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Friday, July 30, 2010

batshit crazy


“my boys are ready, I’ve been giving them pep talks everyday”-scott when discussing egg extraction and fertilization tomorrow

"don't put all your eggs in one basket"
Well shit, that is exactly what I am doing. Tomorrow at 9am I check in, will have my eggs extracted while under sedation, and should get a phone call by the afternoon letting us know how many were fertilized..........all in one basket. Then the basket that the eggs should be in (my ovaries) are going to be put through the ringer, fried, fried some more, and shrivel. So I am hoping that the basket in Reno remains secure.........

I have also come to the realization that life is pretty crazy. Not just, "haha" crazy, but "batshit" crazy. All of this is crazy, the next 6 months will be the roller coaster of hell..........but I in a twisted batshit crazy way I have become intrigued...even excited to see how I come out on the other side. I know this rosy disposition won't last for long, and it probably has to do with the glass of wine I just finished--but I will take what I can get at this point.

Also I have come to realize that expectations of any kind are unrealistic. I don't know how my body will react to the next procedure, to chemo, even to rest...so I need to stop putting pressure on myself to "get back on the horse". I have decided to "shoot the gap" (I have been watching a lot of TV) take advantage of opportunities when available and sit back for the ride. I am going to be videotaping my experience with chemo so you can all ride beside me.......

So here I am, full of monster hormone driven eggs, not looking forward to tomorrow--but am happy to have tomorrow all the same.

Chemo Sucks--Parties Don't


My first wig!!!!

I was scheduled to start chemo August 12th, but it has now changed to August 17th. That way I will be able to have chemo on one of Scott's days off, a Tuesday. I will have chemo every 3 weeks for 6 months. It's the shits. With chemo comes lots of side effects, future concerns, and nightmares. So before it starts we are having a party! It is short notice because we just received my chemo schedule. Come for a bit, or stay all afternoon and into the evening--or have a late night. Snacks and food will be provided.

Invite:

The party is Saturday, August 7th at Scott and I's house. Come anywhere from 3:30pm until later, we will probably be going until midnight or so...so drop by anytime after 3:30pm.

Please bring drinks (alcohol) of your choice if you want to drink, a snack to share, and a cancer comfy for Dori: wig, scarf, hat, pjs, food, Kick Cancer's Ass things, gift cards, or whatever you would want if you were in her situation, or that you think she needs.

If you want to avoid sitting on the grass outside, you might want to pack along a folding chair.

There will be people of all ages, wear a wig if you want, swing by for just a hug,a beer, a glass of wine, a challenge of beer pong--or a late night!

Enjoy pink colored drinks and a breast cancer sucks theme. Dori likes to throw parties!!!!!!!!


Shoot me an email at dori.greenaway@gmail.com if you need our address, it will begin around 3:30pm and go until the early morning. So swing by whenever and stay as long as you would like. I am also hoping to go to Okanogan prior to starting chemo to hugs friends and family on the east side.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I miss simple life


Where do you go when each door seems to be shut, sealed, locked, bolted, and surrounded by barbwire? I want to get back to work, but then I end up having a MUGA scan scheduled, eggs removed, and my chemo port inserted. I can't seem to catch a break. I plan to go to visit Allison for her birthday and have a lunch--I wake up in extreme pain and have to take pain meds=day is shot. I want to watch a TV show, hormones make me cry hysterically at a Law & Order episode. I want to get dressed in the morning--just put on a fucking shirt and pain shoots through my chest. I want to do laundry, Scott brings the hamper downstairs (I know I can't lift that), but I can't reach into the hamper to get the clothes at the bottom--so I dump them out and scavenge. How I am going to get the soaking wet clothes from the washer to the dryer is yet to be determined. I want to have my breasts back..........well you know how that one ends.

I am afraid that I am going to forget this...the agony and hopelessness I feel now. That someday I will be the person I was before all of this--complaining of the weather, taking advantage of life, not appreciating the essence of having friends and family, not recognizing daily gifts and the comfort of true relaxation...

I want to have a baby. So I go through the gauntlet of fertility treatments--currently, my stomach is swollen and my belly-button unrecognizable. I am starting to hold fluid in my ankles and am beginning to have cramps. I have been going in every-other-day for vaginal ultrasounds and blood draws. I am a pin cushion and get injections (3) daily from Dr. Scott and Dr. Kerri. Finally, yesterday I did it myself. I will do it again today, the last ones of the cycle. (small victories) I will have surgery Saturday to have the eggs that have been forced to grow inside my ovaries removed...then Scott will do his part, eggs will be fertilized, frozen and stored in Reno for at least 5 years. Scott and I will probably need to schedule a time to visit those eggs for a vacation..........

Monday I will be sedated again to have my chemo port inserted......and am crossing my fingers that I will be able to make it to work and see clients on Wednesday. I have went from someone who schedules everything and was organized, and put together--to someone who can barely relax enough to make a schedule, or get dressed in the morning.

I miss what I like to call "simple" life--life before cancer. Stress is now a daily activity, I should just write "breakdown" and schedule them in my planner. I also feel like desserts should be delivered, just like pizza. I feel like a cancer diagnosis should come with a personal masseuse, a therapist that moves into your house, and a filter for those people who give you the "poor girl" look. Also all the cancer books that you feel like you need to read should be turned into movies........

