Monday, December 29, 2008

2 down, 4 to go :)

My second infusion today went a lot better than last time. Pretty, I wasn't so scared, panicked & angry about it. They were backed up from Christmas & New Year, so we stayed for about 4 hours. Even though we were there longer, it went a lot faster.

I applied for my citizenship in June 2007, 18 months ago, and finally got my interview next Monday. Luckily for me, no doctor appointment that day :) Steve helped me practice for my citizenship test while we were sitting through chemo. I think I'll pass!

Before chemo was over, I got my lab test back for my blood count and it all still looks great. No need to go back tomorrow for the Neulasta shot that helps boost the White Blood Count (WBC). I was so thankful about that as it supposedly creates lots of body aches and joint pains through your body. I guess it pays some to be young going through this. My WBC did go down some from last treatment, but still in great shape and it probably is normal for it to fluctuate some. We'll see what happens next time.

I managed to drink plenty of fluid today, water is finally tasting good again but I am expecting to go back to distilled water next week-end. It does help to know what I have to look forward to over the next 3 weeks. I'm getting ready to go to night and say goodbye to my taste buds that should be gone in the morning. I'm sad, they've only been back for about 5 days... Ah, but I did get to enjoy my Christmas dinner, isn't it what I said was the only thing I wanted for Christmas :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Day 21

My body has officially recovered from my first chemo treatment, which would be why I'll be knocking it down again tomorrow for round #2!

This past week has been great. I finally got back my energy and was able to enjoy Christmas with my family. I even managed to enjoy my Christmas dinner :) My taste buds were sloooowly coming back, sadly they'll be leaving again tomorrow.

The American Cancer Society has a program called Look Good Feel Better. I went last week-end and learn how to apply make-up properly. I've never been a make-up girl but now that my hair are gone, it's nice to know how to do it right. I came home with a nice bag of goodies, plenty of make-up and facial product from major companies, plenty to keep me looking good until my hair grow back.

I'm getting used to being bald, I'm really bald right now, stubbles are mostly gone. Wearing scarves is still sensitive on my head, I can only handle them for so long, I mostly go bald around the house. Steve & the boys are used to it now.

I have managed to stay healthy through my first cycle, which I found pretty amazing. Jerome dealt with a nasty cold followed with a quick stomach bug that he passed on to Felix a few days later! We got sanitary masks that they have been wearing when they're sick and I've been staying away from them which is very difficult as I like to cuddle with them when they don't feel good.

All in all, this was a good week for me. Getting ready for round #2.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Going, going... GONE!

As I said, the hair started falling on Friday. I still had hope that maybe, just maybe, my hair were only thinning. When I got in the shower, I figured out that they were NOT only thinning, they were just falling by the handful, had I stayed in there longer, I probably would have been able to pull them all. My scalp was also becoming extremely sensitive, it was time for them to go :(

I decided to get the boys involved in the process. I thought it might make it easier for them to see me bald if they were the ones making me bald! Also, for my own sake, I thought maybe it would be less stressful for me if I was making it into a fun event. It worked, although I wasn't expecting the boys to be so willing to cut their Mommy's hair and having so much fun at the same time. We got the scissors & clippers out and of course the camera, I'm sure they won't remember it as they get older. I did have fear that it would scare them but took my chances. When we all got done and became bald, Felix's first words were "Mommy, I don't think you that pretty with no hair!" Well, I don't think I look all that bad, but it is COLD being bald in the Winter.

I am so glad it's done. The closer I got to be loosing my hair, the more I was panicking over it. I was quite panicked sitting in that chair and became very scared to look at myself when we got done. But I did and was quite amazed at the power we give to our own hair. I feel so much better and happier now, all I have to do is concentrate on finishing the chemo and radiations.

This past week has been a lot easier, but I sure wish my taste buds would come back. I was expecting them to be back on Monday, well, it's Sunday and nothing. This has to be the worse side effect of the chemo. I love Christmas time for all the good food that we eat and only eat THIS time of year. I haven't had any yet and it's quite depressing. I have lost complete interest in eating. The only food I can taste right now are bananas and coconut. Meat isn't very appealing, I'm trying my best to eat it, I do need the protein and it is better than those protein drinks! All I want for Christmas is a tasty Christmas dinner.

Well, here's pictures of my hair buzzing event!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 12

I woke up this morning and ran my hand in my hair, as usual, and it started coming out! I was not expecting it, not that soon. The women I've been in contact with are all loosing on Day 14. I know, it's just 2 days, but 2 days is a lot when you're in denial! I know they're going, but I still don't have the guts to just shave. Right now, it's just shedding, no clumps yet.

