Terri Got Her Groove Back

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Spring is officially here (well at least in Ohio it is).  My surgery is done.  I have no more treatments scheduled or drugs to take.  I’m feeling good.  Ready to leap forward & embrace life.  Got myself a new pixie haircut and am starting to feel like I’m getting my groove back again.  Hallelujah!

Saw my oncologist Dr. K this week.  He agreed that my NY surgical team did a great job on my breasts.  Said everything else looked fine.  We did some blood work that my naturopath requested to monitor the nattokinase i’m taking (in lieu of the coumadin to prevent more blood clots).  Still don’t have the results on that yet but i’m assuming all is good.  I’m not feeling any of the blood clot signs…  No pain or swelling in my legs.  No shortness of breath.  No headaches.  Knock on wood…

Dr. K asked if I had gotten my period again and I was thrilled to tell him “Yes!” (I’ve only had 3 visits from ‘aunt flo’ since i was diagnosed in November 2011).  To me, getting my period again is a signal that my body is finally starting to re-balance itself.  Detoxing the chemo and other meds.  Getting back to normal.

But of course in the estrogen positive breast cancer world getting your period is something you don’t want.  And Dr. K said as much, encouraging me to consider options like surgery & more meds to permanently put my ovaries out of commission and end my periods once & for all.  I nodded politely, murmured a few “I knows” under my breath, but thought secretly in my head, “No way!”

No way am I going back to menopause land at age 38!  No way am I going back to a world where sex is painful and devoid of pleasure!  No way am I giving up this recent upsurge in my sex drive that actually has me wanting sex with my husband for the first time in almost 2 years!  No way am I going back to hot-flashes, brain fog, night sweats, and sleep problems!  Screw that!  Nobody talks about the sexual side effects of cancer.  But we so need to.

Luckily Dr. K is open to the work I’m doing with my naturopath to naturally lower and re-balance my estrogen levels.  Although western medicine takes the approach that estrogen is bad and we need to remove it all from the body to prevent cancer from happening, the reality is much more complex.  In fact, there are 3 different types of estrogen in our bodies (Estrone, Estradiol, and Estriol).  The first two are more aggressive and associated with increased breast cancer risk when tested at high levels.  But the final type is very healthy and has anti-cancer properties.  So the goal is to lower the first two & boost the healthy one.  This can be done with diet (cruciferous vegetables, fiber, flax, fermented soy products), supplements (calcium d-glucarate, indole-3 carbinol, DIM), and avoiding unhealthy xeno-hormones which damage cells & lead to mutations & cancerous tumors (ie. pesticides, herbicides, & other chemicals in our food, household & beauty products).   Estrogen is produced primarily in the ovaries but also in the adrenals and fat cells.  And those nasty xeno-hormones love fat cells!  So it’s really important to keep body fat to a minimum (one of the main reasons I’m looking to lose another 10 lbs).

The full story on hormones is of course way more complex than this.  Which is probably why most conventional doctors don’t address the issue in a more in depth manner.  It’s a lot of information.   Instead most offer the standard response: take Tamoxifen and suppress activity in your ovaries (either through surgery or more meds).  Period.

The last time I had my estrogen levels checked (through urine & saliva tests ordered by my naturopath) was almost 6 months ago.  At the time my Estradiol and Estrone levels were both at the very lowest end of the normal range (2.9 pg/mL and <0.3 pg/mL respectively) .  And my 2:16 hydroxyestrogen level was strong at 8.9 (ratios less than 2.0 indicate increased long-term risk for estrogen sensitive cancers).

So as long as my estrogen levels remain at healthy levels and my body continues to have no evidence of disease I will continue to say no to “preventative” surgery and medication.  And I’ll keep taking action the natural way instead.

