Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving- a time to give thanks- a time to count your blessings- a time to spend with family and friends- the list goes on & on.  When I look back on my “memories” app- I see so many wonderful thanksgiving times for the past 9 years.  It’s nice when you can look back like that- see what you were doing on that same exact day in years past.

For me the past 9 years has included Kauai; Rome; Oahu; Sedona and then the past two years I was in full fight mode- getting chemo and just trying to survive.  This year I was supposed to be in Oahu again with my best friend- but after spending 6 days in the hospital, I had no PTO left at work and really no money to spend relaxing on the beaches.  But on the flip side- I got to spend some quality time with my grand daughter and her husband as well as my son, his girlfriend.  We had our “thanksgiving” on Friday and had a wonderful dinner with Honey Baked Ham.  Spent some time relaxing, visiting and then went to the movies as a family- and I did not miss Hawaii at all.

My bestie has her two daughters with her- so she is getting quality time and memories as well- so we both scored by my illness.

Today I had to go give the blood for my three month checkup and I don’t know if it is because I have been in the hospital so many times since August or if it is just because I am so close to my one year cancer free anniversary- but this blood work really has me anxious.  I think back on my mom and her journey with ovarian cancer and remember that she was not in remission for long- so it always makes me a bit uneasy to be fighting this same fight knowing she lost her battle.

I have many blessings- I have an amazing job- I work with truly outstanding people that love me and respect me as I do them- I have an overwhelming abundance of friends all over the U.S. through insurance as well as through photography- and I have the best family a person could possibly have.  But in the days after the blood work- I always go to a bit of a dark place- where I wonder if the fight will need to start again and how bad will this time be?

Cancer changes you- it changes you in ways you just can’t explain to others- and the sisterhood or kinship you have with other cancer survivors or when you see someone at the store or coffee shop and you know they are in the middle of their battle- the knowing look- the smile you give them- they know you have fought that battle to.

So for now, I pray, I wait, hope, and go on with the rest of my weekend.

Laugh-Love-Survive

Sunday’s

Today marks two years from my second round of chemo on the Breast Cancer and also two weeks since my last post.  It has been a pretty crazy past two weeks-  After my last posting I went about all my Sunday chores and then at about noon I got the chills- checked my temp and I was at 103.5.  Crazy high and I figured I was getting the same bug that was going around so I took some tylenol and laid down on the couch.  This was a pattern the rest of the day- no appetite, just fighting the high temps when at 2am the redness started in the right breast again.  This would make round #3 on the infection building in the right breast and this time I was determined to head it off before it put me back in the hospital again.

I called my doctor early Monday morning- sent them a photo of the affected area and they sent me some antibiotics to my local drug store- left the office to go get them, started taking them immediately and tried my best in the middle of my busiest time of the year to not only get my 11/1’s processed, but also do my best to keep my temperature below 100.  Come Wednesday morning at my follow up appointment with Dr. Dobke to see how the infection was responding to the drugs- it was a major fail- the breast was swollen and much redder than Monday morning- so yes… off to the hospital I go yet again.

They started pumping the major antibiotics in me by noon on Wednesday- and due to the infection being so close to my port- they had to use the veins in my right arm/hand to infuse the drugs.  For those that have never been through chemo- this is not an easy process as my veins are pretty much trashed and still trying to rebuild themselves from the chemo drugs put in me over & over again.  It is not only painful to try to get the IV in, but also it has to be repeated every 24 hours due to the high concentration of antibiotics pretty much also destroying the veins.  They only have the right arm they can use as the left arm is totally off limits due to the removal of lymph nodes during the double mastectomy.

By Friday morning it was clear the infection was just getting worse, the swelling was getting ridiculous and Dr. Dobke set me up for surgery on Monday morning.  He had determined that there was just no way to leave the implant in my body any longer and would be removing it, taking skin & fat from my back to rebuild the right breast from my own body.  He ordered double the amount of antibiotics to be infused through Monday morning and also told me after surgery I would be in the hospital through the following Friday.

It was actually amazing to me that I was not going into stress overload- afterall it was my busiest time of the year and here I was stuck in the hospital again… for days.  😦

The weekend passed- lots of visitors- lots of conversations with my amazing nursing staff- My “dream team” came through several times- great eye candy- great smiles- and then on Monday morning Dr. Dobke told me the infection was still too bad to do the entire surgery- so he could only go in- remove the implant and fluid and then we would have to do the other surgery after the first of the year.  That was a plus and a minus- the plus was I would be able to get out of the hospital much sooner- the minus- another surgery- another policy year to where I would have another $6600 out of pocket expense.  So that meant no trip to Florence Italy for my 60th birthday- but it did mean I could finally keep from going in the hospital over & over again due to my body just hating the right implant.

The surgery went well- I was able to go home on Tuesday afternoon and start getting back to my normal routine.  It does look really bad- the right side now appears to have the resemblance of a shriveled orange, still a bit red but getting better a little each day- still one drain left in until Wednesday when they will be able to remove the stitches and the other drain and really not a lot of pain- other than the drain site.

A couple of really nice things happened while I was in the hospital this time- #1, first visit ever from a Chaplin during my stay.  He was quite nice- we had about a 30 minute conversation and then he prayed for me and my health.  #2- a music therapy girl came to visit- she sang three songs for me- the first being my very favorite “Let it Be” and brought tears to my eyes since I had never really had anyone “sing” that song to me.  Both visits where extremely uplifting for me and I do hope others get as much out of it as I did when they had their visits.  The Chaplin told me about 98% of patients invite him in the room- and out of the 98% there are about 50% that allow him to lift them up in prayer.  With today’s world being what it is- I think those are pretty good percentages.  🙂

The other plus from not being able to go to Florence in February?  I get to see Bob Seger here in San Diego for his last tour- so I am very happy about that.  Next trip for me will not be until March of 2019 when I head to Ft Worth for my High School reunion.  I had to cancel my November Hawaii trip due to the recovery I have to get through- I am sad, but honestly I have traveled a lot this past year and really need to focus on my health again.

Parting words for this week?  Friends and family are your lifeline- keep them close to you- let them know just how much you love them and how much they fill your life with joy.  This is a photo of some beautiful flowers brought to me at the hospital by Grisell- they bring me so much joy and I will be planting them in the front flower bed so I can see them everyday when I come & go from the house.

Laugh- Love- Survive!

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