OBC – May 15 to 21, 2017

ONE BOOB CHRONICLE for the Week of May 15 to 21, 2017.  A recap of events in my attempt to get back to normal.  Frustration level….about a 15!  You will get a closer look at the daily activities for that week.

May 15 to 21, 2017

May 15 to 21, 2017

I bought this planner last August…..using it faithfully – NOPE!  I haven’t found a planner that would incorporate all of my “stuff”.

This is the MAMBI Happy Planner – 8-1/2 x 11 – not sure what the fancy name for it is.  The “Classic” is a half sheet size and too small for my liking.  There are TONS and TONS of videos on YouTube that are “PWM” or Plan With Me featuring the various sizes of Happy Planners.  Everyone is in love with their stickers!  The weekly layouts are beautiful BUT how do they find what they did that week when all the boxes are filled with STICKERS?!  I prefer white space so I can see what I have done….or have not done.

The weekly layout of the Happy Planner is supposed to be used for morning, afternoon, and evening events for a growing family.  I use mine for medical appointments in the top area, household events and personal information in the center area, and Joe’s whereabouts in the bottom section.

Last week in the “Flylady” cleaning schedule was Zone 3 – The Main Bathroom and One Other Room.

My energy levels are pretty darn high in the mornings.  By one in the afternoon I begin to flag.  I’m usually found napping for two to four hours around 2 p.m.  The rest of the evening my mental state is one of being uninterested in ANYTHING and I feel like the day has just got away from me.  I don’t get depressed, I just feel really frustrated that I have a window of about three hours that I can really get things done.  So I have learned how to take advantage of the time I do have.

One thing I depend on is my $20 garage sale find.  My Roombi.  And I also rely heavily on my $49 purchase in July 2014 of a Shark Steam Mop.

Roombi and Shark Steam Mop

Roombi and Shark Steam Mop

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week were a total BUST!  Monday I slept most of the day and I had a 4 hour nap on Tuesday.  Wednesday Joe had an odd demand from his Coldiron Dispatcher.  He was to pick up two trucks in Oklahoma City but was told NOT to tell each place he was getting more than one truck.  Weird!

I drove Joe to a Bruckner’s Mack & Volvo dealership to get his first truck.  We drove that back home to be parked on a street near where we live.  We then went to the Hobby Lobby Warehouse to get his second truck.  On the way out of the Hobby Lobby place, Joe had to turn in his Visitor’s Badge.  While in the guard shack he told them to let me out behind him.  If they lowered the guard arm on me then he would have to come back with chains to get me out.  According to Joe the men inside the guard shack looked at him as though he was about to blow the place up.  Joe said if I were left to my own devices at their facility, I would have the car packed to the gills with goods.  That resulted in much raucous laughter from the men.

Needless to say, the guard arm was raised so I could get out.  Bummer!

Joe’s two trucks were parked on a street near where we live.  He would hook them up together on Wednesday and prepare to leave for New Jersey on Thursday.

May 15 to 17, 2017

May 15 to 17, 2017

As you can see, the “To-Do” boxes were not checked off for those days.  I did get 2 hours of paperwork done on one day, and cleaned the toilets all three days.  That was the total extent of my activities in that time period.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I had better luck at getting things done on my To-Do list.

May 18 to 21, 2017

May 18 to 21, 2017

You will see an orange circle around one event on Thursday – Scrub Joe’s Tub.

NOTE TO SELF:  DO NOT use Comet Cleanser while my chest is bare, except for a liberal coating of Silvadene cream, and the shirt I “borrowed” from Joe was wide open.  Comet Cleanser is a powder cleaner.  The fine dust flies out everywhere.

While I was cleaning Joe’s tub I could not figure out why my chest was burning.  Dumb A$$!

I continued working on Joe’s tub until I had it cleaned and thoroughly rinsed.  Then I hurried to the big bathroom and took a shower.  That felt so much better….until I put Joe’s shirt back on.  Dumb A$$!!  There was still Comet Cleanser powder on Joe’s shirt.

So, Thursday I was able to get in 2 hours of paperwork, clean the toilets, scrub Joe’s tub, and update the big wall calendar I have hung in the kitchen for Joe to know what is going on.  Friday and Saturday I was able to get the rest of the work done for both bathrooms.

This really sucks!  Before my breast cancer I would have had both of the bathrooms fully cleaned in one day.  Hey, the work is done – even though it took the whole week to do it.  I’m still very happy that I was able to complete my Zone 3 project.  YAY!

CELEBRATE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS.  Even if it seems to take forever to do the smallest task.  Having the job done will give you a boost of confidence and put a giant smile on your face.

