Tag Archives: rest

Pushing Through A Tough Week

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This week has not been fun at all. Still reeling from this chest cold that has kicked my ass has made me yearn for how I felt before.  I can honestly say I have never been this sick. You find a new respect for Oxygen when you cannot breathe. Every move I make or step I take leaves me winded and sucking for air.  Lung x-rays are clear, but Doctor hears wheezing. The Albuterol helps keep airways open, but the side effects of shaking, even in your legs, weakness, and racing pulse are not too fun. Then for a while I feel fine, but then the ,chest tightness moves in and I realize that not coughing for hours isn’t good because as soon as those airways are operational, the coughing jags start and the wheezing comes forward.  I cant even sleep because the weird sounds of the wheezing upon exhale, wake me up!

I think the hardest part of this  entire experience since the implant rupture in December, has been keeping my spirits up and my faith unwavering.  It’s been really hard for me to deal with the roller coaster of emotions and health problems all together.  I get bad news, then I get great news and just as I am feeling happy and safe, bam! I get hit with something bad again. It wears me down and then the mental stress makes my body weak immune wise which is likely how I got this damn chest cold.

I am now on a very strong antibiotic which is slowly working.  Each day I am a tiny bit better, but the weakness  in my legs is going to take a while to build back up. I will continue to push through this as I start my Herceptin and Perjeta for the cancer next Wednesday and want to be healthy enough to start treatment.

Pleases keep me in your prayers, positive thoughts, healing white light, whatever you believe in.  I could use all the good health vibes I can get!

Much love,

Barb xo

 

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Half Way Done!

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Today was number 7 of 15 radiation sessions, so I have basically reached the 1/2 way mark. Thank God because I can now see the finish line to this first phase of what I am sure will be a long treatment.  Tomorrow I also have my ultrasound led biopsy to re-stage the tumor in my collarbone and neck.  I just want to get that analyzed and then start on treatment to get rid of it.  The pain it causes is never ending, and I am weary from it.

The steroids are making my legs very weak.  This happens often because the drug makes you have a decrease in muscle mass.  I am trying to do some weight lifting to protect the muscles in my thighs, but it isn’t easy.  Walking is slow and there are times I find it hard to have the strength to go up a step.

Emotionally, I have settled down with a positive attitude and trying not to waste my thoughts in fear or worry.  I find my moments of quiet prayer, reflection, and meditation are life saving. My family has been so helpful and loving.  Everyone has been helping out so things are running smoothly.  It has allowed me to just focus on getting well, and getting through this.

I am reading a lot, and will be posting a review on a book I liked shortly here.  I nap when I need to, take my meds, and be sure to eat healthy in frequent small meals to help with the nausea.  I was put on an anti nausea med yesterday which helps so much.  I as also given vicodin to try for the pain.  I have to stagger it with the tramadol because it really doesn’t work on its own, but it is helping me sleep.

That is about all to report for now.  I will be writing about my biopsy next time so those curious can get a blow by blow account of what they do.  Enjoy your day.  XO

Clumsy Me

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I fell this afternoon. I was taking out the garbage and when I stepped down from the garage door I rolled my left ankle and went down onto my right knee. I was scared I had broken my ankle and being alone what would I do? Thankfully I was able to put weight on it. My back twisted so that’s sore and my right leg hurts when I move my knee all along the outside of my calf.

I haven’t fallen in years. I felt stupid, and glad no one saw me. But I was also scared. Was my imbalance caused by a new tumor in my brain, or just me being clumsy? What if I really had broken a bone? Having cancer, you worry about every single pain, bump, or ache. Falling and breaking a bone is a possibility of bone cancer because it makes the bones fragile. What if I fell on my bad arm? I can’t even imagine the pain and damage that would cause. What if I wasn’t able to get up? How long would I lie there before someone found me?

My hubby says if I don’t feel better tomorrow, he is taking me to the orthopedic. My surgery is Monday and I really don’t need any more to worry about.

