Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Clean as a slightly dented Whistle

My oncologist walked into my office to give me my CT results in person. She said she rarely gets to do that with good news. Here is part of the report:

There is an arrow to the point on the CT results where it reads clearing of right nodule. That 4mm bright spot on my lung that was probably from XRT is totally gone!!! The other bullet point on the results says right breast with surgical changes and lots of metal clips. Yup I got a couple of markers in the left and multiple markers from where the tumor was removed in the right. But, thankfully, that is all that is there.

When I finally get my room set up I will have 3 items hanging up: Radiation Oncology Certificate of Completion, Clean Right Mammogram, Clean CT. Some people hang pictures, I like to hang negative medical test results. It's a cancer thing.

To celebrate I did a little baking (which follows a little booty shaking). I came home and baked some cookies while rocking out.

The yellow arrow demonstrates my quality control. It's important to test your work.

For the record, I wasn't worried about the CT scan. I forgot I had it until Sunday night when my roommate asked me what time I would be home from work. I forgot to tell my parents that I even had it done. However, when my oncologist gave me the news I am pretty sure this is how I responded:

Monday, July 29, 2013

O-H-I-O and a C-T Scan

When I last visited my college friend and her husband we went to the Ohio State's Football game. It was a lot of fun. I also noted how often they spell OHIO. The love to do it. The pace of this visit, however, was quite different and wonderful. My college friend has the most adorable 10 month old and we did lots of activities revolving around him. We went to the park to swing on the swings, we went to the zoo and he totally loved the kangaroos (one hopped onto the sidewalk, it was pretty cool), and we just hung around and played legos. It was a fantastic change of pace. We did adult things too, like ate our weight in Jeni's Spendid Ice Creams and go to the AAA baseball game. But mostly we ate Jeni's ice cream. When I was diagnosed with cancer my friend sent me four pints of the ice cream and I ate an entire pint of the salty caramel for dinner. My mother thought this was a sign of depression, but I explained I just have a hard time with portion control and Jeni's. It is a good thing they are only in Columbus or the dreaded tamoxifen weight gain really would happen.

Because I like to schedule my vacations with wake up calls to return to normalcy quicker at the end of the work day I had a follow up CT.  Just checking on the 4mm of inflammation from April to see what it is up to. They have been waiting to see if the follow up could coincide with any other testing in the study to decrease my radiation exposure, but nothing panned out. There was a gentlemen sitting next to me in the waiting room with a PICC line that he needed for his chemotherapy treatment tomorrow. He was not enjoying his mochachino shake. This encounter left me grateful x 2. Thankfully, I didn't have to have any mochachino flavored barium or iv contrast that makes me feel like I peed my pants. It made for a very quick scan. They asked me to hold my breath twice and we were done. Piece of cake. Will get the results tomorrow.

I woke up singing this song today. If you've ever been to an OSU game, in the middle of the chorus they spell out OHIO. No idea why.  I guess I still have Ohio on the brain. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Keeping an Active Schedule

Bon Jovi has a song called "Sleep When I'm Dead" and lets just say that's how the past week has gone and its been pretty awesome. 

Friday night I went with my usual Red Sox game mate to the game. The last time her and I went to the game it was August of 2012, it was Johnny Pesky Day and Jimmy Fund Week. I was in the midst of waiting for my PET scan and every batter was announced by a kid with cancer. I don't remember who won the game, I just remember that it was kinda brutal. I also remember yelling at the two idiots behind us who couldn't figure out why all the Red Sox were wearing the same number or really how the game of baseball was played. 

This game on Friday went much better. The fans were knowledgable and it was Yankees vs Sox and good guys won. "All the Way" May the 90 year old former Rockford Peach was there along with others to throw out the first pitch. 

She was just as spunky now!

Saturday night as the first sentence alludes to, my friends and I went to Bon Jovi! Double Encore-amazing! Totally worth getting home at 1:30 am. If I could add video via my phone I would attach the song.

Sunday I moved. Given they think my cancer was environmental I am happy to change my environment and have a full kitchen. After removing all my furniture I found a lot of hair elastics and barrets. Swept those into the trash! 

Monday was work and further unpacking and Tuesday was work and back to the Sox! This time vs Tampa with my favorite pitcher Jon Lester (fellow cancer survivor). He got the win and Shane Victorino might just have the best up to bat song Bob Marley's "Every little thing is gonna be alright". They cut off the song every time and the crowd would sing " cuz every little thing is gonna be alright". It was pretty awesome. (Who is this positive person I've become I don't even know her sometimes) 

Yesterday was the set of 4th injections for the vaccine trial. I had a different research RN and she was a little slower with injecting and holy batman they hurt. Thankfully only while injecting and today they look like large mosquito bites. Hello induration how lovely of you to come back again. Still not at 10 cm diameter but one of them is about 5 and a little itchy.

Today I am blogging from Logan and about to board this 
Off to visit my good friend from college, her husband and 10 month old! Ohio here I come.

"Until I'm six feet under I don't need a bed. I'll live when I'm alive and sleep when I'm dead"

Saturday, July 20, 2013

For Talia

I never met Talia Castellano. I saw her and was inspired by her like many others on Ellen. We watched her the day after my lumpectomy while waiting to for the decision on chemotherapy. I knew that if this bubbly 13 year old could keep her positive spirit after 6 years(!) of cancer treatment my potential 7 months was a drop in the bucket.

I loved in the 2nd video she did something I did (do) to my mom all the time, sang "Just keep swimming" when asked how she keeps going.

Talia died on Tuesday morning after battling cancer for almost half of her short, but inspiring life. When checking my e-mail at work I saw the news posted on the comcast homepage and made the rest of my office watch the video of her passing that the Today show did. There was not a dry eye in the house. When I showed my mom the video later I broke down again. Despite not knowing the little spitfire, I related to her so much that I am having a tough time digesting the news. Sprinkle in a little survivor guilt and heat and I have been crank-a-saurus Rex the rest of the week. I need to remember to "Just Keep Swimming".

