Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's a Party!

Bailly offered to put together a party for me to celebrate the end of the hard part of my treatment. I wasn't sure at first whether to do something at my house or to take her up on her offer. Then I realized that not only would it be easier on me, but she'd do a better job at putting something together and the party would now take on spiritual significance. I guess it's traditional to sponsor a Kiddush after making it through something like I've gone through. So I've already got 30 people or more, including kids, set to come over to Bailly's house on Saturday (Shabbos).

It still doesn't quite feel like I should be celebrating yet because I'm going through a lot emotionally. But it is also my 50th birthday and I have gone through the most difficult of the treatment and had a clean cat scan. So I need to commemorate this passage somehow and it will be nice to see everyone - including my parents and niece.

The emotional stuff I've been going through this week has to do with fears of getting Lymphedema. I've been told it's something I DO NOT want to get and yet I'm a great candidate for it. My lymph nodes have been taken out on both sides and I'm getting radiation to one of those sides which doubles my risk.

So prevention is key. I've been wearing uncomfortable pressurized arm sleeves which I'll need to wear everyday for the next few months and every time I fly for the rest of my life. I'm also refusing any blood draws in the arms and blood pressure checks. I almost had a nurse inject my arm with iodine last week for the ct scan because my oncologist said it was fine to do that. Luckily she couldn't find a vein and got frustrated enough to ask the radiation tech if she could try the other arm and he stopped her and called the surgeon. The surgeon told them to absolutely not inject anything in my arm veins right now. Close call. Freaked me out.

I never got the bone scan since it requires an injection into the vein of the arm. I refused the injection and told the tech that my surgeon didn't want me to get the one for the ct scan. He tried my foot veins (painful) and told me never to let anyone even try them - they are too small.

So I've come to accept that getting the bone scan right now doesn't matter. They got to see some of the bones on the ct scan anyway. And I can't be mad at my surgeon for taking lymph nodes on the side that only had a nodule because it was an invasive cancer and so it's standard of care to sample those lymph nodes too.

I just have to learn to be a good advocate for myself - which I'm afraid I'm not very good at. All I can do is try to prevent it as best as I can. I also have to accept the fact that I may get lymphedema and if so, reassure myself that I'll be able to handle.

I went for a ct scan at the radiation oncologist today. She told me that I need another 2 weeks to heal before the radiation starts. Going to a new doc and getting more tests and going over what's left in my nodes and what she's targeting and why made me feel scared all over again. I'd rather not know all this stuff.

Lately I've just been feeling like letting myself not have to wear anything to look like my former self. Scarves are my friends. Jackets are my other friends. Especially since I accidentally burned myself when my surgeon told me to use hot compresses to break up the scar tissue. I am still numb across the surgery site and so now I have a burn blister in one spot. Didn't know how hot the compress was.

The good news is that I've been told over and over how good the surgery site looks. They tell me I'm healing well and my surgeon is such a good surgeon. I'm able to stretch my arms up over my head already too.

Looking forward to the party and to seeing everyone - especially, my parents.

Monday, May 18, 2009

CT Scan - Negative

My oncologist just called me (Sunday night at 9:15pm) to let me know that my CT scan came back negative for any metastatic cancer. So that's a relief. It was very nice of him to call so late on a Sunday.

I'm feeling so tired right now - it's probably too late to be writing this but I wanted to give you the results as soon as I got them.

I worked today and could tell I wasn't quite totally at the top of my game. I probably went back to work too soon but thought it would be good for me to get myself dressed and out. Anyway I'm skipping next Sunday since my family's visiting.

I fretted about what clothes to wear and whether to wear the wig or go hatless. The wig won and I also put a gorgeous blue scarf around my neck with each end hanging down, covering both sides of my chest. Aimee told me it looked like a tallis. But it's really a pretty blue scarf with butterflies on it. Sharol gave it to me.

I also wore a silk, cream-colored button-down blouse that I once got when I worked for Glenna selling stuff on e-Bay. Julie and I split a lot of silk blouses one day. Remember those Glenna? Anyway, Stefanie told me that button down blouses with pockets are one of the secret fashions of small-breasted women. So I'm getting into them - especially since it's tough pulling anything over my head with my sore arms.

I stretch my arms every day. It's amazing how your muscles and tendons just tighten up after surgery. It's like your body starts pulling in to protect itself.

I'm going to the surgeon again tomorrow to get the rest of the tape off. Then on Thursday it's on to the radiation oncologist for a "mapping". If I'm all healed up by the following Thursday, I'll start the radiation. Sometimes I feel like I'm never going to be done with all this. I'll never be able to celebrate. I'm going to have to have CT scans every 2 months for the next 2 years. Finishing chemo and surgery were only the beginning of a lifetime of having to deal with this disease in some way or another.

But having a clear scan today is good news and makes me feel that the end could really be in sight...if I keep getting good scans. Maybe I did catch this thing right in the nick of time. Maybe I didn't totally and royally screw up after all. Maybe I really will live to the age of 74 and see Aimee get her first mammogram.