Woo Hoo!  Two blog posts in as many days!  I’m on a role here!

Leslie

OBC – May 22, 2017

Welcome to the third installment of  ONE BOOB CHRONICLE.

Two weeks ago (seems longer than that!), I was given a prescription for Silver Sulfadiazine – otherwise known as Silvadene – to put on the “Skin Tears”.  The prescription was for a 50 Gram bottle, with two refills.  I had used the stuff a few times on the “skin tears” with a thin coating as I had been told.

All through my Radiation treatments I had no problems with my skin being affected.  It turned brown and slightly red by the start of the fifth week.  Wednesday of the fifth week was when things went south and I needed to use the cream.

On my seventh week of Radiation treatments, the week of just my scar being treated, my chest began to really show the effects.  As I had shown in my last post.

Thursday of my seventh and final week, I came home in dire need of Joe’s help getting the raging fire put out on my chest.  I walked in the door and didn’t even consider what he was in the middle of, which was a phone conversation with one of his sons.  “I need  your help!” is how I greeted him once in the door.

I grabbed the container of Silvadene and headed for the bathroom.  I stripped off my shirt on the way back, with Joe following behind me.  “What can I do?  What do you need me to do?” were his questions lobbed to me.  “Wash your hands” is what I told  him.  Once he had that task done I told him to put the cream on every inch that was RED!

Joe did as I told him to do….except he “Frosted The Cake”.  That 50 Gram pot of Silvadene was emptied in no time flat.  Once the “Fire” was out and I could think clearly I had to call for a refill.

I was not looking forward to the following day and my last Radiation treatment.

On the way home on Friday, we stopped at our pharmacy to get the Silvadene.  Joe “Frosted the Cake” again, using most of the pot’s contents.  There would not be enough for the weekend at this rate.  I called on Saturday to get the last refill and was told that I could not have it until WEDNESDAY!  I could pay for it out right and get it immediately.  I thought the stuff would be about $100 so I declined.  I did end up getting the final refill on Monday.  The cost was $18.99 USD.

Tuesday, May 16th, I called the Radiation doctor’s office to request another refill.  After a few questions about how we had gone through the entire supply in just a few days, I had to tell the doctor that I was getting increasingly  more “skin tears” and a lot of wound weeping was going on.  So that doctor “Hooked Me Up!”

Three original 50 Gram post and the NEW prescription

Three original 50 Gram pots and the NEW prescription

The original three pots, in the photo, are totally EMPTY.  Gone in a mere five days.

My skin looks TONS better.  It still hurts in places.  You can see the changes and healing done in those five days of Joe’s ministrations.  LOL! 😀

Healing is underway

Healing is underway

I have been very diligent in taking a shower every morning to clean off the nights yucky stuff.  Joe would slather on the cream….giving me a “Crumb Coat” this time.

Mid afternoon I give the area a good cleaning with a cleanser I was given at the start of my Radiation treatments.  Cleanse the area of all yucky stuff and Joe would reapply the cream.

At night, I would take a second shower and then go to Joe for the “Wrap” treatment.  A “Crumb Coat” of cream…..

Layer of Silvadene applied to the red area

Layer of Silvadene applied to the red area.

Joe then, delicately, placed a couple of gauze squares over the creamed area….

Gauze applied to the creamed area

Gauze applied to the creamed area

Finally, he would wrap  me in a roll of gauze, taping the layers together as he went….

Rolled gauze to hold everything in place for the night.

Rolled gauze to hold everything in place for the night.

Put on a loose t-shirt to keep the gauze wrap in place as I slept.  Through Joe’s ministrations I am healing well.  I still have some areas that are tender and oozing.  I see my surgeon on Tuesday, May 23rd (tomorrow), to see how everything is going with me.

So, “Frosting the Cake” may not have been the right thing to do but it WAS the right thing to do at the time.  LOL 😀

I will have another post for you tomorrow.  My week of cleaning two bathrooms in Zone 3 of Flylady.  This week is the Master Bedroom.  That room is a HIDEOUS mess!!

Thank you ALL for your encouragement, love, support, prayers and friendship.  I appreciate everyone of you.

Leslie

OBC – May 12, 2017

Welcome to the second edition of One Boob Chronicle.

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WARNING:  This post, and the accompanying photographs, may be unsuitable for some readers. 

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Today, Friday – May 12, 2017 – was my LAST RADIATION TREATMENT.  I am so thankful this part is over.  I’m so thankful I have survived it this long.

My team at Stephenson Cancer  Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma has been SUPERB.  I could not have asked for a better, nor more attentive, group of technicians, nurses, and doctors during this long period of time for treatment of my breast cancer.

