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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I finished chemo!

I had my last round of chemotherapy on January 3rd. Even though I'm almost 2 weeks out, I'm still not feeling that great. I am soooo tired, and wanting to be through with cancer. I look in the mirror and am shocked by what I see. My skin is a yellowish pale green color, I am completely bald with no eyebrows or eyelashes. There are dark circles around my eyes and bags under them. I have also started having hot flashes at night (chemo induced menopause). I am super anemic, my last Hct was 23%, and that was before the last chemo, so it is lower now. It is causing me to have shortness of breath, and even doing simple things like going up the stairs wear me out. I have stopped running, but am still getting out for walks with my neighbor and friend Heidi a couple times a week. Tomorrow I am going in to have my Hct checked and will likely get a blood transfusion. I was hoping to make it through this without, but I don't think I am going to make it, especially with my mastectomy surgery coming up on February 9th.

 I am happy to have a date finally to get my mastectomy. I never felt really good about the surgeon I had been initially referred to, so I decided to change. I don't think he does a lot of mastectomy's, and I was unhappy with the way his office told me about my positive BRCA results. (It was one of my first days back at work and I got a message from the medical assistant telling me that she had my results back and she was going to lunch, but I could call her back after lunch, or I might want to call my oncologist and talk with him about them). Of course I knew that the result was positive after that message! I ended up finding a room where I could be alone, calling Paul, crying, and trying to finish the day like everything was normal) Anyway, I decided to go with Theresa Reading, and have a better feeling about her. The plan is to have a bilateral mastectomy with the full axillary lymph node dissection. Dr. Ferguson (plastic surgeon) will then place tissue expanders at the time of the mastectomy. 4-6 weeks later, I start 5 weeks of radiation. After the radiation, it will take a few weeks for my skin to heal, and then Dr. ferguson will complete my reconstruction.

 I had to stop working mid December, which has been really hard for me. I have so many good friends at work, and I love my job! At first, work was a nice distraction, but then it became an added stress and I was getting so tired by the end of the day that I could barely keep my eyes open. Also, I was not recovering in between the chemotherapy rounds. Because of having the baby last December, and also taking some time off around the time of both Paul's and my father's deaths in the spring, I had very little paid time off. I only qualified for 6 weeks off work. It is not enough time to do everything I need to do and to heal. I also feel like I need to be around more for my children, since they are going through this too and need their mother. Luckily, I purchased short and long term disability insurance, so I will at least get some pay during this. My co-workers and supervisor have been extremely supportive during this, and I am taking a leap of faith that my job will be there for me when I am ready to come back.

 The holidays were hard, but fun at the same time. The chemo made it difficult to do a lot of the things I wanted to do, but a highlight was going to the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert. Paul's grandma gave us her front row tickets and I invited 3 friends. We had a great time! I ended up having chemo on Zachys first birthday, so I missed his first birthday party. My brother and sister in law John and Tracy had a party for him and sent me the video. I am happy to say goodbye to 2011, our family had a rough year, but I am planning on 2012 being much better!

 Emotionally I am still having good and bad days. I feel worse emotionally when I am physically sick. Now that the chemo is finished I am ready to start feeling better. This is not happening as quickly as I would like and it is easy for me to start feeling down. I am trying to be more patient with myself as it will likely take months before I start to feel like myself again. Paul's mother gave me some good advice that I am trying to follow. I am listening to uplifting music, especially my favorite Mormon Tabernacle Choir cd, 'Consider The Lilies'. The Internet can be very informative,but also scary, so I am trying to avoid reading anything related to cancer. She also suggested I read my mothers journal to help me feel close to her. I have had Paul give me many blessings of comfort, and pray daily for peace and for Heavenly Father to take away my fear and anguish. I am not going through this alone and He knows my feelings and struggles. Even though this has been a terrible trial, He has sent me little tender mercies through friends, family, and my children to encourage me. I am trying to put my trust in Him that I will be healed and will be able to raise my children and live a long and happy life.