Hello Hospital…

So… I’m admitted into the hospital and I honestly don’t know how long I’ll be here… The communication here is not the greatest – quite a contrast from CMC Main… Thursday night, Darrell and I went to dinner… we had a very busy weekend ahead and some good friends had given us a gift card…. so we decided to have a date! Earlier that day, I was at radiation and talked to my doctor… about my nagging headache… He asked me what I do to relax… and told me to maybe get some more relaxation in… So before we went to dinner, I went for an extra long walk…. I felt fine! After dinner Thursday… I had a bit of a tummy ache when I went to bed… but felt ok… Around 1am… I woke up with this excruciating pain…. I couldn’t lay on my back, my sides… nothing would help me feel comfortable. I tried to sleep…. I had woken up Darrell and he said it was probably from radiation… try to get some rest. I tried… I took a shower and ran it on the back of my neck… which is where the pain was radiating… in my back and up my neck… I just wasn’t going away… I’ve been to the ER a few times now for this feeling that something is in my right lung… and it’s been nothing, but… I told Darrell…. I have an extremely HIGH pain tolerance… and there was something wrong… I was going to drive myself to the ER… and I did. And I’m glad I did… After I was here, the pain was so bad… I was literally rocking back and forth in pain…. They had sent me for another CT scan… (I just had one last week Wednesday)… I honestly didn’t think it was anything… I thought I had a bulged disk or something… It felt like nerve pain… I begged for pain medicine… and the Dr. finally came in and said, “how about some Morphine? You do have a PE”… which is Pulmonary Embolism… a blood clot in the lung…. She said we’re going to admit you and need to get you on some blood thinners…. so they’ve given me Lovenox shots every 12 hours and managed my pain…

They’ve given me an ultrasound in my legs…. to make sure I didn’t have any other blood clots…. My radiation oncologist called yesterday to find out why I missed my appointment… My nurse was supposed to contact them… and I said “they didn’t’ tell you?” He was up here in a matter of minutes…. He said that headache that you’ve had… he said now I wonder? And… any time you have any symptoms in the future, I’m going to want to scan you… ” So.. he arranged to have them come get me to take me down to have radiation yesterday….

I emailed my surgical oncologist last night…. to let her know I was in the hospital for PE… She replied

“Hi Dawn,
I’m so sorry.  How large was the PE? I hope it was on the smaller side as the prior CT scans didn’t see it.

On the flip side, we finally have a reason for your pulmonary symptoms.  Yes you will be on heparin until they bridge you to oral Coumadin or Lovenox shots for six months. That will be up to Dr.Brouse. I’m sure he will get in touch with you soon.

Yes, Tamoxifen is out. The others are iffy as they all have a chance of blood clots and PE.

Talking about that surgery is not a bad idea if you are done having children, understanding that you will go into menopause much sooner :(.

I hope that you are a little relieved, if that is possible, that cancer is not the reason for your symptoms. I am.

As always, you did the right thing by reaching out and being persistent.

Good job.

Let me know what Dr.Brouse says.

LHG”

We know our own bodies… We need to listen to our bodies…

I mentioned to her that I’d be willing to have a total hysterectomy so that my body would stop making so much estrogen and progesterone… Which is what the Tamoxifen is for… to prevent those hormones from being made… but a side effect is blood clots… So I will no longer be able to take any form of those meds… So, I might end up having surgery…

The problem is… my risk of cancer recurrence is 50% without this medicine… so I’ll need to do whatever I have to… to prevent a recurrence… With Tamoxifen the accumulated risk was 30%…. Menopause it is… most likely. It will be worth it… to be here.

I’m praying that all the other changes I’ve made… plus radiation will keep this cancer away!!! My radiation oncologist was insistent that I did not miss yesterday…. to make sure we zap any cells!!!

Another bump in the road… at least I know there is a reason for my Pulmonary symptoms and like Dr. H said… we know it’s not cancer…. and we caught it in time…. I’m still here to talk about it…. Life is good!

However my headache is back above my eyebrow…. and I have told the nurse…. so let’s pray I have nothing else going on!!!

