I was keeping updates on my blog posts, mostly on Friday Pick. But since I know not everyone is comfortable with details I have decided to post an abbreviated version of my journal notes. I have hyper-linked some of the pages and online sources where I researched information.
My Journey With Cancer October 2013 through November 2014.
(Started October 2013 with most recent events added to the top.)
November 2015 - Follow-up at the endocrinologist revealed no growth - good report. I had a small skin cancer removed from behind of my knee. Biopsy of a dip in my back was benign. My annual mammogram was all good - Clear for another year!
September 2015 - Finally submitted to my first colonoscopy. It actually went quickly and was painless (after the first shot). Good report - all clear.
May 4, 2015 - I finally saw the endocrinologist for my thyroid. He did another ultrasound and determined that I do not have nodules but rather scar tissue. Apparently I have had thyroid problems a long time but it went undetected. No Nodules is good news.
April 2015 - I happened to notice this month that the medicine taste in my mouth is finally gone.
December 2014 - A scab on the back of my knee has been diagnosed as pre-cancer and I have to have it frozen in January. Also my thyroid levels have still been elevated and my medicine dosage was increased. My blood work will be reviewed again in early January.
November 2014 - The mammogram follow-up showed all is well. :-) I give thanks to God and count myself blessed to have had great care-givers and friends who supported me as I went through this year to become a survivor of breast cancer.
7/28 - My hair is now similar to a Jamie Lee Curtis look. I need to start getting it shaped soon. My nails have begun to break and peel. Of course it would help if I got back to the nail spa to have them done.
7/14 - I started wearing my short hair without a wig this week. It is actually pretty cute and everyone has made positive comments. :-)
6/15 - The last patch came off yesterday morning and the 'burn' and peeling from the radiation are starting to clear up. I stopped taking the Benedryl and the gastric medicines mid week and so far the itch is under control and there has been no gastric distress. Occasionally I still get the awful "chemo" taste in my mouth and throat but not so often anymore.
6/6 - My last radiation treatment! YAY! The sores are slowly getting better and the ache has gone. I only took the pain pills three nights. I am slowly removing the tatoo marks and circles - the patches can hurt if peeled off sensitive skin.
5/30 - I had the most pain I've had from radiation at the end of today. Besides the two areas of raw soreness (beneath the breast and along the side under my arm) I had aching pain in the whole area and was relieved to fall into a chair and sit when I got home. Yesterday the doctor gave me pain pills and I didn't think I would need them but I used them to help sleep comfortably.
5/28 - This is the first week of minor discomfort from the radiated areas. It is very pink now and sensitive in several areas.. They will complete full breast radiation this Friday and then I have one more week of radiation targeted just to the area of the tumor.
5/21 - I am pleased to note that my eyelashes and brows are quickly growing back. Unfortunately so is the rest of the facial hair - mustache and chin. Head hair is coming in to a soft fuzz now. I think the lovely strong nails I had (strange side effect) the past two months are starting to weaken again.
5/14 - I developed a rash above the radiated area and have been given another cream for that. I missed a gastric pill and noticed the chemo taste came back to I started to take the pills again.
5/7 - I noticed over the past week that I lost all of my eyelashes. My son got in town and when I was showing the loss of eyelashes he pointed out that my eyebrows were pretty thin too. I had been filling in with brow pencil so that wasn't as noticeable as having no need for mascara.
5/2 - The itchiness is better and radiation is fine so far. No pain but a few "X"s on my breast to help guide the technicians.
4/28 - I've slowly had a rash worsen at my neck area. I am told this is residual to the Chemo. I am to try Benadryl pills and hydro-cortisone for the itching which at times it very intense.
4/25 - First week of radiology went by fine. I'm glad I only have to travel 10 minutes to get to the Doctor's office. It takes longer to get there and undress and dress than for treatment. I have still been having gastric discomfort so the Doctor gave me a prescription to try. We'll see how that helps this coming week. Sleeping seems better now with less getting up during the night.
4/11 - Saw the Radiologist for mapping. Treatment will start Monday 4/21.
4/5-4/10 - My sleeping habits are messed up. I am glad when I sleep four or five hours without getting up. Work has been a bit stressful juggling a big closing while gathering everything to get tax estimate in.
