September News

I just met with my plastic surgeon after requiring four additional months to heal, and he finally said I am ready for my reconstructive surgery. I so want to be done with all this, but it is a long healing process. I am now scheduled for surgery for October 21st. I am now set, at least for my surgery day.

I need to help arrange for others to cover my regular clients; so today I wrote notes to two of them and told them I was giving them a heads-up for October, and that I was having surgery and going to need to take three weeks recovery time. I left them the information for the Central Coast Professional Pet Sitters website, so my clients can look online to see who they would want to use in my absence.

gummybears (Medium)When talking with my surgeon on Tuesday, he explained a lot and answered my questions to clear up a lot of things I wasn’t sure about; and told me I am a candidate for the new “gummy bear” silicone implant. I was very happy with that. He said he would make sure that it will work best for me and he ultimately chooses what fits my body the best. He said he would do a lift to my left breast to be more even with the implant in my right breast. I felt much more at ease after he explained everything and now that everything is set.

He told me I could take my time and make a decision, but I don’t know why I would want to wait any longer. I want to do the surgery when my schedule isn’t so crazy which is during the summer and holiday times. This last Christmas The Twins!though, since we took on several pet sitting situations and didn’t get to see family at the holidays, I decided that we needed to enjoy the holidays every other year to not lose touch with our families. I really would like to see our niece’s beautiful twins. They are already 8 months old, and time is getting away from us. The pictures are so wonderful of the twins. As you can see, they are already reading.

I have been going to physical therapy for my neck, back and some cording in my right arm (from the lymph node removal), and doing the summer “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” challenge to get in shape and build strength for the upcoming surgery. All that and having the busiest summer with my Pet Service. My business really boomed this summer! We haven’t done any trips or vacations because of business and to not spend money in preparation for the up coming surgery. It will be so good to be past all this. I guess if truth be told, I am not out of the woods until I am cleared for a total of five years. But I trust God that I will be.

I have lost over 10 pounds in the summer challenge and have gained lean muscle mass, so I am feeling more fit and strong. I think I am definitely in a healthier spot and can recover faster with the strength I rebuilt.

I am still doing the SurviveOars with the paddling when I can on Saturdays, and Pete has gone with me a few times. He really enjoys doing it too, and that makes me happy because it is something we are both enjoying together that is physically active and fun.

Time for another update

I have been much busier with my pet service! It is a very fun job, but I do get so tired.

I am also doing the summer “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” challenge and I have lost 10.8% body fat! I am gaining lean muscle which is great, so I am on my way to getting fit. My goal was to lose the weight I had gained with surgery, and to regain the strength I lost as well with weight training. I have increased my ability to lift more weight this week, so I am more than pleased.

In my pet service, I walk several dogs a day, and I am putting in a lot of walking. With the summer challenge, they included another challenge-within-the-challenge to do One Million Steps in 98 Days. I get a lot of those steps in my dog walking, so it helps. In order to meet that challenge, you need to do at least 10,204 steps a day to complete the challenge in 98 days. Today I am over 22,000 steps. There are a few severely competitive people that have already met that one million goal, and we still have several weeks left. Today, on the leadership board, I am number 17 on the list of 130 people in the challenge. That is actually really good.

I have been working hard at getting well and stronger with this challenge and the SurviveOars rowing group. I missed the last three weeks because of my work and then this last weekend, the whole group went to a competitive race in Long Beach. I am in the group to get fit, not race. I probably never will do the races because of my business, and it is expensive with the cost of travel and lodging. If I am going to spend money on Travel, I want a vacation with my husband. [Amen. -pw]

As far as my health has been, I am still healing from last year’s surgery and radiation and recovery from chemotherapy. It takes a long time, but with my physical activities, I think I am experiencing less and less severe fatigue that I was having. I still get fatigued, but not as often as before. I have been dizzy a lot, and actually have been terribly accident prone. I have had a couple of episodes with my car, and I fell one day and even cut myself badly while preparing food. I talked about it with the nurse yesterday when I went in to have my Medi-port flushed, and she didn’t even ask my permission, but set up an appointment with the doctor for the next morning. I have been having headaches that have not been relieved with my migraine medication or regular pain medication.

