Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First Mammogram After Treatment

I had to go back to my radiologist this week for a diagnostic mammogram because of a new lump I felt in my left breast. Under normal conditions, I would not have needed a mammogram for another six months. But who said I was normal?

I could tell my lump was just a fluid filled cyst. It didn't feel anything like my tumor which was small and hard. My tumor felt like an M&M just under the surface of my skin. And I was right. My new lump is completely benign and nothing to worry about.

While I was there, my radiologist decided to do a bilateral mammogram. Both my "girls" were flattened to a pancake. Mammograms are not the most comfortable procedure but after a lumpectomy -- all I can say is "OUCHIE!"

Going back to the radiologist's office this week was an interesting experience. I hadn't been there since last summer when she found my tumor and gave me my diagnosis on June 2, 2011. Walking in and sitting in the waiting room brought back so many memories for me.

I remembered the fear and dread vividly and I could see it on every woman's face in that office. Seeing me with my short cropped "hairdo" didn't help alleviate their fears. But I was cheerful and upbeat and kept a smile on my face the entire time.

One woman sitting next to me complimented me on my hair re-growth. I thanked her and we started talking. She told me she was a 24 year survivor. That alleviated MY fears!

My next scheduled appointment is in September - another mammogram and an MRI. My goal is to stay out of the radiologist's office until then!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

21 Day Cleanse

After six rounds of chemotherapy and 33 radiation sessions, it's time for a good old fashioned detox and cleanse. I just feel like my body is finally ready to start healing from all the toxic treatment I have received.

cafe-230x230I am a proponent of the Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and have decided to follow her 21 Day Cleanse starting tomorrow. I have never done a detox or cleanse, so this will be a new experience for me.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I ran out and bought Kris Carr's books and a juicer. I probably juiced three or four times and gave up. It's not easy. You have to make fresh juice every day or every other day, depending on how many veggies you are juicing. It takes about an hour to make enough juice for two days. Given all the benefits of juicing, it is time well spent. I just need to get back into it!

Here is a checklist from the book that I will use for the next 21 days to keep myself on the right path:
  1. Did you abstain from coffee?
  2. Did you abstain from alcohol?
  3. Did you abstain from gluten?
  4. Did you abstain from animal products?
  5. Did you abstain from sugar and choose low-glycemic fruits and better alternatives such as stevia or agave nectar?
  6. Did you dry brush today?
  7. Did you clean your sinuses with a neti pot? (I won't be doing this one!)
  8. Did you move your body for at least 35 minutes?
  9. Did you meditate for 15 to 20 minutes?
  10. Did you chew your meals thoroughly and mindfully?
  11. Did you laugh out loud and tell someone you love him or her today?
  12. Did you spend time in nature? Even five minutes is better than nothing?
  13. Did you get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep?
  14. What did you eat today and did you juice?
  15. How much purified water did you consume. Include fresh veggie juices in your calculation.
  16. What supplements did you take?
  17. How was your elimination? (TMI!)
  18. What time did you stop eating? Three hours before bedtime is optimal.
  19. How do you feel physically?
  20. How do you feel emotionally?
The 21 Day Cleanse recommends drinking a green juice in the morning and then switching to vegan, mainly raw, organic meals for lunch, dinner and snacks.

For those of you who know me personally, you know that it will not be easy for me to give up coffee or alcohol. But I feel like it's time. It's time for me to do something really positive for my health over these next three weeks.

Care to join me?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Next Challenge

When I was going through chemo, everyone told me to avoid eating foods that I love because they won't taste the same and I won't want them after I finish chemo. They also told me that whatever weight I gain during chemo would come off within two months of finishing chemo.

They lied.

During chemo, I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted. I figured that since I have cancer and am going through chemo, I should do whatever I want to make myself feel better. And since my appetite didn't go away during chemo, I indulged. I still believed whatever weight I gained would somehow magically melt away after chemo. HA!

So here I am -- after six months of indulgence -- weighing 20 lbs. more than I did when I started chemo. And I still love cheeseburgers, french fries, Prime Rib Pasta at O'Charley's and ice cream. There isn't one thing I ate during chemo that seems dissatisfying to me now. It's all still good!

My next challenge is to lose the 20 lbs. I gained during chemo and then lose another 10 lbs. I had been trying to lose before my diagnosis.

I need to lose this extra weight for all the usual reasons (look better, feel better, fit back into my normal clothes, etc.). But the really big reason I need to lose this weight is to help fight a breast cancer recurrence. My type of cancer is receptive to estrogen and estrogen is stored in bodyfat. So even if your ovaries have been medically shutdown like mine have, you still need to get your bodyfat in check so you are not storing too much estrogen.

Oh - and did I mention I will have a complete hysterectomy at the end of April and my 30th high school reunion is in mid-June?

No pressure...

Sunday, March 11, 2012


On Monday, March 5, 2012, I finally reached a goal that had been set for me WAY back in July. I completed my treatment for breast cancer. It's been a LONG 10 months. Many women face more rounds of chemo and more surgeries than I did. I got off easy with just 10 months.

Many of us face the same five year period of taking tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor to hopefully prevent a breast cancer recurrence. I will start my regimen in April after my hysterectomy. I will also see one of my doctors at three month intervals for the next two years. After that, the doctor visits should slow down. In the mean time, I will do what so many other women have done before me - get on with my life.

I have heard so many women refer to this time period between diagnosis and finishing treatment as "The Lost Year." I don't look at it that way. For me, these past several months have been exactly the opposite. I found much more than I lost.

I found the love and support of so many people, it has been overwhelming. I found support from people I hadn't heard from in over 30 years. I heard from classmates who were not exactly my friends during our school days. They came to my Facebook page and told me how much they admired me. I found a whole group of new friends online, women who blog or are a part of the Crazy Sexy Cancer website community. I have even had the opportunity to meet two of them in person and now consider them my friends "in real life."

My co-workers took support and encouragement to a whole new level. During the month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness, one of my co-workers would come into my office and present me with a pink themed gift. I received plants, jewelry, t-shirts, hats, tea towels, notecards, pins and mugs. Those that work in remote locations sent me pink Care Packages packed with items they collected at their office. This outpouring of support went on during the entire month and continues even today. Just last week I had the janitor in my office with tears in his eyes telling me what an inspiration I have been to him.

But most important, my relationship with my sister grew even stronger and for that, I am really grateful. She sent me a card after every chemo session. We talked on Facetime. She sent a huge cookie to congratulate me on completing chemo. We spent time together over Christmas. Her support in particular has meant the world to me.

So yeah, I'm done with cancer treatment. I am ready to get on with my life - this time with a much greater appreciation for my relationships and my health.