Category: Uncategorized

Remembering the beginning…

The point of this one…not sure yet. Perhaps it will be found by the end of the story.

This one is a little difficult for me, dredging up angry overwhelming sad feelings and remembering full out sobbing that would send my dog running and hiding, sleepless nights, panic attacks, all of which I had no control over.

In one way, I was relieved, FINALLY, after years of feeling like a crazy person begging for help from my doctor, I had a diagnosis! There was a reason I felt so horrible! I sought out answers from my doctor for about 3 years only to be told, oh you need antidepressants, you need to lose weight, stay away from sodium. Fucking bitch, there I said it, it feels good. ¬†I don’t blame her for my cancer, I do however blame her for metastatic cancer. Maybe if she listened to the girl who never bothered with doc’s very much. Who was making appointments every couple of week crying for her help, in so much pain, no energy, knowing in my soul that there was something wrong. Maybe if she listened instead of dismissing or judging, I would have had the chance to kick this cancer’s ass instead of living with it. There is nothing worse than feeling dismissed, well maybe there is ūüėČ !

Remembering going to work every day in so much pain and fighting to get through a day. Trying to be a good mom, a good wife, a good friend all the while loosing my mind. Driving everyone crazy with my daily pity parties moaning about how awful I felt.

Some of my symptoms:

  • Tired- all the time
  • Pain- my entire body hurt everyday (tried taking advil 10-16/day)
  • An all around feeling of “not well”
  • Strange heartbeat-¬†One night after a friends birthday get together, I woke in the night with a strange heartbeat.It felt like it was pounding and skipping a beat. I had never felt this before and the fact it woke me from a deep drunken sleep was important. I called the doc and got an appointment, ECG and a Holter monitor, only to be told “some people are just more aware of their heartbeats, there is nothing wrong with you”.
  • Breast Lump- One night I thought I felt a lump a big one, very big, hmmm weird I thought. Maybe it was just different breast tissue. After all I had 2 kids and reaching 40 in a few years, boobs change with time.
  • Indent- A while later, after a shower, I was putting my hair up in a towel and noticed an indent at the side of my breast, again hmmm weird, thinking breast feeding and aging was the culprit.
  • Nipple pulled a little to the side- had no idea WTF
  • Burning, stinging shooting pains through the breast.

A nagging feeling kept pulling me to feeling my breast, then saying it out loud “Hey, noticed these things, there is a reason!?!”¬†My brain never connected cancer, I was only 37, breastfed twice, my family doctor says I’m just crazy. After talking about it with my co-worker, Carol (love you lady!!!!), she ¬†told me just get it checked! As I left work that day, I had made a plan to go in, ¬†not my family doc but the walk-in clinic, just get it checked, it will be nothing. At the stop sign, turn left to go in or go straight to go home. Again, fuck it! it’s nothing, let’s just go home. At the last second I turned left. (I am crying right now, as I write this, opening up old wounds and memories, it was the right decision)

Sitting in the room talking to a Doc (think he was training, poor guy) Exposing my breasts and explaining the symptoms, still feeling, I’ll be OK. He felt my breast and went to get another doctor, Now I started feeling less confident. The other doc came in, funny it was my OBGYN from my first pregnancy. As she talked and walked the new resident doc through the breasts checks, she made eye contact with me, I knew at that moment, I had cancer. She could not hide that look. I started to cry. I don’t remember much after that except I was handed requisitions for mammograms and ultrasounds for the very next day. I left with reqs. clutched in hand, tears streaming down my face. Walking through the building, started to cry audibly now, didn’t care about the blurry strangers I passed by. I got in my car and freaked the fuck out! Sobbing now uncontrollably. I was so scared. I made phone calls to Pat (husband), Tina (sister) and Carol (friend/co-worker). THEY FOUND SOMETHING! I don’t remember much about those conversations, except they probably barely understood me.

The next day (it was a Friday), my mammogram. (Holy crap that hurts! btw) The technician, was lovely, supportive and kind. I saw the pictures, she saw the pictures. Horrible nasty spiky cancer, right there on the screen. My tumor was 3.5 cm, it was huge! As I waited for my ultrasound, I cried, but started to come to terms with what was happening. Started to get my game face on. Thinking, HEY, I can conquer this, walk the walk! bare the bald! give me all that pink ribbon shit, I can do this! Praying, please tell me I can beat it, take my boobies, give me the chemo, whatever just please tell me I am not going to die!