I saw the doctor (oncologist) this morning, and I told her my symptoms and told her my history of migraines and it could possibly be sinus problems. She did a simple eye test and other neurological tests and determined that I had some visual changes that were a concern. She wanted me to have an MRI, but I reminded her that I still have the expander and haven’t had my reconstructive surgery yet. She scheduled me for a CT of the brain instead, scheduled for next Monday. This is very inconvenient, and I am sure it is going to be negative. I take a lot of medications, and I think the symptoms are side effects; but that is the mind of the Oncologist. They think of the worst-case scenario. I am going to take a list of all of my medications to a Pharmacist and ask their professional opinion. I want to be past all of this!!!

Way Over Due For An Update

I have been so busy, and I have other blogs I have been writing on instead of this one. I should at least post something here more than I am. Life has been keeping me on my toes that is for sure.

I started the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle summer challenge on June 9. (BFFM) It is an online challenge where you are held accountable with hundreds of ordinary people trying to change their life style to eat healthy, clean foods and burn fat with weight training, cardio, and build lean muscle at the same time. It is tricky, but not impossible and the people all encourage one another. We have to put our weekly stats up, so that is motivation in itself to try to meal your goals. Number one thing is putting your goals down on paper and having specific goals. Having clear set goals is a key and then everything else falls into place because you have a daily plan. I find it very helpful to have people cheer you on and you get to cheer them on too.

One extra added challenge is a Million Steps in 98 days. I decided that this would be easy with my dog walking business and pet sitting. It actually turned out to not be so easy. In order to reach that goal in 98 days, I need to at least do 10,204 steps daily without fail. Walking dogs does not get it, since some of them are old and putter and sniff. Not really walking as such. So when I am done with my clients, I still have to walk myself and get my steps in. Everyday is different depending on my errands, clients and chores that I need to do. I find the real challenge is I get very fatigued and wonder how I am going to do it. I have to include weight training too, which I have scheduled three times a week.

I am still recovering from all my treatments and surgery issues and fatigue still plagues me often. Talking to other cancer survivors, it is the normal course of the recovery and takes a year or more to get past the fatigue. It hasn’t been a year from my treatments, so I am actually doing pretty good considering.

I also joined the SurviveOars officially. I filled out the paperwork and paid the dues, but still need the release form filled out by one of my doctor’s. I will do that this week.

I still have my reconstruction surgery that won’t be scheduled until later this year. I hope I am healing well from everything, because that is why the plastic surgeon wanted to wait a few more months. I wasn’t healed enough he said. I still have my Medi-port, but it has been used for my infusions (Zometa) for building my bone density from the side effect of the aromasin inhibitor I have to take for 5 or more years. When I have my surgery, my port will come out then.

So in the meantime, my goal is to get stronger and lose the weight I gained before the surgery does get rescheduled. I had lost a lot of strength from surgery and treatments, and I want to be fit again. I am working on it now and I think I do see some progress in my strength.

I have been busy with my pet clients, so life has been getting back to somewhat normal whatever that means.

Well, enough for now. I will try to remember to do an update more often than once a month. As I said before, I am blogging on other sites, so I neglect this site. I have to update on my BFFM to be in the challenge, so it keeps me busy too.

Back to Journaling

I have found it hard to get back to blogging after the news of a friend having her breast cancer return after a couple of years; I got depressed for her. I was again feeling all the same feelings like what I experienced when I first got diagnosed, myself. My friend previously had a lumpectomy and radiation, but is now going to be having a mastectomy next week. It just feels like it is in your face again when your friends are going through it all over again. However, I know she will do well; she has a good surgeon and much prayer on her behalf.

I have been so busy with my pet service business, which is a wonderful thing! The hard thing has been struggling with fatigue which is still part of the recovery from all of last year’s treatments. It just takes a long time to recover. I still have other side effects from the chemotherapy and radiation which we pray are not permanent. Sometimes they are, but no one tells you that until you have been through it; or you just notice different problems and discover where they came from. Trying to build my business and get back into the working world, but still have the recovery to deal with is a lot to handle. People think I am past all of my cancer treatment issues, but I am not done yet. I haven’t had my reconstruction surgery yet or my Medi-port removed.

I met with my plastic surgeon at the beginning of this month, and he said my site is still very tight and the skin is still discolored and not ready for surgery yet. Gah. He didn’t even want to discuss any options or discuss what to expect for surgery yet. He said we will talk about it at my next appointment which won’t be until September. In the meantime, I am supposed to massage the area and do my stretches to heal better. I haven’t been too happy that this is a longer process than I would have liked. I really want to be on the other side of all this and be done with it! Pete was glad that surgery will be later. He was feeling that I wasn’t physically ready anyway and this will be my time to get stronger and prepare myself better for surgery.