Otherwise, it's been a fairly good week. My pains & aches are about gone. I still get fatigued quicker and my taste, well that's plain GONE! Most people talk about it coming back about a week into the treatment, I'm not sure if I should be expecting mine at all before it's all over. We went to a dietician yesterday and she gave me the ok to drink as many milkshakes as I want :) She did tell me to add protein powder to it so that they would be slightly more nutritionous. Otherwise, she wasn't that helpful. I was looking to find out EXACT food to eat or avoid and she gaves more of a general idea, like getting on a low fat diet.

I did go to the doctor for my earache, she said no infection. Altough Jerome does have a bad cold and she gave me a few masks that he has been wearing to protect his mommy from getting sick. He's such a good sport :)

Now just trying to get ready for Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day 8

The past few days since my last update have been a real roller coaster. The bulk of the pain has stopped, but my taste is still missing. I still get tired when I try to get too much done. Saturday was nice, we took the boys to Dutch Wonderland. It was great to go outside in the cold with no pain and no fatigue, I was amazed. It was also great for the boys to go out and have fun for a few hours. Although I found out on Saturday night that I could no longer tolerate plain water, the taste just became horrible. My kids thinks I'm nut saying "Mommy water doesn't taste anything!"
We have very kind friends that surprised us with baskets of goodies & Christmas gifts for the boys on Sunday afternoon. It was a very nice diversion for all of us and the boys had a great time. They weren't quite sure what to think of it all, but it was fun. It is so nice to be surrounded by people that loves us and support us in so many ways.
While we had a good time on Sunday, it was also a rough day, everything I tried drinking tasted bad and the only thing I could handle drinking was milkshakes! The problem is that I'm supposed to be getting between 2-3 quarts of fluids per day, that is a minimum of half a gallon! So I took a small trip to the grocery store this afternoon, the poor cashier must have thought I was crazy. I bought just about every different kind of juice that is out there, including Popsicles & extra ice cream since I know the milkshakes works. I ended spending $70 in juice! So far it's not looking to good, I tried 2 and cannot tolerate neither. I'll be having happy kids for the next few weeks, we're water drinker and don't typically have juice in our house, so whatever doesn't work for me, they'll be drinking! I tried distilled water, which at first thought was great (read drinkable!) but now that I'm trying to finish my cup as I type, it's tasting worse & worse. Still drinkable, but looks like it won't be long before it hits the no list. My taste buds acting up is becoming very difficult to handle, I'm starting to think that I'd be happier with nausea.
I just found about what they call the nadir. Nadir is the point during your treatment where your blood count is at it's lowest, meaning the time where you're most likely to get an infection or get sick and when I really need to stay away from people with colds. With Taxotere, nadir is day 5-9 and with Cytoxan, nadir is day 10-14. I was assuming that chemo would get you at the lowest the day of treatment then you would slowly get better until they knocked you down again. No!
So I'm glad I found that information.
Well, today is day 8 and both of my children have a cold. I'm trying to stay away from them, they're being so good and understand that I can only do hugs and no kisses, but it's hard on me too. I've had a bad ear ache all day and fear an infection, so I'll have to call in tomorrow to be sure. I need to get some surgical masks, I'll get some pink ones so that they don't look as bad ;)
Otherwise today was a good day. I'm heading to bed and hoping for a full night sleep, these are hard to find these days.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 4

Today was much better. Well... I didn't get any sleep last night, I found out the hard way that chemo and pre-menopausal woman aren't a good mix for a few days out of the month ;) I think most of my pains & aches were due to that fact yesterday, therefore I do have high hopes for my next cycle that my body won't be aching so much. Here's why; chemo usually puts pre-menopausal women into "chemopause", a menopause induced by chemo. That would be FANTASTIC! Then I would only be dealing with chemo. I'm sure y'all were so happy to find out about that part of my day!

My taste is still off, but I'm slowly discovering foods that I can enjoy a little, like banana milk shakes :) Oddly, I couldn't taste the cinnamon I sprinkled on it, but it made it taste better. It does have some bonuses, I've never been a big fan of cooked vegetables, but since I can't taste them, they don't bother me, so I actually get to eat healthier.

Still tired, but I'm getting more energy at times. But I'm scared to take naps since I'm having trouble sleeping at night.

I had to write a newest update, my last one was pretty depressing, but the past 3 days have been rough. Tomorrow should be better.

Last, I do fear for my poor hair, I think they'll be going :( I've been in denial that I was going to lose my hair since the oncology nurse told us that I had about 30% chances of keeping my hair. I have avoided cutting them shorter, but it will happen soon. My head started itching & burning this morning, the hair wants to go....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tough Day!

