You!

Pink Ink…

2008 Throwback picture! 3 generations...

2008 Throwback picture! 3 generations…

Happy New Year!

That’s right!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Sounds crazy huh?  Well it is my Mini Me’s birthday, and also the 1st day of school!   So in a lot of ways, it’s the beginning of a new year!  Time passes by so quickly.  So much has happened in a month, that I can’t possibly address it today.  It has been filled with a few good times, and LOTS of pain.  Pain I have only seen when I had my mastectomy and last summer when I had the crippling headaches.  But rather than go through all of that…today…I thought I would take a few minutes to honor my Mini Me.

In November of last year, I remember praying and crying and praying and crying that I would MAKE it to see my Mini Me’s 11th birthday.  You see, when it sinks in that you are terminal, at 1st you spend a bit of time wondering “when”.  After a while, after a bit of trial and error, I  learned to focus on the time that we have.  That we have NOW to spend together.  This year has definitely had it’s ups and downs, especially the last few weeks.  But for the most part, it has been as good as can be expected.

They've take out 3 liters s far!

They’ve taken out 3 liters so far!

I am constantly amazed by my daughter’s strength.  I know most parents think their kids are awesome, and I am no different.  But I am also honest.  Sometimes she makes me want to scream.  After all, she is a preteen!  Two weeks ago, she asked me,  AGAIN, why everything has to be about me, when we are planning something.  Big B grabbed my hand because he knew she was about to “catch a loss”.

Or she makes me laugh.  Example….Recently, I asked her why she thought I was writing the play.  Her answer?  TO BE ON TV!!!  Really?  TO. BE. ON. TV.

So imagine me sitting there explaining to her that I was doing it for HER.  So she would be proud of her mom when I was gone.  So she would know that I always fought, always wanted to educate.  So she could be proud of ME!  She turned to me and laughed.  “I thought it was so you could be on TV”.  WOW.

But then I balance that with her incredible strength while on a quick family getaway a few weeks ago.  It was shortly after my 3rd lung drain.  My meds were not working enough.  All I could do is lay there and cry.  My body was shaking from the pain.  I couldn’t speak through the pain.  I did manage to whisper to her NOT to tell Daddy.  He needed to rest!  (It was his vacay too, after all! )  Lil B and my mom sprung into action…into stealth mode.  Next thing I knew, I had more meds, ice packs, Lil B was wiping my nose.  Wet washcloth on my head.  Then she and mom climbed in bed with me and soothed me until I could finally fall asleep. (Side note! HATS OFF to my mother for allowing a 10 year old to take over and guide this process.  She is of the “you’re the child” generation” so I know this was tough!  Thanks mom) All the while, my dad and hubby were out front enjoying a cocktail and catching up!  A lot of kids would freak out in this situation.  Not my little one.  She even pushed my wheelchair through the airport. Head held high.  Gotta love her.

One of the better days of vacay. 3 Generations!

2013! One of the better days of vacay. 3 Generations!

After my play reading, I was surprised by how many audience members appreciated the “caregiver” scene, where characters acknowledge their caregivers.  Many came up to me and shared that they never thought of kids as caregivers until viewing the play.  Well today I salute my caregiver! My Mini me!

Baby girl, one day you will read this, and hopefully you will know how proud I am of you!  Proud to be your mom! Guided everyday by your strength, your laughter, your love.   I hope you will be proud of me, for everything I do is for you, and daddy.  I hope to be around for many more birthdays, many more 1st days of school.  What ever life brings us, know that I will always be with you, as you have been with me during this journey.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LOVE!

Unfortunately, I can’t have a cocktail.  (damn meds…)  But today, I celebrate…YOU!

 

UPDATE: I sit with tears streaming down. Typing with one hand. Other hand not working.  I am unable to go to her birthday dinner.  I tried. I stood, I sat back down. No energy. Can’t breathe. Heart. Is. Broken. I saw the heartbreak in her eyes.  She rubbed MY tears.  Told ME to stop crying.  “It’s ok Mommy”. (But it’s not) I apologized through tears. I have never missed one.  She is OF me. Why today of all days?  Transfussion tomorrow…

I PRAY I can make it up to her next year.  Must sign off. #LifeInTheCancerLane

Get Healthy

Pink Ink…

Sitting in the office listening to QParker from old school group 112.  He made a song entitled “I’ll Wear Pink for You”.  Reminded me that I need to give a quick update.  Here is the quick and dirty.

