It has been quite some time since I have last written a blog post about my cancer battle. I do my best to do short updates on facebook, but since one of the horrid side effects of chemotherapy is the inability to sleep properly, I thought I'd update you all on how things are going, and just be an open book to you guys.
My first infusion did NOT go as smoothly as I thought it would. First, I was in the infusion POD for over 5 hours. I did not anticipate the searing pain I'd experience after the infusion. The really horrible thing about chemotherapy is that it really is a crap shoot on how your side effects will manifest. Some people have zero pain, just severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (among other things). My personal side effects manifested as severe joint and bone pain the first night. I honestly felt that every bone in my body was breaking to pieces, and it took every ounce of energy I had to make it to the restroom. It was awful. I have never felt such pain in my life. I screamed in pain that night as it was so incredibly difficult to get through it. Day two, well the pain isn't AS BAD, but food was just so unappealing. My stomach was mostly in knots all day, and all I wanted to do was vomit, which I did. Unfortunately for me, my chemotherapy manifested itself with constipation versus diarrhea, so I can't really figure out which is worse. I can't eat much at once. I am pretty much relegated to soup, oatmeal, and bread - oh and protein shakes. I tried eating different things, some made me sick, so it has been a lot of trial and error. My hair has already begun to fall out. Every time I mess with it all kinds of hair comes out - which I was not expecting until around week 3.
I can't say this is easy. This is incredibly difficult and much worse than the bilateral mastectomy. I am really fortunate to have a job that keeps my mind off of some of the worst of it, but this is really testing me mentally and physically. I know I should be happy that at least my cancer was caught very early on, but it is hard to have those feelings when you feel like you're dying once a week. Luckily, I have a pretty amazing team of physicians between here and Chapel Hill. It is a totally different experience versus what I went through in Vegas.
Chemotherapy has tested me in a way the bilateral mastectomy did not. I feel much weaker with chemotherapy - and the end is not in sight. This isn't a month of healing. It's a full year of SHIT - the worst of it being the first 3 months. I am extremely nauseous right now, ugh. I want to workout, but it seems it takes roughly 3 days for me to recover from treatment - and I receive treatment every Tuesday morning. So counting Tuesdays, I will probably change my workout plan to Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Mondays (If I can deal with that).
I can honestly say I feel all most a shell of my former self. It is hard to accept the body I have at the moment. I know I should appreciate my body more for fighting, but it is hard to be in a position like this when I have lived a healthy lifestyle all of my life. I miss my strong body so much. I guess I should be thankful that I worked so hard in the beginning, because I feel like I was better equipped to deal with the torments my body would go through for the next year and a half. I am really happy I worked out as much as I did, but I also miss the part of me that lifted heavy things, ran, and was trained to fight with or without weapons. I miss that part of me. I know those parts of me are not gone forever - they are just sort of lying dormant for the next year. As I say this, it doesn't exactly make it easier either.
Many of you already know that my breast cancer was not genetic (not all breast cancers are genetic people). My cancer was more than likely an environmental cause. I have a lot of time to think - and I was diagnosed with cancer in Las Vegas, and more than likely cancer cells started making their happy way throughout my body about 2 years prior to my diagnosis. Las Vegas is probably one of the most toxic places I have ever lived in. Some areas you couldn't even drive on because of radiation and other toxic waste. The smog was so bad (not as bad as L.A but close) and the air quality was just awful. I sometimes wonder if the environment I was a part of contributed to my cancer diagnosis at such a young age. For this reason, after my treatment is complete, I plan to get my MPS (Master's of Professional Science) in Toxicology. I would like to specialize in Environmental Toxicology. I plan to start studying for the GRE in about 3 months, and apply to the program at UNC Chapel Hill. I have the classes to apply right off the bat (thank god) so I don't have any pre-reqs. I need to take besides the GRE (yuck). It will take me 2 years to complete, but this experience changed my outlook on how I see our world, and in some small way, I'd like to make a change. Even though I teach college students, and I do enjoy it - it is NOT my calling in life, but I honestly believe what I have decided to do is the direction my heart is wanting to go.
