In the words of my dear friend Jordana, I have crossed the next step off of my kick-cancer’s-ass to do list.
The past few weeks leading up to surgery were a bit crazy as my surgeon is sick (happily she is beginning to feel better and will hopefully be back to work in a few weeks) I was scheduled for a pre-op appt with her 2 weeks ago , I received a call the day before the appt cancelling because she was out sick. I was back and forth with the surgeon’s office and my oncologist’s office for the next several days. Ideally, the surgery is supposed to take place within a certain time period after finishing chemo. My options were to postpone surgery until my surgeon was healthy and start endocrine treatment (tamoxifen) in the meantime or , after speaking with the surgeon’s office, I was given the option to have a the other breast surgeon in the office do the surgery on my scheduled date. I chose that option. I went up to Poughkeepsie last week for my pre-op procedures and to meet with my new surgeon. I felt very comfortable as Dr. Andersen trained under my surgeon, Susan Boolbol and when Susan was offered the role of head of Breast surgery for the nuvance hospital system, she reached out to Dr Andersen to have her join the team. I was able to see my before and after chemo mammograms at the appointment and chemo really did it’s job – it was so effective that when I had to have the pre-op procedure where they place a marked internally at the site for the surgeon, they weren’t able to do it with ultrasound as is usually done as they weren’t able to locate the tumor on the ultrasound . They used the mammogram machine which was quite a scene – but it worked.
I am grateful that despite the current pandemic , I was able to move forward with my treatment timeline. I learned that currently lumpectomies are not being preformed at any of our local hospitals. Mine was done at the Dyson breast center in Poughkeepsie . Amazingly, their surgical center opened yesterday after being closed a month ago to serve overflow COVId patients from the main hospital. The space was not needed and reopened for surgeries yesterday – gave me great peace of mind that I was the 2nd surgery performed in this sterile space.
I am feeling good – a little sore but Tylenol does the trick. Was very happy to also have the port removed during yesterday’s surgery. Will see the surgeon next week for follow up and then the next step to be checked off is radiation.
Hope that everyone is staying sane , safe and healthy 💗
Not sure why (with so much time these days) it’s taken me over a week from last treatment to write. In this instance, my last treatment was actually my LAST treatment. # 8 done! Last week was a little strange . I had to get a mammogram and ultrasound for my surgeon. Going to Tully (the medical facility) was bizarre. It’s usually bustling with people . I pulled in and my car was one of 6 or 7 cars in the lot. Other than the 2 receptionists and 2 technicians that I interacted with I saw no other people in the facility. Based on the results of these tests, the chemo has definitely done its job to break down and shrink the tumor.
I also found out early last week that my oncologist had left Norwalk Hospital (I knew that he was leaving in May- it was quite a surprise that he left early April). Thus, I met with a P.A. (Who I had never met before- she was lovely) before my last treatment and then due to carona, had to have my last treatment in a different space ( not the usual chemo infusion room where I had my first 7 treatments). Lots of unsettling stuff but the staff was wonderful . Darrell picked me up from treatment , once I got in the car I was very emotional – so happy to have this part of the journey behind me. I came home to a decorated house. Signs from my parents and kids. After being home for a few minutes, we went outside to look at the signs and suddenly there were horn honking and an absolutely amazing parade of people who I love came driving by with signs, horns honking , music blaring. It was beyond overwhelming . We came back in the house , full of emotion and totally wiped out and the kids informed me there was one more surprise. They cued up a video on the tv filled with well wishes from friends and family near and far. My friend Jeannie put the whole thing together . I will treasure the video always – it made me laugh, it made me cry. Just an incredible day.
I met with my new oncologist , Dr. Lo from the Bennet Cancer Center at Stanford Hospital yesterday and am pleased to be continuing this journey with him. When sharing with him that I worked through chemo and some other things from the past 5 months since this all happened , his response was “you are a strong woman!” I am a strong woman but having the family, friends and community that I do behind me and beside me has made it possible for me to continue to march forward confidently!
