Well, I have now finished my 10th chemo yesterday afternoon. I'm not going to lie. I'm not feeling well. The past 2-3 weeks have been really hard with my energy levels being in the pot. I can hardly even workout. I'm so weak at times that when I walk up the stairs at work my legs feel like they may give out on me. Currently, I am coughing, have no voice, am sneezing, have a bunch of drainage in my throat, and have burning in my chest when I cough or breath. I had gone to my oncologist yesterday and saw his nurse practitioner, Donna. I told her I felt run down and that I might be getting sick, and even with my white blood cell counts and neutrophils being at critical levels she didn't seem concerned. She said I only have 3 more chemo treatments left and to just try to push through to the end. Then, all day yesterday including at chemo in the afternoon I felt like crap. I didn't sleep well last night and was up from about 2 am to 5:30 am. Then, I tried to go to work all day, but I ended up leaving at lunch and taking the afternoon off. I tried to rest some this afternoon but with the drainage and coughing, I was only able to sleep about 45 mins. I called to Dr. Pruitt's office today and his nurse called me back. I told her I was feeling worse than yesterday, but she said they think it is viral and that Dr. Pruitt doesn't like to use antibiotics on chemo patients if at all possible even if it was bacterial. I told her that Brenley and Chris have been sick and are getting past it finally with antibiotics, but she said just to take over-the-counter meds for my symptoms. If it gets worse in the next few days, I can call them back. I'm kinda concerned because I feel like I have an upper respiratory infection and this usually turns into bronchitis when I'm not taking chemo. I end up trying to fight this for weeks with a good immune system, so I'm not sure how long I'm going to have to deal with this with a terrible immune system. I hope it doesn't turn into something bad like pneumonia. I had been blessed throughout chemo because God has protected me several times when people around me have been sick by not letting me get what they had. I thank God for this. I'm praying that he will protect me and give me the strength to fight this and make it these last few weeks through the end of my chemo treatments. Then, my body can rest a little. I feel like a marathon runner that has made it to the last few miles of my run and I'm hitting the wall. I know I can make it to the finish line and I want to sprint it out, but sometimes you just have to pace yourself to make it. I've pushed hard throughout this journey in the past 6 months, and my body has had it. It is tired and worn down. I've tried to work full weeks the whole time, but I think I may have to rest a little more and go home early some days in the next few weeks. I'm kinda hard-headed when it comes to these things. I want to do my job well and I want to be a good mom and wife when I get home, but sometimes your body tells you to slow down. Mine is screaming at me. Please pray that I will get better so I can finish my chemo and work like I need to while feeling good.
Let's see. I'm trying to think what I wrote about the last time I did a blog. I had an ultrasound of my ovaries recently just to check on them and make sure they looked ok. They appear normal size and the ultrasound tech didn't see any signs of growths or irregular places. I then met with my gynecologist, Dr. Appel, to talk about my hysterectomy. You know this is a touchy subject with me and makes me emotional often. We are so blessed to have Brenley and thank God for her life, but we had been trying to get pregnant right when I found out I had the breast cancer. Luckily, we didn't get pregnant because I would have been worried sick being pregnant and needing to do the mastectomies and chemo. Now, unfortunately the chemo treatments usually send women into early menopause and make them sterile. There is a small possibility that I could still ovulate after all this is over, but I have to be on Tamoxifen or Anastrozole for 5 yrs after chemo. This means I would have to wait until after this time to even try to get pregnant again. The problem with that is that I would be 38 yrs old, and all the doctors said that they want me to have my ovaries out by age 35 yrs old. Even if I didn't get them out by 35 and waited, I would probably have a hard time even getting pregnant. My cancer has a hormone component to it, so having my ovaries in makes me nervous. I have a higher risk of ovarian cancer too, so we decided that going through with the complete hysterectomy is the right choice. The plan is possibly on July 10th, I will have my second breast reconstruction with Dr. Proffer combined with my complete laproscopic hysterectomy with Dr. Appel. I decided to do this because then I only have one time of being under anesthesia (which makes me really sick), one recovery, and one time off from work. I know this isn't going to be easy to combine these two surgeries as far as recovery goes, but then I will only have one surgery left to do this year instead of two. Anyway, soon I will have my first appointment with the radiological oncologist, Dr. Stafford, to discuss my upcoming radiation treatments. I want to get those started as soon as possible after my chemo to get them over with and let my skin heal before my reconstruction surgery. I heard the radiation