Well - sorry for the long post guys. Long update. I hope you like the new format I picked for my page since I am no longer practicing massage therapy/rehabilitation anymore, I wanted to change my page a bit.
OH - which reminds me. I noticed a huge influx of yoga instructors and those going to yoga teacher training. Although I left yoga years ago, as I felt that it wasn't for me to teach, I want to mention something to you. I know it is cool and hip to do certain types of yoga, but this area actually has a huge population of cancer patients, and I was super surprised to see only one location that offered yoga for people with cancer (in Pinehurst). I am a cancer patient, but I see other people like me or worse than me on a daily basis, and many of them could benefit from someone with some knowledge about cancer and how yoga may benefit them. I know when I practiced as a massage therapist, I did donate some of my time to charitable events and things of that nature. If you are an instructor, it may not hurt you to donate 1 day a week or 1 day every two weeks or even once a month to cancer patients. Many of those patients will go into remission, and may see you for some of the harder classes in the future. But it doesn't take much to make someone in this situation happy - and it is an amazing way to give back to your own community, especially a community of individuals who are struggling.
Okay - Much love my friends. Thank you for all your support and love that you all have given me the last few months. You all have given me strength to continue and that means the world to me.
- Amber -
If you follow my Facebook you probably already know about my consultation with the medical oncologist. Well, I thought I would give you all the details of the events of today. First, I saw my plastic surgeon Dr Roughton. I sort of royally screwed myself because I worked out yesterday and holy jesus I was in a lot of pain today. So much so that at one point I felt like my upper chest was on fire. I get phantom pain in my chest area - and that was in full force today and still ongoing. By the time I saw medical oncology, I was crying in agony. Soooo yeah, I did breakdown eventually.
I will be undergoing chemotherapy and taking herceptin. My type of chemotherapy is not as bad as some, but I will have some of the same side effects, just not at the same intensity. For 12 weeks I will be going in for chemotherapy treatments once a week. You have to sit in a chair for 90 minutes so that is something I am not looking forward to. During this time, I will be doing herceptin treatments (which is also IV) once every 3 weeks for a full year. So, since both drugs are IV based, I decided on getting a portacath placed inside me so I don't have to be IVed several times. Basically, this treatment plan will eradicate any lingering cancer cells that are looking for a nutrient source.
I will admit to you, this has not been the easiest road to travel on. Depression hits a bit hard when you can't workout and your body has changed on you. Chemotherapy will force my hair to fall out, and I will go bald for a period of time. The hormone therapy in pill form I will be taking for 5-10 years. The goal for me is to go into remission - I am not there yet and won't be for an entire year. That can be a hard pill to swallow. I can't exercise for another week or so - basically there are some areas that have not healed from the double mastectomy.
I am prepared to undergo chemotherapy. I did have an odd experience with the cancer support coordinator. She was a PA-C that decided to practice in psychiatry. One thing I will tell you, in my own mind I can really only handle one big hurdle at a time. Trying to dig into my past and deal with some of that bullshit is really for another time. It always feels weird when you feel pressured to talk about your experiences in life, especially since I have made the decision to not let those situations define me. One piece of advice I would probably give her is that I can face cancer head on, but the rest of the bullshit will have to wait.
I am a bit of a realist - it is impossible to stay positive 100% of the time, and today was one of those days that positivity was just impossible.
Well, I am starting to feel a bit normal, which says a lot considering I still have tubes in my underarms and no feeling in my chest. The surgery was, well, the most painful surgery I have ever experienced - but I should remember I did undergo a double mastectomy with reconstruction at the same time, so, it wasn't going to be the most comfortable surgery I have ever endured. I did stay overnight at the hospital, which, if you have ever stayed the night at the hospital, you will know you get everything BUT SLEEP. They wake you every 4 hours for medication, bathroom breaks, ect. So, I was ready to be home when I came home.