Next steps … I meet with my surgeon on Tuesday for a pre-op appt. surgery is scheduled for May 6. Not sure where it will take place (due to corona) but it is an outpatient procedure so whichever hospital or surgical center they tell us to go to will be fine. Following surgery , I’ll have radiation – length of radiation is based on pathology from surgery.
I’m attaching the videos of the parade and family and friends ringing the bell. In these hard times of quarantining , it’s wonderful to celebrate to good.
7 treatments down, 1 to go! This is such a strange , difficult time for all of us , dealing with cancer and having to go to the hospital for chemo and appts adds an additional layer of anxiety.
Our family has been quarantined since my last treatment 2 weeks ago. Other than walks outside and Darrell’s occasional trip to the grocery store, we are all staying home to avoid any possibility of exposure. So far, we are doing pretty well. We are all busy during the day with work/schoolwork and nights are filled with puzzles, rummikub and random tv (we started watching tiger king on Netflix tonight- crazy). Friends have been amazing, as usual , with offering to pick up groceries.
I saw Dr. Z today. My blood counts were all good so we will follow the same protocol as last treatment and i will go tomorrow for a white blood cell booster shot. The hospital has put in various protocols to protect the employees and patients . They only have a small group of nurses working in the infusion room . My regular nurse , who I love, Mercy, is working in the IV area, not oncology so sadly I didn’t have her today and she won’t be there for my last treatment. At this point I know all of the nurses and they are all wonderful so I was well cared for. I shared with them that I was disappointed that my family and friends can’t be with me next treatment when I ring the bell. They said that we can face time the family and promised to take video and photos for me!
It was a little strange being there completely alone today. No guests are aloud in the hospital . I watched some shows, spent a lot of time looking out the window on this beautiful day and took a nap. Darrell dropped me off at the hospital at 9:15 and picked me up at 3:40 – it was a long day.
Again, beyond grateful for family and our absolutely incredible group of friends who are supporting us through every step of this journey.
I’m sharing an essay that I found last week – written by a breast cancer survivor shedding insight in to dealing with the current COVId situation.
Another one done! The situation in our country right now is surreal and dealing with cancer at this time adds another layer of crazy! My mantra with my cancer treatment has been “one day at a time” I try not to look too far ahead as that can be overwhelming. I’m applying that same mantra to dealing with the caronavirus crisis- one day at a time. Trying to enjoy the time with all 3 kids at home. On this cancer journey I also try to look for the good in everything and everyone and there is so much good. People are beyond kind and thoughtful . In times of crisis in our country it is also incredible to see the good that comes out in people.
Back to today- had a great appt with my oncologist- all numbers are good. Treatment was uneventful . The hospital is limiting each patient to one guest so I didn’t have my usual crowd. Darrell was with me for the day, working remotely. As he did some work, I watched the movie “Yesterday” I highly recommend it. I wore the frozen mittens and booties again today, it’s pretty much torture but worth it to prevent neuropathy. We sent our kids a photo and Reese decided that I look like Olaf.
I was supposed to go to the today show with my friend Robin last week, unfortunately my white blood cell counts were low so I couldn’t join her (needed to avoid crowds). Robin made this happen – thank you Robin, Maria Shriver and Jenna Bush Hager 💗💗💗
Another one down – 62.5% there. This was the first of my taxol treatments. Fingers crossed that the side effects are significantly milder than the AC. Shouldn’t have the nausea or insane exhaustion. One potential side effect is neuropathy. to counteract that, patients wear frozen mittens and booties for the 3 1/2 hours that you receive the taxol. Every 20 minutes you get fresh , frozen booties and mittens. Thanks to my amazing team of friends who set their phone timers and diligently changed my accessories every 20 mins.
