All That

There’s not much more frustrating to me than writing a nearly complete blog entry, only to have the computer lock up and lose the entire thing. My frustration has been compounded by the fact that my post-chemo brain doesn’t have near the retention that it used to. Granted, I’ve never been known for my steel trap superhuman memory powers. However, what I have always been blessed with is the ability to remember anything funny and to remember, nearly verbatim, anything I’ve written. Perhaps the latter is due to writing mostly funny stuff. I don’t really know. What I do know is that this ability has apparently been greatly diminished by four months of being strung out on Adriamyacin/Cytoxan & Taxol.

So, when I lost the blog entry, I was quite discouraged because other than the general storyline and one funny phrase, I couldn’t remember what I’d written. This also explains part of the reason why it’s taken me so long to update, though mostly the reason is that I haven’t been home much, and when I was I haven’t had anything terribly entertaining to say.

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I have an appointment with Dr Haerr on November 6. Not sure what that will involve exactly. I’m hoping I can start radiation ASAP so I can finish before Christmas—there I go, having it all planned out ahead of time again. Everyone I’ve talked to who has done chemo followed by radiation says radiation is no biggie. I think the people who whine about it are the ones who’ve never done chemo.

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I’ve discovered that my hair has apparently grown past the point of looking like a chemo cut, and into the land of I Did This to Myself on Purpose. Furthermore, I have also observed that girls with this sort of purposeful ‘do attract a certain kind of guy. These morsels of enlightenment were gained at none other than the State Road 46 Walmart—second only to downtown Bloomington in per capita freakiness.

As I plopped my purchases on the counter, the cashier, a 20-something guy about 6’5” with shoulder length dyed black hair, goatee, and multiple tattoos gave me the standard, “How are you today?” Says I with a big smile, because I know cashiers spend most of their days either being ignored or griped at, “I’m doing good. How are you?” He replied that he was doing okay, then he looked at me and said, “I really like your hair. You know, not many people can pull that off, but you look really good.” At this point I’m thinking that he’s just being nice to the poor cancer girl, but since I’ll take any compliment I can get I said, “Thanks! I just finished chemo a few weeks ago.” The look that flashed across his face said, “Uh-oh, did I just screw up?” But when he saw I was still smiling, he could tell I wasn’t the least bit offended.

Standing there waiting for my total, I started doing a little people watching. It was then that I noticed another guy. This one was 20-something, with short spiky bleached hair and big thick silver hoops in his ears. He was sitting on a bench looking at me. As I proceeded to pay for my purchases and leave I could see out of the corner of my eye that he continued to watch me as I walked past. He was checkin’ me out! It was then that I realized that the haircut that I thought was screaming, “Hey, look at the cancer girl!” is apparently screaming something more along the lines of, “Hey you hunk of dyed, pierced and tattooed manliness, what’s a freaky guy like you doing in a rollback the prices, made in China kind of place like this?”

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Bigger Than a Bread Box

Hey Aunt Phyllis–I visited your hair yesterday! I was back at the boutique, only this time my mission was to find a prosthesis. Along with the fake boob I needed a special bra, with a special little pocket to hold my special new friend. Two bras were approved by Dr Schmidt for immediate post-mastectomy use. The 1st one had about 6 hooks in the back & 6 hooks in the front–in case you can’t reach the back. It comes in beige only and is bigger than a bread box. It may even be bigger than a bread truck. I didn’t even try that one on. The 2nd one only had hooks in the back. It came in the exotic color choices of black or white & was not quite as big as a bread box. I did try this one. The granny style cup molded my real boob into the approximate shape of a can of frozen concentrated orange juice. Need I even state that this was NOT acceptable? Furthermore, it was so big that it peeked out the top of my not terribly low plunging shirt and said, “Howdy! I’m Aunt Bea’s underwear!”

Andrea, the boutique manager, is a little younger than me. She could feel my pain and brought me a bra that was not on the approved list, but was more along the lines of Victoria’s Secret, instead of Obviously Octogenarian. This one comes in a variety of colors including black and leopard. I tried it on. Finally! I actually felt like myself. Andrea even ran over to Dr Schmidt’s & got Tana’s approval. In the meantime, Hubster was on the phone with the Insurance Nazis trying to figure out if they would cover the new boob. They informed him that they might, provided that we send them a letter of medical necessity, treatment history, etc. It would take 2 weeks for them to decide whether of not to cover it.

Does anyone besides me get tired of having to beg their freakin’ insurance company to do their job?! How ridiculous is it that after they’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars for all my treatment, they conveniently don’t have the information necessary to decide that I deserve a prosthesis? That’s right, Giant Insurance Goliath…this whole mastectomy thing was all part of a big plot to get a free fake boob because they’re just so stinkin’ cool! Fake boobs are the new black you know–everybody’s getting one! Why just the other day my girlfriends and I were just discussing how lucky I was to have an 8-1/2″ incision across my chest, because I was that much closer to attaining my goal of defrauding the insurance company of the price of a spiffy synthetic detachable substitute breast! GRRR!