For the most part I am healing pretty quickly. I don't feel as much pain at this point, and I can take a shower (no soap though, UGH). I think a lot of what you experience is mental, but you do feel pain from time to time. I just feel fortunate that I could exercise today for a good 32 minutes. I guess I should start from the beginning. The first day is by far the most painful. I don't remember this, but I was in so much pain I was crying and the anesthesiologist had to do a hard reset on me. After I came to, I was being rolled into the short stay room. After that, the pain was there, but always under control. When I came home, it was hard getting up and down the first day, but thank goodness for TGU because I actually used much of that technique to get up and down. I am 4 days post op and I actually feel pretty decent. I can move my arms, workout lightly, get things unassisted, take a shower, put my own clothes on - you know the basics that you sometimes take for granted when you realize you can't do it on your own.
One thing I will say that makes this difficult - I look different. Not my face - but my chest area. Dr. Gallagher and Dr. Roughton did a FANTASTIC job, I mean, on the plastic surgery end they didn't have a TON to work with, but she made the transition much easier for me. Dr. Gallagher saved my life. She removed all the cancer growths in my breasts and lymph nodes. My left side looks well, not like me. The first time I saw the divet where my lymph nodes were located I was quite shocked. I understand that I will NEVER look the same again, and that is a tough pill to swallow at age 31, but for me, I realized it was either have cancer kill me, or get it out of me. I think anyone would choose the latter. I am really proud of both of my surgeons. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better team to work on me. They saved my life and made me look right at the same time. I understand that things will be different - I have absolutely no sensation on the front of my chest (ZERO). I do get phantom pains sometimes, which was something we expected, but it isn't bad. It just feels weird. Overall, I am happy to be over this first stage of cancer treatment.
Stage 2 is chemotherapy. We are not 100% sure if we will have to undergo chemo, but we do know that I will be taking the medication herceptin. That is about all we know for sure. It really depends on what the pathology exam shows from this past mastectomy (yes they sent ALL the tissue to a pathologist). Once we get an idea of what the pathology results show, we will know how aggressive the treatment for chemotherapy. I was lucky to have caught this in the earliest possible stage. If you are going through something similar, the best advice I can give you is BE PERSISTENT. Some doctors will tell you, you're crazy or it's in your head - well, let me tell ya, it wasn't in my head it was full blown cancer. So listen to your body.
I hope to update you guys a bit more frequently, but I had to recover a bit in order to get my thoughts together. I feel okay now and ready for physical therapy to actually start for me, but I have to wait till the tubes are out (less than a week).
Much love and thanks for reading. .
Well, tonight is my last night with my real breasts. Honestly, I am really okay with this situation as my breasts have been hurting me for the past month. So, I apologize in advanced for any typos, ect. because I am in a hotel room writing this and the WiFi sucks ass - like every damn hotel you go to.
I have to be at UNC at 6:30 AM, and that is damn early - but the surgery starts at 8:00 AM. I would be lying out of my ass if I said I wasn't scared. Yes, I am scared shitless. This surgery is incredibly invasive and I will be out for roughly 5 hours. I have no idea what to expect afterward. All I know is that I will be staying the night at the hospital before we head back home to our area.
One thing I will say is that having my husband and my sister Ashley here has been a true blessing to me. When I was hurting the most, my sister knew how to make me laugh and calm me down. Both James and Ashley have calm demeanors and that is lifesaving when you get nervous. Having both of them here has made this experience run smoother for me and I am forever thankful for both of them. I love them both for the sacrifices they made to be by my side during this time. During a time like this, I have to say, having a support system, no matter how small, can make a huge difference in how you react and feel to a scary situation.
Tonight is the last night I will ever have real breast tissue or nerves in my chest. I am afraid of what else they may find, and if I will lose some of my pectoralis major muscle since the tumor is located around that area. I won't really know 100% of what they performed until after it is completed. I have full trust in my physicians to do a great job and essentially keep me alive.