I am now pretty much confined to sitting on my flat ass, writing, reading a really good book that I will soon be reviewing, and watching hallmark Christmas movies. What a life!

Enjoy your Friday and be careful not to fall.

Barb

Facing The End

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Last February when it was discovered I had a tumor on the base of my brain, and then 2 months later another one on my frontal lobe, I was forced to face the inevitable that I was going to die from cancer.  I always knew I would, but when it was only in the lymph nodes I could fool myself that it would just stay there and I could live another 2 years.  All that changed when it spread to my brain.  Meeting with my oncologist cemented the fact that there was not much she could do.  Because my cancer was HER2+, it was very aggressive and spread easily.  There are only a handful of targeted therapies made to suppress the HER2 receptor and I had been on all of them.  My only option was to try yet another chemotherapy but they were harsh and none of them would cross the blood brain barrier.  After 5 years of being on some type of chemo or targeted therapy, of losing my hair twice, living with constant bone pain, fatigue, and nausea I had had my fill of drugs.  My body was breaking down from all of the poisons.  That’s really what they are you know, poisons that kill the cancer but everything healthy too.  My other option was palliative care which means they keep you comfortable and deal with your symptoms as they come up.  This was the way I chose to go.

I haven’t been on chemo since 12/14 and they removed the second brain tumor in May.  I haven’t seen a doctor since then.  I wanted and needed a break.  I wanted to feel like myself again and give my body time to purge the drugs and heal itself.  2 months ago, I began to have serious pain in my breast with the implant and my shoulder blade.  After some trips to the ER, it was discovered my implant had ruptured and that there was another tumor in my clavicle. I decided to switch my care from Philly to a group closer to home.  I have surgery on Monday to remove the implant and I see the new oncologist on 1/6.

I don’t feel good anymore.  I am exhausted all the time.  Walking up the stairs or even to the bathroom, leaves me short of breath.  The pain in my back and shoulder never ceases.  The pain killers aren’t helping much and I can’t eat or sleep.  I find myself staring at my three girls.  I’m trying to memorize every line on their face so I can take it with me.  I’ve left letters for them, filled with just a fraction of the things I need to tell them.  How do you say goodbye to the best gifts you ever received.  My 21 yr old Kait and my 18 ye old Erin are moving on with their lives and I know they will be ok.  It’s my 14 year old Emma that I worry about.  She is such a sweet, loving young woman and we have an incredibly strong bond.  She is the one who tells me I’m the most beautiful woman in the world.  She often says she ” doesn’t know why she loves me so much, she just does’.  I feel like its unfair that I had the least time with her.

I don’t want to have cancer anymore. I want to wake up and have my life back again. I want my dreams to be realities.  I want to finish my book and I want to go to Europe.  There are too many things I have left to do.  I want to look in the mirror and see two healthy breasts, not a deformed, hard form with scars everywhere.  I want my husband to look at me like he used to.  I don’t want to hear Emma cry “I can’t lose you mom”.  I have begged God to heal me. I guess he’s busy this time of year.

My family has lost so much in the past 5 years. My only sister was murdered by her husband on the 1 year anniversary of my mastectomy.  In that moment my life was changed.  I had to tell my parents, and my two nephews who were now orphans.  They went to school that morning and never returned to their home or school again.  We took them in.  Their father’s mother stole everything from them to pay for her son’s defense.  We had to wait 3 years for the trial, and in February of 2014 he was finally sentenced to 30 years with no parole.  During this time my youngest nephew became seriously mentally ill.  He had always had some minor problems, but they became dangerous once he lived with us.  After months of searching for answers and looking for help, he finally  had a breakdown and was committed for observation for a week at a clinic.  We were told he could no longer live with young girls around and he needed to be the only child in a house.  After two years of living everyday in fear and anxiety, my nephew went to live with his father’s uncle in Virginia.  Things returned to normal.  My older nephew, Matt stayed with us and is now away at college and happy.  My cancer returned three times from when Kim died, until her youngest son moved away. Stress caused it to come back, but I still had faith I would win this battle.

