Saturday, November 29, 2008

Winter break

It sure has been nice having a break. This break, unlike last time doesn't feel like a break though. For some reason, maybe my body thinks it had chemo, but I feel like I have those same flu like symptoms. I feel 75% like Heather. Because I had eye surgery I can't do any strenuous activities. I sortof wish I could go for a run. But then again, I don't feel well. The flu is going around, but I am not throwing up nor do I have a fever. D thinks it just that my blood counts are low.
Thanksgiving was great. My mother in law, Brianna came and we cooked all day. I made three pies, cranberries, stuffing, and the turkey. She made her famous sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and we together tackled the gravy. Which wasn't a hit this year, D thought Brianna and I didn't like it either so he threw it out. I am still in disbelief and whenever we eat left overs, I say ,"I wish I had the gravy." He threw out turkey day gravy!!
My body feels an over all exhaustion at this point. My muscles all are sore and tired, as if I exercised all day long the day before. My fingers are still very achy and if I extend my fingers out, they hurt like the nail beds are being lifted off. So my fingers are in a constant curl. I cannot take off my socks without a lot of pain. My taste buds are gone. And I have sores in my throat and nose still. I am listing all these symptoms because I am hoping for a break from one of them during this winter break. Its already Saturday, so my hoping is getting less and less.
I am now set, unless there is another set back, to be done on New Years eve. When you're all out whooping it up, I am going to be getting chemo. And I will be whooping it up that I am done with this leg of the journey. I am nervous about radiation. A few women I have talked to say that it was the hardest part of the treatment for them. But that was for them and maybe it will be easy for me. Regardless, even if its the hardest part, I will only have six weeks, every day of it, but still only six weeks, and I can count each day down.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Doubled edged sword

Chemo got cancelled today!!! I am thrilled, my counts were too low again. That's the not good news, that they are low and that I had to put off the chemo. But, I am so happy. I actually started to cry when my Onc told me that. I was, and am so happy. I get to have a good turkey day, and I get to have a whole week of feeling good. I really need this right now because I feel like these chemo's are getting harder and harder on my body. I am getting weaker and weaker.

Yippee!! Have a good turkey day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Surgery today

Well today's the day for the tear duct surgery. I can't wait till my eyes are fixed. They are so chapped and red down to my check bones. I am not scared for the surgery. But I am nervous. I just don't know how I will be after the surgery. I am going to get knocked out, and I am allergic to some pain meds. After the lumpectomy I threw up all the way home, so I am hoping this isn't how I am.
You know, I have been dealing with going to doctors appointments or this or that for over 5 months now. Its a long time for me. But what is getting apparent is how long it is for everyone in my life. D's life has kept going and he has integrated all these appointments into his life. But there are times, like today, that taking time off in the middle of the day to go to another doctors appointment is just not conveinant. I recognize this, and so I am taking a cab to the surgery and he's going to pick me up. We need him to work during the day, and its kindof part of life. You come into this life alone, you die alone, and I am going to be in surgery alone. Its not like he is going to be in the operating room with me. So, I after I freaked out a bit, realized that its okay that he not take the day off, and sit in the lobby waiting for me.

THis whole thing sucks. And I think I am learning a lot. But mainly, I am getting stronger in me, and learning that it really is just me. Or just you. We really only ever have ourselves.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It really is fall

Today it felt like fall to me, finally. The leaves have fallen from the trees, and our apple tree has just a few danglers on it still. D and i took a long walk this morning. I think about four miles. It felt good to walk. Though, I don't think I have ever been in this kind of shape ever in my life. Simply walking was making my muscles in my body tighten, and I was exhausted the whole walk. I am now laying in bed again watching the boob tube. I made a crab and artichoke dip today and have my cinnamon roll dough rising. I want to still cook, but I really can't taste a thing and get really full quickly now. Food is kind of grossing me out. Its weird not being able to taste stuff. I just have the texture and of coarse the visual. I am not going to panic that my taste isn't going to come back. I am just believing this that it will. That would be one of the worst things if it didn't.

