should be halfway finished with my thesis. Pretty aggressive, but that's how I like it.

I hope you all are having a great week. I am anxious about round two of chemotherapy on Friday, so I am trying to stay busy the rest of the week.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

3/2/2008: Sleepless Nights

Today is NOT a good day. I slept maybe a total of two hours last night. I had three panic attacks in my sleep and am completely exhausted. I woke up several times in the middle of the night with tears rolling down my face and dripping with sweat. I am scared to fall back asleep. Plus I am finding it hard to regulate my body temperature now that I am balding. I could really use some night caps that I can sleep in. I spent the night with my covers over my head like a little nun. Probably cute/funny, but not so comfortable.

My sisters (in cancer) have told me that they also have anxiety the week prior to their chemotherapy treatments. It's good to know that I am reacting in a "normal" way. I just know how bad the last one was and am petrified to do it again ... not that I have a choice. Oh God, I pray this one is better than the last. I don't know how much more I can take. I am trying so hard to stay positive and make the best of this situation, but it's days like this that make it hard. I could use a vacation right about now.

My beautiful buzz cut (thanks to Kere) is now a polka dotted mess. I am balding ... and it's happening quicker than I had originally anticipated. My brother and I hung out last night and he touched my head and it sprinkled down my shoulder like a fragile dandelion. I could see in his face that he felt horrible, but what can you do? You can't baby it ... it's inevitable. I then put my head over the sink and ran my fingers over my scalp to show him how bad it was. I think I made a few jokes about it (making him feel better about my molting), threw on my wig and we headed out for the night. By tomorrow (Monday) I believe it will all be gone. My scalp aches and is not happy with what is happening. (Join the club! Haha.) Every time I touch my head it hurts. Like it's not bad enough that I am losing my hair, but it has to hurt too!? Give me a break, please! I am also tiring of vacuuming my condo. I like things clean and organized and you can't do that when you're molting! LOL. Can you tell I am cranky today?

Sorry this is not a happier blog entry, but it's the reality of the situation. It sucks royally and I am not happy at all. The good news is that I have spent more time enjoying life this past month then I have in a long time. Just this week I saw Michael, Mark, Alicia, Kori, Marisa, Andrew, Kere and others. Having my friends and family surrounding me is the only thing I need to get through this. I love you all so much. Thank you for just being you and loving me unconditionally. It truly means everything to me. My positivity (not evident in this blog entry) comes from your love, prayers and support. Thank you!

On a happier note, I saw one of my friends this weekend who had a lot of information that I would love to share with you. (I hope I don't get in trouble with my friend for sharing! I can try and use the cancer card in the event of that happening! It works about 90% of the time. Haha.) My friend works for the National Cancer Institute and is probably the most intelligent person I have ever met in my entire life. Knowing my situation, my friend believes that I am Stage 2A. Knowing this, I have probably had cancer for 2 to 5 years in my body.

Crazy to think about! My friend also told me how lucky I am to be HER-2 proteinpositive.Herceptin (the antibody for the HER2-protein) is the only targeted treatment they have right now for cancer patients, that has been approved for use, that is perfectly matched to eradicate the specific protein in the body, unlike chemotherapy that is a one size fits all solution targeting all cells that rapidly divide and reproduce. Stupid cancer. Stupid cells. We spoke for awhile and I realize how truly blessed I am that my cancer was found when it was and has not spread. All of the things that my oncologist and surgeon have suggested, I shared with my friend and it was agreed that I am getting amazing care with the best options for my body. The reassurance feels good.

I hope you all are having a better weekend than I am. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I embark on round two of chemo this week. *Sigh*