Good news:

The chemo seems to be working.  It has cut the spots on my lungs in half.  Now we know they will always come back, (hence the “incurable” nature of my situation) but at least they are being kept at bay.  The chemo doesn’t wear me out the way the “Red Devil” did. That is a blessing.  I can still do most things.  So Lil B is happy to see me when she steps off the bus.  My hair hasn’t fallen out.  It HAS stopped growing and is VERY dry. But it is hanging on for dear life! Lol My eyebrows remain a little rough looking, and I can’t wax them.  But, again, a small price to pay.

The not so great news:

The chemo is KILLING my platelet count.  I mentioned that before.  Last week I was back in the hospital.  My count dropped to a scary 7,000.  Remember, it is supposed to be around 275k.  So something as simple as flossing my teeth could cause my gums to bleed and not be able to stop.  My blood has developed issues.  Once the easiest kind to match, it now takes a while, and the docs must watch for reactions.  Last week, two of my close friends were privy to one of these reactions.  While I don’t think the reaction scared them, I think they were definitely amused when the drugs they gave me made me totally incoherent!  (Hello, Demerol + IV benedryl) It was actually kind of funny.  In my mind I knew the words I was trying to say.  I tried really hard to get them out.  They sounded like….”klsdfhkjwefuyegpouh..efhvsdpepo”.  Complete nonsense!  Anyway, I was also put on a steroid that shot my blood pressure up into orbit. We are managing that.  This past Monday, I almost couldn’t get chemo b/c I was all jacked up.  But we pushed through.IMG_1108

Hopefully chemo will be done in 2 weeks.  I will lay for a CT scan, to see how much the spots have shrunk.  If all is good, I will have a break from chemo for a couple months!  That is EXACTLY what I want.  A chance to rehabilitate this body.

Despite the war being raged in my body, I am well.  Just VERY tired.  I have had to live in a bubble for a couple weeks. I cannot afford to get sick. But I managed to get out once or twice.  All three Bs are laughing and living.  I am definitely getting the “You don’t look sick” comments again. Don’t be fooled.  But we got this.

IMG_1124So again, thanks for all the love!  February is Heart Health Month.  Take a few minutes and check out http://www.pinkwellchick.com for my Heart Health adventure. You know I have to keep busy, so February is all about Heart Awareness.

Join me, as I…get healthy!

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.

Stay tuned, AGAIN

Pink Ink…

Bra with message of Love from Link Sisters

Ok, you know what today is! It’s the 1st day of October, and the kickoff of Breast Cancer Awareness month!

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good after a very busy weekend. Lil B asked me, why I was so excited about this day. I had to stop a moment and think. I already talk about breast health. Why DOES today seem different? I think b/c it is one more milestone I have crossed. I made it to my 1st October after diagnosis. But more important, I get to spend the next month talking about breast cancer without feeling guilty! Without feeling like I am beating folks over the head with info. I have free reign for a month!

This next month is dedicated to all the men and women we have lost to breast cancer. It is dedicated to all my friends and family who supported me this last year. It is also dedicated to all the women who still have not gotten a mammogram, done a self exam, or continue to ignore their risk factors. This month I promise to share even more info, ask questions, share funny moments, and force you to “dig deep” with me. It will not always be pretty. But Life in the Cancer Lane never is!

Don’t forget to check out pinkwellchick.com

So buckle up, wear pink, and…, stay tuned, AGAIN!

Be about it

Pink Ink…

Brief break in the madness. As the song says…”Every day I’m hustlin’, hustlin'” Because clearly, I need a cure! HA!

Be about it!