4/4 - Still struggling with early morning wake-up. My assistant is out sick due to stress and high blood pressure. I got to work a little early to try to get a jump on the extra work I would have to cover especially since I had to take an hour to see the radiologist. He has set me for the mapping next Friday with treatments to start the following week - five days a week for six and a half weeks.
4/3 - Again woke up early. I listened to my audio for about half an hour before falling back to sleep. Saw the oncologist for discharge and referral to the radiologist oncologist. Yay- got the clearance for removal of the PICC line. It stung a little at the entry site where the skin is tender but that was all.
4/2 - Woke up too early (5am) and had trouble going back to sleep. Didn't feel strong in afternoon so I missed choir practice and went home early instead.
4/1 - Glad to sleep five hours without getting up. Another morning for court in Bay County with four hearings. I remembered the computer this time.
3/31 - Had early court in Bay County - an hour, 15 minute drive. I had four hearings over two hours and had planned to take the computer but forgot. Was a little tired when returned to office but kept plugging along.
3/30 - Happy to go to church but still not up to eating out so DH made a light lunch.
3/29 - After two days of Milk of Magnesia and some fiber pills the constipation finally broke up. Spent a good deal of the day near the restrooms. The gastric discomfort is almost gone too.
3/28 - Still not feeling great but a little better.
3/27 - I struggled to get going this morning and didn't get to the infusion facility until after 10am. When I saw the infusion staff for my dressing change she suggested I see the doctor and offered me some yogurt to help. The doc recommended Milk of Magnesia and Prilosec for my discomforts. I picked those up with some things for lunch, including ham and cheese and yogurt. Hopefully that will help. DH made a steak quesadilla for dinner and I was able to eat half of it.
3/26 - DH made me strawberry pancakes for breakfast and I ate half. I got into work and struggled through the day. I managed a portion of Alfredo broccoli for lunch and I managed to go to choir practice. Then DH and I came straight home. He made me scrambled eggs for dinner which was suggested by a dear friend in choir who has had recurring cancer for years. The eggs seemed to sit well but in the middle of the night I went into a burping fit for almost an hour. I finally took a tums which helped for a while.
3/25 - I had to be up really early to travel to Tallahassee for several court hearings. I was able to eat a ham croissant sandwich mid morning but I felt miserable with gastric discomfort. I got home about 3:30 and napped. DH made a mild cheese quesadilla for dinner. I didn't sleep too well due to continuing gastric discomfort.
3/24 - Again I had bagel thin for breakfast. I stayed home and after napping in morning I did work on the computer for several hours in the afternoon. I ate some chicken, potatoes and vegetables again for dinner.
3/23 - I was able to eat a bagel thin in the morning. DH made me chicken with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables for dinner. I was able to eat a few bites of each. I napped during the day but was awake more than usual - did some reading and computer time. I slept better Sunday night.
3/22 - I started to eat oatmeal for breakfast but after only a few bites I lost that. After a little time I managed to eat some more of the oatmeal. I slept through lunch but was awake a few hours midafternoon and again in the evening. I had toast for dinner. I didn't sleep well Saturday night as I woke every hour but I wasn't sick any further for the whole weekend.
3/21 - I started the day with my red flush face. I managed a half of cheese filled baked potato for lunch. When I came home DH gave me a piece of sub sandwich for dinner. As soon as I finished I gagged and lost it all. I was very careful to take the anti-nausea medicine this time. I slept better than most treatment weekends. Although I did wake up every two hours (instead of one) I was sick only once near morning time.
3/20 - YAY - Last Chemo treatment!! I had a slight fever but not enough to postpone. All went well and I was hungry afterwards. Had a small part of a Subway sandwich which may have been ambitious as the cucumbers are sticking with me. Ah well - I'll be taking my anti nausea medicine on time. Napped a little after coming home. No office due to sick person being there and I was avoiding exposure.
3/14 - 3/19 Not much new to report. Some days I am more tired in the evening and I've had a couple of days not feeling totally well.
3/13 - A very busy day with all day appointments. Tired when I came home. Each night when I get home I am glad to "take my head off" -- I mean my hair as the wigs seem tight by then. My hair is just barely starting to grow back.
