Friday, October 6

The Next Step/ This Isn't Really Ever Going to be Over....

Don't get me wrong, I still feel the love, but as my chemo has concluded and I'm now moving into the surgery and radiation part of treatment, the hammer has kind of hit home. I'm having a reality check in the middle of something that I wish was not my reality and it's difficult to say the least.

So you get the news. Breast cancer, FUCK. The first worry(worries), what stage is it? how big is the mass? has it spread? will I lose my whole breast? what about the other one? will I survive this? how do I do this? Will it come back?
And then you get to tell all your friends and family your sick and they get sad and worried because they don't really know what it means, unless the have a survivor or two in their families (and there are A LOT) That's one of the first things you learn about this disease (all cancers not just breast) there are a FUCK of a lot of sick people out there, Holy Shit.
And so you just go through the steps that your Oncologists suggest, slowly grasping the facts here, and there, absorbing what you can and moving forward on this horrible ride. And then you learn you must have all your lymph nodes taken out on the side they are taking the breast off. Shit. Now, on top of every other thing, I am at risk (56 percent) of developing Lymphedema. This risk is for life. FOR LIFE!!! which, if it happens will seriously fuck with my "I want to live on a sail boat and sail the world" dream. Also, I will be flat on the right side for about a year, so my idea of looking like this right away:
looks more like this:
ok, I'm done complaining. I thought I was explaining everything factually but what I'm doing is ranting.And I'm done with that.  I think while I was doing chemo, I was so focused on the day to day, trying to get through feeling so bad, that I put all the other stuff away, deep inside my head, and as I neared the end of chemo, it all came bubbling up. Not just the facts about the next part of this journey, but the feelings around it all. So I have had days where I cry, actually I call it spontaneous leaking, random, solid, fast tears, hot, angry tears, sad slow tears...but then someone sends me a note saying hi or I get an awesome parcel in the mail and I remember I am so, so grateful to be alive, not terminal, and surviving. I am in awe every day at the people around me and the generosity they have shown me, and the inner strength I seem to be able to muster, even after the worst day. The key is, letting yourself feel all the feelings. I haven't held it all in, which is so important. It's hard to give yourself permission to just feel shitty, to me it feels like giving up, but it's actually a really important step in getting better.
So we move forward...I'm going to go to the Lymphedema  clinic at the hospital and get all the facts about everything. And I have come to terms with the idea I'm not going to look conventionally "pretty" right away in the booby department (which is a dream I carried through chemo so I could cope with all the information). In fact I may decide to stay flat instead of reconstruction, who knows? None of my clothes now really have a spot for breasts anyway, I mostly wear stretchy black clothes and sports bras, so there you go. I have a feeling that my scar will be something to  feel proud of, and worn with pride. Once I get through the mourning process and getting used to it being gone. (does that ever really happen?)
Anyway. I love you all. Thank you for your support and love. Onward we go.

Friday, September 22

This One's About Love....

Yup you read it. Love. (and gratitude)

Being diagnosed with cancer has actually helped me. Can you believe it? So far it has been a crazy, sad, hopeful, determined journey. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying, "hey, you should try cancer sometime, it will really change your life!" but it has. and not in a bad way.
first of all cancer has made me a nicer person to the general world. And most importantly, nicer to myself. These are some of the things I have learned:

-I have a very hard time asking for help. ( I am figuring it out)(the first few experiments have gone well!)

-I used to feel like I shouldn't burden people with my state of mind, or my huge emotional feelings. ( I have started to trust, that when people ask me how I am, they really want to know)

- I thought I was fat. In every single picture ever taken of me (after high school). And it was simply not true. (That's why I posted that cheesy motivational poster thing on my FB wall about wanting to be friends with my body)

-I am really strong. Like, stronger than I know. I keep having this flashback of me as a kid, I'm not sure what age, maybe 7? of me trying to get up and going on our friends windsurfer. It was way too big for me, and every time I stood up and grabbed the sail bar to go forward, I would fall over into the water. I did this for over an hour. over and over again, I believed, that if I could just get up on it in the right way and  hang on, I could go. I couldn't/ wouldn't give up.

-Even though my face and hair and body are different/changing, and soon I will missing my right breast, I have a partner who will stay with me, through thick and thin.(thank you B)

-My Toronto "family" is here for me. Other parents are helping with childcare, my neighbors are bringing us meals, my co-worker from Lilliput Hats has made me bone broth and borscht every time I have chemo, my friend and ex boss has come by with meals and she and her Hubby have been checking in all through this process, not to mention L, who comes over almost every night and washes the dishes and takes Jake for the weekends that are the hardest for me. T came and brought groceries, and cleaned my kitchen. It is amazing. It completely blows me away, every time someone reaches out. Shout out to #hospitalglam gals and especially Rosalind, for pain and stress management tips as well as moral support, and her adorable kitty Louis Cat-tors (sp)

-My international "family" and my friends back home have been amazing at sending cards and love. (and flowers! Butch Kaplan!!)

-I am learning who my real friends are and who will be there no matter what.

- My blood family, my Mom, my Dad my Aunts, my cousin Dale, are awesome. They have all been loving and supportive. And they believe in me.

-Kids are resilient (well my kid is) he is lovely, happy, and not phased in the least about Momma's changes. And my kid is going to be ok.

-eventually I will feel normal again.

Take care of each other, we are all we've got. J.