My poor husband… has to manage 2 very large weddings that we had planned this weekend…. We have a 12 hour Persian wedding and a 10 hour Greek wedding on Sunday…. He has had SO much on his plate… finances, weddings, worry about me… In times of need, people really come forward and help… I must thank a very dear friend that has been seriously an angel to me during my cancer journey… Juliet Harless… I met Juliet during this journey and Juliet has truly been an amazing friend to me… emotionally supporting me and this weekend… they are stepping in for me at these weddings… I cannot thank them enough…. Also, tomorrow… many thanks to Whitney Gray for helping us out and helping shoot…

The timing of this could not be worse… not one but 2 weddings where the brides so desperately wanted me to attend…. I’m SO sorry!!! I hope that you’ll understand, if I was not attached to this place… I would be there for you….

Hugs & Love… (D and I hanging out yesterday at the hospital)

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Time Warp…

Cancer really takes so much from you…. it takes your hair, it takes your eyebrows, now my eyelashes, truly your entire sense of vanity at some point, you’re seriously like…. what in the hell does it really matter anymore….. it took my fat (I’m not complaining there) but it did leave me with some sagging skin (I will complain about that) 😉    But, holy smokes…. it also takes your time. Going through chemo…. feels like you’re on a slow moving train and people are passing by in front of you quickly…. I thought, awesome… I’ll have this time to just recoup and get better…. It honestly went by so fast… Then surgery, boy that was a whirlwind…. and with wedding season thrown in the mix of it all…. Now, it’s time for radiation too… and I feel literally like I’m in a time warp. May is almost over! How in the heck did that happen????

I realllllly want to enjoy this summer! We went to the pool Monday and I had to stay in the shade…. 😦 I’m going to be covered in burns all summer…. so shade and floppy hats it is… I’m really trying to not be pissy and moany about all the things that have changed about my life…. But, please, just let time go a little more slowly…. that’s ALL I ask…. I’d really love to have a summer… despite the fact that a good portion of it will be spent in a hospital!

One of my favorite artists is Toby Keith…. I thought, awesome… one of the things I will treat myself to this summer is…. A Toby Keith Concert!!!! Went to look at the schedule… He’s NOT coming to Charlotte? Since when doesn’t he come to Charlotte??? Country Comes To Town!!!! Boo…. Toby, I haven’t made all your concerts when you have come to town… but I will REALLY miss you this year! I will be seeing Rascal Flatts, however… with my bestie… and I’m extremely excited about that!

One thing I realllllly have wanted to talk about is my BFF…. she’s in the picture I’m going to include in this blog post…. When she came to visit in January, she talked about how great it would be if she could move here to be with me during this time. I never thought it could possibly happen… They had to sell their house (which they wanted to anyway)… find jobs and move here. It’s happening. I can’t even believe what a spoiled girl I am….. her best friend and her family leaves Nashville to come to live closer to me to be nearer to me during this journey that I’m almost finished with….. I do feel a lot guilty about that. I feel like it’s an awful big sacrifice to do that…. for ME!? I’m honestly so very blessed…. Literally, it’s a week away…. and they will be here… PINCH ME!!!! Like I said… PLEASE let this summer go slowly…. so I can just soak it all up…. Unfortunately, Tracey…. it won’t be spent on rafts soaking up the rays…… with Jim Beam and Diet Cokes in our hand…. BOOOOOOO!  Water for me and I’ll watch you soak under the umbrella….. ❤ It’s time together… I’ll take it! ❤ I miss my buddy Eddie too…. he’s in this photo! Good times… good friends! Our time is not promised…. enjoy it! All of it!!! Even time spent under the umbrelly! 🙂

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It’s Radiation Day!

I’m all marked and ready to go! At 1:30 every day starting today I will have radiation until July….. From what I understand it can flare Lymphedema… it can cause a plethora of other things… but I’m trying to just completely avoid the thought of any of that…. and focus on what it’s doing, hopefully eradicating any residual cancer cells that may be floating around in there…. They say that radiation can make you very tired… some people it can make them nauseous… I don’t know how I’ll react yet. But, as long as the effects don’t come on until after this next weekend we are good…. We have two VERY long weddings this weekend… that I need to be a part of!

