Getting Mentally Ready

I saw the radiation doctor today and discussed the radiation and it’s side effects. Got the ‘mapping’ done…that is where they do a CT scan of the area they are going to radiate so they can do the accurate calculations of where the radiation beam is going to go. They make a mold that I lay on that keeps me in place. I’ll start radiation sometime next week for 10 daily treatments. Then I’ll start the new targeted Chemo on June 27th…one week after my 54th birthday. It’s on my cousins 54th birthday. We used to celebrate our birthdays together when we were little cause we were only 1 week apart.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But I’m afraid of both. The radiation to my spine comes with many risks, and the strong targeted chemo…again. I always get scared when I’m going to start chemo cause you never know how your body is going to react. But I tolerated the other two, hopefully I’ll be fine with this one. I know I’ll have side effects, I just hope my body can tolerate them. T-DM1 is the new chemo medication I’ll be getting every three weeks. Not sure how many cycles I’ll be getting yet, but from what I’ve read they give it you until it stops working and you have another progression. I have read many success stories about this medication so hopefully it will work well for me too. I still have too much to live for. And I hope I have a good tolerable quality of life while on this med.

I am finally over the shock and have accepted my circumstance. Now I’m ready to FIGHT!

This past Sunday several churches in our town got together at the Convention Center for worship and prayer. It was awesome. I was prayed over by a Pastor who’s wife had had breast cancer and was healed from his prayer. He prayed over me and I was ‘slain in the spirit’ (that is where the holy spirit knocks you out) I laid on the floor frozen. God showed me heaven. There were two Angels that looked like two huge colorful doves that hovered over me. I couldn’t get my eyes off of them. They were luminescent. I felt no pain and so much peace. It was such a beautiful experience. I believe he showed me heaven and where I would be going to ease my fears. And to show me how beautiful it is going to be and the feeling that I would have as I transitioned. I’m not afraid anymore. I know I will be fine. But I am hoping that is still some time away, because I’m just not ready to leave this earth quite yet. I was hoping for a miracle and that I would be healed of these tumors. But that didn’t happen as the CT scan showed today. But I did feel better afterwards. I believe these next treatments will be successful though…maybe that is where the miracle is going to be. An extended life for many years….time will tell. Wait and see…

Still in shock.

I’m still in shock over the latest news. I’m having a hard time processing that the cancer is now in my spine and all the tumors are growing and active again. Just writing it seems so unreal. I’ve been waking up every morning and realizing that this is real, my reality, not a dream. I’ve been in a fog. Unable to focus. Today has been a little better. I had to go see my therapist 2 days in a row. I started seeing a therapist for cancer during the second round of chemo, I was starting to get depressed. Now I see her on a regular basis and she is a Godsend! Today we did a meditation on healing cancer. I felt so much better (mentally) after leaving her office today. The fog seemed to start dissipating.

I spent the day with one of my daughters. We both had doctor appointments in Austin so we rode together. I went with her to hers and got to hear my new granddaughters heartbeat. My daughter is having a baby due Aug 1st. See why I gotta stay alive????

Then we went to my appointment to check a black spot on my face that appeared during my first round of chemo. The dermatologist said it was benign and not cancer…THANK GOD!

Mannnn….I’m just tired of the word CANCER. And I’m tired of having it. I’m ready to be rid of this Monster. I’m praying these next treatments of radiation and targeted chemo get rid of it. Or at least make it stop growing for a long long time.

I’m hoping I don’t lose all my hair…eyelashes, eyebrows, etc…again. And I hope I don’t get neuropathy in my fingers, mouth and feet. I think those are the two worst things….and of course the mouth sores, cracked bleeding skin, black nails, bone pain, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Not to mention all the medications you have to take when you get chemo that have their own side effects. Like the Steroids, and anti-allergy medications. They all knock you out while getting chemo. Oh JOY! JOY! JOY!

I bought some meditation MP3’s to download on my phone on cancer, chemo, and some others, to listen to while I do these next treatments. They were recommended by my therapist, and after listening to the cancer one today, I had to order it after it made me feel so much better. It’s recommended that you listen to it twice a day, so that is what I am going to do first thing every morning and last thing every night. I also got one to listen to while doing chemotherapy.

I’m also going to really stop eating sugar. That means alcohol too…no more top shelf margarita’s.. well….everything in moderation…right??? But sweets…like donuts, candy, and ice cream…all getting cut out of my diet. I have to really get serious if I’m going to beat this thing. I’ll probably start doing fasts and drinking more juices and smoothies. That is one good way to get fruits and veggies down. I’m learning to eat more vegetables. I have always loved fruit, so no problem there…but veggies… ugh.