Side effects decided to kick in today! First, my taste is off. A lot of woman have been complaining about this and I was hoping it would happen to me as we like to eat, but I started my breakfast this morning finding out that my peanut butter just didn't taste quite right. Than onto the soup at lunch, still not right. I went out to run a few errands this afternoon, and forgot my water home. My mouth has been extremely dry making easier to drink all the water I'm supposed to. Well, this time of year, there isn't too many readily available juicy fruits out there, my best bet was the big bag of very appetising bright red apple. Yeah, didn't taste right either. Moved on with dinner, same here, tried this dish that the boys told me was very good & sweet. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have know it was sweet at all! All my hopes were in that brownie, that had to be good, right? It wasn't bad, nor was it good, but the texture was perfect. The weirdest thing though was the fact that I couldn't taste how good it was but yet my body knew it as it wanted another piece!

That aside, my little trip to Walmart wore me out. By the end, I was walking so slow and was getting so sluggish. Started having sharp pain in my back, but it went away. Then a few hours ago, I started having joint pains in my knees. It hurts pretty bad, so I've been trying to stay on my behind :)

That was my lovely day. I'm trying to stay positive and realize that I'm still alive and no doctors even got close to giving me a death sentence, so it could be a lot worse. And still no signs of nausea, I am so thankful to not be visiting my bathroom as I know a lot of people on chemo spend a lot of time there.

I guess I'm still upset over the fact that I might not have needed chemo. Like the oncologist told me before I even started, there's chance that I don't need it and that all the cancer is out of my body. I wish they had such test to find out if there is the tiniest cancer cell in your body, I hate putting my body through this wondering if it's even necessary, but for my husband's sake and my children, I'm not ready to go now, so I'll get through it and kill it all if there's any left :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

1 down, 5 to go!

Today was a very stressful day. I did not enjoy getting in that chair when we first got there, I just start panicking and got very quiet. Poor Steve who came in with me was getting worried. But the treatment started and I guess it went well. Taxotere will give you a very horrible taste in your mouth while it's slowly dripping into your body, and Cytoxan will give you an itchy, sneezy nose. Both effects that typically affects younger patients, aren't I a lucky one! I started feeling pretty bad toward the end as she got the flow faster, but got done with it and I survived.

When we got out, we went down to the wig bank. I HAVE A WIG!!! I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it, I think I'll probably stick with the scarves & hats, but just in case, I have it, and it was free :) We were told by the nurse that with my treatment (TC) I have about a 70% chance to loose my hair, still high but better than other treatment.

So far so good. I took my nausea pill, as I was told, when I got home and still no signs of nausea. Although my body is feeling a little funky, can't pin point it, just here & there, comes & goes. This will be fun! Right now, I just feel very upset over this entire situation & angry that I have all these nasty damaging chemicals running around having a big party inside my body. Yeah sure, it's killing the bad cells, but also the good ones, not happy about that!

I was very thankful for my dinner tonight. It was great not having to cook. Well, I could have but in my not feeling so good blah mood I'm in, chances are it would have been Kraft Dinner. While the boys would enjoy eating every night for the next 6 months, well, it just wouldn't be so healthy. So having people bringing us dinner is definitely a much healthier option than me cooking dinner right now, and that makes me happy :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008


That sums it up. It finally kicked in, I'm starting chemo tomorrow and feeling quite scared about it. It makes the cancer feel a lot more real than it felt over the past few weeks...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Can I repeat it, I was not expecting that procedure to be THAT painful! But I finally got a good night sleep last night and feeling much better this morning.

We went in for the chemo teaching on Thursday. We didn't really learn anything new, she mostly talked about what to expect as far as side effects and when to call in. I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping to learn about different foods to avoid and which ones would be good during treatment and to help prevent a future recurrence. She pretty much said that I could keep on eating normally and whatever I wanted to eat. Before leaving the Cancer Center, I made an appointment with a nutritionist, hopefully she'll be able to tell us all about good & bad food.

I have 2 days until chemo starts. I'll be sitting in chair 12! from 11AM-2PM on Monday. I am amazingly not too nervous about it. They have a great Breast Cancer website with loads of information and I have met a bunch of woman on their message board that are going through chemo in December, and quite a few have started the same treatment I'll be doing last week. I am finding it very encouraging to hear that they're having almost no side effects. I'm aware that everyone reacts different ways to these drugs, but I'm hoping for the best.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I had my portacath installed today. Since they put me to sleep for the procedure and I took a big nap upon my return at home, well, it's 1:15AM and I'm wide awake! I guess the procedure went well but I did get extremely nauseous from the anesthesia & the pain killers they gave me. I was told by my lovely husband that maybe I shouldn't have been eating as much right away... oops! But having not had any food in my stomach for 24+ hours, I was starving.

The nausea is gone but the pain sure kick in. I wasn't expecting it to be that painful but thankfully, the boys are big enough to bathe themselves and pretty much do everything by themselves. They were bribed by a big chocolate covered pretzel & a glass of milk before bed and did great, no fighting :)

Hopefully, I will be able to get some sleep tonight. The pain should start wearing off in 2-3 days, just in time to enjoy the weekend.

