Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Giant Tears

I now have insomnia. My neck is stiff or I have a stiff neck. It feels sort of hot and angry kind of like me at this moment. This present attitude reflects my complete and total lack of presence but only for a short piece of time maybe longer if need be. I spoke with my surgeon and the biopsy results conclude that I have METASTATIC BREAST CANCER..... there are no words to describe the tears that are streaming down my face at this precise moment. They flow full of hot uncertainty, and they just flow. These are not little tears they feel like giant tears full of pain, hurt, sadness. They are also filled with so much love for my ordinary simple life. A life once again threatened by this awful disease. A long time ago someone told me that tears wash your soul. I always thought this meant pain and old hurts. I am 37 years old and I have cried my fair share of tears. Tonight they just feel different. The tears just well up in my eyes and then they roll hot and slow down the front of my face and the tears feel so big and so large it is as if a single tear reaches all the way from my eye to where it splashes on my chest. Then it seems like I could not possibly have enough liquid left in my ducts and in that exact second another burning hot tear rolls out ever so gently down my entire face to my chest. It is going to take quite a bit of these tears to wash away the sadness of my heavy heart. So here is hoping these tears stop, if only to allow me to get some more sleep tonight. I am pretty sure tears are not a treatment option if they were I would have this wrapped up in spades.

Tomorrow I put on my game face and meet with a couple of doc's and the cancer journey begins anew. I can't imagine it will be the same as the last time, things never stay the same. I am sure however they have not re-invented the needle since my last stint which means that it is still going to suck.

after a cry like today I need the hydration

drink water and breathe

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 can we start over????

The New Year has been off to a somewhat crazy start.

I registered for my first mountain biking race. The Whiskey Off Road is twenty five miles (+/-) of grueling road and trail through our lovely Prescott National Forest. Kind of a big step for me as I only got back on my bike around April of last year. I am so thankful for the awesome ladies that I am fortunate enough to ride with. You all are an inspiration and just so much fun!! So here is to training for the race in our playground. We are so blessed to live and ride here.


The year has started off with a cancer scare as well. I found a couple of lymph nodes on my neck swollen. I had a CT scan a few weeks ago, it is so amazing the test confirmed that I had swollen lymph nodes in my neck. I visited my surgeon, Dr. Alan Bornstein and he felt my neck and aggreed that I have swollen lymph nodes. I have swollen lymph nodes and we need to figure out why. Dr. Bornstein is kind of a no nonsense surgeon. He says there is a very small possibility that it could be nothing. Nice to know he always leaves that gap for a small miracle. I believe and pray for miracles, but with 2 cancers under my belt I am kind of a realist. He is not sure what is going on but says, "You will probably JUST need some more chemo." To which I respond with an eye roll, "JUST some more chemo?" Dr. Bornstein profusely apologizes for his wording. For those who have been down the chemo road you may find humor in this little exchange. I have a sense of humor so am not really offended. Dr. B does not lack sensitivity he is just real. He sees medicine scientifically as a tool. He looks at disease by type, progression, and tools to treat it. He does this with minimal fluff, he is on schedule, warm and full of pertinent facts (according to him). He also leads me to feel like he gets me, as if that were relevant, I like to think my care is personalized :).

The only way to tell what I have going on is to have a biopsy. This means my return to the Spa at Thompson Peak for a little out-patient procedure. The procedure is going to be surgery light, a little general anesthesia to make sure I don't move, only 15 minutes or so in the OR. Before surgery it would be nice if I could sqeeze in a PET scan, just to make sure we have the COMPLETE picture. So in addition to working, chasing kids, biking, 2 unplanned Dr.'s appointments, and surgery I now have to work a PET scan into my already full dance card. Being over booked is not fun. There is also quite a bit of pressure associated with a PET scan. YOU WANT TO DO WELL ON THIS TEST. So I follow all the directions, no carbs the day before, no strenuous excercise (I packed in all my yoga and biking the day before). You also have to be super hydrated and you fast. Now mind you I prepared for this test on the Friday after I met with my doctor, they of course could not get the insurance approval in a day so it was tenatively scheduled for the following Monday. So this is my second prep for this test. Monday morning rolls around and I am fasting at least I can have water. The goal behind the radioactive isotopes that are suspended in glucose is that they go to your "hotspots" not your dehydrated organs. You also have to lay very still for an hour while the injection finds your "hotspots", they suggest limited muscle use during this time I guess they don't want your muscles using up this special glucose. So it is pretty much nap time in a dark cozy room, followed by a scan in a BRIGHT tube with your arms over your head for about a half hour. REMEMBER STAY CALM YOU WANT GOOD RESULTS, ANXIETY IS NOT YOUR FRIEND HERE. Needless to say I have not matured much in "the meshes well with medicine" part of my personality. So I was super proud of myself when I passed this test with only having suspicious growth in my lymph nodes. No "hotspots" detected in other parts of my body. What ever I have going on is contained to my lymph nodes, in my neck and clavical. FUCKING FABULOUS........just about sums it up.