My chest is R-A-W!  However, all of the medical staff assure me my skin “looks great”.  If you believe that, well I have a bit of ocean front property in Oklahoma City I would like to sell you.

My burned and raw chest

My burned and raw chest

I had burn cream – Silver Sulfadiazine – smeared all over the red areas.  Thursday after my treatment my chest hurt SO BAD.  My shirt just touching the skin was enough to make me wish I were DEAD!  It was so painful.  Joe tenderly and carefully slathered the entire area with about 50 pounds of the stuff.  Well, not really.  I don’t even have that much on hand!  What you see in the photo above is about two hours after he put the cream on.

My doctor told me today that I have new skin forming within the worst of the burn areas.  She said for me to look for the little “dots”.  Our bodies are AMAZING WORKS!

New skin forming

New skin forming

I had been freaking out about some long, wormy, type stuff on my skin that looks like mucus, or pus.  This stuff doesn’t have an odor.  An infection would have an unpleasant odor.  This stuff is just snotty and gooey.

I have been reassured by the nurses and doctors that this is a normal part of the healing process.  My vessels under the skin have been damaged from the radiation.  They are emitting a fluid as they try to reconstruct themselves and repair the damage.  This fluid mingles with the burn cream and any moisturizing lotion I put on the area to keep it moist.

As the body fluids and the cream dry up little “wormy” things are created.  As they dry out (in the photo above) they turn a green color.  Until they dry, it is an opaque white.

Body fluids and creams create wormy things.

Body fluids and creams create wormy things.

These wormy things are like snot.  Sorry for the gross description.  It doesn’t move like a cream would.  It just stretches and thins out the further it gets pulled.

Ewwwww!  Gross!

Ewwwww! Gross!

According to my doctor, this is totally normal and nothing to worry about.  It is my body doing what it does best.  Fight to keep going under even the worst of circumstances.

I was given a warning today.  In the next couple of weeks…..things are going to get !WORSE! before it begins to get better.  The radiation in my body is going to be working its way out of my system.  Which means I will be extremely uncomfortable. There will come a turning point when all the pain goes away and my awesome body will have won the battle.

GULP!

Here’s hoping for the best, as I prepare for the worst.

Leslie

 

OBC – May 8, 2017 – Dryer Lint

Welcome to the first installment of the One Boob Chronicle, or OBC.

On my list of things to do today, clean out the dryer lint.  Not just in the pull out screen but deep in the machine itself.

When was the last time you checked your dryer?  We rely on that appliance a lot!  Only in rural areas are outdoor clothes lines allowed.  City and urban developments have Home Owner Associations with rules pertaining to clothes lines.  Even where we live, in a mobile home park, lines are a huge NO NO.

When Joe and I got married in 1990 we blended two families.  Where there was once only my daughter and I, laundry was not a huge issue – once a week was enough.  Marrying into a family with three other children and a husband – there was Mount Washmore happening.  Laundry piled up in giant stacks.  Being a stay at home mom I found it difficult to keep up with the amount of clothes and towels, let alone all the bed linen.  The LAST THING that was on my mind was the dryer lint building up in that machine.

Families of today are busy.  School age children being hustled from one event to another after school and late into the evening.  Dance classes and recitals, soccer, football, basketball, baseball practices and games.  Who can keep up with the mounds of daily laundry and the sports uniforms?

Built up dryer lint is not only a fire hazard, it takes longer for the clothes to dry.  Many house fires are attributed to a dryer.  That lint is so combustible, all that is necessary are several static electric sparks to ignite it.

May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017

I have a set of tools that were purchased, over 10 years ago, from the Flylady site.  I just checked her shopping section and it does not include this set of tools any longer.  An online search indicated Amazon and several other sellers have this or something similar.

Dryer lint cleaning kit

Dryer lint cleaning kit

The cone type brush I use in my normal lint clean out area.  Or the place that holds my dryer lint screen.

Dryer lint brush

Dryer lint brush

I made a big mess using that brush, but I did get quite a bit out.  Next, I used the long and strange hose fixture.  This hose is meant for use on the lint filter, the long one, on the top of the dryer.  Works in this little space as well.

Dryer cleaning hose

Dryer cleaning hose

I went outside to open the vent to use the round brush on, but I don’t have the right doo-wop-it, thingy to unscrew the vent from the side of my  house.  That will have to wait until Joe gets home.  He has the right tool….I just don’t know where it is or I would have used it.  😀

Outside dryer vent

Outside dryer vent

I didn’t have much lint to clean out from the machine itself.  That is the main reason why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my front loading washer.

