Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cancerversary-Year 1

I should have known that the anniversary of a traumatic event would make me crazy. It was like that for the 1 year anniversary of my Dad's death. In the days leading up to it, I relived every moment. Luckily, on the actual day of his death I was comforted by many signs and his visit in a dream to let me know that he was fine and still with me. I only hope that today I can find half of that peace.

A year ago my life changed, and it will never be the same. Lately I have been consumed with negative thoughts, anxiety, panic, and hopelessness. I have been reliving each moment..the feel of that rock hard lump in my normally smooth breast, the cold sweat and difficulty breathing I had while telling my Mom and Eric (who was away for work) over the phone what I had found, the doctors appointments, the tests, the concerned looks on the faces of the doctors and techs, and the fake smiles I put on for everyone, the beginning of my permanent state of preoccupation.

Thanks to social media, I've "met" or read about a lot of young breast cancer girls. I need this, I need them, I need to know I'm not the only one. However, what this means is that I will inevitabily see some people recur, and I may see some people die. Some will have a better prognosis than me from the beginning and these stories will rock my core. And maybe I will be one of them, I can't yet be sure, I can only pray that I'm not, that they're not, and that we all make it. Lately I've been going to very dark places and feeling like its only a matter of time before the cancer returns. Every ache I have, which are plenty, sends me into a turmoil. The 1 year anniversary enhances this fear-if my cancer is most likely to return in the first 2 years, then will this be the year? I can't help thinking that when you're diagnosed with cancer you are handed one of two sentences. A death sentence....or a life sentence filled with the fear and anxiety that it will return.

This post makes me sick, I hate to be this negative. Especially after a period of strength and hopefulness over the holidays that made me feel like cancer was truly behind me and I had won. I hope it's just the date thats terrorizing me and that after this I can move on with a sense of calm.

I am praying with everything I have that I am updating this blog on this date for the next 40 years. And I hope that I'm able to turn February 15th into a celebration of life and I'll look back on these early dark days as times I can barely recall. I'm just not there yet.


Today I will not be recieving a call that I have cancer. That right there makes it 100 times better than last year. Instead, I will enjoy my wonderful husband who flew home from Germany to be with me and my gorgeous sweet daughter, I will go for a run, I will eat ice cream cake, I will have photos taken of my family (and I will do this every year from now on), and I will have a lovely date night with my husband. This year will be better than last. Next year will be better than this year. And so on and so on...hopefully for the next 40.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I realize that I'm terrible at blogging. The good news is, blogging less means nothing exciting is going on and I am totally fine with that. Forever.

We left off with the end of radiation. It's been a month and a half now and that ugly radiation burn is fading to what looks like a permanent tan. I've continued going every three weeks to get my Herceptin infusions. I'm very optimistic about this drug and what it can do for me but I can't wait for the day that I don't have to go to the infusion room and sit there like I did during chemotherapy.

The newest development in my treatment plan is that I have started to get shots in my stomach of a drug called Zoladex which shuts down my ovaries and puts my hormone levels equal to that of a woman in menopause. The reason I started this is because while chemo does induce menopause, my ovaries "woke back up". This means that chemotherapy did not permanently harm my ovaries and if a cure were to be found, I could try to have another baby. The bad news is that with ovarian function comes an increase of estrogen which fueled my cancer. Yes, I have been taking Tamoxifen which should block the estrogen receptors on cancer cells from getting estrogen but I still wasn't comfortable with having that much circulating estrogen in my system. So I went to my oncologist and requested that I have ovarian suppression started, which she agreed to. There is currently a study going on called the SOFT trial. It looks at Tamoxifen alone, Tamoxifen and ovarian suppression, or an Aromatase Inhibitor and ovarian suppression and is trying to figure out which arm is the most successful at reducing recurrence. The data was supposed to be presented at the end of 2013 but the study has had fewer recurrences across the board than anticipated so the verdict is still out. This is fantastic news that seems to be pointing to more successful chemotherapy treatments. So if the data ends up coming out that ovarian suppression is no better than Tamoxifen alone, I can always stop getting the shots. In the meantime, hopefully it won't hurt. So far the only side effects I have are hot flashes galore. I'm having one as I type. If I even think of having one, it happens. It's ok though, I will hot flash all day long if it means that any remaining cancer cells (which hopefully don't exist) are shriveling up and dying of thirst.

In December I had a very uplifting appointment with my oncologist. When I met with her in December I told her about my commitment to exercise and diet to try to reduce my recurrence risk as much as I can. I asked her if there was any specific food she would recommend I eat or not eat, any specific supplements I should take or not take. She recommended that I completely cut out red meat or keep it to once a week, which is not a problem for me as I rarely eat it. She then said "And I would recommend not spending too much time worrying that the cancer will return. All of the time, patients do better than expected. We will power studies to show a high recurrence rate and it just doesn't happen." She then went on to say that  my microscopic lymph node involvement is not very different from being lymph node negative and she felt optimistic about that. This was great to hear and really helped change my outlook and reduce some fear. Obviously recurrence is always possible, even in people with small tumors and negative lymph nodes, but there are plenty of people out there with poor prognostic factors who never recur. Everyday I'm trying to live without fear and have that hopeful optimism that I had before my cancer diagnosis.

I am back to work now and it has been a challenge to return to normal life. I have missed a lot of developments over the 10 months I've been on leave, so I've been training from home for the past few weeks. To be honest, I'm very nervous to get back out in front of customers. I feel like a new hire, unsure of myself and rusty. I'm also afraid to see everyone in the doctors offices who know what happened and will ask questions and those who don't know what happened, and will wonder why I have such a ridiculous hair style.  I obviously have no problem talking about my story, but I just know I'll be reliving it frequently and probably get some looks of pity as well, and that is something I do have a problem with.

In hair news, it's certainly growing but it's certainly unruly. Tomorrow I have my first hair appointment with Morgan since she buzzed my hair in May. I am hoping she is able to do something to make it look like a more professional, more intentional hair style. Without taking too much off since I obviously want it to grow. Poor girl has her work cut out for her!

I'll post a picture of the finished product tomorrow. Who are we kidding, no I won't, I'm a terrible blogger.