is nothing compared to the chemo. I will do radiation for 5-6 weeks and for 5 days a week. The initial visit with him will last about 1 1/2 hours because they will place small tatoos on my skin to mark the area of radiation and then set up everything on the machines for each treatment. Then, each session will only be about 15 mins Monday thru Friday. I didn't want to have to do radiation, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I don't want this crap coming back. I'm kicking it to the curb. Well, I'm about ready to try to go to bed because I have a continuing education course all day tomorrow to go to here in Amarillo. Oh what fun! I pray that each of you are doing well and thanks again for taking interest in reading my blogs and keeping up with me. That means a lot to me. God bless and I love y'all. Shay
Well, I successfully finished chemo #8 today. That means only 1 month (4 treatments) to go. I'm still doing pretty good except the neuropathy (numbness and tingling) in my hands and feet is increasing a little. Previously after chemo, this would happen a day or two after and last through the weekend and back off Monday or Tuesday. Now, it isn't going away before the next chemo. It makes my feet feel weird when I walk almost like I don't know where exactly they are touching down for sure. My hands are worse than my feet, but luckily I'm not dropping things. Dr. Pruitt knows about this but states they will not do anything about it unless I start having problems picking up items or dropping them when I hold them. Taxol, the chemo drug, can cause permanent neuropathy problems if it gets too bad. Otherwise, the neuropathy should go away. My bleeding issues are really weird. I'll be fine one day and then suddenly get a bloody nose or rectal bleeding. It may last a few days and be heavy and then go away again. Chemo causes the weirdest things to go on in my body. There is no rhyme or reason to anything. Today I attempted to go running with my running partner. Her name is Denali and she is my 1 1/2 yr old brindle great dane. She loves to run with me and knows our route. We used to run together all the time before I was diagnosed. I felt pretty good when I left the house to run but quickly realized how much the chemo is affecting my endurance. I have been working out pretty regularly lately and trying to increase my cardio on the elliptical and with cycling, but obviously running is another story. I had to run as far as I could and walk for short stents to catch my breath. I made it about 2 miles but was exhausted when I got home and all day. Then, my body definitely told me about it all day after this. I noticed my morton's neuroma (nerve problem) in my foot was worse and my IT band near my right knee was killing me all day. Again, I love chemo - NOT! I'm not going to let this get me down or stop me though. It just makes me mad and makes me want to go further and harder. If you haven't figured it out, I'm kinda competitive and especially when something frustrates me.
Monday night I went to Canyon to the WT activity center to watch my high school friends (and ex-Lady Eagles) play basketball against some Nazareth and surrounding town girls. It makes me really sad to not get out there with them and play, but I just can't right now. With that nerve popping out of my left armpit, my left wrist and hand swelling, my left arm pain, and with the chest area being really sore and tender, I didn't think that was a smart idea. I was tempted to for sure. After they finished, I went with Lindy Lombard, Brooke Hancock, Sarah McBride, and Valeree Valdez to Hastings to get coffee. It was so nice that night that we sat outside. We ended up talking for 2 1/2 hours and laughing our butts off. It was so fun catching up and reminiscing about old times. It's funny how your topics of conversation change over the years. At least we can laugh at ourselves when it comes to body changes that have taken place through the years. I'm sure that will just get worse with age. The one good thing about having a mastectomy and expanders in with really tight skin is that my breast are not droopy. They aren't going anywhere fast. Again positive thinking! I could have sat out there and talked to them all night. It was so fun. I definitely needed that. I thanked God that night for bringing these girls into my life years ago and for the influence they have had on my life. I believe God is doing great things in their lives because they are focusing more on him like myself. It's so neat to see those changes in all our lives. God is good. This past Saturday, I was also blessed to have two of my college best friends, Lezlie and Tifni, come down for a surprise lunch date. They are both teachers and are on spring break. We ate and then came to the house to hang out. We looked at old college pictures from many trips we took and from Texas Tech. We had a lot of laughs too. I've missed those girls, and I'm so glad that they came up to see me. That was so sweet of them. I think God brings people into your life at certain times for a reason. He has been so good to me in this regards because I couldn't ask for better friends from high school days, college days, and now. I also have amazing family that encourages me all the time too. I couldn't ask for more. Thank you to each of you for caring about me and my life and for wanting to be my friend. You have truly been a blessing to my life.
