Sunday, January 31, 2016

Never thought I'd be hoping FOR arthritis

See my onco tomorrow for my maintenance appt. It gets stepped down gradually, but I need to go for 5 years. Now it is down to twice a year only. I hate going there for obvious reasons.

Anyway, need to report my first mets scare to her, which will result in concerned doctor face and bone scan at the least, a PET scan at the most. Oh, that stooopid song....I DON'T want to meet the Mets. And that fucking WAITING again for results. Sadness, despair, fear. Thought it was over.

It probably is not Mets. There is that Tamoxifen thing. Had a hard fall on that hip and it has always been stiff. Possible injured it doing Yoga. It could be simple old arthritis. Or bursitis, a pinched nerve, a pulled muscle. My foot bones hurt, as do my knee joints, and they have ever since chemo. So...it is really unlikely. But. 

A wise BC pal told me never to fear scans--they are impartial and our friend. After all, Scans do not make cancer, they just show it. Simple. If it is there, then it's there already, and maybe has been all along your supposed cure. Bone mets are very treatable and usually respond well to meds. You can live for decades with them being held in remission, a pretty normal life. This is what they say. And better to find them soon, to start the eviction.

It's a bad time to be out of Xanax.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pain and the art of not freaking out

Cancer survivorship is a tricky thing. 

It’s about a year and a half from diagnosis. We’ve rebuilt our lives.  The hair has grown back. The port is gone. The radiation burn has healed. My right arm nearly has full range of motion. I have a part-time, zero-stress job I love, started two blogs and am pursuing creative work that never would have occurred prior to my illness. Finances are improving. There’s so much to be grateful for. I made it. 

So my first Mets scare is not welcome, but I knew it would happen. Mets: slang for metastasized cancer, i.e., a cancer that has spread from the primary site to another. All cancer survivors endure this. From now on, anything – a cough, any pain, muscle spasm, or ingrown hair has the ability to send us to dark places. 

Fear not my chickas!  I do NOT believe my symptoms are related to Mets. Since the bones are a common place for breast cancer to travel, you can understand my initial terror at my aching joints and low back. However, after calming down, doing research, and thinking it through, it’s almost certainly being caused by Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen’s very nature causes joint and bone stiffness and pain, and it is notorious for this side effect. The tops of my feet, ankles, knees, hips, and finger joints all feel stiff, to the point it’s largely affecting my quality of life. Tamoxifen is also at least partly responsible for the weight gain. 

Tamoxifen’s patent expired some years ago, so now only generics are available. And these manufacturers all use different fillers.  Oh, but your doctor will not even know this, and the pharmacy won’t tell you either. Sometimes changing manufacturers helps, but then other side effects can develop from their fillers. 

So today I begin a trial separation from Tamoxifen, which may lead to an eventual divorce. 

I see the Oncologist for my maintenance checkup next week. Meanwhile, Tamoxifen and I are on a break. She’s going to have to convince me that I really need it, otherwise, it’s over - because just like Carly Simon, I haven't got time for the pain. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Proper Sequencing of Suck

My blog is under construction! Since I had zero blogging knowledge prior to my tumors appearing, the actual Year of Suck has not been posted sequentially. Prepare yourselves for the full, f-worded-filled tale, as it's being corrected to layout 2014 in all its chemo/cancer-laden glories, from beginning to end. 

The posts are from my actual diaries, thus the name of this blog. And it's gonna get ugly, before it gets better. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blahdy Blahdy Blah

Years ago, I worked alongside a white-trash, crusty, super-smart legal secretary. Let's call her Kathy. 

Kathy is from Arcadia, which for those who do not know the area, is the equivalent of Bradentucky. Look it up. She has frosted hair, artificial nails courtesy of the Red Barn Flea Market, and her SO was left by his wife for the trashman. No, I'm not making it up. 

Anyway, Kathy had a habit of ripping off her earphones during transcription, and letting loose with a streak of cursing that even made me pale. That really takes talent. 

As magnificent as her potty vocabulary was, it's one of her favorite non-curse phrases has never left me - "Blahdy Blahdy Blah".  That means, he won't fucking quit dictating and is giving me carpal tunnel. Blah Blah Blah, talking never stops. 

So, fast forward about 30 years or so, and I'm deciding to base my latest side gig on her prophetic words...Blahdy Blahdy Blah, I'm heading into the Voice Acting world!  Thanks to Breast Cancer, my schedule is pretty clear (hahahahaha) and allows me time to research and develop my new gig. For those that are interested, here is my new blog site: all about VO

It will chronicle the marvelous success of my fledgling career in voice over acting. 

What, did you think I was going back in to family law? 

Friday, January 8, 2016

2016: The Year of the Foob

It’s been a year and a half since cancer stopped me in my tracks and forced me to part with my breasts.

Enough time has passed to enable some real perspective. Distance is like that.

So what’s it really like after a double mastectomy? The most accurate assessment is that it’s not as I figured it would be. Because it’s important to focus on positive things, let’s consider those first. Never to need a bra again unless wearing the foobs. Never be subjected to another useless, uncomfortable mammogram. Learning that my husband loves me fiercely, with or without those lovely C-cups.

So now the not-so-positive stuff.  I miss them a lot. It’s as if (hahahaha) part of me is missing.  Getting used to the feeling of their departure has not been easy on any level. Enter the Foobs.

“Foobs” is loose slang for Fake Boobs. They can be silicone, fabric or foam. Many ladies make their very own knitted foobs. They all have benefits and drawbacks, but the main thing to know is that comfort is an elusive thing with any of them. The silicones are heavy and have the feel of real breasts, but are hot-flash inducing horrors. Manipulating them in and out of specialized bras (my bras are now and forever considered “medical devices” and covered by insurance) can be frustrating. The foobs made from lighter materials don’t have the necessary weight to properly hold most bras in place. I’m either pulling those down, and yanking the silicone ones up since they like to sink. Told you the silicone were more realistic. And if you should ever leave the house without them, be prepared for the stares of curious folks. Good news: you will easily be able scare the living shit out of them and thus stop the staring by thrusting out your bird chest proudly while making loud, disturbing animal noises. Yes I have done this, in public. No I am not proud.

The damage from surgery and radiation has altered my once limber body to a creaky, dry, tight, aching, uncomfortable ghost. This is the funny thing, because I had imagined my flat, scarred chest would bother me worst of all. But for some reason my visions of forlorn crying jags and inconsolable rants lamenting the loss of femininity never came to pass.  I’ve no doubt that my not-so-bad scars are due to Dr. Nora’s skillful hand.

It’s surprisingly non-dramatic for me to live without breasts now, just sort of a minor inconvenience. But I’m left with a compromised lymphatic system, major scarring under the skin, and a dry, radiated chest that never seems to improve. There are no functioning sweat glands in my right armpit, and no hair grows there anymore. My range of motion post treatment was nil and it was all pain, all the time. That has improved slowly, thanks to gentle yoga and pilates, still grueling and extremely difficult.

If you are wondering – yes I would still choose a double BMX again vs. a lumpectomy, even though the latest research claims that lumpectomy + radiation + chemo is just as effective.  But to me it’s a simple matter of math. Less breast tissue = less chance of local and/or distant recurrence.