I will be offline for sometime in that I will have drainage tubes hanging out of my body for 7 days. It will be hard to update you guys, but if you follow me on FB, I will let you know that I am alive and if the surgery was successful.
Thank you for all of your loving thoughts, donations, love, prayers, and letters you all have sent. Some of you have even seen me in the hospital and spent some time with myself and Jim (Paul! Thank you). I have gotten many text messages and I read all of them and try to reply back. Thank you all for thinking of me during this time.
after I heal from surgery will be the next large step: Chemotherapy. To be continued...
I thought I would write a blog post because I am in a shitload of pain right now. Cancer is funny sometimes - some days you are asymptomatic, and other days you feel like you're dying - which is a weird choice of words but hey I don't really care right now. I know many of you have wondered how I keep such a positive attitude much of the time. Well, the truth is, I don't always have a positive attitude. I do my best to stay positive, but there are days where positivity is so incredibly difficult, and I can't do anything but cry it out (or punch it out). I try to think to myself, you know Amber, you could be a stage 4 patient which is, well, bad news. But you can't help but think in the back of your mind that you have something inside you that is trying to kill you. A bullet didn't do it, a knife, a fight - no - my body was invaded by cancer cells and it found a capillary source to supply it nutrients for growth and replication. The next logical step for something invading your body is to spread to other areas and attach itself near another capillary source (which it did in my lymph nodes). For those of you wondering, capillaries area an exchange area of nutrients to different areas of the body including organs. Okay enough about the biology lesson (sorta). I am just writing information on the fly here.
As I write this, I am in an intense amount of pain, and usually during these moments are when I feel the saddest. It reminds me that something is inside me killing me slowly. My cancer is located in a weird position, the 11:00, which makes it near my heart. Much of that is incredibly scary. I have no idea how I will feel during and after the surgery - I have no idea how I will handle Chemotherapy. Those things are incredibly scary. As much as I try to stay positive about the situation, all of this is unknown to me. It doesn't really help much that I have been alone most of my time in North Carolina except for times when I go to the gym and shop for things I need for the house. I don't know anyone here in NC that has faced similar challenges (yes, people I know they exist). I just want to survive all of this intact - physically and mentally. I know it will be a long 8 months to a year - but I want to eventually go into remission. The fear still remains: what if the cancer comes back somewhere else? I know I shouldn't think that far, and just be here right now, but that is incredibly difficult. Everyday I notice my health is slowly beginning to fail me. I am constantly tired, I have more days in pain than I do not, I am losing weight rapidly, and I have resorted to protein shakes at this point because I can't get the nutrients I need. All of these things are really starting to play into my psyche a bit.
I guess what I am trying to explain is that it is nearly impossible to stay positive everyday. There are days that you wonder about your life, and the fact is - it is hard to plan just about anything because you have no idea what the future holds for you. All you can really do is take everything one day at a time. I would be lying if I said I wasn't afraid - yes I am afraid. Everything that I know to be is changing and I am completely different from what I was, physically. I am doing my best to accept and embrace those changes, but it is incredibly difficult. So, in this blog, I wanted to be truthful to you that I don't always stay positive everyday. There are days where I am seriously struggling to maintain my own sanity. This is my own show of vulnerability to you that is legitimate. As things get closer to treatment, the more fear I feel inside of me. I go in for the double mastectomy in less than 2 weeks, and yes there is fear there. I know I will never look normal again, and I have come to terms with most of that - but I never expected to go through this type of change at 31.
I just have to continue to believe that I can do this - and put one foot in front of the other everyday.
I just thought I would write what a rollercoaster cancer can damn well be. I also wish they had darts somewhere. I do enjoy playing darts. I guess throwing things at an object can be quite cathartic.
Much love guys.
OH man, I am tired. Well, I finally have a desk. I ran over and got a desk and put it together in about 20 minutes. It is pretty basic, but works for what I need. Typing on the ground was making my back hurt! Luckily, I still can still put shit together relatively quickly even though I am constantly tired. Yes, many ladies put EVERYTHING in their own homes together (many strong military spouse ladies I know around here are the shit).
