Thursday, February 26, 2009

Long Week!

Let's start on a good note....

Monday I went for my last Leurpon shot that will take me till the end of my treatments and I do not have to return to see the fertility doctor till August. So... if this shot does what it is supposed to which was put me into temporary menopause to protect my one ovary then things should return to normal following treatments. Let's pray! I have attached a photo of the needle as well as a picture of my final shot. Each shot cost $400 which I was going monthly for and this last one cost $1600 as it is a longer acting one. Crazy!!!

Today after a long 1 1/2hour Epsom salt bath... thanks for the suggestion cuz! I am feeling a bit better and able to write about this week that I have fallen off the face of the earth!

Not much has happened since my treatment last week (Thursday). Usually after 4-5 days I can feel myself coming around but this time its been 8 days (as your treatment day is counted as day 1) and I am just starting to come around. This was sort of upsetting for me and took a toll as I felt that I wanted to come out of this earlier than the last treatment because I felt I was "in it" too long. You can feel it taking a toll on your body and you do not want to feel this way so you try everything in your power not to but your body is fighting itself and all you can do is give in and give up the fight. I can say this treatment has been the hardest so far and has sent me to a place that you feel you need to crawl back out of. I realize that I need time to recover after each treatment and I need to stop fighting the symptoms and accept that there will be easy and hard times. I think its the fight to get out of this place as fast as you can that is the hardest, especially when you have no control!

Some reasons why I think it has taken so long to recover is that maybe week after week the effects just keep piling on top of eachother or the fact that I have been getting the maximum dosage of chemo for the past three treatments and that's all my body can handle, or another wonderful thing about treatments is its internal effects if you know what I mean. There is no greater feeling than having max dosages of chemo drugs, medications, and constipation issues all at once ...... it's like a witches brew just churning (sorry to much info). It literally makes you feel like crap!!! Oh, and to add to this some real raging hot flashes!

All in all, I apologize for my complaints of this treatment and I am feeling better today and getting my fighting energy back!

~sasha

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sneaky, sneaky!

I have to say this treatment snuck up on me later than normal.

From the previous two treatments as I mentioned they gave me severe sinus pressure headaches, so far I nipped one in the butt today and have not had any pressure at all.

Throughout all of this I still have not had any nausea or vomiting (thank you). Yesterday I had a little wave of it while at the clinic waiting for my Neulasta shot but it was settled with a couple of crackers. I am convinced that these little waves that I receive are due to hunger, which most people would find weird considering you would think that I would have a lack of an appetite. Those who know me well know that I have a great appetite and it hasn't decreased since the treatments which I am sure is helpful for my recovery.

Today was a blah feeling day, and I mostly slept, relaxed, and answered some e-mails. As I mentioned I had to go to the clinic yesterday for my Neulasta shot which I receive the day after treatment to help maintain my white blood cell count. The main side effect of this shot is severe bone pain (works on your bone marrow) which mostly effects your larger bones therefore my pelvic area down to my knees. So... you can imagine there was not a lot of moving going on today!

When comparing all three treatments together I would say the middle one was the worst as it left me feeling "right out of it" for at least 5 days. Words can not express how I felt, it was just a daze and my head was so fuzzy! As I am told I have "chemo brain"!

It is hard to believe that this part of my journey is half way done! I only pray that the last three go as well as these have.

Here are some updated pictures since going bald! Enjoy!







Bald is beautiful! Watch out Demi and Sinead, here I come!








My 8-ball crew! There are still more to join (my mom and hubby)! Pics coming soon!












Me and my bff Sheldon! Thumbs up!















Pics from the Cardiac Wellness Fashion Show where I work. It was awesome to still be a part of it this year! Thank you guys!

Me and my girl Gina, and my hubby Atti!






Gina, Heidi, Valentina, & I (my girls!)
~sasha

Friday, February 20, 2009

3 down - 3 to go!

I just woke up from a 3.5hr nap and it is the day after my third treatment, I can't believe I am half-way there already, YEAHHHHH! I have decided to start writing in real time and combine some points from my previous treatment along the way.

I was kind of upsetting yesterday sitting in the waiting room as it was really busy and there were not a lot of happy faces which I guess is to be expected. Once I was called in they prepped me for my port insertion and pop in it went and I began. I took my three anti nausea medicationss, explained to them my symptoms from treatment 2 and they agreed to give me my one drug (cyclo) at a slower rate and also add more fluids (saline) to the dose to help decrease the main symptom which was sever sinus pressure. So far so good today no headaches, thank you! The first treatment I had severe headache pressure which lasted 2 weeks, down to 4 days for treatment 2 and so far they have not started this treatment, lets hope it stays that way.

Since I am half way done, this treatment was the last of this round -no more peeing red :(. Next treatment I will be starting a whole new single drug as opposed to three drugs like I have been receiving. The treatment duration will be longer because they also have to administer Benadryl to help with possible allergic reactions and also the drug (tax) itself has to be administered slowly.

How do I occupy my time during treatments? Last treatment I started meditating during the administration of the one drug cyclo as I can feel its effects while it enters my body. I have downloaded a couple meditation and chakra balancing albums on my iPod. I have found that this is really helping along with pointers from my reiki treatments. We visit with Jeff and Dilleta and catch up on how they are doing as well as Isabella and have some laughs and I always get some good pointers from Jeff. This time around Attila thought it would be cute to write me love notes and throw them at me like we were back in grade 2. You gotta love him, and one things for sure he knows how to make me laugh!

More to come tomorrow along with some pictures as some of you still haven't seen me bald yet!

~sasha

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bald, stiches and a shot in the ass!

