Thursday, October 4, 2012

My excuse

My oh my, I have really neglected this blog by not posting for such a long time! But I have an excuse, a really good one!
I've been busy, you know. Really, really busy!!! Actually, I've been so busy I didn't even think about my three year cancerversary this March. I'm happy to report, though, that I am still NED now a whopping three and a half years after my TNBC diagnosis. Yay!
But it is more important than ever that I remain cancer free. Why, you ask? Because THIS is what (or should I say who?) has been keeping me busy:

Yes, I've been very busy in a GOOD sort of way that has very little to do with TNBC.
Well, actually TNBC is the reason why I had to wait until the ripe old age of 42 to give birth to this little girl. TNBC is also the reason, why we had to put this little frosty (and her 11 siblings, 8 of which are no longer with us) on ice (well, liquid nitrogen, technically speaking) in 2009. it is also the reason why doctors would not let us thaw her out and get pregnant until 2011.
But this June, DH and I finally managed to become parents!!! We are so incredibly happy to welcome our little girl and feel privileged that we get to take care of her.
Isn't this a good excuse for neglecting the blog?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ahead of my time...

I haven't posted in a while, so I figured it's about time I wrote something again. So here go a few random thoughts.

Cancer-wise I continue to do well. As you can see on the counter on the top of this blog, I have now made it more than 900 days past my cancer diagnosis, and there is no evidence of disease of that pesky TNBC. Yipee!

Of course I cannot help following the medical literature to see what new and awesome things scientists have discovered (still hoping for a cure!). So just today, I ran into this very interesting note/article saying that scientists have now figured out a way of preventing early menopause and possibly premature ovarian failure in young women with breast cancer. Way to go! It just makes me feel that I am a bit too far ahead of my time...

Note to self: Next time, be more reasonable and wait until ripe old age before contracting major disease. No need really to hurry and jump in prematurely, at a tender age, as I did. Now I only need to figure out how to get my body to listen to myself...

As I continue to adjust to my new post-cancer normal, I also follow along a select group of breast cancer blogs to see how those brave ladies are doing. Sadly, some of them have since died, while others have found out that their cancer not only recurred, but spread. One of them recently posted about a really poignant cartoon about cancer treatment, outlook, and prognosis. So here is my own take on it.

Despite all of the sympathy and support that I have received from so many of you (and thank you, thank you so much for that!), I have often had the feeling that despite your best intentions, others really cannot fully understand/appreciate the unique challenges of this "new post-cancer normal." Actually, I am very happy that you lack the experiences that would allow you have a first-hand insight into cancer life -- and I hope that it continues to remain that way. If you know first-hand, I'm very sorry for you. In any case, you blissful folks really should check out this cartoon - careful though, it may be thought-provoking...

Are these enough random thoughts for you? Or at least random enough thoughts?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

All is well -- two years of NED!

Well, I had this nice, long post all typed up -- and then my attempt to replace one word with another zapped it... So bye-bye to my original post. Here comes the shortened, second version.

The good news is that my post-surgery recovery continues to go well. No more allergy issues, just a good bit of fatigue and some pain still. Both are getting better, though. I took the doggie for a nice long walk today, so both of us can get back into shape. Now all I need to do is get over those pesky remnants of chemo brain...

I'm still not allowed to do any lifting or real workouts, so for the time being I continue to be limited in my physical abilities. Sorry, folks, no housework. Can I have a housecleaner, please?

I went to my six month regular checkup with the poison man this week. He was very happy with me, saying I was doing "as well as we could have hoped." That's excellent news: two years of NED!!! This is particularly critical with TNBC, as most recurrences/metastasis happens in the first two to three years. After five years, the recurrence rate for TNBC gals even drops way below that of other breast cancers. So NED so far is a very, very encouraging sign.

Still, there are a few open issues. The pathologist found "no evidence of prior biopsies" in the 390g of tissue that used to be my breast. I find that problematic, as I know I had two previous biopsies, both of which were marked with a 1-2 mm titanium clip. Shouldn't they have found those??? Well, after the two surgeons dismissed my worries, the poison man took me seriously and asked the pathologist to locate those clips. If they don't show up in the excised tissue, we'll go hunt for them inside my body. They'd better find them -- because, in the words of Woody Allen, "just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean that there is nobody after me!"