In the end, I got the prosthesis and bra. Paid for them myself. The new boob looks like what would result if the Cabbage Patch doll factory made B-2 stealth bombers on a B-cup size scale. Maybe I should check the package & see if it came with a birth certificate & name.
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The highlight of the day was having my drains removed. Okay, the actual process was not the highlight. But being free of them is wonderful. The bummer of the day was finding out that upon further testing the pathologist did find a speck of cancer in the node. That pretty much guarantees the radiation I was hoping to avoid. Dr Birhiray said that as little as there was, it’s not likely that it’s gone any further–which is the major concern here.

Have I mentioned that I love Dr B? (Okay, maybe the t-shirt was a clue)He’s a very busy man, but you never ever feel rushed when you see him. He will answer as many questions as you can think of. You’ll never hear me gripe about how long the wait is to see him. In fact, I expect him to be running behind, and I just ask, “How far behind is he today?” My visit to the boutique actually occurred during my wait.

Yesterday, Dr B said, “I think I know you well enough to say that you seem down.” He was right. I had been deflated by the news that the node wasn’t clean. I’m very thankful that I have people like Dr B as part of my medical team. They’re all excellent, caring people I’m very blessed to have them along on this journey.

Shame

I went to co-op yesterday. Of course I’m not allowed to drive, so Susie came and picked us up. Everyone was surprised to see me, and I enjoyed chit-chatting with my homeschool mom friends. When I got home in the afternoon, I had 9 messages on the answering machine. There were also 4 cards in my mailbox yesterday. I really appreciate all the encouragement and concern. Today I had had a good belly laugh when I read the card from Cherylle thanking me for keeping everyone *abreast* of my condition. She claimed there was no pun intended—yeah right, Cherylle! They removed a boob, not my brain!

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Last Saturday was the big Race for the Cure. Check out the pictures I’ve added to the gallery. It was a good time—although the heat was downright oppressive. Since Potato Fork Sister and Sister Basketball Fingers are both pregnant, the heat was extra fun for them. There was even some trash-talking between Potato Fork and I as we ran (Yes, ran.) the last yards of the 5K. It went something like this:
Me (over my shoulder): “Ha ha! I’m ahead of you!”
PF: “Yeah, well I’m pregnant, so cut me some slack!”
Me: “So?! I’ve got the cancer and I’m still beating you!”
PF: “Shut up!”

About this time we come to where the rest of the fam is standing and hollering. I go over to them, mistakenly thinking that I’ve already crossed the line. Potato Fork, who is merciless to poor cancer patients, keeps running. Even guilt can’t catch her as she trucks away from me in an effort to come out on top. The fam is like, “You’re not done yet! Keep going!” So, I take off, as fast as I possibly can (you can almost feel the wind rushing by, can’t you?) in an attempt at a come from behind win. Hubster, who is about 2/3 legs, is running along side me offering affirmation and encouragement in the form of, “Can’t you catch her?” (Well, as a matter of fact, Daddy Long Legs, I WAS on pace to catch and pass her until she HEARD you say that. Thanks a LOT, Honey.) She then sped up the last couple of yards, and all hope was lost for me.

Beaten by my pregnant younger sister! Oh, the shame of it all.

Homeward Bound

Good Morning! It’s a little after 8:00 am as I type this, and I’m ready to go home.

Okay, scratch that…it’s now a little before 9:00, and I’m ready to go home. Just as I finished typing that last sentence, nurse Debbie came in and freed me from my Magic Legs—these sleeves that went from ankle to above the knee, kneading my legs like a giant cat. At first, I didn’t mind the Magic Legs, but they soon got on my nerves because they attached me to the bed via their air hoses. They also made me quite hot. Though I was perfectly capable of walking, I had to call the nurse to go to the bathroom. The purpose of the Magic Legs was to keep me from getting blood clots since I was laying in bed, yet if I wasn’t attached to the bed by the Magic Legs (which I soon nicknamed the Black Magic Legs) I would have been up and about. So when offered the chance to escape, I immediately dumped the computer for a chance to brush my teeth and wash up.

I’m feeling pretty good. The only thing I’ve had for pain is Tylenol. I really haven’t hurt that much. In fact, I’d say that so far I have less pain that I did with my last lumpectomy.

I have two drains that look like little clear hand grenades attached to aquarium tubing. They’re currently pinned to my tank top and I can tell already that I won’t be able to easily hide them. Okay, everybody sing along…
Oh, my drains hang low. And they wobble to and fro. I can’t tie them in a knot, ‘cause they’re pinned up to my clothes. They hang from near my shoulder, like a hand grenade shaped boulder. Yes, my drains hang low.

Right now we’re just hanging out and waiting for the physical therapy people, and Tana from Dr Schmidt’s office to come by. After that, I should be able to head home. Thanks to everyone who has called—I had 4 phone calls before 8:30 this morning, not to mention the ones since then. Also, thanks for all the prayers, and visits, and offers of food and anything else I need. You guys rock.

Update

Sorry for the delayed info—this is my third attempt to post because CarePages is experiencing technical difficulties. This is Hubster writing—Moody wanted me to let you know so you’ll read it in my voice, not hers—so don’t expect any wit. One of the nurses yesterday even guessed me for an engineer because my wife has the personality.

