Herceptin #8

Done!

Felt good to just go, get plugged in, spend some time with my fav nurse Manny at PMCC, and then leave ūüôā

You meet all kinds of people while in Chemo Daycare, and you realize that cancer really plays no favourites at all. ¬†I was in an area where there were 6 of us. ¬†One gentleman was from Italy, and clearly had not lacked from anything in his life, one man thought he was really funny with his loud comments (he wasn’t) , one young woman was there for her first chemo, and another woman a little older than me, half way through. ¬†You kind of become all one big group sharing your life for the time you’re there. ¬†

I got up to leave, and it was like saying good bye to a group of friends ūüôā ¬†They all said…”so soon”…I had to laugh!

After the Herceptin, I went to the One of a Kind show with Nava. ¬†All we did was eat and buy some serving pieces. ¬†It’s what we do. ¬†It was nice to have a day for me.

In January, I get a new Oncologist, Dr. Warr. ¬†When I was at PMCC for my Herceptin, I saw him. ¬†He had a kind face, so that made me smile. ¬†So I’m hoping that a new Oncologist and a new year, are a great new start to 2014. ¬†There was nothing wrong with my old Oncologist, she just split her time between 2 types of cancers, as did Dr. Warr, so now she has chosen to specialize in the other kind, and Dr. Warr is specializing in breast cancer. ¬†So I’m guessing that’s a good thing.

Jeffrey is on the mend. ¬†Needless to say, he’s tired, but he’s taking it all a day a time.

It was great to have my Mom here for a few days, and get caught up!!

I hope you’re all having an awesome weekend!!

hugs

Randy

Catching up!

Wow I didn’t realize it’s been so long since I blogged. ¬†To be honest, I think I needed to get away from cancer treatment for a while, and just re-group. ¬†And I believe I have done that!

Last time I blogged I had 3 rads to go. Of course, now I’m done, and it’s been just over 3 weeks. ¬†It was amazing to have so many people following my count down on Facebook, it really helped encourage me to get through the daily grind of working, going straight to the hospital after work, waiting at the hospital, getting radiated, and driving home, dinner, and bed. ¬†It was a long 6 weeks. ¬†I’m glad it’s done.

Just like they told me, the worst of it would come about 10 days after I finished, and they were right. ¬†I was very burned. ¬†Thank goodness for great creams, and I went through a lot! and Polysporin! ¬†The fatigue just blew me over. ¬†I wasn’t expecting it. ¬†I mean I was told it would happen, but somehow I didn’t believe it. ¬†and POW, did it ever. ¬†There was one day I left work at around 2:30, went to sleep, and slept till noon the next day. ¬†I still get tired really easily. ūüė¶

The burn is much better, the skin has peeled off, and I’m very “tanned” in a square around my breast. ¬†(sorry if this is too much info…I said I’d keep this real!) ¬†I’m still not wearing my “real” bras, just a “service” one with no underwires…kind of like my Grandma bra! ¬†It hurt too much for underwires, and with all the creams and lotions, I didn’t want to ruin one of my nice bras which hopefully I will be able to wear again very soon.

I was asked my UHN to come down and do some filming for them on what to expect when you go to chemo the first time. ¬†They are putting together a video for people that are getting ready to start treatment. ¬†They wanted to use real people, and real stories. ¬†Having been there, I think that would have helped me had I been able to hear real stories instead of what the nurses told me. ¬†It would have been good to hear a balance of both. ¬†Hopefully the video will come out well, and will help others. ¬†It was all done with someone asking me very pointed questions. ¬†Some caught me and I found myself far more emotional about it then I thought I would be. ¬†I guess that will always be with me. ¬†When you go through chemo, it’s just not something that you easily or ever forget, ever. ¬†But I was glad I did it. ¬†In some ways, it was a little cathartic to talk about it in a way that could be helpful to others.