January 25th ~ Today I proceeded to continue pulling my hair out a couple more times throughout the day. I never cried while doing this, I was just in amazement that as I ran my fingers through my hair, it literally fell out. By the end of the night, I looked like my hair was thinning and my part was balding, so you know a lot of hair was coming out. Finally, I asked Attila at 9:30 p.m. to come and shave it and get it over with, so that is what he did. It was nice to have him shave my head for a couple of reasons. One, he is my husband and was there for me rubbing my back as I was crying. Yes, now I was crying but it did not last long. Give cancer its fifteen minutes of fame and move on. Two, he has been in the army before so he is used to giving this haircut, and three I was at home and allowed to show any emotion I wanted. I cannot explain to you what it is like to look at yourself bald; I do not think anyone can ever imagine what it would look like without it happening. Many thoughts run through your head, especially the thought that now cancer is showing its face. I have to stop thinking like this just because I am bald and others will stare at me assuming that “oh she must have cancer”. If I can sport my energy from the inside on the outside along with my new hairdo, maybe people will stop looking at others who are bald and defining them with cancer. Moreover, I think I make bald look good!

Monday January 26th ~ I forgot to mention yesterday that one of my stitches from my surgery was still in place and the skin was growing over it. Dr. Attila and Sasha had to do something in order to get the knot pulled away from my skin and cut off we were successful. From everything that happened yesterday, it exhausted me and I was up, had breakfast, did some cleaning around the house and was back in bed for a nap by 10:30 a.m. Most of the day was a right off except that I managed to have a two-hour yoga practice at home again, which felt good.

Tuesday January 27th ~ Off to the Dr.’s first thing in the morning for my fertility shot which cost $400 each month, but the doctor has written me a new script for the same shot but it is longer lasting and is for three months. Therefore, I will go back at the end of February and will not have to return as the shot should take me to the end of my chemo treatments, oh but it is also triple the cost!
Following the doctor’s appointment, Attila and I went for breakfast, which was nice. I am enjoying him working afternoons a couple of times a week, though I know we probably doesn’t like it, but when would we ever get the chance to hang out and go for breakfast together during the week? Afterwards we just did some random things and headed home, he did some schoolwork, and I did some fashion show stuff and then took a nap.

Tomorrow is my follow up with my oncologist.

January

I promise these e-mails will get shorter as I am catching up to present time.

Monday January 19th ~ I followed up with my juicing routine today and started the day off with a carrot, apple, and pear juice for breakfast followed by black cherry juice for a snack. Not sure if this is why my energy levels feel better today or not, we shall find out as the days go by.

Today I had my “Look Good Feel Better” program for women with cancer. From everyone I have spoken with who have been diagnosed stated that it was the one program that I should attend. My friend Stacy and I decided to go for lunch first and then to the cancer clinic for the program. Looking back on the day, I completely understand how this program can do wonders for women with cancer and their self-esteem. The program consisted of teaching us proper skin care, make-up application, sanitary issues regarding our make-up, purchasing wigs, hats, and making wraps for our head. However, I do know most of the skin care and make-up application there were still interesting points made regarding bacteria, which is a concern when your system is at a low. The one benefit of having cancer is that you get to attend this and get a whack load of make-up, skin care and lotions all donated by various companies such as MAC, Mary-K, Clinique, Channel, etc., the package probably costs close to $200+. Well for those who know me you could image how excited I was with all these new products. Following the program I visited with a friend who I have lost contact with who also works at the hospital who just found out that day from her husband that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of calling and explaining everything, I felt that her seeing me might put her at ease. It is always better to see someone’s face to see that they are ok, than to just chat on the phone sometimes.

Upon returning home, I rested for a couple hours and decided that today would be the day to return to my yoga practice. I have downloaded audio yoga practices to my new iPod, and began my “Long, Slow & Deep” practice that runs for two hours. Yes, I managed to do a two-hour yoga practice; this practice focuses on the lower body (hip opening) and holding each position for at least 2-3 minutes and is all performed lying down. Let me tell you, I felt amazing afterwards, it was great to move my body again even though I was shaking like a leaf in every position – I have lost so much strength and flexibility. My friend and yoga instructor Gina stopped in later for a visit and surprised me with a new environmentally friendly yoga mat and a bag/purse from her studio.

Tuesday January 20th ~ I drove for the first time in two weeks! Like me, I decided to wait until the last minute to have my sticker changed and emissions test performed so that was our morning along with having Attila’s windshield replaced as his wiper broke off and cracked his window.

My co-worker stopped in for a visit and lunch, as she is currently off for the start of her maternity leave and is ready to hatch at any moment. The rest of the day, I cleaned and watched Obama’s inauguration with Attila. I slept like a baby because I have a feeling I over did it with the cleaning considering I had to take a nap at 6:00 pm.
Just a little note I have taken from one of Obama’s speeches that I will carry with me throughout this journey is “Fire it up, ready to go!” In addition, “Yes we can!” Bring it on and let us kick this cancer flat on its ass!

Thursday January 22nd ~ Woke up early and Atti dropped me off for my bloodwork, and then walked over to Attila’s dentist as he had an appointment also (just three blocks away), it was nice to get into some of that fresh air. The rest of the morning, we went and got groceries for the week, came home and had lunch together, and then took a nap together before Atti went off to work. It is starting to sound like I have a real hard life! One thing that we all wish to go away and never happen is the fact of loosing your hair; well I did notice it is starting to fall out. I know this is going to happen eventually, I keep finding these little strands of hair everywhere, and it just falls out.