3/12 - Frustrated at court as opposing counsel wasn't prepared and the Judge sent us off to mediation instead of addressing the disputes. Had a Skype Board meeting at 6:30 until 8 when I met the family for dinner. I was uncomfortable I think eating so late - it didn't seem to sit well and my sleep was disturbed..
3/11 - Full day in the office - no outside hearings. I had a contested proceeding to prepare for Wednesday morning.
3/10 - Travel to Bay County for court - I was distracted as I set out on the drive and went 17 miles the wrong direction before I realized I missed the turn. I have to admit that the treatments do seem to have messed with my acuity and memory. I am told that all will return after a few months.
3/9 - Another good day. Glad to be in church with church family to worship God!
3/8 - Up early for ladies book club. Then had MK facial with my daughter at a friend's house. We had fun. When we got home the grandkids were still at the house helping P-Pop in the garden. I crashed for a nap around 4pm. Our youngest granddaugher, aged 3, saw me without the wig and exclaimed "you're P-Pop!" He is bald so I guess my bald head made me his twin. :-)
3/7 - Had a busy day working on closing docs and law files.
3/6 - Slept well last night - five hours before waking. Had a nice luncheon today at Marianna's Women's Club. It was great to see my friends there!
3/5 - A little better today.
3/4 - Had court in Bay County, an hour 15 mins away. Called DH at 8am to see if he could come back from Church breakfast to drive me as I was pretty shaky. Snoozed a little on the trip. Came out of the hearing and lost my raisin toast breakfast. Ugh. Back to the office did about an hour of work and headed home. Took the Zofran as soon as I got home - after losing the ginger-ale I had been sipping on. The meds actually seemed to calm my system at this point. I napped nicely and came down at 2pm for cheese and broccoli soup. Later had a peach cobbler type dessert for dinner. Breathing is a bit easier and I am hoping I will sleep alright tonight as I have to go out early tomorrow for more court hearings.
3/3 - I had planned to take the day off which is a good thing. I still was having trouble eating and sleeping.
3/2 - Still sick in the am. DH made me a soft boiled egg and dry toast. No soft boiled egg next time. The half of toast stayed down. At dinner I was able to retain a biscuit. Again, I had clarity and energy to work on the computer about an hour. Another rough night.
3/1 - DH suggested I not take the anti-nausea medicine since I was throwing up anyway. By the end to the weekend (Tuesday actually) I realized this was a mistake. Take the meds. Tried to eat a bagel slice for lunch but it sent me gagging. I didn't keep anything down on Saturday but I was more alert. I worked on the computer for a little under an hour. Night time was rough waking every hour trying to breath and visiting the restroom.
2/28 - I ate eggs and bacon for breakfast... no bacon next time. Mac and cheese with broccoli for lunch was good. Worked a full day and came home where I crawled in bed. Lost parts of breakfast - yuck. I'd had a dripping nose Thursday and it started to go stuffy today. That did not help my weekend.
2/27 - 3rd Chemo. I didn't get a good night's sleep but I got a couple extra hours during the Chemo treatment. Treatment went well - I didn't let them give me that extra anti-nausea medicine Phenegran. I even went in to work afterwards and attended a Chamber-sponsored open house for the Infusion center. Home by 6pm and starting to tire out and thinking of warm bed.
2/21 through 2/26 Some nights' sleeping was not good but all in all energy levels really good.
2/20 - Internet was out last night so we went to bed early, before 9pm, and slept through to almost 7 so nice and rested! Saw the Dr. and blood cells are good. On track for treatment #3 next Thursday. It was a busy day and I was tired by end.
2/19 - Pretty much back to normal with good appetite and energy. Noticed a little weakness walking to court several times.
2/18 - Slept seven hours without getting up! Yeah.
2/17 - Slept over four hours without waking which was good. Better than waking up every hour or two.
2/16 - Up and out to church makes me happy.
2/15 - Helped around house in am and went to office for few hours to catch up on some work. Feeling good.
2/14 - Everyone said I was perky in pink today. I finally have energy back!
