Passing the two-year milestone

You think you’re in the clear, and then depression takes you down

Two years ago, on May 20, 2015, I had my lumpectomy. That was followed with 4 rounds of chemo, 3 weeks apart, and 33 radiation treatments. After that, and after getting rid of a stubborn, gut-busting cough, I started 5 years of hormone treatment (it should be called anti-hormone treatment).

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All systems go

From now on, progress is up to me

Just pausing to note that I saw my oncologist a few days ago for my once-every-4-months checkup. Got some reassurance on a few things:

As I’d read in many places, occasional twinges or stabs in my left breast are normal healing and could continue for some time. If cancer were to recur, it would be elsewhere, outside the area that was treated (ie, somewhere other than the left side of my chest).

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Say it correctly: ‘mas-TEC-tomy’

Too many people mispronounce this common procedure

Note: I first published this on my primary blog in May 2013. It occurred to me that Curves is an even more relevant venue (although I had only a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy). Unbelievably, even a lot of women who’ve had a mastectomy still mispronounce it. 

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One-year anniversary

Breast cancer, one year later

I remember my cancer was diagnosed in April, a year ago. Maybe my birthday being in April makes it even more notable. But until I looked just now, I couldn’t remember the exact date I got the diagnosis:

April 23, 2015

So, it was slightly more than a year ago. And here I am. Still alive and kicking, albeit not as energetically as back then. Sure, there are days, many days, when I fret because I’m still so tired, or unenthusiastic, or my fingers ache, or something else.

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Yes, the catheter’s gone

Scar tissue can look just like the catheter it covered

As I reported last week, my Mediport was removed without incident. The Steri Strips haven’t come off yet but everything’s been going well, with virtually no soreness or discomfort. The bruising is gone and so is the irritation caused by the waterproof Tegaderm (or something like it) dressing. That adhesive sticks like superglue and really tears up my skin. My oncologist’s nurse knows not to use it on me, but I didn’t think to mention it to anyone last week, so there it was. As careful as I was removing it — by the book as best I could — I still ended up with a 4-inch-long blistered welt along its bottom edge. Took it about a week to heal, and it stung more than the incision.

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Here comes Kayla

It was inevitable. Denver weather is finally going to force an appointment cancellation.

We’ve been hearing for most of a week now that a big storm is due in on or about Monday. It’s been dubbed Winter Storm Kayla and the forecasters now agree the snow will begin tomorrow night and continue through Monday, with accumulation of up to 12″ (16″ in one forecast) here in Denver. That’s a lot more than we usually get at one time.

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Not yet a cancer survivor

I had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. But I am not yet a “cancer survivor.”

What does the expression “cancer survivor” mean to you? Different people mean different things when they use the term, and I’m still pondering which if any of them describes me.

The broadest definition, from the National Cancer Institute: “The term cancer survivor includes anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, from the time of diagnosis through the rest of his or her life.”

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Rockin’ my bed head

More slowly than I’d like, of course, but my hair is growing back. I might even be able to rock a pixie next summer.

chemohairMany cancer patients want to know how fast their hair will grow back after chemo, so I thought I’d post a progress photo. This is what my hair looks like now — exactly four months and one day after my last chemo treatment, or about three and a half months since I shaved it down to 1/4″.

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Chemotherapy’s “most feared” side effect

A local news station names chemotherapy’s “most feared side effect.” What do you think it was?

A new treatment might spare cancer patients “one of the most feared side effects of chemo.”

That was the tease used by a local TV station at the beginning of tonight’s newscast. Naturally it got my attention. So I waited for the story with great curiosity. And what was the “most feared side effect”? Hair loss. Continue reading “Chemotherapy’s “most feared” side effect”

Free at last!

It seemed impossible when I started, but yesterday I finished the last of my 33 radiation treatments. Hurray!

Yesterday was my 33rd and final radiation treatment. I was quite pleased with myself for not having missed a single one, because when I started, it looked like a nearly impossible mountain to climb. I was also completely surprised by how emotional I was. Nearly in tears several times while I was there. Ended up hugging all the techs who’d been administering my treatments. Big, brotherly, bear hugs from the guys, who came to me as much as I went to them. Huge smiles and best wishes from the gals. Continue reading “Free at last!”