Needless to say, I am very happy to be finished radiation, and now the hard stuff is done. ¬†The crazy part is I’m not ready to celebrate yet. ¬†You would think I would be screaming from the roof…”I’M DONE” ¬†but I just am not ready. ¬†the reality is I’m really not done yet. ¬†I still have another 6 month of Herceptin, which I go for every 3 weeks. ¬†There are no bad side affects other than a drippy nose. ¬†Maybe once that is done, I will feel like celebrating???? ¬†I keep planning my Conquer Cancer party, but never send out the invite. ¬†Scared to think it’s real, scared to think its done, I don’t want to jinx anything? ¬†I don’t know. ¬†I just know that I don’t feel like celebrating just yet.

So I’m starting to get my energy back and feel better, I still get tired easy. ¬†I do have trouble concentrating, and that’s made work hard. ¬†Actually harder now than it was before. ¬†I need to get that under control. ¬†They have been really good at work with me, but I know come the new year, there will be an expectation that “I’m good” and let’s get going! ¬†I’m kind of a little worried about that.

Last weekend was a very crazy weekend with too many things good and bad happening all at once. Thank goodness I was feeling better to have the energy to deal with all of it. ¬†First the good stuff. ¬†Carly and Hailey both had their first Qualifier for the Provincial in gymnastics. ¬†They both did amazing! Medals were added to both their collections! ¬†I’m so proud of them.

While at the competition, I received a call from my Sister in Law that my brother Jeffrey, the one that just ran the Chicago marathon, had a brain bleed that caused a stroke that resulted in a seizure. ¬†Needless to say, it was extremely frightening. ¬†He is going to be ok, no paralysis, and he’s home now. ¬†But wow, what a nightmare for him. ¬†The Doctors don’t know why it happened, and the put him on anti-seizure meds and took his license away for a year. ¬†He’s extremely tired and needs time to recover. ¬†As this was all happening, my other sister in law is at the hospital with her father, and he is not doing well. ¬†He passed away the next morning, and the funeral was the past Tuesday.

Life takes some unexpected twists and turns.

Richard and I celebrated our 19th Anniversary on Wed. ¬†Well, we didn’t celebrate really other than saying….let’s hope this next year is quite and uneventful! ¬†We were to be with my Sister in Law as they were sitting Shiva for her father. ¬†

So with so much going on, what do I decide to do….take on something new!!! Ya I know, crazy! ¬†I had seen these beautiful lockets on line, and then my girlfriend started selling them. ¬†and that’s how I got involved! ¬†They make me smile, and they make others smile as well. ¬†The beautiful part is that you tell a story through the locket, so each is very personal, very unique, and they are fun! ¬†Although there are awareness ribbons available, and yes, I have one in my locket, it’s nice to have something that is not specifically cancer related. ¬† I will still be donating back to Princess Margaret whenever someone purchases a locket with a ribbon in it, and that will be on going. ¬†If you’re interested, please check out my website¬†southhilldesigns.com/locketsdirect/default ¬†From there you can order your locket, or host a party for me, or even join me and do this all as well. ¬†The company is new to Canada, as it’s only been here a year, so there is lots of opportunity. ¬†You can see lots of different ideas on my Facebook page¬†https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lockets-Direct-South-Hill-Lockets/774270772589810¬† These lockets make me smile ūüôā

Of course I am also still doing www.thinkpinkdirect.com that is something I will never give up.

Oh, I completely forgot, (I can’t believe I almost forgot) I did have something so wonderful happen, so unexpected, and so unbelievable. ¬†I get a email from my friend Judy, and she had nominated me for something on Breakfast Television. ¬†and what happened next was incredible ¬†¬†I really had no idea of what I was going down to BT for, other than what Judy ¬†had written. ¬† Even when we arrived, I still had no idea. It was great to see Judy, and meet the other people nominated and hear all their amazing stories, and felt privileged to be included with them. I thought I would be interviewed and then would be leaving. As I now know, this was BT’s Giveback Christmas show, and they wanted to give back to those nominated that had given to their communities and had done good works. Wow, they gave us all so many fabulous gifts, that it was completely overwhelming! Thank you Judy for nominating me, for your friendship, and for a day I will always remember!! ¬†It was certainly a bright light in a year where there were many dark moments. ¬†Here is the link (I hope it posts properly)¬†http://www.bttoronto.ca/videos/2864616247001/

I think I’m all caught up now, and it feels good to blog again. ¬†I’m going to have to do it more often!