2/13 - Another plus day and quiet at work. Had pancakes for breakfast, ham and cheese omelet for lunch and a good dinner of salad, baked potato and a couple of chicken bites. All good except for stubborn gas bubbles or whatever in my esophagus. Almost forgot to mention - DH shaved the remaining patches on my head. With this GI Jane look I could pose for Photoshop - Dress My Head!
2/12 - Beginning to feel more normal. I got a four hour span of sleep before waking up which was wonderful after a weekend waking every hour to two. My wonderful DH drove me to the early Court hearing an hour+ away which helped. Had biscuit with honey for breakfast, mac & cheese for lunch and piece of chicken for dinner.
2/11 - Still very weak today but had court hearings to cover in the afternoon. Felt like I should push myself to get out anyway so got to work about 10:30am. Had oatmeal for breakfast and a small ham & cheese omelet for lunch which stuck in my crawl the rest of the afternoon. Rested when got home and then had a bit of macaroni and cheese for dinner. Went to bed fairly early (for me.)
2/10 - My head was clearer and I planned to go to work but after showering I was absolutely exhausted and went back to bed. Finally came down at 5pm thinking I could eat a simple chicken dinner but had to run back to the restroom to lose what little was left in stomach - acid and meds mostly I think. Ugh! Did eat a biscuit and a few veggies.
2/9 - Still not good on Sunday and spent the day in bed and bathroom. Instead of vomiting I had diarrhea until mid afternoon. Tried to eat a few raviolis with no sauce. At least it stayed put.
2/8 - Bad day. Stayed in bed most of the day and kept little food down - basically one piece of toast. Felt awful.
2/7 - Worked today. Felt a little shaky in the morning and watchful of nausea during the day. My face and neck flushed very red again. Made it through the day but tired by the end.
2/4 - Had my own hair cut shorter today. Now there is a pretty wide balding part line and it is thin. Still wearable around home but not to court.
2/3 - My daughter met me in Dothan to visit the recommended wig store. I picked out one on sale, very like the one I already had. I also ordered another that is a bit longer and has more red coloring. Hope to pick that up later in the week. I also picked out a very cute bandana/turban scarf.
2/2 - Attended church and people liked my new hairdo. It took a few minutes for some to realize it was a wig. :-) Energy level seems pretty good right now.
2/1 - Spent the day at home with my daughter and grandkids as we helped "pick up sticks" to ready the garden for planting.
1/31 - Washed hair this morning and it started coming out in handfuls. I can still wear it but there is a thin spot at the top front of my part. I'm glad to have the wig.
1/30- Blood work and PICC dressing change. My Neutropenia (infection fighters) white blood cell count was on the low side so I had to have a shot to boost them. Doctor made recommendations for the acid reflux I've been having. Otherwise on target for 2nd treatment next week. Met with American Cancer Society rep and picked out a free new hair-do (wig)! Then had to travel an hour to a mediation. Head still sensitive.
1/29- We had ice on the car, roof, etc. The roads were messy so lots of offices closed. The back of my head has started to hurt - like when you take off a too tight pony-tale holder. Very tender.
1/28 - Busy day at work as we pushed to get out early before the icy rain hit. Stomach a little unsettled after lunch but okay.
1/27 - Had to go 40mins to Court this morning. Stomach was a little uneasy but settled down. I did feel a bit foggish - like fever. Had planned to go home early in the day but work kept me busy until 5pm. Ate good comfort food for lunch (mac and cheese) and half a sub for dinner and it seemed good.
1/26 - Woke up at 5am with diarrhea. That continued on the hour for the next three hours so I opted not to go to church. Slept in till 12:30 when DH returned and then took the rest of the day pretty easy as my body began to recover. Had dry grilled cheese for lunch and yogurt smoothie for dinner. It could have been bad food Friday or a bug going around.
1/25 - By 1pm I was up vomiting. I was then up on the hour for another five
times, being sick three more times. When I crawled out of bed to get
water at 10am I realized I had run out of the anti-nausea medicine so DH
ordered it online but it wasn't ready till the afternoon. That was okay
since I crawled back in bed until 5pm when I finally got enough energy
to get into the shower to wash my hair. I stayed up about two hours and
then went back to bed hoping I would make it to church.
1/24 - Friday itself was an okay work day but I don't think the food I ate agreed with me. DH went to meet with the men from church as the ladies went on retreat. I chose not to go in light of keeping distance right now. So I fed myself a not so wonderful dinner.
