Thursday, December 31, 2009
Kevin, Luke and Don ... and so many others ... have gone to see the Canada vs United States game! Exciting!
I'm at home relaxing before I get myself glammed up and over to Cinderella's house.
Unfortunately today, the skin under my arm finally gave way. It might have happened yesterday. I noticed some discomfort under my arm then but didn't look. Today I looked. I had hoped to avoid skin breakage but ... oh well ... at least I don't have any more radiation treatments to make things worse! This will heal and I'll have some time in the next few days to keep it still and let it breathe. I did have to take some tylenol for it today and I'm sure I'll be a bit subdued tonight but I'm celebrating nonetheless! I have champagne ready to be uncorked!
I wish all of you a very happy ... and safe ... New Year's Eve!!
Posted by Heather A at 5:58 PM
It's a bright sunshiny day and that last day of yucky 2009. It's my rebirthday because I'm done all of my breast cancer treatments and can now get back to the joy of living! There are a few little things to still be dealt with in the breast cancer department but the worst is over and I have no more ordeals to face. At least that's the plan and I'm just going to assume it's so.
Yesterday my family was moving a little slow. It's a good thing most of them slept well into the afternoon. Those dental appointments were a disappointing interruption. Hannah, Kevin and I ran a few errands. Kayla and Gillian joined us for dinner and then we took Hannah to the airport ... only to find out that her flight was delayed by 1.5 hours. So we brought her home for a while and when she got back, it was only delayed by an additional hour. It's always a little sad for me to wake up and walk past their empty bedrooms after seeing them in there every morning for a while.
I got up earlier this morning and then made myself go back to bed because I knew I hadn't slept long enough. I want to be able to stay up for midnight. I'm going to Bonnie's tonight to celebrate New Years while Kevin, Luke and Don are going to the Canada vs. United States game.
And all day I'm going to celebrate my rebirthday day. Happy Birthday to you, too, Laurel!
Posted by Heather A at 12:15 PM
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
... I think it was around 4:00 a.m. when I was piling dishes, plumping cushions, had removed my wig and was just walking down the hall on my way upstairs to go to bed when ...
... the door flew open and there was Luke and a bunch of friends home from the bar! So I put my wig on again and we had a kitchen party with Luke's friends! There was loud music, much singing and dancing ... all in the kitchen! Thanks, Myles for dancing with me! The boys were really busting out some moves! I had no idea they were such amazing dancers ... Jared, Keenan ... WHO KNEW?!!
And a big bonus for me was that I got to see Luke's friend, Delaney, who tricked everyone into thinking she wouldn't be coming home from London for Christmas and then ... SURPRISE!! She had been here once before but I was asleep at the time but this time I got to see her and give her a big hug! Crazy girl!
So that was quite the end of radiation celebration. I think Luke got to bed at 5:30 a.m. (which wasn't much after the rest of us) and then he and Hannah were both up at 8:30 to get to their 9:00 dental appointments!
What a crazy night! I think I'm going to claim false labour and have my rebirth day tomorrow!
Posted by Heather A at 1:43 PM
And still, all was very quiet in the house. The boys had drinks and watched hockey in the family room while we visited in the living room. This photo is after the tequila. The tequila shot was the turning point, I think. At this point, the hockey game is over, tequila has been shot, Arden has made sure all the boys have had enough lemon to save their livers, and they're about to leave to meet up with a bunch of friends at a karaoke bar.
Posted by Heather A at 1:21 PM
... innocently enough. Kevin, Hannah, Luke and I had dinner at the Nutana Cafe since it was Hannah's only chance to see Norm, the proprietor, while she's here.
I didn't plan a big party because I wasn't sure how I would feel at the end of radiation. Well, of course I knew I'd be elated, but I also didn't know how sore or fatigued I'd be. About a month ago I had invited Auria and Tarah to come by tonight and celebrate with us knowing that would also give us a rare chance to have all of us together for a visit. I also told the kids to have some friends over if they wanted because I love having their friends here and I also knew that I could still go to bed with a house full of young people in the house.
Kayla and Gillian were the first people here and they brought me this lovely amaryllis! It's gorgeous and it's so sweet of them.
