Saturday, July 28, 2012

Whatever lies before me

Insomnia strikes the Anj once again, but at least tonight my morale seems to be slowly replenishing itself. I threw my pity party and now I'm ready to return to my ninja-like fighting stance (haha, what?). 

My thanks to all that were concerned after my post yesterday. I'm touched that so many of you out there are still reading and following along. Even when things get unpleasant. ^_^;

This picture of my fuzzy little hair regrowth is meant to serve as a reminder to myself that this too shall pass. My life will return to normal. It might take a while, but hey! At least I'll still have my life. That is what I'm fighting for, and that is all that matters. Not how long it will take or how trying it will be. So, thank you Lord.

That said, God bless and hope everyone has a splendid weekend!

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

Friday, July 27, 2012

The tale of the melancholic warrior

Remember when I said I try my best not to complain? I am very sorry to do this, but I am in deeply in need of airing out my mind. 

Chemo #12 - 8/12 of Taxol. Jason lent a finger (2 actually) this time.

As much as it would delight me to tell you this is another treatment day that went smoothly (and mind you, in most ways it has... ), a few hours ago, everything bubbled up out of oblivion and hit me like a ton of bricks.

It would be a bold-faced lie to say this is my pioneering instant of depression throughout this ordeal. I have my moments of weakness as I have shared before; however, I'm not sure how much I have delved into the matter in posts here. I try to be as uplifting as possible because I want anyone who reads this to be unafraid of handling whatever comes your way in life.

I still strongly believe that. But, I am only human.

And currently, I am suffering. I am worn down, numb, and lost.

When I was diagnosed, I swore my life would only partially be consumed by the cancer and for only the period of time I allowed. Hard lesson learned there. You don't control any of it. Basically, if you want to continue to live, you are given a single path. Take it or give up. This is the choice you are given.

Swallow these pills. Take this test. Allow this toxic substance to course through your veins so it can eat your healthy cells, just so we can cross our fingers and hope that it kills those abnormal ones that are attempting to destroy you. It's all quite nasty, really. No wonder the chemotherapy alone can leave your body in shambles.

This is my life now. It doesn't really define me, but it surely feels like it does. I am hard pressed to find myself motivated to do much in the days leading up to my infusions, and naturally I don't feel up to doing much in the days following either. So my days consist of waiting. I wait for my treatment. I go in for each one with a mixed sense of relief and joy because I fervently count them down.

The world looks so ugly to me these days. I see all the mindless violence, the impatience people have with eachother, etc. It saddens my heart. Or even the way people stare at me/don't make eye contact/avoid me when I go anywhere by myself and I happen to be wearing a hat or headscarf instead of a wig. Then there's the people I worry have been silent (or mostly so) during my fight so far because they're either afraid to "catch" it, or perhaps are scared I'm going to die so they'd rather keep their distance just in case.

So much I don't understand. So much I think but refuse to say. I push it all down and hold it inside myself.

I just want my life back. I want to go to work. I want to enjoy a day out with my husband at the beach or Disneyland. I want the choice to be able to attend church! I also want to have petty concerns again. Like not having an ingredient needed to cook what I wanted for dinner, or being able to bitch about my hair being uncooperative. Simple under appreciated silly things that I sorely miss.

I don't know when those things will return to being the norm for me. I wish I did. I'm only hopeful that they will be again at some point. There's so much left ahead of me that I must face.

This is not something with a permanent insta-fix where you follow doctor orders and you're guaranteed a happily ever after once you're deemed "cancer free" even. I will be forever under the microscope. I am not ungrateful that I will make it through this to be privileged enough to gain survivorship. I am simply trying to expose what hides under the pink ribbon -- pain, scars, and fear.

Honestly, how does ANYONE get through anything like this without God? I can't even picture the thought of trying to handle this without my faith. Because I realize once I've finished with all of my griping, that Christ comprehends all these emotions I'm experiencing. He felt each one them and then some firsthand when He was crucified. The Lord graciously gifted His only son to come down to Earth to become man and then willingly gave His life so that we might be saved.

That was just one reason though. God allowed this so he could feel closer to us as his proudest creation. So he might understand us better. I find such peace in knowing He empathizes any and all plight I endure.

I am so ashamed that I do not live up to the perfection worthy of His love. Perhaps one day I will be, or at least feel I am.

I am also sorry to let all of you down as well. I digress that I am still a warrior... I'm just a weary one.


"Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice." Psalm 55:17

Friday, July 20, 2012

I know that it's your will

I know, I know. I'm getting lackadaisical about making my posts ON my treatment days. I am forever the procrastinator. Especially since my infusions have been (rather thankfully) routine as of late.

Interestingly enough, the biggest thing to happen this past week was discovering that I have developed a food allergy to shellfish or some kind of spice used in Thai food. Regardless of which it was, I wound up with a swollen tongue and my throat seemed to swell a bit as well. So that was awesome and not at all scary! O_O;

I was glad I was clever enough to take a Benadryl before we headed to the nearby urgent care. By the time we were there in the waiting room, I started feeling better. I explained what happened and apologized to the receptionist girl before we left. I do plan on seeing an allergist at some point in the future after that incident, but for now I will make it a point to steer clear of shellfish/Thai to be on the safe side.

