Friday, October 29, 2010


I had my Herceptin IV yesterday. My blood work looks great, normal people normal instead of cancer people normal. Big Onc asked me about a PET scan, did I want one or not. Honestly, I had mentally planned on being scanned in November and I told him that. I am still hoping that I can be offically declared cancer free one day.

He OK'd the scan and laid out the possible results.
1. The chest area lights up more or the same: he will blame this on radiation and not cancer growth.

2. Nothing lights up and that will be great.

3. He didn't say it, but there is the possibility that something new would light up and that would be bad.

So, it seems that he is not willing to entertain that anything bad could be happening in there.

I could put off the scan for a little while, just ride this mental train for a bit. The train that says I am OK and able to make plans and do things like normal people. If I can believe that without a scan, that is good. A scan may prove that...but a scan could also leave the black cloud over me.

It is all a mind game.

Then, I went to the new plastic surgeon for a consult. He said the same thing as the first one. There is no way I can just have an implant stuck in there, my radiated, crunchy issue just won't support it. They have to bring in a fresh blood supply from somewhere. This guy does the Lat flap from the back.

I liked the Doc, he spent 45 minutes talking to me during the exam, answered all my questions. He had an odd take on the cancer thing. I was saying that I was waiting for a clean scan, make sure I wasn't going to die soon before thinking about a new boob. He said, "Oh, you will get a clean scan, no doubt. You just don't know how long it will stay that way." Hmmm, gotta love that brutal honesty.

So, now I feel confident that ripping a muscle off my back to make a boob is my only option. Doc says unless I am a golfer or swimmer, I won't notice a functional deficit.

Decisions, decisions.... I hope I can talk to someone who has had this done, I just have a hard time believing that you don't miss that big ole muscle.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I have had a lung crud that lasted too long, so last week I saw the nurse practioner. I also was worried about the weird neck thing. It turns out that my cilia isn't perky anymore (hey, how perky should 42 year old cilia be!). The radiation has caused the hairs in my lungs to be a little crunchy and not able to move lung funk as well as they used to. So, I came home with an arsenol of lung medication and my breathing has improved. I don't know if my cilia regenerates or if it will always be crunchy, but it is just another thing on the list of crappy cancer related shit.

My neck thing is just muscular, probably from the new bite splint I am trying to help me stop grinding my teeth. But the NP was very cool and understanding of my cancer paranoia and said I could come by anytime I have a new lump or bump. That felt nice, to know that it is OK to be paranoid and that she understands.

Tomorrow I will see a plastic surgeon. I hope he has a better idea than ripping muscles off my back to make a boob out of. I could be lopsided forever, I can just stay like I am . But, if there are good options, I would like to know them.

I will confess, I have guilt thinking about reconstructive surgery. I feel guilt for putting my family through another surgery just for cosmetic reasons. I would have to miss some work, would need a ride to and from the hospital, the kids would have to carry groceries for a little bit. I realize that is not too much to ask of my family, but I am asking for help just so I can get a boob.

Maybe I am just trying to talk myself out of it so I won't be disappointed if it can't happen.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I am in a very crappy mood today, just angry, pissed off and tired of all this crap.

First off, my morning TV line-up has changed so I have been watching "The View"....probably my mistake, I should know better. So today, Sherri and Elizabeth get mammograms. It is Elizabeth's first and Sherri's first in many years. Watching them whine about the pressure, the squeezing, the smooshing of the mammo just really pissed me off. If you can't handle 3 seconds of smoosh every couple of years (or whatever the CDC is recommending now), why even bother getting a mammo since IF you have cancer, three seconds of smoosh will be a freaking walk in the park.

I am NOT saying don't get your mammo's, but please...please can we put this in perspective ladies. "I had to get a mammo and it squished me" wahhh wahh f*cking wahhh. It does not even register on the crappy day meter once you have had the bad mammogram and all the ensuing shit that goes with it.