It was a long day – I was literally the last person in the huge infusion room- didn’t get home until 5:45 pm. Was lucky to have friends visit throughout the afternoon to help pass the time. Today 2 people rang the bell signifying their last treatments, I got pretty teary, can’t wait until it’s my turn! Pretty tired of all of this but the end is in sight and these next few weeks will hopefully be easier. As I parted ways with Dr. Zelkowitz after my pre-treatment appt he said to me, “honey, You’re over the hump” – the tough stuff is behind me❤️
I continue to go to work every day, being busy is a good thing, nothing better than 100 2-5 year olds to make you forget about cancer. I wear my wig to school but tend to wear hats at all other times. Madison surprised me this past Friday with a visit home for the weekend – it was wonderful to have her home. She wore one of my hats in solidarity (she actually just really likes it)
In chatting with our rabbi this week we were talking about the silver linings of cancer. The caring texts and cards from people you don’t expect to hear from, the meals and thoughtful gifts arriving at our doorstep, the incredible support from our dear friends. We are beyond grateful.
Looking forward to celebrating Reese’s 14th birthday tomorrow (and throughout the weekend).
4down , 4 to go… last treatment took me a while to bounce back from so they gave me an additional anti nausea drug today. The main side effect of the new drug is exhaustion – I fell asleep during treatment today and have napped much of the time since coming home. Some good news to share – this was my last AC treatment which is the harsher drug combo. The next 4 will be taxol which is supposed to be easier to tolerate . The other good news is that I had an appt with my surgeon last week and the chemo is doing it’s job, shrinking the tumor!
I can not say enough how much all of the love and support from family, friends and the greater community means to us. Cancer definitely sucks but with all of you fighting with us it makes us stronger and helps us through this sucky process. 💕💕💕
Tomorrow I head in for round 3. Will be a different experience than the first 2 as I will not be doing the Dignicaps. Last week I suffered significant hair loss, the caps don’t always work with my drug regimen and they clearly didn’t work for me. Darrell and I went on Saturday for a wig fitting and since this weekend I have been wearing a variety of hats and the wig to work. Not the outcome I had hoped for but am getting used to it. I have sported so many hairstyles through the years so I’ll be back to my old ways of changing it up every few months as it grows back. The positive is that treatment will be much quicker without the caps and , going forward, I can do everything on treatment day (blood work, Dr appt and treatment) instead of having to go multiple days. My post chemo experience last time was very similar to the 1st so expecting the same this weekend.
We continue to be beyond grateful for the love and support of our family, friends and community . xoxo
25% done with treatment! (For those of you that aren’t aware, i was on our middle school math team and love numbers LOL) Today’s treatment went smoother than the first in all ways. Had company throughout the day which helps to pass the time and I wore my special sweatshirt with port access (thank you friends!) which made accessing the port more comfortable . I’m hopeful that I will follow the same pattern as the 1st treatment in regard to the side effects. Saturday was the hardest day, exhausted and queasy. Lots of good naps definitely help. It played out with a few hard days , a few ok days and by Wednesday I was feeling like myself . I didn’t miss any of Reese’s games and was at work daily (armed with saltines and sucking candies those first few days). We are beyond grateful for all of the delicious dinners , fun gifts and all of the love and support for our family. Thanks for all of the inspiring texts today, from Rosie the Riveter to Wonder Woman to the simple words “give ‘em hell” (I think that is my chemo theme song) . Amazing to truly have an army with me and behind me as I fight. 💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗
Those were the final words in a friend’s note last night , and that we did! First chemo treatment is in the books. Darrell and I got to the hospital at 8:30 am followed by Jeannie (for the day) and Brian (for a quick visit) and then Karen, Robin and Jordana also came to visit. So much for the limit of 2 visitors. Will have to make schedules for future treatments so that I don’t wind up getting thrown out!
The dignicap was the hardest part of the day, but bearable.
Grateful to not have to think about what’s for dinner (for the next several months!) Thank you to all for signing up to feed our family.
Resting now, will see what the next several days bring in terms of side effects.
I just can’t thank everyone enough for your love and support.
We are heading to my sister’s in Florida tomorrow . Looking forward to some relaxing time away with the family. Will return on 12/30, rested and ready for the months ahead. My first chemo treatment will be on 1/2. I will have 8 treatments , every other Thursday, for a total of 16 weeks. I am planning on using dignicaps during treatment in hopes of saving some of my hair. For those who are not familiar, here is a link describing the dignicaps: https://dignicap.com/
My doctors and their teams continue to be wonderful throughout this process.
Happy holidays to all, enjoy the time with family and friends.