I said I would write a blog post about my Advanced Directive, Power of Attorney, and End of Life Will. At the age of 31 this isn't usually something you think about, especially a WILL. I mean, honestly, most of us have not amassed that much wealth to distribute properly among family members. Since Jim and I have moved so much, I have been extremely reluctant to buy a house because I wanted the house I bought to be lived in for at least 10 years in order to build equity - BUT enough about that. In my case, because cancer is so unpredictable, I had to have all of these things set in place in order to protect my own interests, my husband, and my sister. I wrote a blog post about this before, but actually DOING IT was much tougher than I anticipated. I know they try to make it as harmless as possible, but yikes. I am not going to lie to any of you - I cried while putting all of it together. The reason is, at 31 - you don't truly think about your own mortality unless you have a job that forces you to. Yes, there are hazardous jobs in the world that you HAVE to have these things put in place, but for the average person, this isn't really the norm of things. Having cancer made me think about things that I didn't want to really think about. I had to think about the worst case scenario in every situation - what if something catastrophic happens during surgery? What if the cancer spreads all over and my life is severed? Ugh, just all of it is hard to think about and hard to process. I am happy that I was alone to do this - I don't think I could have done this with my husband or family around. These decisions are deeply personal, and I just couldn't do any of it near anyone. I also wrote letters to those closest to me to accompany my will. Sometimes, you just have to say things that you just don't want to say while you're alive. Am I thinking I am going to die? No, I',m not, but I have NEVER been in a situation where I had to think about end of life. I wanted to make sure everything was set in stone and that those I love know that I Love them.
For others in a similar situation, it is best that you cover your ass and the ass of those you love. I have seen A LOT of fighting within families because something unexpected happened and no one knew or EVERYONE thought they knew exactly what the individual wanted. When you don't legally bind your wishes, it can turn into a free-for-all with family and friends. This was my way of protecting everyone and letting everyone know that these wishes were MY OWN and no one else. Sometimes you may think you know someone, but what they actually want is completely different from your own thoughts.
For the people that will make the toughest decisions for me, it makes things easier for them because they know exactly what I want in each situation. Only two people are allowed to make decisions on my behalf, and I made that clear within my legal documents. If you are in a similar space, this should be within your legal papers as well. You want those you trust and know will do what you ask to make the hardest decisions for you.
Just some insight from someone who is in that space.
Much love to all of you,
Well, most of you already know this, but I finally planted back to North Carolina. Luckily, things have gone fairly smooth considering everything we did was long distance from Las Vegas, including the house we decided to rent. I am so fortunate because I actually LOVE our home and our landlord and his girlfriend are super nice. Normally when you deal with a property management company it can be the BIGGEST pain in the ass.
I miss my family. They will be here next week. I finally have internet in the house, even though I have zero furniture besides what my landlord left for me, which was SUPER nice of him. I honestly forgot about how good people can be to you when you are just openly nice to them. In Vegas, I felt like I had to be a gigantic asshole all the damn time because NOTHING would ever get accomplished unless you were. That gets really exhausting, so what can I say, I am already happier just being here because I can just be me. Our home is so quite, it feels a bit strange! I am so used to loud noises ALL THE TIME and now I am kind of in the middle of no where and it is super peaceful. I honestly forgot about all of this, and I am surprised by how much I actually missed it.