First Treatment - The short version: Although the Friday after Chemo was okay Saturday and Sunday were shockingly rough. My husband and I thought that the treatments would get progressively harder as they went along. We were not prepared for me to be so devastated by the first treatment. I had no energy - barely left the bed for more than an hour at a time a few times during the day. Ate very little. Was sick once on Saturday and twice on Sunday. Was able to get out a few hours on Monday and finally had energy begin to return on Tuesday but was still in fogland until Wednesday. I lost six pounds over the weekend - glad to loss extra weight but I don’t recommend the method. I was glad to learn mid week that the first treatment is actually the worst hit. So now I am past that, thank the Lord. Thursday I actually ate three hearty meals like before the treatment. I don't expect much now till blood tests next Thursday.
Tips: Expect a bad hit from the first treatment. Drink lots of water. Take the nausea pills as directed.
Day by Day notes:
1/23 - No rush to office. DH made eggs and biscuits for breakfast. Went to work at 10am. I had not taken the nausea medicine Wednesday evening or Thursday morning but started feeling the tightness in my esophagus about 11 so I took a pill then. At 1pm I saw the RN to change my PICC dressing. He confirmed that the first treatment is the hardest but that I had to try to eat when I felt up to maintain energy. Met DH for burger lunch! Also picked up Gingerale to help the indigestion feeling. Worked until 6pm. We had a nice salad with chicken, egg and rasberries. I had two helpings, a handful of chips. Then felt like I’d eaten too much. Up late doing review and blog posts but not exhausted.
1/22 - Court again at 9am an hour drive away. I had biscuit with honey! Took a to-go cup of coffee (my first since Saturday) and heading off. So glad to feel almost normal on the drive. Not like I was pushing through a fog anymore! Had a Schwan’s yogurt smoothie for lunch. DH thought it was too cold to wash hair in evening or morning so I squeezed in a hair appointment at 2pm. Made it to Choir practice at 5:30 and a good friend who has had cancer over years explained that the first treatment was the worst. Wish we had known that. I came home still with energy and pulled in three wagonfuls of wood. Had left over rice casserole for dinner with another freshly made biscuit.
1/21 - I had Court at 10am a half hour drive away. I was up early and glad my energy level was enough to get moving. I had biscuit for breakfast. Returned to the office to work. Had a Schwan’s omelet for lunch - was glad to be feeling a little hungry. Left the office at 3:30 to go home to nap. Had some sliced ham and mild cheese with a biscuit for dinner.
1/20 - Thank goodness it was a holiday as I was still very slow moving. DH made me toast again for breakfast then I went back to sleep. I finally forced myself to shower at noon and go to the office for three hours then home to nap again. DH made me a rice, chicken vegetable dish that was yummy - I had a cup with a warm biscuit.
1/19 - Awoke on and off during the night. Rose to get ready for church but vomited and so I crawled back in bed. Ate my cold raisin toast at about 10:30am when I woke again. Spent the whole day in pjs, mostly in bed reading and sleeping. Had a little macaroni dish for lunch. Watched an hour or so of movie while working on blog posts. Vomited again early evening and went to bed about 8pm.
1/18 - Unrestful dreams and I awoke too early at 4:15am. Listened to my audiobook for an hour or so before falling back asleep. Woke up again at 8am but had no inclination to jump out of the warm bed. DH brought me some dry raisin toast which was good. Ended up spending most of the morning trying to stay warm in bed dozing and reading. From 10:45 to 1:45 I was up to wash my hair, think about doing some work and listening to the end of the audiobook. I crawled back in bed, contemplated and napped. Got up and dressed at 4 to try to accomplish something in the day. I started a load of laundry and began writing a review. I was still feeling warm, flushed in the face and cold on my arms when the nausea hit. Not from the belly but from the mouth and throat sensations. As is often the case I felt a bit more energetic afterwards so moved the laundry to the dryer and headed back to the computer in hopes of distracting myself! DH made homemade chicken soup and a fresh biscuit for dinner - I managed half a bowl.
1/17 - Thank the Lord I had no nausea feelings and I went to work from 12:30 to 5:30. DH made a macaroni dish that was a tiny bit on the spicy side but tasted good. Spent couple hours on computer and went to bed.
