On my way

Pink ink…

What to do now?

That is what I have asked myself for the last 5 days, ever since finishing radiation. I’ve been asked this a fair amount of times as well. Believe it or not, it has been a very busy few days. The weekend was great! I was “forced” to celebrate being finished, with my girls. I’m so happy that they surprised me. I can honestly say, the importance of finishing radiation would have been lost on me had they not come. It’s just that I was, and continue to be, so burnt. The journey is not over. But having them here helped me to “breathe” and savor the moment. The only thing missing was “red ink”. Over champagne, we laughed. We cried. They asked tough questions. They shared their stories. We laughed some more. Once again, it was a time when we realized we are at a certain age, when “real life” happens, and you rely on your friends to get you through. Good times! One highlight of the weekend? Having Robin Roberts tweet me congratulations!

Monday: I woke up ready to go to radiation! Got dressed, and everything. Then Lil B asked me what I was going to do that day. I realized I had nothing to do! I giggled like a little girl! So I…went to Target! I know! It’s the small things! LOL. But I needed to get a whole bunch of skin products to help this burn! Then I realized I was just tired. Tired of running back and forth to Mayo. Tired of being burnt. Tired of trying to stay ahead of “what’s next”. So I grabbed a salad, sat outside, wrote thank you notes, and just chilled until Lil B came home. Oh, and I started my “Busting Breast Cancer Myths” week on Twitter! (@pinkwellchick)

Tuesday: Well my break from doctors was short lived! It was business as usual as I made my way to meet with my Oncologist. But 1st there was blood work to be done. This was also the 1st time I had been back to the breast clinic location of Mayo, since realizing that there was even more cancer. Truth moment. I had a moment of panic…or 5, walking back in there. I had to sit down and pull myself together. Put my game face on! But Big B walked me back from the cliff, as he always does. “Ok, let’s do this” I thought, as I walked into the doctor’s office. Big girl panties. Again.

So here it is in a nutshell. I am moving into “surveillance” mode. They will “watch” me like a hawk for the next 2 years. I have a higher chance of recurrence during the next 2 years. That means tests, exams, every 3 months. (As opposed to 6 months for other patients) They will be monitoring my lungs, liver & skeleton for signs of cancer. The term they used was “hyper vigilant”. Any pain I have, they want to know immediately. Great. (side eye!) Regarding my recovery, my blood work is looking ok. My white blood cells are still low & will be for a while. Basically, everything hits a low point in the 8 weeks after radiation. But after that, things will pick up. Lifestyle changes will be little to no milk, or beef. I need to focus on protein & Omega 3 rich foods. My doctor stressed getting my fish and meet from “Whole Foods”, which I loved to hear. Big B HATES when I shop there! Too much $, he says! But he heard it himself. So to Whole Foods we go! Yay! They don’t know if I will regain my “cycle”. Seriously? Who cares?! Lol. But those hot flashes? Yeah, they’re here to stay. At least for the near future!

Wednesday: LONG day. BACK TO MAYO!! Met with my Radio-Oncologist/friend Dr. Michele. In a nutshell, my burn is progressing as expected. The boob is pretty jacked up, but it will eventually heal. No chance of surgery to replace the expanders until mid fall!! I was a little freaked out b/c my skin is so jacked that the scar from my mastectomy has burnt off. Literally, you can’t see it. So I have a scar on one breast. None, on the other. Say goodbye to symmetry. Dr. Michele wanted me to make sure I said that it is NOT NORMAL for someone to burn this bad. She stressed it 3 times, so I wouldn’t scare folks too bad! People burn. Just not this bad. Got it! Well of course my experience is worse! What else is new!?

Best part of my day? Spending the afternoon with my girl who was just diagnosed. She flew in for 5 hours. She’s having surgery in 2 weeks. No tears! It was a manic afternoon! We laughed…a lot! I mean, we have 25 years of friendship on which to reflect! In “true friend” style, she asked me when I “got thighs”? Unfortunately, that happened @ 40! She said she was worried that I would be a “stick figure” from all the treatments. Well, no. I am that chick who didn’t lose weight during treatment. Of course I am! (side eye!) They say my body was holding on to the weight to fight the disease, and that’s good. Yeah yeah! Whatever! Anyway, we did talk a lot of what was to come. But our stories will be different b/c she isn’t having chemo or radiation. It was educational for both of us, as we shared our fears, concerns, types of cancer, the reactions of others, and different roads to recovery. There was also lots of laughter about the dumb things we did when we were younger. Good times! Most important, we both look forward to Homecoming in October, and being cancer free.

As I close out the week, I move towards healing myself on all levels. I remember the poem that I said as we rang the bell of completion, and say:

“My treatments are done.

Its course has run.

And I am…on my way!

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