I am looking forward to getting this eye surgery on tuesday. My eyes, especially my right eye really bothers me, its so chapped.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I am not feeling well again. But that doesn't really explain how it is that I feel. Let me try to explain. Chemo kind of sucks the life out of you. My mind, on Taxotere is totally intact. Thank God. I can still think, unlike when I was on A/C. I just feel like I have the flu and my spirit has been sucked from me. Like I am functioning at 30% of my true self. My fingers the past couple of days kindof got better. But yesterday and today they've gotten worse. Imagine, the center of your nail bed feeling like it was the only thing that was holding on, and the rest of the nail is lifting off the bed. It hurts to type.
Not that this is a gripe session, I am just explaining how it is to be me right now. Oh, and I have constant tears running down my face. My face is so chapped that I actually had someone ask me the other day if I had been hit in the face. On a positive note, I think this week is better than last week. But not sure yet. In just a few days, chemo will be again and then I will only have 4 left. I can't wait.

OH!!! I have officially lost all taste in my mouth. This is a huge one! There is a faint smell I can get from the back of my throat when I eat, but other than that no taste. I am hoping that by Thanksgiving my taste comes back.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another one bites the dust..

Yesterday, is now behind me. Chemotherapy number 11. I have actually done eleven chemotherapies. To get through this I just have had to keep my head down and go. Move. Don't think to much, little one. Just do it. Just get your port put in. Don't think, feel a bit, and move forward. Yesterday, I let myself think about the monstrosity of chemo and what I have actually gone through. All the stuff. The IVF stuff, all the injections I had to give myself, all the emotions of coming to grips with possibly not getting to have my own kids someday, all the tests, the hair cuts, the hair falling out, the sleepless nights, the not feeling good, the losing and tearing away of the veils of my former life, on and on the list goes. I let myself think about my these feets yesterday. I have actually allowed myself to receive eleven chemo's so far. Incredilbe. There are tears running down my face right now.
Yep, I have only five more and I can't wait. I am a little scared of all the tears that will start percolating in early March, when I am all done, and am safe to REALLY start processing. You know, when you go traveling to a third world place and you are suddenly able to live and do things that you in your first world mentalities would never allow yourself to come in contact with, and you can fully function and love life in this new way. I've always wondered how I was able to live with the people in West Africa for as long as I did. And I loved every moment of it. Having cancer is sortof like this. I for some reason, am able to transcend my old way of being, (although its just in reach, whenever I am ready to go back to it) and do and go through things that I once didn't know I could go through. We are all like this. We are so much more than we ever really know.
I had relatives this past winter tell me and D that they didn't think I could handle being on Survivor. It was such a funny statement to me when they said this. First of all, it was clear they didn't know who I was very well, and secondly to think that a human spirit isn't able to transcend was such a foreign concept to me. This is what WE do. This IS life. And WE all do it, daily. Maybe not Cancer level, or Survivor level, or Africa level, but we do it. Its how we survive what we call life. Its our opportunity to grow spiritually.
So, here I am unable to sleep and thinking about what I've done so far. I told my Onc yesterday that if there are any microscopic cancer cells that have not been killed, and rear their heads on a MRI in a couple years (it takes sometimes, a few years to grow large enough to be detected) that i wasn't sure if I'd go through this again. He said, that right about now this is how everyone feels. I have been, not out of morbidity, but out of the very real fact that it could happen, thinking about my action plan if it does come back. I told my Onc that I was thinking a nice beach in Costa Rica would be a good way to go, instead of poisoning myself in my last days in hopes that something works.
He told me, that he's giving me the most powerful chemo drugs he can this time, in hopes that that doens't happen. The brite side, is if it does come back, he'd give me lessor powerful drugs to see if that would do the trick. And in a couple years, the medicine will have new innovative treatments. He told me its common to go through this. Which leads me to thinking about how vulnerable I will feel when this is all done.
As it is right now, each day I have to stop myself from doing breast exams. I keep thinking I feel lumps, and panicking. D, reminds me that my Onc, "the best guy in the state to do a breast exam, Heather" just did one last week and you are OKAY. Right. I am okay. Sure. Sure. Its so unsettling. I already know that I am going to NEED a few support groups and I can't wait to start turning this blog, into a book. This process is really going to help my process.re

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today's the day..

Well...today is 6 of 12! Tomorrow, I can say I only have 5 chemo's left. I can't wait to be done. My eyes the past couple of days have been a constant river of tears. Not tears from emotional outcries, but from the scar tissue that is not allowing them to flow correctly. My right eye is especially puffy, reddish purplish bluish from the checkbone to the lower eyelid. It burns and so I called the eye specialist today. He is only 1 of 8, and is considered the top specialist in state. So, if you know any kids that are going into the medical field tell them to go into the Ophthalmology: Oculoplastics field. Anyways, so he wants me to come in and see him today. I am hoping there is some kind of cream he can give me to help the skin not be so inflammed. Cross your fingers for me.

