Monday, February 25, 2008
Got my MRI results. Good news is there isn't a tumor in my right breast--I hadn't really thought there was, but it's always nice to hear it officially. The tumor I do have in my left breast measured under 1 cm with the MRI which is down from 7 cm that it originally measured at when I got a mammogram. So, sort of what we already knew. The big test is the PET scan I am getting the day after tomorrow. This will tell me if the cancer has spread anywhere else. Of course I would have gotten this test done as soon as I was diagnosed, but couldn't because I was pregnant. So, we are doing things a little out of order. Actually, even if the cancer had spread to somewhere else in my body the fact that my tumor in my breast has reacted so well to the chemo means whatever was hanging out somewhere else has probably been killed which means I may never know if it spread. And, not until I have surgery will we know for sure if lymph nodes were involved though I am fairly sure they are because my doctor felt some that were swollen. I have been telling myself they were swollen because I had a mild infection after my initial biopsy. But again, I am the same person that told myself for months that the huge lump in my breast was a swollen milk duct so I really can't trust me can I?
Other than that, things aren't great. I think my immune system has finally succumbed to all the chemicals and has left me high and dry with a bad cough, runny nose, aches and pains and now a lovely eye infection. I am thinking the eye infection actually started because I lost my eyelashes. You need those things! They sort of keep things out of your eyes and gives tears direction.
So now I have no hair on my head and no eyelashes and for all those wondering about other hair on my body (cheeky people), yes that had mostly gone too and guess what?! You need it. For like pee direction. Maybe this is too much information for some of you, but my life is an open book--so, this is what I have learned: pubic (hate that word) hair on a woman sort of helps direct pee down and without it, your urethra sort of naturally sends it out. So last week my sister Hannah, who spends every Sunday night here at my house with Sadie on the couch so that me and Greg can get a proper night sleep, comes out of the bathroom and tells me that I need to tell Greg to aim better at the toilet when he pees in the middle of the night. I had to tell her it was ME! So embarrassing.
Speaking of Hannah. Thank God she was here today. First of all she is the total Baby Whisperer. Sadie is always so calm and relaxed in Hannah's arms. She has this humming trick thing she does--really works. She helped me out by holding the baby, getting me to eat something other than tapioca pudding and Jello-O and being my partner on a walk with Sadie and Frida. I can't walk them alone because Frida pulls and barks at dogs and is general nightmare--though I LOVE her--she is driving me crazy. She threw up a big ball of baby wipes last night. What makes a dog eat wipes?!
My favorite part of the Hannah visit is when she comes in to our bedroom in the morning with Sadie and then we snuggle with the baby and Hannah snuggles with Frida which is pretty funny because not long ago Hannah wasn't a fan of my dog and now hanging around more than usual she is finally seeing why I love her so much--of course until we go on a walk with her.
Okay--must go to bed.
Thanks for reading.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
So day three of chemo is supposed to be the worst and today wasn't great. Mainly because my fingers are so numb so every time I try and snap one of Sadie's onsies, I get frustrated and I feel so weak. I mean, snapping a onsie is taking all my strength and concentration. Sadie is also just more work--but worth it work. She is more alert, awake more during the day and she's starting to show her little personality. Meaning, she likes to be held. All. The. Time. I am grateful I know this. It's no mystery what she wants when she starts to cry and fuss. And it's not hard holding her. But again--All. The. Time. It's made worse by my achey bones and plain tiredness thanks to Chemo. Okay, I am seriously complaining, venting and letting off a bit of steam here. Which is part of the function of this blog, so I think I'll use it.
Thankfully Nina, Dan and Amara came over. It's a regular unspoken Saturday routine which I hope they don't stop doing. Dan is the best because he takes Frida out on a walk or down to San Geronimo school and throws her a ball regardless of the weather--and today it was all stormy and raining. A few weeks ago, when it was pouring, he took her up on a massive hike up to the fire roads. Now, I know he doesn't really want to spend his Saturdays hiking about in the rain with my dog and getting soaked. He does this because he knows how much it means to me to get that dog outside at least once a day. He's doing it for me. The guy is awesome. Nina did good.