As far as my health, well, what can I say? It seems to be failing me. Honestly, my mind is sharp (thank goodness) but my body just doesn't feel like it's mine. My energy levels took a sharp turn a few weeks ago, but it has just gotten a lot worse as time goes by. I work out 4 days a week (not my usual 5-6 days) and let me tell ya, those days are struggles! It takes EVERYTHING I have inside me to make those workouts, well, work. I am so slow, which is weird for my body. I feel like everything is moving in slow motion in regard to my body, and I do get embarrassed because I am used to people asking me how can I do this or that? Or, I want to lift like that! That part is gone with the wind I guess. I took everything I had to power clean and front squat my normal warm up weight (roughly 115#). I am sharing this with all of you, even though it is INCREDIBLY difficult for me to share because, well, I am embarrassed! I am a little bigger now, but I've lost roughly 10# in about 2 weeks time. I am dropping weight a bit faster than what is healthy. Remember, you should only lose roughly 2.2# a week on the HIGH END of things. I can't eat a whole lot anymore. My appetite is about gone, and depending on what I do eat, I end up throwing up a lot of foods that just don't sit right. So - I am sort of subjected to oatmeal and protein shakes. Here is what I can say: I can still do strict pull ups, although not pretty. I can still clean and snatch, although not as heavy. I can still do a handstand (pretty well actually!). I can still run, jump, and swing. I can still do awkward movements like a Turkish Get up, even though I am not at my max weight (I did 55# today, max is roughly 75#). I can tell you this much, I am thankful for the things that I CAN pull off. I know many of you are wondering why I haven't made my way into a CrossFit gym. Honestly, it is because I can't do anything at warping speed anymore, and pushing me to do it can land me in the hospital (seriously). My body is fighting as hard as possible, and I have to move at a pace that I can survive with. So, I essentially program for myself and I go to local gyms around town. I do the very best I can, but it is incredibly hard. I know once I go in for surgery, I will lose just about everything and will be starting from scratch. Right now, my goal is to prepare my body for what it is about to face - invasive surgery and chemotherapy. As a cancer patient, my advice to others with sickness, I can't tell you how important it is to exercise and keep your body healthy. Yeah, things won't always feel right - but all you can do is push yourself until your body says STOP (and trust me you will know when your body says this). During my clean workout, the left portion of my upper body literally began to seize up. I couldn't breathe right and it was really painful - basically that was the signal that my body was finished.
I go in for surgery in two weeks time. Am I scared? Absolutely. If I wasn't I would be kind of concerned for myself lol. I know that what I am doing RIGHT NOW is putting my body in the best position to go undergo surgery. If anyone else is in the same boat with ANY surgery, keep your body health before hand. Your recovery will thank you for it. :o)
Anyhow, my NC friends, I would love to see you before I look like garbage! :o) Some of you have already reached out, and I am really thankful for that. Right now, I am just trying to get some things finished (will, advanced directive, power of attorney) before shit hits the fan, per say.
Much love to you guys, and of course, Happy 4th of July. Celebrate responsibly (or irresponsibly it's up to you. life is too short).
Some of you may have noticed, but I deactivated our GoFund me Campaign tonight. We received enough donations from those of you who donated your hard earned money to us to help us get to North Carolina for my doctor's appointments, paid for our room and food, our car rental, our dog boarding, and medical expenses we had for the past month. I can't thank you enough for all you have done for us, and I am forever thankful that many of you were willing to donate. We are now receiving help from Care Coalition to help with the extra expenses associated with moving and they have come through for us as well. I will be making my move to North Carolina on Wednesday (permanently) and Jim will follow about two weeks later with all our belongings. Jim will be arriving with me to NC but we will have to come back to Vegas to take care of packing and shipping my car. For those of you wondering, yes we did find a house and we should be moving in on July 1st. We are going to be living in Southern Pines again.
Many of you have been keeping track of my journey, and I haven't written in some time because the pain of having cancer has reared its ugly head. I am in pain much of the time now, especially in the evening. UNC Cancer Center has found more in my breast tissue versus what they found in Las Vegas, and it is actually worse than we thought. The cancer has spread into the Sentinal Node in my lymph ducts, possibly my back, and they found another mass in the right breast roughly 0.5 cm in size. My cancer has grown to 2 cm now, so I guess you can say I am really ready for this thing to come out of me, and chemotherapy to get rid of what has spread.
I am a bit tired tonight, so I will end it here. I am looking forward to North Carolina, and hopefully I can get a workout in tomorrow (this week has been ROUGH). I have been a quite a bit of pain so I think I need a good workout.