So my bible reading is still going well. I try to still do it everyday even if it just a chapter or two. I love the Life Application Bible that I downloaded to my Nook. I read the chapter and then the study notes that go along with that chapter. This has really helped me understand things better. I encourage you again to make time in your day for God and for reading and praying. I saw a saying that really hit home yesterday. "What if you woke up only with the things you thanked God yesterday?". Oh crap. I thank God for things but not near enough. You know I have days that I feel down and are discouraged, but then I see a lady in a restaurant about my age that is only able to use mouth or breath control device to maneuver her power wheelchair. She is a quadriplegic. What am I complaining about? I'm being selfish. I stop and thank God for the fact that I can still work, walk, exercise, roll out of my bed on my own, and pick up my 3 yr old little girl. We all have a lot to be thankful for, but remember this quote daily because it will change the way you pray. Remember God never gets tired of hearing us thank him for anything and everything. He loves a thankful heart.
Update on my second cousin, Lori. She had her mastectomy last Tuesday and seems to be doing well. She has been hurting quite a bit and really sore, but that is just par for the course unfortunately. She was running a little fever in last few days so please pray that she doesn't get an infection and that her recovery continues to go well. Update on my sister, Tiffany. You know she tested positive for the same gene as me (BRCA 2). She had already met with Dr. Arredondo last month about doing the mastectomy surgery in June. Then, last week she met with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Proffer, to talk about the reconstruction part. She was worried because her insurance only goes to one plastic surgeon here is town, but she really wanted to use Dr. Proffer. He is awesome and has been really good to me through all my cancer stuff. The good news is that it looks like they are going to be able to work something out with out of network pay. She was so happy and relieved about this. Thank you God. It looks like she may try to move the surgery up to May possibly since Dr. Arredondo is moving to Albuquerque on August 31st of this year. She wants him to still do the mastectomy part of the surgery and then be able to see him through her 3 month follow-up. She meets with him in a few weeks and hopefully they will collaborate with Dr. Proffer's office to come up with a date for her surgery. I still agree with her 100% on going through with this prophylactic surgery because of her high odds of getting breast cancer. She is smart to just remove the tissue before she gets cancer. I don't wish this cancer stuff on anyone. It's tough stuff. It will test you in so many ways. Anyway, Chris and Bren are doing well. Chris is almost done with his EMT advanced class and then will go back to shift work. He is ready to get back on the big, red truck again instead of being in a classroom all day. He officially is done being a rookie firefighter now. He passed his one year mark on March 10th. I'm so proud of him. Bren is busy being a princess and keeping us laughing. She can't stand wearing anything but dresses, high heels, princess dress-up dresses, Hello Kitty stuff, and cheerleading outfits with light-up pom poms. She is so girlie-girl just like her mom. Just kidding but I love that about her. She is ready to start pre-school in the fall and talks about it often. Well, I've rambled enough tonight and am very sleepy from the chemo treatment this afternoon. Take care and keep on serving God in anyway you can by reading his word, telling others about how he works in your life, loving your neighbor, being thankful for everything, and praying daily. He will do things in your life that you never thought were possible, and you find so much joy at times in your life when you didn't think this could happen. God bless and love y'all. Shay
So last week I had my sigmoidoscopy on Thursday to try to figure out why I was bleeding. If you don't know what this test is, it is like a colonoscopy but they only go part of the way up the pipe. Dr. Ellington had told me that I did not have to be put under for the procedure if I didn't want to. There are two problems with that scenario. First, I like versed and feel great when I wake up from being put under with this med. Second, I couldn't imagine staying awake for a procedure where someone is sticking a large tube in a place it doesn't belong. That gives me anxiety just thinking about it. Before checking in, I had gone up to the oncology floor to have the chemo nurse, Carey, put in my port line. I did this just in case they needed a line for any meds during the procedure. When I arrived at day surgery, everything started happening faster than usual. They pulled me back quickly and had me change into a gown. The nurse in day surgery asked if I was going to be put under for the procedure. I told her I thought I would do it without meds. She said I could change my mind if needed before they got started. It wasn't long after this that they took me to the endoscopy area. I had been told my