Well my life is far from simple, and I am beginning to embrace "breakdowns" because they remind me I have feelings--that underneath all this medical bullshit, cancer, tests, blood draws, sedations, sympathy, bills and surgeries--I am still the gritty, sarcastic woman that had a plan....my plan just went off course and will be for awhile, like a road trip--great moments happen on road trips..............

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

emotional wildfire


The last few days have been abominable to say the least. I am overwhelmed, under slept, sore, swollen, bruised and barely able to hold onto a thread emotionally. I just want one day to not have to think/feel/deal with life right now. Even when I don't have an appointment, my phone rings 30 times to set up other appointments. And the luxury of screening calls--out the window! All the appointment call centers have different numbers so now I have to answer..........aaaahh!

I now get 3 shots of hormones a day and take 2 pills. This has caused an emotional wildfire................it should be over this weekend (fingers crossed). One less thing fret over, to have to remember, to have to gather the energy to finish.

I have felt so drained and angry that I didn't blog (my release)...."just screw it" throw a damn video on there, done and done. Something pretty for people to see when all I felt like writing was massive amounts of profanity and throwing myself the best blog pity party ever.

I have somehow bypassed the last few days and fell into this spot on my couch, with my dogs, a glass of wine, pillows, and Roisin Murphy coming quite loudly out of my laptop speakers. As I write I feel the stress and tension be released from my shoulders and wrists. The knots in my stomach loosen and then fall as tears from my face. I begin to shake as my body detoxes and forces the binded emotions that have been barricaded within. I have had glimmers of happiness these past few days: time with my husband, dinner with long lost, and dearly loved friends--but the cloud loomed close.

I went to get a wig with Scott. I was actually excited, or so I told myself to be. When we arrived I felt the excitement sprint right out of my heart and shoot out my newly polished toes--I think it waited for us in the car because it sure as hell wasn't anywhere to be found in the store. The staff was friendly, the choices of hair intriguing, but it all reminded me of cancer. The poor bald girl I was going to turn into--then I got mad. Why the hell do I need a damn wig anyway?! What the fuck is wrong with being bald? Is is because people would stare? Self-consciousness on my part? Well I found a wig, and I presume I will wear it. When I wear it it won't be to "feel more like me"--nothing can bring that back for me...I guess it will be to "feel more human."

I find myself asking people "do you want to see the scars?" Why, I don't know. Probably because I know deep down most people want to see them and will never ask. Maybe because they are terrifying to me at this point and I want to hear "they look good" which I know is a fucking lie, but I'll take what I can get. Also, maybe a bit of a scare tactic---be sure to check for lumps, or else.... And in some way it makes me feel empowered, I didn't have the choice to get cancer, but I can chose who I show my scars to, and my yaybies (as I like to call them). They may not look like anything you have ever seen, but they are attached to me, which makes them alright in my book. I am becoming acquainted with these foreign yaybies--I have little to no sensation on any of my skin on the yaybies or in my armpits. This makes many things difficult--I have to look in the mirror to preform most tasks and am always waiting for the instant shot of red, hot searing pain that comes shooting through (maybe 10 to 12 times a day). Apparently this pain is my nerve-endings getting reacquainted--well I wish they would shake and get it over with because I can barely take it anymore.


I met my new oncologist--seems like a nice guy, a guy who writes the prescriptions for the poison that will be making its way throughout my body, killing healthy and unhealthy cells, causing my hair to shed, my skin to pucker, blister, and flake--but a nice guy none the less. Chemo begins August 12. I will be getting a barrage of medications one day every 3 weeks for a total of 6 months. One day is 5-8 hours of chemo.....then the side effects come. That is what I am a bit worried about--everyone has different side effects and I don't know how my body will react.....it's terrifying.

Prior to chemo we have some housecleaning things to do. I need to have a MUGA Scan (that tests how strong my heart is) because some of the medications I will be taking will kill good active cells in my heart--that is why you sometimes hear that chemo causes heart failure--cause it is true. I have to have a PET Scan to investigate the spot in my femur further. This test can also see if there are other smaller spots of cancer that may have been missed with previous tests. I have to have my port for chemo inserted and then depending on the PET Scan results a bone biopsy in my leg. This could mean that I have Stage 4 cancer, rather than the original 3...

I am exhausted, have bags under my eyes I could use to carry groceries. I just want to wake up and start all over--no lump, no flaky nipple, no nothing. Just me, fresh from graduate school, who landed and was working her dream job and trying to have a baby and create a family with her husband. Now I feel broken. I am pulled into so many different directions I have forgotten which way I need to look. I have lost all control, grasping at straws that pertain to everything (emotions, relationships, body image, self-sufficiency, motivation, happiness, and direction). The only concrete object I have to hold onto is cancer... It is a very scary place to be folks, take it from me.