A new journey

Pink ink…

Sur•vi•vor: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

Talk about a loaded word! When you think of the word “survivor”, what is the 1st thing that comes to mind? Because of the advocacy work I have done, to me it means a person who has battled cancer. The next step my mind takes, is to a person who has battled breast cancer. But obviously, it means different things to different people, and is not limiting, but instead, all encompassing.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, we were a few weeks away from October; Breast Cancer awareness month. Even though I was telling people I had breast cancer, I was not referring to myself as a “Survivor”. It just didn’t feel right. Then the Race for the Cure was upon us. I was to start treatment the next day. On the eve of the Race, as we did our last Race walk-through as a Board, I asked if I could wear a Survivor shirt. The response was a resounding YES! I was told I should “absolutely” wear a Survivor shirt! I was already a Survivor, they said. It still felt weird. The day of the Race, I proudly wore my shirt. But I watched from the edge of the crowd when the 1, 5, 10, and 20+ year Survivors paraded by. I asked myself “Do I really deserve to wear a Survivor shirt?”

In the Cancer Lane, you can find a million different answers to the question “When does a person become a Survivor”. Some say it’s ridiculous to say Survivor because there is in fact, no cure. Others say it’s at diagnosis, or when the tumor is removed. Public opinion leans towards people who have completed treatment, while advocates and doctors say at time of diagnosis. I know a couple women who refuse to use the word “Survivor”, and actively try to distance themselves from being called a “Survivor”. They have come up with all kinds of other words to describe themselves and their experience. (Over time, I have learned that they don’t have enough distance from their experience, and are in fact still “mad” with the fact that cancer interrupted their lives. This denial of a universal term is their way of coping) I have also read numerous blogs about when people feel they became survivors. There is never one answer. In fact, the only consistent thing is that a person becomes a Survivor when they choose to say they have “survived”.

Leaving the Vineyard, it all became clear to me.

I’ve been told many times how strong I have been this past year, how much I have been forced to endure, etc. This is true. When I recount my Life in the Cancer Lane to people, I am on occasion, shocked at the totality of it all. All week, Michele and I kept saying, “We made it!” Yes, we did! We made it through the storm, motivated by rejuvenation on the Vineyard! My last day on the Vineyard was capped by the news that Coping Magazine accepted my National Survivor’s Day picture entry! Joy!

So, as I boarded the ferry, it all hit me. Big B knew. He saw it brewing on my face. He hugged me and gave me my time. I sat on the trunk of my car, looked out at the fog rolling in over the ocean, and cried. I took the time to actually feel all that I had been through. I sat. I thought about the surgeries, many rounds of chemo, radiation, and all the missed activities. I thought about Big and Lil B, my family, and Michele, and all we had endured. I let myself feel the weight of this journey. So, I sat. I cried for 30 minutes. Despite the new headaches, I made it to the Vineyard! Most important, I had journeyed 10 months in the Cancer Lane.

I could not have scripted those 30 minutes of reflection had I tried. At one point, the fog was so thick; I couldn’t see the island behind me or the mainland in front of me. It was as if that moment was created just for me to…sit. So I allowed myself to think about my journey, to be in that space, and…survive.

It was only at that point that I opened my mind, heart and soul to the fact that I was indeed a Survivor!

Anything that comes at us now, will be…a new journey!

More to come

Pink ink…


Well we did it! We made it to the Inkwell! It’s been a long year. The thing that was always on the horizon was getting to the Inkwell. At my lowest point I said to Big B, “ If only I can get to the Vineyard.” When I was in the throws of chemo, Red Ink Michele sent me a photo book of our favorite pictures and places from the Vineyard. I pulled out that book whenever I started to feel “blue”. When I thought I was dying, just weeks ago, I told Big B, that I wanted my last trip to be to the Vineyard. I just wanted to see the Inkwell one more time.

Why the Vineyard? I have been going to the Vineyard for over 30 years. Lil B has traveled there 9 of her 10 years. It is a place where my family hits the “restart” button. Michele and I have been reconnecting at the Inkwell for at least 10 years. Thanks to my parents, it is a place that feels like a long warm hug. Thanks to my parents, and now Big B and Michele, it is a place that feels like (If I can be a bit dramatic!) unfettered love. We all just breathe, relax, and take time to…LIVE.

