In 2013

 

Pink Ink…

Well we have hit the end of 2012! What a year it has been. Let’s do a review, shall we!? It’s a long post, so grab some Champagne, and buckle up!

January: New Years Day in the ER with exploded boob and drains everywhere! But ended month in Vegas!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

February: Back in chemo!

So Pissed...March: Found more cancer. No Spring Break for me.  More surgery.

So thirsty...

So thirsty…

April: Radiation begins.  My College Roomie is diagnosed with Breast Cancer. (After 26 years of friendship we’re still “sharing” stuff!)

radiation

They say this doesn’t hurt…

May: Radiation is done! 3rd degree burns. I think the worst is over! Friends fly in to celebrate!

Let's Party!

Let’s Party!

Lil B and I ring that Bell!

ouch

ouch

 

 

June: Chicago to celebrate with all my besties! Then the headaches begin.

headaches

Surprise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

July: Headaches are getting worse. More tests.

Got needles in my brain!

Got needles in my brain!

August: Made it to the Vineyard with my people! Lil B celebrated a birthday. I’m starting to feel better about stuff! I discover Instagram!IMG_0577

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Touch your Tata ad

Touch your Tata ad

September: Still have headaches. More needles to the brain stop them!  Discover dots on lungs! More tests.

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October: Racing for a Cure with family and friends! Renewing Wedding Vows! Waiting to see what’s up! 30 days of Pink!

 

Pink It Out1

I do!

I do!

 

IMG_0358

 

 

 

 

November: Metastatic Cancer in the lungs. More chemo… But we kept our President!

4 more years!

4 more years!

My Bs are right there with me.

My Bs are right there with me.

Here we go again...

Here we go again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December: Chemo. Surgery. Platelet Transfusion. Blood Transfusion. Bad Reactions. ER visits.

Reaction to Neulasta shot.

Reaction to Neulasta shot.

 

Quite the year!

There have also been many many good times!  Many great memories!  I’ve reconnected with old friends! Thanksgiving and Christmas with family that brought only peals of laughter and joy!  Again, there are too many people to thank for getting me through this year!  You know who you are! There are not adequate words to express my gratitude! Sending you all a wish for a happy, family fun filled 2013!

The saying goes that God only gives you what you can handle.  I guess I can handle a lot!

Here’s hoping that I have a lot less to handle… in 2013!

Mtume

Pink Ink…

One year and 2 days ago, I had my double mastectomy. I can’t believe it has been a year!  And yet, here we are.  Still in the Cancer Lane. Originally, I thought I would do a year in review for my boobs.  (I still may) But yesterday my girl and I were laughing at all I had been through this week.  I think that may be a more entertaining read.  Here we go.

Monday: Arrive at the hospital at 5:30 am for surgery. No problem…until I break into tears realizing that I am about to get a port put in my body for the rest of my life.  Dr. Money (?!) tells me he will take it out in 10 years. Love him! Then I plead with him NOT to just throw me on the operating table.  I have a cracked rib after all! Then the anesthesiologist runs down the meds I am going to have.  One is propofol.  My response? “That’s the Michael Jackson drug!”  I hear the doctor later suggested to Big B that perhaps I should see a counselor! Haha By 1 pm, I am transferred to the breast clinic for chemo. Fortunately, I am still heavily medicated and sleep through it. I roll back home at 6pm, where I promptly threw up. Long day.  Did I mention that I got a “keep fighting” video from Samuel Jackson! (Thanks Yaz & KF!)

Tuesday: Sleep! I get a “keep fighting” video from Grey’s Anatomy actor, Jesse Williams. (He’s so pretty) Mayo calls and says my numbers are so low, I will probably need a lot of blood.  They will check back in in 24 hrs.

Wednesday: My Lovies come over to sit with me, because I can’t go walking. My port actually feels good.  Not as sore as the last time. I can move my neck!  But I refuse to look at it! Lil B has a ½ day.  An hour after she gets home I place an emergency call to my girl Maria… leaning on the Sorority shield, as they say.  She must come and get Lil B.  I am so tired I can’t keep my eyes open.  It’s not safe for her to be here with me if I literally can’t make it to the bathroom.  Maria arrives 20 minutes later.