Waiting all weekend to see my surgeon on Monday. He will tell me good news..right? He pulled out a needle and took a sample from my tumor. Sat Pat and I down and talked about the results so far. Explained about tumor size, TMN grading and cancer staging. Then told us to be prepared for a stage 4 diagnosis. So naive we were to what that meant, lol I look back now OMG. Leaning forward to look at diagrams, looking at him with a smile on my face. Finding out there is no stage 5. ¬†Listening… slowly the understanding sunk in, sunk in deep, into my stomach my soul. He knew, I knew, what it was.

Soon, I was meeting with an Oncologist and a radiation Doctor. (Here is one lesson my friends, all tests and scans are scary, but when things are moving fast, damn! Buckle up and hold on tight! You are in for a ride.) I had CT’s, MRI’s, x-rays, blood work, bone scans, ultrasounds and biopsies booked for days and weeks!

These weeks were a blur, so many appt.’s and sleepless nights. All the while wishing it was nothing and my family doctor was right, I was just crazy! Sometimes hoping they would call to say sorry we made a mistake. Being in complete denial and thinking I can just WILL the cancer away if I think hard enough. Finding out indeed it was stage 4, too late for surgery, too late for a cure. I remember one doctor talking about my age, I cut him off and said “yeah, I’m young and strong and that helps” only to find out, breast cancer in younger women is more aggressive, well shit! Learning about hormone status, grade etc and finally dealing with “survival statistics”. Normal overall 5 year survival rate 20%, being younger lowers it and the average is 24-36 months. My world was rocked! Now this is strange but a thought popped into my head – I can’t die! Who will clean the toilet?! – Now please understand, we have no control over the thoughts or feelings that pop inside us. It may not make sense to anyone but honestly if the desire to¬†keep my toilet clean keeps me around, I will make her shine!! Bring on the bleach and toilet scrubber! Hey whatever works!

I have come a long way from those crazy, fuzzy dark days. I continue to try to beat the odds and bust the statistics, fuck them! I am above average!! I continue to stay as strong as I can. Gripping to life! Not wanting to leave my kids, husband, family and friends. Cleaning my toilet and smiling, enjoying that I am still able to scrub and smell the bleach.

If anyone is reading this, I guess the meaning of this story is to trust yourself and your body. If you feel you are not getting the help you need, please seek a second or third opinion! Check your boobies!!! Check your boobies!! Check your boobies!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sex

First, I would like to thank my loving and patient husband, Patrick! This road is walked by more than just me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for him as a partner.

People don’t think their sex lives will be affected by cancer.Sex is a subject I think most younger people with cancer think of as a big deal. I would say the majority of people with this stage of cancer are of an age that sex is naturally not a part of their lives anymore. I remember attending a meeting for metastatic cancer patients and I was indeed the youngest by far.¬†Sadly the numbers are rising and more and younger people are becoming victims of this nasty disease. Ergo,¬†my thoughts (for what they are worth) on the subject.

BODY CONSCIOUS: As I reflect from the beginning, I felt that my body was so diseased and my husband would never feel the same way about me or my breasts (even though remember I still have them, I still thought he would think they were disgusting).*Would just like to insert my props to all the ladies that have bravely had a mastectomy, your¬†courage and strength amazes me* Along with all the stress and the fact that our entire world had been shaken up beyond recognition. I was bombarded with medications, sex zapping medications ūüė¶ I was NOT feeling sexy. Not to mention how much pain my body felt everyday. Funny story on that. One of my bone tumors is located in my hip. One night feeling very loving towards my Patrick and quite a few drinks in, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other and I will spare you the sleazy details but feeling more limber than I really was, thanks to the booze, I was enjoying myself without the nagging cancer pain, thoughts or body shame. ¬†As I woke to pee the next morning, and stood from my cozy bed, a most horrible pain shot through my body, unfortunately I could barely walk for 3 days. ¬†I would say it was a small price to pay! ¬†:

SAD REALITIES¬†:As we learned more about my diagnosis we learned my particular cancer loves estrogen. ¬†To help keep it from growing, my amazing oncologist, Dr. Chang, told me we had to do what we could to stop the production and release of this cancer feeding hormone. So I was introduced to menopause at 39. Yay!! ¬†If you are a woman, you will already know how important estrogen is for us. If you are a man, you are about to find out (sorry) ¬†So I was catapulted into menopause! What a lovely treat, for all my ladies who have gone through this right of passage, I salute you! Wow! I will stay on track because I could complain all day about the charming¬†side effects myself and my family went through. ¬†Again, thank you wonderful husband!!! ¬†Estrogen is a hormone produced by us ladies, it helps our vagina stay elasticy and moist. ¬†So remove the estrogen and you are left with a flat dry vagina!!! I read up on menopause and read a line so horrifying “vaginal atrophy”, what the F*#K!! ¬†I read on and tried to accept my new phase of life, only to learn I could not take replacement hormones or anything else to help my poor atrophying (is that a word) vagina. ¬†Later that evening, I played ¬†Taps on my phone a shed a quiet tear and mourned my vagina’s death!