Besides, I am loving the fact that I’ve got my groove back again after going for such a long time wondering if it would ever return (and I think hubby is loving it too 😉

Life is pretty good these days…  Having my dad here has been great for both me and Miss M.  She follows grandpa around all day.  Can’t wait to wake him up in the morning.  Requests that he be the one to read her bedtime stories.  Sits as close as possible to him at the dinner table, in the car, and everywhere else.  The two of them are a great pair…  Chatting away with each other.  Listening to each other’s goofy theories and stories.  And just being silly.  It’s adorable.  And it’s giving me a much needed break to write, rest, and have a few moments to myself.

On Monday the party gets even better with the arrival of our beloved Auntie ‘Cole who’s coming for a week-long visit.  Hooray!  Miss M is overjoyed to have one of her favorite “aunties” coming to town (as am I to have my best friend around for some good ol’ girlfriend bonding time).

So far, the recovery from this surgery has been a hell of a lot easier than the last one (for everyone involved).  And I am determined to make this surgery my last.  Although I am not in denial about the realities of metastatic disease, I am confident that I can beat the odds.  That I will continue to heal, grow, and thrive.  I have a strong belief that anything is possible.  And I refuse to live through a lens of fear.

Life is tough.  Shit happens.  Challenges are inevitable.  But I for one, am determined to let go of suffering & fear and stay in the groove instead.

Peace.  – T

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Hormonal Heaven

Bye Bye vovó and vovô...  We'll miss you!

Bye Bye vovó and vovô… We’ll miss you!

Changes…  Changes…  Changes…  That’s what life is all about.

Yesterday, my fabulous in-laws from Brazil finally returned back home to Rio de Janeiro after staying with us for 2 glorious months.  We truly loved having them in our home and in our lives.  I adore my in-laws.

Today, the house feels empty and silent.

It’s always a bit rough in the days immediately after our visitors go home.  A bit lonely.  A bit sad.  People often assume that it’s stressful or taxing for us to have visitors all the time, but the reality is that hubby, Miss M, and I love it.  (Although I’m sure that has something to do with the caliber of family and friends we have visiting us too).  We are so lucky to have such loving and caring people in our lives and we cherish the time we get to spend with them.

Now, for the first time in over a year, we have no guests scheduled to stay with us.  How weird.

Of course, I can never stay put (or alone) for too long…  I have another trip planned for next week :-).  This time Miss M and I are heading to Toronto (with a quick jaunt to NY thrown into the mix for my LAST appointment with the plastic surgeon until the spring).  It’s been way too long since I’ve been to T.O.  Miss M and I are psyched to see all our friends there.

When I return from Toronto it’ll be time for my next set of scans…  PET scan…  Echocardiogram…  Possible CT scan…  The results of which will determine my next steps.

At this point, my goal is still to get off all pharmaceuticals.  For however long I can swing it.  Because they make me feel like crap.  And at this point I believe natural methods can do just as good of a job at preventing a reoccurrence as the meds can.  Without all the added crap and side effects.

I want to reset my body.  Have some time to rebalance myself without interference.  Start from scratch.  Really feel what’s going on inside of me.

If my scans come back clean (which I expect them to – a girl’s gotta stay positive right?) then I plan to wean myself off the meds and use natural ways to keep my body in balance and the cancer at bay.

I feel especially empowered to do this after meeting with my naturopath today in Columbus.  We reviewed results of the urine and saliva tests I did last month to measure hormone and adrenal levels and the results are good.  I was most excited to hear that my estrogen levels are at a very low and healthy level.  They are also in balance with my progesterone and testosterone levels.  And my 2/16 OH estrogen ratio was above average (which is a predictor of decreased cancer risk for estrogen sensitive tissue).

This is fantastic news!!  This means my levels are where they need to be.  My estrogen positive cancer does not have any extra estrogen to feed off of.  My estrogen has been suppressed without having to take the hormonal meds like tamoxifen or arimidex that everyone keeps trying to push on me.  Seems you can balance hormones naturally!  Ha!  Ha!

My naturopath will continue to monitor my hormone levels in the months to come and together we will pursue all possible pathways of creating balance – body/mind/spirit – to keep cancer from coming back.

Choosing to chart my own path is challenging but necessary.  Necessary for my health.  Necessary for my growth.  Necessary to support my new desire to speak my mind instead of doing things based on what other people think.  Necessary to stay true to myself.