While Dan is tiring my dog out Nina and I usually watch TV and calm our fussing babies. Sadie gets some breast milk. Amara enjoys Sadie's swing. Sometimes we watch a movie (today it was Jane Austen Book Club--was okay). We make tea. We eat. We change diapers. Dan comes back from the walk and plays on our computer. He holds Sadie and marvels at how little she is compared to Amara. Then Amara starts to get sort of fussy and does this really funny monotonous yelling noise which sounds like the beginning of a Led Zeppelin song (but I don't know which one) and so they have to pack up and leave--unfortunately always right before Greg gets home from work. But today, while they were here, I was able to take some movies back to the local video store (one of three businesses out here in Forest Knolls) avoiding some late fees, get my mail and take a shower.
Poor Greg walked in on Sadie at her most fussiest but was able to walk and rock her to sleep and now they are both on the couch watching last Thursday's Hillary/Obama debate and I should be in bed getting some sleep while I can, but I wanted to blog about my Saturday routine and how great my little sister and her husband are to come and keep me company out here. Honestly, it saves me.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Today I had my first round of my new chemo drug. I had four rounds of the AC and it has worked great shrinking my tumor from 7 cm to 1.5 cm. Now I move on to Taxol. For those of you wondering why I would stop treatment of a drug that was working, Greg asked that (he asks all the questions--I draw a big blank during doctor appointments and answer every question with 'Fine' and 'Good', so it's really important Greg comes to tell my doctors that I woke up in the middle of the night convulsing with nausea, or that the bottoms of my feet are shredded with dead skin and I have had a constant cough since I was released from the hospital after having Sadie). Anyway, so I learned today that AC can do some damage on my heart if given in any higher of a dose than I already got, so they cut you off-- for life. Meaning if my cancer comes back, I still won't get AC because I have had enough my body can handle for lifetime--yes, that stuff is TOXIC. I am glad to be done with it. Taxol is no friendlier--they tell me the main side effects are the neuropathy (tender, sore and tingling feet and hands). My hands are already kind of numb, but not numb enough that I can't ramble tonight here at the computer. And of course, I suppose I will be tired, but HONESTLY, what new mom isn't tired?That's the conundrum of this whole entire thing. What do I chalk up to being a new mom, and what do I chalk up to being a cancer patient?
So my tumor is still at 1.5 cm, but it's a soft malleable tumor instead of a hard one with definable edges, which means progress! My doctor 'isn't concerned' with my cough or dripping nose--which makes me think the cancer patients she sees are so far worse off than me that my little cough is nothing to write home about. When I think about it, that's true. She works with people who have had bone marrow transplants. These people have NO immune system. No white blood cells. The common cold could kill them. Very scary.
I suppose I 'deserve' (sorry Aunt Karen) this little cold since I have been such an adventurer lately exposing myself to the world, visiting work last Wednesday and then going on a major errand mecca with my sister Hannah on Sunday: Babys R Us, Nancy Koltes Home, The Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, Longs and Anthropologie (I had to do some retail therapy. And, I corrupted Hannah who prefers not to buy anything that anyone else may be wearing which means she gets most of her clothes at obscure shops and second hand stores or wears stuff she has had for fifteen years, but even Hannah could not resist my beloved Anthropologie. We bought the same shirt!). And then yesterday Greg and I went crazy and took Sadie to Comforts in San Anselmo for breakfast which was great. It wasn't too busy. Sadie slept most of the time. The sad part is my taste buds are totally shot. I couldn't even taste my pecan pumpkin pancakes except for the sweet bitterness of the maple syrup. I swear if someone could invent a drug that wiped out the functionality of taste buds it would be a sure fire weight loss miracle solution. I have NO desire to eat and when I hear my stomach rumbling I go for something that will just 'fill me up' and that might as well be healthy because what's the point of eating anything that tastes good if I can't taste it!? I have lost so much weight and am still losing--again, nothing the doctors are worried about. I mean it's not like I didn't have the weight to lose. After that, we met up with Nina and did the stroller roll through San Anselmo. Man that town has changed. Then Greg dropped me off baby and all at Nina's house in San Rafael so he could so some work and we played mommy at her house for a while. Seriously it's so weird that we are moms. I feel like we are playing with dolls, or that the real moms will swoop in soon and take over. Sadie was able to get some good time in on Nina's boob which makes Amara sort of confused--or maybe we are just projecting our feelings on to her. Either way, I am grateful Sadie got some breast milk. All in all a LONG day--I was happy to go home to the mind numbing TV for American Idol (sort of lame this year) and the Project Runway reunion show (could have been a little more dishy).
