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Showing posts from 2012

Thanks for the Mammaries

In the four weeks since surgery I've had some time to perfect my response to the question which has been foremost on the minds of others: "What's it like to be down one breast?" (in actuality, the question posed has been the safer, more tactful, "How are you?")

Although my response is sure to morph with time, I think it can best be summed up as follows:  Cancer got my breast, but it didn't get the breast of me.  Sure, my rogue breast took a hit for the rest of my body, but I am still here, I am still me, and I am still (in my own mind, anyway) a healthy woman in her late thirties.  Ok, very late thirties.  Oh, stop it! 

You may be surprised to learn that my grieving happened long ago, just prior to and around the time of diagnosis, when all of the initial breast changes had already occurred.  Since that time, I have simply accepted that the tumour was too big to allow the breast to be salvaged.  Removing the breast meant removing the tumour…

Mini update post-mastectomy

A quick little update - detailed post to follow shortly!

Arrived home yesterday afternoon to some giddy kiddies.  Surgery went as planned, and as per my plan, I have no pain whatsoever, was up and about several hours after surgery and can move my arm enough to tie my own head scarves.  Nails have already been re-painted.  Thank you everyone for your wonderful messages, love and support.  Life is grand!

Ellen

My Wrinkle in Time

Last Call (for Al-chemo-hol)
Drum roll please...I've tasted my final chemo cocktail!  I rung in Round 8 with three of my best friends at my bedside, while a dear old friend and fellow cancer survivor sipped herceptin in the chair next to mine, cheering me on every step of the way.  I came prepared for my final face-off with the frigid footwear; sporting my daughter's "monkey legs" (essentially, leg warmers) pulled down to my toes, I had instant toasty tootsies and ankles.  My nails, appropriately decked out in Sally Hansen's "Brisk Blue" were left to face the frosty wrath of the freezer mitts and booties one last time.  We chatted and laughed the hour away, pausing only to consume a steady stream of homemade bite-sized brownies.  Before I knew it, happy hour was over and it was time for me to sound the ginormous "end of chemo" bell.  And boy, did I ring that victory bell!  I was not leaving chemo pod land without a proper send off.
A…

Generous Hearts Make Works of Art

When it came time to select the topic of this blog post it really was a no-brainer.  It came to me from so many different directions, and yesterday was the icing on the cake that inspired the post's title. 

...but first,

Taxotere Round 7 Update - Coles Notes Version

Version 1a) Zzzzz...if you are bored with my endless drone about side effects, skip to the next sub-heading. 
Version 1b) Eagerly awaiting the next segment of 50 shades of Taxotere?  Read on!

Ellen + instructions to self-inject Neulasta=recipe for disaster.
Funny story here.  I was given three coaching sessions from my homecare nurse in order to teach me to self-administer my Neulasta injection the day following Taxotere infusion.  This is the super expensive drug that boosts my white blood cells and must be done within 48 hours of chemo.  I never intended to do it myself - who was I kidding?  I have no problem getting needles but look away as they go in.  So I had enlisted the help of a great friend and RN to do t…

Getting Your House in Order

This month we will celebrate 3 years of living in our first house.  When we moved in, I remember vowing to do the few minor repairs needed straight away, to never let the house go and to always fix things the instant they broke.  I recall a conversation with my realtor I believe, about people who live year after year with dripping faucets, patched but unpainted walls and loose doorknobs  - and then magically find time to fix them the moment they are going to sell the house so that some other family can live comfortably in their home.  I vowed never to be "those people" and to keep my castle pristine.  But as I looked around my home this summer, I realised my castle walls were crumbling.  Shower head with no pressure?  Check.  Sliding glass door that requires a running start to open?  Check.  Countless other jobs screaming "pick me! pick me!"  Checkity check.  And those dry wall patches?  Everywhere.  That's not to say that I don't love our hom…

Tongue-tied and tasteless in the tenacious land of Taxotere

Now that 12 days have passed since my first Taxotere infusion, I feel as though I can provide a fulsome report on the drug’s side effects and their affect on my life thus far.Taxotere round one differed drastically from my first AC treatment, in both positive and negative ways.Before I attempt to humour you with a little compare and contrast, I give you the final instalment of my short segment, entitled:

Neulasta, the wonder drug
As it turns out, Neulasta is some serious medicine.I had my first injection the day after my last AC treatment, administered in my thigh, not in my stomach, as I’d been warned would be the case (read: Don’t believe everything you’re told!). For someone who neither enjoys nor fears needles, I can report that it did sting a fair bit going in, but the pain quickly subsided.It took about 12 hours before I had any kind of reaction to the drug.I was warned it could cause bone pain in some individuals, and this time the warnings rang true.It began in my hips the day …

Cancer brings out the best in people

Your eyes are likely scanning up to the post's title right about now.  Go ahead, give it another read.  Yes, that's the best, not the worst.  Many feel that Cancer brings out the worst in people - and I can certainly see why - but I have observed first-hand that it really does bring out the best in people too.

Conversation with my 4-yr old today: 
Me: "My oncologist told me yesterday that the chemo is working really well, and that the tumour is shrinking!  Mom's cancer is going away!"
My 4-yr old: "Yay!  I'm so happy!  Now, what about your tummy?"
Me: <confused> "My tummy hurts sometimes, but that's normal."
My 4-yr old: "No Mom, I mean, what is she doing about your big tummy?  Can she make IT go away?"
Me: <sigh> "Right, I'd forgotten all about my post-baby bulge.  Thanks, sweetie.  I'm afraid Mummy has to get rid of that herself".

Many of you know that I took a huge leap last week and dec…

Round 4, take two

First, I must excuse my tardiness.  Many of you have been so kindly inquiring and I should have posted last week after my 4th round but I'm not sure what happened. Well actually, I do.  Time seems to have escaped me this cycle and I've been having a hard time remembering things as of late.  Nothing catastrophic, I mean I've not forgotten any of my kids at the grocery store or left the house with the oven turned on, but on several occasions I've forgotten that I started cooking something.  No fires as of yet, but Ellen is no longer allowed to turn on the stove! 

Perhaps less destructive but more self-destructive, I've begun to forget where I'm going when I start a sentence, or what I was about to do when I enter a room.  My catch phrase has become, "what was I doing/saying?".  I know this seems trivial as we all do this.  And if you know me, you are likely thinking, "yup, that's Ellen!"  But I have taken it to an all new leve…

No soup for me!

This week's events had all the makings of a good, wholesome cancer-fighting stew.  Tuesday's oncologist appointment was very productive; after mentioning my nausea, etc from last round, we agreed I could go back on the steroid (Decadron) this cycle to keep things in check.  As it turns out, I will be going back on it for cycles 5 through 8 regardless, in order to off-set the potentially severe allergic reaction that my new chemo drug (Taxotere) may elicit.  So really, I am just starting on Decadron three weeks early.  But I am getting ahead of myself...back to round 4 and my final AC (Adriamycin & Cyclophosphamide) treatment.  

On Wednesday, while all three kids were battling their respective lingering or newly developed coughs, I remarked how timely it was that I was finally over my 7-week cough and feeling very close to 100% as I entered the new cycle.  On Thursday, after a quick jaunt to Ikea, I arrived for chemo with a belly full of Swedish meatballs, mas…