Dragon boatA couple of Saturdays ago I joined with some other cancer survivors with the Central Coast SurviveOars Dragon Boat Team. We practiced paddling in Morro Bay, and boy, was it a workout! I loved it. I want to commit to doing it, although I don’t think I will do the racing competitions that they do with other teams. They do races all over California. I would need to be a lot stronger and in shape for that. I don’t think I would have the time with my business anyway to go traveling to races, but it sure would be fun. I didn’t go this last Saturday because my left shoulder has been really hurting and actually getting weaker. It seems to have started when I did the rowing that one time. I am afraid that I might not be a candidate for this fun activity. I will be bummed if it is so. I really want to continue. One of my other support friends is involved in it as well and goes as often as she can. She is younger than I am, so she probably bounces back quicker than I do; but I don’t want my age to hold me back.

So bad!

I have gotten so bad about writing here in my journal. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to, or that I haven’t had things to write about, but I have just been in the transition of getting used to a busy life while still in the midst of recovering. I still get very fatigued even though I am done with my big treatments such as the chemotherapy and radiation; but it just takes a long time to recover. I still have some odd sensations and pain with the recovery from surgery as well, so I am not actually done with all this. I also have reconstructive surgery to be scheduled for later this year.

My plastic surgeon requires all of his patients to recover a minimum of six months after radiation before he will consider even scheduling surgery. It is plenty of time to think over choices as well. And there are lots of choices. Who would have ever known until you go through all of this. I finished my radiation in the middle of December, so that would make my reconstructive surgery for no earlier than mid June. I have an appointment to see my plastic surgeon next week on May 7th.

The choices before me are either a saline or silicone implant. Now they just came out with a new silicone implant called the “gummy bear” implant. I think they came up with this one because if the previous one ruptured, it isn’t as harmful to your body. Of course the saline is natural and even similar to your bodies fluids, so if it ruptured, it naturally absorbs into your system. So you wonder why someone would consider silicone over saline if it isn’t more natural, but I will tell you why. When you bend over or move, there can be a ‘rippling’ effect and it looks really unnatural. I have an expander now with saline in it, and it sort of feels like a little water bed when you press it. Silicone on the other hand may be more firm and not feel as natural as a regular breast, so nothing is idea here. I hear that the gummy bear version is even more firm (I haven’t seen them yet), but they are less likely to rupture and cause damage to your insides. At my age, trying to be healthy and active is my goal more so than a more natural feeling breast. I just want my clothes to fit and not have to buy special items to make it work.

I start my Zometa tomorrow morning. It is a fast intravenous infusion, so it shouldn’t take long at all. I see my oncologist and she will go over my lab work I had drawn two weeks ago, and then I will have the treatment. This will be a routine for every six months while I am taking the Estrogen suppressant medication, or unless I get a side effect that would require me to discontinue it. I figure if I am only taking it every six months, it shouldn’t be too bad. One would hope anyway.

I plan to be better about writing in my journal. I just was really exhausted trying to get back to the land of the living with my pet service booming and being incredibly busy with dog and other animal clients. My schedule has been pretty impacted and I am adjusting to a busy lifestyle and recovering my strength from all my treatments this past year. It really does take time to recover. I am just starting to get short bursts of energy, but they are short lived and I am ready to call it a day almost before the day is over. When clients cancel because they are not going to work, or their trip was cut short, I am finding I am finding that I am needing the recoup time anyway and am feeling a bit more energy because of it. God is providing the income, so bills are getting met, so I am not worried about it.

Still Recovering

I know I am getting bad about writing in my journal. I have been extremely busy with my pet service and going to physical therapy for my back and such.

I am still in the recovery mode with radiation, but I think I am not as fatigued as before. I am at least over my bronchial cough that lasted two months. That really slowed things down for me, and having the two falls in December with back pain as well. I think my back is getting stronger (I think), although it is very slow going. I am doing my physical therapy and today I am really sore. My hips are out of alignment, so everything is uncomfortable. I am still able to walk fine, and I actually do better being active.

I have many pet clients that I am dashing about Los Osos visiting and walking. I am really enjoying it, but I do get worn out. Everyone gets tired from work, so a good tired I am sure.

Tuesday I rejoined the South Bay Women’s Networking, and it was nice to be back to something normal. They had a wonderful luncheon at the new Mexican Restaurant in Los Osos, and the food was very good. I met several ladies and was greeted by the ones I knew from before. It was nice that they remembered me.