So chemo today was the usual. Instead of the hand delivered shots, I just get IV pre-meds and then one three hour bag of the Taxol. So the pre-meds...yuck. One of them is Benadryl. No big deal you think. But, they give you this massive dose that made me want to crawl out of my skin and roll around on the floor. Then it just made me so flipping tired I conked out with my mouth wide open (I think I drooled) for two hours with the bright overhead florescent lights on and the door to the room open and all the hubub of the Infusion Center going on--beeping, laughing, talking, phone ringing, etc. I mean I slept and I sweated too. Kind of gross. Anyway, poor Greg kept coming in to check on me and worrying and rubbing my back and then leaving to go down to the waiting room to talk on the phone. There went our time to hang out. But SLEEP--so great.
After chemo I just feel yucky, toxic and dirty--ugly--but not like ugly as compared to pretty, but ugly like a street covered in trash, or a lake that has been polluted. But then, driving home, ensconced in my ugliness both Greg and I became powerfully aware of the beauty of San Francisco and the Bay Area. It must have been the light. The sky was filled with gray wavelike ribbon clouds and all the buildings looked pure and clean--from high atop Divisidero the city looked European and so beautiful. Then driving over the Golden Gate we were both overcome with how amazing that bridge is, the art deco details and that great reddish orange color. And then moving in to Marin, the hills were such a vibrant green. Right before we went through the rainbow tunnel we looked back at San Francisco and the city was being bathed in this great break through sunlight--it was like that scene in The Wizard of Oz when the Emerald City is just in the distance of the poppy fields. Almost like a postcard. Anyway, we are really lucky to live here.
Speaking of LUCKY. How lucky am I to come home to two amazing friends, Sarah and Amber, who took care of Sadie, roasted a chicken, made mashed potatoes, did my laundry, walked my dog, made my bed, did my dishes, and on and on so I could go to chemo and get well. I lived with both of them a few years back in a house in Gerstle Park in San Rafael. We called it the Hen House. We had a ton of fun, a lot of laughs, of course some tears. I learned a lot about myself living with these women. It's so surreal to now be years later walking in to see them in my own home holding my daughter. Friends are so important.
Tomorrow I have an MRI on my breast to see what the tumor really looks like. At the end of the month I have a PET scan of my entire body--scary.
My other friend Sara Roditi is coming over to take care of Sadie so I am going solo to the city--seriously--that's a big deal. I'll let you all know how it goes.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Yesterday was a big day for me. I didn't know it until today when I payed dearly by being totally exhausted, so tired I nodded off a few times while feeding Sadie only to awake with a jolt to find formula dribbling down her neck. Oh well. She won't remember it.
I went to my work and visited with all my work people, who really are like a family to me which makes sense considering I was used to seeing them more than my own family--I mean 8 hours a day, 5 days a week really adds up. Add the fact that I have been at my current place of employment since January of 1998 (Oh yes, that's a decade) and you can imagine how weird it is to NOT be there everyday.
It was great to show off Sadie who was a total angel and slept the entire time only to make a few peeps that were turned off with a bottle. Today was a different story. It was as if she knew she needed to be good yesterday but was making up for it today. That, or she is just getting older, bigger and more alert and isn't OK with her sleeping and eating routine and needs a little more action. I don't blame her. I needed a little more action, hence the outing yesterday.