Friday January 23rd ~ The plan for today was housework since I am feeling better. I was mostly focusing on vacuuming and dusting since the previous day, I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom. It is amazing at how little you can do and become exhausted.

I received a phone call stating that my white blood cell counts were down so this compromises my immune system; therefore, I need to be more cautious of catching a cold, flu, etc. They also wanted to start me on a new medication called Neulasta, which helps the bone marrow by increasing your white blood cell count so that you can continue to receive treatments. Therefore, I will receive this shot every cycle, (21 days), and it only costs $2622.75, no big deal! Thank goodness I am covered, this means that every month I will be spending approximately $4000 on medications. Another reason why I am using my credit card is that after all of this and collecting air miles, we are going on vacation!

I went for another healing treatment, reiki therapy (please see www.reiki.org to find out more information). It was another amazing treatment, and again I have all the healing power I need in my breath and that it is very powerful was the message sent. There are a few hidden issues within some of my energy points and over time will need some more healing. I also selected an archangel card to reflect on, which was Archangel Azrael who assists those working through these important life lessons, helping to release and heal the pain of unforgiveness, guilt, anger and regret, so that they may find peace, and grow and ascend through the process. Following this treatment, I needed a nap, as I was fatigued.

The rest of the night was great, my cousin David, Sheldon, Attila, Amy and Amy came over, ate Chinese food, and had our movie night. During our festivities, I received a phone call from my cousin Glenn and we had ourselves a great chat. I love that I am talking and seeing my family more often.

January 24th ~ As I stated my hair has started to fall out, well that is exactly what it is doing, falling. I decided I was going to sit in front of the mirror for an hour and brush my hair out with my comb and hands. I know it is only hair, but I LOVED my hair, and I know it will grow back. As strong, as I have been through all of this it is still hard to see your own hair falling especially when it comes out in large amounts. I decided to have a little fun with it and give myself some bangs to see what I would look like for a different hairstyle for when it grows back in. Words cannot really describe what you are feeling. I finished and took a much-needed nap for three hours, and then woke up and continued with my cleaning which also helps to clear the mind. Later, Attila massaged my back as I am still having trouble on my right side where they removed the lymph nodes, and tension in my shoulders. He gives the best massages and I am grateful to have him to help my body through this journey.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My 32nd year of life!

Sunday January 18th ~ Well, today is my 32nd birthday! I woke up to amazing beautiful sunny day outside filled with lots of snow; similar to the day I was born I am informed. Trying to start nice and fresh for my 32nd year I started my juicing that I have been meaning to do for the past week but unsure if my stomach could handle it. Therefore, sitting down with my tea and juice mixture called “joggers delight” three oranges, two pears, and a sweet potato, I did what I have been trying to avoid this whole journey. I gave cancer its 15 minutes of fame again. I did not break down and start crying but I did let my mind wonder to years back when I had set a life plan for myself, you know the “where do you want to be in five years?”. I had my life plan for “where do you want to be by the age of 32?” This journey is never set into anyone’s plans in life; it is not as if we wake up one day and say, “hey by the age of 32 I want to have battled cancer not once, but twice”. Therefore, I sat here and thought for a few minutes as to what my list consisted of, marriage, house, two kids, simply right, not asking for too much? Well, as I sit here and analyze that list, I realize at the age of 32 I have a beautiful home, loving and crazy husband (in a good way), diagnosed with and beat ovarian cancer, had a miscarriage, oh now fighting breast cancer. I guess I need to start working on a new list. After giving cancer its Hollywood spotlight, and getting back on the up note I realize and know how much this journey is going to forever change my life and hopefully those around me. As my mom used to say, God blessed her with cancer because maybe there was someone else in the world that was not able to conquer it due to many reasons, not having faith, supporting family, friends, love, determination, etc. I look at my diagnosis in a similar light, and with all the strength of those surrounding me and my strength, I have in my mind so many plans of wanting to help other women fight this disease. Showing others the way to become a survivor from the minute of diagnosis, building a positive and healing surrounding, and most importantly having a great attitude with a little bit of energy and a great attitude. Instead of thinking, “I am cancer” saying “yes, I CAN-SIR” meaning cancer does not define you, you will define cancer and get up off your ass and fight and say “YES I CAN-SIR”. I guess this is where my new list would start – the top 10 things I want to accomplish during or following this journey.

My birthday was quiet and sweet with family. Attila and I went to the movies with my parents to see Benjamin Button, well the movie was cancelled due to a bulb problem but we got two free passes each thanks to my dad opening his mouth and expressing how unhappy he was. Therefore, I ate a large popcorn sitting around for 40 minutes while they tried to fix the problem. Well, Attila and my dad were hungry, so we went to dinner, which was nice. Afterwards, Attila and I curled up on the couch and watched a movie at home.

Happy birthday to me!

The days leading to my 32nd b-day!

January 15th ~ Today was my first blood work appointment to check my blood count levels. I tried to build myself up as I am finding the hardest aspect of all of this is the testing and needles. I was building myself up for nothing, nice and easy, and out in 10minutes. The lab is to call if there are any concerns regarding the levels so if there are no issues I will hear something by mid afternoon or tomorrow.

Following my blood work, Attila and I spent the morning together and went out for lunch. I was able to squeeze in an energy healing appointment as I have started to find that I am carrying a lot of tension in my shoulders and these headaches are not really getting any better. For an hour session, the involvement consisted of any energies, souls, etc. that she would call upon for healing and any that I would call upon myself. There is also the use of hot stones placed on my body at all the energy points. Your focus during the treatment is positive thoughts, without positive thoughts we cannot have positive energy that surrounds us. I was to imagine that I had corks in the bottom of my feet and as the healing energy came in, it filled my body and continued to rise and remain circulating throughout me. Another main aspect of this therapy is the breath, without our breath, we have nothing – so true! Well, from the years of yoga and deep breathing the energy around me informed me that my breath is very intense and has so much healing power of its own. Therefore, everything I need or we need is always within us! I plan to continue with the energy work treatments on a regular basis throughout this recovery.