Suck it up, it is not about saving the boobs, squishing the boobs, getting new perky boobs....woman are dying. Your squishy little test is like a paper cut. BUT, there are people out there whose paper cut turned into gangrene, their hand fell off and it led to a systemic blood infection that killed them.

(Man, I will be glad when Pinktober is over).

Secondly, I have a pain in my neck (unrelated to my morning TV problem). It has been bothering me for several days. My mind quickly goes to mets, cancer working it's way up to my brain. Sure, it could be muscle, sinus, teeth grinding, slept funny...but it could be something really bad.

Even if it is nothing, it pisses me off that everything registers as 'tumor' in my mind. It is a crappy way to live, waiting for the next shoe to drop. Clyde is still there, still don't know what the hell it is. My armpit has an odd tremor in it, a weird tick thing.

I did get two weeks without imagining any tumors. That was nice. I think I have just enough info to be dangerous. I know muscle strain, I work in Physical Therapy. This doesn't feel like muscle strain. I see the Oncologist in a week and a half anyway. I'll just set is aside and bring it up then if it is still around. That seems to be the cancer rule, symptoms that last longer than two weeks are note worthy.

Maybe I was unfair to the whiny View chicks, but it felt good to direct my anger somewhere.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I think I am figuring out one of the things that bothers me about Pinktober.

It is like the tampon/maxi pads commercials with the horseback riding and the yoga and the night clubbing. The commercials say that my period is supposed to make me want to do those things.

All the breast cancer awareness marketing puts off the same vibe. You see all these smiling, pink bandanna wearing women doing marathons, ER+ woman on the beach or at the gym because their bones are so strong now.

Having my period doesn't make me want to go to a kickboxing class and having breast cancer hasn't compelled me to ..... whatever it is that I am not doing right, because I sure don't feel like the women in the awareness ads.

Women die, children are orphaned, women are being "pinked" which means to cut in a jagged line (I find that so ironic).

When I was diagnosed, I was literally given a breast cancer welcome kit with the bracelet and the scarf and angel pin and various sundries. They might as well handed me my reconstructed boobs and my marathon entry number tag to pin to my pink T-shirt.

So forgive me for not attending your Pink Pampered Chef party or drinking the Pink bottled water. I just don't get it, there must have been something missing in my welcome kit. God Bless the women that embrace the Pink, maybe it does remind someone to do a self exam. I don't mean to sound like I am taking anything away from those that do embrace the Pink. I just hate that I could be bathed in Pink Pepto Bismol and I would still feel scared, scarred and screwed.

This is what breast cancer looks like to me, there is nothing pink about it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Nothing new in the cancer department, I'll get another PET scan in November. I did tell the doc-ish people about my fears of brain mets, not that I have them now, but that I will develop them. A young lady in my community was declared cancer free and six months later was having brain surgery for mets. That scares the hell out of me.

I was answering a "cancer questionaire", those things always make me feel like I am flunking cancer class. Some of the questions were about what changes I have made in my life, what lessons I have learned... I haven't learned much except a whole bunch about cancer. I keep thinking there should be some great lesson and many of the questionaires implies there should be a great lesson. But I am not oozing inner peace, no epiphany, no near death appreciation for life.

I was thinking about the latin prefix 'meta' as in metamorphosis and metastisis. To change forms or to change from stable, I think there is a cool train of thought there.

I'll update if this train of thought gives me the great life changing epiphany. But if I have the big epiphany, I may get a letter in the mail saying that I cannot share it with regular people, it is reserved for cancer peeps. I think that is what those cancer questions are about, people want the big secret and they don't want to have to go bald to get it.

There is no big secret, just baldness.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I woke up thinking about the boob vs teeth thing.

There is no great philosophical meaning, I realized. I have insurance that will cover a boob, but I don't have insurance that will fix my teeth. I can't justify sinking money into my mouth when both the kiddos need braces.

I get my IV treatment today, I will ask Onc about when I get my next scan. I am enjoying my stay of execution. I get nervous when I hear about people who recur shortly after finishing treatment.