Posted by Heather A at 1:13 PM
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A couple of nights ago I finished reading Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. She also wrote her astounding autobiography, The Glass Castle, which I read earlier. Her story is quite amazing and how she and her siblings found success let alone survived is quite amazing. This is the story of her grandmother and also provides the background for the story of Wall's own mother. It's an interesting read and good story telling. Hard times. Tough people. Undaunted spirits.
Posted by Heather A at 6:38 PM
I just heard from my oncological nurse and she had some encouraging information for me. The oncologist who was on call today looked at my file and he feels that it will probably take another couple of weeks but that then I should start feeling some improvements in my joints and muscles. Even that is exciting to hear!! It's been bothering me so much that I haven't seen any improvement yet but to hear that it typically takes a little longer yet is just nice to know.
She also said that there will be a visiting oncologist filling in starting on January 11 and that shortly after that I'll have an appointment so we can start figuring out what to do about continuing medication.
That's all good news to have before starting my rebirth tomorrow! I'll wake up a new woman tomorrow! I wonder if Kevin's ready for that. I'll bet he is!!
Thanks, Sylvia, so much for these pretty roses and heather that you dropped by with! Such pretty pastels! I also listened to Leonard Cohen sing "Dear Heather" today. YEAH!!
Posted by Heather A at 5:46 PM
It seems necessary to not just talk about "the bell" in the radiation department without mentioning the name of the person it honours. I wish I knew her story and I hope she beat cancer. The plaque reads ...
Ring this bell to honor
your last treatment.
Let the sound fill your heart
to signify the bravery
of your life’s journey.
Taya Rae Sawka
Posted by Heather A at 3:17 PM
Done! The very last radiation treatment!! Now I can get on with life.
Radiation treatment status: DONE!!
I had my last treatment and then saw my radiation oncologist. He told me that my skin even looks like it's healing already, which it is because of the 4 day gap since my previous treatment. He reminded me of the delicacy of the skin and even when I touched my own skin to show him the area that was previously causing me the most grief, he cautioned me to not even touch it gently as I did. He said even that could cause skin to come loose. He reminded me that it's lotion in the radiated area and all down my arm for life because of the damage from the radiation and the damage to my lymphatic system in that arm. Lotion. Lotion. Lotion. No sun on that skin. Ever. I think I get it. I see him again in 3 months.
On the way out of the radation department and after some hugging, I rang the bell to announce me last treatment while people clapped. I had a tear in my eye as I walked away. It's been a very long haul and it's hard to believe it's really over. Well ... mostly over except for follow-ups and figuring out the drug problem. That aside, I'm on my way to full recovery. That's the plan. They can't tell me if the treatments worked or not. If the cancer doesn't come back, I'll know that it did. While that's not the kind of reassurance I'd prefer to have, it will have to do and I'll have to take a postive, optimistic approach while exercising reasonable lifestyle precautions to possibly prevent a recurrence.
Also ... just as another exciting little milestone ... I wore mascara today. My lashes are actually long enough for mascara. Short but there and more visible with mascara on. Oh yeah!!
Posted by Heather A at 3:14 PM
Tomorrow will be my new "birth day" because after today I can put cancer treatments behind me. Today, at 1:30, I have my LAST radiation treatment. The very last one. I'm so excited to be done with surgery ... done with chemo ... done with radiation. Aside from a little tweaking with estrogen blocking drugs, I'm DONE with cancer treatments.
There's a bell on the wall in the radiation department and you ring the bell after your last treatment. I'll be ringing that bell today and everyone there will be clapping for me. I already feel very emotional about it.
Thanks for all your calls and emails. Thanks so much, Susan and Susan, for the beautiful bouquet and your cheery note! I was so surprised! And really happy! It really feels like a celebration.
Posted by Heather A at 12:54 PM
Last night Kevin's sister's family, Uncle Kaschl and us had Christmas dinner at Don and Sylvia's. A super delicious turkey dinner with all the fixin's and then some! I had 4 glasses of wine! How did that happen? I think I was just so excited about today's LAST radiation treatment, I was partying already! Needless to say, I was toast when I got home. I'm good to go this morning, though ... if only my limbs would cooperate.