January 16th ~ Today, I have an appointment for the removal of my bandage and stitch from my port. I had the same nurse who helped prep me for the insertion and she stated that I healed very well and was amazed at how well it looked. It is so funny to think that when you look at yourself and you see the rash that you broke out in due to the bandage, the other scare that is present, and the bruising, that anything can look amazing but I guess from a professional’s point of view, the scare did look good. Well, one more thing marked off my list of things to do for this journey, and now I can finally take a real shower instead of a sponge bath that I have been taking for the past 10 days.

I cannot explain it but since my mastectomy, I feel like there is this stench coming off me. First, I thought it was the bandage, and then the scares healing, then my St. Joseph healing oils I was using, then it disappeared. Not for too long, it come back again after my port insertion, so I am determined to narrow this thing down and I believe it is just an odour that is coming from the healing of my scares. Apparently, no one else can smell it (thank goodness) but it has come to the point that I smell it and I gag. I know this is gross and no one probably wants to hear about it but it is a part of what I am experiencing. I hope that I will get down to the bottom of it and solve the mystery. I also have not heard anything from the clinic so I am assuming that my blood counts are good.

After my appointment, I just did some things around the house as I am starting to feel better. I do still need to remember to not overdue it, as I am not really napping anymore and I can feel the fatigue starting to catch up to me. Attila and I went out for what was supposed to be an early dinner, it is so nice to finally get out of the house and get some fresh air. After eating way too much we came home and I took an aromatherapy bath, gave myself a mini manicure and pedicure – hey a girl’s needs to look good still! After all, of this I was exhausted and decided to join Attila in his nap. Following our nap, Valentina and John invited us over for our traditional crab leg dinner in celebration for my birthday. We alternate houses for dinner and it is always crab legs – YUMMY! The night was filled with great food, birthday cake, lots and lots of laughter, and my first Kate Spade “hat” (haven’t lost any hair yet) and my sexy fire engine red going out purse for when I am feeling better! On the other hand, as John likes to call it my ninja star purse. Thanks for an amazing night!

Saturday January 17th ~ Well, today I am feeling the fatigue as we failed to realize last night that we stayed up until 2:00 a.m.! Today, I am returning to normal by going to have my eyebrows waxed, again I might as well keep doing anything related to hair until I start loosing it, IF I loose it! After my appointment, my mom and I went to Delicate Touch that specializes in fitting women for mastectomy bras and prosthetics. At first I just wanted to do the ugly bra shopping (believe me these bras are nothing to look at) to see what they had, and then decided since I am here already and I am feeling good I might as well get everything that is needed. In the end, you can say I bought my “boobs” and two bras and I do not look that bad! I had better look great in them for the grand total of $996! I wish I had a camera when I told Attila the cost, thank goodness for health benefits.

The rest of the day, I napped and visited with my friend, Wallie who also is my Mary Kay supplier. It is nice to have door-to-door service for all of your make-up emergencies. My best friend Sheldon came by for a visit and Attila made dinner and we ate the leftover birthday cake and then chilled and watched a movie. Throughout the day, a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived at the house from my loving husband for my birthday, thank you hunny I LOVE YOU!

Tomorrow, my 32nd birthday!
~sasha

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Symptoms & Energy Good!

January 12th ~ I think I am starting to understand my body now, at least for this first treatment. I wake up around 5:30 a.m. with a little bit of nausea which I have narrowed it down to being hunger. Therefore, I get up have a half a banana and proceed back to bed to try to rest for another couple of hours. I am waking up around 8:00 a.m. to some nausea again (hunger – which I guess is a good thing), and have some bread with nutella, glass of organic milk, and a cup of white organic tea. This breakfast has seemed to be hitting the spot for the past couple of days, so I think I am going to stick with it (it might not be the most nutritious but it works for now). It will be interesting these next few days as I have completed taking all my scheduled meds and just have my back ups, but again so far so good.

I managed to do some dishes this morning, and a load of laundry – hard to believe all these little things can wipe a person out. My other goal today is to transfer over my writings in my journal as I was recollecting the past few months of the beginning of this journey for others to understand where I am coming from and going. Most of you all know my character, which I am and I wanted to let others see that you can incorporate humour, laughter and a positive attitude towards this journey. I started this outlook on my own but with discovering this little book “Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor” I realized that I am not weird and this journey can be “fun, filled with love, humour and beauty”. I hope that by letting others into my mind, body and soul that you will truly learn to appreciate where this journey is and will take me, and where I hope it will take others! As for now, it is time for a nap before our travels back down memory lane!

January 13th ~ Today I managed to sleep in until 6:00 a.m. and then dosed in and out until around 8:30 a.m. Woke up, enjoyed my breakfast and tea in peace, and showered before Attila managed to wake up. I am learning to appreciate this peaceful time in the mornings. Energy levels today have been good; I took a short nap just to rest my eyes, and listened to some meditation music to help with calming the mind. I got my butt off the couch and managed to cook some dinner and accomplished two things at once, while I was making dinner, I decided to march on the spot for 10-15 minutes, which sounds weird and useless, but it felt good to get up and move my body!