But, I think cancer is kinda like that car in the blind spot. When I am about to change lanes, it always scares the shit out of me when I realize a car was in my blind spot. I have learned always to check, don't trust the review mirror. Something as big as a car was right there but I didn't know it. My brain assumed I was clear to change lanes, but it wasn't.

It all feeds back to my wonder at how fluid 'reality' is.

My sister-in-law is having surgery next week, may have uterine cancer, they need to get in there and check out this tumor she has. We have talked about the fear, the fear is worse than the treatment. This week, she can believe it is not cancer. Next week, she may not have that option (at least not without illegal drugs). The tumor will not have changed, just her reality.

Maybe that is what all this pink shit is about in October, bathe our fears in pink and it will all be OK.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


This is such an odd ride I am on.

I found another plastic surgeon in my state that takes my insurance, that brings the available doctor count up to ...two. So I made an appointment with this guy to check out my options.

First guy didn't give me the warm fuzzies. First, when he saw my scar he groaned and kind of rolled his eyes and griped about surgeons who were just worried about cutting cancer out. Second, his best bet is to take muscle from my back to make a boob. I need muscle more than I need boob.

Maybe this second guy will have more balls, maybe he will be willing to try an implant on my radiated chest.

The point in here was, making a plastic surgery appointment sounds like a hopeful, positive thing to do. Sounds like moving forward, putting this behind me, yada yada.

I also went to the dentist today. The stress is making me grind my teeth in my sleep so hard that I have a loose tooth. I talked to the dentist about my options and we came to the point of "save the teeth" or "pull the teeth".

I sent my kids to the waiting room (they had just had their cleaning and were enjoying seeing me getting poked and prodded in the chair). I flatly told the dentist that I had no intentions of sinking a bunch of dough into my mouth when I probably would not live to old age. Saving teeth would be great if I was going to make it to my 80's, but I don't see that happening.

That did not sound like a very positive, hopeful thing to say.

I don't think it is a boob versus teeth thing, I believe that teeth are more important that boobs. It is a 10-15 year thing. I don't think I need to go into debt to save this damn tooth, especially since I can't stop grinding it in sleep.

I bought a new Night Guard, I chewed through the last one. This one comes with a "chew threw" warrenty, if I grind a hole in it, they will replace it.

Won't I feel like an idiot if I make it to the nursing home and bitch that I had that damn tooth pulled and have to stay on a soft, nursing home diet.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


One year ago today, I woke up in the hospital after having my breast amputated. That was supposed to be the end of this, catch it before it spreads. The surgeon came to my room, sat down and told me that it had spread. It seemed that every time someone looked at me, my cancer got worse. By the time the scans and cutting were over, I was classified as a stage IIIC.

So much has changed in this year. I have been through so many physical, emotional, financial changes.

Last evening, I spent time with a special man. I have not dated during my cancer treatment year... low white blood cells, baldness, radiation burns. Having a maimed chest made me very hesitant, I can't imagine what that looks like to an outsider.

I feel rather lucky. Had I been married to a man during diagnoses, he might have felt stuck with me so he wouldn't be labeled as the dick that left his wife when she had cancer. To meet someone who accepts me, my body, my fuzzy head, my diagnosis and the uncertainty that brings...that is pretty special. Special and scary, but I have faced cancer head on, I shouldn't be scared of a little relationship situation.

Fearless living...fearless loving....fearless giving, not a bad way to live.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Today is the anniversary of my mastectomy. That means I have been on this blog for about a year now. I have been a uni-boober for a year.

I had a phantom breast-feeding sensation in my missing boob the other day. A baby was crying and I felt that weird tingle on that side, my brain still associates crying baby with breast feeding.

That is so odd to me, I haven't breast fed in almost 10 years. I haven't had that boob for a year. The brain is such an interesting organ, much more interesting than boobs!

I wonder if I could drum up phantom sexual sensation on that side. Now that would be useful!