As it turns out, at weddings… I’ve been doing way more than I should or that I’m supposed to… and my arm hurts deep inside…  but, I just wear my sleeve and hope it helps! I find that when I’m there… I can’t help myself… I feel like my little Jack Russell dog…. looking out the window at squirrels… when it comes to weddings…. I just can’t help myself, that camera is just drawn to my hand… I’m not listening to my doctor…. but we have just a few more weddings to complete…

More than anything, radiation is just a pain because I have to go every single day…. and I have to go when I don’t have Greyson and that ends up being smack dab in the middle of the day…. so my brides, I pray I will not get off track with your edits….. I’m trying my very hardest to manage all this…..

Someone asked me what the machine looks like… it looks just like this….. That little arm comes over you and you have to lay perfectly still while it send radiation beams into you…. For me they are being extra cautious because they are trying to avoid damaging my heart….

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This will hopefully be over very soon…. I’ve heard that at this point, emotionally, physically….. exhaustion sets in… breakdowns occur…  But…. I plan to win this race! Pressing on….

 

My future…

I’ve been a bit MIA lately, I haven’t known what to write about…. and I think everyone is probably tired of  hearing about my diet…. Plus, I’ve been concerned about my impending CT scan of my lung… which showed all clear today! Which is fantastic…. and renews my inspiration!  But, I’ve also been stressing a lot about what I’m going to do for work…. I announced on Facebook, maybe a bit prematurely that I was going to be a Realtor… Which I would love to be, however…. after we talked about it, it’s not going to be something I can just jump right in and start bringing home a paycheck, it will take some time….. let’s be real. Given our circumstances… we just don’t have the luxury of time.

I’m going to have to join the workforce…. but what will I do? I have a diverse skill set that works amazingly well for photography…. I love it, I absolutely love it…. I want to love what I do in the future, as well….  I’m amazing with people…. I have such a natural way about me, I make friends…. not clients. But how do I convey this to a potential employer….

So, today I started…. combing for jobs… trying to find my calling…. my 2nd calling….

Wish me luck!

I have been having my trial runs for radiation lately…. which are NO FUN! I have a chest cold… and you have to lay absolutely still! When I went in I had a cough drop because well…. I’ve been coughing! She made me chew it because she said I would choke…. So, I’m laying there for 15 minutes and I start coughing my fool head off! She offers me a COUGH DROP! lol I guess they were getting frustrated…. it has to be SO precise, I get that… I have to lay perfectly still….. but, mind you….. My left arm is still recovering from my surgery and I don’t have full range of motion and they have my arms above my head in some contorted postion….. Well…… it was numb, so incredibly numb, I kept asking…… can I please rest my arm?? When I did it flopped down like a spaghetti noodle…. I’m an excellent patient, I can endure a lot more pain than I ever imagined…. but this was just…. horrendous! The table was hard…..  my butt was numb….. it took what seemed forever! They kept telling me how good I was doing…. that’s how long this took! So…. they assured me it will not be like that every single day for radiation, it will be pretty quick….. Oy! I can laugh about it now…. I have one more trial run tomorrow and then I officially start on Tuesday… the 27th….

Here is my self portrait of my scribble scratch that I pray makes sense to them!

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Oh and I’ve lost my eyebrows….. why now, when my hair is coming in??? I don’t know…. I guess you could look at it as a blessing, when you have no hair…. you have eyebrows… when your hair starts to come back… you lose them…. AND, I suck at drawing them on….. they are never the same….. We’re in the home stretch… I walked around today with these drawings showing…. at this point…. eh, what does it really matter 🙂

At least I know…. no lung metastasis…  ❤

 

Tamoxifen – Oncology Visit, Etc…

f4dd133d2cef8f682930dc7f45790966Today I met with my oncologist… He wanted to me to start Tamoxifen shortly after surgery and thus my visit today… It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a month since surgery… He told me from the very beginning that Tamoxifen would be my biggest ally with the type of cancer I have… The invasive lobular carcinoma is a tricky beast….

So when Dr. Brouse came in to visit with me today, he asked me…. how are you? “Frustrated I bet” he said… I said, yes… I was very shocked there was so much cancer that remained… He said “it was really surprising considering that the breast really reacted well to chemo”…. What he meant by that was… my breast had developed a large dimple… or crease from the nipple back to the armpit and the nipple was pulling inward towards the armpit…. that had bounced back somewhat or so it seemed…

After chemo… I could still feel the hardened tissue…. but they told me it may be scar tissue. Hope for the best, right? I did!!! When they saw my NORMAL MRI…. everyone was excited, including me… but elusive that was, for sure. 8cm of Lobular cancer, plus 7 of 12 nodes were cancerous….

