Thoughts about getting ready for my last chemo

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the weekend.  And now that the count down to Friday began, the reality that this is the count down to my last chemo!  I can’t say I have mixed emotions or that it’s bitter sweet, which is what you usually think about when it’s the last of something.  This is the last of something that I hope I never have to ever endure again, ever.  Did I mention NEVER EVER!

When I was first diagnosed, had surgery, waiting for results, met with Dr. McCready, met with my Oncologist, that all seems like a lifetime ago.  In someways, it really was a lifetime ago.  as my life before cancer, is very different than my life after cancer.  It will take a long time to find that balance again.  I’ve tried really hard over these past 6 months not to have cancer overtake my life.  But the reality is, that it has.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think about it, how can I not.  My wig and scarf or bald head is a constant reminder that there are some things I have no control over.  My scars, my “badges” of cancer will always be there.

I remember going for my first chemo in April, scared, really not knowing what to expect.   I was prepared with animal crackers, ginger ale, advil, tylenol, Poweraide, and every other thing that people told me I should have.  They are all still sitting on my night table!

I’ve been lucky, I didn’t get many of the side affects from the chemo that I was sure I would get, Don’t get me wrong, what I did get wasn’t fun, but I know it could have been worse, I’m grateful that other than the feeling of being hit by a mack truck and having the life sucked out of me, I was otherwise ok!

I’ve learned a lot about myself, and realized that I am a lot stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.  I learned a lot about the people around me, and felt more love from others than I could ever have imagined I would.  I really am so grateful to so many friends and family.  I have met the most incredible people during the past few months, people I never would have had it not been in for cancer.  I’ve been blessed by such generosity by so many.  So there has been some good through all this.  

I got to throw the baseball out at the Blue Jays game, I was asked to speak at the PMCF news conference at the announcement for Dr. Tak Mak & Dr. Dennis Slamon’s new drug going to clinical trial.  I met Dr. Slamon, the inventor on Herceptin.  I like to think I was able to get other woman to go get their Mammograms by sharing my story.  All these opportunities brought to me because of cancer.

I’ve learned even when I’m having a really crappy day, that the sun always rises the next day.  

Today, my credentials for Weekend to End Woman’s Cancers arrived today, along with my daughters.  My lanyard this year for the first time in the 11 years I’ve been walking, is pink.  Taking it out of the envelope was bitter sweet.  I earned this pink one, yet, it’s not a “stripe” I had wanted to earn.  But I will wear it proudly, as I AM A SURVIVOR, and I will join a unique and incredible group of woman that exemplify such beauty and courage.  Something that I truly didn’t completely understand how special these woman were until I became part of this incredible group.  I only hope that I can inspire and give support to someone in the same situation, and pay it forward, and be there for someone just as so many were there for me.

I know I still have a long road ahead of me.  After Friday, I will have 2 really crappy weeks, but those will be the last of the really crappy weeks, and slowly I will start to feel better.  I still have radiation to go through, and I still have a year of Herceptin,  In October, I’m going to be tested for the BRAC gene,  And of course I will have more CT scans, and monitoring for many years.

But for right now, it’s all about Friday.  One last chemo.  Yay!!  Hard to believe it,  It seemed like it was so long ago that I started, I remember thinking, would this ever end.  And here we are.

I couldn’t have done it without all the amazing support and love that surrounded me and continues to surround me everyday.

Bring it on Friday…let’s get this done, and move on…..

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It’s the little things that make me smile

Today on Facebook, I posted this picture of me wearing my new headscarf, a simple thing.  Yet, with all the amazing comments and all the LIKE’s, my day was made very special.  

Because of all of you, I actually started feeling a lot better.

It’s the little things that make me smile….thanks!Image

Silver lining shining through

Wow…I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted.  Seems so much has happened, and at the same time, nothing has happened.  I know…doesn’t make a lot of sense…kind of how I feel about the time since I had chemo last.