Cleaned out dryer lint

Cleaned out dryer lint

It may be a different story when I get Joe to remove the outside vent cover!

So, for today, I have been able to check off nearly all my To-Do boxes.  Had my Radiation Treatment, went to the gym and did my 45 minutes on the treadmill, got the dryer lint cleaned out, had lunch at 1:30…..took my nap at 2:00 pm and didn’t get up until Joe called me at 5:47 p.m.

When I started going to the gym (on April 14th) that 45 minutes resulted in walking about half a mile using the “Heart Rate” feature.  For my weight and age the machine indicates a heart rate of 110 during the actual 35 minutes of exercise.  I have a five minute warm up and a five minute cool down.  Yesterday I did 1.3 miles with a heart rate of 112 average.  I’m getting stronger.  Not losing any weight but I’m physically getting stronger.

I know what my physical capabilities are right now.  ALMOST NOTHING!  Because of that I don’t make a long list of things that have to be done on any particular day.  Especially things that require a lot of physical activity.  Moving that dryer around to get underneath it and behind it to sweep up, then getting the small room’s floor swept and mopped, nearly did me in.

What is on your To-Do List?  Do  you get frustrated when all the boxes aren’t checked or lines drawn through the completed tasks?  CELEBRATE THE ITEMS YOU DO GET CHECKED OFF!  Be kind to yourself and do what you can.  Do a Happy Dance when you can check an item off, or draw a line through it.

Take care of yourself.  Leslie

Getting Real – Breast Cancer Treatments

This has been a long journey.  Next month, June, on the 27th will be one year since I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Invasive Ductile Carcinoma.  My breast cancer is Estrogen Hormone related, which means the cancer fed off my body’s creation of Estrogen.

For the next five to 10 years I will be taking a pill daily.  Letrozole 2.5 mg.  This tiny pill, smaller than a pencil eraser, is an “Estrogen Sex Hormone” blocker.  This tiny pill has the power to make me stumble around like I’m drunk sometimes.  I have balance issues.  My “Old Lady Beard” is being fruitful.  With the decrease of Estrogen in my body the Progesterone is having a fine old time.

This is my last week of Radiation treatments.  They started on March 28th.  Monday through Friday for about 25 minutes for each treatment.

My Radiation Treatment

My Radiation Treatment

Chemotherapy started on October 12th – 2016 and ended January 23 – 2017.  Every two weeks there was a six hour block of time spent at the Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City.  Part of the Oklahoma University Medical complex of buildings.  I went to the Stephenson Infusion Center for each Chemo treatment.  You can read about that HERE.

I’ve tried my best to stay positive throughout this experience.  For the most part, I have been successful.

The human body is one amazing creation.  Each phase of this cancer treatment has been with HIGHLY TOXIC fluids that would eat a hole in concrete, and now radiation that has its own set of dangers.

For months now, my body has been subjected to things that are meant to KILL.  And these things do kill – the cancer tumors and some tissues within the focal area of the Radiation.

How have I been affected by all this?  Okay, frankly, almost all of it has had bonuses.

I lost ALL of my body hair.  Showering has been wonderful.  Soap up a wash rag and scrub my head and face (and the rest of my body, too).  I have not purchased shampoo or conditioner for eight months.  My armpits didn’t need deodorant.  Not one minute spent on shaving my legs or underarms.

My eyelashes and eyebrows were casualties of the Chemo as well.  Trying to put on false eyelashes….without a baseline of the lashes…..was tricky to say the least.  Drawing on eyebrows without a starting, middle, and ending point made me look kind of off kilter most of the time.

The worst side effect I have had with all this cancer treatment has been fatigue.  Some days after the Chemo treatment I could not move from my recliner.  The two week intervals for Chemo had me nearly crashed for about 10 days.  The three or four days before the next treatment I had energy and felt really great.

The downside of Chemo is it is nearly impossible to eat.  I didn’t have many mouth sores, as other patients have experienced.  My fingernails felt like they were going to POP RIGHT OFF for several days after the Chemo.  That was uncomfortable.  I had some long bone pain.  My thigh bones, arms, and shoulder blades ached continuously.

Water smelled and tasted AWFUL!  Tap water and bottled water.  And don’t get me started on ice!  I am not a beer drinker.  I have one about every two years.  Let me tell you, I drank a bottle of beer a week during Chemo.  It felt so good on the back of my throat.  It tasted good even.  Normally I can’t stand the smell of the stuff.

Anything sweet, and I love sweets!  Cake, pie, brownies, cookies, candy.  You name it, if it is sweet I love it.