I've been weighed in at my doc's office. I am now sitting waiting for him to come in and tell me my counts are good and to send me up to chemo. Folks.. I am in disbelief. My onc told me I'd probably gain 20 pounds from the chemo. The nurse today, said they don't know why woman gain this amount, but just that it happens. I have officially gained a whopping, stunning 16 pounds. Its not like I am laying around eating Bon~Bons.
I am sick about it. SICK!! I can't wait till this is all done, and I can start exercising like a freggin' maniac. 16 pounds. Wow!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Open hand

I can't remember if I've said this or not. But I just was reminded of it when I was writing to another TN BC (triple negative breast cancer) sister on the TNBC foundation site.

I imagine the saying, "Love someone with an open hand." Well that someone is me.

When I was doing the A/C I didn't know if I could do more and keep going. And honestly, the past week has been so hard that on an emotional level that is how I am feeling. I am crying all the time ( and I used to never cry) and I am sad. Simply sad. But how I am getting through this is by surrendering. I have to just open that hand that wants to hold on to the idea that I have the right to not feel sick. That I have to right to be healthy. The idea that my life is in my control. Whatever it is. I just have to let go. I have to open my heart to this journey and let go of all my judgements and ideas of what's fun and make fun where I can.

When I was a little girl, I was in 2nd grade actually. My mom was in a terrible car accident. My older sis missed a corner in their new little VW bug, that was red. They hit a couple trees square on and my mom was in bed for months. I remember crawling in to bed to with her and finding animals out of the ceiling texture on the ceiling. We'd lay in bed together, finding the fun in what we could. And that is what I need to do right now. Just let go of the idea that laying in bed for days on end would normally depress me (maybe I am depressed) and just get over myself. Just be in the present moment and that's it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not sure

Today was spent again, laying around. In the afternoon D and I raked some leaves. When I'd get tired, I'd sit and watch him. The tired that happens now a days, is like this..Once I stop moving my heart pumps so hard that I can feel it in all my veins. As if each heart beat causes my whole body to shake. When it starts pumping like that, I stop myself and wait til it subsides. So, we did some yard and I couldn't wear my gardening gloves because they hurt my fingers too much. I cancelled all my massages this weekend and didn't call others that I though I'd get to. I am not sure how I'll feel tomorrow and not sure if my fingers will miraculously stop hurting. The tips of them are double their size and like I've said for a few days in a row now, they hurt. The throb. Going to the bathroom is a chore, and one that is quite difficult. I am just lucky that my toes are not affected. That would suck if I couldn't walk because they were numb and hurting too. I hope this doesn't happen with remaining chemo's.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


This morning I started out like most mornings, drinking water. But this morning it made me puke. Awesome time. I was hoping today would be better, but it wasn't. I layed around all day. I had to call my Onc because I was so sick I didn't know what was happening to me. He had me take the super duper anti-nauseau med and that did the trick. D and I took a short walk this afternoon but basically I layed in bed and watched movies. I called my Dad crying today, telling how sick I am of all this and boo hooo. I told him that I can't help sometimes of thinking what the chemo is doing to my kidneys, liver, ect.. And he nipped that in the bud and said, " Heather, you need to think about what the chemo is DOING for your body right now." I am sure lucky to have him as my Dad. Its true. There is nothing I can do to think about all the possible negatives and life long side effects, or effects that might rear their ugly heads in later life. I just need to think, that its better than the alternative.
I am hoping that tomorrow is a better day. I'd like to clean the house, maybe rake some leaves. I have been so sick that I am not sad that I've been laying around for days. That tells me how sick I've been. I'm over it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tear Ducts and Nails