Sometimes you gotta do what’s necessary.

Peace.  -T

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Going Against The Grain

Treating myself to a glass of wine to celebrate the holidays with family & friends in Massachusetts!

Treating myself to a glass of wine to celebrate the holidays with family & friends in Massachusetts!

A big thank you to everyone who commented on my last post.

I am continually questioning my decision to go against the grain.  But the more stories I hear and encouragement I receive, the more I am committed to doing what feels right to me and not just blindly following ‘standard protocol’.

I recently started taking Herceptin again after a 3 month hiatus and the side effects are settling in…  Constant headaches.  Back pain.  Mood changes.  Hot flashes.  Exhaustion.  Cracking skin around my fingertips that renders them utterly useless and painful to the touch (there were a few days recently when I couldn’t even type).  Nose bleeds.  Dry eyes (no more contact lens wearing).  Forgetfulness and mental blocks.  And this horrible sensation of not feeling satisfied by the amount of air I inhale (otherwise known as “air hunger”).

And it’s not even these minor side effects that concern me.  Rather, it is the long term damage to my heart that really concerns me.

So now I am questioning my willingness to continue with the Herceptin.

The standard treatment for early stage HER2 positive breast cancer is 52 weeks of Herceptin (which I have almost completed).   However, those of us with metastatic disease are often told to stay on Herceptin indefinitely – Or for as long as our hearts can handle it.  But I’m not so sure that’s something I’m willing to do.

I just finished watching a disturbing documentary – Cut Poison Burn – about the war on cancer and how it’s not working.  As well as an intriguing book by Shannon Brownlee called Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.

Both question America’s current medical system and treatment methods for common ailments such as cancer.  They ask us to consider why death rates from cancer haven’t really changed all that much.  Why more and more people are being diagnosed.  Why so many people end up dying from the treatment they receive and not the cancer itself.  They look at how the pharmaceutical companies, FDA, and politicians are caught up in an incestuous relationship that revolves around money instead of truly helping people.  Because lets be honest here, cancer is a multi-billion dollar industry.  If cancer patients get better, jobs will be lost, and a lot of companies will loose a lot of money.  It’s like the war on drugs.  We’ve been fighting the war on drugs for decades now but still don’t seem to be any closer to achieving a drug free society.  Instead, we’ve been funneling revenue to government agencies and creating a booming prison industrial complex.

It’s all about the benjamins baby.

This is another reason why I believe “alternative” non-toxic ways of treating cancer are not embraced or encouraged.  Do the doctors and pharmaceutical companies make money by me eating healthier and exercising and meditating?  Do they make money when I boost my immune system naturally?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my doctors don’t want me to get better.  I’m just saying the system is really really messed up.

In January I go for my next set of scans.  I believe they will show NED (no evidence of disease) – knock on wood…   If that is the case, then in my mind the battle becomes one of prevention rather than active treatment.  Regardless, most doctors want me to continue taking medications for the rest of my life.  However, I truly believe that if it’s all about prevention, all the actions I am taking to fortify and heal my body, mind, and spirit can work just as well as medications – without all the horrible side effects.

It all makes so much sense to me.  It feels right to me.  The difficult part is convincing everyone else that I’m not crazy for going against the grain and making such “radical” choices.  But, I’m learning to get over that.  I am listening to my gut.  I am honouring my feelings.  I am seeking information from all sources.  And ultimately, these are my decisions to make.

This is my life.  I plan on living it to the fullest.

Peace.  -T

Enjoying a beautiful day at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton with Miss M.

Enjoying a beautiful day at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton with Miss M.

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Healthy Livin’ Ain’t Easy

I am embarking on my new healthy livin’ plan to beat cancer and it ain’t easy.

Those of you who know me may think, “But she was already pretty healthy.”  Apparently, I can get even healthier.