During Chemo….NOPE.  Every sweet thing that I loved – especially CHOCOLATE – once it was in my mouth it was so bad I had to spit it out.  The taste was SORT OF like that awful smell of a decomposing mouse or animal.  That sickly sweet, cloying, smell that screws up your face when you smell it.

Cooking while Joe was home made me hearken back to my pregnancy days, well over 40 years ago.  The smell of cooking meat bothered me.  During Chemo, I frequently scorched or burned things because I would go off in a trance like state for minutes at a time.  I was always so sleepy.

Oh, don’t let me forget the “Chemo Brain” that I continue to suffer with.  I would be talking to Joe and my mind would, quite literally, go blank.  I had no clue what I had been saying, nor what we had been discussing.  I often would find it quite daunting to think of the word or name for something.  Standing in the kitchen one evening, while I was cooking, minutes passed before I could even think of the utensil I needed to stir the soup simmering in the pot.

The total frustration is immense!

Joe and I had a standing weekly date with our neighbors on Thursday nights when we were in town for long stretches of time.  Dinner and a game of cards.  Conversation, laughter, and sometimes conversation got a bit dicey when it came  to political views.  During my Chemo treatment, which usually fell on Thursday at the start, the weekly camaraderie didn’t happen.  When my Chemo was moved to Tuesday I often still felt too ill to participate.  Cook and play cards.  There was one evening I do remember falling asleep in the middle of the card game.

I tried to make an effort to keep up with my YouTube videos.  That was hit and miss.  I received packages from all over the place.  Literally all over the place.  The UK, Canada, Italy, various US States.  The outpouring of LOVE has been such that I cannot even express my humble gratitude for the gifts.  As I felt energetic enough, and was able to put on the wonky fake eyelashes and oddly penciled brows, I made videos of the gifts of love I received.

As the Radiation Therapy has been my most recent regimen the fatigue remains.  I was told I would experience it.  During Physical Therapy after my Mastectomy in February I was told exercise would help with the fatigue and the Neuropathy I have in my hands and feet.

That is one major side effect of the Chemo that I will have for a long, long time.  Tingling and loss of feeling in my hands and fingers.  My finger tips are mostly effected.  They tingle all the time.  I also have tingling on the soles of my feet.  Sometimes walking on the carpet in my home, the feeling is like walking on sharp gravel.  When I go through my kitchen and bathroom, which are linoleum, my feet hurt as the tingling intensifies.

I have been going to a local “10 Gym” to use the treadmill for 40 minutes a day.  This has helped with the Neuropathy in my feet.  In the evenings my toes are the only part of my feet effected.  Sometimes my toes feel like they are going to just pop.  That is uncomfortable but manageable.  I am on some medication – oddly for seizures – that help with this side effect.  This medication also has an effect on my balance.  More meds to make me stumble around drunk.

I have a lot of energy in the mornings.  My Radiation Therapy is generally around 10 each morning.  After that I drive right to the gym and do my walking.  I know that if I don’t go right after my Radiation…..”it ain’t happening”.  I’m home around noon or 1.  By 2 in the afternoon is when my body crashes.  Quite literally.  I fall asleep for two to three hours.  Waking up at 5 in the evening, I consider my day SHOT!

I have been concentrating on getting my life in order.  It has been nearly a year since I have done general cleaning in my home and it really shows.  I have made a concentrated effort to make a list of small things to do during this last week of my Radiation Therapy.  I have dragged out my “Happy Planner“….which has been unused since about September of last year.  Time to get with the program and do what I can as I feel the energy to do it.

Next week's plan

Next week’s plan

I have divided my weekly spreads for “Medical Appointments” at the top section; “Home” in the center section; and “Joe” in the lower section.  Keeping track of where he is picking up, delivering, and where he stays the night for our business records.

I purchased the “Home Management” insert for the Happy Planner to not allow my “Chemo Brain” to continually take over my life.

This coming week, May 8 to 14, is “Zone 2” in the Flylady way of house keeping.  I relied heavily on this website for years in the past.  It is high time to get started once again.  I am POSITIVE that I CAN DO THIS!.  Get my life back!

Happy Planner insert for Home Management

Happy Planner insert for Home Management

So….I’m toying with the idea of doing a blog post daily this coming week to reflect on my successes and not so much success.  I’m thinking of calling them the “One Boob Chronicle”.  I’m not ashamed of my physical attributes, or lack there of.  I can’t wear a bra right now because my chest is so raw from the Radiation.  It is evident that I am lacking in the “chesty area” when I go out in public.  So why not just CELEBRATE MY UNIQUENESS!

I have a YouTube video that shows my Radiation Treatment.  Be warned if you watch it.  I show my Mastectomy and the rawness from the Radiation.  You can see it below if you choose to.