January 14th ~ Energy levels I think are starting to come up! Again, good nights sleep, regular morning routine, did some dishes, load of laundry and even did my hair! There is nothing like waking up to a good laugh first thing in the morning especially when you look like Medusa! Thank goodness, Attila loves me even when I have mad crazy hair (hope you enjoy the picture). After, I calmed the mane, I sat and relaxed and did some deep breathing exercises for 30 minutes, which also helped to decrease the headache that was coming on. Made myself lunch, ate, chilled, and now back to writing. I have been meaning to write positive reflections somewhere I would see them everyday so I decided on my closet mirror. So, this morning as I walked out of the closet I grab one of my MAC lipsticks (Cocoa-nutty – you know like me, a little bit of cocoa mixed with a little bit of nuttiness) and started writing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Treatment #1 and the days that followed

Started off by taking my 2 anti-nausea medications upon arrival to the clinic, and then 3 prednisone when I got settled into my chair. I also asked my nurse if it would be all right to take an Ativan since I think my nerves were kicking in from the unexpected. My nurse prepped my port and then in came a deep breath and then an exhale and pop went the needle into my port (not bad at all), kind of like a thumbtack insertion. Next, was the saline flush as we waited for the colourful bag of drugs the pharmacy was preparing? They started by giving me fluids and I must have been so relaxed that I didn't even realize the nurse had switched over from the fluids to my first set of meds called Epirubicin which are 5 huge syringes filled with red fluid that also turns your urine red. Next was my 5 FU, and lastly my CYCLO and then I was done ~ 2.5 hrs.

I also had the chance to meet with another social worker who set me up for the “Feel Good Look Better” program, and also provided me with many other holistic options. I also had the chance to hang out with Jeff (my best friends brother-in-law) for a bit, which was nice to see a familiar face. We had a good chat and he filled me in on some pointers!

The rest of the day went good, that is as good as expected. My urine went back to normal around 2:30 p.m.; I only took my scheduled meds that were not until nighttime and Tylenol because of bad sinus pressure/headaches that were one of the side effects from the CYCLO. Can't remember what one of the drugs gave me my other side effects, could have been all of them but to explain, its like when you have a really bad flu but just experiencing the body aches and joint pains. I stayed up most of the day watching movies with my mom and napped for a couple hours and that was that for survival of day one!

The days that followed.......
January 9th ~ Today feeling good, sinus headaches are still present, body aches are mostly in the hip area instead of the completely lower body, but again no nausea - I have knocked on wood many times and counted my blessings for feeling good. The other day I was thirsty as anything, and could not get enough cold fluids into my body. Today, the thirst has decreased and instead of drinking ~ 5L like yesterday, today was only around 3L. One of the well-known side effects of course is fatigue and I feel it starting to kick in. Just taking it day by day because I know these symptoms can worsen at any moment. Still no nausea or vomiting – YEAH!

January 10th ~ I have had a decrease in sinus pressure and headaches, but a symptom that is coming along with this is sensitivity to light and sound. Every little sound seems intensified 10 x and I am mostly sitting in the dark due to it being so bright and beautiful outside. My body aches seem to have decreased, which is a nice feeling. To say the least, I am doing pretty well, again as good as can be! Though these other symptoms have subsided, let me tell you the fatigue today has set in full force. I barely make it two hrs without having to lie down and take a 2-3hr nap, but my body is telling me I need the rest so I am not going to fight it. My mom has been great and helping to keep the house clean and disinfected along with doing our grocery shopping. I have sent Attila out many times at the last minute to get things I needed right away and he has been great too!

January 11th, 2008~ Well, woke up at 5:00 am today, I know my one med can cause insomnia and even though taking it early afternoon is supposed to decrease the occurrence and then the Ativan at night to counterbalance it, well at least I am still getting 7-8hrs of sleep at night. So, I woke up went back to bed and laid there as my stomach started to get a little nauseous so I decided to have a banana and try to get some more rest. I laid in bed for the next three hours resting and finally got up and had breakfast and my meds at 9:00 a.m. It is nice to sit around the house in silence sipping on my morning tea — I can finally appreciate this. Today, I am feeling better, I did have some sinus pressure earlier today but it seems to have subsided. I am more alert, and have made it to lunchtime without needing a nap yet! Well, 3:00 p.m. came around when I took a two hour nap that was followed by a call with my peer support volunteer (she calls every two to three weeks to chat), as well as my first visitor ~ Amy. To say the least, you would not think that entertaining by sitting on the couch, chatting and watching TV would tire someone out, but it does! Attila and Amy were great and got dinner ready for us, as we watched a movie and I proceeded to dose in and out of sleep. The one thing with feeling like this is that you have no shame in falling asleep at anytime, but then again did I ever.

Sorry the posts are so long right now but they will start to shorten as I am coming closer to real-time. Thanks again to all of you for reading.

Take care,
~sasha

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy New Year's

Well, the next two weeks were filled with love, family and friends over the holiday season. Though it was busy and a little exhausting I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!


Throughout this time I had a follow up appointment with my family MD just to touch base and catch her up to date. I also had my flu shot and pneumonia shot to prevent me getting sick prior to starting treatments, and my first Leupron shot with the fertility doctor. I had a MUGA scan to determine the functioning of my heart, which will be monitored throughout my treatments due to the effects of chemo.

The beginning of a new year, it is a new season and it is a new life! Yesterday was a day of rest, resting the mind and body and attending mass to prepare for this new life ahead of me. Not a new life filled with the word cancer, but a new life filled and created as this journey takes place.

Attila and I ~ Happy New Year's
Our family photo of friends!