Hugs!

3 more rads!

Only 3 radiation sessions left!!  I will be done the major stuff on Nov 14th. Hard to believe.

It’s been a long year……

  • Mammogram in January
  • Compression Mammo, Biopsy & Invasive Ductral Carcinoma breast cancer diagnosis in February
  • Lumpectomy & sentinel Node biopsy, results-stage 1, grade 3 (aggressive) cancer, and clear margins from surgery in March
  • 6 rounds of chemo, 3 FEC & 3 DH from April till August
  • healing from chemo, September and on-going
  • Herceptin August and will continue to June 2014
  • 25 sessions of radiation October-November
  • healing from radiation November-December

Wow…I can hardly wait for 2014!!

The last few radiation sessions have resulted in my skin getting very burned and itchy. ¬†So far I don’t have any skin breakage, but I don’t think I will be so lucky to continue saying that next week. ¬†I’ve been using cold saline solution compresses to take down the itchy burning feeling. ¬†As well, I’ve now using a steroid cream. ¬†It’s really bad right at the side above my scar where they took my lymph node out, and that right where my bra hits. ¬†Uncomfortable. ¬†

I was also told by the Radiation Therapists (a huge shout out to everyone on PRI06 at Sunnybrook, there are such an amazing group of men and women!) that it is the 2 weeks AFTER I finish up rads that I will have the more severe effects on the skin. ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†

….and then the HEALING BEGINS! ūüôā

Thanks to everyone who has been following my countdown on Facebook, I love your cheers as it makes me feel like I do have my own personal posse of positive vibes from incredible people. ¬†I don’t think of myself as anything more than someone who is doing what they need to do to get through a nasty time in my life.

Having cancer changes your life, treatment isn’t “fun”, but it’s not all horrible. I’ve tried to keep a balance in my life, and have been fortunate to have had the strength & energy ¬†to continue working through all this. ¬†I think I might write future blogs on what to expect, or things that might help others if they are faced with chemo etc. hmm….something for me to think about. ¬†The harder part now will be figuring out who Randy is after cancer. ¬†I will always live with the fear of it coming back. ¬†Somehow I have to reconcile all that, and that’s a big thing, with getting on everyday with my life.

Having so many friends and family there for me physically and virtually, makes the tough days a little easier.  I always tell people that my record for getting through the tough days is 100%.  

It’s kind of strange to be thinking that as of the end of next week, all the major stuff will be done! ¬†Ringing the bell, celebrating the end of chemo at Princess Margaret Cancer Care was incredible!¬†I remember a few days later, having an emotional breakdown . ¬† The realization of what “could have been” had my cancer not have been found so early, really hit me. ¬†It’s hard to know how many emotion are going to surface once rads are over. ¬†My whole focus this past year has been on getting treatment to make sure the cancer won’t come back. ¬† ¬†

I made it through, I did it. ¬†But I didn’t do it alone. ¬†Yes, I was the one receiving the treatment, however, there were so many that were right there by my side, every step of them way. ¬†

And to all of you, I am eternally grateful.

Half way through “Rads”

I know I haven’t posted in quite a while. ¬†I was actually having trouble logging in….figured out it was my laptop settings. ¬†Go figure!

