Archives for posts with tag: Feelings

So M has gone to Holland to see his family, and we’ve sent Lily to the kennel because I’m coming off my prednisone taper and it’s just been too difficult for me to get her out 3 times a day when my head is elsewhere.

But I’ve done pretty well with being home alone. And I’ve had friends checking in on me, so it’s not like I’m really alone. I have a comfy bed, crochet to do, TV, and the Internet and plenty of simple stuff to eat. I sleep a lot when I’m coming off my prednisone taper. Prednisone is a fabulous drug in many ways, but the side effects can be quite awful. It creates a stress-like environment in your body, so that your blood sugar rises, you fill with fluid and it impacts all of your muscles. My teeth feel very long, my eyes don’t focus and I just feel fuzzy all over. Add that to the anti nausea drugs, you’re a drooling, constipated mess. I’m sure I’ve written this all before – I fear I begin to be redundant.

But at the end of the taper, things start to feel better, and it really only takes a day or so to feel normal again. But, you have to be a little careful emotionally because of mood swings. The first time I went off prednisone, I had this manic feeling. Rushing around, wanting to eat everything. And then you can tank and feel depressed. You can also be depressed when your counts drop because you’re just tired and lacking energy. So the key here is to simply listen to your body, and don’t expect yourself to do too much at any one time. Nothing is so important that it cannot wait.

I also have strange food cravings. For the last few weeks I’ve wanted to eat asian inspired things – noodles and broccolli in soy and ginger with shrimp, dim sum dumplimgs. Pesto. Garlicky and green, clear flavors for the most part. Wonder if that has something to do with how the chemo impacts my mouth lining. So I’ve been eating shrimp and chicken and salads. Yummy. And dark, dark chocolate. Might as well eat what I want. More about that in another post though…….

This time, i also tried to drink a lot of water before chemo and during my taper. I think it helps a lot with flushing out the crap. The only small annoyance is that I have to get out of bed at 3 AM for a potty break. But that’s ok… just sleep some more after.

And M will be home tonight, Lily will be home tomorrow, and Eileen comes in two weeks for a long visit. In two weeks I have my last big chemo, to be followed by 12 smaller dose ones. So we’re moving forward.

Haven’t really been writing much.  Too busy playing angry birds on iPad and crocheting hats.  Also have been waiting for my laptop stand to arrive so I can sit in bed or on my fainting couch and type. Am really trying not to type lying on my stomach since that seems to be really bad for my neck.

Mood has been up and down a bit. I’ve learned though that it’s really important to frame. So I work pretty hard on framing this as positive – I have good reason to think of my treatment in a positive light, because

  • Reasonably small tumor
  • Clear margins
  • Clear Lymph Nodes
  • No evidence of  mets
  • Really nice lumpectomy that looks like hardly anything has been done

The one negative factor is that the tumor grew quickly and aggressively. So I’m having chemo for that, something that might not have been suggested a few years ago.

Still it’s a little scary, and there are days when I worry. The most vivid frame of breast cancer that I have in my head is my mother’s experience, more than 20 years ago. But, there are a lot of differences, and history does not have to repeat itself. Well, it’s already not repeating itself since our surgical outcomes and prescribed treatments are so different.

Also, I’m trying to keep in mind that more and more women die with rather than die of breast cancer – it’s more of a chronic disease. And although we’re not worrying yet about recurrences – it’s important to realize that women live through recurrences. Not always the epic fail.

I don’t like the idea of fighting breast cancer – I mean, I want the cancer cells to go away, but I don’t like all the war metaphors. I don’t like fighting with my body. It is true that chemotherapy kills cancer cells. It also kills other fast growing cells like hair, and blood components, mucosal linings and so on. Cleaning is an interesting metaphor, but since I’m such a slob, that’s definitely not me. My brother in law suggested an image of love and eating the cells, which is sort of cool.   Have to think more about that….

We  have so many opportunities to hate our own bodies, women especially  – appearance, weight, and now cancer.  I don’t want to hate my body so I don’t want it to be at war, and I don’t want to think about failure within.

The other thing that’s been really interesting is learning to be in the present. Not to dwell on the past and not to worry too much abut the future. That helps a lot. To just enjoy each day as it happens. Mindfulness.  Breathing.