sigmoidoscopy was going to be at noon but everything happened faster because the case before me was cancelled. It was probably good that everything happened so quickly because then I didn't have too much time to rethink it. Luckily, I felt pretty comfortable because the same nurse, named Casey, that did my colonoscopy last year was with me again. She assured me that the procedure would be fast (like 5 mins) and wouldn't be too painful. We agreed too that since I had chemo after that, it would be better to stay awake. The next thing I knew, Dr. Ellington was in there and ready to go. It was too late to back out now. This is where it gets funny. So thank goodness there are 3 televisions in the room including one staring me in the face. I was getting nervous at this point because the scope was facing the ground and about to head my way. The next thing I see, to my dismay, on the t.v. in broad view is my big butt! Dr. Ellington had turned the camera toward my rear while getting everything ready for the scope. It's bad enough looking at your own rear in the mirror at home, but then to broadcast it to everyone in the room was humiliating. I wanted to start laughing but all I could do was lay there and sweat. The only cool thing about being awake during all this was that I got to see the inside of my intestinal tract for the first time. The doctor did end up taking a biopsy of a small spot that he called a lipoma. This is basically a little fatty tumor. He wasn't that worried about it but just wanted to make sure it was a lipoma based on my past medical history and family history. He saw again, like with the colonoscopy, that I had internal hemorrhoids. Friday they called me from Dr. Ellington's office and said that the biopsy turned out fine. I guess the bleeding is just from the hemorrhoids being mad at me from the chemo. Praise God they didn't find anything out of the ordinary. I finished up down in day surgery and then grabbed a bite to eat before heading up to chemo. I spent most of the afternoon up there in chemo, and the good news is that I'm halfway done with taxol. I've been having a little more tingling in my hands and feet lately, and now I've got a bigger problem. The left side was the side that had the cancer and where they took the 12 lymph nodes. I have always had a nerve pain going down that arm that fluctuates based on my activity level. Now, that pain has gotten worse and I've developed something called axillary web syndrome. It is basically a rope-like cord that pops out of your arm when you try to raise your arm. If I try to straighten my elbow or raise my arm very far at all, it feels like something in my arm is going to rip and that nerve pain shoots down the whole arm to my left thumb. The other problem is that my left hand and wrist have started swelling off and on. I've been wearing compression garments on that arm to try to prevent lymphedema from completely setting in. I'm going to start seeing one of our occupational therapists that specializes in lymphedema and treating axillary web syndrome this Tuesday. I'm just ready for this arm to stop hurting and to have full use of it. As most of you know, between my job and my active lifestyle I don't sit still very long. I also don't do well with someone telling me to not use that arm much. Again, I'm hard headed. I'm just hoping to get some of this stuff to resolve and move on without any more complications.
This week I have a few things going on. I have an appointment with Dr. Proffer, my plastic surgeon, on Tuesday to talk further about my expanders and the implants that will replace these. I figure my second reconstruction surgery will be around June of this year. Then, I see Dr. Pruitt, my oncologist, on Wednesday for a check-up before chemo that day. My counts were down a little last week and his nurse had to lower the cut off number on my white blood cell counts just so I could still do my chemo. If this continues I may need another $13,000 shot called neulasta to try to get my numbers up. I want to continue chemo without any breaks to not only get them over with but because I want them to be as effective as they can be on the cancer. I guess that is all the updating I have for now for me, but I want to tell you really quickly about my cousin. Her name is Lori Covey. She just found out a few weeks ago that she has breast cancer. They had scheduled her double mastectomy for this Tuesday and then they made her go see her gynecologist this past Friday. She had some tests run, and she was told she has a large mass in her ovaries. They think the cancer has spread to her ovaries. Please, please pray for her and husband and children. She is 41 yrs old and this is a lot for anyone to take in. She is still going to have her surgery Tuesday along with the first stage of reconstruction. Then, they are thinking they will do chemo to shrink the tumor in her ovary before doing a hysterectomy. I'm praying for peace and comfort for her along with successful surgery and recovery. She's a fighter and is going into this with her boxing gloves on. Well, I'm tired now and need to get some shut eye in preparation for another busy week. God bless and thanks again for following me during this journey. Love y'all. Shay