Well time for bed…tomorrows another day…

Scanxiety…it’s a real thang!

Well….I got scans on Monday, saw the Doctor on Tuesday, and wept on Wednesday.

Scanxiety is for real…weeks, then days leading up to the every 3 month scans, I get real anxious. Anxious because I don’t want to hear that the cancer is spreading. And on Tuesday that is exactly what happened.

The tumors in the lungs have started growing again, the tumor on my sternum that has already been radiated last year is active again, and the tumor on my scapula shows ‘hot’. Not sure if that is from just finishing radiation or if the radiation didn’t kill it. And now… another new spot..on my spine at T 11.

So now time for a treatment change. Going back to the Radiation doctor for more radiation, and starting chemo….again, for the 3rd time. If this treatment doesn’t work then I’ll be getting biopsies of the tumors to see if the cancer has changed. I’ve been told and have also heard about breast cancer changing and going from a double positive to a triple negative and others. Thus needing a different kind of treatment. I have ER and Her2 positive. So we will see. I need lots of prayer. Please.

I can’t say that I’m not scared….scared of heading faster and faster to the end of my rope. But I’m not throwing in the towel just yet. I still have a lot of fight in me. Of all the tumors that I’ve had though, the one on my spine does cause me pain.

I wish marijuana didn’t affect me like it does or I would do edibles all day long!

They help with the pain, nausea, sleep, and my appetite! But I still have to work everyday, so needless to say I have to have a clear mind.

After the news I got drunk last night. Not like me, but last night I didn’t care. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. Just crawl in my hole and have a one person pity party. So I did. I posted a Cheers of my drink and the news on Instagram and that was the way my kids all found out. I’m sorry children, but I just couldn’t deal with it last night. Please forgive me. I know this is just as hard, if not harder for you all. I’m sorry.

But enough of the wallowing and time to get to some serious fighting. I started up Frankincense oil, supplements, and apricot seeds again. I got complacent there for a while and probably shouldn’t have. I was doing so good…then Bam, BAM! The Biotch keeps coming back…back in BLACK! (cancer is black by the way under the microscope)

I ended up working half a day today, it was all I could muster. My sister and her husband came over to cheer me up. Don’t know what I would do without my little sister. She actually took off from work to come be by my side. I love you my Sista! Muah!

Talked and told my boss…that is always a hard thing to do cause you never know how exactly to tell them whats going on with you without fear of losing your job, but I have a very understanding boss who has worked with me through all of this and is actually someone I can call a friend. She is so easy to talk to. And she is a Christian woman so she prays for me and puts me on prayer lists at her church.

I have slowly been talking to my family and hearing their concerns….and of course telling me what I should do, what I should and shouldn’t eat, what I need to do with my body, etc… they all mean well. And I listen.

Now I’m just waiting to be called by doctors to schedule my appts for the next steps. The waiting is hard, cause you want everything to start..yesterday! But you have to wait for Pre Auths from the insurance company. They are hoping to start the chemo next week.

My hair didn’t even make it to 3 inches long this time. I may or may not lose it again. I’m hoping not. The doctor says this chemo will be a more targeted chemo and will not go throughout my body and kill all my cells. It is a very strong chemo and they will put a drop into the Herceptin bag, (the Herceptin is an anti-body drug that kills or slows down the type of cancer that I have) the chemo will ride piggy back on the Herceptin protein to the cancer cell and kill the tumor. That is what is hoped anyway.

Hopefully symptoms will be mild and I won’t get very sick. We will see…I can always say no or stop all this whenever I want. But right now I am open to anything and everything.

My new Norm…

That is what I have heard it called…my new norm. Meaning my life has changed drastically never to be the same again. I’m often asked how I feel. My usual response is..I feel good. For the most part I feel ok most days. I guess I have gotten used to feeling ‘my new norm.’ Which is tired, fatigued, and sometimes pain. I don’t have the energy that I used to have, I don’t have an appetite, I’m nausea’s everyday and have diarrhea daily, despite all the meds to help prevent it. I don’t have much pain. My back feels like it has a headache sometimes….just achy, guess it’s from all the tumors in the lungs . I try to remain positive and thank God for each day that I am able to wake up, breath, and go about my daily life. I still work full time. I do house chores and cook. I still throw parties and get together’s. Though now everything I do makes me tire easily. But I still do it. I try to live as normal as possible.

