Archive for the ‘{12} January Updates’ Category

Haircut Photos

January 31, 2009

My haircut was a fun celebration thanks to Lauren (the fab stylist), Jessamyn (the oober talented photog), my wonderful family; momma Joyce, sister Amanda and my super dear friend Saundra!  And my 1 minute video from my earlier post should be working now, at least it was for me, so be sure to go directly to my blog, scroll down and click play.  It took me at least an hour to get the final cut and took Mike another hour and half to get it posted so needless to say we want you to see it after all of the behind the scenes time!   =)

{Before}

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{The support team}

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{After}

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First Chemo

January 31, 2009

Well, my first chemo is behind me and now I’m just kind of sitting around waiting to see what will happen.  Side effects can be delayed by as much as a few days so we’ll see…

We started off our day in a perfect sort of way; perused the Sonoma Farmers Market and purchased fresh beets and carrots that we love to steam in our new steamer.  Picked up a few apples that actually have dirt on them!  Imagine that!  Having grown up in an apple orchard, dirt (and sometimes worms) were the norm and the apples were always perfectly crisp and yummy!  It’s a crime to see apples perfect and gleaming in their wax covered shine.  (ok, my tangent for the night).  And then I added some yummy looking homemade tamales to my bag.  We then made our way to marin in the afternoon.

So back to chemo.

It was fairly uneventful as I’ve been warned, with alot of sitting and just watching the IV drip.  I spent my time chatting with Mike, texting and flipping through a magazine.  I had a couple IV bags of stuff before the real deal and it got a little scary when the first chemo drug was started.  I actually watched it go through the tube into my vein and it was a moment I’ll probably always remember.  I closed my eyes and said a prayer.  We were there for about 4 hours, and luckily the other visits will be shorter.

Since this was my first time, we were given a private room (some rooms are shared), but they keep the door open so everybody who walks down the hallway looks in.  During this time, several people who are about to begin chemo were getting a tour of the facility and I always tried to smile as they walked by and looked in at me sitting in the chair.  I remember when Mike and I had our tour and I was completely shellshocked and scared, so I thought if I smiled it wouldn’t look so scary to them.  Mike and I had a big laugh when we joked that I should sit there and cry and moan to really scare them… but I would never do that to someone!

Well, I guess that’s all for now.

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Megan’s New Hair-Do

January 30, 2009

So, I had my big haircut today (yesterday as you read this)! It was fun and joyous, mixed in with relief. I’ll be sure to post some photos just as soon as I have them.

For tomorrow (Friday), I’m asking for a specific prayer. It’s very important that my IV stick goes quickly and easily because I want to avoid a surgically implanted port at all costs!   So that’s my prayer, an easy IV.  Thanks!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Megan’s New Hair-Do“, posted with vodpod

This Week

January 28, 2009

This has been the longest week and it’s only Wednesday!

MONDAY

I finally made the dreaded journey to the pharmacy to pick up a small aresenal of medications that I’m to have on hand.  One is a multi-drug-steroid that is used for many ailments, which I’m dreading only because I’ve had it once before in the hospital for nausea.  One of the side effects is “irritability” which is putting it nicely.  My mood was more like “intense, flaming annoyance bordering on fire shooting out of my eyes” and luckily it wore off before I spoke anything I was thinking.  The other three prescriptions are to combat-nausea, which I’ve been told should do the trick; of course who has time to feel sick when the pills make you sleepy!  I barely held it together while the pharmist calmly explained each med.  And then I had a small cry in the car and got on with my day.

TUESDAY

I have my BC women’s group every Tuesday night and it was especially helpful last night.  Three of the women have begun their chemo treatments and it was a happy relief to see them participate with energy and smiles.

WEDNESDAY

Today was supposed to be my final post-op appointment with Plastic Surgery, however it was cancelled so I had my consult over the phone instead.  Everything is doing great and I’ve almost graduated from the multitude of bandaids!

THURSDAY

A day full of mixed emotions because tomorrow is my big hair cutting party.  I’ve already mentally detached from my hair, so I’m anxious to get it over with, but of course I’m slightly freaking out.  I purchased some new earrings to help me feel a little more girly.  It also helps to have women in my group who have very, very short hair and I never see them differently; they look beautiful so that is very reassuring.

FRIDAY

This day I’m dreading.  Chemo begins.  But, I’m ready to get it started because the anticipation is wearing my nerves thin.  I’ve heard that the first few days are a bit rough, but surprisingly most of the women in my group are working through their chemo.  Total rockstars!  They get chemo on a Friday, are sick over the weekend and drag themselves into work on Monday or Tuesday.  I’m happy to report that that will not be me!  I’m reveling in my “me” time.