Also, thank you for everyone's kind words & prayers, this means a lot to us right now. As far as help goes, until now we had been turning down offers since I was still in good shape and able to do a lot. The next 6-7 months will be a lot tougher and we're finally accepting any help anyone is willing to give :) We are already covered for food for next Monday-Thursday, then Steve will be home for the weekend. I still have no idea how this will be affecting me but any help will be greatly appreciated, just call us or email us ahead of time. I do have my chemo teaching tomorrow, I should know more about what kind of food to avoid & which ones are good.

There isn't much that has happened since my last input, I'm really trying to tire myself!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Times of trial

I have been trying to keep everyone updated, but I'm loosing track and can't remember who knows what, so I decided that this might be the easiest way to check-in on me. I will do my best at keeping this blog updated over the next few months and you're all more than welcome to keep emailing me privately.

Since I can't remember who knows what, I'll start from the beginning. Back in August, I felt a lump. A mammogram, ultrasound & biopsy later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer on October 9th, 2008. Never did I think I would be dealing with cancer in my lifetime, especially not at the age of 33!

I am very blessed to have a great Breast Surgeon, she is the assistant director of the Breast Center in Christiana. Due to a cancellation on her schedule, I was able to meet with her right away. I had a lumpectomy & sentinel nodes biopsy done on October 24th. My final pathology report says that I have IDC - invasive ductal carcinoma, an aggressive type of breast cancer. Mine is graded 3, the most aggressive type. The tumor was 2.5 cm putting me into a stage 2 cancer. All 3 lymph nodes taken out tested negative for cancer, it had yet to spread :)

I had my first meeting with my oncologist on November 4th. He's just a great oncologist and we feel that we can trust him. He's also been practicing since the 70's, he's seen a lot! More testing needed to be done on the tumor to determine if my estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER2 (something to do with proteins in the tumor) status were positive or negative. This helps decide what kind of chemotherapy is needed. They also did a test to determine my recurrence score of having breast cancer returning within the next 5 years which helps decide if chemo is needed or not. On a scale from 0-100, my score was 57, definite chemo! I'm also a triple negative: ER, PR & HER2 is negative. We went back last week to get all those results, then were sent home with different chemo options to think about.

After our initial meeting, we went to Hopkins for a second opinion. I wasn't very fond of the oncologist over there. He gave me the feeling that I was going to do whatever he decided because HE was the doctor and I was the patient. Well, it's my body being destroyed by the chemo, I should have somewhat of a say! My pathology slides were also sent to 2 other labs, mostly agreeing about my diagnosis.

On December 1st, we met again to make the final decision on treatment. We were very happy to find out that the treatment we like most is also the recommended treatment from my oncologist. Due to such a high recurrence score, I will be doing 6 rounds of chemo instead of the typical 4. The chosen treatment is called TC - Taxotere & Cytoxan. This is an aggressive treatment but also not so toxic for your body. He believes it to be the chemo of the future.

On Wednesday (Dec. 3rd), I will be having a port installed to be able to take chemo. The fact that I had the sentinel nodes biopsy done, they removed some of my lymph nodes in my left arm. I can no longer have any blood pressure, blood drawn, IVs in my left arm as it could trigger lymphedema in my left arm which is an irreversible condition. My arm would just start swelling and it would never be back to normal. Believe, I will be over-protective of that arm as I already have lymphedema in my foot. All that to say, I'm left with my right arm that has lousy veins, the port is just what it is, a small port they insert under your skin through surgery so that they can give you chemo without poking your arms with an IV. It is also much better on your veins.

On Thursday, we're going back to the oncologist for a chemo teaching class. I guess this is when we get to find out about all the little fun things about chemo that we might not already know!

Chemo will finally be starting on Monday, December 8th. 2 months from diagnosis to treatment start isn't that bad. I have met many ladies online that have been waiting longer than that. I will be receiving chemo treatment every 3 weeks for 18 weeks.

When chemo is over, the fun isn't ;) I will need daily radiation treatment (Mon-Fri) for 33 days (7 weeks). I am very looking forward to next Summer!

We'll be trying to enjoy our last weekend of "normal" life and resting at the same time as I need to be very healthy throughout this entire treatment. A small cold can drop my immune system even lower than it is on chemo and could postpone treatment. If postponed for too long, chemo might have to be restarted from the beginning. Homeschooling is actually a blessing since the boys won't be taking home everybody else's germs.

Another test I was going to forget about is the genetic test they did. They were looking for 2 gene mutation that can lead to breast cancer & ovarian cancer. We patiently waited for the result and were so thankful to find out that it was negative. Gotta have some good news through all this :)

For now, that's about all we know and it's bedtime, so more later!