Posted by Heather A at 12:40 PM
Monday, December 28, 2009
Yesterday was mostly a wigless regroup day for me. For Kevin it was "game day with the guys ... and Chantelle". Hannah was out most of the day. She and Leah spent some time at Leah's working on the essays they have to finish before January 1. Luke was out with pals keeping their lacrosse sticks warm, working out, shopping and then went to a movie. That left me at home alone most of the day, which was just what I needed after such a social last few days. I was in my pajamas almost all day! And no wig. Bonus. I think the wig wears my tender newly sprouted hairs off at the pressure points so I try to avoid wearing it as often as I'm comfortable, which means when not in social situations.
It was pizza dinner at our house last night and at the homes of many others I imagine based on how busy the pizza place was! Darrel, Lynn and Kathy (and Otto and Shelby, the dogs) joined Luke and I for pizza. Mom and Auntie Anne came by after, followed by Hannah. Lynn, Kathy and I did a bit of puzzling ... a Kerr Christmas annual event. The photo is of the pin-up puzzle I finished last night.
While my underarm is getting better (I'm so happy about that), my actual breast has become increasingly tender. There's a lot of cupping and lotioning going on in that department. Only one more zap of radiation left tomorrow, though. I'm very tired. Even after sleeping long hours, I wake up feeling tired expecting that I'll feel perkier once I'm up for a while. But I don't. I just feel dog tired. Not so much sleepy tired, though that's part of it sometimes, but just all over bone tired. I remember feeling that way during chemo sometimes, too. Still, I have the time to indulge my fatigue, so it's not so bad. If only my joints would improve! Yesterday my hands were more stiff and achy than usual. I just don't get it. It's puzzling.
Posted by Heather A at 11:54 AM
Sunday, December 27, 2009
This is Hannah and Tarah. They've been friends since they were 4 years old. Tarah was here last night for a while.
We had a quiet morning and afternoon at home yesterday before going to Jim and Lynne's for scrumptious leftovers ... card games ... movies ... video games ... air hockey ... drinks ... yacking. All very nice to be with the whole fam-damily.
My arm continues to feel better and I'm thrilled about that! The joints ... not so much. They felt worse this morning but maybe will improve as the day goes on. Maybe, for example, I slept with my hands clenched in fists which would explain why my fingers are extra stiff this morning.
Posted by Heather A at 1:03 PM
Saturday, December 26, 2009
It was such a nice Christmas yesterday! We opened presents in the morning at home with Don and Syl and then got over to Jim and Lynne's at about lunch time with the whole Kerr family. Only Josh was missing. Both game and dining tables stayed busy pretty much all day! We had a fabulous turkey dinner! The whole day was great!
Now, more of the same later today. We all slept like logs last night, we were so tired. In fact, it's almost noon and Hannah and Luke are still tucked in their beds.
I'm also happy to say that I think my worst radiated skin issues to this point are starting to turn the corner. Yesterday, through the night and today I've had better range of motion and less cracking and stinging. I'm pretty excited about that! It was a week ago that I had my last full radiation and so far the booster shots haven't been as bad. I'm feeling encouraged! YEAH!!
Happy boxing day everyone!
Posted by Heather A at 11:49 AM
Thursday, December 24, 2009
A puppy arrived on our doorstep this morning! Kevin's been a little slow about getting a dog so Bonnie took matters into her own hand. As you can see, the little fella is already on the furniture. You should see him in action. He sings! VERY funny!!
Radiation Treatment Status: 29 done. Just 1 LEFT next Tuesday!!
Today was the first day I wasn't able to quite get my left arm in position over my head. The radiation therapists were great, though, and rigged something to support my arm a little closer to my body while still allowing them to position me for the radiation.
I then saw a radiation oncologist who I really liked. She was very personable and provided a lot of helpful information. She explained a few things and reminded me that the radiation effects will peak about a week after radiation is finished. After that, a little way into January, I should start seeing improvements. She gave me some strict instructions such as NO SOAP FOR A MONTH! Not on my radiated skin anyway. Don't get freaked out, though, because my sweat glands there are totally fried so I don't sweat. Not even when I have a hot flash. When I saw the doctor, I was wearing one of those baggy cotton things that tie in the back. She told me that I must wear one of those for the next month or, better, just hang out naked so that nothing is touching the radiated skin except good, old air. Now that won't be happening, I can assure you. I think Luke would be a little freaked out and, besides, I don't have drapes on all my windows. Still, I get the point and it's a reminder of what I have to do. I also have a prescription for a stronger hydrocortisone cream just in case I need it over Christmas.