1/16 - First Chemo treatment; 7am - 1pm. I meet nice people and receive lots of encouragement. The treatment is with two chemicals AC instead of TAC which is good because it eliminates that third toxin. A little woozy - they said that was the anti-nausea medicine. Urinated red from the first drug - was warned of that and it was true!
My daughter got to meet and talk with some of the other patients which I think encouraged her. She took the picture. See my Kindle? I was reading of course!
Came home and DH made grilled cheese for lunch which was fine - I was hungry by then. He made chicken noodle soup for dinner which was yummy but left sort of acidy burn in esophagus. I am praying for no sickness, taking the anti-nausea meds and as of 9pm I have not actually felt nauseous.
1/15 - Received a beautiful prayer blanket from the ladies at church! Lots of prayers and encouragement and I feel optimistic. Poor Heather is very stressed.
1/14 - Thyroid testing shows nodules that will need to be watched; to be referred to an endocrinologist. A couple hours of insomnia early in the morning.
1/9/14 - Thyroid uptake completed.
1/8/14 - After prayer and research I decide to agree to the chemo which is recommended as the standard treatment, particularly with triple negative. I receive a wonderful tote bag, hand made by The Lydia Project. There were goodies included. I also receive a What to Eat During Cancer Treatment Cookbook distributed by the American Cancer Society.
1/3/14 - MUGA scan to determine that my heart is okay to proceed with chemo.
12/30 - Thyroid uptake has to be rescheduled to allow for 14 days off the medicine.
12/26 - Met with the Chemo oncologist who recommends four treatments of chemo 21 days apart. Before meeting with the doctor I had researched alternatives and, with the good news items, I was thinking I would not choose the Chemotherapy. After discussion with the doctor I begin researching more particulars and continue praying for wisdom in this decision.
12/20 - GOOD NEWS! Biopsy negative; the left breast has fibrous cysts. AND the BRAC1 test results show that I do not carry the gene for breast cancer. My sister’s test also shows negative for the gene which is great for our daughters.
12/12 - Biopsy completed on left breast.
12/09 - Additional mammogram/ultra sound completed on left breast. I again feel sure that these are only fibrous cysts.
11/29 - Meet with Radiology oncologist. He orders BRAC1 genetic testing. Schedules additional ultra sound for lumps in left breast and will set appointment with Chemo oncologist.
11/12 - Pathology shows Stage 2A (larger than 2cm but smaller than 5cm, not in lymph nodes), triple negative.
11/06 - Advised that I have hypo-thyroid and need to have further testing set for end of December.
10/31 - Surgery – woozy from prep drugs. The most pain was the dye insert. I really liked the warm blankets. Lumpectomy on upper right breast successful with clear margins; clear lymph node.
10/26 - Wondering how much discomfort I will have. Will it bother me driving or typing? Or washing my hair the first weekend? Rather silly concerns in light of the bigger issues. Trusting in God to see me through it all.
10/25 - Thinking of Play list for my journey:
You Are My Hiding Place; I Lift My Hands (Be Still, There is a Healer); Jehovah Jireh
10/24 - Talk to surgeon to get results: invasive ductal carcinoma. Lumpectomy needed and exploration of at least one lymph node. Not happy but no fear. My God is in control. More concerned about family reaction than my own.
10/22 - Surgeon does biopsy during first visit; sets surgery for the next week.
10/17 - Practitioner doctor sends me to the Surgeon.
10/14 - mammogram and ultrasound show abnormal.
9/2013 I feel a lump but am positively thinking it is just another fibrous cyst like I have had before. Was I being too arrogant in my positive thinking? Call to set up appointment for annual mammogram.
Family History: Mother died at age of 48 after mastectomy lead to liver cancer over a 10 month period. Father had cancer of the larynx treated with radiology in the early 1970s. He had no recurrence and lived until 2012.
Older sister had breast cancer surgery two years ago with lumpectomy and negative nodule. She has other health difficulties that impact her treatments. She had hyperthyroid with partial removal years ago. Several of her daughters have thyroid and our daughter is hypothyroid and has been on medicine for years with fluctuating doses.