I know that since I finished my radiation, everyone is thinking of me as done and past all of this season, but it isn’t actually true. I am still under treatment, and I am taking a medication orally which is an Estrogen suppressant. I will be taking that for about five years I belief. One of the side effects of the drug is loss of bone density, and even before all of this stuff, I was already showing signs of osteopenia which is the precursor of osteoporosis. The drug escalates the bone loss and there is a risk of spontaneous fractures. My oncologist wasn’t happy with my bone density test, so she is planning on starting me on an intravenous infusion in May and I will be getting it every six months. The doctors said that studies show that it improves bone density when on these Estrogen suppressant drugs.

But of course there are side effects that are awful. I was a bit distressed when she told me that one of the rare ones is that the jaw bone develops necrosis (bone death). She said it was rare. I am thinking that I got all of the rare side effects when I was on chemo. I looked up the side effects and people with a lot of dental work and tooth extractions are more prone to getting it. There is also flu like symptoms with the first dose, and severe bone pain for the duration of treatment. I was not liking what I was reading. I called my dentist, and she said that the studies where people got the bone death were those who were not healthy. She said I am healthy and my extractions were in the past. She actually made me feel better. I just hope she is right. She said that it is best to fight the cancer with all we can. I will most likely be praying a lot over this.

In the meantime, it is time to focus on my husband. He will be turning 60 this year, so I am planning to do a big party for him this month. His birthday is on April 2nd, but the 30th of March is the best weekend for us to do a party. My business is escalating, so I need to do it when I have the opportunity. It is the big one! We will have a great time.

Results

Well, I am getting bad about writing in my journal. I was just busy and actually didn’t feel well all the time. I am doing physical therapy for my back and it is slow going, but I think I am finally progressing albeit very slowly.

The pathologist had called me the following morning of my biopsy and he told me it was just a ruptured cyst and no cancer. I knew it wouldn’t be, but it is always good to have the final results. I also had an xray for my cough that has been lingering too long, and it was ok too. It is just that doctors are on the high alert once you have been diagnosed with cancer, so they are also checking for other things besides besides just possible pneumonia. Radiation can damage the lungs and cause coughing too, but I just got what has been going around with it just lasting longer than most. It is still bothersome to have a cough and back issues because I really wanted to press forward to a healthy regime. It will be soon.

I did pick up a couple of clients this week, with one of them as permanent week day assignments. The one got a new puppy and needed her taken out twice a day, and the other a sitting situation for the weekend. Then I had some regulars call me and I am very booked this weekend. The busiest I have ever been! Pete will be helping me with one because two of them are over night stays. The others are drop ins to feed and play with.

I am feeling much better these last couple of days, so I am enjoying my pet visits and such. It has been warm today and I even took a walk with a neighbor in between my dog clients. It is really quite a challenge to get to the different houses because all of Los Osos is dug up and there are detours everywhere. All of our cars are dusty and the streets are a mess. At least it is finally getting done, but it will be for a while.

Last Sunday, I got to sing with others as the worship leader decided to do something different to have a choir of singers rather than just a regular worship team. Those who usually play instruments sang instead, so we had three men and three women. It was great. I loved it. It is a wonderful thing to do something different and even God showed up and it was all good.

Post Biopsy

I am past the biopsy and it was not as painful as last year. The female doctor was gentler, and although it was still uncomfortable, it wasn’t the horrible pain like last year which was really traumatic. I was more anxious about the procedure than the results of the biopsy. The radiologist told me that my oncologist will have the results on Monday. I see my oncologist on Tuesday, so I probably won’t hear anything until my visit.

The procedure was a total different experience than last year. The female radiologist made sure I was numbed enough because I told her how awful it was last time for me, and then we all (the doctor, technician, and myself) talked about funny stories that happened to us and we were laughing during the whole thing. Then the doctor told me that if it is a cyst which she said she thought it was when she looked at the ultrasound, it may rupture when she inserted the marker. The cyst burst and she cheered and told me she was happy and was very hopeful and knows the results will be good. She did get a sample before it burst and sent it off. With all the laughing and cheering in the procedure room, you would think we were having a party. It did make me feel better and it wasn’t so grim like last year. As I said, a totally different experience. I now feel relief, and I am not even worried about the results. I am confident that I will have a good report next week.

I can go forward now. Yes!!

Mammogram Today

Well, I had a diagnostic mammogram on my remaining left breast today, and there was a cyst found. They did extra pictures, then sent me into another room to have an ultrasound and I looked up at the screen and saw a cyst. Then they sent me into that evil waiting room where the radiologist talks to you about the results and what he recommends. He recognized me from last year at this very same time! It felt like I was repeating the same scene as last year. He told me that he didn’t think it was anything serious, but just a cyst, but he recommended a biopsy because of my history.