Yesterday Jason got another break from taking me to chemo. My mommy-in-law Violet took me again. :) We had a nice chat, and it all went by quickly. Stopped by and grabbed some tasty lunch from California Pizza Kitchen afterwards. I don't dread chemo days like I did so much at the beginning of all this. I sorta look forward to it anymore. It means I've got one less to face, plus I always have company and the promise of lunch out after. Hehe.

Chemo #11 -7/12 of Taxol. My MIL kindly lent me an extra digit for the photo.

Sooo... I'm getting there! Only 5 more to go. One month and a week left of this. I can do it, right? Sure I can. One day at a time. I've gotten this far much to my own surprise. When things are difficult, I keep telling everybody I'm tough, and I guess I can say that with some definite certainty now.

Of course Christ knew I was tough enough to handle this long before I did. :)


I start each morning by thanking God for giving me another day of life. My diagnosis was such a wake up to treasuring my individual blessings. Particularly the ones that are most commonly under appreciated. Our lives are so precious, and truly gifts from above.

My situation is a blessing too. Things could so easily be far worse for me. And while it may not be discernible to me yet, but I truly feel I'm experiencing this to help others. Even if it only helps one other person, that's good enough for me. I will endure whatever I am given with all the grace I can muster.

In superficially-related news, my hair is growing back in some more! Slowly but surely. It's much fuzzier now than it was a week ago, etc. etc. My eyelashes are coming back too. Eyebrows seem to be coming back at a slower pace, but that's okay now I can fashion some false ones nicely.

Been on the Effexor  XR for a week today. I'm not sure how long before it alleviates my hot flashes. Or if it will make them disappear completely. The hot flashes do seem like they have been less frequent. So, perhaps that's the best I'll get from it. Better than nothing!

I spend a lot of time farting around on Pintrest []. It's become my obsession since I first began chemo. I even started a board dedicated to goodies I want to wear for the Race for the Cure in November. Haha. That's my big thrill in my life as a breast cancer patient on disability.

Well, I suppose I should say on "leave of absence" at least. >_<  I have yet to see any sort of money from California for disability or any definite okay from my work. I could write a novel on that issue alone, but I'll save that for another day.

Wishing you all a great weekend and week to follow! God bless each and every one of you reading this.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."   
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reaching that halfway checkpoint

It is with great... erm, well, with somewhat great-ish pleasure that I announce that after today's treatment I have reached the halfway marker in my current chemo regimen!  

Chemo #10 - 6/12 of Taxol. Hmm... gonna need more fingers.

If my smile looks a little left of genuine, it's because no matter what it still hurts to get a giant IV needle shoved into your chest. Haha. Anyway! I got the other half of my chemo schedule calendar today. My last day of Taxol, assuming all goes accordingly, will be August 23rd. I'm not sure what comes after that. More waiting, more tests would be my guess. Ah well. One step at a time. :]

After my chest discomfort ER scare some weeks back, and I had that initial follow up with the nurse practitioner afterwards and she set up another one several weeks from then. I got a call yesterday confirming such appointment for this morning before my chemo. She checked me out and asked me lots of questions. My liver and kidney functions are good, and all my other stuff excluding my WBC are normal. So yeah, I'm healthy. :) Always a good thing to hear.

I must not have told her of my hot flashes the first time I saw her. Or she didn't have it written down. Either way, she found out and that they're pretty bad. Like, suck-the-wind-out-of-me-and-dizzying type of bad at times. So she is prescribing me a low, low dose of Effexor XR as it's known to help with those. PTL. Seriously. I feel for all menopausal women of the world and all who have gone through it. Ever. Hot flashes are my arch nemesis these days. They are super gross and not at all fun (no joke, as I typed this sentence out I felt one coming on!! Yuck).

I already have more and more trouble sleeping as this goes on. Nap or not, I can't sleep until midnight or thereabouts. And the irony in all that is not lost on me either. I am fatigued from treatment, yet I can't sleep because of it! Lol. Such silliness.

While it looks as though Taxol will be the final bit of chemotherapy I'll receive, I will be getting Tamoxifen (hormone therapy) after my surgery and probably coinciding with my radiation treatment. I can't say they're not taking all measures and then some to get rid of those nasty cancer cells in entirety.

Next on my agenda is to get some exercise in my life again. I've not gained a lot of weight, but I have put a few pounds on since being more immobile and at home. :\   I'm hoping if I really try to get more active that it will help alleviate some of the insomnia/fatigue I'm experiencing. I need to remember that I'm a cancer patient getting weekly infusions, and haven't exercised in far too long. So I need to take it slow and build back up my strength. I still have muscle under my new layer of chemo-chub, I know that! Haha. I just dislike being squishy, and I figure I can use any and all no brainer self esteem boosters available to me. :) 

Well, that's all for now folks! I pray you all have a splendid Friday tomorrow and weekend to follow after that! May God bless each of you reading this.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thanks for making me a fighter

Probably the first time I haven't written my blog on the day of my chemo! And for what reason was I delayed? None really. I was just procrastinating... haha.