This week I had a chest CT scan as part of the preliminary testing for the possible study. Today (January 5, 2009) I had a doctor's appointment which was more prelim requirements for the study, I will find out this afternoon if I have been selected. The appointment consisted of follow up with Dr. Alam, more history with the clinical researcher; picking up all my drugs, prescription for my wig, BW, and my first EKG (weird being a patient in cardiopulmonary since I work in cardiac). To let you know all results came back normal, great news! During my visit, the discussion of my previous diagnosis of ovarian cancer came up. The clinic here stated that I did not have ovarian cancer, which I am still confused about since that is how London diagnosed me two years ago. I know I was not diagnosed with the “typical” type of ovarian cancer but was still diagnosed and being followed by London for this. I questioned as to what report they had, and apparently, they only had my report from having the ovarian cyst removed and did not have my final pathology report from London after having my ovary and tube removed. Therefore, the clinical researcher stated that she would have to get this report, fax it to Germany for them to decide if I am able to take part in the study as it stated that you could not have a previous cancer diagnosis. Well, long story short, I was kicked out of the study due to the previous diagnosis. I had mixed emotions and I believe everything happens for a reason and so did this. The study has not shown to be effective for breast cancer yet; obviously, this is the purpose of the study so I think if I would have known for sure that this medication was beneficial for this type of breast cancer I may have been more upset. In addition, as mentioned before I would have been on the medication for a year, including constant testing, blood work and waiting three months following the end of treatment before having my reconstruction. All of this would have taken me into the spring of 2010. The clinic felt bad for putting me through all the testing to just be booted but I explained it was fine and I ended up having additional tests that would have not normally been performed.

The next day I had my port inserted. I was scheduled for admissions at 7:00 am and surgery at 9:00am. I got into x-ray around 9:30ish and was given a sedative. Little did I realize that a sedative does not mean they will be knocking you out! I took one look at the clock as a sheet (my head tilted to the right so the port insertion was on the left chest wall) was covering my face and it was 9:45 am. Since it was only sedation, you guessed it; I was awake for the whole thing and could feel and hear everything. It was a little uncomfortable at the beginning, then the nurse lifted up the sheet, and I said "hello, yes still feeling things", she then decided to give me some more drugs (I was still present though). The sheet came off and it was 10:05, damn 20 minutes that was it. Off to recovery I went for 2hrs and off home. It is hard to explain but you can literally feel it running through my subclavian vein, which is weird, overall it will be my “saving grace” for treatments! I have added my actual x-ray of my port for everyone to see, it is somewhat neat!

Tomorrow..... my treatments begin!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Visit #1

It is here where she must begin to tell her story!

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog, sent an e-mail, or dropped a line to say hi! Sincerely, with deepest gratitude and love to each and everyone of you, thank you!

To back it up a bit further, December 15, 2008 I had my first appointment at the cancer clinic with Dr. Alam, who is a sweetie! She informed me today of my diagnosis and I have Stage II, Grade III, triple negative ductal carcinoma. The triple negative means my tumor does not have receptors for estrogen/progesterone/HER2, which is not always a good thing. This means that hormone blocking treatments will not work, or slow down potential growth. This also means that this little bugger is growing and is invasive and the only thing to stop it is hard hitting chemo. Therefore, I will be starting chemo smack dab in the New Year after tentatively having my port put in on January 5. I will be having 6 sessions, 3 sessions of 5-FU and 3 sessions of Taxotere (each has three drugs combined). There is the possibility for radiation to follow which they will decide part way through my treatments and then about a year from now my reconstruction. I have also chosen to be put in a study for a new drug called Bevacizumab, which is being tested on breast cancer patients who are triple negative throughout Canada, USA & Europe - this is not a chemo drug. It is a randomized sample, but I will know if I am selected, the only thing is that I will have to continue taking this drug through IV for a year. Since I have chosen to participate in the study I had my baseline BW done today at the lab - CBC and SMA7, I will be going for a chest CT scan and MUGA before my port, and I am seeing a fertility doctor tomorrow morning!

Of course, a concern regarding this whole situation is whether we will beable to have children later. Obviously, there are side effects of chemo with fertility and being that I only have one ovary to work with due to the previous diagnosis; we wanted to cover all bases. To sum it up, the technique of harvesting eggs was way more complicated than expected and would have delayed my treatments a couple of months. The decision we made with the help of the fertility doctor was that I would start taking monthly shots called Leupron that would more or less put me into temporary menopause. This would stop the signaling to release an egg and decrease the amount of blood flow to that area, in turn trying to decrease the amount of chemo that also reaches the area. Therefore, every month I get a nice big shot in my ass that costs me $400 a shot! Thank goodness for coverage!

This week I also began my professional album of my journey with my dear friend and personal photographer, Amy. With her help and amazing talent, I will be able to capture all these moments and hopefully tell a story through my pictures and let the sound of my inner voice be heard!
Part I ~ Pre-surgery

www.brittonimages.com

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

2nd & 3rd week post op!

2 weeks post op ~ Not much news this week, as I was supposed to find out my test results which once in the office I discovered that only the CT scan came back and was negative. Good news for now, next week the pathology report should be back.

I have decided to give myself another half a week to sit, relax, and recover and hopefully by the end of next week I will be able to start doing a little more. I got a care package in the mail from the cancer clinic and in the exercise pamphlet they do not want you lifting anything more than 5lbs for the first six weeks. By next week I will atleast be able to do some household chores as washing dishes, making the bed, etc. I know I am being hard on myself and I need to understand that I do need time to recover and that's OK.