HELPFUL HINTS:

Moisture & how to get it with out estrogen: as I previously stated a woman with breast cancer can not take replacement hormones or anything else with estrogen in it.  Here are a few things that can work, but as with any advice given from the internet PLEASE check with your Doc. before trying anything.

Replens- a good hormone free suppository. Benefit- moisture for days and good pH balance Negative- can get expensive

Terra Delyssa Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil- got this recommended by a friend, thanks to you know who you are ūüėČ Benefit- hey it’s organic and it’s olive oil! Also can be used for massage ¬†Negative- maybe you don’t like the smell of olive oil

Please feel free to post more hormone free moisture hints or tricks if you have any!

Use it or lose it girls!: as the saying goes, pretty self explanatory. Give yourself some special time, “take care” of yourself. The more you can exercise that muscle the stronger it can be!! Don’t become a born again virgin, it hurts remember!

Remember our partners in crime : So now that you have taken care of yourself wink! wink! Let us remember and honour our significant other!  Take time to give a little touch, hug or kiss.  Remind them that we love them (even though the thought of sex may be the farthest thing from our minds). Massage is a great way to feel connected and loved for both involved!  Hand jobs and blow jobs, well really, what else can I say.

Finally just try to enjoy each other and get past all the yucky hard stuff. Remember we are women and we are sexy dammit!! Please don’t forget that! It is so important that we try each day to live as we did before cancer, embracing the gift of time we were delivered when we were told we will die sooner than we thought.

 

 

Kids & Cancer

Probably one of the hardest reality’s of my diagnosis.

As a new parent you anxiously await the milestones your children will hit,first smile, first laugh, crawling, walking, first words, first pickle (one of my favorites lol)

As the years go one and your children grow older, the milestones change. You wonder about highschool, dances, first dates, girlfriends/boyfriends.

A few more years go by and you begin to think of them in their future’s and what they will be like as adults. ¬†What kind of career they will choose, wedding days, grandchildren.

I learned quickly that the odds of me being present for most of my children’s life milestones are quite rare. I will certainly be lucky and be utterly grateful if I can fight this disease long enough to behold these remarkable life experiences (that is and forever will be my ultimate plan). I had to face my grisly bottom line. The beginning of this journey was filled with a lot of mourning for the future I was going to be robbed of. I had to accept the awful truth. I will not be here. I will not be here to sit with pride and watch as my children graduate college ( I will be blessed if I make it for highschool grads), find true love, marry and have children of their own. ¬†I will not be here to answer questions and guide them on their exciting life journey. I will not be here for love advice, parenting advice or cooking advice. ¬†I will not be here when they have their hearts broken by first loves; unable to hold them and wipe their tears as my own heart breaks along with their’s. I will not be here to spoil my grandchildren. It is truly a gut wrenching reality, everyday.

After my death, how will that affect them?! What kind of pain will they feel? My mind and heart deeply hurt when these thoughts creep in.

My husband and I decided for sure to openly communicate with our children about this disease. ¬†Gave them the basics of cancer and how it affects the body. Talked with them about possible treatments and side effects. ¬†Gave them the open door to questions and concerns. Taught them it is OK to be scared or sad. They attended a children’s group through the Hearth Place (An amazing place for all your cancer needs!) Gave them the assurance that I will not falter in my fight. I remind them to live life and not let anything hold them back. ¬†When you fall get up! Fear can not and will not rule your future! Experience! Take a leap of faith! Do not waste opportunity! Love!!!!¬†I do my best to reinforce my words by demonstrating them as best as I can. ¬†Our family leans on each other ¬†I am so grateful of everyday I have with them. I hug and kiss to the point of annoyance I am sure, but it is lovingly accepted and returned!

We try to live life as normal as possible as this black cloud of cancer hangs above our heads. Cancer does not rule our family, we are learning to accept it.

I now struggle with rejecting the thoughts of my lost future with my children. I focus on today and clutch to tomorrow. No matter the time left in front of us, we cannot let it shift us from our present time. Enjoy, love and cherish is all I can do!