Thank you all for everything you have done to help us. I hope I can return the favor, and I am trying in some ways to do so.
Much love to all of you!
As strong as I am trying to be given the circumstances, it is getting incredibly difficult to stay the course of positivity. So far, everything that has occurred in NC has been okay. I met with the entire surgical staff and radiation oncologists, and a surgery date for my double mastectomy is set. I am extremely happy that all of those things in North Carolina worked out (I was sure it would), but everything in Vegas has turned out wrong in every area. I don't expect any real special treatment because I have cancer (other than my handicap placard), but one thing I do expect is respect and a since of dignity when someone speaks to me. It seems like every place turn, I have been treated like absolute garbage. I am not saying all people are bad, but I have been met with straight up nastiness the last month I have been here. Take for example, I am at Walmart - I have my cart and reusable bag trying to get to my car. I am in the pedestrian walkway so I have the right of way. Of course I still look both ways, and I see a car driving EXTREMELY fast in a parking lot. Of course I stop as I do not want to get hit by this crazy man. I wave my hand to signal to him to go. You know what he does? He honks his horn at me and says something along the lines of "hurry up and go you nigger." or something to that effect. The words I heard clear as day was hurry up and you nigger. I mean, seriously? This doesn't hurt my feeling per-say as I do not know this man, but I haven't heard such brazen racism in quite some time.
Stress has been a killer for me. Moving is tough, and we are moving on the fly to add to that. Luckily we found a good man that we are renting from and a really nice home for us to live in that is within our budget. I have been hospitalized twice due to cancer related complications. The first doctor straight up forgot about me, but thats okay. The second was a Nurse Practitioner and I really liked her. When it came time to fill my Rx, the first pharmacy we went to, I swear the pharmacy technician didn't listen to a word I said. I told him that I was a cancer patient and I had proof of this (yes I truly did) and he was still a straight up asshole. I told him that we were moving in a week and a half, for cancer treatment and he still acted like an asshole. I mean really? Is acting that way really beneficial for anyone? Also, why do they feel the need to be straight up mean to me when I try m very best to be as polite as possible. Sometimes it doesn't feel worth it.
Then my drama this morning when my own publishing company who REFUSED to e-mail me back for an entire month about my royalty payment. They had ample time to tell me that I was still in the red, but my contract (which I still have) is different from theirs. I had to go over their heads to even get them to RESPOND to me, and then the customer service individual straight up lied and said she sent me all of the information. Well, this girl (me) keeps receipts and I showed them proof that she had zero contact with me. So on top of all of that, they tell me I don't get any royalties because I owe them $4,000 from the advance - which my actual advance was only $2,000. So they will be taking money away from my royalties for the next 6 months, which is the next pay period for my book. I feel all most stolen from. That was really the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I did have a good cry and then I had to suck it up and remember I still have to fight cancer no matter what these people do to me. I guess I am just appalled at how easy it is for people to royally screw you.
I am doing the very best I can, but things are getting harder and harder for me to deal with. I love crafting as it keeps my hands busy and I don't think about the things that hurt me the most. I exercise 4 days a week - and even that has been its own struggle as I have lost strength in my back and arms. I get nose bleeds everyday, and I have pain all most everyday. Some days are asymptomatic, and those are the days I try to get the most done.
I am not going to lie to you - yes there are days that depression exists and the frustration becomes overwhelming. I won't lie about that. I know there are a few of you out there that will tell me to suck it up - but until you experience cancer and all of THIS it is easier said than done. I am doing the very best that I can given the situations I have been put in, but things are not easy, and I am truly ready to be back to North Carolina.
Writing in my blog helps me put things in perspective. one thing I can say is that many of you have supported me in so many ways and I am so thankful for you.
One thing I will tell you that I have learned from this entire experience. Be nice to each other. You have no idea what another individual is facing, and being rude and nasty to them could break them. A nice comment goes a LONG way, as I explained during my American Airlines flight. It wasn't the big things that made the difference - it was all the little things the staff did that made me happy and brought me joy and less stress in my life. Those are the things that really matter.