3 weeks post op ~ Back to Dr. Heartwell’s office to find out the results of my pathology report. Trying to keep my mind focused on the positive outcome! Well, she stated the healing process is going very well, and informed me that the cancer had travelled to my lymph nodes and affected 6 of the 15 removed and the tumor was 3cm. I am sure you can all guess what is next! I am just waiting for a call from the cancer clinic to meet with them and come up with my treatment plan. I will also be going back to HDGH at some time to have a port put into my chest for my treatments. Until then I do not know exactly what the plans are going to be but my surgeon did state that even if it wouldn't have affected the lymph nodes that I more than likely would have still been sent to the cancer clinic due to the size of the tumour.

So much ahead of me, how long will I be off work, who long will the chemo treatments run, radiation? reconstruction when? The list grows and will be answered soon!

This is going to be a long journey ahead for family, friends and myself. Some days are going to great and others not! The day I found out, I was numb and in disbelieve, I still do not believe I have this! However, everyday I am asking for strength, strength for many things and these past two days, God has given me strength. I am feeling stronger and stronger and feel little parts of me getting ready to push through this thing hard. Everyone knows me, I try not to get bothered, and this is yet another challenge that I am not going to back down from!

In the meantime the phone just rang and it was the cancer clinic, the doctors are reviewing my case today and I will have an appointment the 2nd week of January. If they feel I need to get in sooner then they will squeeze me in somewhere, she said they are swamped -that is crazy to believe how busy the cancer clinic is :(

Monday, February 2, 2009

Post Op Week!

November 24th, 2008 - I had to go for a CT scan of my abdominal area as the ultrasound they performed was not clear and they wanted to be safe and perform this test as well. Last night I had to drink a mixture of hell knows what, 500ml of something that was lighter than milk of magnesia. The stuff did not stay down to easy, there was a lot of gagging, and no food or drink allowed after.

In the morning off to HDGH for my scan, which then I had to drink another 500 ml before the test. I impressed the receptionist by how fast I drank it, little did she know I had to run to the bathroom to gag and rinse my mouth. They prepared me for the injection for the CT scan and could not get any of my veins; apparently, they are too small right now and jabbed me in two different locations. Once ready, they tried to run saline through it and I started screaming because it hurt so badly. I can take pain but this was awful. They decided to try again and the same thing happened, so they removed it and jabbed me in another location. Atleast this time it worked. They performed the CT scan, injected a dye that heats your whole body and makes you feel like you are wetting your pants, you do not but I had to double check afterwards.
Off to Dr. Heartwell's office now! Dr. Heartwell said the tubes could come out which was great news! Little did she know that I had just taken two pain pills to help because as soon as she told me they could come out, she literally ripped them out!!! No joke! Then came the bandage, she was not easy with that either, she slowly started to peel it away from my skin and then yank! Off came the bandage, oh and she forgot the little bandages over the stitches, rip! Those came off and then she asked me if I was ok!!!! I stayed tough took a deep breath and said yes I am ok! I really wanted to ask her what she thought! I asked about my results, she said the bone scan, and chest x-ray both came back negative so that was awesome to hear. My pathology report was not back so I proceeded to walk out of the office lopsided because the drugs had started to kick in to book a follow-up appointment.


Tuesday and Wednesday ~ were kind of down days! Everything from pain, self-pity, not being able to shower on my own, to I can't reach a drinking glass, to how come I am not recovering faster bothered me and I broke down several times. The recovery overall is good but I am having my days which I am allowed were it just seems like everything is piling on my shoulders. My left arm is coming along good but my right is still painful and to the point sometimes that when I force myself to do my exercises I get nauseated and then get discouraged and then possibly start crying. There is a lot of releasing going on these days!


Thursday ~ was good, I had the chance to get my hair washed after a week (I know yuk!) and blow dried, so that felt good. Then I had a couple visitors, Stephanie brought food, Diletta stopped in with a gift package and then Sheldon stopped in to hang out with me as he has a broken hand - so we were two cripples around the house trying to get something to drink, eat, etc. until my mom came back.


Friday ~ Was good, I did some more exercises, and managed to go for a car ride with my mom to bring Jasper to the vets for a check up.


That was my post op week in review!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Part II

Following our trip to DC, which was amazing I returned to work and to my first nuclear medicine test to screen for metastatic disease. The first test was a bone scan, which is a test to determine if there are any signs of cancer in the bones. The technician injected me with a radioactive agent into my vein, I was then told to return in four hours so that the agent could travel through my blood stream, at which point I returned and was placed under a large x-ray machine that whirled around me and took pictures of my bones. Between the initial parts of the bone scan test and returning, I went to have a chest x-ray to see in there was any cancer in the lungs.
On a side note that weekend was our church blessing and one year anniversary. What a way to enjoy the weekend prior to going in for surgery. It was great to have the whole family and friends together to celebrate again in our very special day. I would not have wanted it any other way!

The day of our anniversary, I had an abdominal ultrasound. You do not know what they are looking at and you just keep wondering whether that object should be there. The rest of the night we just chill as my surgery was the next day, I am sure I did some crying and sobbing and Attila had to calm me down but I am unsure.