Once again, God has blessed us. Surgery went a little quicker than we expected and the news couldn’t have been better–the lymph nodes were clear. Now it’s a matter of waiting for the pathology on the tissue removed to know whether or not we’ll be doing radiation.

Thanks for all the prayers and support—please, keep praying.

Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Of course you already knew that because there is no escaping it. While there might be a remote tribe of Amazonian jungle dwelling people would aren’t “aware” I highly doubt it. They’re probably all sporting the official pink ribbon spears and loincloths.

The whole pink ribbon thing has indeed raised awareness. It’s also made it socially acceptable to talk about breast cancer. Money has been poured into research, which I have personally benefited from. But lately it’s been downright oppressive to me. Everywhere I look it’s pink ribbon this, and pink ribbon that. Pink ribbon bathrobes, pink ribbon snack cakes, pink ribbon shoes, pink ribbon batteries—I think I even saw pink ribbon broccoli at the grocery store. They all say, “Hey, I know you were off in your own little world browsing the coffee aisle, but don’t forget—you’ve got breast cancer!”

I’m sure the marketing guys for these companies are loving this. Folks are buying their products based of their desire to do something for the cause. I can hear it now, “Oh, look Edy’s has their limited edition breast cancer awareness Pink Ribbon Swirl with Palpable Lumps! Let’s get that so Moody will know we care!” Here’s a little advice, folks: If you want to show love to the breast cancer survivor in your life, make it personal. Simply sending a card (preferably a funny one) means way more than you buying the official pink ribbon package of Double Stuff Oreos.

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Surgery News:
My surgery time has been moved to 9:15, instead of 11:30 on Tuesday October 9. The good part is that will be two hours less I’ll be starving. The bad news is I have check in at 7:15, which means I’ll be leaving about 5:45. Oy! I’ve been told that my 23-hour observation period will begin after I get to my real room, about 2 hours after surgery. So, that means I won’t be getting out of there until probably noonish at the earliest on Wednesday.

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Thanks to all of you for your encouraging words. You are all such a blessing to me. Now I need to ask you for your prayers. Obviously, my emotional well-being needs all the help it can get. Also, please pray that my pathology report will come back such that I won’t be required to do radiation. If I don’t do rads, then I’ll be able to have the easier reconstructive surgery. Finally, I will be having another MRI (on the right) after I’m healed from surgery, so please pray that it comes out clear or else I’ll be doing this whole thing over again on the right side.

Spiritual Quicksand

This blog has been great therapy for me. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and the mental exercise has been good for overcoming chemo brain. However, sometimes I’m struggling, and I don’t have anything witty to say. In fact, anything I do have to say would probably be decidedly not witty and uninspiring. That’s precisely the reason why you haven’t heard from me in over a week and a half. It’s like Cowboy Bob used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I was in meltdown mode on Sunday. It’s amazing how you can be in a church full of people, or at home with your family, and feel all alone. But that’s exactly how I felt. It was as if I was holding myself together with a fraying thread, and it was just a matter of time before it would completely unravel.

Yesterday, I talked to someone who loves me, and she gave me what amounted to a spiritual kick in the butt. You see, I was trying to do it myself. But I don’t have the strength for this—which is why I’ve been a basket case. The bible says that God will give us strength, and not only that, if we let Him, He will fight our battles for us. However, I often decide to wrestle with these things myself. I’m a control freak that way. The problem is that this time I bit off more than I could chew. Satan has a hayday with this type of scenario. When I’m feeling alone, he whispers, “That’s right, you are alone…nobody understands…nobody wants to hear about it if you’re not happy inspirational cancer girl…” When I think about my surgery, he says, “Gee, it’s too bad you’re going to be maimed in a few days…you know that reconstruction won’t look natural, whenever you finally have it…I wonder if you husband will be able to stand the sight of it…”

I can’t fight that kind of thing myself. Before I know it, I’ve been dragged down into it like it’s spiritual quicksand. I kick and thrash, but it only makes matters worse. Only when I recognize that that my self-focused methods aren’t productive, and that I need to instead focus on God, do I calm down enough to stop sinking. This time, it took someone standing on the edge of the pit holding out God’s Word like a life-saving tree limb to pull me out.

I hesitated to post all this, because I know everyone is expecting something funny. Especially if you’re new here, you may be thinking, “Hey, wait a minute…you tricked me! I thought this was supposed to be funny.” Folks, I’m not super human. Most of the time, I am fairly positive, and I do find humor in a lot of the things I’ve gone through. But to pretend to always be happy-snappy would be dishonest. As I said before, my blog is therapeutic for me. I do get a kick out of entertaining and informing people, but I also want to be real. I certainly don’t want someone else who is going through the same sort of thing to be discouraged because they’re not handling it as well as they think I must be.

And hear this: When I am weak, it’s not because God can’t or won’t strengthen me. It’s because I’m trying to rely on my own strength. When I finally admit that I’m at the end of myself, and I say, “Lord, I cannot handle this. I am giving it to you” that is when I become what many of you call strong.