After we were done in the radiation department, at Berny's suggestion, we stopped at the Champion Centre Pharmacy and just inquired about the Arimidex. Thanks, Berny, for the suggestion. It was a good one. I asked them when I might feel improvements after stopping the Arimidex and while I didn't actually get an answer, we had a very good talk with a pharmacist who was very familiar with this side effect and who pulled my file to put on someone's desk. That and talking to someone who has seen this side effect frequently was very comforting. Not a bad way to move into the Christmas break from cancer.
So now we're home getting the house tidied. I'm sorry to have missed Lou, who stopped by while I was at my treatment. Maybe we'll get a chance to drive out to see her beautiful lights and for a short visit during the holidays.
Posted by Heather A at 3:26 PM
Here is last night's early evening crew downing tequila shots. We've been waiting for a time when Arden was with us to enjoy the tequila he so kindly brought back for us when he was in Mexico. Last night was the night. Of course, I wanted a photo of everyone together before they started downing their shots but I made the mistake of saying "okay" when I was ready to take the picture, which they took as the go-ahead to start shooting their shots! I love seeing Hannah's and Luke's friends! Love it! Love it! Love it!
I woke up at 3:00 a.m. to the sound of joyful voices still in the house. I thought it was Hannah and her friends but it turns out that she was tucked into her bed long before then. I guess Luke brought home a bunch of friends after their night at Amigos. He's still asleep. With his socks on. Silly boy!
My radiation treatment is today at 1:00 and I'll see a doctor at that time, though not my usual radiation oncologist.
Yesterday I heard from a Saskatchewan woman, Berny, who has been my route only a few steps ahead of me. I have been following her blog and had commented on it in August and she only just found my comment and sent me an email. Some of the things she's written in her emails so echoes my own thoughts and experiences that it feels like we should be having a sleep over together, talking and giggling through the night, like when we were kids. It's funny. And helpful. I have found her blog to be very helpful and comforting to me because we're experiencing a lot of the same drugs and in the same medical system. In fact, we've had the same oncologist and are both a little nervous about not yet having been assigned an oncologist at this point because we both have a pressing and time sensitive need for oncological direction. Berny has shared some useful tips and suggestions with me. Thanks, Berny!
Merry Christmas Eve's Day, everyone!
Posted by Heather A at 11:11 AM
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Today Hannah gets home! She already texted Kev to say her flight is 20 minutes delayed. That's not as bad as I was thinking it might be. Still, the day isn't done and I won't be relaxed until she's here.
Radiation Treatment Status: 28 done. 2 left! JUST 2!! Tomorrow then next Tuesday. DONE!! My skin is very dry and cracky though not cracked right open yet. Yesterday the nurse warned me that it's going to get worse still before it gets better. Good to know. This morning moving my arm even a few inches caused stinging but I was much more mobile after applying the hydrocortisone cream and was able to gently, slowly get my arms over my head for today's treatment.
Posted by Heather A at 12:50 PM
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Radiation Treatment Status: 27 done. 3 to go!
My radiation oncologist was SO busy that after an hour of waiting, we were finally sent home with a prescription for hydro-cortisone cream after an experienced nurse took a look at me. I've only had one application of the hydro-cortisone cream and already my skin feels considerably better! Hallelujah for that! It felt good enough that Kevin, Luke and I went to a little soiree put on by a friend in our neighbourhood and it was a perfect pre-Christmas event to attend. Warm and jolly in beautiful surroundings with lots of happy people. It felt good to get out and socialize!
Luke, Kevin and I got the tree decorated today, too. Bonus. Luke can't remember the last time he decorated a tree ... he was THAT little! Now he thinks he should have his own show on The Learning Channel.
Posted by Heather A at 9:28 PM