My life does consist of almost weekly doctor appts. Infusions, shots, scans, tests, Oncology, Cardiac, GYN, etc.. I live in a new world. The Cancer world. It is a world all it’s own that only people with cancer will understand. You are given an expiration date and you become very grateful for this sweet thing we call LIFE and the people in it. I get told all the time…. we are all going to die. Yes, that’s true. But it is very different when your actually told your going to die and your given a time frame. It changes things. All of a sudden that air you just breathed in seems sweeter, you just want to be around those you love all the time and not miss one single moment.

I try to live in the moment, cause for me…there really may not be a tomorrow. I know that can be said for all of us…but I’m at a little higher risk than most. lol

And of course…there are those that I run into who ask me if I have tried a dog dewormer because they know a friend of a friend of a friends friend who had cancer, took this $5 dewormer and was healed of their cancer. I’ve been asked if I have tried all kinds of alternative medicines..Marijuana, Frankincense, Apricot seeds (cyanide) which all of those I do, the apricot seeds not so much cause they make me vomit. When you have stage 4 and are terminal you figure…what have I got to lose? I don’t think I will try the dewormer though.

People mean well. And I have been lucky and blessed to have such good friends and family around me. I started going to a work out class last week. I used to work out and do Nia and Yoga before I was diagnosed. I’ve only recently been able to muster up enough energy to be able to return to Nia. Nia is a really fun and easy dance class and I have met some really nice people there. It provides the cardio and stretching that this ol body needs.

I do eat healthier, but of all things sugar is my weakness. And of course, that would be the worst thing you can eat when you have cancer, since cancer feeds on sugar. I’ve gotten a lot better and don’t eat as much sugar as I used to, but I still eat some on a daily basis.

I lost all my hair twice. Eyebrows and eyelashes too. This time my eyebrows and eyelashes are taking forever to grow back in and so is my hair. I’ve decided to just keep my hair short this time since if I have to do chemo again, I may lose it all over again. If I have to do chemo again it will be a more targeted chemo and won’t go to all of my cells. My doc says I may not lose my hair….but he has a patient who has done that treatment and she lost her hair again. :/ So I decided to just have fun with it while it’s short. I used to always have really long hair, down my back. I used to highlight it. I miss it. Now it’s short and black. People think I dye it because I don’t have but one or two grays. But it’s just good genes.

Really, despite my circumstances I feel that I have been blessed beyond measure.

Now the real fun begins!

Within weeks I had a double Mastectomy with reconstruction. I thought the worst was over. As I lay in the hospital bed coming out of anesthesia with family and friends all around me, my mom leans over with tears in her eyes and says…”Mija, (a term of endearment for Mexican daughters) I won’t be able to help take care of you as I have cancer too.” What????!!!! She picked THAT moment, when I’m coming out from being under to tell me this???? I was in shock! She went on…”I have uterine cancer and am having a total hysterectomy next week.” UGH! I couldn’t talk. All I could do was cry. Why was GOD doing this to us? My mom had surgery one week after I did. She had Stage 1 Uterine cancer. My sister who thank God is as healthy as an ox, went between me and our mom and helped take care of us as we recovered. Thank you my SISTA!!! I love you!!! A few weeks later as we were recovering and getting ready to start chemo together my mom gets a call from her oldest sister, my Aunt Maryanne, and was told that my aunt had stage 4 bladder cancer. So there it was…the 3 of us diagnosed with cancer. Both my mom and I chose the conventional treatment of surgery and chemo and had chemo at the same time, same days, but different locations. We lost our hair at the same time and both went through the grueling pains of chemo. My aunt on the other hand chose a different route and decided to do experimental drugs, no surgery and no chemo. Needless to say the cancer spread rapidly and the experimental treatment did not work and we lost her right before Mother’s Day in 2018. Rest in peace Aunt Maryanne. You will never be forgotten and you will always be loved.

Mom and I got through all of our surgeries, I had 7 within one year…port insertion, reconstruction, infections, etc… and we made it through chemo. Neither of us needed radiation. We were both in the clear with no evidence of disease. So in Dec 2017 I had my port taken out and so did my mom. We were both so happy that we had survived the grueling past year of treatments. Yayyyyyy for us!!! We made it!

