June 20, 2013

One small step

On Monday I saw my radiologist about the pain I'm having underneath my breast. I know radiation therapy can do permanent damage in many different ways so I was pretty upset about this to begin with.

My doctor examined me (big ouch) and told me I still have some fluid in my breast. That would explain why my breast and scar area are still very sensitive. She wasn't sure about the rib, so she decided to do a photo and make sure nothing was damaged. Luckily the photos came back clear and showed nothing of that matter.

The cartilage between the rib cage can become very sensitive after radiation therapy and chemo and by overuse or over-stretching of a muscle that area can even become infected. It hurts. It takes a long time to heal. Wonderful!

Yesterday I had to go to work to sign some papers because it's almost a year since I called in sick. A lot of things have changed, some mistakes were made with my contract. Things I'd rather not break my head on right now because they seem not important. Departments have moved, people have left. It was weird. But I know I have to jump back on the horse sooner or later. And it all starts with baby steps and visiting and catching up with everybody.

One colleague was totally in shock and teary eyed when he saw me. Another one just walked by me because he didn't recognize me. These situations are so god damn awkward and uncomfortable. But when I'm in a good mood, really it's a little bit funny as well. It's so weird that it's me that is making them feel uncomfortable. Little ol' me. Okay so I don't feel the same person but I'm still Ciel. Your colleague. I get their emotions. I understand it. Cancer is a scary word. I try to be open about things, explain things about treatment and that usually calms people down.

I know I have to visit more often just so they will get used to me. So they won't have any questions any more. But it's hard and confronting.

I broke down crying when I talked to the girl who is now my boss and who I also share an office with. I know it doesn't matter and it's okay for them to see me like that. As an introvert this is a big thing for me. So we talked and cried and talked and cried and it was good. It was another step.

I don't know when I will be able to go back to work or move back home, I just know right now would be way too soon. Sometimes I feel guilty about this. That I can't tell people when I'm coming back. But it just doesn't work that way. Healing needs time. Healing won't set a date. But revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing.

Let's finish with some positive news:
  • The nurse said my scar looked really great and it's because I'm a non-smoker. So there you have it your reason to quit. 
  • I shaved my legs for the first time in like 8 months! 
  • My eyebrows, eyelashes and hair seem to be growing a little bit faster now and I can definitely see progress! HOORAY!

June 14, 2013

My bumpy road

I guess I should start by telling you about my echocardiogram which was good and showed an ejection fraction of 62% again. So the Herceptin story continued and that Friday I had H #6. Instead of the usual 30 minutes, we let it run for an hour. I still felt pretty spiritless for three days but perhaps I was back on my feet a little earlier than last time. It's hard to compare; every time is different. It was the worst weekend ever anyway, because I knew I had to do a mammogram on Monday.

I was nervous as hell. So scared, totally freaking out, going crazy. 

I had a lumpectomy but my breast is still very sensitive (more on that later) so I was a little worried about how they would 'smash' it between the plates. But the lady was very sweet and careful. Apart from all the fear and anxiety that goes with it, the mammogram itself I don't really mind. It freakin' hurts for sure, but before you can think 'f...' it's already over!

So then she told me to wait in the little dressing room and came back after a few minutes to tell me I would get the definitive results tomorrow but that I had nothing to worry about and the photos looked fine. So right there, sitting in that little dressing room with almost no light and bird wallpaper I felt it. That sigh of relieve. 

After that I had I had to do a Dexa scan and some blood tests. I will get the results when I meet my oncologist in August. They are important for hormone blocking therapy. We haven't decided when I'm going to start that one.

So then I came home. Everybody was happy and all of a sudden that sigh of relieve was gone. I felt so overwhelmed by everything. By my own story. The story that started with a mammogram about a year ago. I could not stop crying. Uncontrollable sobbing.

The next day I met with the nurse who officially told me the results of the mammogram were fine. I think I was feeling a little bit better by then but still so sad because of everything that has happened. How can I not? We talked about therapy and mindfulness but I still haven't decided whether I want that or not.
So I tried picking up yoga a few weeks ago, sun salutations, but my breast and armpit are still very sensitive. Which is completely normal after all the treatment I've had. But lately my rib (it could be a muscle as well) hurts as well. I started reading about long-term side effects of radiation therapy and well it didn't make me very happy. So I called my radiologist's office and asked them for an appointment. At first it wasn't possible, because she's such a busy woman with a busy schedule but I explained everything and then I got a call back. I can come see her this Monday.

Great another visit to the hospital. 

All of a sudden I got so scared and mad because of all these side effects. It's hard to accept you're a 31 year old woman with aches and pains and feeling tired all the time. I feel like it just won't stop. It's a bumpy road? Yes but it's bump after bump. Seriously what else do they have in store for me?! How do you just accept what has happened and move on. I know I have to look at all the positive things and let go of the bad. But that is a hard thing to do. A god damn hard thing to do. Sometimes everything sucks major ass.

But hey my mammogram was fine. No signs of a tumor anymore. I AM thankful for that with my entire heart.

P.S. Thank you all for your comments on my last post. It really means a lot to me! Thanks for sticking with me and reading about my journey.

June 3, 2013

Broken wings need time to heal

Just another Monday. Two months post chemo.

I'm obsessed with hair. Or lack of it. I don't understand why some women have full heads of hair after 3/4 months post chemo and others (I'm talking about myself here) get the old bald man look with no hair on top. Okay so it's growing back, but it's scarce. This is just extremely frustrating. It makes me sad and angry and basically I hate everybody with pretty long curly hair right now. Sorry it's nothing personal.

I don't expect miracles. I just want that sexy pixie haircut and I promise I'll shut up. So hair... please grow grow grow!

Patience is just not my thing right now.

The next two weeks are going to be tough for me. Wednesday I have another echo coming up and if everything is okay I will have Herceptin 6/17 Friday. Not really looking forward to it, because last time I had quite a few side effects. Really have to keep my fingers crossed this time will be better.

Then Monday it's coming. My first mammogram after being diagnosed. Of course my breast knows this and I have been feeling all sorts of weird stuff lately. I am really nervous and oh so scared. So scared. Lots of scenarios went through my head. The bad ones. Then on top of everything I will also get a Dexa scan and a blood test. I will get the results the next day. I am thankful for getting these tests and my aches and pains will be taken seriously because I once had cancer. But oh boy I just know these things will never get easy. Always in the back of your mind... there's that little voice.

So I still cry my eyes out from time to time. I actually had some bad news about my job shoved into my face as well. As if dealing with breast cancer isn't enough. But there is nothing I can do about it right now. So I have decided not to worry about it.

So obviously there are ways to stir your soul. They don't always work, but sometimes they do. So I try. I keep trying. Sometimes this results in creative projects like keeping a little notebook with positive quotes. A colleague visiting with his son. Sending packages and being in contact with my breast friends. Unexpected gifts from sweet people. Or a bike ride all by myself for the first time after chemo. Maybe just feeling some sun beams on my pale teary-eyed face. You keep trying, if not today then tomorrow.

Broken Wings Need Time To Heal

Most of you know that I took photos during chemotherapy. And it was one of the few things that kept me going. It resulted in something I now call the Chemo Chronicles. You can view the entire series on my portfolio website here. Or click the link in the menu on the right.