Thursday: I spend the morning with one of my close BFFs who flew in from Philly.  Three times in 1 year! Love it and her! We laugh for hours before we head to Mayo for my transfusions.  The nurses realize that my port can’t be accessed because it’s still too swollen.  So they have to find a vein.  Three pokes later, they bring in an expert…and an ultrasound.  The 4th time, they get a vein.  My arm is now purple.  I now know all the collapsed veins in my arm.  But we are not done yet.  There is a problem with my blood.  I now have an antigen in my blood that makes it hard to match. Did I mention that I am nauseous? 4 hours later we start the transfusion.  We make it through the 1st bag, and half the 2nd bag. My neck starts to itch.  My arm starts to itch.  My tongue starts to swell.  My eye starts to itch.  I tell the nurse I am definitely having a reaction.  IV drugs and a steroid are soon coming my way!  But then I start to throw up.  Blood transfusion officially comes to an end!  But at least I got some blood, right? I get home at 10pm, after over 8 hrs at Mayo.

Friday: I feel better most of the day.  Then my right leg starts to radiate.  It starts to pulse.  No swelling. But it hurts to walk. I don’t say anything for a while.  Our Godson from NY just arrived! But, I call my girl Dana, who’s a nurse.  She says “Call Mayo”.  I call Dr. Michele instead.  She says “Call Mayo”.  I guess I have to call Mayo…and tell Big B. Next thing I know, we are in the ER. The nurses tell me they are having their Holiday Party…and I may have a blood clot.  One leg ultrasound later, good news.  NO clot.  Just lots of body trauma.  Seriously.  Back at home by midnight.

Saturday: My leg still hurts, but not as bad.  I am off to my Adopt a family service project.

Alas, life goes on.  I have chemo Christmas Eve.  Neulasta shots, and possible transfusion the 26th.

So here we are a year later. Still fighting.  Still laughing.  Because really, what is the alternative?  You may hear me screaming if I have to have surgery…again…to fix this port!  I finally looked at it.  It stared back, mocking me.  But she has a name.  It’s a throw back to an 80s R & B group. (Thanks CHH)

Introducing…MTUME

(Pronounced “in-to-me”)

Savor the Journey Part deux

Pink Ink…

“To be clear, I am still very stressed with all the things I have to put in place before the surgery. But as my big sis said, not everything is going to be done by then. (Thanks Michele!) There may be more course changes in the future. That’s ok. I learned this weekend that the best thing to do in the Cancer Lane, is to take pause and,

Savor the journey…

 

I wrote that entry last December as I was preparing for an emergency double mastectomy when I found out that my cancer had grown back.  Ironically, the words still apply today! Who would have guessed that exactly a year later, I would still be in the Cancer Lane, grappling with the idea that I will ALWAYS be fighting this disease. It has been a rough 3 weeks, with emotions all over the place, not to mention the physical challenges. Let’s start there.

Medical update:

I am in the throws of chemo.  It is not “as bad” as the chemo I endured last year.  What does that mean?  It means that I can get out of bed after 36 hours as opposed to 4 days. It means that my hair hasn’t fallen out yet.  I have been walking 2 to 3 miles, a few times a week with my friends. I couldn’t do that before.  On the other hand, my taste buds are shot. My nails and tongue are turning black. I am achy and tired.  I started having nosebleeds, excessive bruising and dizziness.  That led to a platelet transfusion.  My numbers were supposed to be in the 275k range.   Mine were in the 30k range. That’s a problem.  My blood couldn’t clot. Today I am going in for 5 hours for blood transfusions. Lovely.

Did I mention that I now have a port again?

New Port scae

New Port scar

Ugh.

Surgery was better this time around.  My doctor did a great job of not strapping my head down too hard, or just throwing me up on the table. (That’s probably because I said ”please don’t just throw me up on the table!”) But while I am sore, I can at least move my neck.  Last time, it took a few weeks.  I have gotten suggestions to name my port.  So I am thinking on that and will let you know!

At the end of the day, I am mourning the loss of feeling HEALTHY.  That feeling is a fleeting memory.  I feel physically broken and like Frankenstein.  Yes, I am still here, and able to hug Big and Lil B. But it makes me sad when they hesitate before they hug me, for fear they will hurt me.

Emotional update:

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2012 Holiday Party!

This weekend someone told me not to have a “pity party”. So ironic, because I am not that chick.  I recognize that I COULD be, if I wanted.  I think I have earned that moment.  But most of the last few weeks, it has been almost the opposite.  As I make every effort not to rearrange Lil B’s life too much, it almost seems like things are relatively normal.  In fact, I think we were living in a bubble for a few weeks! No one was crying.  We were still doing stuff!  Holiday parties, play dates, hanging with Lizzie and Lucy when they came to visit from Philly! We kept trucking!