For Talia, who was truly a cancer fighting Army of One.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Feeling more like 81 than 31

The humidity is back at oppressive levels. To be clear, I am done with summer weather already.  Humidity I have found brings a new trick with it; joint stiffness! Mostly in my knees and knuckles. The first 5 minutes of the run to the gym this morning feel like this:
And I am not sure that my form looks any prettier either!

Weight lifting and a couple of miles seem to help ease the stiffness. Also, lots of jazz hands seem to ease the knuckle soreness. Just while typing I have done more than Jack McFarland on the entire series of Will and Grace.

Still working on the dew point to hair gel ratio to prevent the jheri curl, but at least that's getting closer.

I've been singing this first line all day, punctuated with Jazz hands.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Being on the Other Side

Every time I learn of someone else diagnosed with breast cancer. I take it personally and it pisses me off. I wonder if that will get better with time, but knowing my personality I doubt it will. I'm only 4.5 months from completing treatment and 2 people that I know have also been diagnosed. Of course when I heard about their diagnosis I wanted to do a Vulcan mind meld and give all the information and experiences in my head to them. This of course is would be scary and ridiculous. But, what I remember is that the person undergoing treatment is driving the bus. Comfort in, dump out. I can give kind words and contact information and allow everyone to have their on journey like everyone allowed me to have. I can also send out those positive vibes that worked so well for me.

As I grapple with being on "the other side" I also found this to be helpful:

This is a hot pink t-hsirt from under armor titled Power In Pink. They donated money to breast cancer centers and charities (according to the tag). It is the first breast cancer clothing that I have bought myself. I wore it for my workout today. I wore it in support of everyone fighting. I know they are all fighters and this the best way I know to get the vibes out there.

No matter what the battle, I think this song is fitting.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Becoming Heat Intolerant

I have been fortunate to not have had more than the 1.5 flashes since starting the tamoxifen. However, I have noticed that my internal thermostat may run a little warmer. A lot of my shirts for work are sleeveless and basically since it has turned summer I have been nothing but a hot sweaty mess. I never needed a/c before. Now with multiple stretches of hot humid days I need air conditioning. Last summer I was able to get by with a tried and true method of cold shower, fan and tank tops. I was never one who had trouble sleeping in the heat. Well that is all changed. I have had difficulty sleeping in the heat waking up a couple of times a night. Last night was the most trouble I've had in a long time.  I had multiple pajama changes and was awake from 2-3:30 am.  My elaborate stay cool plan failed! Thankfully, I am spending the remainder of the weekend at my parents who have central air. I've already had a nice nap.

Last night I started the evening by getting a giant ice cream cone. The ice cream scooper recommended I take a cup with my double scoop peanut butter oreo, but I decided I would be able to eat faster than it would melt. Former ChemE fail. I made it across the street in the 93 degree heat with the 99.9% humidity before my ice cream started melting. I had melted ice cream and oreo cookie bits covering my entire right forearm, drips down my leg and all over my work bag. My brilliant self only grabbed a napkin. One. After I finished the cone the heat had made the drippings extra sticky so I walked home covered in oreo and brown napkin pieces. Yes, it's the most attractive I've ever been. However, the peanut butter oreo ice cream was super delicious and totally worth being covered in drips.

Also, any reports that my hair might be straightening out have been greatly exaggerated. Holy head of curls.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Revenge of the Chews II

The pink spots on my leg are now just that, pink spots. Induration and swelling gone, just red marks. My teeth however are still a little jacked up. I found that I couldn't chew on the right side and when I flossed I felt like I was ripping my tooth and filling out. You know, that sharp shooting pain that lets you know you are doing it correctly.

12 days after the first filling I called the dentist to let them know something was not right. When the Dental Assistant brought me in she very condescendingly said "So your having some sensitivity to hot and cold?".  I explained to her the problem and wanted to say, no I am here for actual reasons. I did let her know that sensitivity was something I could handle (c'mon lady read my past medical history).

The Dentist came in and tested out the flossing and when his piece of floss shredded and with a little more poking he decided he needed to drill the current filling out and replace it. He said it was for the best and I agreed. He then brought out the Novocaine and made me numb. He had me sit and get numb while he went to finish up with another patient.

Someone in the dental office has a sense of humor, because I kid you not this is the song that came on:
And yes, I was beginning to get comfortably numb.

Apparently redoing a filling is a lot more complicated, or from my novice opinion it would seem that way. The dentist used 4 different drill bits to dig out the current filling and apparently make the hole bigger. Time out was called at one point because it was very important that a 34 be found. Now I have no idea what Big Papi  has to do with my teeth being fixed but apparently the 34 was found. Phew.  At one point I had the metal vice clamp on my offending tooth as well as two sets of metal pliers, two suctioning things and two sets of hands. No big deal. I couldn't feel it, but I am pretty sure that was the breaking point for my lips which decided to split on the corner. On hour later I am a proud owner of another new filling. This time one that I can floss.

The feeling is starting to come back in my face. My lips this time were totally numb. Which means when I came home and drank water a lot of it dribbled out onto my shirt. Sweet. Then I attempted some cereal and lets just say I got some chex and some milk on my shirt. After dinner I changed my shirt. Good thing there were no witnesses.

My new 400m hero is Novelene Williams of Jamaica. She found out she had breast cancer right before the Olympics, ran them without telling her teammates and won a bronze medal in the 4x4 relay. Also, after a double mastectomy she is already back running a 50 point 400m! Read her story here. I will be rooting for her Monday August 12th to bring home the World title!