So here I am experiencing this wild/crazy/cathartic part of my life. I feel broken. I no longer feel like me, not to mention not looking like me. I will become someone new out of all this, I am just not sure if I will want to get to know her very well...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

boobies disrespectful of women

Jokes.com
Myq Kaplan - Yaybies
comedians.comedycentral.com
Futurama New EpisodesIt's Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaRussell Simmons Stand-Up Comedy


Well at least I have the skin thing going for me............ Today has been good. I had a few major accomplishments. I sang in the car, not too loud, but I felt a bit like me. Also I changed my underwear! If you haven't had surgery then there is no mocking of me allowed. Underwear changing is difficult, in the past it has been panty liners, massive amounts of powder and some perfume. Too daunting for me, alone, to change my underwear. Scott went on a much needed break so it is me and my mom and my sister. But I am stubborn as hell. Scott helps me, you all read his naked rendezvous, but in his absence I am making myself do it! So I changed my underwear, and am very proud of myself. I also put my hair in a pony tale--also very hard.

The motion of putting my hands down (underwear) and up (ponytail) is very difficult. I can do it and in fact I am doing it but I think they should invent ribbons for occasions like this. In fact, I may create them (copyright in progress...) as a package, you buy them in a group after someone has a bilateral mastectomy--funny milestones--love it!!!!

Need a laugh & a smile...maybe a few tears?

William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer? | Video on TED.com

William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer? | Video on TED.com

Thursday, July 22, 2010

1 month cancer anniversary


My tears and build up from two days ago, and yesterday were still looming when I woke this morning. I am crying all the time, a small amount of this is probably a result of the hormones--but I have a strong feeling the rest is just me--I am just hoping it isn't for long. Physical recovery--according to the doctors is great, everything is what it is supposed to be. Mentally mixed with physically is not all it's cracked up to be.

Pathology is what it is. I have Stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, that not only spread to my lymph nodes, but my femur. The good news is that out of the 8 lymph nodes removed, only 2 came back positive.

Yesterday I was given the okay to take a "regular" shower. As regular as it can be with two drains on each side... As I sit and type this another flood of tears hits my face, fogs my glasses, and rolls down--I am blubbering and doing the sucking in large amounts of air crying, where it hurts down to your toes.

Scott was going to help me and we were going to do this prior to going to my afternoon appointment. I strapped on a corduroy belt from an adorable jacket I can't even remember where is, attached my drains to the belt with safety pins--done and done. Next I took off my pressure bra and the dressings..........................

I looked in the mirror and was frozen, first with fear, then disgust, then a full body experience of disconnect and wanting it to all go away. I wanted to sit on the floor and throw a tantrum dreaming and wishing that at the end I would be me again and wouldn't have to face this, ever. Instead, I handled it the adult way, a full on panic attack and decided I couldn't face the shower alone. So I was in the shower facing the tiled wall with my hands covering my face, and my forehead balanced on the cool/flawless tile..........I kept trying to conjure up the strength and vision of the last shoot I did with Patti in the shower where I was relaxed and full of giggles--didn't happen.

The skin surrounding my scars is tight and feels like chicken (like rubbing olive oil on a dead chicken), portions of it has feeling and other parts are numb--the are parts that have extra flaps of skin and one that has a huge indention. There are expanders underneath so it looks like I have some sort of "breast" though I would be very hesitant to use that word. I cry when I think about it....

I was crying and shaking and of no help whatsoever to Scott. I was in pain both physically and mentally and there wasn't a band aid big enough--my husband was washing me because I was crying to hard to function. Scott was standing outside the tub--we have a shower head that you can lift and move around (a godsend to wash a dog, and apparently a distraught wife). When I turn around I see that Scott is naked, I manage a giggle through my downpour of tears and asked why he was naked (he wasn't getting wet, he was standing out of the shower). "It felt like the right thing to do" was my husband response. My giggle turned to laughter--laughter and tears, and the shakes. My husband, standing their naked, crying (he cries whenever I cry) was exactly what I needed. I finished the shower, stopped crying, and pretty much nipped the panic attack.

We got me dressed---which also makes me cry. I am still pretty swollen, even my "loose yoga pants" give me a camel toe like nobody's business. Also to find a shirt that camouflages the four grenades strapped to by body is impossible, I walk with a hunch and get depressed each time I have to go in public--which seems to be every day for appointments! When I am home I am safe, I see people who know whats going on, I am not embarrassed--when I step outside my front door I am uncomfortable, it is almost not worth the emotional whirlwind...

My husband just got home and gave me a card, another reason he is pretty swell, it reads:

FRONT: To my Wife

INSIDE: I could never thank you enough for everything you do and for all the ways you're such a terrific wife. But on our (and then he inserts his own words) "1 month cancer" anniversary, I want you to know how much I appreciate you and that I love you with all my heart. Happy Anniversary.
"I love you very very very very much and will be there every step of the way hold your hands and milking your drains. love scott, we got this babe."


Tomorrow is our one month cancer anniversary--huh, not sure what the protocol is for that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"look there, it's cancer."



Today began bright and early with a vaginal ultrasound---not exactly morning coffee, but it will do the trick. From there we went to a post-op with the plastic surgeon where my drains were milked, my bandages were taken off, and my back was scratched. My back being scratched has become the most relaxing and satisfying portion of my day. I am itchy, wearing a crazy bra thing with elastic covering the back, have to sleep/sit/spend most of my time leaning against pillows on my back and having my back scratched is pretty awesome.