Two months later I started with a nasty cough that would not go away. I felt like I was hacking a lung. I went to the doctor and was put on antibiotics, steroids, and cough medicine and was told I had bronchitis. I also started having a pain in my upper back. Well the cough never went away, I went to the Chiropractor for the back pain, that never went away. So after about 4 months of having a cough that wouldn’t go away, and back pain that was getting worse, my Oncologist decided to do some scans. On July 3rd, 2017, right before my huge 4th of July party, the doctor called us in and I was told that the cancer had returned and spread to both my lungs and sternum. I had more than 30 plus tumors in each lung. There it was. Again. My hair had just grown back and now I was getting ready to lose it all over again. So much fun!!!! I underwent a second round of chemo and radiation to the sternum. Needless to say that 6 months after having the port taken out, I had to have it put back in.

I now was stage 4 and terminal. I was put on every three week maintenance infusions of antibody drugs plus a monthly hormone shot. Scans and Echocardiograms every 3 months. I was given a new expiration date..an unreliable one… of 2 months to 8 years at most. F*&^%$ that! The doc said they could only try to keep the cancer stable with drugs but I would never go into ‘remission’. They would just prolong my life with drugs till my body gives out or the cancer eats me alive. So there it is. This is where I’m at today. I just finished another round of radiation for a new spot that was found on a scan on my left shoulder. Yep, cancer is still spreading. And I’m still fighting. Never gonna give in or give up. And do I feel sick now? Sometimes. But for the most part I feel OK. I still work, have a supervisor who works with me on a flexible schedule. I’m lucky I get to work from home. I’m a Pediatric nurse, for over 20 years now, and I work with a huge insurance company. I’m blessed. I have a wonderful husband who has been my rock through all of this and a wonderful supportive family. I am truly blessed. Did I mention…Fun?? lol

Caught up in a whirlwind

Next came the whirlwind of Doctor visits…Biopsies to stage the cancer, visits with a General Surgeon who would remove both breasts, Plastic surgeon who would reconstruct what I once had. Meeting my new Oncologist who would become my new best friend. My head was spinning! It all was happening too fast! I felt like I never had time to really grasp what was going on. After all was said and done I found out that I had a really aggressive form of breast cancer that was hard to treat. And they gave me an expiration date of 5 years at the most. WHAT????? Do you know how fast 5 years goes??? I remember I held up my right hand in front of the doctor and spoke..”I rebuke that in the name of Jesus!” He laughed and said “whatever it takes.”

Once we knew all the details of what I had it was time to tell the family. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. I called my mom and my sister, and my brothers, and my mom and sister came right over… Just to be with me. Then we called all of our 7 kids..one by one…It was heartbreaking. Listening to the astonishment and disbelief and the tears. (crying now. reliving these moments all over again is really hard. But I have been asked by so many to write my story… so for all of you..here it is.)

News travel fast with social media and such and I started getting phone calls from family that I hadn’t talked to in years! It was kind of like winning the lottery..people were coming out of the woodwork to talk to me. Funny thing was…I still didn’t feel sick.

So I went to the Doctor…

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

On good ‘ol Sept. 8th 2016 I was diagnosed with stage 2A ER+ Her 2+ Grade 3 Infiltrating, (invasive), Ductal Carcinoma — AKA…Breast Cancer. My world changed in the beat of a heart. I had gone for my annual mammogram at 51 years of age, no breast cancer ran in my family, so I was never too worried. But when they pressed the plates down on my left breast and blood squirted out all over I knew something was wrong. The look on the technician’s face was priceless. I could tell this had never happened to her before. She quickly excused herself to go “talk to the Doctor” and left me there with blood all over my gown and handed me tissues to clean up. My worst fear had come true-my boob had ‘popped’ under the pressure of those plates!

I was called into the Radiologists office and they showed me the masses within my left breast. There were two. Things started to move fast. They called my OB/GYN on the spot and told him, and a biopsy was scheduled before I even left the office. I remember sitting there thinking…this is not how they show it in the movies, F Hollywood and their Lifetime stories! My husband should’ve been there with me and the doctor should’ve given us the news together. But nope! On the drive home my OB/GYN called me. It was after hours and he called me personally, so I knew it was serious. He told me it didn’t look good. And it wasn’t.

So now come the tears, anger, denial, the why’s and how’s, and the woe is me!

It couldn’t be true. Breast cancer didn’t run in my family. I didn’t feel sick, I felt fine. I had no pain. No drainage. Felt no lumps. HOW??!!! Why is this happening to me?? Why was God letting this happen to me??? My youngest daughter was a Senior in high school, and I had to see her graduate and be there for her! How would I tell my husband and my kids? My family?? My Boss and work?? Ohhhh how I remember that day! The day the sky actually fell down on me. I went home, sat outside on the swing with my husband and we both just cried. He was strong for the both of us and offered encouraging words…but nothing could console me.