I told him that when I had the biopsy last year, I was not anesthetized enough! It caused horrible pain and my thoughts were I never wanted to go through this ever again. He said we could just wait and watch it, but I said that it would probably be better if we just made sure. I went through the denial thing last year, and I don’t want to go through that again if it was something.

The biopsy is scheduled for next Thursday which is Valentines Day. I had my biopsy last year on Valentines Day too. That day isn’t a favorite for me pretty much at this point. The gal who was scheduling me said we could do it a different date, but it would be a week later, and I should have it done before my oncologists office visit which would be that same day if I scheduled it then. So I will do it next week on Thursday, and then see my oncologist on Tuesday the following week.

It is probably nothing, but I thought that the last time too… I can’t believe I am going through this again on the same exact days as last year! It is too weird to even think about! The thought passed through my mind that I should have had a double mastectomy, but who would have known? But then again, it is most likely just a cyst.

I have struggled all week with a bad cold and the cough still hanging on as well. It wears me out, so I have been mostly resting, but still I go out to take care of my pet clients. They have been easy ones, so it is just enough. It does help to have a responsibility to get me out of the house even when I am not totally well. The last couple of days were really beautiful, so I was glad to have an excuse to be walking in the sun. Today it is raining and is very cold. I went over to the dachshunds to potty them after I was done at the diagnostic center, and they made me happy with their cuteness. They thought it was too cold to stay out too long, so it was a short visit outside for all of us today.

I am not going to worry about the biopsy. I have several clients next week, so I will be busy and that will be a good thing and a great distraction. My back is actually feeling better, so I hope I am on the mend. I haven’t done my physical therapy exercises yet, so maybe that is why. Ha. No, I am thinking that maybe it is better because it didn’t hurt to sit in the car like it has been, so that is indeed an improvement. I will go be a good girl and do my stretches now and be done with them.

A Big Step Forward

I am still coughing from this crazy illness, but I do feel better. I am taking medication to make the coughing not so bad. Mucinex is what I have been taking. Great stuff. I still get tired from activities, but it is probably from the combination of recovering from my radiation treatments, this chest thing and cough, and my back pain. Pain really is tiring.

I went to physical therapy, and they had me do some more stuff which I hope will strengthen me quickly. Maybe I am not patient in this realm. The therapist did some manipulating of my muscles and whatever it was he was doing and we talked about dogs. I love people’s dog stories. I think I am going to start a separate blog site for dog stories. They are absolutely endless in entertainment.

I went to see the dachshunds, Callie and Niki, and they are so cute. I have Bert with me while his owner is gone to her mother’s memorial. So I have my doggie fix.

After my physical therapy, Pete came home and we went back into town to go through the proceedings to apply for my business license. I had full intent to do it last year at the beginning of the year, but I got diagnosed with my breast cancer and then it all took a turn around in my plans. Quite the distraction I must say. I now have my business license, and I am viewing this as my big step forward in life again. It actually went fairly quickly. We had to go back and forth a couple of times, but it is a short walk downtown and a lovely day at that. I wanted to do some other errands in town while we were there, but I was really fatigued by the late afternoon, so we can do those things tomorrow. I still had one more errand that was business related to do first before we went home. We went to a bank and opened up a business account, so now we are very official with a license and a business account at a bank.

It is good to have fun things to look forward to, and to actually see progress towards the positive. Everything goes very quickly when you wave your checkbook around; people like your money. Ha. One fun thing: At the court a lady was doing my paperwork, and she was very interested in my business and took a business card. She said there are several people in the court building that have pets and a couple are involved with animal rescue projects. She said she would post my card in their break room! I was very happy with that. This business has been very fun for me and when I was ill with chemotherapy, the dogs ended up being my therapy dogs.

Working in nursing never was this fun! I enjoyed nursing most of the time, but I have to be honest. It wasn’t fun a lot of the time in many seasons. Sometimes it was absolutely awful and I hated it. The stress was over the top all the time even in the best of times. I still have my RN license active, because I had worked so hard to achieve that and I worked at it for so long. I may never use it again, but if something ever comes up that God wants me to do, I will be ready for anything. I was thinking there may be a day that Pete and I do a short mission trip and I could be utilized as a health aid somewhere. I could certainly give immunizations or do teaching of good health habits like washing hands and such. I don’t want to close that door if we had an opportunity like that in the future.