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 😀