So now I am facing the end of my life.  It will be sometime in the next 6-9 months most likely.  This will be my last Christmas with my family.  There will be a lot of lasts I will have to deal with.  There will also still be firsts.  My daughter Erin’s first prom, and God willing her high school graduation.  I know I have been blessed, and I truly am thankful for each day I have been gifted to live in this world.  I just wish I didn’t have to make arrangements for the end.

Overcome With Fatigue

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For me, the side effect from all the medications, chemo, radiation, and pain killers has been fatigue.  Fatigue is different from being sleepy or tired.  It is a feeling of overwhelming exhaustion where you cannot move without great effort, you have to fight at times to stay awake, and your thinking is clouded.  It prevents you from not only doing day-to-day activities, it also stops you from being part of life.  You miss doing things with your kids.  Your date nights stop happening.  Your days are spent in bed sleeping off and on for hours at a time losing track of time.

For the past 8 weeks, I have had to be on pain medication to deal with the pain in my shoulder-blade and implant.  There are days I am feeling better so I can skip a few doses and remain in the present. But most days I am confined to a couch or bed trying to escape the constant pain through sleep.  Next Monday I will finally have this ruptured implant removed and hopefully I won’t be in pain any more.

Cancer sucks, plain and simple.  There is not much good about it.  The only positive thing is that it has made me realize how precious life is and to live every day to its fullest.  I spend more time with my children and I find myself staring at their faces, memorizing eve line and freckle.  Cancer fatigue builds up over time due to the effects the treatments have on your body.  It gets a bit better once treatment ends, but never completely disappears.  As I am typing this now, I am fighting to stay awake.  My head bobs up and down as I wake myself up to stay focused.  My vision is getting very blurry, and I feel very weak.  When I complete this entry, I know I will have to nap again.  I will set my alarm, because I have to take my 14 yr old in for her physical.  My oldest will drive us since driving has been out of the question.

If you have been recently diagnosed, go easy on yourself.  Sleep when you need to.  That is when your body heals itself.  Try not to forget to eat 6 small meals a day.  It is essential to fuel your body so it has the strength to heal itself .  Also try to get at least 20 minutes of gentle exercise in each day.  Take a walk, heck the weather on the east coast is warm enough, do gentle yoga and stretching, ride a stationary bike, whatever gets you moving will actually lessen the fatigue.

Caregivers, please be patient with your loved one.  They aren’t being lazy, they aren’t taking advantage of the situation to sit around and eat bon-bons.  They have a disease for which there is no cure. Sure there may be times when they may go into remission and stay there for years, but there is a higher chance that it will be a chronic illness they will fight for the rest of their life. Be patient.  They might have planned a great dinner yesterday when they were feeling good, but today they are exhausted and in pain, or nauseous or vomiting, and they couldn’t cook.  Have a back up plan for dinners.  Prepare a few meals over the weekend to freeze so its easy to just defrost and bake.  Pre-cut all the veggies in a dish and put all ingredients in small baggies, then combine in a large bag and label what meal it is.  This makes dinner prep so much easier. Be loving and kind.  Be empathetic.  Be understanding.  Your loved one did not choose to have this so don’t blame them for being able to do the things they did before.  Give them hugs, hold them, let them know you love them.  People with cancer need physical touch.  It gives them reassurance that they are still beautiful after surgery has removed part of their body.  A massage or back scratch can make them forget their pain because they can focus on something that feels nice instead.  Seek out a support group for caregivers.  This will allow you to vent your frustrations and fears out of earshot from your loved one.  You can have questions answered and gain strength knowing you aren’t alone.  Make sure to have a friend or other family member available for times you are not available.  Make these decisions now so you aren’t scrambling around when it’s needed.

Fatigue is a tough thing to deal with but with good caregivers, and self-care, and being good to yourself, it is manageable.  I wish you nothing but the best on your journey.

Barb