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

Breast Cancer Diagnosis – Akin to drinking water from a fire hose

My dear friend, Maureen Criss Mathis, asked me if I felt like I was “Drinking water from a fire hose” and I had to steal her reference.  This is exactly like that.

Like  you, I’ve seen the many marathons for “The Cure” and all the pink ribbons.  I’ve heard the stories of the battles being waged by ordinary women with their individual type of breast cancer.  Let’s not leave the men out of this equation.  They get breast cancer as well.

You hear about the many who fall in the battle, many who are emotionally scarred and physically maimed, many who survive to fight another day.  Hopefully they don’t have to fight again after what they have been through.

I am totally blown away by the wealth of love and support I have been receiving, and continue to receive.

Frankly, I’ve had to spend quite a bit of time in prayer over this development.  I feel unworthy of all the love I have received.  Mostly, I’m having a sort of “Out of body experience” with this whole situation.  As if I am a spectator instead of a participant.  Hence, the unworthiness feeling I have.

I am learning that the “Obama Care” Insurance package is not quite as fabulous as everyone had been lead to believe.  There are people struggling with their own health issues and are foregoing treatment because they can’t come up with the huge….and I mean HUGE…. deductibles they are facing.  Paying $600 to $1000 a month for this insurance then find it won’t cover any of the medical costs until the deductible of $500 to $700 is first met.  Who has that kind of money, I ask you?

In all the reading I am doing, and the research I’m finding.  Breast cancer is, by and large, fully treatable.  The one medical issue that has a far larger death rate is Heart Disease.  Quite of number of breast cancer survivors succumb to a heart attack.

This was true of my research when Joe was faced with Prostate Cancer.  Studies have shown that men die WITH prostate cancer and NOT because of it.  Most men die of a heart attack or some other equally disastrous malady.

I can’t kick myself in the butt.  Really, it is no longer physically possibly for me to do that.  I had been able to do that in my younger days but not any longer.

Hindsight is also one of the specters I have haunting me lately.  Had I told everyone back in December of 2015 or January of 2016 when I first found the lump in my breast I would have been a clinical “Stage Zero”.  A Non-Invasive breast cancer confined to a duct and considered “In Situ”.  Meaning it had not spread outside of the confines of the lump.

February 2016 I was at a Stage 1.  Either Stage 1 A or Stage1B.  That is when the cancer cells begin to break out of the duct and invade healthy tissue.  I think in February I was well past the Stage 1 since my lump was already far larger than 2 centimeters.  More than likely it had not spread to my Lymph Nodes at that time.

March 2016 and onward into May 2016 I think my breast cancer was invasive enough to be considered Stage 3.  There is a Stage 3A, Stage 3B, and a Stage 3C.  I fit somewhere in one of these three clinical stages.  My lump was far larger than 3 centimeters (which is 1-1/2 inches) and in some places it was 5 centimeters (3 inches).

Stage 4 breast cancer is when the invasive growth has left the breast and lymph nodes to make its way to other organs of my body.  Lungs, skin, bones, liver, or brain.

As if this information is not intimidating enough, there are further considerations.  What TYPE of cancer do I have?  Are there Hormone Receptors…..does the cancer feed off my Estrogen or Progesterone hormones?  Does my cancer indicate a HER2 Receptor status?  What is my Lymph Node status?

I don’t have that information at this time.  I probably won’t have that until after the July 4th holiday.  That information will then dictate whether I begin Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, or an oral drug therapy.  I’ve been told my treatment plan will begin by reducing the cancer size and stopping its growth BEFORE surgery will be even considered.

In this information overload process I have learned that every single person is eligible for good medical care.  Hospitals CANNOT turn you away for a lack of Insurance or ability to pay for your treatment.

One of my daughters is an ICU Trauma Nurse at Denver General.  She has over 10 years of experience in her field and she did some research to find a clinic or hospital for me to go for treatment.  She has also made her recommendation of the Surgeon I am to initially see for my treatment plan based on her knowledge of the inner workings of hospitals and the continued education of the doctors employed by hospitals.

Another daughter who is a nurse in Kansas has been staunchly advocating the role of hospitals and doctors in the care of ALL patients.  No matter their financial situation or Insurance coverage – or lack of Insurance coverage.  Hospitals are there to help everyone who needs it.  According to my Kansas daughter, hospitals have staff well versed in the charities and the grants available to everyone for their treatment.  There are people at hospitals whose sole job is to guide the patient through the quagmire of paperwork and options to best help in their treatment and subsequent return to health.

Had I known this information at the start of 2016 I would not be in the position I am in today.

I have a huge fault….some may call it a SIN.  I have a lot of pride.  I do things myself.  I don’t depend on, nor do I ask others for help.  My other fault….SIN is that I am impatient.

So, due to my enormous faults….SINs.  I am now in the unenviable position of asking for help and having to be patient.

Please, I beg you.  If you know someone who is facing a major illness and they are putting off treatment because they can’t afford it.  HOUND THEM!  Tell them to get their butts to a doctor or, at the very least, the Emergency Room of a local hospital.  If the local hospital is not equipped to deal with the illness they HAVE TO tell the person where they can GET the proper treatment.

Finally….sorry this is so long.  For all of you, my dear friends, that have found my having breast cancer unbearable and you feel really sad for me.  I have a suggestion that I hope will help you to deal with this discomfort.  Be, what is the word I am looking for?  Disgraceful?  No that is not it.  Disrespectful.  Yes!  That is the word I am looking for.

If you want to send me a greeting card to show your support.  Here are the rules.

  1.  The sentiment HAS to be something OUTRAGEOUS!  For example:  “You can’t skip and be unhappy at the same time”.  Dylusions Quote Medley.
  2. I will even be open to:  “You would think that with all your Multiple personalities at least one would be likable”.  Dylusions Quote Medley.
  3. You HAVE to use your paper scraps.  Don’t run to your local craft and hobby store for a new pad of paper.
  4. If you have a YouTube channel, please share your creation and let people know that you are supporting someone with breast cancer.  This might give another card maker or paper crafter permission to express their love and support to someone they don’t quite know how to put in words what they are feeling.
  5. Private message me for my address, if you don’t already  have it.
  6. Prepare yourself to be honored.  I will be home for about a year now through this process and I will be making videos.  I will be showing the cards I receive and showing my appreciation for each of  you.

I am going to get through this.  With or without you.  I have a grandbaby that will be coming into this family in November or December.  I HAVE to be there to welcome her into this world.  I have twin granddaughters that are now 2 years old.  I have to be able to get out to the thrift shops to find frilly dresses and over the top jewelry for them to play dress up.  I have a grandson who is currently 7 years old who is far older than his years that needs to know that I love him and support his computer game adventures.  I have a husband, whom I adore, that is enveloped by a cloak of fear that I have to remove.  I have daughters, sons, daughter-in-laws, son-in-laws that I need to continue to love and support their lives.  I have friends that are in need of my support and love just as much as I need it from them.

Leslie