This was the first time that I have ever been to the Vineyard without my parents. I must say, it was bittersweet. When it was time to make our reservations last year, we all hesitated. Would we really make it to the Vineyard? Time came and went, and my folks chose not to come. A part of me was ok with that. It would be a time for the “3 Bs” to start our own tradition. But as time grew close for us to leave, I felt sad. When I got to the island, as the days passed, I realized that I missed the comfort of my parents presence. Given all that we had been through, I wish they had been there to hit “restart”. As we walked around the island, Lil B would point out the places she went with Poppi for donuts, or the fried clam place she went with Nana. Alas, like everything else this past year, it was a new experience, and a little painful.

There are so many stories to share. So many moments of reflection. And a few headaches. Yup, still have those! Michele and I thought about posting everyday. But in the end, we chose to just enjoy ourselves, and our families. To enjoy the new memories we were creating.

I made it to the Inkwell. I have hit “restart”.

So sit back. Over the next few days, as I reflect, there is sure to be…more to come!

Walk with me

Pink ink…

Today I registered for the Phoenix Race for the Cure! That’s right. In 3 months and 3 days I will be participating in my umpteenth Komen Race.

To top it off, I created a Pinkwellchick team! Shocker huh? LOL. Not a shocker at all! In full disclosure, I do sit on the local Affiliate Board of Directors. Some would say I HAVE to walk. That is technically true. I have to participate as part of my Board responsibilities. That’s what I have to do according to the piece of paper I signed. But, there’s more to it.

I could give you the straight facts:

-We need a Cure.
-75% of the money raised stays local.
-The money raised goes toward providing mammograms, treatment & breast cancer prevention and education.
I am the Cure encourages people to make a commitment.
-Every group I am in from the Jr. League to The Links, Inc. has partnered with Susan G. Komen to bring awareness.
-Did I mention we need a Cure?

But that’s not why I have to participate. I have to participate because…I HAVE to! LOL. You see, breast cancer awareness has always been a part of my life, a part of me. But now? Now, it IS me. My breast cancer does not define me. But it is a defining part of me. So I have to be there. I started my treatment journey the day after last year’s race. What a triumph it will be to walk, having been in the Cancer Lane for a year!

Walking with Survivors after surviving…everything.

Walking with my husband, celebrating HIM. Thanking HIM! He has survived this journey. He got me through this journey. The Race day will also be our 17th wedding anniversary!

Walking with Lil B…again! This will be Race #10 for her! But it will be different this time. She now knows first hand what self-detection means. She knows first hand what “Survival” means. She can now “Share her story”.

Walking with friends from all over. Friends like Red Ink Michele, who promise to walk side by side, hand in hand with me, as we promise to continue this dialog, continue to survive.

Walking in memory of those we have lost. For years I have walked in honor of a friend. We lost her not long ago. I will still proudly wear her name on my shirt.

Walking, knowing that I have a responsibility, a desire to keep giving “cancerrealtalk”. A responsibility to get even more people talking about breast cancer. A responsibility to get my friends to do self-exams, to get mammos. A responsibility to DO SOMETHiNG.

So you see, I HAVE to walk.

I hope you will…walk with me.

New Day

Pink Ink…

“My best friend thinks I am going to grow my hair to my butt when this is all done. I don’t think so. I may keep it super short. Aside from teaching my daughter that hair doesn’t make the woman, I think it looks kind of fly. At the end of the day…it’s just hair!”

That’s how I closed my post on November 13th. Halloween will forever be remembered as the day we shaved off my hair. We look back at those pictures and laugh, happy that we were able to turn the process of losing hair into a fun family activity. Here we are many months later and my hair is growing back!

Recently, I met two women at a symposium, who shared that they chose to forgo chemo because they didn’t want to lose their hair. I was dumbfounded. I actually had to sit back and collect myself before I said anything. As a Moderator, it wasn’t my place to judge…at least outwardly. Trust me, I am well aware that every woman’s journey is her own. I also am very clear on the importance that hair plays in our society, especially among Black women. Nonetheless, I was shocked, mad, resentful, and then finally, sad. When I asked if the women were happy with their decision, they both said yes. Instead of saying what was on my mind (“Are you that crazy? Your hair isn’t even that fly! So you would rather be dead?”), I directed the conversation to the way cultural perceptions about breasts and hair can direct how treatment is determined. I followed up with how we, as patients, should pursue the most aggressive treatment available. What else could I do?