Radiation to Follow

January 25, 2009

On Thursday, it was agreed by my doctors that I should undergo radiation treatments after I complete my chemotherapy.  It was disappointing news.  Basically, there is only about 1mm of tissue between the cancer that was removed and my healthy tissue that was left behind.  Close margins.  So to be on the safe side, to make sure no cancer cells escaped into the healthy tissue, they will radiate; likely 5 days a week for 6 weeks.  I still don’t understand why the chemo won’t attack any lingering possibilities, but I just submit the decisions to the experts.  It’s a bummer but it’s better to be extra safe.  I’ll explain more of the radiation process when I cross that bridge…

What Not to Say

January 22, 2009

Today has been a bit gloomy so I thought I’d interject some (bad) humor from the breast cancer blog that I enjoy reading.  Note:  these comments were NOT made to me; these comments are a part of a thread titled “Dumbest Comments People Have Said”.  Some really made me laugh!  So, here is what NOT to say or do…

Ok…so my dearest Mother-In-Law gave my children a “present” right after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a book. A children’s book titled “THE NEXT PLACE.” (the next place being death!)

The BEST (stupid) thing anyone said to me was a friend of mine, upon learning I had to have a mastectomy, said “Well, won’t it grow back?”

I was going in for my radiation simulation. I had about 2 inches of hair at the time, and had just ditched the wig. Someone said to the rad simulation girl – oh I like your hair cut, she turned to me said that she had it cut the day before, and she hated it because she felt like a boy…. OK, I had 2 inches, she had shoulder length hair and felt like a boy…nice thing to say to a cancer patient…

I was leaving the grocery store one night with a baseball cap on my bald head. There was an employee outside (smoking, none the less……kind of ironic) and she said to me,”I wish I had your haircut. It would make my life easier.” I turned around and said,”Keep doing that and you will. I have cancer.”

A woman I work with said “I had a great friend, she had breast cancer, she died”.  Thanks, was that supposed to make me feel good?

Going in for double mastectomy. I am just about to be wheeled away and my Aunt looks at me and says………drum roll please……..”At least you won’t miss them, since you are small chested anyways”. Uuummm Nurse, please get this women out of my direct line of fire….thank you!!!

“You couldn’t have really had cancer if they didn’t give you chemo”.  Really?  And I went and had my breast cut off for nothing, stupid me.

Last week at work I was white as a sheet, drained of every last bit of energy, and crying, and trying to muster up the strength to go home because coming in in the first place was a mistake.  When….my co-worker says to me: “I know how you feel, I woke up at 4:00 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so I’m really tired today too.”

Right after I got my first DX I was standing outside talking to my neighbor and another neighbor walked by and said, “Oh, I heard the news. Should you be drinking that Coke? Don’t you think that is how you got cancer in the first place?” WHAT???  I still hate that woman.

New Years Resolution

January 14, 2009

Most of us make news years resolutions and many fall by the wayside right about now, but I have a resolution suggestion that I believe will stick (and not to the tummy or butt).  Vow to do something new each year; stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and your spirit will be uplifted!  The past 2 months have been full of non-voluntary new things for me, but I’m finding that even the bad has been overshadowed by the good!

I bring this up because I stretched myself out of my comfort zone twice this week and I feel that the slight uncertainty I was facing has been replaced by joy ten times over.  Last night I attended my first BC Weekly Women’s Group and I feel that I already have some friendships budding from that, and than today I took part in my first abstract painting class at the Sonoma Community Center.

Both gatherings held different insecurities for me, but surprisingly the art class posed to be an even bigger stretch. As I walked into the class and started taking some price stickers and wrappers off my squeaky new art supplies, I quickly noticed all of the worn art supplies that the women were unloading from their paint splattered bags.  And then they all began greeting each other by first name, and I just stood there trying to be brave in a world that felt unfamiliar. My vulnerability really showed itself when we went around the room to introduce ourselves and as I shared my name and photography background, I teared up by closing that I was currently going through breast cancer treatments and I was very happy to be a part of the class.

My opening statement released my barrier of insecurity and because that barrier was removed, I instantly became approachable – something that I haven’t ever really felt in a new setting.  The old me has always been a bit reserved when meeting new people, a bit quiet, slightly insecure, and I’ve been told that it has been mistaken for conceit; a sad misjudgment.  Well, throughout the rest of the class as we all painted and chatted, women made an effort to welcome me, offer me help and just general sweet conversation.  It was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever felt, and that step in growth would have never happened if I did not try something new.

The last surprise in class today came from the one familiar face that walked in.  Alex Cole, a young hip painter here in town whose work I greatly admire signed up for the class too!  The very person that inspired me to take the class is taking the same class just because the solitude of her painting studio gets lonely sometimes and so she decided to branch out of her familiar world too.