Throughout all this, I have often found myself questioning why? and of course, there is no answer.  So I try and find a reason, the silver lining, whatever you want to call it.  Sometimes, I think I get glimmers of it, but other times, I just question everything.  I’m guessing that’s “normal” haha!  I’m not sure what normal is anymore either.

On the bright side, there have been some shining moments that have overshadowed some of the really really crappy days I’ve had, so I thought I will concentrate on those right now.

On the day of chemo, a few really nice things happened.  It was great to spend the day with Deanne, although we both agreed that lunch with a glass of wine celebrating would be a lot more fun than spending the day at the hospital!   At chemo we were sitting beside a woman who was having her first treatment, and was on the same treatment plan as me.  It was really nice to be able to “share” my experience with her, and answer so many questions that her and her husband had.  I remembered how scared I was that very first time, and it was nice to be able to pay it forward and make someone else “feel better” with what was going on with them.  We will be on the same 3 week rotation, so I hope to see her again on the 23rd and see how she’s doing.

Getting chemo is no big deal, literally they hook you up, even easier now that I have the port, and let the drugs flow.  You don’t feel anything.  Although I have to have my fingers and toes in ice as Doxetaxol can harm the nails, and the ice inhibits the flow of the chemicals to the cuticles.  I was lucky to have Manny as my nurse again, and he gave me pink gloves to wear!!

After chemo, Deanne and I went for a leisurely lunch at Swiss Chalet, much to our surprise, when we went to pay the bill, the waitress smiled and said, it had been taken care of.  Both of us looked at each other with a really puzzled look, and she said one of the customer wanted to pay it forward.  We have no idea who it was, but if you’re out there….Thank-you!!   So very special!

The next week is kind of a blurr….Doxitaxol is a really strong drug that knocks the stuffing out of you.  It’s a combination between being hit by a mack truck and getting the energy completely sucked out of you to the point where getting off the couch is a real effort.  Not one who is used to not being able to do anything, I kept trying, only to get knocked down again.  I went to work for a few hours each day, but went home completely exhausted.  Unfortunately, the effects of chemo where winning over my desire to try and have my life.

The only relief I actually got was not from all the drugs prescribed by the Doctors, but from a “special cookie” a friend gave to me.  Please don’t judge me for doing this, but not only did it take all the pain away, it put me in a state of feeling wonderful, and that my friends is priceless!  So I will be ready for the next round of chemo with more of these “special cookies”!  I’m doing what I need to do to get through something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy in the world.

Two weeks after my next chemo are the High Holidays.  The start of the Jewish New Year.  I can’t remember if I told you that this year instead of doing a formal sit down dinner that I usually do on the second night, I decided to do a lunch instead.  It will be easier on me, and right now, it’s all about as easy as possible!  Why am I doing this you ask….well…it’s all part of having some normalcy back in my life for my family and myself.  The holidays are so important to us, and the significance of finishing chemo before the New Year celebration is not lost on us.  So I posted something on one of the groups on Facebook that I’m in, asking for easy recipes etc.  And the most wonderful thing happened, people I don’t even know offered to help make stuff for me….!!!! Can you believe it…I was beyond floored.   The silver lining shining through once again.  

That’s about it for now…I’m tired again….going for a nap….I take a lot of them!

Thoughts as I go into Chemo #5

There are so many thought rolling through my head right now, that it’s hard to sleep.  (jet lag also plays a roll in this).  This might be a long post 🙂

I have been going over the past 4 weeks in my head.  A lot has gone on.  Making the decision to get the portocath, getting the port, having the reaction to the tape, throwing my shoulder out, getting chemo #4, feeling like a mack truck hit me, getting my family ready to go to Israel, seeing them all leave without me.  All these were very difficult not just physically, but very much so emotionally.  Then being able to go to Israel wiped out every negative thing that had happened.

