Sunday, September 29, 2013

When your friend from the 3rd grade gets married sometimes she makes you cry.

And sometimes she makes you cry twice. All happy tears.

I was very fortunate to be in my friend from the 3rd grade's wedding this past weekend. It was a beautiful event that was good fun. I am so happy for her and her husband. However, she made me cry, twice. The first instance was at the rehearsal dinner when she was handing out the bridesmaid gifts and she started to cry while trying to say a few words. This made me cry, stand up and "say, that's enough. we get the point". I'm sure it was very confusing for anyone who did not know that Friday was 7 months cancer free. But, hey, sometimes friends of 20+ years don't need a lot of words to communicate.

The day of the wedding was great. We all got our hair done (p.s. how much fun is it to get a fancy hairdo) and makeup done (new adventure for me), took lots of photos and then got two of my favorite people  married to each other. The bride was beyond stunning. The weather was perfect and the ceremony and reception were at a gorgeous place that screamed classic New England fall. We were all having a grand time when my mother insisted that I go see the guestbook.

If my hyperbole above isn't enough to get you to understand how awesome the couple is (or if you don't remember that my friend from the 3rd grade is the one who would come and run with me through chemo) the below photo should tell you:
Best. Wedding. Favors. Ever.

So seeing that made me cry more happy tears for the weekend. Hard to put into words how grateful I am just to be part of their day.

We also learned this weekend that if you need to take photos where you get a large group of women to laugh at each other you recite the most recent Jimmy Fallon video. #lololololololololololol.....

P.S. No more fainting. Ran 3.5 miles before the rehearsal dinner and danced the night away at the wedding. Guess we really will continue with the "it's just something that happened" theory. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Vasovagal Syncope fancy name for Fainting

Officially discharged home and showered. Feels so good after 24+hours with a heart monitor on to not have any sticky pads or wires attached to me. And no more IV in my arm or vital signs every 4 hours (2:30 am, seemed a bit excessive).

Also feels really good to be discharged home with a diagnosis of vasovagal syncope, aka fainting. Cause unknown. Met with the cardiology fellow, the hospitalist, my oncologist and the cardiology attending. My echocardiagram (ultrasound of my heart) showed the same thing as my MUGA scans, ejection fraction 65% and in good condition! Echocardiagrams are ultrasounds where they put more wires and sticky pads on your chest and then take the ultrasound wand and press it inbtween your ribs to get pictures. It is not the most comfortable, but it is fun to watch the ventricles of your heart open and see the blood flow.

Because I am the clinical trial for the vaccine it does have to be reported to the trial big wigs (just like the 4 mm spot on my lungs). Probably not related, but we report it to them and see what they say.

They said that this could happen again and if I feel it coming on (head rush!) to sit or lay down until it passes. Oh yeah, and don't try to walk home if it does. My discharging RN wanted to write that on my discharge paperwork in red marker.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Let's play the rule out game


Man, I thought I was done with hurry up and wait. But, apparently when you lose consciousness after you run to the gym you get to play hurry up and wait some more. 

I woke up, felt fine. Got dressed, took my meds and ran the half mile to the gym. Went to the locker room, took my jacket off and woke up on the floor. Didn't hit my head and would find a little skid mark on my shoulder later. Looked at my watch and realized 4 to 7 minutes had passed. Sat myself on the bench in front of the locker, gained my composure and then did something I have been getting yelled at for all day....I walked home. 

When home I called my parents who took me to the hospital. After a quick trip to urgent care I was sent to the ER. Where I got an IV (in my hand ouch) blood draws and heart monitoring.

My blood work showed a couple of elevated cardiac enzymes. Because one is for blood clot risk and it was elevated and tomoxifen raises your blood clot risk I had a chest X-ray and ct scan. The ct scan was with dye so I got to feel like I peed my pants. Then I went back to the ER where I did have to pee. And the nurse followed me to the bathroom and waited outside the door to make sure I didn't fall. 

Next up came leg ultrasounds to check for clots. This is in fact as glamerous as it sounds. You sit in you underwear and an ultrasound tech follows a cold line of jelly while pressing down on the vein and taking a picture. It really isn't bad except for the upper leg area (groin). That's just a little awkward. The tech however was so impressed with my good veins, she said they look as good as the pictures in the textbooks. And even better-clot free! 

Ok so not clots, then what happened? It was called a single syncopal event. And because of all the treatment I've had in the past year (including xrt to the chest) I am typing this from my hospital room. Yup admitted for monitoring. But it is much quieter in my private room than down in the crazy pants ER.

Just ate some dinner and watching football and waiting for more tests tomorrow.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Of Mullets and Skin Reactions


This week I had my 6 month MUGA (heart function) scan to make sure the vaccine is not doing bad things to my heart (and also no latent affects from chemo). Another radioactive injection and some 38 minutes of scanning and the results are an ejection fraction of 66%. Which is 2% different from the last scan, a non-significant difference. My oncologist said it just means I have a really good heart. Still one of the best she's ever seen. Win!

I had the last round of vaccine shots for the next 6 months. It has already been 6 months of enrollment! Craziness. It was also my research RN's last day. It was nice to be her last patient. She also made sure that my consumption of a whole pizza was in my medical record (and study records). I am quite proud that somewhere in my electronic record it reads "Patient reports she ate a large pizza for dinner. Appetite is good". And then somewhere else it also reads "Patient is employed as a dietitian". Shots hurt a little more than usual and started to puff up a little quicker than all the previous shots. But, I was not expecting what I found when I came home and was changing my pants. My entire thigh was swollen, sore and hot to the touch. Ice packs, advil and benedryl are helping to control the swelling, but the usual for distinct circles are one big rectangle that covers the entire length of my thigh. However, induration-the skin thickening, is only in circles and the are about 8 cm in diameter (within the study limits). I've been walking like I have a peg leg. Still something oddly comforting about having the reaction, like there is not just sugar water in the syringes. [which the control is just an immune booster not sugar water].

My hair doppelganger in the middle.  


Looking forward to getting my hair cut. I currently look like Andrew McCarthy in Pretty in Pink. It's too curly to be Andrew McCarthy in Weekend at Bernies, but it has straightened out some.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happy Turmor Evacuation Day!

This day last year was my surgery. A day filled with Jello, chicken broth, blue pee and tumor and lymph nodes being cut out of my body. All in all a good day. It seems like yesterday and 20 years ago all at the same time. September 11th has been a solemn day since 2001,but now carries positive overtones for me. It was the day I forcefully removed cancer from my body. My own war against terror. It's amazing a year later I have a scar and still some discomfort while weight lifting, but lets read that last part again while weight lifting. I didn't quite believe the surgeon when he said that a month after surgery I could get back weight lifting. I was thinking about this as I was bench pressing and doing planks yesterday. Planks are offer a little tingling in my arm pit, but steadily decreasing.

How did I celebrate today? By doing nothing special. By having an absolutely normal day. It was glorious and less painful.

Good bye to you tumor, still gone a year later : )

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Painful Reminder

Not everyone is as fortunate as I was in their battles with cancer. This week brought another painful reminder as my mom's cousin, Mary, lost her battle with breast cancer. Mary was diagnosed with Stage IV triple negative breast cancer 8 weeks after I finished treatment and after 4 short months she is gone. Mary tried 4 different chemotherapy regimens during this time and although the last one seemed to be working, it was not meant to be. From the many stories my mother has told me Mary did not need cancer to teach her how to get the most out of life, she squeezed every ounce out of it and had since an early age. She will be missed.