November 18th ~ Rise and shine, surgery day, need to arrive at 6:15am to admitting. Once everything was taken care of we went to day surgery (yes day surgery), checked in and they performed routine tests, BP, heart rate, get your IV started, etc. It was nice to see a familiar face as Dr. Wilson came up for a visit to wish me luck and let me know that everything would be OK. Into the elevator, we went my mom and dad, Attila and our friend Stacy. Only one person could come with you. Being a family with Attila now, it was hard to decide who I wanted, my mom because she is my mom and can relate to what I am going through or my husband who is my family. I asked Attila to come with me, as I knew he would calm me down and bring some humour to the situation, which he did. No offence mom, I would have loved to have you there also! Dr. Heartwell, the surgeon arrived at 7:45 a.m. came in and marked up my chest with some letters as I was having a partial and a full mastectomy, and then 8:00 a.m. I kissed Attila good-bye and off to the operating room I went. Cannot say I remember too much of this part except that the anesthesiologist came in and everyone was asking how he was feeling. I said in my head, he better be feeling damn good because he is about to knock me out. I remember telling me that they were administering the drug and if I could feel anything, and I said “no”. It must have shocked them so they brought it up more and after a minute, I was finally out. Well for those of you who have ever had major surgery, morphine is the greatest drug. Not sure how many shots they gave me but everytime I complained of pain I received one it was great! Up to recovery I went, and I hung out for a couple of hours until the CCAC nurse came in and gave me the run down of how to drain my tubes, medications, and home care. Little did I notice that when he went to show us how to drain the tubes, Attila suddenly disappeared? I found out later that he got a little squeamish and had to leave the room, but regained himself and returned. I was out of the hospital by 2:00 p.m., they were not joking when the said day surgery, in and out! Off to home to begin my recovery!

I received an e-mail from my cousin’s in Iowa that Attila had informed me about prior to going into surgery. I was sad to have not seen it prior but upon returning home, Attila brought a smile to my face by putting it as my background for my computer. I love you too!

Real time: Superbowl Sunday has turned into Super-couch Sunday for me! Just going through the motions today, and kind of in a daze or as the nurses would state "I have chemo brain"! Off to bed, I hope everyone had a great game!

Going back, back to ......?

Since it is the beginning, let us take it back.....

I do not know the exact day or how I discovered the lump that would have such an impact on my life, I am not sure how most women react either. I do know the first thing that runs through your head; “is this cancer, no, get that silly thought out of your mind.” How do you do that? I decided to wait a week and a half before phoning my doctor to have a check-up. During this time, your mind can really play some tricks on you. It's not cancer, it is in relation to my cycle, it will go away; could there be a connection to the miscarriage? Yes.... this happened to us four months prior. Already being a faithful person, you being to start praying a whole lot more. You pray, you hope, you beg, and you deny and wish it would just go away.

September 10th, 2008 my doctor examined me and took action ASAP. I was booked for a mammogram, 2 hours later. Words cannot express the discomfort and pain this damn machine can cause and of course they did not get an accurate enough picture so, yeah let us do it again! For those women who have never had a mammogram, damn... squeezing your boob between to sheets of plastic and flattening it like a pancake, not fun – just think of it! The next day I had an ultrasound. A couple of weeks went by and I got the call to come into the doctor’s office. I prepared myself for what I thought would be the next step, a biopsy and that was my exact next step. The previous tests showed something but could not define it or make a diagnosis.

I had the biopsy two weeks later, it as ok, just a very long needle being jabbed through your boob 5-6X's. Ya, I took the rest of the day off and relaxed. During this time believe me your mind runs like a hamster in its wheel. For those who know me, my mind never runs, and now I can't shut down.

Any one remember Charlie Brown's teacher? Well you can image what I heard the day I was diagnosed..... Awahwahwah wah wah wahwah! Translation, you have high grade invasive ductal carcinoma. The ball starting rolling fast and there was no time for this to sink in before I was handed my appointment card with the surgeon for Monday, this was Thursday. After hearing my diagnosis to say the least I was pissed! This was not happening to me and was not going to happen to me! I cried some more, got pissed some more, and then asked how does this happen to someone at the age of 31? Like mother like daughter (my mom was 50) - shit! There are many other things I would rather inherit from my mom (sorry!). I was more than grateful that my she was with me at my appointment, there would be no other person that I would have wanted by my side.

So, here it begins this crazy journey... and no I don't want to talk! I want to be left alone, let me absorb, let me cry and come up with a solution. Don't worry, it only last two days and cancer got it's first 15 min's of fame. During this time I kept this to myself, family, and few close friends. I did inform my boss due to making arrangements for doctor's appointments and trying to keep this as discrete as possible. This is the way I operate, keep it to myself until there is a solution. Unfortunately, this strategy was not working and I was not appearing to be my “normal” self. I remember being different at our work conference, when others discovered my lack of patience, decrease in chattiness, and subtle hints to be happy with your life. I forgot to mention that I was diagnosed the day before our work conference. This was going to be great!

My appointment with the surgeon was ten minutes; she read my chart, examined me and then asked me what I think we should do? What? "Well I think you want me to have a mastectomy on my right side" “yes”. "OK, now let me ask you something, with my history, my moms, should I have the other side done?” “Wise decision”. OK, let go! The booking of the surgery hit home, dates are very important to our family and always have a strong significance in our lives. I explained to them that I had a surprise trip to Washing DC planned for our one-year wedding anniversary and I did not want to cancel. They explained they could book me the week following upon my return, Tuesday November 18. Well, if it was not a sign I do not know what it was, I knew my Mimi and Papa were with me. November 18th is my grandparents wedding anniversary and ours is the day before hence why the day we were married. I always worry about surgeries but I realized they would be watching over the doctors and me during the surgery on that day.

To end on a happy note, here are a few highlighted pictures from our Washington DC trip that I surprised Attila with at 5:30 a.m. that morning – I wish I had had a video camera so that you could have seen his face and reaction. Enjoy!

CAPTIAL HILL


ABRAHAM LINCOLN MEMORIAL

OBAMA LEAVING HIS MEETING WITH THEN PRESIDENT BUSH

THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOILDER

ARLINGTON CEMETERY

Love ~sasha