The plastic surgeon said everything looked fine. We are keeping the drains in because there is still too much liquid coming out for my body to absorb on its own. Tomorrow I am going to meet with my surgeon and am hoping to go over pathology.

Today I began fertility treatments. I had a mini-breakdown thinking about everything I am having to do. It is really not fair--but really what is? Not usually much for most people--so this is the human experience=a chaotic shit storm, with breaks of calm. I am dealing with this storm, I have loved a vast majority of my life, but sometimes when you are in the middle of the storm, all you can smell is the shit surrounding you (me, right now). So cancer just isn't cancer, just as it infiltrates cells and turns them bad, its trickle down effect in other parts of life is tremendous. First my breasts, breastfeeding, nipples, normal sagging of breasts when I am old, blah. Now babies, my uterus, ovaries, and tubes.....grrr.

Scott and I were trying to have a baby before this storm began to thunder through. Many thanks have been said that we were unsuccessful at that particular mission because that would have added a whole other layer to this I don't want to even begin to untangle. Now we are forced to face the possibility that may never be an option. I am doing fertility treatments now, then we will be freezing embryos, storing them for at least 5 years (I have to take the estrogen blocking pill for at least that long). Thanks to Dr. Kerri (my sister) the injections were given this evening--tomorrow I will be giving it a go to test out my injection skills. Treatments include injecting hormones daily--2 shots for 5 days, then 3 shots for the rest of the time. I take a pill that blocks the estrogen that I am injecting (tumors were estrogen positive). I have frequent appointments for blood draws and ultrasounds, then around the 31st I will have my eggs harvested, they will mix in some sperm and shazam--babies. Well not really babies, but a better chance with frozen embryos than we would have after chemo has a few rounds with my eggs.

I feel like things are piling up on each other now. Scott and I are tired, exhausted, on edge and annoyed with everything. And it is early on in this whole thing, cancer treatments should include paid for spa days, or recreation days or something--and they should guarantee that you feel 100% on that day. I also have decided that you should be able to put "cancer" on your resume, both Scott and I--and portions of it for family and friends. This has become a second full time job for Scott, and a full time job for me, on top of my part time job. I have become a planner, ass-kisser, phone operator, grief counselor, writer, researcher (MORE THAN IN GRADUATE SCHOOL), networker, experimenter, and patient...........I won't even get into what Scott has done--he is stronger than I am. I just have to have everything done to me, he has to watch someone he loves go through it, that would be devastating for me. This was dropped on his lap and I am thankful to have my partner in life now be my partner in cancer.

I can't tell if I am feeling drained because of everything going on or the pain medication....I woke up this morning crying, even before my eyes were open. It was early, and my sleep has been sporadic at best, so having to get up and going for the first time since surgery was daunting--but I was crying before my brain could even process that. I have the feeling of weights on my shoulders and bowling balls in my stomach. I was on the verge of two panic attacks, took out my feelings of anger on people close to me, and could barely relax to take a nap. It's icky, I don't like it and I want to shake it...quickly.

I know today is a little dot in the line of my life but it is the hardest I have had in awhile...

Many of us spend our whole lives
Running from feeling
With the mistaken belief
That you cannot bear the pain.
But you have already borne the pain.
What you have not done
Is feel all you are beyond that pain.

-Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, July 18, 2010

from breasts to grenades


My breasts are gone. I just wanted to clear up any confusion that I created while I was trying to sugar coat things with myself---I don't have a choice when it comes to having cancer, but I made the choice to remove both breasts. I also made the choice to have reconstruction, phase 1, started. Cancer leaves you with little or no control over your body, something that, for a control freak like me, is very hard to handle.

I am 26 and have no family history of breast cancer. Statistically the likelihood of me getting cancer in my left breast was astronomical and that concreted my decision to remove both breasts. Many women jump through hoops to keep their breasts--to be honest I got less attached once I found out that mine were trying to kill me. I won't go into a rant of the extreme amount of pressure women have from society regarding their breasts--and much of the pressure that women place upon themselves regarding their breasts. I was there with the best of them--push up bras, chicken cutlets---you name it, I used it. I pushed them up, bronzed them, and walked with my chest out and a cute pair of heels. Those days aren't over--they are just on hiatus. I do know that I won't do it for anyone else ever again. Anything I do with my body from this point on is for me, and me only.

I chose to have expanders placed (empty bags) at the same time as my bilateral mastectomy. This is one less surgery I will have to have later on. Then after radiation they can be injected with small amounts of saline for a period of 6-8 months. This allows the skin and muscle to stretch slowly, then I will have surgery to remove the expanders and place implants. This was a decision I made for me--again an issue of control. I know that I don't need breasts......what I have won't really be breasts, at least in the traditional sense. They will have large scars across them, no real nipple (they will be created with pieces of my own skin), no sensation, I can't breastfeed, and they will be perky until I die. But they will be mine. A little "fuck you cancer" when this is all said and done. They will look fine in clothes, but naked is a different story....more to come on intimacy and nakedness when you are disconnected from your body, I am assuming chemo will throw a huge wrench into my self-awareness as well.

