Yes, I am still alive and kicking! Sorry it has taken me so long to catch up on my blog. My surgery ( I’ll finish my blog about that really soon – I promise!) was on December 11, 2012 – 8 weeks ago yesterday! SO hard to believe it has been so long already. My pathology report came back after the surgery and there was good news and not as good news. The good news was that the AC chemo worked so well against the tumor that my medical oncologist recommended only two more cycles of AC and no Taxol!!! Yeah! I was so worried about the possibility of losing fingernails and toenails and neuropathy. The not as good news is that my breast surgeon was only able to remove the sentinal lymph node because the other lymph nodes were scarred down from the chemotherapy – that lymph node was still positive for cancer. I saw the radiation oncologist yesterday and she said that the lymph nodes were probably scarred down because at one time they had cancerous cells and I probably would have had 3 or more positive lymph nodes if I had my surgery first – which is a clear indication for radiation therapy. She said that although I fall in a “gray area”, I would sill have at least a 25- 30% reduction in the chance of recurrence of my breast cancer locally if I had radiation. I definitely don’t want to do this again – so I guess radiation is in my near future.
My 5th chemo was on January 17th. It went very smoothly and I had very little side effects. I wondered if they gave me too small of a dose since I felt so good! My oncologist called me and told me to not go back to work the next week because she wanted me to rest at home and let my white blood count build up naturally. So I stayed home and rested up. A week later, I had my blood levels checked because I wanted to see my nieces perform in the musical, “Mulan”, that night if I wasn’t too low. My WBC was 3.4 so I was really happy! The musical was postponed until the next week because of snow though! Oh well! I finally went back to work for the first time on January 28th. My c0-workers were not in the office that day so I went over to say hello to my co-workers at my child development center. I figured I had just wasted my time driving so far that day, but they put me to work on some filing. I figured it was my dry run! I worked a whole 3 hours. Then I met Laura and Diana and Earle and Doug for dinner before the musical. Dana saved us seats in the front row and I had a whole row of kids in front of me – I have to admit I was a little worried about germs – but Earle had started giving me neupogen shots again the day before – so I thought I was golden. Silly me! The musical was wonderful and I was so glad to be able to see my nieces first performances.
On Tuesday, I worked for a whole 4 hours. I figured I would build up to 6 hours by the end of the week! I really didn’t do much more than make copies and make plans to buy tickets to Disney on Ice for Diana’s 21st birthday! That night I met my good friends Maureen and Tina for dinner at TGI Fridays. I had missed a “happy meal” the night before because of the musical and they were gracious enough to meet me on a different night! The company as always was delightful and time passed quickly. We were making plans to celebrate my 6th and final chemo on Februrary 7th. I was so excited about getting my chance to ring the bell!
Early Wednesday morning I had my lab appointment. We were shocked to find out that my white blood count had dropped to 1.0!!! Yikes! That was the lowest it has been since I started back in October. My oncologist said that my body was still recovering from the surgery. It was also the 5th chemo and the effects on my body were cumulative. I guess the dose wasn’t too small after all! So of course I would not be going back to work the rest of the week. So far I had only worked 7 hours since December 7th! Thank God for my co-workers that donated hours to me. I was able to get 2 full paychecks thanks to them. This is a hard time of year to be out of work – the beginning of the new school year (college text books are way too expensive!), the beginning of birthday season (4 out of 6 of our family members have birthdays in February!) and all these co-pays add up fast!
We had a full, but relaxing weekend. Diana was home for the weekend and wanted to learn how to crochet!!! I was more than happy to teach her. My sister and my niece had started crocheting the week before. It was cool that they were all interested at the same time. One of Earle’s childhood friends, Jon, and his wife, Chris, came to the farm with their kids and dogs. The girls spent so much time outside with the animals I am surprised that they didn’t turn into icicles!!! The menfolk practiced their shooting skills while the women folk visited in the family room. Our dogs enjoyed having a play date too. We even had my favorite pizza – Ledos! Yummy! They even brought a delicious dessert. Around 8 pm I started yawning and Chris packed up her family right away so that I could get my rest. It was a lovely visit.
Then it was Super Bowl Sunday. My sister and her family and my Dad came over. The girls and I crocheted and Earle and Neil cooked. We were all rooting for the Ravens and the girls were wearing purple. The first half was great…the Ravens were on roll. Earle took Diana home at half-time. When the lights went out at the Superdome, everybody else decided to go home too. I was getting tired anyway. The lights finally came back on and the 49’s came roaring back. By the time Earle got home it was a close game. What a relief when the Baltimore Ravens finally won. I am happy to say that my Redskins beat the Super Bowl Champs!
I was still tired on Monday so I stayed home and rested. I had my appointment with the radiation oncologist Tuesday afternoon so I didn’t go to work then either. Yesterday morning at 8 am (February 6th) I had my lab work done and an appointment with the medical oncologist. I was waiting in the exam room and I overheard a nurse on the phone with the Infusion Center saying that my white count was too low and could they reschedule my chemo? DARN!!! Dr. P. came in and told me the bad news that my last chemo would have to be postponed until Monday, February 11th. My white count was only at 2.2. She was also worried about my granulocytes. I was at .9 and she wants me to be above 1.3. Granulocytes help to fight infection. When your granulocytes are low you are more likely to get a severe infection. She said that we could push it, but that the benefit would not outweigh the risk. She also said that I needed 3 more days of Neupogen shots. Oh joy! I think that the shots are making my muscles ache. I am fine sitting down, but when I first get up I feel really stiff and sore. She also said that I should probably not go back to work for 3 or 4 weeks after my chemo because of the risk of infection. Wow!
After the bad news, I was so grateful that I had an appointment with Melinda for reflexology. It was so nice to relax and chat and try not to worry about how much longer this whole process was going to take. I also found out that it is really a small world. Melinda met a friend of ours, Helen, at a book club and she told her that she had read about her on my blog! I should shout out to Helen’s husband Ron for keeping us in soup over the last few months! So many supportive friends and family are praying and sending good wishes – it helps to make this road a little easier to travel.
I am very disappointed that I don’t get to ring the bell tomorrow! I was looking forward to putting the chemo chapter behind me. The radiation chapter will not begin until 4-5 weeks after my last chemo. It will last 6 and a half weeks. The reconstruction chapter can not be finished until 6 months after the radiation chapter ends. Seems like I will never make it to the end sometimes, but I realize that I have come a long way. I have to just keep swimming….