But then Lil B wrote a letter to Santa asking for me to be well.  Then Lil B wrote a letter to Santa asking for a certain gift.  She wanted Santa to get it for her because she knew Mommy and Daddy had Mayo bills.  Do you hear my heart breaking?  This emotional cliff was  exacerbated by the fact that I started creating videos for Lil B.  I have done 6 so far.  They have been fun topics like the importance of girlfriends, foreign language and taking care of your hair.  But then I watched Parenthood, where the main character does a “goodbye” video to her kids. She captured everything I wanted, everything I needed to say in 5 minutes.  It was then that my bubble burst.  It was then that I realized I needed to do the same.  But frankly, I haven’t had the emotional stability to do that.  So I cried.  I talked to Michele.  I cried some more.  I thought of Lil B watching those videos and cried.

Sunday, I went to my monthly Coalition of Blacks against Breast Cancer meeting and was fine until I was asked what was my 2013 cancer goal.

“To live through 2013.”

That was all I could muster.

Since then, I have gathered myself once more.  Lil B is looking forward to a “normal” Christmas, and we plan to give it to her. Hopefully, these transfusions will give me energy.  I think it is time for some even BIGGER Big Girl Panties.

Whatever 2013 brings our family, I am going to follow my advice from 2011 and…Savor the Journey.

The Same

Pink Ink…

 
Well, I survived my 1st week of Chemo, so I thought I would give a quick update! It has been a crazy week of highs and lows. So buckle up!

 

Last Sunday, the night before chemo, I actually slept really well! I didn’t wake up until about 5am. My plan had been to wake up and WORK OUT before putting Lil B on the bus! Yeah, that didn’t happen. I rolled right back over to enjoy my last 90 minutes of…peace! What do they say? “The best of intentions!” Ha! There were no tears getting on the bus. We all had a sense of “been here before”. We told Lil B to keep her phone on, and sent her on her way! Then it was off to Mayo.

 
The quick and dirty is that I was SCARED TO DEATH of what my emotional reaction would be as I walked into the Chemo Suites. Well you know I believe in “cancerrealtalk”, so full disclosure. The Doc said I could take a Valium before hand. So I took a ½ pill and breezed in! No tears, just a little bit of apprehension. Big B was watching me close b/c he knew at any time I could crack! All the nurses recognized me, and begrudgingly welcomed me back. In fact, Nurse Michele was there the 1st time I had chemo LAST year! Bananas. After 3 attempts at getting in the IV, they called in a special IV nurse, and it worked. So we began. Of course I was nauseous, but thankfully, no actual vomit. Three hours later, I was on my way home.

 
The good news: Compared to last year, not nearly as much nausea! Only took Zophran 3 times this week! I have started to lose appetite and taste buds, but not too bad. I have exercised and eaten healthy all week! I have been able to enjoy my husband and daughter. I am certain this will change, but for now, that is GOOD news!

 

The bad news: I realized I have a bruised rib, hence the swelling and obnoxious pain that has kept me sleep sitting up for 3 nights! I bruised it in Vegas on a shower door…and no alcohol was involved!!!! HA! So I spent half the week on Vicodin at night, just to sleep. Also, if I lay or sit the wrong way, I break into racking coughs. Last night I had my 1st foot cramp in months. That comes from dehydration. I didn’t know I was dehydrated! I couldn’t walk or bend my toes! After an hour, 2 bottles of water, and many tears, I was able to go to sleep.

 
The worst news: One week ago, I felt GREAT! Healthy, full of energy. Now, once again, I feel that my body is not my own. Everything hurts. The feeling of health is fading fast from my memory. I wonder if I will ever know what that feels like again. I had my Port consult. I will have my port put back in, in a week. It will stay in…forever.

 
That’s my medical update.

 
I have been comforted this week, by all the people who continue to reach out to me. Thank you! To those in Charlotte, I hear you! I see your notes and texts! I feel the love across the miles! It is very humbling. I also heard from one of my Northwestern Sorority “Big Sisters”, with whom I had lost contact. When I read her card, silent tears fell. (That “1908” bond is something else.)

 
Tomorrow I have my 2nd round of chemo. I’m ready. Let’s get at it!

 

 

2011 Fashionetta

2011 Fashionetta

Finally, yesterday we went to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Fashionetta. It’s a Holiday Fashion show, and the largest attended black event in Phoenix. The place to be the 1st Saturday in Dec. Good times! Last year, I was bald and cold and keeping people at arms length so I wouldn’t get sick. This year, not so bald, but still keeping people at arms length so I wouldn’t get sick! But at least I was there again with my family. What a blessing!

 

 

2012 Fashionetta!

2012 Fashionetta! 1906-1908 1st Family!

So, it seems as much as things change, they stay…the same.