Happy ending

Pink ink…

I’m back!

It has been a crazy 2 weeks. There have been all kinds of highs…seeing friends from Chicago and Philly, Lil B getting straight “A”s AGAIN, and 90-degree weather. I went to my 1st Komen Board meeting since my operation! But, also all kinds of lows. I just couldn’t easily dismiss being told that the doctors found a whole bunch of new cancer, (I could actually die from this!) seeing Big B really scared for the 1st time, or being told by a good friend to get control of my health. (Seriously?! If I weren’t in control of my health I would already be dying!) So I went into kind of a hole. We needed some time. But, after I ran into a friend in a restaurant who asked when I was going to blog again, I figured I had to get back on the proverbial horse! So here I am!

A lot has happened since then. Three distinct things have marked my time “away”.

Most important, I started radiation!

Medical Minute: Radiation is basically the micro attacking of cancer cells. Chemo attacked the entire body. Radiation highly targets the breast tissue where cancer was found. It reduces recurrence by approx 75%. Clearly, I need it! The side effects are fatigue (of course), armpit discomfort, sunburn like side effects, lowered white blood cell counts (again!) and possible lung problems. Some other interesting facts. .. I can’t wear regular deodorant. Did I mention it is 90 degrees here? Actually, there has been great research that suggests that the aluminum in anti perspirant may cause breast cancer. Maybe no deodorant is a good thing. So I am wearing natural “Crystal” deodorant, like they do in Europe. It can be found in Whole foods, or Walgreens. So far so good. My family hasn’t told me I stink yet!

My radiation plan calls for 30 treatments. Five days a week, for 6 weeks. I have made it through 6 days so far! The whole process of checking in, getting undressed, zapping, etc takes about 30 minutes. But the zapping itself takes about 2 minutes! My treatment also calls for me to wear a “Bolus” on top of my breast. It’s a rubbery material that is used to ‘fool’ the radiation beam so it will deposit the maximum dose on the skin surface instead of a fraction of an inch deeper. That means I will definitely have some skin irritation. My skin is already beginning to slightly turn colors. It is also getting a little tight. So I am doing arm exercises so the skin won’t pull too much.

Second, I FINALLY got out my port! Yay! That means that at the moment they don’t think there will be any more chemo for the time being! It did mean more surgery. But it was quick. Big B got to watch it this time. Kind of gross, but at least it’s out. Alas, I have one more Frankenstein–like scar! LOL

Finally, Big B and I had numerous interesting conversations with people who seem to have recently “re-discovered” that I am fighting breast cancer. Once people heard or read that the doctors had found more cancer, we started receiving calls etc, like we did when I was first diagnosed. A lot of folks we hadn’t heard from in months. People also wanted to “lay eyes” on me. What we observed these last couple weeks was very insightful. It seems that the prevailing thought of several people was that:
1) Breast cancer isn’t “as bad” as other cancers.
2) Once a person has a mastectomy, they “are fine”.
3) Because I am out and about, we aren’t in fact, in the fight of our lives.

We got a lot of “I didn’t realize it was that serious”, from people whom we have only heard from once or twice over the past few months. Others admitted when they heard that there was more cancer, they ignored it, didn’t process it. (I understand that! It took me 2 days to truly “hear” it!) Some didn’t even acknowledge this turn of events and talked about other things. B also got “Wow, Barb doesn’t seem that sick”. You never know what will be the tipping point for a caregiver or spouse. This period was one of the few times that Big B has actually gotten angry. He had to tell close friends and family that he could lose his wife and that the best way to support us was to be more “present” in this fight of our lives, to take it a bit more seriously. It was a tough time for the both of us. It also provided us another learning moment about people’s perception. But we GREATLY appreciate all the friends, near and far, who surrounded us with love and prayers, notes and calls, when they heard this new news!

Ironically, Giuliana and Bill’s reality show resumes on the Style network, Tuesday evening! This season will focus on her battle. Another parallel…turns out, when she received her pathology back after her mastectomy, it was worse than the doctors thought. BUT, she is not going through chemo. She is taking oral meds instead. (Will have to research that!) So no shopping for wigs, no Zophran, no black tongue. It will be interesting to see where her story leads.

My story is still being written, one day at a time. Breast cancer does, in fact, kill young people. This is not over, and it’s not easy.

But don’t worry. I’m still counting on a…happy ending!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 14:56:31


    Thank you for the update, it is always reassuring to hear from you. You have all been so brave and strong that I think people mistake that for “all is dandy.”. I am sure it is tough, but, you are doing a great job helping everyone to understand the tough journey that cancer lays in front of you. All of my best as always, love you.



  2. Victoria Brooks (from your Lexis-Nexis days!)
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 15:56:19

    So glad you’re back. I love your spirit Barbra! You have taught me many life lessons and I hope to continually grow as a person aware of the needs of others. I think about you daily and I actualize you cancer free. I look forward to the day when you write that you are living completely healthy!


  3. Lori Hall Armstrong
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 03:40:32

    Soooooooooooo glad to log on and see this update Barb! You have been on my mind and in my heart every day and I knew while you were off line you weren’t off from fighting. You have redefined that word. So proud of you trooping on and we are marching with you every step! God bless and we love you!


  4. JC Ellis
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 14:46:18

    Welcome back pink ink! You know I’ve been stalking this blog for an update! Thank you for sharing in such detail. MyTuesday Bible study prayer group continues to pray for you and the B’s and every Tuesday they ask me for an update on you! You have a host of prayer warriors pleading for you at the throne of grace! I’ve learned so much from your blogs! Thank you for being so transparent during your fight!!! Love you! jc


  5. karenabigail
    Apr 09, 2012 @ 03:25:29

    Barb: I’ve been thinking and praying for you, Big B, and little B more and more over the past few weeks and I just remembered to read your blog today. I had no idea. But I’m faithful that I will meet you back on the vineyard again for our cocktail and talk, laugh, and cry about life again. I miss you terribly. Love you.


  6. Tonsa Price-Edwards
    Apr 11, 2012 @ 01:27:35

    You know I lift you up each and everyday.

    Always, Your sister, Tonsa


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