Now I have no breasts or nipples. I have bandages and drains which I have grown attached to in the last few days. I don't know what I should call my chest...but for now I have 4 drains that look like grenades strapped to my chest and that makes me feel pretty kick ass. Powerful...even explosive. Soon I won't have bandages or drains...........I will have scars and an obvious emptiness where my breasts once were. I am hoping by this point I will be able to cry without tremendous chest pain, currently tears aren't a viable option. They leave me having to take more pain medication.

Someday soon I will mourn the loss I experienced on Wednesday. I am aware that then I will need to rise to the battle to fight the remaining cancer in my body--chemo and radiation here I come. We are going to have a party to celebrate my upcoming battle before I have chemo and my time around others is limited--Scott's great idea! I am thinking a hat, wig, scarf party where people can bring items to add to my armor :)

I think that what gets me through the day at this point is knowing that I am not alone in this. Others are doing and experiencing this at the same time, a similar journey, too many women... they can do it, I can do it.

2am


I can't sleep...thoughts are swirling and whirling in my head, even with my pain medication, sleep eludes me. As I lay in bed staring blankly at the television I debate on whether or not to wake Scott up. He has been my rock, well more like my boulder...that has went with little sleep these past few days. We watched a cancer documentary in bed and then he drifted off to sleep, leaving me wide awake and anxious trying to hold back tears and put out the fire of jealousy I have that he was able to fall asleep so quickly. I debate with myself if I should wake him up to lift the laptop onto the bed, my arms are not up to that task and at the present time my right arm and hand are tingly and unreliable to say the least. I decided that it was okay. After all, I can now get myself out of and into bed which means he can sleep without interruption for the majority of the night--this is a tiny exception.

I have to remain in an upright, sitting position while sleeping. I am a belly sleeper! Though my belly is so swollen at the moment that I don't know if I would be able to lay on my belly--it could possibly be like trying to balance on a ball. Either way, I miss sleep. The sleep I had prior to three weeks ago, prior to having the knowledge that I have cancer, prior to surgery, prior to anxiety and tears. I miss sleep that wasn't stressful, there was light at the end of the tunnel--sleep that didn't bring on pain. My sleep now consists of the knowledge that I will be waking up in pain--lots of pain. My chest gets stiff, my arms tingle and fingers go numb, my legs and feet are so swollen they ache, even when I don't move them. My sanctuary of a bed is now a torture device, and you can't get comfy in one of those.

My nighttime routine has also taken a horror movie twist. I get my drains drained. My husband lifts up my moomoo (yep, big zippered pjs that fit over my swollen body, chest, and 4 drains), and empties each drain into a cylinder, then records the amount of fluid. I can only imagine his impending excitement when he will begin to inject my belly with hormones prior to egg retrieval.........foreplay is definitely out the window. Our bedroom is now a partial medical facility and I am the only patient.

Life has changed. Not just in the removal of my breasts, a battle with cancer, swollen limbs, exhaustion, anxiety and bouts of anger directed at whomever is in earshot, but internally. I am different. My internal processes are changing, my view on many things in life and my overall expectations I have of others are shifting. Life altering experiences are unrealistic. You can't plan for what I am going through, your reactions, feelings, and outcomes. Positivity comes with a price, a price I am willing to fork over cash for. Positivity comes with planning, this is a dangerous element when you are unsure of how your future looks.


So I brace myself, and try to harmonize my thoughts and feelings. Not only of today, but of yesterday and tomorrow. This fight is going to take a lot out of me, but I am going to do my best to get the most out of it. "Everything happens for a reason", blah, blah, blah. I believe it, I hold onto it, but sometimes it's what keeps me awake.

Friday, July 16, 2010

home sweet home


Well here I am, 48 hours post-op and home sweet home. What a whirlwind these past 3 weeks have been.

Day of surgery I went to the radiologist and they injected my left breast with 4 shots of radioactive dye around my nipple. I then waited a hour and a half and had a scan done--to be sure that the dye went to a sentinel node in my left armpit. Because on the breast MRI I had funky looking lymph nodes they wanted to be able to biopsy a sentinel node during surgery.

I arrived at the hospital with Scott and my mom, and met Patti, my dear friend and cancer doula at main admitting. From there we went to a pre-op room (where I stood on the bed wearing pink boxing gloves--ready to kick cancers ass (thank you Anne, what a great gift!). I was surrounded my friends and family in the pre-op room. I couldn't believe the amount of positive energy that was radiating off everyone and onto me. The laughs, prayers, and conversations sustained me through the operating room door and onto the table.

When I arrived to my room after my time in recovery I was alone. Not alone as in emotions--but alone as in an empty room. Recovery had neglected to tell my entourage waiting in the surgery waiting room that I was on my way. I was in extreme pain and alone. I had no nurse, no pain medication and no one to comfort me. I can't recollect how long I was alone--but either way I began to panic and my pain increased due to my inability to relax and breathe normally. By the time family arrived and a nurse, I was a ball of nerves who just lost her breasts, a good lump of lymph nodes and her ability to maintain control. And expanders that were placed under my chest muscle to one day provide me with breasts again.