When I first arrived, I had this dumb pastel pink sun hat on--and this sun hat had like dictated the whole outfit I wore--hence the pink summery skirt. I think I mentioned I haven't yet figured out how to hide the bald head so I have to work with what I have. Well, I walked in and felt so stupid in that hat, as if I am trying to hide the fact that I am bald and have cancer? So, off it went and I felt better after that. I guess there is a part of me that doesn't want to make people uncomfortable. And a part of me that doesn't want any excess sympathy.
I ended up staying a full five hours visiting with people. Partly because it felt so great to be around other faces and also because it was so sunny out in Central Marin. It's a bummer out here in West Marin during the winter because the sun falls behind the mountain and we are in the shade starting around 2 PM--when the rest of Marin is all sunny and warm.
I had this one funny moment when Sadie slightly started to fuss right when I had a big group of people around us cooing and complimenting. And right then I thought this is so funny because it's me who needs to pick her up and calm her down, but really, I just met her a month ago so my guess as to what's wrong with her and what to do was as good as anyone else's....motherhood is a funny thing. It is instantaneous and even though there are 'classes' nothing can really prepare you for it.
It was weird to be at such a familiar place as a mom with breast cancer and therefore different than when I was last there. Yet everything seemed to be just the same. It was actually reassuring. I can go through this, I can have my left completely changed, yet I can also count on some things staying the same. There's comfort in that.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Things are ok out here at the cottage in the woods. Greg and I have figured out a system for the nights--involves him sleeping on the couch and time sharing our kid so one of us is sleeping at least through the night, but it's working so that's all that matters. Chemo side effects aren't terrible. I am eating. I took Frida on a walk. I did my own laundry (these are important markers in how I am feeling I have realized). Tomorrow I am thinking of going to visit work friends! One of them (Cathy) told me if I don't have anything to post about than just put up pictures of Sadie. Her wish is my command! Enjoy.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Not that I am going to fill an entire blog message about the obvious--that Sadie does have more hair than me, but still, it makes for a nice title, doesn't it?
I had my fourth chemo treatment yesterday. Picture above is in the waiting room before I met with my oncologist. It was a good appointment. My tumor has again shrunk. Last time it was around 2.5 cm, and now it's 1.5 cm. Getting chemo wasn't bad either. I got a private room again and Greg and I took serious advantage of the bed (No! Not that way!) and took a nap together while we waited for my chemo prescription to arrive from the pharmacy. It changes every time because of my weight loss (another 12 pounds since I was last there--again, normally this would make me happy, but I have a feeling it isn't 'normal. I mean it's not because I am hitting the gym!).
Yesterday was the last of the standard A/C treatment of which I have had four. The next four which will take me until early April is of Taxol. Apparently Taxol will give me more of that neuropathy I had in my feet and hands a few weeks ago--tenderness and soreness, makes it hard to walk. I am hoping it doesn't also cause the pain in my mouth. That sucked--to not be able to talk or eat. Since yesterday I feel like I am in a waiting room--waiting to find out if the same side effects will visit me again. The doctors told me that the third treatment is always the worst--and it was. The idea is that the first two treatments don't really cause serious damage because the body is in shock and doesn't know how to react to the chemicals. However, by the third all hell breaks loose--which it did. But, then when you get hit with the fourth (which was yesterday) your body has learned a thing or two and you doesn't get as affected. I am hoping, really hoping because it has felt GREAT to be myself again.
Just today my neighbor Linda came over and watched Sadie while I took Frida on a walk, just the two of us. Something I haven't done since the end of December. The sun was shining and Frida was so happy to be getting some undivided attention. I started on the flat streets (of which there are few in Forest Knolls) and then dared to climb a few hills. Then this evening, Greg realized he forgot to pick up some prescriptions at Longs and I OFFERED to drive over the hill and pick them up for him. This is a big deal because I HATE Longs and not just because I was lectured by the manager when I was twelve years old after being caught shoplifting during my klepto faze and told never to come back, but because the customers are so depressing. Sick people picking up medicine. Mom's dragging teenagers with required lists of school supplies. It's the place where people buy Preperation H and zit cream. I don't know--it's just an icky place. However, tonight, I actually wanted to get out and go there and I had the best time. I almost walked through every aisle. I had to pause at the end of the aisle where they sell all the hair products--skipped that one, but had a good time in a new aisle I never had use of before--the BABY aisle. They sell my brand of formula, good to know. So after picking up Greg's prescriptions, buying a trashy mag, a new toothbrush and some cotton balls I am home again from my adventure out in the real world.