Last week I finally met with a naturopath doctor in Columbus.  I found her online and oddly enough, when I called, she told me she was closing her practice here in Ohio because she was moving to – are you ready? – NYC.  But she did manage to squeeze me in.  And fortunately, I’m in NY a lot these days so we can continue to see each other there.

One of the main reasons i chose this naturopath is because she specializes in women’s health issues and seeks to balance hormones naturally rather than with pharmaceuticals.  This is big on my list because my breast cancer feeds on excessive estrogen.  But I’d rather not take Tamoxifen or Arimedex, or any of the other long-term hormone drugs.  So balancing my hormone levels has become a serious priority for me.

She is also an expert in botanical medicine, whole foods based supplementation, homeopathy, and hydrotherapy, and has advanced training in two European systems of medicine: gemmotherapy, which utilizes plant stem cells for their potent healing compounds and biotherapeutic drainage, which facilitates the body’s ability to eliminate toxins.

A few days ago I received her long list of recommendations based on our 2 hour long consult, and have to admit I was initially a wee bit overwhelmed.  But piece by piece I’m putting it all together.

First we need to do a bunch of testing to look at any estrogen metabolism issues and evaluate other female and adrenal hormones… Then she recommended dietary and supplement changes to stabilize blood sugar, insulin, and reduce my INSANE sugar cravings…  Along with, biotherapeutic drainage with UNDAs to restore homeostasis in the liver and breast tissue…  And finally she offered a homeopathic remedy to help me with stress, anxiety and as she put it, “letting go…”

One of her dietary pieces of the puzzle involves changing my breakfast routine (which up until now consisted of a piece of sprouted grain toast with vegan spread and a cup of organic coffee or chai tea).  Now I’m to consume a big glass of lemon water upon waking and hold off on eating until I’m actually hungry (even if that means I don’t eat breakfast till 11am).  For breakfast (and all meals actually) the focus is on protein, fiber, and healthy fats.  This is the combination that’ll keep ya going.  So now I’m scouring the web for healthy, protein rich, vegan breakfast recipes.  Yesterday I made the chia breakfast porridge pictured above.  I found on The Alkeline Sisters blog and it was actually pretty good.

Another person I’ve learned an amazing amount of information from is Andrea Nakayama.  She is a functional whole-foods nutritionist and certified holistic health counselor based out of Portland, Oregon.  I first found out about her in an article from Whole Living magazine.  Her husband was diagnosed with cancer when she was 7-weeks pregnant with their first child.  He was given 6 months to live.  Through her commitment to studying and implementing natural ways to boost his immunity they were able to extend his life for 2 years.

Her online course on sugar (Sweet Tooth, Bitter Truth) and her recent online class about naturally balancing hormones (EstroZen) taught me so much about how food and environment impacts every cell in our body.  And it also gave me hope that numerous ways exist to restore my health and hormone balance naturally.

In addition to all these changes, I am back on my regular exercise routine (albeit a modified version).  Doing my cardio for 20-30 mins every day on the elliptical.  And it’s got me feeling so much better!  For me, exercise is the starting point for everything else.  If i’m not exercising everything else always goes to shit.  So this is big for me.

Plus, I’m still juicing and blending.  Still trying to fit in meditation and visualization as often as possible.  Still going to my monthly support group and weekly psychotherapy.  Still reading and researching.  Still doing regular reiki sessions.  Still taking time in nature (despite the cold temps).  Still trying to love and live life to the fullest.

I understand now why so many people choose to just take a pill.  Going the natural route is extremely time consuming, sometimes complicated, costly, and a lot of hard work.  But for me, it’s worth it.  I’m healthier and more energetic than a lot of folks I know – Despite having stage 4 breast cancer.  And I truly believe this is the answer to keep my cancer from coming back.

Every day I’m also conscious of, and grateful for, the fact that I’m even able to follow this path.  That I have the support, the finances, the education, the organization skills, the time, and the ability to go the natural route.  As I said, healthy livin’ ain’t easy.  And I understand why taking the natural path may feel totally overwhelming or confusing for many folks.  Which is why I plan on doing what I can to help others in their journey.  To share the information that I’ve gathered.  To make suggestions and offer up resources.  To support others in their own cancer battles.