But our dialog got me thinking, as I rubbed the fuzz growing on my head. Folks need to hear that it really does come back! So today, instead of dwelling on the fact that I am waiting to find out what’s going on IN my head, I thought I would touch on what’s on TOP of my head.

Now, if you are uncomfortable discussing hair on body parts, STOP HERE! You have been warned! LOL

Now to refresh, chemo kills. Chemo attacks all dividing cells in the body. So in addition to cancer cells (which quickly divide) chemo attacks in particular, hair follicles, the stomach lining, & digestive track. This is why patients get nauseous and lose their hair. The extent of hair loss depends on what drugs are given. For example, the Red Devil caused my hair to fall out…EVERYWHERE, except my eyebrows and lashes. My 2nd round of chemo was a different mixture. So then, my eyebrows and lashes came out as well. Now, I was a hairy chick before all this started. I believe in waxing. So I was happy to lose the unwanted hair.

Again, STOP HERE if you don’t want to read about body hair!

No light fuzz above the lip, no underarm hair, no arm or leg hair was great! Having no eyebrows wasn’t great! It got better, once I learned to draw them on. No eyelashes was no fun. My eyes were dry all the time. Now, no hair…down there…was…umm…interesting. Full disclosure, I was not a “Brazilian” girl. (The pain!) But landscaping is a necessity! Even so, to have nothing down there was a lot. Eventually, I got used to it. The only challenge was when in a public toilet. You know, squatting. When you have NOTHING, there is nothing to direct…the pee! So a few times, let’s just say, it didn’t all make the toilet. Hey, this is CANCER REAL TALK!

But back to the point. It does grow back! And let me tell you, it grows back with a vengeance! As with hair loss, hair growth has become something “the 3Bs” laugh about. Yes, it’s true that the hair on the head “changes”. My hair is now straight. It will be interesting to see if it stays that way. There is also grey now! That’s ok. I don’t mind that, even though I didn’t have it before. It’s also, the 1st time I have seen my natural hair color in years! I love a highlight! So “natural” is interesting. I am also amazed by how many people touch my head. Kind of like when you are pregnant. Side note…please don’t touch my head! As people now ask how long am I going to grow my hair, I realize that folks associate my hair growing back with me being better. Ironically, I miss my baldhead. I look back at my bald pictures with nostalgia. No, I won’t shave it. But I am going to keep it short.

Ok, here’s the crazy part. The rest of my body hair is growing in with the quickness! My hair…down there? Like it never left!! TOO MUCH! Unfortunately, my skin is still too sensitive to really wax. So shaving is a necessity. Underarm hair? Check? Legs? Check? SIDEBURNS??? CHECK! You read correctly. I didn’t have crazy face hair! I felt sorry for those women! But umm, now? Yeah, still trying to work that out! Other Survivors have told me it will fall out. But right now, when I look in the mirror, all I see is hair! All down the side of my face! Plus I have a light mustache! Cute huh? NO! LOL. I’m a tweezing fool. I’ll let you know how that works out. Lil B is tickled. Laughing, she says “At least it’s growing back mom!” My eyebrows are back in. I risked getting them waxed about a month ago. No bushy brows for me! But a month later, they haven’t grown back. So you never know how it will play out. In retrospect, I think I like my drawn on brows better than the real ones! Camouflage makeup is my friend. Thank you MAC and Bobbi Brown!

Why do I share all this? To make the point that hair DOES indeed grow back! Lil B is back to playing with my hair. She wants me to get a Mohawk. (No!) Why do I write about this? Because I want people to fight as hard as they can, even if that means losing their hair. Choose Chemo! Choose life! I did!

Per Alicia Keys…”I’mma live life. Live it loud, like’s there’s only one life. Have to live it up! One Life. Have to live it up.”

Because I chose chemo, because I chose life, I can sing with Alicia…

“It’s a new day, NEW DAY”.

It ain’t over

Pink ink…

So many days I sat in bed and said, “I can’t wait until this is all over”. For 9 months, I was always counting down to something. Four more chemo treatments. One more drain to come out. One more week of radiation. Four more physical therapy sessions. If I could just be done with the poking and prodding! (I am still waiting for that “final” surgery!) Then it will be over…or so I thought! What I have learned is that it is, in fact, never over.

