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Monday, December 26, 2011

My life at Two Years

It has been six months since my last post.  I guess I have been trying to get on with my new life, trying not to think too much about my cancer journey.  It is the day after Christmas.  My house is empty, except for the dogs, Charlie, Gracie, and Ricky...and my Persian cat, Bailey.  Kevin is at work and the girls are in Arkansas with their father.  Landri is attending Hendrix College and playing basketball there.  She had to be back today for practice with the team.  Her father and Presley followed her on her drive back to Conway, Arkansas and are going to stay a couple of days.  I spent most of the day sleeping, did some laundry and house cleaning.

There is so much that has happened since my last post.  I had a revision surgery in August and another in November.  I will have at least one more surgery to do the nipple reconstruction.  After that, I will have the medical tattoo for the color.  We have estimated that the insurance company has paid out close to $300,000 so far since my diagnosis.  I often joke with my husband and ask him..."does this look like a $300,000 body?"  I still have weight to lose and need to start exercising.  My plans are to get on a stationary bike at the gym.  I still have daily throbbing bone pain, and my legs, feet and knees seem to be my biggest problem.  It is a vicious cycle when you need to exercise to lose weight, but the extra weight keeps you from being able to move freely without pain.  I have switched all my doctors over to UT Southwestern Medical.  I have seen a new oncologists who has sent me to a Rheumatologist, a new OBGYN, a liver and digestive disease doctor, a new geneticist, and has ordered a new set of scans which were all clean.  I did have an Antinuclear Antibodies test come back positive so they are trying to see if I have an autoimmune disease.  There are a number of things that can cause an ANA test to be positive.  Right now I am not really concerned too much about it.  I am following up with the rheumatologist tomorrow.  The main thing I have been focusing on is being a new and improved "me".  It is not that easy to be when you are used to putting everything else before yourself.  There are just so many things that are harder than ever to do since my treatments.  I know I will probably not ever be 100% in the same way I was before.  It has been almost 18 months since I finished chemotherapy.  The Taxol drug that was given to me the last 4 sessions causes neuropathy and bone pain.  The doctor told me that if it lasts 18 months, then it is most likely permanent.  I am on daily medication that helps keep it somewhat under control and I have pain medication that I use occasionally when it gets worse.  Doing things like cleaning my house have been almost impossible to achieve at least all on the same day.  I have to lay down and rest virtually everyday if given the opportunity.  Lacking the energy to do my normal tasks seems to be the most challenging.  I am adding hours to my work schedule and I am trying to build new clientele.  I try to save my energy to work as it is very physically demanding.  Sometimes I tend to overdo it on Fridays and Saturdays and I go home hurting all over from the neck down.  If the weather is about to change and get rainy or cold, the stabbing, throbbing pains start in with their unmerciful torture to my limbs.  Sometimes at the onset of the pain, I have a little panic attack and start to tear up.  Not so much from the pain itself, but more from the steady reminders of the pain of cancer treatments and the fact that my body is forever changed.  With all that being said, I like my new life.  It has made me slow down and appreciate things.  I have someone that comes in and cleans my house on Wednesdays, and I have given up feeling any guilt over it.  Her name is Lisa.  The first time she came in was after my last surgery.  I tried to stay away from the house for awhile so she could do her work.  I had just started to drive but I still had drains in my surgery sites.  I was told not to drive until they were out, but you know me.  After a few simple errands, it was time for me to lay down.  I remember going home and Lisa was only about 1/3 of the way finished.  I told her to please pretend I wasn't there as I was going to take a pain pill and recline back in the sofa and sleep. This was very awkward for me as my brain was telling me I should be helping her with the disaster my house had turned into since I had last cleaned it before my surgery.  I got over it though and quickly fell asleep as my pain receded.  It was the best most calming rest I had had in so long.  When I woke up I was not only physically better but emotionally too.  For the first time in a long time, I felt like a weight had been lifted off me as I looked around at my clean house.  I realized then, that trying to clean my house like it should be cleaned and failing miserably was burdening my body and my mind.  It was money well spent.  

About a month ago, I got lash extensions from a girl at the new salon I work at, Salons of Volterra. My lashes did finally grow back but they are extremely short and waterproof mascara even slides off of them.  The lash extensions make me feel more feminine...a feeling I lost for over a year.  I remember shopping for furniture for my new salon suite this summer.  The salesman after speaking with me for several minutes called me "sir".  There is something about having no hair, no breast, and no energy that allows you to forgive those kind of mistakes fairly easily.  So now I enjoy anything that makes me feel more feminine.  Basically, if it takes stress off my body or mind, makes me feel pretty, or contributes to my overall health and well being, it is put on my list of high priorities.  Why?...because it is this time of year, two years ago that I first found my lump.  With triple negative breast cancer, the highest risk of metastasis occurs between years 2 and 3.  So this year is crucial to my survival and I firmly believe my stressful lifestyle and no time for "me" was the greatest contributor to my cancer diagnosis.  I know that it is true that God knows our needs better than we know our own. He found a way to make me slow down and appreciate everyday.  Landri and Presley continue to be the center of my world and my wonderful husband makes me thankful everyday that he is my best friend.  I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful Christmas and has a terrific and safe New Year!