Right now I’m sitting in a sunny room, looking out the window. I can’t see the Alps since it’s a little foggy, but it’s beautiful anyway. Lily is sleeping on the bed and I’m sitting here typing. It’s not a bad existence. Tomorrow I have chemo and there will be a few days of fuzzy head, swelling, and general blah as I taper down the prednisone. But then I’ll be 3/4 done with the first set of chemo.  And spring is coming, so the days will lengthen. And soon this will all be done!


Today I want my life back. I want to take a bath without wrapping my arm in a plastic bag. I want to not think about the picc line in my right arm or the wonky feeling I have that’s just off center. I don’t want to see a doctor, have a blood test, and I wish I didn’t have that creepy feeling in the back of my head where my hair used to be.

I don’t want to be a cancer patient. I want my big old underwire bra back.

But I can’t have those things. Not right now anyway.

At the moment my life is consumed with the business of getting through chemotherapy, radiation and what follows. My life is consumed with side effects, anti nausea drugs and even laxatives. Cancer patient seems to pervade all aspects of my life. So many changes in a short time.


And then I also realized that I need to manage things just a little bit better. I have these wide open days before me without structure. So I want to set some goals for things to do …. Meditate, nap, write. I have to set myself a schedule and follow through something that I’ve learned from having ADD. Once I realized that, the angst just went way, way down. And I had my life back again.

Interesting to think what this says about anxiety.

Although now I’m tired so I will save that for another day………

So my post chemo cycle is like this. Morning after blah. Next two days really blah as I have prednisone head and water retention, although I stop puffing like a balloon middle of the third day. Then last night I just went to sleep and feel a lot better so far today.

It’s really important to sleep, drink water, eat stuff you like that’s easy. I’ve become enamored of oatmeal with butter and cheese on those days and small bits of dark chocolate. Chicken soup is good too.

My mood feels a lot better too. Part of staying in the moment is recognizing you feel like crap and just letting that feeling persist. Not much you can do otherwise. Just relax, crochet, watch a funny movie but don’t berate yourself for not being happy. The big difference is to let go of the crap moment when it’s gone. Don’t hold on to it. But realize it might come back. It is a weird place to be in.

Today the sun is shining, although we have fog and I have some energy to arrange stuff. Am thankful for that.

And I am half done with this chemo, I handled an increased dose just fine. Many good things.

I don’t consider myself to be religious. I don’t know what I believe in, although I do believe that spiritual connections exist.

The start of my own  breast cancer experience is bracketed by my mother’s death from breast cancer 20 years ago. Exactly 20 years ago.

I had a mammogram and ultrasound Dec 20. The radiologist looked at the lump and said – Fibroadenoma, probably benign, but to be sure we can biopsy. Or follow. I said, biopsy. Good thing I did. The next day, Marco and I found out that it was not benign, but rather poorly differentiated and thus malignant. This was Dec 21, and it was the day 20 years ago that we brought my mother home from the hospital, to die.

Someday I will write more about my mother’s experience. For now – she continued on a steady decline and died on January 14, 1991.  My sister, two aunts, hospice nurse and myself were all there. My father had just left for work. It was a bit past 10AM in the morning, a mild, sunny day. It was peaceful. As sad as it was, and while a part of me will always feel it was unfair that she died so young, there was something about it that seemed so natural.

On January 14, 2011, Marco and I were driving back from meeting my oncologist. He was very optimistic, I had a good prognosis, my scans were clear. We felt more hopeful than any time before Dec 21, when we first learned that the lump was cancer. At one point, we were driving down the A6, south of Bern, looking at the Alps – you can see the Jungfrau, Eiger, Moench if it’s clear enough. It was a gorgeous afternoon. It’s a spectacular view, if you’ve not seen it. The Alps here really remind me of quiet, grave, learned men and women, watching over us.

And at this one point,  I just had this feeling – tingle, puff of air, whatever, and somehow my mother and I let go of each other. Not that we don’t care for and watch out for each other, but rather, our paths won’t be the same.

And when I checked the time it was a little after 4PM, Central European Time, 6 hours later than Eastern Standard Time – 10 AM in Pittsburgh.Maybe it’s an angel, maybe the hand of some god, or maybe my subconscious rationalizing new information.

Whatever it was, it was a profound moment for me. The part of me that always has to make a joke wants to queue Twilight Zone music…..because it feels a little squirrly to be profound.