I was frozen with anxiety and pain. Luckily for me pain medication works quick. I was able to relax and focus on recovery. I was unable to move my fingers (which were swollen and numb), my hands, my arms, any part of my body really. My sister graciously scraped off lip gunk, my mother held up drink after drinking and Scott fed me throughout the night. I had mini victories while Scott tried to get sleep. I was able to take off my glasses, change the TV channel and itch my eye. I was thirsty and hungry, which translated = Scott didn't get any sleep.

Yesterday morning I was again surrounded with friends and family. I made great strides over the night. I had two visits from my surgeon and one from my plastic surgeon. They stated everything went as well as it can go, great news. There was no visual of cancer on my chest cavity wall--or in my left armpit node that was biopsied! I got to go home, sweet victory.

Last night was horrendous. Being home made it tolerable, but I needed assistance getting up and to bed (a process that pulls at my chest and is pretty painful). And I have never been so itchy in my life. NO RASH, but itchy as a son of a bitch. I called the 24/7 nurse to double check I could take benadryl. My skin was covered in the orange surgical cleaner, layers of sweat, dead skin cells and panic. I took the medication and was finally able to get some sleep. Today the itching persists, though we are working to remedy the situation. Today I have feeling back in my fingers and am swollen like a pumpkin. Not in my chest as you would expect, but my belly, legs, arms, EVERYWHERE. I currently can't even fit into the new pj bottoms I bought to wear.

I have four drains, that according to my sister look like hand grenades; two on each side. I am bandaged and wearing a pressure wrap, the drains are safety pinned to the bra. Scott has taken up nursing as a hobby and empties the drains, writes the amount and lifts me in and out of bed.

Today I showered--or I should probably say...I was showered. It was a family affair that happened in shifts. Scott helped me wipe off the orange gunk, then we put a garbage bag (which had holes cut in for the head and arms) over me to keep my bandages dry and my sister and my mom washed my hair. After all was said and done I was clean, sore, and felt like crying. It was glorious.

So here I am, 48 hours post-op and writing my blog a little drugged up. I assure you witty comments and grit will return. Thanks again to everyone for the positive energy and thoughts. Healing is a process of both the mental and physical--positive energy seems to be the highway connecting the two--and without each of you, I would be stuck in traffic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Typed by Kerri...

"Made it through surgery. Now in recovery and in my very own room with a view. Just had my first taste of jello (red). It tastes like crap."

...

Dori's in quite a bit of pain, but surgery went well. The nurse just bumped up her dose of pain meds. She's getting a bit sleepy, and can't quite type yet...so you can come back tomorrow for a "real" update. Just know that she's surrounded by love and is thankful for all of you.

today is the day

Today I woke up, curled my hair, painted my nails, put a bit of makeup on and then had to wash my breasts with medical sponges... I have had dye injected through my nipple that burned like an SOB. I now wait until the results are done to go to St. Joes for pre surgery. I am surprisingly put together for the stress I feel brimming at.the.surface.

love and hugs.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I could use a wish right now



Yep, they're mine, well at least for the next 24 hours........

I wish I was anxious for something else.........but I am not. I wish I didn't have to wake up early, just to wait, but I do. I wish my loved ones, friends, and family weren't going to be going through this....the waiting, the worrying, the bullshit.

I will wake up tomorrow and begin the process of having surgery. I should be in surgery around 1:00pm, with surgery around 4-4 1/2 hours, then 2 hours of recovery, then I will be in the hospital for the night (cross your fingers it is only one).

Lots of love to those who are sending all the positive vibes my way. I embrace them all!!!!

I am tired, I am ready..........goodnight.


Now I lay me down to sleep,

I hope tomorrow they don’t cut too deep.

I would like to make it through the night,

To wake up and fight this fight.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"How do you feel?"


I keep getting asked the question, "how do you feel?" So I thought I would take some time to answer it....

I feel a lump in my breast. I feel the tears that rush to my eyes, and hold on the brink of a waterfall when I think of the road to come and others who have taken the path before me.

I feel ashamed for being consumed with myself and not connected with women who have walked the road before me. I feel guilty when I go to bed feeling sorry for myself, when there are others in different shoes, struggling...alone.

I feel alone, even when I am surrounded by those who love me.

I feel angry--at the world, at myself, at my body.

I feel like a want a donut.

I feel like ripping open a pillow and throwing stuffing everywhere.

I feel strong.

I feel a lump in my throat.

I feel like hiding under the covers.

I feel like laughing and crying at the same time.

I feel like I don't want to talk to anyone.

I feel like I want to talk to everyone.

I feel that we need more aggressive research.

I feel like women are the strongest beings on the planet.

I feel supported.

I feel loved.

I feel lucky to be who I am.

I feel held.

I feel nurtured.

I feel tortured.

I feel like I am sick of having to feel.

I feel terrified.

I feel out of control.