Until next time.  Have a FABULOUS Sunday 😀

Sharpie happy team of Radiation Therapy Nurses.

I was always told not to write on myself or the ink will poison my blood and I would get really sick.  Uhm…no one seems to have told my team of Radiation Therapy Nurses.

I have a line drawn down my sternum.  Kind of looks like an off kilter butt crack.

Sharpie mark on my sternum

Sharpie mark on my sternum

I think the nurses are going to be playing a game of Tetrus on my upper belly instead of doing Radiation Therapy as I have been lead to believe.

Maybe a bit of Tetrus being played

Maybe a bit of Tetrus being played

Maybe some drunken pirates couldn’t remember exactly WHERE “X” marked the spot on my map.  I have an “X” in my left armpit and one to the front of my left underarm.  This is where, I’m told, my lymph nodes are that are being treated.  Likely story.

Which "X" actually marks the spot?

Which “X” actually marks the spot?

I have an “X” from last Friday when I went for my initial CT scan on the outside rear of my right side.  A new one was added to the outside rear of my left side.

Rear outside of my left side

Rear outside of my left side

Rear outside of my right side

Rear outside of my right side

No one has even signed their artwork!  Can you imagine that?!

I have been told that I will get a burn, similar to having been outside in the hot sun, before the week is out.  I have been given a lotion that I have to use each night before I go to bed.  The radiation is going to not only burn my skin, it will also dry it out.  Hot damn!  We are going to have some fun now.  I also have a cleansing foam that I have to use on the area being radiated.

Lotion and skin cleanser I have to use during radiation therapy

Lotion and skin cleanser I have to use during radiation therapy

After I got home from my trek to downtown Oklahoma City for my first treatment, I spent a few hours working on my IKEA drawer sets.  I’m liking how they are coming together.  I was not so very sure about the color choices Pantone has put together, but now I do have to say they are quite pleasing to my eye.  The colors I am using are in their “Grand Canyon” collection.

Close up view of the paper covered drawers

Close up view of the paper covered drawers

Unfinished drawers at the bottom still

Unfinished drawers at the bottom

I’m going to keep working away on this project.  I probably should be putting some things in the drawers as I get them finished.  There are some drawers with contents inside, I just can’t remember what is in them right now.  I may have to put some kind of fixture on the front with a label to remind me.

Well, off to my second radiation therapy session.  I wonder if there will be more drawings made with the Sharpie?

Leslie

My Mastectomy. Breast Cancer journey almost over.

Are you facing treatment for Breast Cancer?  Have you been filled with horror stories about what is ahead for you?

Chemotherapy or radiation therapy?  There are frightening stories of people constantly vomiting and being severely nauseous from the Chemo.  Humiliated and discouraged over the loss of head hair.  Having no strength or stamina to take care of normal everyday duties.  Fatigue that is constant and debilitating.  The kind which you can’t get out of bed except to go to the bathroom and that is difficult in and of itself.

I don’t have any experience with the radiation therapy, as of yet.  So I can’t speak to that treatment.

If I had to recommend a place to be treated for breast cancer, it would be OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The OU Physician Center, Stephenson Cancer Center, OU Surgical Center, OU Medical Center, and Stephenson Infusion Center have the most caring staff I have ever dealt with.

From my experience, my attitude had everything to do with the low amount of side effects I had with all of my treatments, from the initial diagnosis.  Pain was at a low level and was tolerable.  That is until my last rounds of Chemo when I was switched to a different type.  My breast cancer was a temporary medical problem. The end result was always going to be a mastectomy.

Look, to be honest, the process is a bit scary.  What are the doctors and nurses going to be doing to me?!  Does my boob get whacked off today?  When does the Chemo come in?

You can do tons of research on the internet about breast cancer and the treatments of it.  Every person is different, and every cancer diagnosis is different.  Treatment protocols are different depending on the cancer Stage and type.

Let me tell you!  There are many different types of breast cancer.  I thought there was just one…breast cancer.  Check out this page from breastcancer.org “Types of Breast Cancer.

Some people have an attitude that “This is only temporary and won’t rule my life forever”, while others are totally freaked out by the diagnosis and have an attitude that is, more or less, “Poor me.  My looks are going to be ruined and no one will ever love me again!”

Some people have a very low tolerance for pain.  The growing cancer tumor in the breast would, possibly, be extremely painful to some.  For me, it was a sporadic slight burning sensation that lasted from one to two seconds in the beginning.  Later, as it grew the burning pain would last longer even though it was still sporadic – not a constant pain.  Up to 10 seconds.  It was very uncomfortable.  Not so uncomfortable that it stopped me doing my  normal daily activities or interfered with my truck driving job.