The other day, I was watching Oprah’s interview with  Joel Olsteen and he proffered the following statement:

What follows the two simple words, “I Am”, will come looking for you and determines what type of life you will have.

The words hit home with me.  How often do we think negative “I AM” statements…  “I am never going to succeed…  I am sick…  I am a failure…  I am all fucked up” (that’s a personal favorite of mine).  But how is that gonna help??  I believe one of the reasons i’m doing as well as I am is because I continue to believe anything is possible.

So today I choose to say something different.  I AM going to beat this cancer.  I AM strong.  I AM healthy.  I AM a fighter.  I AM an inspiration.

What are you saying to yourself?  Maybe it’s time to change your “I AM” statement too.

Peace.  – T

Mixed Bag

The beautiful sunset this evening – as viewed from my backyard.

First of all, I have to give big shout outs to all my friends and family in New York & Massachusetts weathering the storm of Hurricane Sandy. Fingers crossed that the damage will be minimal.

Secondly, I have to send out big sincere THANK YOUS to everyone in the blogging community, all my friends, and my family for all your support, insightful comments, and reassurances after my last post. This blog is such a gift. A beautiful gathering of folks from all walks of life. You guys are amazing. And you play a big role in the many successes of my cancer journey. Thank you.

I have to say that things were definitely on the up & up in the days following my last blog entry.

The act of pouring out my feelings on the blog definitely brought on some serious healing. As did the arrival of my in-laws from Brazil. And the beautiful summer-like weather we had in Ohio last week (it actually reached 81 degrees). As well as the celebration of my 38th birthday (thanks to everyone for the fabulous text messages, emails, phone calls, and facebook notes. I felt the birthday love BIG TIME). Even Miss M seemed to be turning a corner and was back to being her silly old self.

Plus, the local NBC affiliate (WDTN in Dayton) aired a segment about me and the blog on the nightly news. How cool! You can check it out on their site.

And I was filmed again this past Saturday at a fundraising event for Pink Ribbon Girls. Which is this amazing organization started up by two young fiery women in the Dayton/Cincinnati area who provide FREE meals, house cleaning, childcare, and transportation to & from treatment to women battling breast cancer. What a total god-send!

At the fundraiser event I was also lucky enough to meet fellow blogger Tami Boehmer and her husband Mike. I have been following Tami’s blog since I was diagnosed and have written about her before. Her book From Incurable to Incredible has become like a bible to me. It confirms that you can beat the odds. Exceed expectations. Be the miracle. Whenever my hope starts to wane, I pick up her book and am reminded that anything is possible. Thanks Tami!

I also got the good news that my INR blood clotting levels finally stabilized at 2.1 where they need to be. Meaning no more needles in my belly. Hooray! I only have to take the blood thinner pills now. Way easier!

Of course, life is never all sunshiny days, rainbows, and happy endings…

It turns out that as a result of all the Heparin blood thinner shots I took, my white and red blood count levels have dropped. Lovely. The side effect even has a formal name, “Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia”. And happens to 1-2% of people taking Heparin. It can lead to both excessive bleeding AND excessive clotting (how they both happen at the same time is something I’m still not clear on). I just love how the blood thinners I’m taking to prevent a blood clot can actually cause blood clots.

I’ve also packed on close to 10 lbs since I started taking blood thinners 3 weeks ago. According to my internet research, this is a common side effect. Great. And isn’t it funny that when I inquired about side effects of these new drugs I was assured there were none. I should have known better. There always is. Oh – the wonderful world of pharmaceuticals!

This got me thinking about how often I end up being the 1-5% that experience horrible side effects from medications. And renewed my interest in pursuing a more natural healing pathway. My oncologist is talking about having my ovaries removed, taking more hormone drugs, and continuing with the Herceptin. But I’m not so sure I want to do these things.

I know in the end, I have to go with what feels right to me. These are my decisions to live with. No one else’s. And ultimately, we all want the same thing (I hope) – For me to live as long as possible and enjoy this life.