Monday, September 4

The Time Is Near.....

ok so here we go, into treatment 5 of 6. It has been a crazy ride, I shit you not. I'm still feeling optimistic and ready to move on to the next phase. This cycle has been tough. I had an common alergic reaction which manifested as a rash "collar" all up my neck and the skin around my eyes was super sore and dry. But I've got a new plan for all the uncomfortable stuff. You see the first treatment is a shit show of side effects you don't know whats happening or how to make it stop, you try all the things, you consult the almighty Intertron you ask the next treatment you've figured it out, and you can manage better. By the third one, your tired of it all. My third one of Taxotere will be my last!!! I really really hope I don't get this again in 20 years, 'cause I really don't want to ever do chemo again. (knock on wood). So. Whats next?
Surgery. I have a CT scan on the 11th and then I see the Surgeon on the 21st to talk about surgery options. Boy, there are so many!! I've decided on a mastectomy for sure. Due to the fuzzy margins of the mass, I don't think there's a 100 percent chance the surgeon could get it all. I would worry. all the time. I've been researching and talking to other women about a proceedure called a DIEP flap reconstruction which involves taking tissue and blood vessels from your tummy zone (hey! bonus tummy tuck!!) and putting it in your boob spot. they often do a lift of the other boob at the same time to make it even (helloooo 20 year old boobies again!! with some scarring) and the new boob feels and acts like a natural boob, losing and gaining weight with you and feeling natural. The recovery time is intense a week in the hospital and a few months of uncomfortableness. Anyway, this is all conjecture at this point we shall see. I'm not beyond going flat, or doing an implant (can't have one put in though until radiation is done, boo) or tattoos over the spot etc...

We shall see. Anyway, I'm off to my treatment, thank you, as always for your love and support, I couldn't be handling this so well without it. Love you. J

Saturday, August 19

No Really, Rest Please.....

This is what I really look like right now, no filters no make-up.
 And you know what? I love my body. It is so much stronger than I thought it was, it constantly surprises me with it's determination and strength.  I feel like after this is over, I really could do anything. So I know some of you know the dream, but the dream is to get a boat, live on the boat and sail the world, particularly the Southern Indian Ocean. Ok let's backtrack, how did this treatment go?

This new drug is way different that the others. I's much more of a physical thing now than a mental.  I'm not nauseous, which is great, but the inside of my mouth feels like it's been scalded and all my food tastes weird and bitter, even water. I'm having some neuropathy which is random shooting pains all over my body that usually don't happen in the same place twice, which I'm taking advil for and I have a backup bottle of Oxycocet just in case it gets really bad. I take that mostly at night to fully relax. The Doctors give you a few days of a steroid called Dexamethazone to combat all the side effects which is good I guess, but then on the day you run out BAM. The fatigue is insane, I feel like I'm navigating through water. Try telling an active three year old Mummy is slow today...whew. Brian and Jake had movie day Wednesday, and our friend John took Jake in the afternoon on Thursday. Also L took Jake again to her cottage this weekend, which is how I'm able to blog and rest. I have a cheesy novel lined up and I plan on having a nap after my nap. Oh. and then a nap.
Also this taxotere must really be doing something to my cancer because my breast has been hurting in the effected area for two days. That is a good thing, it means it's dying and disintegrating. I am proud to have surprised my oncologist with the shrinking of the mass and the last time I went for an exam, he said he couldn't feel the mass at all, nor could he feel any abnormal lymphnodes so that is excellent. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma doesn't typically respond to Chemo by getting smaller, but mine did. I'm a realist, I think although this is great news, it really will only mean a smaller surgery for me. That's what sucks a bit, cancer can be microscopic and there really is no way yet to test if you are completely clear of it, the Oncologists never deal in absolutes, there is just no way of knowing. This will be my next challenge, when I'm finished all the stuff, the mental task of not worrying about it all the time. I've had all the tests and a genetic test, and so far there is nothing else showing, and I don't have a predisposition for breast cancer. When I have my surgery and radiation and then take Tamaxofen for 5 years (an estrogen blocking drug, as my cancer was estrogen positive and feeds on it), I will have the same chance of getting it in the other breast as any other 44 year old woman does of getting breast cancer in the first place....So it's day by day right now, I can see the end and I'm hoping for the best.

I know I do this at the end every time, but it has been so amazing receiving all the support notes and the cards and messages of love, I really feel it you guys, so thank you. Take care of eachother. J 

P.S. My friend Annie made me a Fuck Cancer mixed tape, you can hear it HERE

Wednesday, August 9

Monday, Monday

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
~Carl Gustav Jung
So yes, I know it's only Wednesday, but I am getting nervous about Monday. Monday, and the next two treatments are with another drug added called Taxotere. 15% of women who are treated with this drug have permanent hair loss (oh joy, another stat to beat) and there is a risk of neuropathy, which is excruciating joint pain and nerve damage, which can range from tingling in the extemities to having trouble doing up buttons or tying shoes etc.. I suppose it is the way of my mental hamster, to worry about the next thing and really, I have had it pretty "good" so far side effect wise so I'm hoping my body does the same thing this time. I have friends bringing frozen and fresh meals that week, and Friday L is taking Jake to her cottage so I can have the weekend to rest and have down time. We have been watching 'Preacher", "The Night Manager", and "iZombie"when I;m down for the count and they have been such good shows to get lost in. Thank god for Netflix too!! I've received some wonderful gifts this last week or two, a gorgeous dress from my Mom, a 3D printed worry stone from Cara, that says Fuck cancer on it and aYoda T shirt that says "Do or do not, there is no try, and a few wonderful cards of love and support. A big thank you to everyone for the support and love, it is so welcome and appreciated. I love you guys!!! send me good thoughts on Monday at 1:30 (10:30 West Coast time) I have wifi while I chemo, so say hi!!! Feeling Up, Feeling Good!