I realized that a lot of this battle is emotional, and how I deal with it.  I’m not taking away from the physical part, because the effects of chemo are real, and they are not fun at all.  At times I feel like a walking pharmacy with all the drugs I take to deal with the side effects.  I know I’ve been very lucky not to have too many of the bad side effects, and I know I still have 2 more chemo’s to go, then radiation (still not sure how many) and Herception injections every 3 weeks for about the next year.  My journey is far from over.

As I said being in Israel wiped out all the negatives that happened.  It is a very healing and spiritual place for me.  Although I didn’t get to go to Jerusalem on this visit, my family and friends did.  The Old City is known to the Jewish people (along with many other religions) as the holiest place on earth.  The is a custom in Judaism to pray at the Western Wall, and leave notes in the crevices of the wall.  When you go there, you will see the wall covered with papers of prayers to G-d.  Richard said when he went there he was overwhelmed with emotions, not being there with me, praying for me, and of course leaving a note in the wall for me and our family.  My brother  also went to the Western Wall to leave notes of prayers, and I know this was overwhelming for him as well. The other parents also left notes and included me in their prayers.  My girls did as well.  Even now as I share this, the emotions are very over powering me.  I realize how many people my journey have affected.  I am the one physically going through it, but so many others are going it this with my emotionally. 

Most of our time was spent in Tel Aviv staying at my cousins.  It was relaxing and great to connect again with them, In past visits with them, it was only a dinner here or there.  This time, I had 2 days with Dov and Rachel to myself before Hailey and Richard joined us, and I got to spend some special time with them.

We also spent a lot of time with Wayne (my brother).  I am so happy that I had this time with Wayne, and that we shared some special moments.  Having him take the time from his busy schedule to make sure I went to Israel will always hold a special place in my heart.  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Febuary, Wayne called me and told me not to worry about getting to Israel, he would make sure I did, and he would be there with me.  It was great to have him with us to share this happy time in my life, and especially when Carly won Bronze.  I’m sure it’s a time he will always remember as well for many reasons.

We spent a very special Shabbat weekend with friends Nili & Arnie at their Bed in Breakfast in Yavne’el in the northern part of Israel.  Our friends moved to Israel about 2 years ago.  They have a wonderful place and I highly recommend it!  They are close to so many places for day trips, and you’ll be hard pressed to find 2 people more wonderfully caring, friendly and hospitable as Nili & Arnie.  For my family and I, the calmness of being with them was exactly what I needed, and it was there that I truly relaxed.  We also spent a day with going to Rosh Pina and Safet, and while there, Nili and I found a necklace that embraced it all for me with a very special prayer in Hebrew.  The translation means, “Lord, Heal this woman”.  I haven’t taken it off since I bought it, and I tend to hold the part with the prayer in it a lot.

There are so many special moments through this journey.

Yesterday, I was back at the hospital, and my blood work was perfect.  My Doctor actually remarked how I great I looked, and she never would have guessed I was going into chemo #5!  I’m pretty sure she sees a lot of people, so that was really encouraging to hear.

In a few hours, my friend Deanne is picking me up and taking me to Chemo.  Whatever this round brings, I know I will be able to handle it.  It might not be fun, as I’m told chemo #5 is a tough one.  However, after what I went through with #4, that seems hard to fathom.  But as I said, a lot of #4 was also emotional.  Hopefully the physical part of #5 can be dealt with with drugs (as I said I am a walking pharmacy!) 

I have learned through this is that I can’t fight the cancer or the physical part of what is happening.  That is the Doctors job.  What I can do, and try to always remember is I that I can for me emotionally, and try to keep as positive as possible for me and my family.  I can pull from the strength, prayers, and positive messages that so many of you have sent me.  I depend on them during my bad days, and remember that bad days are followed by good days.  So please keep them coming <<<big hug>> .  

As my friend Kathy keeps reminding me, there always will be sunshine, and to take this one day at a time, because that’s what I CAN control.  And not to read everything on the internet!!

The good thing about getting #5, is that #6 is next and that’s my last chemo!!!  And then I get to ring the bell!!  So bring on #5 and let’s get this over with.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to care, it means more than I can possibly put into words.

Hugs, Randy