Yesterday Jason got a break from taking me to chemo for the first time throughout this process. My mommy-in-law Violet took me. It was nice, truly. We talked the whole time and my infusion went by in a jiffy. I must be obtaining some sort of immunity to the Benadryl they pump me with as it only puts me in a fog now, rather than making me pass out. ;)

Chemo #9 - 5/12 of Taxol. Almost halfway through this regimen! Huzzah!

It's funny in an ironically pathetic sort of way when you become a "regular" at medical places. I walk in to my oncology office and expect the front people to know who I am and why I'm there. They have a new receptionist girl, and yesterday, she just stared at me blankly before asking what she could help me with. Ahh, newbies! Lol. It was packed in there too though. We actually had to wait in the waiting room until they took 2 other patients back before me.

So it was a full house in there, and someone else was in my usual chair! The nerve. :P At least they had another comfy chair left and I wasn't stuck with one of the stiff seats. Last week my nurse told me that my port had tipped. I had no idea what that meant so I asked her, and this time my port was perfectly positioned. Got in my IV right away and with little pain. That port is so the way to go if you have multiple treatments to go through.

A older gentleman sitting next to me was um, rather grumpy when he first walked in. He had it in his head that it was going to be unpleasant for him, and it was. They had trouble using his port-a-cath and it was painful, etc. I think your attitude and mind can really do a number on you. I try to go in there with my boxing gloves on. Like, "let's do this shit!". Haha, and I also think that's why I get through it without anxiety.

Getting back to this fellow; he went on asking every other patient who had a port what it was like for them. He finally got to me, and I told him it was painful and tight when it was first put in, but three weeks later it's not so bad. I tried to encourage him that it does get better. He just had his put in a week and a half ago. But he even had an ointment that helped numb the area before they stuck him for the IV and he said it was crazy painful. He asked if I had that stuff too, and I said, "Nah. They just shove that needle in". I think it made him feel like a baby because he quit talking to me after that. Oopsie! But if the shoe fits? Lol.

All this talk of my port, and my steristrips that were covering my incision finally came off completely today after I showered. It looks pretty clean, but kind of gnarly. It doesn't look like it sticks out, but if you touch it, there's no doubt I've got a weird contraption living under my skin there. >_> I can only imagine what my scars will be like after my double mast. Oh well. Makes me feel like a kick ass warrior-lady. These scars are all well earned, dammit!

Looks teeny, which it sort of is. About an 1 and 1/2 inches.

With my hair slowly growing back in, I realized I never bit the bullet and shared my nerdy bald head. So I took a photo yesterday that I feel may be the best I'll get of it, and I wanted to commemorate it before it's no longer really looking like bald (and more like a freaky downy baby duck or something).

That said, here it goes. Shield your eyes if necessary! It's a bald me, and I'm fairly certain my head will blind some of you from both its shiny and pale. Bwahaha!

At least my dome isn't misshapen!

I treated myself to some lovely new MAC makeup last week as my other makeup I'd been using was being sweat off way too easily. Stupid, stupid hot flashes. They are such a pain. So I decided to go in to the MAC store and tell them straight up that I was a cancer patient going through treatment presently and I needed some good stuff I wouldn't sweat off. They fulfilled my wish and then some. They even taught me how to draw on my eyebrows softer so they'd appear more natural. I needed a little confidence boost, and that helped.

I know I have spoken many times on here about how one simply cannot be the same after going through such a life altering experience as this, but I spend a lot of time pondering the concept deeply. It doesn't do well to regret, but I feel such a sense of regret for time I wasted in my young life. Fears held me back considerably. That will not ever be an issue for me again. Once I'm a survivor, I plan to live life fully. I want Jason and I to travel tons. I want us to enjoy as much time together as possible. Experience things we've never seen or done before. Make lots and lots of new beautiful memories to hold on to. :) Each day, each moment - they're gifts. I will not forget this.

Granted no one ever knows when their last day is, when you are told you have something like cancer, you face your mortality head on. Let's just say you learn to appreciate the little things. Even if you already did, you appreciate them with a renewed fervor. That's where I am.

 I count my blessings every single day. God is and has been good to me. My situation could be a bazillion times worse, and I am well aware of this. So I try my absolute best not to complain. It does me no good anyhow. Complaining breeds negativity and who needs more of that ever?

So, thanks cancer! I was tough before you... and I'll be a hell of a lot tougher after you. :D

Praying you all have a grand weekend and week to follow. Thanks for those of you who are continuing to follow along with me, and if you're new, then thanks to you as well! You're all well appreciated.

You all keep fighting the good fight too. Remember to always be the kind of person you want to meet.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."  Luke 6:37