Here's hoping I don't wake up with sore feet and a sore mouth because maybe, just maybe I will head out again and this time with Sadie so she knows there is more to this world than our little cottage in the woods.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
We had our second pediatrician appointment yesterday and all is good. The little mama --yes, we call her the little mama, we also call Frida little mama. And we call Sadie and Frida little girl and sometimes we say Frida when we mean Sadie and we say Sadie when we mean Frida. All of this is fine for Sadie, but it's really confusing Frida--poor pup--anyway, SADIE (the human child) has gained a whopping two pounds since birth and now officially weighs 7 pounds and 14 ounces. She has totally grown out of all her preemie outfits. We are moving on officially to the 0-3 month drawer. She's got cheeks. Super kissable cheeks.
After the appointment Greg went to work and I had my first official 'outing' yesterday as well. I went to Mill Valley with Hannah and met Nina there with Amara who also just so happened to have a pediatrician appointment too where she got her shots and looked teary eyed--not looking forward to that day for Sadie at all.
Anyway, it was great to be out--to see people and be seen. Sadie had her first stranger admirer as well--you know those people who wander over and want to know the age of your baby and compliment them and say how cute they are. I've been one of those people and it's weird to be on the other side of it. Weird and great!
So clearly, I am feeling better. Neuropathy is gone on my feet. Have been able to eat some really good soup and risotto provided by my friend Ana via her stepmom (so nice!) who came over on Saturday and also came over today to bring more (yummy carrot). I can talk again (but I still hate the phone). I have energy (I did my own laundry the other day!). My friend Amber came over that night and made pasta with meat sauce (Greg's request) and I had not one but two helpings (this is big--seriously, I haven't had seconds of anything in a long time). Forgive the photo above because Greg's office is SO MESSY, but that's Amber holding Sadie. See how big she is getting!?
I am just hoping that with round four of chemo coming up on Thursday my body can stay strong and not succumb again to those nasty side effects. I want to enjoy my newly chubby baby and my rascal of a dog--I want to get out more and visit my work friends and spend more days in the sun sipping steamed milk with my sisters and people watching.
Monday, February 4, 2008
I really do. In weird ways I miss my hair. I miss that I would have to clean the stupid shower drain of all my hair after every shower. I miss the warmth it provided to my head, especially now because I think it's like 20 below out here in Forest Knolls. I miss all the pretty smelling products I used. I had good hair. People complimented my hair. I liked how it was the perfect mixture of my mom's Brillo pad hair (well, it's true, even she called it that) and my dad's scant thin hair--not to thick and crazy, but not wimpy and flat. Without my hair, I don't know where my face ends and my head begins. Without my hair, I have one extra thing to think about before I leave the house--how to cover this head--because even if it was warm outside and I opted to go out bare, I am sure I would get the stares--the 'does she have cancer or is she trying to make a serious statement?' stare.
There is really only one good thing about having no hair. Showering. Seriously, when I had hair, showering was a chore. There was a list of things I needed to do for my hair. Brush out the knots. Shampoo without making more knots. Condition to manage the knots. Comb through the conditioner to avoid post shower knots. Tie that dumb towel turban around my head and balance it there for at least fifteen minutes to absorb the most amount of water possible before I again combed through my wet hair. And, if this was a night time shower, I would have to come up with a creative way to sleep on my wet head without getting my pillow sopping wet (usually a towel which would end up bunched up against my face leaving me with crease face the next morning). If this was a morning shower, my long hair would usually be put up in a clip and when I got home, I would let it down and it would still be wet! I had some serious hair.
Now, when I shower, I don't have to do any of this. I don't have to shave my legs and armpits either. I just have to stand under the warm water and soap up a bit and that's it. It's freeing and it's relaxing. I really look forward to showering. I take a shower every day whereas before, I hate to admit, I didn't.
But, I still miss my hair.