I told him, I don’t trust these tests… he said he can understand why! There’s good reason, they’ve failed me more than once now! I asked him how long he thinks the lobular cancer has been there… he said, I bet 3 years…. I had a mammogram in 2012 and early 2013…. both did not detect the cancer. The LARGE amount of cancer….

With the amount of cancer and the nodes affected…. he said my recurrence rate without Tamoxifen is about 50%… with Tamoxifen it’s about 30%… I asked him point blank… Ladies my age, with similar status on Tamoxifen… have you seen recurrence? He said “we’re being brutally honest and that answer is yes and I don’t mean to scare you, but it does” and then he said “Unfortunately with Lobular cancer, it comes back, it’s the nature of the cancer”… On the plus side, he said “it’s a slow growing cancer so it’s not life altering right away if it does reoccur..  ” But.. by the time it shows it’s face… it’s usually progressed right along…

That being said… I’ve had this continual problem with my lung, since right after diagnosis…. I had a CT scan then, I had one during chemo for the same area that was bothering me…. and now… it’s back with a vengeance. I haven’t mentioned it, because you know… we cancer patients, we think everything is cancer…. There have been times when I do not feel it, but when I do feel it… it’s always in the very same area…. He said “Do I think it’s in your lung? No… Could it go to your lung? Yes” So, he’s ordered me another CT scan which I’ll have next week. He said… it could be something in the rib wall or the chest wall…. that is bothering me when I breathe deeply…. but we will pray that it’s not. My problem is… now I do not trust the tests. If it was a problem that came and went, if it moved locations…. but it doesn’t. Do I feel consoled that he said he doesn’t think it is in my lung? Not really…. I don’t trust these tests and the lobular cancer is a sneaky, sneaky cancer… it does not like to show it’s face. Although the doctors tell me it would in different locations…. I’ve done my own research.

So, what to do? I’m just going to be proactive with my own health… I’m going to get even stricter with myself… and eat a stricter diet of juicing cancer fighting vegetables… I’m going to eat a diet of raw foods and cancer fighting fruits and eat very little meats… and if I do, it will be wild caught fish or seafood or occasionally lamb…

Today at the doctor, although I told him… I’m ecstatic to be at this weight, it concerns me that I’ve lost almost another 10lbs since my surgery… very, very unusual for me… Could it be my diet? I hope so!!!!! I really do…

So, I’ll start Tamoxifen… he claims the benefits outweigh greatly the risks of it causing uterine cancer and blood clots…. and I’ll pray HARD that I have no side effects… I asked him, if I’m going to blow up like a blowfish from the Tamoxifen and he claims that the placebo patients gained as much as the Tamoxifen patients… I could afford to gain a few pounds, though… I HATE the idea of taking it… I really do… But, I’m honestly scared to death not to…. I trust that my body will heal itself, but I don’t know if I trust it 100%… without help.

 

 

Soooo tired lately….

I’ve been unable to stay awake lately after 8:30-9… and sleeping til 7am+…. My husband thinks I may be anemic because I’ve given up red meat….. which is entirely possible. So I will be headed to vitamin shoppe today to find something to supplement my iron. I eat tons of spinach and that is full of iron…. but apparently the iron you get from red meat is entirely different.

I found this amazing link yesterday for those who are considering clean eating and don’t have menu ideas and need it spelled out…. http://bzfd.it/1jAOGol

I found this sheet to use for myself as well…. I can’t eat soy because my cancer is hormone fed and soy creates estrogen…. but the others, are great sources…. I’ve been eating walnuts and almonds a lot lately, actually…. but these aren’t on these lists…. So this morning I think I’ll have some quinoa for breakfast…. 🙂

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www.curediva.com

Cure Diva

I just had to tell you my exciting news…. I had a shoot about a month or so ago with LunahZon Photography (www.lunahzon.com) – Makeup by Erin Ashley Makeup…It was an empowerment shoot…. Anyway, I was asked to be a guest blogger on Cure Diva (www.curediva.com) it’s an amazing website full of information and just about any product you can imagine you’d need if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer… Anyway, they are using my photo on their homepage… It’s one of 4 different photos that slides through…. So incredibly humbling and neat!!!!