So, here is your assignment.  Think about something that you’d like to add to your life and just do it!  I promise, it will be a great gift to you.

My artwork from today. Our assignment was to pick 3 colors and create base layers using shapes, textures and tools.  Next week we’ll be adding another layer onto of this, so the paintings will be evolving.

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More Gushing

January 14, 2009

My gushing comments about the care I’ve received from Kaiser are probably more nauseating to you than the anesthesia I’ve received, but this is why I gush!  Beth is the Nurse Practitioner in my OB/Gyn office who I’ve met probably twice and she just sent me this email:

Dear Megan,
Just want to let you know I am thinking of you and to let you know you are in good hands (Dr. Banks, Maloney and Delaney). I get all records of hospital discharges of my patients and that is how I found out about your diagnosis. Let me know if you need anything. I am planning to volunteer at the Avon walk. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Take care,
Beth NP

One Week Celebration

January 13, 2009

Well I made it through the first week!  Hip-hip-hooray!  With each passing day I’m feeling more energetic and our lives are shifting back into more of a normal pattern again.  Here are some of my experiences and thoughts…

My hospital stay was relatively pleasant as much as it can be expected. I had a gluttony of nurses throughout the 24 hours of stay and the amount of blood pressure checks was laughable.

Mike deserves a hero award for sitting by my side for endless hours, just to be available in case I needed a little bite of jello in between my hours of sleeping.

And since we’re all adults can we discuss an unspoken topic; the bedpan. As I eluded before, the anesthesia made me nauseous so I wasn’t able to get out of bed right away, so with reluctance I requested the dreaded bedpan.  Having never used one, the concept looked frightening, but having not peed for about 10 hours I just didn’t care anymore.

If you’ve never had the pleasure, let me explain the dilemma.  Since we were just wee-toddlers we’ve trained our mind and body to not pee while lying down, especially in a bed.  So when the bedpan was slipped under me I willed myself to pee.  Nothing.  I tried pushing, relaxing, silent encouraging talks to myself, but all efforts were being ignored.   Finally after many minutes of coaxing I finally won over my innate reluctance.  And I peed, and I peed.  Then a new dilemma quickly emerged; how much will the container hold because I don’t sense an end in sight? The mental plea’s went from “please flow” to “please stop”!  It all worked out just fine, but I have to say that it was one of the funniest experiences I’ve ever encountered.

Later on in the middle of the night I graduated to the bedside-commode but that had a downside too.  I’ll keep this story brief.  As I happily peed while sitting upright the nurse decided to take advantage of this moment and change my bedding.  She stripped the bed and then left the room for a few minutes.  I just had to sit on the potty in my thin open backed hospital gown and wait.  And as I waited my nausea mounted so with not an ounce of pride left, I sat on the potty while barfing into a pan. Well enough of all of this potty talk!

My recovery at home has been going well.  I stopped the pain meds relatively quickly and my arm mobility gets better with each day.  I had one 24 hour timeframe that was rough and I’m not sure what was going on.  I felt like I had the highest temperature (although it always registered normal), chills, combined with a throbbing behind the eye headache and then just for fun I had menstrual cramps thrown in.  A couple guesses; one, I wasn’t coming off the hospital morphine very gracefully or two, my hormones were just going into shock with the new changes.  Anyway, the next day I stayed in bed until 2pm and that extra, extra rest really helped.

I had my post-op appointment with my general surgeon yesterday and that was a very happy day!  He took out my drain and removed the bandages and I’m starting to feel human again. Everything looks very good (under all of the circumstances) and I look forward to my foob (fake boob) settling into place in the coming months.  The pathologist confirmed that they got all of the cancer and now I happily correct Mike during conversation when he says, “Megan has breast cancer” and I remind him the operative word now is “HAD”!

More treatments and more doctor visits are in the near future, but for this moment I am relieved to have the cancer physically gone.

My mountain of pillows helps me get perfectly propped so I can sleep semi-upright.  I look forward to graduating from Eric’s bed to my own soon!

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A self portrait from this morning.

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I’m Home

January 8, 2009

Well, I was happily discharged from the hospital this morning, and my behind has been permanently planted on the couch for hours.  My chest muscles are sore and I’m walking around slowly, but for the most part I feel pretty good.  Both surgeons said the operation/implant went very well, just as they hoped.

In my usual style the anesthesia made me nauseous which was a bit of a drag, but I slept it off and by early morning I was eating and feeling perkier.  My chest is tightly wrapped up with thick bandages so I won’t get to peak at the results until my appointment on Monday which is probably better anyway.  So in the meantime, I’ll be taking shallow baths followed up with kitchen sink hair washes by my favorite stylist Mikael!

The attached photo was torn from a magazine I was flipping through just before I was admitted into surgery.  It pretty much sums up where I want to be and how I want to feel soon!

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