I just re-blogged a post from my friend Stephanie, as I have had so many people ask me about what they could do to help. ¬†Stephanie said it all. ¬†She is quite a remarkable woman, and glad that I’ve met her. ¬†Her blog is amazing. ¬†

Anyway, I am half way through radiation, I’ve done 12 of 25!! ¬†So far so good. ¬†Other than having one very tanned armpit and side of my chest, I’m doing fine. ¬†No burns, or tenderness. I’m tired at the end of the day, but that’s more because it’s a long day. ¬†I go right from work to the hospital and then home. ¬†I chose to do my radiation, or “rads” as “those in treatment” call it, at Sunnybrook as it is literally 10 minutes from my house, and on my way home from work. ¬†I work in Markham, so trying to get downtown to Princess Margaret was going to be challenging everyday for 5 weeks. ¬†Even my Oncologist suggested I do what worked for me. ¬†

The question I get asked the most is…”How often do I go for Radiation” ¬†EVERYDAY! ¬†It’s a grind no doubt. ¬†I do get the weekend and holidays off…yippee! ¬†I will be done Nov 14th. ¬†I am told that the side effects really come after I’m done.

I’m not surprised as most of the side effects I’ve had from Chemo also came after I was done. ¬†I’m now 9 weeks done, and still having issues. ¬†The one thing that is difficult, is that most people assume that because I’m done, that I’m done. ¬†The truth is, that it is just a beginning again. ¬†When you have chemo, your whole body is affected, everything. ¬†Even my tear ducts were messed up for a while. ¬†I’ve been trying to find out more about detoxing but it’s hard to really understand it all. ¬†My friend has been helping me try and navigate what I need, but it’s going to be a long road to recovery.

I had to have a chat, or in this case and email with my boss. ¬†He has been wonderful as has everyone at work. ¬†I make sure I look good everyday when I go to work, and I think that’s actually worked against me….LOL! ¬†Go figure. ¬†Because I look good, everyone assumes, I am good, and the truth is that I’m far from good. ¬†But I will get there. ¬†I’ve been told that I should start to feel “like myself” again around January. ¬†Can’t remember what that feels like, but I suspect, that it will be different from what it was before this all started. ¬† I have worked through all my treatment, and taken off what I have needed to take off. ¬†It was the right decision for me on many levels, and I’ve been fortunate to work for a company that has been very understanding about what is going on. ¬†

Richard, Carly, Hailey, and myself along with Richard’s brother Corey, and his son Matthew, and the girls friends, Meg and Syd walked in the Run for the Cure. ¬†Why is it every walk we’ve done for breast cancer…it has rained!!??

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I guess PINK is my colour from now on…good thing I like pink!

I’m still figuring out this blogging thing, and it seems that i am supposed to “tag” the subject, so I’m going to try and start doing that. ¬†Not entirely sure what that does, but we’ll see…

I have now finished 6 of my Herceptin treatments. ¬†I think there is 18 all together. ¬†I can’t remember. ¬†It means going to back to Chemo Daycare every 3 weeks at ¬†Princess Margaret, as this drug is administered through my port. ¬†I also get Mugascans every 3 months at Mt. Sinai to make sure my heart is functioning properly. ¬†Herceptin can affect the heart. ¬†So far I’m good, no issues there. ¬†It does mean lots of hospital visits.

You find out all this stuff, that really you never wanted to know. ¬†Every treatment has side effects. every treatment could lead to other issues, even other cancers, but we’re not going to go there. ¬†I chew so many mints to take away the bitter taste that has lingered from chemo (yes another side effect), that I’m sure I will end up with tooth decay when this is all said and done! One thing at a time!

I did find out that parking costs while in treatment can be written off on your taxes. ¬†(I never knew I could do that). The cost of parking is so crazy at the hospital. ¬†Rarely is it less than $20 a visit. ¬†Sometimes I take the subway down. ¬†I was able to get a weekly price at Sunnybrook while in radiation. ¬†So I’ve gone back and listed every time I’ve had to be at the hospital since this all began, and wow….does it ever add up quickly.

That’s it for now

Hugs everyone, Randy