In the meantime, though, I am enjoying and celebrating that I am NED! May it stay that way for a long, long time to come...!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Great week

What a great week this has been. Not only did my boob man remove my drain on Monday, which meant that I got to take my very first post-surgery shower on Wednesday morning, but on Friday I even had my stitches out. I am healing nicely! Better yet, on Thursday I went to the butcher for my post-surgery appointment with him and received a copy of the final pathology report. I am very happy to report that there was no evidence of malignancy evident in e removed tissue. Yay!!!

Thus the only real complications so far came in the form of terribly itchy little bumps that appeared first on my left foob, near the burn mark from an electrocautery knife that miraculously appeared after the surgery, then around the former drain site, and finally around the actual scar. The boob man's PA initially thought it was a fungal infection brought on by bacitracin, but I noticed that those bumps appeared a while after they would put one of those fancy new non-stick gauze pads on me with this new, clear tape. So now it looks as though I am allergic titular newfangled pad things. Go figure, yet another allergy. Moisturizer, e occasional application of a topical antihistamine, and careful avoidance of the possible sources of this allergy have much improved the situation from angry red to flesh color.

Another little issue arose around the center of my nipple (sorry if this is TMI, just skip the rest of this paragraph...) which apparently isn't getting enough blood. So it has necrotized/scabbed over, and apparently will fall off. While this has me feeling slightly alarmed, I have been able to control my anxiety until I see the final result. Overall, though, I am happy with the relative symmetry and general appearance of my boob man's handiwork. As of right now, my right foob still looks like it has approximately 100 ml more volume than my left one, but the surgeon assures me that this is due to residual swelling that ought to subside soon.

Today is the first day that I have been off my hard-won prescription painkillers. Yippee! Only over the counter stuff is needed at this point. It's nice not to be 'doped up' any more... I never could understand the supposed thrill of those pills. I never did like them, except for the fact that they take away the pain. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't even consider taking them. So why are those docs so worried I might actually get addicted to those pills? It's not like I ever showed any signs of addiction during my seven previous surgeries.

Well, anyway. I am very happy to report that this time around, recovery is much easier for me than it was the first time. this has been a great week for me as I have healed an regained quite a bit of strength, range of motion, and stamina. I have been out with my mom several times, met some work obligations, and spent some quality time with my mom. What a great week... Hope yours was equally good!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The luxury of recovering at home

Oh, what a joy and a luxury it is to be recovering at home! I am so glad to have escaped the noise and bustle of the hospital to recover in the comfort of my own home, under the tender, loving care of my mom and with the doggie curled up by my side.

I have been healing nicely, with my pain pretty well controlled by medication most of e time. While the pain meds work, I feel pretty swell, actually. When it's about an hour until I get to take the next pain pill, though, I sometimes wish the wait weren't quite that long. Without pain medication I would be quite uncomfortable. So it's a good thing to have those little magic pills that make the pain vanish.

Tis time around, the incisions seem to be much smaller than I expected them to be. They are healing nicely, although the presence of a surgical drain is always a bit uncomfortable. But it's tolerable. This morning the drain got clogged, though, and wouldn't reinflate after I stripped it. An hour's worth of milking and stripping later, the drain finally opened up again, and the serum color actually started changing from angry red to soothing pale straw. Sorry if this is TMI, but this color change is a good sign. Just in case you wanted to know...

So I am feeling pretty good overall. My mom, the dog, and I went for a nice stroll along the beach promenade today. It was the first warm and sunny day and I enjoyed the warm breeze off the sea and the smell of the briny deep. I even had the energy to stop by the grocery store afterwards. That's not too shabby for being only three days post-surgery!

The things that bother me the most at this point include the drain discomfort, tenderness at the site where the IV was, tenderness where some careless surgeon burned me with an electrocautery knife (two spots, one on my left foob and one on my left shoulder -- I'd really like to know how that happened...), and painkiller-related digestive discomfort. All in all these are relatively minor issues, though. I really cannot complain too much.