I had my first breast biopsy on June 27, 2016.  Ultrasound guided breast biopsy is what I had.  I had several of this type of biopsy done before Chemo started.  I was given a local anesthetic for each biopsy to lessen the pain caused by the steel needle injected into the breast and directly into the cancerous tumor.  Three core samples were taken with each biopsy.  The next day my breast would be painful and I would need a pain pill – two at the most for the week.

I had a PET Scan on July 22, 2016.  This scan was from my head to about mid thigh to see if my breast cancer had spread to other parts of my body.  Being a 40 year pack a day smoker the scan would spend quite a bit of time on my head and chest area before going down to the lower extremities of my body.  My head and chest were clear of any worrisome markers.  My stomach had a spot that needed to be checked, there was a questionable spot on top of one of my kidneys, and there was a dark black spot on my right hip bone that would need to be checked.

On August 8, 2016 I had a Bone Biopsy of my right hip joint.  Each of these radio-logical procedures were a bit frightening to me.  I had not had prior experience with any of these giant machines and didn’t know what to expect.  Having a bit of claustrophobia I was more terrified of being stuck in a tight tube than I was of the procedures.  The results of the hip bone biopsy were negative…no cancer in the hip.

On August 11, 2016 I had a Stomach Scope to check the dark spot shown in the PET Scan.  Turns out I had a bit of an ulcer which was treated with a course of antibiotics.  No cancer in my stomach.

On August 19, 2016 I had another breast biopsy and my first round of Faslodex shots to stop the growth of my cancer.  My cancer tumor was continuing to grow, causing the underside of my left breast to be swollen and purple.  My type of breast cancer was hormone related.  Meaning that this cancer fed off of estrogen in my body, and sugars from my liver.  The Faslodex would inhibit estrogen from being made in my body.

On September 2, 2016 I had my second round of Faslodex.  Turns out this treatment was not as effective as my doctors had hoped it would be.

I had another breast biopsy on September 24, 2016 to see how much growth the tumor continued to have.  It was growing quite a bit and was very uncomfortable.  On September 26, 2016 my Oncologist, Dr. Sobia Nabeel,  decided that I would be put on a Chemo regimen.  That would be determined after I had a Heart Scan.  This scan would let my Oncologist know if my heart was healthy enough for the rigors of Chemotherapy.

On October 7, 2016 I had a surgical procedure to install a Chemo Port in my right upper chest.  This was done as an outpatient procedure.  It was quite uncomfortable for a few days after it was placed under my skin.  I had some difficulty sleeping on my right side with the port being in the way of my comfort.

Chemo Port implant

Chemo Port implant

October 12, 2016 began my Chemotherapy treatments of DoxirubicinYou can read my blog post about that here.  November 1, 2016 I was admitted to the hospital for a Urinary Tract Infection that had gone septic.  I spent November 1 to 6 in the hospital under very good care.  The fluids they pumped into me caused my body to swell until I thought I was going to POP!  October 26, 2016 was my second round of the Red Devil – Doxirubicin that lead to the UTI and subsequent hospital stay.

Just so I know that they have the "Big Guns" going...I guess

Just so I know that they have the “Big Guns” going…I guess

December 23, 2016 my chemo drug was changed from Doxirubicin to Paclitaxel or Taxol.  My last Taxol treatment was on January 23, 2016.  This Paclitaxel or Taxol as the nurses called it, was supposed to be not as bad as the Doxirubicin.  I had not had any bad side effects with the Doxirubicin, other than losing my hair.  So in my way of thinking the Taxol was going to be a breeze.  Uhm, not quite.  I had a lot of bone pain with the Taxol.  I swear, there was someone in the Stephenson Cancer Center that had a voodoo doll made just for me.  That person had one job and that job was to jab a pin in the doll at any place they wanted and for how long they wanted.

The pains from the Taxol were sharp, intense, and lasted no longer than 10 seconds.  That 10 seconds was quite exciting!  The little bone at your outside ankle, know where I’m speaking of?  That was one place that would be frequently hit by the sharp, intense, pain.  Within minutes after the ankle, between by ear lobe and jaw bone the next pain would show up.  That one brought me up in my seat or stopped me from moving.  A few minutes later my left mid thigh bone – femur I think it is called – would have the sharp and intense pain.  Not quite as bad as Liam Neeson had done in the movie Taken.  Just in the same general area.