Staying Positive *Warning this may sting a little ;)

OK, so now this is a tough one. ¬†How can I go on a rant about how annoying and hurtful people can be when they are coming from such a loving and supportive place?! ¬†I want to be clear that I am so thankful for the love and support from all the people in my life, but remember, this is to help people to understand and maybe make someone smile. ¬†People that are going through this kind of thing are all thinking and feeling this way, ¬†sometimes it’s just nice to let it out and to read someone else’s struggle¬†to understand that it is normal to feel and think this way. In the beginning, I was ashamed and felt weak with these thoughts. ¬†After some time, I learned it was OK, not to judge myself or the uncontrolled thoughts or reactions to the horrible reality I was facing.

A while ago I was in the cancer centre waiting for my palliative care appointment. ¬†I sat down beside an older woman (lets be honest they are all older, I stick out like a sore thumb in that place)and her husband, anyway she was just beginning her journey into cancer and was very emotional. ¬†I asked her what she was in for, and she told me ovarian cancer and that she was going to find out what stage she was on that day. ¬†I immediately began to support my comrade in this war and asked her how she was feeling. ¬†And, like most of us in the beginning she was all over the map, sad, angry, scared, depressed, shocked. ¬†I told her how she was totally normal, as other ears leaned in to listen to our conversation. I told her to try and not let it beat her down too much even though all you want to do is lay in bed under the covers and forget the world. ¬†I also told her it is OK to be sad and cry, cry a lot! ¬†Be depressed because this is nothing to be celebrating. I told her if one more person tells me “you just gotta stay positive”, I was going to punch them in the throat! ¬†Well, all the ears that had leaned in started laughing and the whole room changed its mood, we all connected and understood. See we were all positive about being negative!!

Let me tell you how extremely difficult it is to “stay positive” ¬†I mean come on, given a death sentence but “your telling me (enter sarcasm) all I have to do is stay positive and I can beat this!!!” ¬†Imagine how shitty it will feel when I die knowing I wasn’t strong enough or positive enough to beat this cancer! BOOM!!!! ¬†Please don’t take me the wrong way, I love being supported and encouraged by everyone, it helps get me through a day.

Society has placed so much pressure on cancer patients, we are not “people” we are a symbol and god forbid we show our weaknesses or fears. Let me tell you it is still possible to be a positive person even though I don’t have a smile plastered on my face and rainbows shooting out my ass!! I refuse to hide my feelings to make others more comfortable but, usually I do it under the blankets ūüėČ

*Disclaimer: please remember this is just my honest thoughts about some of the feelings and experiences I have gone through and I sometimes do need a reminder to stay positive! I love and adore all the people in my life and I really couldn’t have gotten through all this without them/you. Love and respect to you all xo!

About Me

Well I guess I should tell you a little about myself, not my diagnosis but about ME! ¬†I am 41 years old. ¬†I have a husband, Patrick and 2 children, Ethan 14 and Naomi 8. ¬†Our family includes a dog we adore, Bella AKA Pupup. ¬†I am a fun and loving person who is up for any adventure! ¬†I love movies and reading and walking my dog. ¬†Spending time with friends and family are a top priority in my life. ¬†I have recently found a passion in exercise with an amazing trainer, Tash, who is basically saving my sanity! ¬†Who needs therapy, work out! ¬†My sister Tina is my rock and am happy to have her in my life, she is the one that suggested I start a blog. My best friend Cindy is like a sister and we have been friends for so long I cant imagine my life without her in it. My incredible husband is a truly talented bass player with a crazy sense of humor and works hard everyday not only at his job but with putting up with my crazy ass. ¬†My kids are totally amazing, I know all moms say it but whatever, mine really are! My friends are the BEST, again I don’t care if you think yours are better. I used to have a job I really loved and worked for 10 years with the same company. ¬†I was a laboratory technician and damn good at it, but that was another story… ¬†My new one is full of adventure and love! ¬†I hope to inspire and support and maybe help anyone that is going through the same journey as I am, if anyone reads this I do hope it is a least enjoyable! ūüėČ

 

Now, about my diagnosis….dum dum duuummmm

Advanced Metastatic Breast Cancer- mets to lymph system and 5 places in my bones, I was one of the lucky 6% of woman diagnosed this way.

Now for the yucky “statistics”, I have a 20% chance of living past five years, now 2.3 years into it.

Now for some good!  Even though I was diagnosed stage 4, it was too late to do a mastectomy, so I got to keep my boobies, yay!

It has been an insane life full of ups and downs since my diagnosis.  I have had many adventures and found so much love and support I never knew existed, as much as cancer has taken, it has also given so much.

As we slowly start to put the pieces back, we might find we are missing a few and some may not fit quite right but we find new pieces as well as a few old ones and can repair with time and patience .