But still, I’m having lots of anxiety about going against the grain. Saying no. Refusing my oncologist’s suggestions and charting a different path. I plan to meet with a naturopath in the upcoming weeks, as well as another woman who went against the grain and is still here to talk about it decades later. Hopefully this will help me make some decisions.

This week has definitely shown me what a mixed bag life can be. Full of beautiful moments, joy, and new adventures – as well as unexpected hiccups and unwanted consequences. I guess the key is to enjoy the heck out of those beautiful moments when you got them and learn to weather the storms. It can’t be all good or all bad forever. Somehow you’ll always end up with a mixed bag.

Life goes on. Today I feel good. Tomorrow is a blank canvas.

Here’s to hoping we can all pull a few more goodies out of the bag.

Love to all. – T

Blood Clots, Hospital Stays & New Medications

It’s been one hell of a week.

Last Thursday I was scheduled to fly to NYC to meet with my plastic surgeon to receive the second injection of fluid to expand my left breast tissue in preparation for my implant.  Instead, I ended up in the hospital in Ohio with a blood clot to the lung (otherwise known as a pulmonary embolism).  Scary shit!

In the days leading up to my hospitalization I’d been feeling pretty crappy, but I just chalked it up to the cold I was fighting and side effects from the Herceptin.  But things got worse.  All of a sudden I was out of breath just reading bedtime stories to Miss M.  I couldn’t lay down on my back to go to sleep.  It hurt like hell to take a deep breath.  I has a persistent scratchy cough.  I knew something was wrong.

Rather than take a “wait and see” approach and risk something horrible happening on my flight to NYC, we went to the local after hours clinic to get it checked out.  The doctor there said my lungs sounded OK but feared it may be a blood clot so he sent us to the emergency room.  After a bunch of tests, some blood work, and a very painful CT scan it was confirmed that yes, there was indeed a blood clot in my lung.  Luckily, it was small and we caught it early.  Immediately I was put on blood thinners and admitted to the hospital where I stayed for the next 3 days.

Of course I never imagined I would be at risk for blood clots.  I exercise daily.  I don’t smoke (anymore).  I’m not overweight or sedentary.  You never think these things will happen to you – until they do.  But apparently I have many of the risk factors for developing blood clots; a history of cancer, an intravenous port in my chest, and recent surgery immediately followed by an extremely long drive from NYC to Ohio.  So there ya go.

The good news (other than the obvious fact that I’m alive) is that my oncologist Dr. K is taking me off both the Herceptin and Tamoxifen.  Which is great, because I was just about to tell him that I no longer wanted to take the Tamoxifen anyway.

The bad news is that I now have a whole new host of minor health issues to worry about.  I will be taking blood thinners daily for the next 6 months (maybe longer).  The new meds don’t seem to have any seriously scary side effects but they do cause me to bruise all the time and put me at danger for excessive bleeding.  I have to be über careful not to fall, get cut, or hurt in any way.  Even a strong bump or whack against a heavy object (or attack by a energetic 3 year old??) can cause major internal bleeding that I may not even be aware of.  If I was cautious before because of my surgery scars, now I feel like I should be wearing a protective suit everywhere I go.

We also discovered two other potentially scary health issues from my time in the hospital…   Neither of which are confirmed but are to be monitored and re-tested in the months to come.

One, was a small spot on my liver that showed up on my CT scan.  It may be cancer.  It may be nothing at all.  When I did my CT scan at the hospital I was in a ton of pain and couldn’t lie down properly, stay still, or hold my breath when they wanted me to.  So the entire scan may not be accurate.  Regardless, we need to follow up on that with an MRI.  But I can’t do an MRI right now because of the expander that is in my breast.  Apparently it has some metal in it that interferes with the MRI.  So we’ll have to wait a few months until I get my implant in and do the follow-up scan.  They did check my liver functioning while I was in the hospital and said it looked great.  So for now, I’m just gonna assume all is well with my liver.