After that last chemo treatment my doctor visits began to slow down.  I have not had any further breast biopsies.  I did have a Mammogram of both breasts on January 24, 2016 to see if the cancer was still growing or if the chemo drugs had done their job.  The radiologist came to me after the procedure was finished to say, had there not been a marker placed in my breast during the first biopsy she would not have known that I even had a cancerous tumor.  There was nothing there.

Although the Chemotherapy was rough on my body….tired all the time, extremely low energy levels, not being able to keep up with daily household chores, and being knocked down and out if I overdid some housework.  Which means if I spent longer than 10 minutes on housekeeping duties for the entire day then I was whacked for that day and into the next.  I did not have a lot of trouble with the Chemotherapy.

The next part of my cancer treatment was to have the Mastectomy.  When a breast gets lopped off, how does the surgeon put skin back over the wound?  That is the question I asked my surgeon’s nurse.  She had to hide a giggle at my question to remain professional.  🙂

The procedure is not what I had envisioned.  My surgeon, Dr. William Dooley  has been so good at explaining everything to me.  He has a tall cart with a laptop.  He types stuff as we talk about my tumor growth, the Chemotherapy, the biopsies, why I have the same shot of pain in the exact same area of my right breast as I have with the cancerous left breast.  Per Dr. Dooley, the nerves coming from the spinal column at my breast height connects the two breasts together.  What one feels the other does as well.

On the day of my Mastectomy he took a bit more time to let me know what he was going to do.  He was going to cut all the way,  horizontally, across my left breast to near my arm pit.  The skin was going to be rolled upward to my collar bone and the lower skin was going to be rolled down to my ribs.  Dr. Dooley would then remove all the of the breast tissue, go down into the muscles to take some of them away, and then go into my arm pit area to remove the lymph nodes both Dr. Nabeel and Dr. Dooley found to have cancer in them.

This whole procedure was done in an Outpatient Surgery Center.  Once I came out of the Recovery Room without any problems I was taken to a monitoring area while the drugs were further wearing off and I was no longer talking gibberish.  Joe was waiting for me when I arrived.  About 30 to 45 minutes later I was discharged and sent home.  I was home at a little after 1:00 p.m.  Surgery was at 8:15 a.m., we were told to arrive at 6:30 a.m. for all the prep needed before the surgery.  So all tolled it was 6 1/2  hours then home.

My left breast is sunken in the center.  I have two drains, one comes from way up in my arm pit and the other comes from the surgical area.

 

Image result for mastectomy drains

Photo courtesy of Susan G. Komen Mastectomy The Procedure.

I have to drain the bulbs three times a day and record the amount of fluid removed from each bulb.  Joe is really good at doing this for/with me.

I have the most comfortable bra on…yes you read that correctly!  It has two pockets that hang down from the bra.  The pockets are to hold the drain bulbs.  Why, oh why, did it take having a mastectomy to find a bra that fit well?!

Image result for mastectomy drains and bras

Photo courtesy of Surgery Supplements.

Dr. Dooley told me I would have “muscle spasms” that would burn.  Let me tell you, he got the burn part right but I don’t know if it is muscle spasms or not.  At my arm pit I will get one (excuse me) hellacious burning sensation that lasts about 15 seconds.  Typical example is a burn from the hot oven when your arm touches the oven rack.  That kind of a burn sensation!

I have read in the literature supplied to me that it will be several WEEKS of recuperating from this major surgery.  I am not to life anything that weighs more than a gallon of milk – about 8 pounds.  No strenuous activity.  Lots of rest.

I do some of the cooking.  Joe has done a bit of it as well.  He asks if I need help, or he will ask if he can help me.  He doesn’t make a nuisance of himself asking me that question frequently.  I get really testy and nasty if he does that.

As far as actual “PAIN” goes.  I’ve had a C-Section and that pain is bad enough to make your ears ring and you cry for days.  I don’t have that kind of pain with this mastectomy.  The reason I think is because with a C-Section your stomach muscles are used to sit up, stand up, walk, bend over, reach for things, and just general all around use of the muscles.  The chest muscles are not used so much as the stomach.  Thus, almost no pain.  That is until I press on or near the surgery site.  YIKES!  OUCHY, OUCHY, OUCHY!

All in all, I am doing well.  This seven month journey has not been all bad.  I have been blessed with professional help all along the way.  Doctors, nurses, reception staff, and all the other support staff in the Infusion Centers, Oncologist and Surgeon office, medical testing areas – radiological testing and procedures.

All this to say that I am doing well and nearing the end of my breast cancer treatment.  Although everything that has happened and been done in this treatment regimen has not been terribly bad….I don’t want to go through this again that is for sure.

Well that is my refresher on events and a current update.  This has been three days in the making and it is now finished.  Blah blah blah I know.

Leslie

 

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