Monday, May 27, 2013

Survivorversary and other celebrations

Today is my 3 month survivorversary! I am looking forward to eventually counting the time in years. To celebrate this and my mother's milestone birthday we took a family vacation to sunny Pheonix. I am blogging poolside. 
This is a live shot of my workspace. Very excited to get some R and R and spend quality time with family. And eating good food. And running every morning along a canal with mountains in the background with cacti. File this under grateful and happy. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Out Damn Spot!

Although I have thought this multiple times before, I think this time it is finally true. The last of the black spots that took up residence in my fingernails during chemo have finally grown out! After careful inspection and maybe cutting one fingernail shorter than it should be they are now black spot free.

The second victory I am chalking up is that I am nearly ready for the first real hair cut. That's right, my chemo perm is getting a little voluminous and in the next month or so I might need to pay someone to cut my hair. So fun. The picture below shows my tamed hair (and some love from mom while I'm attempting to house a cupcake).

Other than a return of severe heartburn (maybe housing a cupcake wasn't the best plan) still just plugging along. Next appointment is a week from Friday for the next vaccine injections. We'll see if there is any reaction this time around. But, until then I'll continue to be boring (with a side of burning).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Heart Boring

After all the excitement since August, boring is a welcome change of pace. My next vaccine appointment is the last day in May. I have no further doctor appointments or blood draws from now until then. I get to go to work and be the dietitian and not the patient. I go to the gym, go for runs and eat fairly "clean". I talk about chocolate chip pancakes and how I need them pretty consistently, but don't actually deviate from oatmeal for breakfast. I feel great and have no complaints.

My life is boring and it's pretty darn great.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Happy Mother's Day to my mom. Thank you for sitting in the waiting room through endless appointments and tests, just so I knew someone was out there for me. Thank you for being my constant companion through chemotherapy infusions. Thank you for celebrating all the highs and making sure we did not get too low. Thank you for finally embracing my whacked sense of humor and seeing the value in it.  Thank you for the advice on what to do with curly hair. Thank you for doing my ironing for 9 months and taking me grocery shopping every weekend for 7 months. And thanks for doing the majority of the worrying for me.

Happy You Day!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Oh the Humidity

I am learning what happens to curly hair with humidity. Pre chemo curls my hair would only curl on humid days after a run and only in a single 2 cm section by my right ear. Now as it has been humid here my hair has looked like 1980's Eriq LaSalle:

It also looks like this post run. However, one of my curly haired friends let me in on a little frizz control help. Apparently it's called hair gel. Who knew? Now I am able to get my hair to look at little more Jim Halpert:

More learning experiences came this week when I tried on my bathing suit. Well, that was fun. My bikini top does not quite fit right anymore. Where I had the tumor removed there is a little bit of dent so an unpadded top isn't going to work anymore. Also, many bikini tops don't cover the full length of my scar. Given that I had radiation to the spot I am pretty sure that it will be super sun sensitive and covering is a must. So I decided to do every woman's favorite shopping trip and go bathing suit shopping. In a store with 3 way mirrors. But a victory was had with a padded athletic two piece after an hour and 14 different tops. It was more money than I wanted to spend, but it helped me keep a shred of self confidence so I'll take it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Boston Bakes For Breast Cancer

From now (May 6th) through May 12th (Mother's Day) there is a great event called Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer. Participating restaurants/bakeries/super yummy spots either sell a particular baked good to raise money or special places designated as the 50% club are donating 50% of all dessert sales during the time period to the cause. Money raised is split between two non-profits: Dana Faber Cancer Institute and Bakes for Breast Cancer, Inc. A list of participating spots can be found here. According to their website 93.6% of funds raised are donated. I appreciate their transparency.

In order to participate today I headed over to Kick@ss Cupcakes after work today. Their specialty Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer Cupcake is a raspberry lime rickey cupcake. A lime cupcake with raspberry frosting and green sanding sugar. The girl at the counter asked me if I wanted a bag or a napkin. I told her "Let's not pretend. Just put it on a napkin.". And it was delicious and I ate it before I reached the end of the block. Yes, I have a baked good problem. 

 I also was very proud of myself for avoiding doing the awkward overshare. I did not tell her that I was a breast cancer survivor I just happily munched my delicious fundraising cupcake.

Now who wants to go out to one of the places donating 50% of their dessert sales for more fundraising this week? (I'm going to need to run more).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

1 out of 11

Almost 72 hours from my first vaccine injections and so far so good. My biggest issue is trying to stop thinking about is this the actual injection or is it the placebo? The morning after the injection I was elated that there were slight pink eggs where all the injections were done. I called my mother to tell her the good news. Now, given my history with vaccines (I had an allergic reaction as an infant to the whooping cough and had so much swelling after the 3rd HPV shot that it looked like a baseball under my sleeve) she was not sure why I would be so happy about a reaction. I told her because I thought this meant it was the real deal. She wanted to make sure that it wasn't too swollen or painful. Moms...

Later on in the first 24 hours after while filling out the study supplied symptom diary I noted that I did not have two of the symptoms the were checking for. No pain, and no induration (hardening and thickening of the skin). I left my Mother a dejected voicemail that this must be the placebo and that I'll probably go back and forth for at least the next 3 years as to which I am getting. Should be a lot of fun for the next 10 injections. Just adding one more item to the lock box. I'll probably never know what I got and it's just one more thing to come to terms with.

More Study Protocol
Despite having bloodwork and a physical two days before for the skin test, the study requires I have a physical and bloodwork on the day of the injections. Everyone apologizes, but I understand the purpose to remove any bias from the study and I continue to be impressed with the study protocol. After it is determined that in 48 hours nothing has changed I am able to get the injections.

As I am the first person to get the injections it takes the research pharmacist about 30 minutes to get the syringes prepped and up to the research nurse. He apologizes and let's me know that it will get more efficient the more they make the injections.

Next up the the research nurse picks out her four spots on my right thigh and get's ready to do the four transdermal injections. I sit on my hands, because I am afraid that more than two voluntary bee stings I may reflexively try to swing at her. However, I would say the first two injections (which were higher up on my thigh) did not hurt. So I relaxed a little and the last two stung the dickens for about 30 seconds. The research nurse then had to observe me for an hour. I figured this meant she would leave me in my chair for an hour and I could maybe get a little nap in. But, because I didn't bring any reading material or work with me the nurse felt obligated to keep my occupied with stories for the next hour. It was very nice of her, but I would have taken the quiet time.

My fear was that immune stimulators = nuelasta shot reaction. Despite some achy legs the night of the injection I am happy to report no rip van winkle/flu like side effects. Yay!