The other potential health issue is that my blood work was slightly elevated for an autoimmune disorder – Lupus Anticoagulant Syndrome – which causes thickening of the blood (and subsequently puts you at risk for blood clots).  To be clear, this doesn’t mean that I have Lupus.  They are two separate issues.  And we won’t even know if I actually have LA until we do another blood test (that must be taken months after the first test).  Plus, it seems lupus anticoagulants are often found in people taking antibiotics (of which I’ve been taking a lot lately), those who have cancer, inflammation, or infections.  So I’m hoping it is just related to my recent surgery and will be gone by the time we test again.

Despite all these health issues, I’m still feeling pretty good.  The blood thinners have taken away the pain and allowed me to breath easy again.  My energy is good.  My appetite is fine.  I’m healing from the mastectomy and gaining increased range of motion and strength in my left arm and chest every day.

Dr. K says I should be able to go to NY next week to meet with my plastic surgeon.  So that’s the plan for now.  But I haven’t booked my ticket just yet.

I am realizing (yet again) that I can never truly predict what will happen from day to day.  Any minute a new issue may arise.  And I am having a difficult time adjusting and accepting this new normal.  Because even though I may have long stretches of time where I’m ‘cancer free’, the reality is that metastatic disease often brings with it endless treatments and medications with endless complications and side effects and endless scans and tests to monitor it all.  My health is no longer something I can take for granted.  I can no longer just booze it up, eat whatever I want, and abuse my body like other people can.  I have to pay attention to every ache, every pain, any slight change in my body.  I have to be vigilant in my self-care and self-love.  I have to be informed about treatments, medications, and procedures and constantly weigh the benefits against the risks.

This is not an easy journey.  I’m pissed that this is my new normal.  I’m sad that I can’t just live my life in blissful ignorance.  I’m still trying to figure out the lesson breast cancer has come to teach me.  And still have many days where I just feel sorry for myself, and for my husband, daughter, family, and friends.

But I will never give up.  And I will never stop fighting.  I will not let cancer ruin my life.

Love to all.  – T

A Sigh Of Relief

After a bit of a rough week I am feeling a lot better today. Mostly because I found out the aches and pains i’ve been feeling are likely side effects from the Herceptin i’m taking.

While I was killing time at Penn Station yesterday, waiting for the Long Island Railroad, I googled Herceptin side effects and found people complaining about the following:

– Sore ribs, backs, and bones … Check.
– Weak fingernails and cracking skin … Check.
– Random headaches … Check.
– Feeling tired all the time … Check.
– Brain fog and memory problems … Check.
– Nausea and dizzy spells … Check.

Before my google search I just assumed all the symptoms meant the cancer was coming back, growing, and spreading. And I was definitely starting to freak out. But now my mind is at ease (for the moment at least). And oddly enough the pains seem to have dramatically lessened since I found all this out.

And, as always, it feels fantastic to be back in NY. Being here does wonders for me as well.

Despite a nearly 9 hour journey to get here, Miss M and I remained upbeat through it all… The delayed flights… The long waits… Transferring from cars to buses to planes to trains… I swear Miss M is the best travel buddy ever.

I noticed that I too, was handling things better than usual. The old me would have been stressing about timing each connection perfectly, anticipating Miss M’s every need, and trying to get to the end destination as quick as possible. But the new me just went with the flow. Made decisions as I went along. Arrived at the train station and boarded the next available train instead of stressing over the fact that we had just missed the previous one by 2 minutes.

As I said in therapy last week, I am keenly aware of my patterns and self-defeating behaviours, now my challenge is to accept the curveballs life throws at me and make different choices. Turn my patterns upside-down. Interrupt the self-defeating actions before they take over.

Each day offers a new challenge. And while I certainly have my bad days, I remain determined not to let life’s challenges take me down.

Right now, I am focused on the magnificence of summer in NY… Spending time with family and friends… And getting ready for my surgeon appointments (that are now confirmed for Monday and Tuesday next week).

I really am one lucky lady.

Peace. – T