This is going to be a gripe session. I am going to start off on the lessor of evils. My nails. They hurt. Each session they get darker and darker and the cuticles get more and more swollen and I am hoping that they can hang in there and not fall out. It sucks, and it hurts and I am getting sick of it.
The other crazy thing is that my eyes have been tearing constantly for about a couple of weeks. Luckily I mentioned this to my Onc and luckily he knows that this is not a good thing, and luckily he referred me to a eye specialist. I saw him today, and indeed my particular chemo, Taxotere that I am on causes a weird thing in the tear ducts. For some reason it accumilates in the tear ducts more than anywhere else in the body and causes an inflammation in the tear ducts (no wonder my eyes have been hurting and burning~the chemo is in my tears). Left untreated, it would cause scar tissue that would form on the tear ducts, and I'd have to get tear duct replacement surgery, a glass tear duct. But, luckily all the luckies that were mentioned above happened, and I have tear duct surgery on Nov. 25 to open the tear ducts wider so that the tears can get through them.
I am sick of feeling gross. My stomach always hurts, kindof like having the flu but with a little pain that goes all the way up to my mouth. My throat hurts because I have a sores in it, and my mouth feels like there is cotton stuffed into it and my tonuge is almost entirely numb now. I get bloody noses constantly and I am really really sick of this.
Water used to taste like poison, now it just doesn't have any taste, except it hurts to swollow cold water because of the sore in my throat. It hurts to type today because of my fingers. Luckily the two tastes that have a faint taste still are savvory and sweet.
With the lack of taste you'd think I wouldn't be that excited about Thanksgiving. But I am. My mother in law, Brianna is coming, as she always does to our house and we all pig out for a couple of days. I am really excited. I was going to try to cook on Tuesday the 25th and the morning of the 26th before chemo. But now, I have that surgery and so, I think we'll just be cooking all day on turkey day.
I hope I feel good on thursday, turkey day so that we can make a really yummy feast.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Half way done

I have now had 10 chemo appointments, hard to believe. I have 6 left. Only 6 more weeks. Yesterday my friend Maryam came to chemo with me. She said, "this has gone by really fast." And the other day someone said that to me. For me, this has been the longest 5 months 11 days of my life. I have gone through hell and more and I just can't wait to be done with the treatments.

The doc told me yesterday that the reason my eyes have been watering non-stop is that its not from the lack of my lashes. But this chemo drug makes scar tissue in the tear ducts so I need to go see a eye doctor specialist so that if this is what is happening he can prick my tear ducts so the tears can go down through them again. He said the doctor can do it without torture. We'll see about that. I can't wait to stop poisoning and killing off my body. I can't wait to get really healthy again. I have officially gained 13 pounds, my Onc said I could gain up to 20. I have never been this heavy in my life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Picking up the leaves

Today was a big day, and this will be a long post. Where to start?

I was on the island today and during the massage I was giving I felt my athlete in me. Doing massage, I always have felt her. As, occasionally I (unbeknownst to my clients~now you guys know) I put myself into a yoga posture to stretch as I am doing massage moves. What happened to me when I got diagnosed was that my life imploded. I let go of everything as everything, and I mean everything fell apart and to the side. All that I had ever thought I'd known, disintegrated. Even my athlete. Although I have called on her during my treatment, I haven't connected with her yet.

I think I have to start with yesterday before I go further. Yesterday, as I watched Ellen Degeneres ( I am now a TV holic that loves, and I mean loves all these TV shows, so funny to me) so as I watched her, I got up as I was feeling well enough to do exercises for the first time since I was diagnosed, in a serious way. Every commercial I did lunges, squats, calf raises, tricep dips, and crunches. I felt great doing it and but I didn't say hi to my athlete. I just did the exercises.

Fast forward to today, my calf's were a little sore and I felt supported by my body, by my athlete. Back again, during the massage, I looked in the mirror as I was doing a massage stroke, and said hi to her. And in that moment, I realized how far from her I was. I checked in with myself, and there was the base emotion of anger. But when I looked closer, I was angry that she, the athlete had forsaken me. I mean hell, I have exercised religiously my whole life. She let me down. She let me have cancer. She, oh, the tears started. Not heavy, as I was working, and this all happened in a matter of probably two minutes. But it was deep. I realized that I had to forgive her. I had to forgive my athlete/my body for giving up. For not fighting off that fucking cancer. And in this forgiveness, of really myself, I had to recognize on a deep level that she wasn't at fault. But that I had been pissed and disappointed in her efforts. I had been let down and that we needed to come back together. I needed to forgive her. So, during that massage I welcomed myself back to my athlete/my body.

I told her that I am ready to do those yoga postures again, and to feel my body again, and to risk loving my body again. Risk, thinking and ultimately believing that if I love my body by exercising I will live a longer healthier life.

