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 -