I feel like I am blooming into something beautiful.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I only cried twice


Today I was cancer free. I woke up and had no tests to rush to, none of my veins were poked, I wasn't weighed or measured, I wasn't given the half head-tilt "oh poor girl" look from medical personnel, and I only cried twice. Today I was me again, the me that looks in the mirror and smiles, that doesn't worry about cancer spreading, that can have a normal conversation with her husband that doesn't involve the words chemo, cancer, breasts or fear. It felt damn good.

Days like today are a few and far between lately--I think that is just the way it goes. I can't control the wayward emotions that come with a diagnosis, or the flood of tears that come out of nowhere. I just get up, ride the roller coaster and do the best I can to keep my eyes open while the ride is in progress, then go to sleep to start it all over again. I am not expecting immediate acclimation to this new life of mine, like anything, it will come in stages.

Today I was reminded what it was like to not "be" a diagnosis. Thanks to baseball and a manicure and pedicure with good friends I felt free. Small things, even like the sunburn I got today, have such a dramatic impact on me now. My emotions are close to the surface and I am doing my best to rein them in--I just keep questioning if I will be able to do things in the future, starting thoughts when "I wonder when the next time will be that I..."

I am taking this weekend to process everything that has happened. I felt I haven't been able to be alone with my thoughts since all of this started. I am a processor--not like for food, but for thought. It really takes me awhile to get into the depth of things, then slowly I drudge my way through my thoughts until it all sits comfortably. So that is my weekend. I will be alone with my thoughts, nap on the couch, and enjoy the air conditioner my gracious husband put in the window.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

drinking wine and thinking bliss is on the other side of this


Well, there is no more basking in the denial centered movie reel that has been playing in my head. No more "hurry up and wait" scenarios...as much as I wanted surgery to come, it jammed a rock so far down in the pit of my stomach I feel a gaping hole, exposed, and insecure. My surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, yep, next Wednesday--three weeks to the day that I received the call that I had breast cancer. It hasn't even been 3 weeks and I feel like I have aged a year or more and have created a footing where I am balanced, unnerved and forcibly realistic.

Now that reality has smacked me across the face I am trying to find the path back to denial. It is was lovely there. I mean, I knew I had cancer, I was making appointments, putting my body through a battery of tests, taking notes, doing research, asking questions, crying, laughing, and dancing in the shower. But I didn't have a date, there wasn't a "beginning to an end" if you will. Now I have it. I am terrified.

Not only will I wake up without my breasts, these lovely ladies that have been with me through it all--but I will be minus 20+ lymph nodes. I am crossing my fingers I won't wake up as terrified as I will feel when I go under. I am working on ways to relax prior to surgery--coming to grips with it, feeling centered, "being in a good place." All the somewhat condescending therapist crap I would use on a client, but when you tell yourself that in the mirror it doesn't seem near as professional, supportive, or appropriate....it seems like a cruel joke.

I know that surgery is the beginning of a road I don't want to walk down. But if this is the road I have to walk, (what a shitty, shitty road) then I guess I better get my ass into gear and prepare for the journey. There have been thousands upon thousands of women before me, paving the way. I have an entourage on this journey, a pulse to my emotions--an entourage of support that will keep me steady when I begin to fall, or give me a push when I begin to hesitate--after all "drinking wine and thinking bliss is on the other side of this."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

crazy sexy cancer


I spent the evening with some of the inspiring women I am lucky to call friends (and all of them are amazing doulas or self-proclaimed "birth junkies"), I shared a bit of what is going on with me and left with the amazing feeling I always get--comfort, joy and a full sensation of love that is like the best pie in the world...

My last post was a bit bleak, but lets be honest here, none of you are reading to get the rosy-glow of what cancer does to someone. You are reading because you love me, because you know me, because you know someone who knows me, because you know someone who has cancer, because you have breasts, because you are thankful it wasn't you, or your mother, or your sister--or because it is you, your mother, or your sister. You are reading because you want to sort through all of the bullshit, you want to help but don't know what to do. You want to know I am not falling to pieces and that I am not my breast cancer. But I am a straight-shooter, I cut through bullshit and won't be feeling optimistic all the time, we are multidimensional and cancer throws a wrench in the whole damn thing.

I had a bone scan, they found a spot. Breast cancer likes to spread to the bone and the lungs and some other internal organs I can't remember. I will have an MRI on my femur to gather more information. Nothing changes really, if it is cancer........I will still have chemo and then possibly radiation on that spot on my leg. I met my surgeon today, my other surgeon is on vacation--wouldn't that be nice. I like my surgeon, I am waiting to hear from the office tomorrow to schedule surgery--about damn time.

Tonight I danced in the shower, A LOT. I danced for all the tears that I have cried in the shower, for the joy I was feeling, for my breast full of cancer and that I am a day closer to getting it removed, I danced to remind myself I can, mostly, I danced so I wouldn't cry... I wish I could tell you that things were getting better, that I was so positive in my thinking that I could heal myself with my mind. What I really feel like doing is lining up a bunch of melons and hitting them with a hammer, not sure what it would accomplish but I sense I would gather some sort of satisfaction........I will keep you posted if this comes into fruition.

Thank you to those who shared with me tonight, to those who are thinking about me now, and those who keep me filled with positive thoughts from miles away. I am not the woman who keeps her mouth shut, I never have been the quiet type, but in person cancer is a scary cloud over conversations and it brings tears along with gratitude to the well-wishing of others, so I stumble over my words...