I was ready to feel again. So, through the few eyelashes I have the tears got heavy, and I wiped them away and I was whole. I went for a three mile walk today around the Burton Loop. There is a flat stretch along the way, and my athlete in me said, "Why don't you run that half mile, Heather." So I did. I felt my lungs rise and fill with air, and felt my body get warm again. I was in touch with my breath. I was and am, alive. I caught the cancer as early as I could. My life is in the hands of what I agreed to as I entered this body. I am learning from all of this. I am growing and learning to love myself in a deeper way. And that is all I can say.

I am ready to start doing yoga again, and start feeling my body again. I am no longer afraid of her. I am no longer angry with her. And I am no longer disappointed in her.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Egg nog

Yesterday, as I was on the ferry going home, I got really sick. It felt like I had a fever with chills and body aches. I layed in bed from 3 until I fell asleep. I called my Dad and my sister and had a big cry. Its been a while. I did have a fever and I felt horrible. I had egg nog earlier in the day and was worried that I had gotten sick from the raw eggs. But this morning I feel fine, actually totally fine and am going to do a massage this afternoon. I've been laying in bed this morning, watching murderous shows. I am scared out of my mind right now. I am going to go rake some leaves for a bit to get a little exercise.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Secret House

Today, I went to an amazing home that you can rent on Vashon to give a couple of my oldest massage client woman friends massages. Its a house in a park and that's all the guesses you guys get. It has been totally restored and it was amazing. After those massages I got a little sick and now am at home in bed. Its good to work as it gets my mind off of all this. I'm not well at all right now, so off I go. Into the check out of the TV. Lord, I would have never thought I'd watch so much of it. Its just that I need to not think, and its a perfect antidote to all of this.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I asked my Onc a while back why he hadn't tested my tumor against the various chemo's I was going to do to make sure they would work. He explained to me that there isn't a way of doing that yet. If I can figure out how to do that that is the million dollar quest right now. He explained that once the tumor is taken out of the body, for some unknown reason tests don't work on tumor to find answers to this quest.

This morning I was reading the New York times and there was an article talking about the prospect of getting closer to this. You can read it if you copy and paste the article below. I uploaded a paragraph below, that you can read.

Scientists Decode Set of Cancer Genes (NY times)

The findings will not help patients immediately, but researchers say they could lead to new therapies and will almost certainly help doctors make better choices among existing treatments, based on a more detailed genetic picture of each patient’s cancer. Though the research involved leukemia, the same techniques can also be used to study the genomes of other cancers, and the researchers expect to apply them to breast, brain and lung cancers.

You can read the entire article if you copy and past this link:


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

8th down!

I am not feeling well right now. Just got back from my 8th chemo, now I just have 7 left!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Road Trip

On friday I drove by myself, to Bend. My best friend from childhood lives down here with hubby and kids. Her littlest was born just weeks before I was diagnosed, so I hadn't met him yet. Its been nice to be away from my cancer routine. I felt pretty sick friday and saturday. I was able to notice how often I talk about all my body symptoms. Of coarse, Jody didn't mind hearing about them all. But I realized how good D is to listen constantly to all of them. Being a massage therapist I am pretty darn in touch with myself.
Speaking of changes, just as I was leaving on Friday I noticed as I was brushing my teeth that indeed my hair is growing back. For some reason eyelashes and brows are falling out, but hair on my head is growing back. Thrilling. I just can't wait be pretty again. Please don't post comments that I still am. Its just the fact that I don't have hair, that I think in my mind I have hair, until I see a picture of myself or see myself in the mirror. I just can't wait to be feminine in this way again.
Being around Jodys kids I realized how I have to protect my heart right now. Usually Sadie (she's 2) melts my heart and I love falling in love with her sweetness. But this time, I am faced with possibly not getting to have my own kids, and maybe kids at all, so I feel kindof like the grinch. Not the grinch as he is in the world, but the grinch right before his heart grew. As, its hard to be around the kids and not have it melt. But I'm just letting it melt a little. Otherwise, I just cry. And believe me, there have been a lot of tears since I've been here. Its just entirely sad to me that I am dealing with this.
I come back tomorrow, and can't wait to see D. I miss him so much and feel so lucky to have him through my side during all of this. Its been a lot for him and I. Hard to believe all the tough times we've had. You just don't know the kind of person you've married until you journeyed together through something like this.