So on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 I had an excisional biopsy at the Spa at Thompson Peak. My surgery was scheduled for 4:00 PM. I was allowed a light breakfast before 8:00 AM followed by an entire day of drinking my own saliva for sustinence, I did this once in a yoga class but that is another story. Doesn't that sound like fun? No water or food until after the procedure. We get to the hospital at 2:00 they check me in. I get taken to the OR around 3:00. Now the fun part starts... pre-op is quiet only a couple of patients...happy hour must not be big here. I of course take this to mean either I will get great care because there is not much going on OR everyone is rushing to get out of here and this is going to really suck. Why I am unable to look at a medical event without personally dramatizing the situation is completely beyond me....I assure you the only thing that may benefit from this is my writing.........living the reality just sucks. I of course make up in my mind that they are RUSHING to get out of here. Enter John the RN with the IV... I gently ask questions like have you done this before? I tell him I hate needles. I have a really hard time with IV's. I try to channel all the calm I can muster. He tells me, "I will feel a poke, don't move, cuss if I need too." So I visualize full plump veins and breathe. Okay the poke...no problem....don't move....got that....MOTHER FUCKER........THE PAIN. Followed by John asking Heather (the other RN) for a little help....my vein collapsed...... words like get the needle a little pressure did I say pain.......I could not even look. My ears are ringing sweat is pouring down my back I could really use a glass of water and the only way to a drink is getting a damn needle in my arm....just great. In order for the show to start I HAVE to get an IV. This is the worst part. Lucky for me we are going into surgery light.....we can use the little tiny IV for the next try......Why didn't we use it in the 1st place? I will never know...it is almost like I am being sent some cosmic message from the hospital universe....this will always be crazy for you....message received it is. So Heather gives it a go and manages with the baby IV. I meet the anesthesiologist, how do you do, I will take great care of you. Dr. Bornstein arrives makes a pen mark on my neck gives me the low down. Saw my pet scan yah, dah, yah, dah, yah, dah...follow up with your oncologist yah, dah, yah, dah, yah, dah. I will call you with the PATHOLOGY Friday or Monday. I wake up an hour later with a stiffer neck and some instructions for after care about when to shower and not, how to take pain pills, ect. ect. ect.

There are no easy ways to swallow the fact that I am headed down yet another road of medical uncertainty. I am frustrated and angry. I have no answers yet.

When I do
I will share them with you

Drink Water and Breathe

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Love Tears"

I kind of needed to share a story about my son Mason. Tonight I was putting my sweet son to bed and we were just talking. Somehow the conversation got on to how he did not want to become a grown up. I re-assured him that he would grow into a fine man one day that was loving, strong, caring and kind. He would be surrounded by friends and family, maybe meet the girl of his dreams and get married. He said, "Mom will you be at my wedding?". I said, "Of course son I would not miss it for the world." Then my sweet son's eyes started to tear up. I asked him why he was crying and he said, " Mom they are just watering." I told Mason they were "love tears" not the kind you cry when you are horribly sad, angry or hurt but the kind of tears that flow when you think of perfect love. My sweet young son and I had an amazing moment where we just shared "love tears". I am so blessed to be a mother to my amazing boys and am grateful for each day that I spend with them.

So on a maintenance note. I had my one year check up with Dr. Vu in December. According to blood work and physical exams I am NED (no evidence of disease). This is fantastic news. It does not however negate the fact that CANCER is a GIANT MONKEY ON MY BACK. I think the worry ebbs and flows. This will be something I have to deal with forever. Before cancer the story of "love tears" would mean something different for me. I would have taken for granted my presence at my son's wedding. The thought of my own mortality now plays into my processing of future events. I realize that I need to live in the NOW. Not one of us has a guarantee for tomorrow. I try to face each day with gratitude.

Cancer is a wicked club. I don't know if I shared that my half-sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year. Her journey began shortly after I finished treatment. I believe I was still having reconstruction surgery when she was having her surgery to remove her cancer in April. We went under the knife within days of each other, in separate states. After my surgery I began to heal for the 1st time since my surgery in April 2010. No more chemo, no more operations for me. While my sister Arlene began her 1st cycle of chemotherapy. She was amazing through treatment and finished in October of last year. Arlene's doctor released her from care and allowed for her to return to Japan where her husband was stationed with the Navy. Last month my sister was having stomach pain and they think that her cancer has returned. She was flown back to the states today to meet with her oncologist. My heart breaks at the thought of her going through chemo again, I pray for her children, her husband, and our family. Cancer does not have any rhyme or reason. Arlene is not BRACA positive. I don't know if I am. I was never tested. I don't know if our cancer is genetically linked. In the end it doesn't even matter (I don't know how Linkin Park got in here). Cancer just sucks. Pray for my sister.

Take some time, count your blessings, shed some love tears,

drink water and breathe