I just wanted to write a short blog post to keep you guys updated and share my feelings :o)
Much love to you all. I will be posting more items on ETSY today, so keep a look out!
You are loved, even if it may not always feel like it.
I am pretty exhausted from today's ordeal, and I writing from a hotel room with VERY slow internet service, so I am going to write what I can here. Jim and I are back from UNC Cancer center and we finally have a treatment plan! I feel more at ease now that we know what we are doing for my cancecr treatment. The UNC clinic is CRAZY efficient. We stayed one room and we saw Radiation oncologist, Surgery Oncologist, Plastic Surgeon, Geneticist, and Radiologist. CRAZY!! BUT amazing!
So the one piece of good news: I do not have to undergo radiation because of some of the choices we made (I will go into that). Radiation isn't really dangerous, but it is one step we can skip because of the treatment path we decided to go on.
Many of you are wondering so...we ARE going forward with a double (or bilateral) mastectomy. The reason we decided on a double (or bilateral) instead of simple (or unilateral) is because the Risk/Benefit ratio was higher on the risk side if I kept my right breast. I want to prolong my life without having to worry about my breasts trying to kill me again. This is a deeply personal decision and a difficult one as I am losing both my breasts, but Jim and I talked at length with the Surgical Oncologist and it was a decision she would have made if in my position. She did NOT say this until after Jim and I came to a decision. I am the one living with cancer, and many may not agree with my choice, but I want to prolong my life and this seemed like the most logical for both treatment AND prevention. Along with this, I did decide to go foward with reconstruction. The reason is more psychological than anything. Since I am going forward with a double mastectomy, I didn't want to wake up in complete shock after surgery being completely flat. Also I feel that this will be easier for me to deal with as far as healing and curbing what is known as phantom pain. I feel that having something there will make it easier for me to accept that I have no breasts. I also do not want to try to field questions about why my chest is flat or why I have no breasts. In case you're wondering, I decided to stay the same size. I really can't go any bigger because I am muscular, and since I am not keeping ANY breast tissue, it makes the procedure more complicated. My chest will be numb forever, but hey, if it saves my life I'm okay with it.
I will have to undergo chemotherapy. The surgery is first, so I may not have to have aggressive chemotherapy. This is a good thing as I hate being sick all the time. I will have to go in once every 2-3 weeks for treatment. I will have to undergo hormone treatment for 5-10 years after the completion of chemotherapy - basically I have to take hormone pills everyday. This does inhibit my ability to have children, but if I stop taking it I can still get pregnant. The doctor already told us we wouldn't be able to try anyways for 2 years. This works out for us anyhow since I had no intention of getting pregnant within that timeframe.
The radiologist performed another ultrasound (yes she performed it). She saw 2 abnormal lymph nodes under my left arm so they will be biopsied tomorrow. I am not exactly looking forward to getting yet another biopsy but it is important as this will see if they will remove all my lymph nodes, and confirm the MRI that the cancer may have spread into that area. If this is the case, they will remove all my lymph nodes on the left side, but from what I understand they planned on removing them anyways.
The surgery will take place first. They will perform this about a month from now. The doctor said there was no risk in waiting, so this gives Jim and I some time to move out of our home in Vegas and move to NC. It will be tight but we have the ability to do it. The reason why it takes a month is because the surgical oncologist and plastic surgeon have to coordinate their schedules since they do EVERYTHING in one surgery. My chest is apparently really muscular with NO real room up in my chest cavity so they are going to TRY to put in silicone implants, but if they can't they will put in chest expanders that I have to go in every few months to get filled. This is the downside to the reconstruction if you are relatively skinny or very muscular (the latter being my case).
So, this is the treatment plan. This may not be what you would do, but every person is different. I just ask that you please respect the decision that I made, as I am happy about my choices and feel like I gave myself the best chance for longevity of life. I appreciate all of you and how you have helped me during this time. We will keep you updated as time permits here in NC.
Much Love to all of you!