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Week 25 Update - First Stage Complete

LIII - my life is changing every day...

First – Chemo’s Over!

I am finished, yes finished, with chemotherapy. My almost 7 month torture session ended the last week in October. I should not call it torture, because I really had a lot of fun during treatments with my friend, but the after affects were definitely torturing. I wish I could say that since it was over so were those side effects. Unfortunately, they are plaguing me daily and have really been pretty relentless. I think I got every possible side effect (big and small) from the Taxotere.

One of the main reasons I have been behind in my blog (besides fatigue) is that my hands have been challenging. My fingernails look as if I had taken hammers to each and every one of them and they feel that way as well – so all tasks using my fingers are difficult. Hence the later email, typing hurts!

Fingernails look and feel like hammers have been taken to them...

Second – My new MRI.

I have had a post-chemo MRI. The MRI showed that the tumor did shrink with treatment – YEAH. It went from over 3 cm to roughly 2 cm, which did not seem like enough for me, but the doctors were all happy. I guess it did not grow and it did shrink… chemo worked.

Third – A scheduled Lumpectomy...

I have also, very carefully and confusingly, made my decision to have a lumpectomy (with axillary sentinel lymph node removal).  I have struggled so much in making my decision between a lumpectomy (aka – breast conservation surgery or partial mastectomy) and a mastectomy. There is no “good” or “right” decision, just the best one for me.

The Oncologist and Breast Surgeon repeatedly told me that both procedures have the same survival rate (as long as I do radiation after a lumpectomy). The final decision maker was that I could have the lumpectomy and make sure my margins are clear of cancer, see how many lymph nodes were removed, and how much breast they take. If any of those things made me nervous, then I could choose to do a mastectomy. I learned that I could choose a mastectomy at any point: now, after the lumpectomy, or much later – it could always be done and was covered based on my cancer diagnosis. I felt more comforted knowing that I could always have that option if I wanted it.

So, next Tuesday I will be have surgery – and I will recover over the Thanksgiving break. Gobble. Gobble.

Fourth - What’s next?

My pathology report will be ready around December 6th and I will know more about what my next step is. Hopefully, I will get clear margins and the cancer will be gone. If so, I will keep on my plan to start radiation around 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. Radiation will be 5 days a week for 7 weeks. So, my Christmas present might be radiation… really Santa?!?!?

Let’s hope next year I can really celebrate the holidays – and I plan to BIG! I will have a lot to be thankful for and to be joyful for. Here’s to a better, healthier 2014!

Fifth - Those darn kids…

And since I haven’t been busy, I threw in a tonsillectomy/adenoid removal for my daughter. Why not??? I figure that this was the only break I was getting for a while and it had to be done. I mean what is another sick person in the house?!?! She is now 2 weeks out and doing much better.  My son has been busy too. He is getting so much older and I feel like I am just trying to keep up. Taking care of kids is hard enough – taking care of them with cancer has been really challenging! I still don’t know how I have done it some days!!!

Having a girls lunch...

Sixth - That’s all folks (I think)…

I am not really sure, other than my surgery next week, what my next step will be. However, I am just rolling with the punches and only a few days away from checking off another of my steps!

Celebration... chemo's over flowers...

In my head...

So glad that the chemotherapy is over. Even though the effects linger longer than I would like. And my immune system is constantly dealing with infection and illness...

While I turned out not to be "sick", I sure felt ill...

Besides my own doctor’s appointments and weighing some pretty difficult decisions, I am just trying to recover and hope that my side effects begin to taper off. Cancer seems to be a continuous fight and one that I am definitely in. I keep fighting to be a cancer survivor!!!

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” 
- Winston Churchill

Episode Reference: Dreams, The Cranberries song


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