Tonight I watched the trailer for Crazy Sexy Cancer--a woman I inspire to be, I am in awe and in solitude and as the heavy feeling of anxiety and the unknown washes over me while I lay down to sleep I hope that a bit of her will rub off on me... I am learning to be brave in my beautiful mistakes.

Monday, July 5, 2010

cancer has a hell of a grip


The twigs and brush you see on the side of a rushing stream--you know the ones, they are caught and mangled and are either here nor there. They have been broken off from what they were and are now waiting to be broke free and float along the stream.....there I am--broken from what I used to be, holding on, slowly getting pulled from the safety of the shore.

I now stand in the shower and feel like an anchor is tugging me down, deeper and into despair. As I wash my hair, making myself forget the fact that it will soon be gone, I imagine the rope that has been tied around my ankles, pulling me into a blurry mix of despair and pure exhaustion and failure. I try to step out of the rope, but it is tied tight......cancer has a hell of a grip.

I am beginning to feel that daily activities are pointless, I just don't have the energy. I put all my energy into not breaking; not having outbursts, and not sitting in the middle of the street, the waiting room, or the store and having a meltdown. Tears are beginning to hurt. Each one that runs down my cheek is a reminder that I am not me anymore. Each tear is a reminder I have cancer. A reminder that my plan, my goals, everything I have worked so hard for is not an option. that the family we wanted to start isn't an option. That me not having cancer is not an option. That I have months and months ahead of me that I already want to forget. Then in a few years I get to readdress my options...it is just to hard to comprehend that my life has been put on hold.

I try to stay strong for others, I have to. I burdened them with my situation...it is the least I can do. Also I do it for me. Not for the reasons you may think, not because I want to remain positive (which I plan to) and tears are weak (not true) but I do it because when I cry or break down in front of others they cry and try to comfort me....this resembles pity to me. I know it is not where the actions originate but that is the translation. I want to scream and yell that I am fine, I just have these damn tears that need to come out or I am going to explode! I am full of combustible emotion and I am not sure when or where to light the fuse, or if I even will....

Exploding may be a good idea. I could then pick and choose the pieces off the ground and put myself back together, maybe a little bit more patient, less of a control freak and calm. I could use that...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

week in review

Last week was full of appointments and next week looks to be the same. I finished my 1/2 sleeve tattoo yesterday, I won't be able to have any other work done on my right arm in the future to avoid lymphedema. I had a MRI of my breasts done, the BRACA1 and BRACA2 genetic test done (won't have results for 3 to 5 weeks), and met with the oncologist. So here is some dry medical updates for those who are factual based and need to know the nitty gritty...

My oncologist seems nice enough, but if I have to get my height measured again I may scream and throw a two-year old tantrum. I am pretty sure that at the age of 26 I haven't grown or shrunk--I am being seen daily and I dislike the tedious process when all my energy is focused on whatever meeting or test I am having, I feel like my energy boils over and I make my hands into fists to hold myself back. I think that is a pretty good way to tell that I am wound tight and pretty stressed...but hell, I feel like a tantrum may be the release I need.

I will be getting surgery then after recovering from surgery I will start chemo. During surgery I will have a chest port inserted into, you guessed it, my chest. My chemo and blood will be inserted through this port. Apparently I am naive, I had no idea that was how chemo was distributed and that I would have it placed there surgically, not only poison in my veins but a foreign object in my chest.

I will be taking another medication along with chemo because the cancer is HER2- positive. HER2-positive breast cancer is a breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. In about 1 of every 5 breast cancers, the cancer cells make an excess of HER2 due to a gene mutation. I will be given a medication called Herceptin. I will also have to take a hormone blocking pill for 5 years because my tumor is estrogen receptor positive (ER+). This means I will not be able to get pregnant for 5 years.........

The irony of this is that Scott and I were trying to get pregnant prior to all of this happening. Now I am being told that there is a good chance that I may not be able to get pregnant or regain fertility after chemo, the herceptin, and the hormone blocking pill............that brings us to the first appointment of next week: a fertility specialist. Bright and early Monday morning Scott and I will be sitting in an office that we never imagined ourselves in.

I do babies.......that is my life, pregnant women, birth, and embracing new families. That is just what I do. I never would have thought that I may not have the privilege to be a mother, to give birth, to experience what I assist others in going through. To think that just a few short days ago I was so worried about breastfeeding, now I am worried about being able to start a family. Lets be honest, fertility treatments are very pricey. People say that babies are expensive.....but I don't think they expect this.

I follow the fertility appointment with an appointment with the plastic surgeon on Tuesday. I am going to be having reconstruction done. I am not particularly attached to my breasts, considering they are trying to kill me, but I do like an hourglass figure and have the option for reconstruction so I am going for it. I will meet with the plastic surgeon to discuss my options, but most likely will start the process right after the bilateral mastectomy. The plastic surgeon creates nipples but they are just made out of skin color. I will be having my nipples tattooed on from my favorite shop.

I also am having a bone scan and a CT of my chest, stomach and pelvis. Whew.....time for a nap.