When a person finishes treatment, they celebrate! Friends and family throw parties! (Thanks again!) People call, they send cards. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. We can all finally “move on”. The doctors tell you that you have moved into the surveillance period, where you are just watched. The expectation of others, and the patient, is that life will go back to normal. They want…actually need…the dialog to turn away from breast cancer. The past how ever many months, are just that. In the past. But the reality is very different. I am 7 weeks out from radiation, and now understand, that I have a new normal. In some ways it is like being pregnant, and then having a baby. No one tells you what it’s really like to be pregnant. By the 9th month you just want it out of you. After the baby comes, you’re thrilled, but realize your life is changed forever.

That is also life in the cancer lane.

I have often said that no one really gives “cancer real talk”. I have tried to do that here, and on Twitter. So in that vein, let me tell you what it’s been like for the last 7 weeks. There have been many highs and vast lows.

Let’s start with the lows.

Over the last 9 months, my body has been used and abused by the rigors of treatment. Like most Survivors, I am still battling chronic fatigue and what is lovingly called “chemo brain”. Despite being months from chemo and weeks from radiation, these side effects regularly affect my daily routine. One day I can be out for hours with lil B, and the next, I won’t want to get out of bed.” I’ve been told this may last at least a year. I have little appetite. While my burns have stopped oozing, there are still places where you can still see the white meat.
Wearing a bra is still uncomfortable. My breasts itch on the inside where I can’t scratch. (Side note: how DOES that happen?!) I still have limited movement of both arms, though it is getting better. Thanks “Mayo Amy”! But the last 2 weeks have been the worst. You see, I have been suffering from massive headaches. Yet, I don’t have allergies, or migraines. These are the worst headaches I have ever experienced. Debilitating headaches that come with dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath. Two weeks ago it was so bad that I bum rushed my doctor’s office and, while crying, begged them to help me. Six hours of tests later, they had no clue. Being a cancer patient does have its advantages. When you are sick, they take it very seriously. “Has cancer spread” is the 1st question that everyone is trying to solve. A week ago Friday, I was scheduled for an MRI. I rearranged schedules, took the pre-MRI anxiety meds, and was ready to go! Guess what. If you have expanders, you can’t get an MRI because they have magnets in them. The MRI would cause the boob to explode. Fast forward 2 days to Sunday…5:30am. I go to the ER. Next thing I know, I am having a CT scan with contrast imaging. Did I mention I was supposed to be on a plane at 3pm? Or that it was Father’s Day? Yeah…

Scan, headache, nausea, dizziness, and more nausea.

And no answers.

I now know there’s a small spot on my brain. The docs don’t think it’s cancer, but they are not sure. Could it be signs of an aneurism? The docs aren’t sure. So we wait. We do more tests. (maybe a spinal tap!!) We wait some more. Two nights ago, in the midst of pain…a “7.5” on the Mayo scale of 1-10, I had a breakdown. “I just want to be well!” I cried to myself at 2am. “I just don’t want to feel pain anymore!” I cried into my pillow. Big B was 2000 miles away. Red ink…was asleep 1000 miles away. I wept alone, in silence. Ironically, it was not the fear of more cancer that floored me. I just want to NOT FEEL PAIN anymore. I don’t want to be in the hospital anymore! That is cancer real talk from a Survivor. Can I please just get a break from being…sick?

On the upside, I made the plane after the Scan! I didn’t get frisked at security because of my implants! Doctor Michele will be here in 2 days! Yay! I will feel better knowing that if my head explodes, she can pick up the pieces! I am spending time with my nieces and nephew. Five months ago, when I found more cancer, I didn’t know if I would see them again. Dramatic? Maybe. The truth often is.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Komen Survivors Conference. Fortunately, my head didn’t hurt that day! It was my 1st speech since “finishing” treatment, and I think I rocked it! However, I was dismayed, once again, by the people who came up to me afterwards saying they “didn’t know it was that bad”. I am learning to accept that, as with childbirth, people only hear what they want to hear.

Yes, I am firmly in the next stretch of the Cancer Lane. I am healing. I am learning to navigate this new course.

I am learning…It ain’t over!

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